Start My Family Tree Welcome to Geni, home of the world's largest family tree.
Join Geni to explore your genealogy and family history in the World's Largest Family Tree.

Lost Along the Way: Mormon Pioneers on the Westward Journey

« Back to Projects Dashboard

view all


This is a Master Project designed to honor Mormon Pioneers who died along the trail; there is a sub project specifically for the tragedy of the Martin/Willey Handcart Company - Hunt and Hodgett Wagon Company of 1856.

"That the struggles, the sacrifices, and the sufferings of the faithful pioneers and the cause they represented shall never be forgotten." - Winter Quarters Monument

The Mormon Migration has been called the largest human migration in American history. Between 1840 and 1869, about seventy thousand converts to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints emigrated from Great Britain, Scandinavia, Germany, