Pioneer Stories

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What Better Way to Honor Your Pioneer Ancestors than to Share Their Story!

TRADITIONAL Pioneer Stories

Since 1933, the National Society of Sons of Utah Pioneers has been dedicated to honoring and remembering our great pioneer forefathers and mothers.

We must never forget the great heritage they gave us – a heritage of faith in God – of devotion to family – of loyalty to church and country – of hard work and service to others – of courage in adversity – of personal integrity and unyielding determination! We must never forget!

All of us have heard and been inspired by the stories of the famous early pioneers of the West. However, there are many of our ancestors whose stories are not known – except to a few. These little-known pioneers deserve recognition. Your children and ours need to know more of their own heritage, to be inspired by their lives, by their examples of faith in God, and by the other pioneer virtues they exemplified.

MODERN-DAY Pioneer Stories

There are many great men and women today whose lives also reflect the pioneer virtues that inspired the lives of the early pioneers.  Today’s challenging world also calls out for the same faith and purpose, the same sacred values that were required of the early pioneers.

Who do you know that has made a big difference for good in today’s world – whose life stands as a shining example to others in our day?

Remember, it is the character of the person, the pioneer attributes that made them what they were, the contributions that made their life rich and meaningful—these are the things to emphasize in your story.

Every accepted submission will be published on the SUP website and will be preserved in a special collection in the SUP Library.

Featured Pioneer Stories

ASHTON, Edward

Edward was apprenticed to a man who would teach him how to make shoes. He was bound for three years for his board and room, and his mother paid the sum of six sovereigns (approx $30.00) for his apprenticeship. This was not a happy experience as he did not get enough food and it was not of the highest quality, and he was required to do all kinds of work besides the trade he was supposed to be learning. The man was most unkind and Edward suffered a great deal of abuse as his employer routinely beat him.

RIDING, Christopher Lister: Tinsmith

Christopher's skills were needed in St. George because the temple was under construction there and he was the only sheet metal worker in the Dixie mission at that time. However, there was not enough business in St. George to provide him work, so he secured a little four-wheeled cart and an ox. He loaded the cart with tin ware and tools and visited all the towns in southern Utah, exchanging his ware for flour, potatoes, butter, cheese, etc. He made most of his wares from waste cans as it was difficult to ship in sheet tin. People saved empty cans and metal ware of all kinds for him. His store of wares consisted of buckets, milk pans, tin cups and plates, lamps, canteens, coffee pots, wash boards, etc. The ball on the St. George temple and the one on the St. George tabernacle are Christopher Riding's work, as is the metal work on all the public buildings erected before his death. The tin-covered sphere on the temple remained until October 25, 1994, when it was replaced with a fiberglass model as part of a renovation project.
Christopher was a loyal member of the church although he was never active in public affairs due to the fact that his work kept him away a great deal of the time. He was a great reader, spending every evening in this way.

ATKIN, Thomas

Mary became seriously ill with a "rupture" in her side. The doctors could do nothing to help her. Thomas, watching her suffer, resolved he would be more devoted in serving the Lord, if only the prayers and desires of his heart and those of his children regarding his beloved wife would be granted. Eventually, Mary was healed. He did not forget the resolution and promise he had made with the Lord and commenced in earnest to inquire of his spiritual advisors.


He promised them that they would not have to shed the blood of their fellowmen, but that this added affliction heaped upon them in this hour of their trials would turn out as a blessing upon their heads. Several of the young Allred boys joined the "Mormon Battalion" and performed with that Battalion in the longest march of foot soldiers in length of miles ever traversed by any army in the history of time.


The road was to follow an old Indian trail on the west edge of the Black Ridge. When asked how the wagons would get across the deep canyon which barred the way, he replied, “We’ll leap it!” The 165 ft deep canyon crossing became “Peter’s Leap.” The stream became “Leap Creek.” A sturdy windlass was erected on top of the north canyon wall. The wagons coming from the north were stopped here. The cargo was lashed securely to the wagon box. The teams were unhitched and led down the winding 30 percent grade to the canyon bottom.

JEPPSEN, Niels Andersen

The day after their wedding they walked to their farm in North Ward (now named Harper Ward). She carried a basket with her dishes in one hand, while with the other hand she helped Niels carry a large box which contained their worldly goods. A large stove kettle was fastened to the box, while suspended on a stick, which he placed across his shoulder with a sheet with quilts wrapped inside.

POND, Stillman Pond

On February 2nd 1846 the migration west began. Stillman and his family remained in Nauvoo until after the battle of Nauvoo in September 1846 when they were driven at the point of a bayonet across the river. Tribulations and hardships were many as the winter set in early and the Mormon refugees were without the proper food, clothing and shelter. The camp was ravaged by malaria, cholera, and consumption. The Pond family fell victim of all of these diseases. Stillman’s wife, Maria, became consumptive and all the children were afflicted with malaria. Snow fell early on the plains of Iowa and along the way Stillman and Maria buried their son Lowell Anson in September of 1846 on the plains of Iowa. Maria’s body wracked with pain and bowed down with grief for the loss of her son; was unable to walk and was confined to her bed in the back of the wagon with the fever of malaria. In this condition she gave birth to twin boys Joseph and J. Hyrum, the later part of September and the twins died a few days later and were also buried along the trail in Iowa.

