What was it like for a pioneer child to trudge more than a thousand miles across the plains to the Salt Lake Valley? For the first time, you can get a glimpse into the lives of hundreds of pioneer children through a new FamilySearch interactive online experience.
The free web feature is available to everyone, including those without a FamilySearch account. Those with pioneer ancestry can celebrate ancestors who made the treacherous journey; those without pioneer heritage can also gain insight into a valuable part of history, allowing them to celebrate Pioneer Day in a new way.
Young and old alike can play the Pioneer Matching Game by taking a three-question quiz to select interests from four categories. Each time they take the quiz, users are matched with a pioneer child with characteristics similar to the answers given to the quiz questions.
For example, after you take the quiz, the result may show that you are creative and explain what that means.
The quiz results then include the name of a pioneer child and a short story of his or her experience, the child’s age (0–18), the length of time he or she was on the trail, and the trek company he or she traveled with.
The difficult journey of crossing the plains was especially hard for children. Many faced pain, hardship, and even death. One child, Heber Robert McBride, said of his family’s journey:
“It was not long before our provisions began to get short. We were reduced to one-half pound of flour and the children to one-fourth per day and nothing with it except water and sometimes a very little tea. The food we had was not enough to support nature. Father began to fail rapidly and got so reduced that he could not pull any more at the handcart but could manage to walk along for a few days. Then he and Mother would start out in the morning and walk as far as they could along with the others who were sick and tired. . . . No tongue nor pen could tell what my sister and I went through, our parents both sick and us young. It seemed as though death would be a blessing.”
Heber was only 13 at the time his family traveled to the Salt Lake Valley.
Not every experience was difficult, however. As always, children need to find time for fun—and children like Ann Agatha certainly did. Ann Agatha described a time she played a joke on some of the men in her company. When they settled down for lunch, she hid and bleated like a sheep. The men scattered and began looking for the animal they heard—until they caught on.
Knowing the stories of the pioneer children who crossed the plains can bring them to life in a completely new way. Click the button below to try out the new Online Pioneer Children Activity!
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