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Blessed pioneers

By 1897, some 50 years after the first pioneers arrived in the Salt Lake Valley, only a dwindling few of the original pioneers remained, as evidenced by a photo taken during the Jubilee celebration of the surviving pioneers.

National headquarters of the Daughters of Utah Pioneers located atop Main Street in Salt Lake City.
National headquarters of the Daughters of Utah Pioneers located atop Main Street in Salt Lake City. Photo: Photo by Shaun D. Stahle

Following this Jubilee celebration — aware that a rich portion of the Church's history was quickly becoming a memory — some of the daughters of the original pioneers wanted to keep alive the sacrifice and legacy of the pioneers and considered organizing a patriotic society aimed at preserving memories of their lives and achievements.

One in particular, Annie Taylor Hyde, daughter of President John Taylor, felt compelled to honor their memory and, on April 11, 1901, invited 46 women to her home.

They were all descendants of the 1847 pioneers, including Maria Young Dougall, a daughter of Brigham Young who assisted Sister Hyde in receiving the guests that day.

"Ever since the Pioneer Jubilee, I have felt deeply impressed with the importance and desirability of the children of the pioneers becoming associated together in forming an organization," Sister Hyde said describing her desires to the ladies, as quoted in the "Daughters of Utah Pioneers: The First Twenty-five Years."

She revered those who "stood shoulder to shoulder in braving the difficulties" of settling the harsh deserts of Utah. Her desire was to cement "together in the bonds of friendship and love" the descendants of those pioneers. On that day in April 1901, Sister Hyde was voted president of this society, now known as the Daughters of Utah Pioneers.

Today, true to her desires and ambitions, the DUP is preserving the memory of the pioneers by collecting histories and artifacts of pioneers who entered the valley prior to 1869, the year the Transcontinental Railroad was completed.

Those histories and artifacts are now stored in the DUP Pioneer Memorial Museum, commanding a position atop the hill overlooking downtown Salt Lake City on Main Street and 300 North.

Hundreds of original journals and manuscripts are archived, with more than 100,000 individual histories, plus thousands of photographs for review.

The collection of artifacts is "huge," said Edith Menna, second vice president of the International Society of the Daughters of Utah Pioneers and director of the museum.

"It is impossible to number all the artifacts. This is believed to be the largest museum based on one topic in the country," she said.

Visitors streamed through the front doors in a steady pace following the annual Days of '47 Parade on July 24th. Mostly parents with young children, the visitors seemed eager to participate in the butter churning demonstration, pioneer games and other activities sponsored on Pioneer Day.

Beyond the universal interest in such artifacts as the wagon that carried Brigham Young into the valley in 1847, the most popular items are the individual family histories, said Sister Menna, which, she continued, can be viewed on computers at the museum.

Now 166 years since its inception, and generations removed from the pioneer era, the DUP remains a strong, vibrant means of honoring the pioneers among Church members. With an average of 117 new members each month, "we're not dying out," Sister Menna said.

"As volunteers," she said, "we work for free. But the pay is great."

An 1897 photo of surviving members of the 1847 pioneers taken during Jubilee celebration.
An 1897 photo of surviving members of the 1847 pioneers taken during Jubilee celebration. Photo: Deseret Morning News archives
Collection of the numerous artifacts preserved in the Pioneer Memorial Museum. Right, 1897 photo of surviving members of the 1847 pioneers taken during Jubilee celebration.
Collection of the numerous artifacts preserved in the Pioneer Memorial Museum. Right, 1897 photo of surviving members of the 1847 pioneers taken during Jubilee celebration. Photo: Courtesy Daughters of Utah Pioneers

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