Posted in Letters, Manuscript Collections, Mormon Migration Index, Pioneer Overland Travel, Utah pioneers, Websites

What kind of pioneer are you?

On July 24th Pioneer Day is celebrated as a state holiday in Utah. In 1847 the first LDS (Mormon) pioneers entered the valley of the Great Salt Lake.  The Pioneer Overland Travel database at has an introduction which reads:  “Between 1847 and 1868, Mormon emigrants traveling in more than 300 companies departed from various places and headed for the Salt Lake Valley. More than 60,000 LDS Church members traveled in these companies — some traveling by foot, some in wagons, and some pulling handcarts.”

Check out this database if you have Mormon pioneer ancestors, and you will find them listed with other family members and rosters of entire pioneer “companies” (the group they traveled with); you might find journal excerpts from individuals they traveled with, letters, and other valuable source material connected to their trek.  Here is what an entry looks like – note the wonderful source references:

Jacob Foutz entry
Pioneer Overland Travel Database at, entry for Jacob Foutz

Notice the blue link to “Trail Excerpt”.  Click it and you will see a letter written to Brigham Young from Edward Hunter and Jacob Foutz, leaders of a particular pioneer company:

Edward Hunter and Jacob Foutz letter to Brigham Young, 17 Aug 1847
Edward Hunter and Jacob Foutz letter to Brigham Young, 17 Aug 1847

Finding a name in the database is just the start of your research.  Be sure to follow up with the sources named, and tap into the Journal History of the Church,  Selected Church History Manuscript Collections ( I found some great information in Brigham Young’s Letterpress Copybooks regarding dealings with Native Americans in NE Arizona), and General Church Minutes 1839-1877. Those are some of the primo resources at

Of course there are a zillion sources I could direct you to for early LDS research, but I will just direct you to the Research Wiki link for Tracing LDS Ancestors and you can take it from there.

I created a fan chart and color-coded it to show my children how many Mormon Pioneer ancestors they have.  Red=crossed the plains with a Mormon pioneer company, Blue=Mormon, but not part of a pioneer company:

Pioneer ancestors of the children of Reed and Dayna Jacobs
Pioneer ancestors of the children of Reed and Dayna Gooch Jacobs

My Gooch line is full of pioneers as well, but their records will not be found in the Pioneer Overland Travel database above, since they were not Mormon.

I owe everything to my pioneer ancestors, and I have loved learning about them as I have researched their lives, and I love them even though I have not yet met them.  I hope my children can get a sense of who they are from looking at this chart, and cherish their roles as the “keepers of the flame.”  I think we can all discover something about ourselves that qualifies us as a pioneer – taking a path that nobody has trod before – whether it is with a covered wagon or with our lives. Happy Pioneer Day to you all!

Posted in Archives and Libraries, Artifacts, Biographical, Friday Finds, Photos, Utah pioneers, Websites

Friday Finds: Daughters of the Utah Pioneers Museum

You may have heard of the Daughters of the Utah Pioneers (DUP), but did you know they have a museum that also serves as a research facility?

Located in Salt Lake City close to the Capitol building on 300 N Main St., it houses a tremendous collection of memorabilia dating from the time Mormon pioneers entered the Valley of the Great Salt Lake to the date when Union Pacific and Central Pacific railroads were joined at Promontory Point in Utah (24 Jul 1847 to 10 May 1869.) Remember hearing about the Golden Spike?  With the joining of these two railroads, transcontinental travel became possible by rail, and the “pioneer” era officially ended in Utah.  (That just means migration by covered wagon no longer was necessary.)

To join the DUP, you need to prove direct descendancy from someone who passed through, settled in, or was born in the area which encompassed Utah Territory between the above-mentioned dates.  That includes Mormon pioneers, but also trappers, freighters, wagon trains bound for the west coast, members of Johnston’s army, railroad workers, or anyone else passing through. And remember, Utah Territory encompassed all of Nevada and part of Colorado at one time.

The DUP has a History Department containing over 100,000 biographies, with an online index . They will make copies for $.25 per page.

Here’s what a search for ” Pomeroy” yielded:

  Last Name   Given Name   Maiden Name   Birth Date   Death Date
  Fairchild   Tryphena   Pomeroy   28 Jun 1815   24 Nov 1901
  Kimball   Mary Urusalia (Zula)   Pomeroy   27 Jul 1860   10 Jan 1892
  Pomeroy   C.E.   26 Feb 1843
  Pomeroy   Cassandra   Johnson   7 Mar 1868   2 Oct 1957
  Pomeroy   Christiana   Monroe Stuart   4 Jun 1851   16 Nov 1923
  Pomeroy   Elijah   26 Jun 1850   8 Nov 1919
  Pomeroy   Emma Adelia   16 Jun 1858
  Pomeroy   Francis Martin   20 Feb 1820   20 Oct 1882
  Pomeroy   Heber Chase Kimball   6 Jun 1868   20 Feb 1948
  Pomeroy   Irene Ursula   Haskell   1 Nov 1825
  Pomeroy   Jessamine Elizabetg   Routledge   29 Jan 1837   19 May 1900
  Pomeroy   Mary Ann   Rich   15 May 1850   3 Nov 1835
  Pomeroy   Mary Annetta   Coleman   20 Nov 1862   13 Mar 1946
  Pomeroy   Sarah Matilda   Colborn   4 Nov 1839
  Rich   Ella A.   Pomeroy   1858

