A major emigration of settlers traveled across the Great Plains and into the Far West of the United States between 1847 and 1868 to help establish homes and new communities in the Salt Lake Valley. Most of these new arrivals were followers of the Church of the Latter-Day Saints (Mormons) seeking a new land to live their lives and practice their religion. Some 60,000 Mormons traveled in ‘companies’, some 300 different ones over that 20 year spread. Travel was by steamboats, wagon trains, railroad trains, by walking and riding of horses. Covering such uncharted land was not easy for the men, women and children who went on this pioneer trail, many died along the way. There were journals kept, documents and rosters of those to started off on the trail, those who didn’t make it and those who reached the Salt Lake Valley.
The Church of the Latter-Day Saints (LDS) has produced a free online database of the many companies who covered the pioneer trail and those who made the journey. As in any record keeping there are certainly names missing or errors in the information. This searchable database is known as the Mormon Pioneer Overland Travel and covers primarily those who travel on the land trail rather than the travel by trains and boats.
The database has information on each company, who was the captain, their route, the people in the company and the experiences they encountered. Each company whether they came in 1849 or 1861 had their own unique travel problems.
There is a search box for surnames or a full individual’s name if known. You can also search by a company name or during a certain year. Once you have found a person or company of interest, additional details are provided after clicking on the name. In many cases, an emigrate’s name, birth date, age and company are listed along with some additional resources. Looking up a certain company provides its departure date, its arrival in the Salt Lake Valley, the captain and how many started on the trail.
If you never considered that you may have had ancestors who made that journey to Salt Lake Valley between 1848 and 1868, this would be the opportunity to investigate the possibility of a relative who made the trip. There are listed a variety of surnames; some of which are: Aagard, Alford, Berthelson, Blanchard, Christensen, Cummings, Diamond, Erickson, Folkman, Gardner, Gregg, Hoffman, Humes, Iversen, Kempe, Lybbert, McBride, Nielsen, Pedersen, Scott, Taylor, Thackham, Waddel, Watkins, Winberg and Ward, plus many more.