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Posted by: Koryo ( )
Date: November 07, 2017 03:21PM

Evening Recovery Board,

I hope this topic won't be too sensitive, but I'd like to criticize at the church at an angle not too often covered in scholarly coverage of the Church's history, in particular, the "Handcart Pioneers and their legacy".

I am aware that many of you on here will be of a pioneer heritage, some of you, even if Ex-Mo's, may be proud of that history. It is something that is for the most part, praised in the secular world for the "faith" shown, not least its inseparable connection to the wider context of trails moving to colonize the American west in that particular era, irrespective of religion.

Despite this, I am going to argue now that the church's portrayal of this history to push religious ends is misleading, immoral and insensitive to the actual narrative. In particular, the church portrays the pioneer movement as a heroic act of faith, as people believing in the gospel, overcame overwhelming odds to cross the plains to Utah and establish Zion. In this portrayal, the church is not afraid to shy away from glorifying the stories of those who died on the journey, illustrating them as martyrs the LDS belief who died for their love of the saviour, particularly in the Willie Handcart company

However, this is dishonest. The real historical accounts of the pioneer legacy differ enormously from the LDS glorification of the events, the truth of the Willie Handcart story exposing a colder and much darker reality than the holistic account portrayed in LDS media and the propaganda film "17 Miracles". In particular, any impartial history of these events teaches us the obvious fact that the mass deaths of the company were caused by incompetence and gross miscalculations by company's leaders. They were needless, yet we are told they were martyrs of the faith.

What is more disturbing is that this film portrayal of the Willie Handcart company in 17 miracles heavily pushes the principle of "obeying leaders and authority"- Despite the heavy winter coming and supplies running low, the hero of the film Levi Savage is shut down and humbled by Captain James J. Willie (the joseph smith films actor), told that he must obey those who have been "called". Notably, those who left the company and turned back (and thus not dying) are labelled by the film as "complainers" and "moaners" who lack faith.

Thus all in all, the church's portrayal of the Handcart legacy is false, misleading and distorted. The deaths and suffering of innocent people who were the victims of the church's leadership are transformed into martyrs to die for the faith itself, despite the fact it was the faith who killed them. It is another incidence of the church effectively abusing and twisting history to create religious narratives.

The church's "faith building" history isn't really history at all, and yet we are supposed to believe in these "17 miracles" despite the obvious fact that there were no miracles whatsoever to save all the people who died in the process of it.

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Posted by: elderolddog ( )
Date: November 07, 2017 03:29PM

Here's a quick overview, for those not already steeped in the heralded white-washing of history performed by la iglesia mormona:

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Posted by: BeenThereDunnThatExMo ( )
Date: November 07, 2017 03:49PM

I shudder to think of all the innocent Pioneer children who "sang as they walked and walked and walked" at their ignorant Parent's prodding.

How many of these little innocents we will never know who died along the way only to be buried in shallow graves dug with a spoon...and then only to be dug up by hungry wolves after the Pioneer party moved along.

Yep...F*CK the "faith" of these ignorant gullible pioneering adults and F*CK the quasi "leadership" abilities of those so called inspired PR*CKS who still have "blood on their hands" to this very day of 2017 sitting on their asses in the COB in SLC!!!

Or so it seems to me...

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Posted by: Anon4this ( )
Date: November 14, 2017 10:30AM

When my great great grandparents joined the church in Denmark
They trustingly left to come to Zion. They had 3 children and she was expecting the fourth. By the time they reached their destination in Utah the three children were dead and the baby she was carrying was born and died the same day.

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Posted by: sunnynomo ( )
Date: November 07, 2017 03:55PM

On a similar note, a family member of my spouse's that is VERY into geneology regularly makes the claim that Mexico invited mormons in because of their superior farming/ranching expertise and were glad to have them there. Spouse's family has a polygamous branch that fled into Mexico. The US govt chasing them across the border due to polygamy is not acknowledged.

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Posted by: ificouldhietokolob ( )
Date: November 07, 2017 03:57PM

I'm all with ya, Koryo.