HOWARD, Mary Ann Tolman

Her two younger sisters died while crossing the plains and they were just 300 miles from Salt Lake City when her mother passed away. Mary Ann, age 12, and Emma, age 10, washed and dressed their mother, wrapping her in sheets ready for burial. This was a very heart rendering experience for these two young girls. They gathered sage brush to cover and conceal the grave so the coyotes wouldn't find it so easily.

HOWARD, Joseph

A canal ran between and divided the 5 acre farm from that of Joseph's father, William. A pleasant pastime of the children was to watch the horses as they pulled the loads of freight and coal in boats along the canal. Locks were located near by and it was such fun to see the boats raised and lowered as they proceeded on the journey to the big cities.

HILL, Heamon Alison

During that time their father and baby Jasper died. They were so poor that they did not have enough money to bury their father and baby brother. “The Lord blessed us, for a man came to see us and seeing our plight, took us to his farm, gave us one room in his home, put our cattle in his pasture and buried our father and baby brother on his burying ground.


On 15 Jun 1856 they left their all to overtake the first covered wagon train of Mormons, to cross the plains that year. The oldest daughter was sick with chills and fever when the journey began, and had to be carried from the house to the wagon. Her father's brother who did not belong to the LDS church and was opposed to their leaving their home, predicted she would not live to go far, but Elder Hickerson promised her she would not have another chill, and she never did.

SAVAGE, David Leonard

In twenty minutes, he was decked out in war paint and feathers and riding through Cedar Fort giving his terrifying war cries and soon the mountains rang with the death call of these desperate people. They were on the war path for sure, assembling their forces they hid in a ravine near Lehi. When the stage coach passed, the driver and all the passengers were massacred.

BINGHAM, Erastus

Erastus Bingham stood up on his wagon wheel and talked to the Saints, telling him that he proposed to obey the council of president Brigham Young, that he and his family would remain until Spring and invited all to join with him in accepting the invitation of the Indians to share their camping ground. About one half of the company remained with Erastus Bingham; the others decided to attempt the journey Westward with their commander, Bishop Miller. They pushed on Westward but met with a great many losses. The Indians stole some of their animals; and they suffered from the cold and lack of food and were compelled to return, some of them camping near Erastus Bingham’s camp. The Ponca Indians were very kind to the families who were sharing with them their camping ground, even bringing meat for some of the most destitute families. They wintered with the Ponca Indians, living in their wagons and a wickiup the friendly Indians provided for them.

CURTIS, Celestia

The people were screaming for they thought there was no help for them. Celestia’s father (Enos Curtis) raised his hand and commanded the wind to cease and for the boat to stand still in the name of the Lord. The wind did cease and the boat stood still until the men on the bank could get ropes to them to pull them to safety.

ANDERSON, Editha Morgan

Whatever else she was, Edith, like many other mature single Latter-day Saint Women, had internal strength and strong religious beliefs sufficient to tolerate an environment that was unsympathetic toward mature single women, as exemplified by Stout’s comments.
Editha established a private school in her small log cabin that was located on 1st North and about 70 West in American Fork. It served as a bedroom, living room, and a tightly packed class room. The dwelling featured one door, one window, two beds, a wood stove, and a rest facility located out back of the cabin. Her rudimentary school attracted a dozen or so students, about the same number of youngsters as attended another school that met in a community-owned building that served as a place of worship and education.

ALLSOP, Thomas Hill

When more people came to Sandy, Mr. Allsop sold some of his land. Later he donated land for the Church site and cemetary. He gave Sandy a big bowery where large parties could go and dance and have weenie roasts. The bowery, the reservoir and Allsop's Lane was known to all the people of Sandy and surrounding communities.

COX, Orville Sutherland

Being successful in disposing of their chairs, and securing loads of bacon and corn, they were almost home when an Iowa blizzard, or Hurricane, or cyclone, or all in one, struck them. Clouds and Egyptian darkness settled suddenly around them. They had no modern "tornado cellars", to flee into and no manner of shelter of any kind. The cold was intense; the wind came from every direction; they were all skilled backwoodsmen and knew they were very close to their homes; but they also knew that they were hopelessly lost in that swirling wind and those black clouds of snow. They and their oxen were freezing, and their only hope of life was in making a fire and camping where they were.


They had 37 deaths on this voyage due to an out break of the measles and the stagnant and unfit water. Just 4 days before arriving in America, August 7th, Hans' grandson Carl Fedrick Liljeroth died. The "Emerald Isle" arrived at the New York harbor on August the 11th.

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