Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Day 51, Wed, Oct 22, Omaha, NE

This is a bronze statue outside the entrance to the Mormon Trail Information Center, across from the Omaha Temple. It depicts the use of handcarts by some companies of Mormon pioneers who traveled in this manner from Omaha to the Salt Lake Valley. It is is beautiful piece of work but we couldn't help but contrast it to the strength, energy and detail so evident in the wagon train pieces created by Ed Fraughton for the downtown "Spirit of Nebraska Wilderness & Pioneer Courage Park" that we were privilaged to visit yesterday.

We were graciously received by the Sister missionaries and the Senior couple assigned to the Center on our arrival. One of the missionaries, Sister Lewis from Florida, guided us through the wonderful visual presentation that is provided in this Center, telling so effectively of the events and circumstances surrounding Saints experiences in Winter Quarters. We were deeply impressed. We have those in our ancestry that were part of this pioneer experience. We should not forget their devotion and their sacrifice.

This is a view from the pioneer cemetary tooking towards the Temple. The grounds are adorned with wonderfully large hardwood and evergreen trees.

The Winter Quarters settlement, consisting of some 500 log cabins and sod huts, was on fairly level, open ground down the hill to the East from this cemetary location and extending out to the west bank of the Missouri River. This was Potowatami Indian land granted by the federal government and the Indian tribes as a temporary resting place for the Saints before they continued their western migration.

On the bronze memorial listing the names of those buried here, we noticed the name of Mary C. Burnham 19 yrs, and 9 month child Mary Lowery Burnham.

You see from the ages that so very many were children.

Because of the wind and rain and because of such a beautiful, spacious and comfortable room at the Holiday Inn just 6 miles from the Temple, we elected to stay another day in Omaha.

Despite the continuing cold wind and rain, we went back over to the Mormon Trail Information Center across from Temple so we could complete the presentation the Sister missionaries started to share with us yesterday. Before going in to the information center we walked over to the Pioneer Cemetary located on the Temple grounds. This cemetary is the burial place of many of those who died while at Winter Quarters in 1846-47. Many of these were children who could not survive the harshness of the winter and the diseases that swept the encampment.

This monument by noted LDS sculptor Arvard Fairbanks is on the cemetary grounds, directly north of the Temple. It depicts a pioneer father and mother standing over the grave where they have just laid their child to rest.