Here's my "pioneer ancestry" story:

G-g-g-g grandpa and his family, French immigrants to England, converted to the cult in England. Were pushed hard to "gather in Zion." So they sold everything they had, and bought tickets on a boat to the US. G-g-g-g grandpa, mingling among the unwashed masses in Liverpool, caught something nasty...and died two days before their ship to Zion was to sail.

G-g-g-g-grandma buried him there, then took her 3 kids on the boat.
G-g-g-g-grandma got sick on the journey over, but managed to make it to New Orleans. She got to see 6 days of the new world (but not Zion) before she too was gone and buried.

So now g-g-g-grandpa, being the oldest son (17 at the time), took over for he and his two sisters as head of the family. They went upriver to St. Louis, but being out of money, couldn't go straight to Iowa to join the trek to Zion. So they wallowed in poverty in St. Louis for almost a year, taking whatever jobs they could find to earn some money. All 3 kids (oldest daughter, 19, son 17, and other daughter 14) worked. They finally scraped up enough money, and went to Iowa -- where some mormon "company leader" took all their money, and put them in a poorly-made wagon with what little possessions they had.

Fortunately, it wasn't handcart company (it was the David Wood company, heading out in 1852 -- g-g-g-grandpa was 18 when they left). Still, they had plenty of hardships & sickness, and the youngest of the 3 kids died along the way, leaving only two of the five who set out for Zion.

They arrived in SLC right around Oct. 1 in 1852. Before Nov.1 the same year, g-g-g-grandpa had been married (sort of an "assigned" marriage), and was sent down to Parowan to "colonize." His older sister, his only surviving family after 3 deaths en-route, was pawned off as wife #3 to some guy in Nephi. As far as I know, they never saw each other again.

G-g-g-grandpa, being young and strong, did fine in Parowan. He became great friends with William Dame of Mountain Meadows Massacre fame. Joined the Nauvoo Legion. Took another polygamous wife (from whom I come), and was part of the group that was sent up to Panguitch to "re-establish" it after the first group that went there gave up amidst no viable crops and a nasty winter that killed a bunch of them.

So the original mother & father who converted to the cult, and set off for Zion, never saw it. They died along the way. Lost everything they had. Left their children orphans, to fend for themselves, and one of them died along the way. It's hardly a glorious story. Yet mormon relatives praise them for their 'faith and perseverance' -- WTF, they died along the way!

I've often wondered what might have happened had they told the mormon preachers back in England to take a hike, and had continued with their life there (g-g-g-g-grandpa was a reasonably successful merchant, they owned a home and had a decent life). The parents almost certainly would have lived longer. What else...who knows.

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 11/07/2017 04:00PM by ificouldhietokolob.

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Posted by: caffiend ( )
Date: November 07, 2017 04:24PM

I'll be sure to be a bit more gentle with you, Hie, now that I know your forebears' tragic history. </s>

Seriously, it's quite a story, and I commend you for finally terminating at least your part of the generational tragedy. I'm curious if your g-g-g-g-grandparents left any diaries or records explaining the how and why they believed the LDS missionaries' sales pitch. It's easy to jump to a conclusion about why the destitute and disadvantaged would buy into such a crazy "gospel," but your forebears seemed to have had more to lose than gain by selling property off for the unknown (temporal and religious, both) in the New World.

Any knowledge on that?

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Posted by: ificouldhietokolob ( )
Date: November 07, 2017 04:41PM

caffiend Wrote:
> Any knowledge on that?

Sadly, no. If they wrote anything, it didn't survive.
In g-g-g-grandpa's "memoirs" (which did survive), he mentions only the "faith-affirming" version, which includes few details other than stuff like "they recognized the truth of the gospel and were immediately baptized." He does mention that John Taylor was involved, and since he was there from 1846-1847, when they converted, that's plausible.

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Posted by: related thread ( )
Date: November 14, 2017 02:29AM

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Posted by: Soft Machine ( )
Date: November 14, 2017 09:10AM

"French immigrants to England"

Just wondering, Hie: are you descended from French Huguenots like me?

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Posted by: ificouldhietokolob ( )
Date: November 14, 2017 09:31AM

Soft Machine Wrote:
> "French immigrants to England"
> Just wondering, Hie: are you descended from French
> Huguenots like me?

Yep. Maybe we're long-lost cousins?

