In Utah and a few of the Western States, Pioneer Day is a celebration of the arrival of handcart companies to the Salt Lake Valley. This arrival changed the lives and destiny of millions, creating the communities and states that now exist hundreds of years later. Celebrations included parades, fireworks, pancake breakfasts, carnivals, festivals, speeches and tributes. One of the most popular Pioneer Day activities is to review and share the stories of your pioneer heritage, whether in a church or religious setting, or with your family and friends online or at close gatherings. This Pioneer Day weekend offered many the opportunity to discover, share, and hear pioneer stories from the trek west. It can be excellent inspiration for your genealogy work.
If you, like many here in the west, have pioneer heritage, or suspect that you might, now is a great time to review that heritage. Did any of your ancestors cross in a handcart company? Did any of them lose their lives or loved ones along the way? Were there any family stories documented along the plains? These stories become family heirlooms and key pillars of your family history as you piece together your genealogy. Find who these pioneers were and compile their information in one place, so that you may access them whenever useful – next Pioneer Day, for church talks or presentations, if you know youth going on handcart reenactment treks, or just for a rainy day.
What if you don’t have pioneer heritage? There are plenty of individuals interested in genealogy whose migration patterns are long before or after the pioneer treks of the 1840s and 50s. Regardless of where and when you came from, the fact stands that at some point you came to be where you are today, and almost everyone has a genealogy of migration. Pioneer Day is a great inspiration for people everywhere to look into their genealogy and see exactly where they came from in the past. Who in your genealogical line made the migration? Where were they from? Where did they go? How did they travel? Was it risky? You may find yourself asking questions you never thought to ask before.
Pioneer Day can inspire more deep and searching genealogy and family history work, and can show people that there is much, much more to their family tree than names and dates. Who were those names and dates? What are their stories? Of course documentation is limited and sometimes you can only find a few pieces of information, but something is better than nothing. Some people begin diving into their heritage and genealogy to find that there are books or letters or albums discovered that lend fascinating insight to the history of their family line.
Let Pioneer Day be an inspiration to you, even if you aren’t directly linked to the handcart companies in the Salt Lake Valley. Take some time this week to dive into your genealogy, and reach out to professional genealogists like Price Genealogy & Associates if you need a little extra help with a challenging genealogy problem. When it comes to your family history – it’s worth it!