Our 2018 National Symposium was a special treat this year drawing comments from several historians that they learned something new today. Jerry Houck spoke about A Living Church including the succession, church government, organization and attitudes in the LDS Church. Devan Jensen and Kenneth Alford spoke about the Utah War of 1857-1858. We had a bit of an unusual circumstance when one of our presenters, Bill Hartley, passed away a couple weeks before the presentation. His assistant Catherine Blake gave a presentation in his place about Transportation Changes in the West, Howard Egan, the Central Route, Pony Express and the Stagecoach. And Alma Alford spoke about the church and government relations with the Reed Smoot Hearings. Then the Keynote Speakers were SLC Temple President Jack Wixom and his wife, former General Primary President and now SLC Temple Matron Rosemary Wixom. We had fewer attendees than in recent years, but this allowed for a very sweet spirit in the personal setting of a smaller gathering. This was such a wonderful experience we are already looking forward to next year’s National Symposium!



Building Clean Up Day is always a fun time to roll up our sleeves and work side by side. This is also a very impactful way for our members and friends to help keep National Expenses down by filling needs that would otherwise need to be hired out. This goes a long way to helping us in our ongoing efforts to keep expenses down and keep the National Dues as low as possible.
Those who came to help on Saturday, or other times during the week due to schedule conflicts, were the following: Keith Van Roosendaal, John Elggren and his grandson Roundy, Tony Tidwell, John and Diane Smith, Jim and Joan Hurst and their grandson Dallin Despain, Paul Bambrough, Guy Moore, and Gene Minor, along with our Office Staff Heather Davis, Linda Sorensen, and Pat Cook.
We were able to cut down the fallen tree limb from the neighbor’s shed, clean and repair the rain gutters,  sidewalk crack fill and repair, weeding on the entrance side of the parking lot, window washing inside and out, and we replaced all the highest light bulbs in the building with LEDs along with any others that had burned out.     
It is always so nice to have our beloved SUP Headquarters Building looking her best when we invite the public in to our National Symposium the following weekend.

2018 Chapter President's Council


The Chapter Presidents Council was a really great time to meet all together with the Chapter Presidents, Chapter Past Presidents, Chapter Presidents-elect, the National Board and National Past Presidents and all of their wives. Despite the weather on the previous day, we had a great turnout of 140 people with most chapters represented. We were able to discuss topics of both National and Chapter interests, encouraging Chapters to use online technology to enhance your communications, meetings, and newsletters, and encouraging use of the National Chapter Awards as a guideline for Chapter Councils and Activities throughout the year. In the break-out meetings we discussed how much we value our wives involvement and encourage them to fully participate with their husbands and stay up-to-date with the Trail Marker Newsletter every month. If your wife is not getting the Trail Maker Newsletter, please call the National Office 801-484-4441 to add her email to the mailing list. The Cedar City Chapter presented a video trailer of the 2018 Encampment. This video will be available on the Website. The new Library Directors John and Diane Smith reported on progress and changes in the SUP Library moving toward online access and digitalization, with many thanks to the Librarian Roger Flick for his assistance and direction. Steve Kruman introduced a new program for leaving a Monumental Contribution from Modest Means, using extra Life Insurance Policies and Annuities. The following Chapters received Chapter Recognition Awards for 2017: Settlement Canyon, Maple Mountain, Timpanogos, Ogden Pioneer, Mills, Upper Snake River Valley, Grove City, and Jordan River Temple. The following Chapters received Chapter Excellence Awards for 2017: Brigham Young, Red Rocks, Cedar City, and Morgan Pioneer. Many congratulations to all of you for your efforts and vigorous activity with the Sons of Utah Pioneers!!


Brigham's Ball 2017

We had a wonderful time at our 2017 Brigham’s Christmas Ball. Keith Van Roosendaal was sworn in as 2018 National President. Tony Tidwell was sworn in as 2018 National President-elect. And John Elggren was sworn in as 2018 National Past President. The National Board and other Officers were also sworn in. Dil and Diane Strasser prepared excellent food in a beautiful buffet dinner presentation! Over 80 people were in attendance and partied the night away with dancing and games lead by the Old Glory Vintage Dancers. Steve Cook won the Men’s Costume Contest, Kathy Tidwell won the Women’s Costume Contest, and Jim and Joan Hurst won the Couple’s Costume Contest. Grant Barton and Keith Van Roosendaal won the raffle for buying their tickets before the deadline. We had such a great time that the Old Glory Vintage Dancers have given the SUP four $25 Gift Certificates redeemable for other similar events they hold throughout the year. These will go to the first 4 people to call Heather 801-484-4441.