Mine fled to England when Louis XIV came to power. A few generations later, one of them fell for mormonism :(

Mine are mainly from Normandy.

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Posted by: Soft Machine ( )
Date: November 14, 2017 10:12AM

Mine came over in 2 batches. The first batch came from Normandy (I believe) and came over in the 16th century (according to family tradition, in the same boat as the Courtauld family).

My branch came over in the 1683, by which time the family appeared to have move to the Lyon area.

Three hundred years later, in 1983, I moved to France...

So we may be distant cousins - rather a nice thought, actually :-)

Tom in Paris

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Posted by: Chicken N. Backpacks ( )
Date: November 07, 2017 04:21PM

Another reason we are suspicious of pioneer journals being donated "for safe keeping" to TSCC--who knows what vitriol might be written in some of them against BY and church that will never see the light of day again...

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Posted by: sunbeep ( )
Date: November 07, 2017 06:25PM

I'm in my sixties now, but as a young child I remember going to family reunions where the older women would share genealogy sheets and such. I remember one of them had a box that contained some very old journals of much older ancestors and after discussing what to do with these journals it was decided that the church could use them for researching genealogy. I'm sure that there were tons of personal stories handwritten there that have now gone the way of the Buffalo. I doubt that the church ever used them, or even looked at them, and probably discarded them into the landfill.

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Posted by: East Coast Exmo ( )
Date: November 07, 2017 06:48PM

I've always thought very highly of the Pioneer probes, especially their mission to spread Earth porn to the stars.

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Posted by: itzbeen20 ( )
Date: November 13, 2017 07:15PM

Well, would offer that the bad ending, shows exactly why the leaders should NOT be heeded.

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Posted by: summer ( )
Date: November 13, 2017 07:27PM

A simple reading of history shows that those who are first to settle a raw frontier are doing so at great risk (i.e. Jamestown, Plymouth.) To cross the plains with only a handcart, with hard weather coming, was nothing short of foolishly insane. At least the pioneers who started off in a timely manner with their covered wagons had a fighting chance.

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Posted by: dp ( )
Date: November 14, 2017 06:47PM

I wonder if there's data showing the pioneers' mortality rate while traveling to and settling the American West. And I don't mean just the Mormon pioneers, but all who went West. I'm too lazy to do that research myself, but it would be interesting to know.

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Posted by: Amyjo ( )
Date: November 13, 2017 09:00PM

Some of my ancestors were woefully misled and deceived into going westward.

The polygamous practices of two of my great great great grandfathers were both met with what I consider disastrous results.

One of them was resettled to southern Utah to be one of the earliest cotton farmers. It was around that time he took a second wife. His first wife, my ggggrandmother separated from ggggrandpa - their children were mostly grown by then. They lived apart until their deaths.

His second wife was half his age. She had 5-6 children in a row, most of them born in the middle of winter. Albeit in southern Utah that was a mild winter. The babies died soon after childbirth, one after another. From what I could gather they died from starvation. Out of the few babies his second wife had, only 1-2 made it past infancy to grow up and live their lives.

One of their babies, an infant daughter, suffocated to death on her vomit from the alfalfa she'd been forced to eat because that was all there was to sustain themselves on. Alfalfa. Most of the babies who died were infant sons who didn't survive longer than one to two days. She would pop out babies one after another just to watch them die within days. That had to be heart wrenching.

That just made me sad to learn of for those babies and their poor mom, who'd been placed into a pre-arranged marriage like many of those were during Brigham Young's reign.

It's incomprehensible to me to fathom the degree of hardship those people suffered to be pioneers to the Utah valley and surrounding territories.

While Brigham Young lived like royalty with his winter home in Saint George, and a summer home in Swan Valley, Idaho, along with his mansion in Salt Lake City; his followers who built up that region were disposable human labor who made his lavish lifestyle possible and supported him in the manner he became accustomed to, while they lived like paupers in the direst of circumstances.

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 11/13/2017 09:02PM by Amyjo.

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Posted by: relievedtolearn ( )
Date: November 13, 2017 10:33PM

I think that the people who died, the people who made the trek, did die for their faith---it was THEIR faith. That the faith was in people who were incompetent and arrogant, in a belief system that in my opinion was a fraud---doesn't change their courage and their willingness to do something scary and hard for their faith.

