The pioneer era seems so long ago that it's hard to comprehend these are people alive today who knew actual pioneers.
"To me, it's not that long ago because my grandmother lived to be 96 or 97, and she was only 2 years old when she crossed the plains, so I knew her for many years of my life," said Elizabeth Bateman of South Ogden.
Bateman, who is 88, remembers her grandmother talking about making the trek to Utah in 1861.
"She could remember her feet being pricked -- I guess she didn't have shoes -- being pricked by the stickers," said Bateman. "I guess they had to walk a lot of the way."
Her grandmother, Eliza Ann Stratford Smith, gathered wood and buffalo chips for campfires.
"She also talked about the dances," said Bateman. "I don't know if it was on the way over, or after they arrived in the Salt Lake Valley, but they had dances for the young people ... They danced half the night away."
Bateman inherited a dress from her pioneer grandmother. She says it was made by either Smith's mother (Marianna Crabb) or grandmother (Eliza Barwell), who also crossed the plains in 1861. The copper-brown dress, which is still in excellent condition, was made to be worn to the dedication of the Salt Lake Temple in 1893.
The beautifully made dress has beading on the collar, a row of buttons, and even a strip of velvet covering the inside hem.
Bateman says she can fit into the pioneer-era dress because she's only 5 feet 2 inches tall, and because dresses like this one were made with a waistline that could be taken in and let out during a lifetime of wear.
Bateman was one of 186 local Daughters of Utah Pioneers who recently participated in a project called "Did My Grandpa Know Your Grandpa?" They discovered several fun facts through their research. For example:
* Many people in Weber County are related. Among local DUP members, the most common ancestors are Erastus Bingham and Otis Terry. In spite of his reputation, none of the women in the project found they were descended from Brigham Young.
* The oldest pioneer ancestor at the time of the trek, locals found, was Mary Ann Campbell Robbins. She started the journey at age 94, but died shortly before her company reached Salt Lake City.
* Some pioneers traveled back east to guide other immigrants. One Weber DUP member's ancestor, John Murdock, made the crossing six times.
A PIONEER HUNT
Think you have an ancestor who was a Mormon pioneer, and want to learn more?
Local Daughters of Utah Pioneers who participated in the "Did My Grandpa Know Your Grandpa?" project said they used two websites to quickly learn more about their family history.
First, they went to the old Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints website, Classic.familysearch.org, and entered the name of a deceased ancestor to find a family pedigree chart.
Looking at the chart, they identified possible pioneers -- people born outside Utah prior to 1869, who died, married or had a baby in a Western state. Then they went to Classic.lds.org, clicked on "Church History" and then on "Mormon Pioneer Overland Travel, 1847-1868." A search brings up a list of known pioneers by the name entered, with information about how they traveled to Utah.