After a full life, Alan Luke passed away peacefully at home on Sept 20, 2017 at age 99½. Alan was active in community service, participating with the Sons of Utah Pioneers as Mills Chapter president, and was elected National SUP President. He enjoyed being the advisor of the Young Dairy Cooperators in the Northwest for 10 years. He was President of the USU Old Main Society and was honored by USU Agriculture for Distinguished Service for his many contributions to the Dairy Industry. Realizing the importance of education, he has endowed scholarships at several Utah universities and Piute High School which continue to help many students. A faithful member of the LDS church, he was serving in the Swiss German Mission when World War II broke out and he had to be evacuated with other European missionaries. He served a second mission with Janet in Toronto, Canada after he retired. Throughout his life he served in many capacities including teacher, High Councilman, Bishop, Seattle Temple worker, and Patriarch. He managed a large dairy farm for the church in Virginia and organized a stake welfare apple orchard in Tacoma, WA. Due to his love of family history he enjoyed working with the Young Single Adult stakes in the Family History Center at the University of Utah. He had a keen wit and liked to make people laugh, retaining his quick sense of humor throughout his life. He is survived by his beloved wife, Janet; 6 children; 15 grandchildren, 10 great grandchildren, 2 great great grandchildren; and his sister Retta Taylor. Burial was in the Memorial Holladay Cemetery. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the LDS Perpetual Education Fund. Condolences may be shared with the family at HolbrookMortuary.com


We had a wonderful SUP National Convention September 14-16, 2017 hosted by the Centerville Chapter in Centerville Utah. Everyone had a good time kicking off the event on Thursday night with a western band and hootenanny. The Friday tours visited Antelope Island, Hill Aerospace Museum, the Church History Museum, and a lifetime local tour guide gave a personal tour of the Echo Canyon Pioneer Trail. Friday night was crowned with an exceptional stage performance adapted especially for the Sons of Utah Pioneers from the Nauvoo Pageant. Saturday’s Business Meeting elected Tony Tidwell for our next National President-elect, and a significant Bylaws Change was also announced. To complete the event, our keynote speaker, Glenn Rawson from History of the Saints, gave a rousing talk about passing our Pioneer Stories to our next generation.

The Centerville Chapter did a marvelous job hosting this event, with over the top details like SUP candy and hand drawings on every table, making a remarkable event. Thank You Bob Brown, Alden Richins and the Centerville Chapter!




On Monday morning, July 24, under the direction of the Salt Lake Pioneer Chapter, the seats in the Assembly Hall on Temple Square were filled for our annual sunrise service. It was a remarkably moving and spiritual experience. The speaker was Elder Kevin R. Duncan of the First Quorum of the Seventy, who related touching stories of his family’s pioneer heritage. Marvelous music was presented by the West Valley combined Institute choirs, which stirred our souls. Maurine Smith, of the Daughters of Utah Pioneers, introduced the Days of 47 Royalty, who sang so beautifully, “The Battle Hymn of the Republic.”
Our entry in the days of 47 parade again this year was 11 handcarts accompanied by 35 of our members, family and friends, and represented each of the pioneer handcart companies that came into Utah. It was a pleasant overcast day for the parade, and we were cheered on by a numerous and enthusiastic crowd.
For the first time in many years the National Society of the Sons of Utah Pioneers was invited to participate in the Bountiful Handcart Days Parade on July 21st. As president of our association, I was provided with a sleek Mercedes convertible and driver, and was well received by a friendly crowd, which included President Dieter F. Uchtdorf of the First Presidency, who was enjoying the parade as a spectator. What a thrill and a privilege.