A little girl whose family was moving to Bodie, a mining camp in northern California (I think; may be in Nevada) wrote a letter to God before they left; this letter is extant. It says, "Good-bye, God; we're moving to Bodie."

The Donner Party was also led by people who really didn't know what they were doing--didn't know enough---the man who did know abandoned them partway across. There was a series of mistakes made, any one of which might have saved their lives. Most poignant to me was the the Donner wife--I forget her first name-pleaded with her husband to go the other route, the one that probably would have gotten them there safely---but he insisted on the one they fatally took, and she died. I've always had that kind of grate on me---she follows the husband, she's right; he's wrong---and she dies. But I suppose any kind of group whether it's a marriage or anything else, is going to be subject to that kind of human error combined with having to decide on loyalty to a leader, faulty or not.

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Posted by: Tevai ( )
Date: November 13, 2017 11:46PM

relievedtolearn Wrote:
> A little girl whose family was moving to Bodie, a
> mining camp in northern California (I think; may
> be in Nevada) wrote a letter to God before they
> left; this letter is extant. It says, "Good-bye,
> God; we're moving to Bodie."

Bodie is in Mono County (California), about 75 miles south of Lake Tahoe, and the California state line with Nevada is nearby. (As I remember, you can look across and "see" Nevada from Bodie (which became a state park to preserve the town as it was).

As least when I was there, the town was in a state of "preserved deterioration": the only repairs or changes allowed were those dictated by weather damage or whatever... the town itself, including its buildings, it as close to when it was a living town as is possible.

If you're going there, Bridgeport is the place to stay for the night before you go to Bodie the next morning. Be aware that (at least when I was there) the road into Bodie is dirt, and is VERY "up and down" (the dirt surface is humped in the middle), so make sure your vehicle can deal with the rough road and the dings from rocks and pebbles.

I have also seen that actual letter, though I can't remember where I saw it. It COULD have been in the town, but it could also have been in one of the historical museums in northern California, too. In any case, it was neat being able to read the actual letter with my own eyes.

Bodie is one of the places I would like to see again someday, and for anyone who is a California or Western history buff, it should probably be at least near the top of any "To Do" lists. Despite the rough road in, and the distance away from "anyplace," it is definitely (IMO) worth the trip.

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Posted by: relievedtolearn ( )
Date: November 14, 2017 12:33AM

Yes. When I was there it was amazing; still had the pianos in the church, curtains, all kinds of thing just left behind. It is the best preserved ghost town I've seen, or was when I saw it--within the last 15 years. I think the letter is up there; I haven't been in a lot of the museums; I saw it too.

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Posted by: Soft Machine ( )
Date: November 14, 2017 04:58AM

I'm currently reading Todd Compton's book "In Sacred Loneliness: the plural wives of Joseph Smith Jr.".

As a nevermo with nothing invested in it except historical interest, my main take-away from this excellent, vivid and detailed portrait of early mormons is the sadness of it all. They did have incredible faith and that faith caused them to have extremely hard lives, often including the deaths of multiple family members at a relatively young age.

So it cannot be denied that the STRENGTH of their faith is impressive. However, we shouldn't lose sight of the fact that their impressive faith was nevertheless faith in a TOTAL CROCK, an invented religion.

That's what really makes me sad. They threw their lives away for it.

Tom in Paris

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Posted by: Tevai ( )
Date: November 14, 2017 05:30AM

An excellent and insightful condensation of their lives, Tom...

Very well done.

I wonder if they would have hesitated, or thought twice, had they been able to read or intuit your words, even once.

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Posted by: mikemitchell ( )
Date: November 14, 2017 07:01AM

"the church's portrayal of the Handcart legacy is false, misleading and distorted."

Words of truth.

