Finding the Missing Pioneers: A Case Study

For a dozen years or so, dozens of church service missionaries (under the overall supervision of Mel Bashore, and for at least six years under the day-to-day development of missionaries Judy and David Wood) have worked to identify all Mormon pioneers who gathered to Zion, whether from east or west, before the 1869 completion of the transcontinental railroad. J. Stapley has written a great overview of the resulting Mormon Pioneer Overland Travel database as Beautiful Are the Feet.

Perhaps two-thirds of the pioneers have been identified and placed in their travel companies, but thousands remain to be found, usually one traveler or one family at a time. Whenever I run across a reference to the date someone arrived in Utah, I’m in the habit of checking the database to be sure they are listed. Usually they are. But when they are not, I always spend a few minutes or a few hours finding sufficient information to list them. Some people like crosswords or soduku; I like solving the puzzles of the pioneers.

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