On Monday, July 17, we held our annual pioneer days celebration at the This Is The Place park.  Held in conjunction with the Daughters of Utah Pioneers, it was truly a SUPer DUPer day.
The day started out with a bit of stormy weather, but cleared up to a beautifully mild evening.  We enjoyed all of the venues of the park, then gathered in the bowery, much as our pioneer ancestors did.  There we were entertained by the Days of 47 Royalty singing and then listened to Elder Jeffrey R Holland speak.  
The use of the Bowery proved a wonderful idea, being centrally located and spacious.  The Bowery was full and many sat on the grass to hear the events.
Elder Holland told of his ancestry.  “First, a comment about my Holland family, who clearly were not Utah pioneers,” he said. “They were a rowdy, but loveable, bunch of Roman Catholic miners born in Ireland who made their way to Montana and Colorado, ending up in Park City at the turn of the 20th century.”
Widowed at the age of 26 with two little boys, Elder Holland’s father being the youngest, his grandmother eventually made her way to Salt Lake City, where she was blessed by the friendship of John Fetzer, the kindly bishop of the old Salt Lake City 8th Ward.
“The rest, as they say, is history,” Elder Holland said. “My grandmother and my father, he by then a 14-year-old boy, joined the Church in 1924.”
Stricken by smallpox, he was taken out of school by his stepfather, “a loss of opportunity and a blow to his self-esteem that he never fully overcame,” Elder Holland related.
“But heaven had its hand on him when, as a Civilian Conservation Corps recruit, he found himself in southern Utah in the early 1930s during the Depression, where he met and married my mother.
“What a union! A gleeful, Irish dance hall piano-playing convert from Roman Catholicism who went through life with a smile on his face and a shine on his shoes marrying a very proper, stay-at-home, quilting and canning, canning and cooking, genuine and thoroughly domestic daughter of Utah pioneers. What a marriage!
“I am the product of that union!"


Orson Wright (1).JPG

Dr. Orson D. Wright, beloved husband, father, grandfather and friend passed away on July 5 th , 2017 in Salt Lake City, Utah. One of the most rewarding was his service over 52 years as a member of the National Society of the Sons of the Utah Pioneers wherein he served as the National President in 1972-1973 and as President of the Past National Presidents for eleven years. As the Director of the SUP Pioneer Village in Salt Lake he managed the sale of the Village and its transfer to Lagoon in 1976. With the proceeds he was able to promote the building of the SUP headquarters office and Building at the mouth of Parleys canyon. He directed the placement of the Pioneer Memorial Monument (“All is Well”) at the Brigham Young grave site for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. He was very active in Scouting. He served as high council member over scouting, district scouting leader, and vice president of GSL scout council. He attended Philmont ranch, received the Silver Beaver award, and served as president of the Silver Beavers. Being very active in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, he has served in many capacities as teacher, quorum leader, branch president, member of district presidency, bishopric member, bishop, high councilor, missionary, stake missions, mission president, SL temple ordinance worker, and temple square tour guide for 20 years. He shares his testimony of the truth of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints and its restoration.



Our annual   History   Symposium   which   was   developed   and   conducted under the creative experience of our 2018 President-elect, Keith Van Roosendaal.  We all were educated and entertained by five very special and well-known presenters. Beginning with Susan Easton Black and her husband, George Durrant, who informed us of many lesser known facts and engaging anecdotes in the lives of Joseph and Emma Smith. They were followed by Mary Ellen Elggren and her presentation on Brigham Young, her great-great-grandfather, and his Human and Humorous side.  Thomas Alexander, our past President, gave insight into Wilford Woodruff’s Spiritual gifts and his experiences as St George Temple President. Our final presenter was Ronald L. Anderson, who shared a remarkable view of the relationship between Abraham Lincoln, Joseph Smith, and the Latter-day Saints. 

The evening dinner session gave the special opportunity to hear from our keynote speaker, President Cecil O. Samuelson, former president of BYU and currently President of the Salt Lake Temple. Once again, we gained new insight into the history and function of the temple. We enjoyed the event in the comfortable setting of our National Headquarters.

A special note: Dr. William H Tanner, who is currently the Publisher of our “Pioneer Magazine,” was presented with the Presidential Meritorious Service Award in recognition for his dedication and fantastic service over the years to the Sons of Utah Pioneers and the Pioneer Magazine, which is often referred to as the “Crown Jewel” of The Sons of Utah Pioneers. Dr. Tanner’s work rises far beyond all expectation. Congratulations Bill, you deserve it.


Pratt symposium a success!

The LDS Church News published an article recounting the proceedings of the Parley P. Pratt Symposium presented by the SUP on May 9, 2015. The entire text of the article, minus photos, is shown below. The article itself, including photos, is here.

Our thanks to R. Scott Lloyd, the author, and to Matt Hartvigsen for permission to reprint the following article:

The life of Elder Parley P. Pratt, apostle, preacher, prolific poet and tireless champion of the kingdom of God on earth in the early years of the Restoration, was celebrated in speech and song May 9 by four of his descendants — including a General Authority — and one Church history scholar at the 2015 Historical Symposium presented in Salt Lake City by the National Society of the Sons of Utah Pioneers.

Elder Craig A. Cardon of the Seventy, a great-great-grandson of Elder Pratt, was the keynote speaker at an evening banquet for the symposium. Earlier in the day, attendees heard from the following presenters:

Matthew J. Grow, director of publications at the Church History Department, a general editor of the Joseph Smith Papers, great-great-grandson and co-author of a biography of Elder Pratt.