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Posted by: deja vue ( )
Date: November 14, 2017 01:01PM

GGrampa came to UT in a hand cart. Feet froze off and so his wife put him in the cart and pushed him. Once they got to Utah, Brigham gave him two more wives for his valor and sent him to St. George where he was the first temple pres. When he was 56 Brigham gave him another bride who was 16 years old. The older wives treated her with disdain and she fought back. GGrampa told her that if she didn't learn to behave herself that he would only build her 1/2 house, which he did (I remember seeing it St. George during my teen years) She had two children by him, a boy and a girl. When they were two and three years old, this fourth wife suddenly disappeared. No one admits to knowing what happened. Her kids were assimilated into the families of the other wives. Then they too "disappeared". No questions or comments. They were just gone.

Like Hie, my other GGrampa was sent to Parowan and then to Panguitch to help settle the area. Indians drove them out and he returned to Parowan. (Later the Indians lost and the Morgbuts returned to Panguitch.) He had two wives but when the Manifesto was issued, he loaded up the second wife and her children and took them back to Panguitch and disassociated himself from them completely. They were left to fend for themselves.

Needless to say, I am not proud of either of my GGrandpa's. They were both dufusses. Both Grandpa's did better and bailed out of the cult though the one was killed when he was 23. The other was in Parowan at the time of the MMM but he headed to the hills as soon as he heard the mandate from the church higher ups to get rid of the wagon train. He stayed away from Parowan for a few weeks to avoid repercussions of his avoidance of participating. Neither of my parents were believers in the cult though they allowed me to associate and encouraged me to try and fit in.

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Posted by: ificouldhietokolob ( )
Date: November 14, 2017 02:19PM

deja vue Wrote:
> Like Hie, my other GGrampa was sent to Parowan and
> then to Panguitch to help settle the area.
> Indians drove them out and he returned to Parowan.
> (Later the Indians lost and the Morgbuts returned
> to Panguitch.)

Mine was in the second morgbut (nice!) return to Panguitch.
He probably used your GGrampa's leftovers :)

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Posted by: deja vue ( )
Date: November 14, 2017 06:22PM

Can you give me a surname. I grew up in Parowan. Related to most everyone there at the time. (Surprise) Perhaps I know of your relafit or some of his spawn. Just Curious...

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Posted by: ificouldhietokolob ( )
Date: November 16, 2017 03:23PM

deja vue Wrote:
> Can you give me a surname. I grew up in Parowan.
> Related to most everyone there at the time.
> (Surprise) Perhaps I know of your relafit or some
> of his spawn. Just Curious...

LeFevre. Fancy French name meaning "Smith" (no relation to Joseph!). :)

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Posted by: cl2 ( )
Date: November 14, 2017 01:46PM

but I have never read her story. I probably should. I've never been much into genealogy. The way mormons peddled it made it boring to me.

SL Cabbie I believe it was suggested the book "Devil's Gate." It is quite a book. I suggest anyone interested in this subject read it.

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Posted by: lostmypasword ( )
Date: November 14, 2017 05:20PM

Pioneer Days is celebrated in two other states. Nebraska, because they left, and California, because they didn't get that far.

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Posted by: Chicken N. Backpacks ( )
Date: November 14, 2017 09:30PM

Well, they did get as far as San Bernardino. And we Californians know what *that* place is like... :-)

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Posted by: samwitch ( )
Date: November 16, 2017 10:52AM

I once attended a fireside where historians gave an unusually graphic description of what happened to the Martin and Willie handcart companies at Martin's Cove, WY. They read grisly details from survivor accounts, like how the pioneers had to listen to the wolves eating the unburied dead every night. One young woman gave her shawl (her only outerwear) so her fiance could be "buried" in a tree and kept safe from the wolves.

As I listened to these stories, intended to be faith-promoting, I was appalled. What kind of god requires this sort of suffering of some, yet spares others because of their "faith" or even provides "miracles" to a select few? My shelf was already cracking, and this fireside fractured it right down the middle. Later, when I learned how incompetence, bad management, greed, and non-existent planning created the tragedies (not god), there was no going back.

In defense of the early pioneers: leaders lied to them, promising an easy passage to Zion. Where would they get any information otherwise? Not from leadership, and not from those who survived (and were probably too traumatized to talk about it). Everyone probably assumed they would be OK, and because none of them had visions or premonitions or warnings from the "holy ghost," they had no idea what could -- and would -- happen. Once they were in the middle of it, the only way to survive was to just keep going. Some did apostasize and leave after the fact, though -- Mormons just never hear about those.

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