Pioneer Stories

Unless we capture and share their stories, we allow the pioneers to die a second death

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.


CHURCH, Margaret – Still Giving Her Life

CHURCH, Margaret – Still Giving Her Life

Despite their full-time family and farming commitments, the couple accepted teaching and leadership responsibilities in nearly every church position possible. Further, they encouraged each one of their children in educational pursuits. By 1978 their nine sons and seven daughters had completed a total of 67 years of college.
After sending eight of their children on missions, Marge and Lathel accepted a call in 1977 to the Rapid City South Dakota Mission. It was during this service that she was chosen as Utah's Mother of the Year. Following are quotes written for that occasion by two of her daughters:

PICKETT, John – A Fully Converted Pioneer


In 1861 John and his family were called to move to Gunnison, Utah. Their first home was west of where Gunnison now stands. It was a dug-out near the Sanpitch River. It was located a little distance south of the “Rocky Point”. They soon found that the dug-out was not a good place to live. The first winter was a hard one with a lot of snow. The next spring when the snow melted the ground turned to deep mud. Some of the dug-outs filled with water and their chimneys collapsed. The whole place became a “Hog Wallow” and that is how that part of the valley got its name.

HINTON, James Maurice: Life Story


I herded those sheep through what they call the Bear Hole. I’d start them through the East side and it would take them ten days to go through. I herded sheep four years for Wilts Imlay on Kolob in the summer and on the Arizona Strip in winter. The wages were $40 a month and board. I’ve got more to show for those four years than any other time in my life.

COX, Orville Southerland

COX, Orville Southerland

Occasionally, the monotony of the bellows was broken in other ways. For example: At one time, oxen were brought to the shop to be shod that had real hard hoofs, called “glassy hoof.” Whenever Deacon undertook to drive a nail in, it bent. Cox straightened nails over and over, as nails were precious articles in those days, and must not be discarded because they were bent. After a while, the boy said, “Let me.” He shod the ox without bending a nail. Thereafter, Cox shod all the oxen with one and all that came to the shop.

JOHNSON, Benjamin Franklin

JOHNSON, Benjamin Franklin

Every house was a hospital, but without nurses. There were hardly enough men to bury the dead. As Benjamin had cared for the sick at the Kirtland Poor Camp, he knew what should be done and was immediately called upon by Joseph to help. He reported: “I had come to Nauvoo on horseback and as the houses of the brethren were scattered for some distance up and down the river, I kept my horse under the saddle and rode from house to house giving medicines and caring for the sick, and for six weeks did not take off my boots or coat for one night of sleep.”

TWITCHELL, Ephraim & Phoebe Melissa Knight

Ephraim Twitchell & Phoebe Melissa Knight

One day Branch President Ephraim Twitchell was traveling from Sacramento a long way by wagon. The last day of his journey he was traveling late, after dark. He did not stop because he was almost home. He was alone in his wagon, when suddenly there was a man sitting beside him on the spring seat. He just appeared from nowhere. He told Ephraim that he should take his family from San Juan Bautista and go to San Bernardino. Ephraim responded that they had not been in San Juan very long and that his children had their friends there. He noted that he did not think he could get them to go with him. The man beside him replied, "Yes, you can, and you must go to San Bernardino or you will lose them." When Ephraim turned to answer him he was not there. He had disappeared just as he had appeared -it seemed like just out of thin air. Ephraim knew the gospel very well and remembered their story in the Book of Mormon about the three Nephites. He thought this must be the answer-the messenger was one of the three Nephites. He then saw a beautiful new coat that the messenger had left on the spring-seat beside him. He thought the messenger had really been there-that he had not just imagined or fantasized. Ephraim went home and told his wife, Melissa. They talked about the move. They prayed about it for a couple of days. They knew they must go to San Bernardino, California. Every one of their children and one nephew, John Newton Twitchell, the oldest son of Jasper Twitchell went with them. Anciel Ephraim's oldest son came a year later.

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