Alexander L. Baugh, professor of Church History and Doctrine at BYU with a specialty in the Missouri period of Church History (1831-39).

Robert Steven Pratt, author of several books on Elder Pratt’s papers, a great-great-grandson of Elder Pratt and an author of a forthcoming book on Elder Pratt’s hymn texts. His presentation was accompanied by the Kaye Starr Singers.

Mitchell O. Pratt, a great-great-grandson of Elder Pratt, author of a forthcoming book on his life and death, and leader of the archaeological team that excavated Elder Pratt’s gravesite in Arkansas.

Elder Cardon, who referred to his ancestor affectionately as “Grandpa Parley,” extolled him as an ordained apostle and “prolific proclaimer of the restored gospel of Jesus Christ, an indefatigable defender of truth, an uncompromising disciple of God’s divine will. He was an author, an editor, a husband and a father. He lived his life with complete faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. He died firmly rooted in that faith. Thanks be to God for this great son.”

Elder Cardon shared Elder Pratt’s 1839 testimony of the Prophet Joseph Smith and what he learned from him:

“He taught me many great and glorious principles concerning God and the heavenly order of eternity. It was at this time that I received from him the first idea of eternal family organization, and the eternal union of the sexes in those inexpressibly endearing relationships which none but the highly intellectual, the refined and pure in heart know how to prize, and which are at the very foundation of everything worthy to be called happiness. …

“It was Joseph Smith who taught me how to prize the endearing relationships of father and mother, husband and wife; of brother and sister, son and daughter.

“It was from him that I learned that the wife of my bosom might be secured to me for time and all eternity; and that the refined sympathies and affections which endeared us to each other emanated from the fountain of divine eternal love. It was from him that I learned that we might cultivate these affections and grow and increase in the same to all eternity; while the result of our endless union would be an offspring as numerous as the stars of heaven or the sands of the sea shore.”

Brother Grow called Elder Pratt “the Apostle Paul of Mormonism,” an allusion to his extensive travels and tireless defense of the faith.

Brother Grow recounted that in conversation with a long-lost friend from his youth, Elder Pratt said he had “traveled widely throughout the United States and Canada, led Mormon pioneer companies past the ‘moving masses of wild buffalo on the boundless, treeless plains’ to Utah, preached in San Francisco during the Gold Rush, crossed the Atlantic Ocean six times and eaten ‘figs from the tree’ in Chile. His life had been one of extremes, of ‘poverty and riches, peace and war,’ sublime joys and devastating sorrows.”

Brother Baugh spoke of Elder Pratt’s imprisonment in connection with the confinement of the Prophet Joseph Smith and other Church leaders following three months of conflict between Mormons and Missouri mobs and militia members in 1838. The Prophet’s confinement would last five and a half months, and Elder Pratt would remain imprisoned three months beyond that.

It was during their three-week confinement with other Church leaders in a log house at Richmond, Missouri, that Joseph issued a scathing rebuke of the militia guards, who had been boasting of atrocities committed again the Mormon people, Brother Baugh recounted.

“Elder Pratt did not record the reprimand at that time or even soon after,” he said. “It was not until 1853 that he wrote the letter to Willard Richards, Church Historian, recounting the incident. The letter would be published in the Deseret News Nov. 12, ironically 15 years to the day that the Richmond hearing began. Still later, the portion of the letter that included the Prophet’s scathing rebuke of the militiamen was included in his autobiography. … To this day, perhaps no other writer has captured the prophet’s personal valor and courage quite like Elder Pratt.”

Robert Steven Pratt narrated a selection of hymns performed by the Kaye Starr Singers, the texts of which were written by Elder Pratt.

“Parley P. Pratt, primary author of several seminal verses of the Restoration, utilized his poetic gifts to give a voice to the revelatory and other experiences of the early Latter-day Saint movement,” he said. “He considered himself a wandering pilgrim set forth to preach to a fallen world. During his many missions he would render much of the experience in poetic form.

“Parley published two books of poems titled The Millennium. The books consist of a narrative poem of six chapters, plus of several hymns. These poems were utilized for various hymnals and other settings.

“Called ‘the poetic apostle,’ Parley had 65 of his poems present in various LDS hymnals. Three were in the first hymnal in 1835. With the publication of the 1840 Manchester hymnal, he added 48 hymns, which were primarily compiled by him. That became the major hymnal for the Latter-day Saints through 25 editions. For example, the 1927 hymnal contains 38 of Parley’s hymns; our present hymnal has only seven.”

