Sunday, July 20, 2003

Trek of the Mormon pioneers re-enacted



The Associated Press

THREELINKS, Ky. - More than 150 Kentucky residents dressed in pioneer clothing and pulling two-wheeled hand carts re-enacted the early Mormon pioneers' trek that ended in Utah.

Members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints made their 14-mile hike Thursday and Friday through the Daniel Boone National Forest.

"We're going to be going over some rough terrain," group leader Glen Krebs said as his troupe passed the Jackson-Rockcastle County line southeast of Berea. "There'll probably be some bumps and bruises."

The people pulling the handcart yokes have to be especially careful. "If you stumble and fall, you're going to get run over," said Krebs, a Lexington lawyer and one of three making the trip on horseback.

A doctor and a nurse are accompanying the group.

"We'll have to watch out for blisters and dehydration," said Debbie Thomas of Lexington as she assembled first-aid kits. "Most of the time, it's going to be nice and shady."

The early Mormon pioneers faced a longer, more dangerous journey.

After Joseph Smith - the church's Prophet, Seer and Revelator - was killed by a mob in Nauvoo, Ill., church members looked for a place where they could live in peace. They ended up settling in Salt Lake City.

Wealthy Mormons traveled by covered wagon, buying oxen to pull them. But other, poorer members walked nearly 1,500 miles.

Pioneers battled disease and dehydration and hunger as they traveled. Many of them died.

Today, a century and a half after Brigham Young led the first settlers, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the nation's fifth-largest Christian denomination with more than 5.2 million members, according to the National Council of Churches.




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