Files for 3 of my direct Pomeroy ancestors and several collateral lines.  Not bad! And notice the birth and death dates in the index.  Nice!

They also have an online index for their photo collection at

I typed “Matheson” in the index and found they have photos of Lydia Evans Matheson, my great-great grandmother, and my great-great-great grandmother Catherine Treasurer Matheson.

  Last Name   Given Name   Maiden Name   Birth Date   Death Date
  Matheson   Catherine   Treasurer   24 Sep 1804   4 Jan 1896
  Matheson   Elec
  Matheson   Lydia   Evans   14 Feb 1844   30 May 1912
  Matheson   Scott   8 Jan 1929   7 Oct 1990

There are no digital images online, but they can be ordered.  I am excited to visit the museum to see the photos.

Other helpful features of the website are advice on preserving heirlooms and digitizing photos, and a FAQ section to handle those oft-asked questions like, “What is the Daughters of the Utah Pioneers theme song?”

As I remember, the museum has an index of their artifact collection onsite, so you can identify items your ancestor used to own. This museum is certainly worth a trip, but the website makes it possible to do actual research from afar.

Happy Trails!

Posted in Indian Wars, Obituaries, Utah pioneers

Alexander Matheson Obituary

Copied From the Parowan Times, 19 Aug 1932, p1, col 3

Alexander Matheson Goes To Final Rest

Was Prominent In Affairs of Community For More Than Half A Century

Alexander Matheson, 89, pioneer and Indian war veteran who was prominent in the affairs of this community for more than half a century, passed from this life on Monday evening at the home of his son Owen at Midvalley. General debility incident to old age is given as the cause of his death.

Funeral services were held for him at Enoch on Wednesday afternoon. Speakers at the services were Edward G. Matheson, a grandson, Rodney Cox, Stake President William R. Palmer and David Matheson. Grace Jones Smith sang a solo. Gordon Matheson sang, Randolph Grimshaw and Grace Smith sang a duet and a tribute was read by Mrs. Estella J. Grimshaw. Numbers were sung by the Enoch choir, the opening prayer was offered by Hyrum Jones, the closing one by Francis Matheson. He was brought to Parowan for burial, the grave being dedicated by James N. Connell. Many relatives and friends from here attended the funeral.

The deceased was born in Dundee, Scotland, September 7, 1843, a son of Daniel and Katherine Treasurer Matheson. His father was educated for the Presbyterian Ministry but was converted to the L. D. S. faith and brought his family to Utah in 1862. They crossed the ocean on the John Boyd. During the voyage he met Lydia Evans who was emigrating from Wales and who later became his wife.

He drove an ox team across the plains that year for Erastus Snow and the next season, 1863, he again crossed the plains for emigrants in what was commonly known as the hell-roaring Dixie train of which Dan McArthur was captain. He was employed by Erastus Snow when he first came to Utah, which accounts for his going to Dixie and being a member of that company.

On his return that fall Mr. Matheson was married in the Endowment House at Salt Lake City to Lydia Evans.  The next year they went with other people from here to settle Paguitch but were compelled to abandon the attempt a couple of years later on account of the Indians.  Their oldest son, Alexander G. Matheson, who passed away a few months ago in Cedar City was born in Panguitch.

Returning to Parowan they made their home here.  Eight other sons were born to them, 2 of whom died in infancy and six survive him.  His wife passed away a number of years ago, following which he had a couple of other unsuccessful matrimonial ventures and then made his home with his son Owen’s family at Midvalley.

His surviving sons are Simon A., Hugh E., and Lorenzo of Parowan, Daniel E. and Owen of Midvalley and Wm. J. of Duncan, Arizona.  All were here for the funeral except the latter.

He was an indian war veteran, having seen service under Captain John Lowder;  he was the first president of the young Mens’ Mutual Improvement Association in Iron County, was assessor, city treasurer, justice of the peace, school trustee, president of the Seventies quorum for a number of years;  he was a staunch Democrat and was otherwise prominent in the affairs of the community.  He was mechanically inclined and for a number of years he operated the burr flour mill here during which time he invented a hand operated elevator for use in it.  He was a fearless defender of the right and always outspoken for his convictions.

The sympathy of the community is extended to his sons in the loss of a kind and devoted father.