Mitchell O. Pratt spoke of Elder Pratt’s assassination in May 1857, shortly after his 50th birthday, outside the small town of Van Buren, Arkansas. He also told of the excavation of his burial site in Arkansas in April 2008, carried on at the behest of the association of Elder Pratt’s descendants, who wanted to fulfill his dying request that he be buried among his family in Utah.

No identifiable human remains were found, probably due to the acidity of the soil and the passage of time, Brother Pratt said. But a change in texture of the soil during the digging gave evidence of where the grave was.

“The male descendants of Parley, who held the Melchizedek Priesthood, had an experience, and it was earth-shattering,” he said, adding that they strongly felt this was the grave of Elder Pratt, “and that this was a time of reconciliation, peace and oneness with the people of Arkansas.”

He added, “The whole experience was never about the physical, though we didn’t know that going in. It was all about the spiritual, because hearts were changed.”

Not long after that event, missionary work in Arkansas was at an all-time high, he said, a tribute to Elder Pratt, a great missionary of this gospel dispensation.

2015 Cedar City Symposium

On Saturday, April 11, I had the privilege of spending a day in Cedar City to participate in a regional symposium. Cedar City Chapter President, Harold Shirley and members of his chapter had organized a first rate program. It was an extraordinary spiritual and intellectual experience for all who attended.

The speakers offered us a feast in faithful history. The first speaker was Dr. Douglas Alder former president of Dixie State University, former member of the St. George Temple Presidency, and co-author of an excellent history of the St. George Temple. Doug spoke on the history of the St. George Temple. A second speaker was Dr. E. Leo Lyman, formerly a professor at Victor Valley College in California and currently an adjunct professor of history at Dixie State University. Leo spoke on mail and freight trails to Southern Utah. A third speaker was William Hartley, formerly a professor of history at Brigham Young University and editor of the Joseph Smith Papers. Bill cleared the air on trails and travel from Nauvoo to Utah. Many members of the church believe that most of the members came by handcart. Nothing can be further from the truth. Even during the years that handcarts were used, most members came in wagon trains. I spoke on the role that Wilford Woodruff played at the St. George Temple. He received a vision of the founding fathers, but he was also inspired to prepare a list of prominent men and women whose temple work he and the temple workers completed. He inaugurated temple work for persons unrelated to the proxy receiving the endowments for the individual.

Following a delicious Dutch oven dinner, we enjoyed a spiritual feast in talks by Elder Bruce Hafen and Sister Marie K. Hafen. They told us both about the spiritual experiences they and others enjoyed at the St. George Temple and during its construction. They also provided vignettes from the history of the temple. It was a particular joy for me to meet again with the two of them since I have known them for many years, and they served in the area presidency while Marilyn and I served as missionaries at the Institute of Religion in Berlin.

Several upcoming events deserve notice here. On Saturday, May 9, the national organization will sponsor a symposium on the life of Parley P. Pratt. We encourage all members to attend. All except one of the presenters are direct descendants of Elder Pratt. All of the presenters, Matt Grow, Mitch Pratt, Steve Pratt, and Alex Baugh are scholars who have researched aspects of Elder Pratt’s life and work. The keynote address at the dinner meeting will be given by Elder Craig Cardon of the Seventy.

We also encourage you to take an opportunity to attend the Major Howard Egan symposium on June 12. The SUP is a cosponsor along with a number of other organizations. You will find this a spiritually and intellectually uplifting event as well.

On July 24, the Sons of Utah Pioneers is sponsoring two events. We urge all to attend the Days of 47 Sunrise Service at the Tabernacle. It was organized by the Salt Lake Pioneer Chapter and will begin at 7:00 a.m. We also encourage all members and their families who wish to do so to participate in the Days of 47 Parade in downtown Salt Lake City. SUP members and their families will be pulling handcarts and walking from South Temple to Liberty Park. Both of these will be outstanding events.

Another event of interest is the annual SUP day at the This is the Place Heritage Park. It will take place on Monday, July 27. Members of the SUP are invited, but anyone who is interested may purchase tickets for themselves and their families. We encourage all to attend. Bring your friends and families.

SUP members also have another opportunity. On June 4 through 7, the Mormon History Association will hold its annual convention at the Utah Valley Conference Center on Center Street in Provo. The MHA was organized in 1965 in San Francisco. This year marks its 50th anniversary. I feel a particular affinity for the organization since I was one of the founders who attended that meeting fifty years ago. The Sons of Utah Pioneers will sponsor a table at the convention to attract those in attendance to our Family and Friends initiative and the Pioneer Magazine.

Tom Alexander,
National President, 2015