Leading the group was the president of the Latter Day Saints Church, Bringham Young (June 1, 1801 – August 29, 1877). He founded Salt Lake City and he served as the first governor of the Utah Territory. Young also led the foundings of the precursors to the University of Utah and Brigham Young University.
Young took over the role as leader of the religious sect after the death of Mormonism’s founder Joseph Smith. The man who founded the religion on April 6, 1830 in Fayette, NY, was killed by an armed mob on June 27, 1844. He and his brother Hyrum were in jail awaiting trial in Carthage, IL for treason charges.
From 1839 until 1846, the Mormon church had been headquartered in Nauvoo where church members were able to prosper and practice their religion peacefully. But tensions arose when many citizens began to view the Mormons with contempt.
The trek to Utah was an arduous hike along the 1,300-mile path — now called the Mormon Trail — which extends from Navuoo, Illinois to Salt Lake Valley. Approximately 3,000 Mormons made the trip toward the new homestead pulling 653 carts and 50 supply wagons. It is believed that approximately 400 died during the trip.
On July 24 each year, Utah commemorates Pioneer Day to honor the brave Mormons who made the journey. It is an official holiday in Utah, and is celebrated with parades, fireworks rodeos, and a reenactment of their arrival.
Words of Wisdom for July 24, 2016
“This is the place, drive on.”
— Brigham Young, upon arriving in the Salt Lake Valley, 1847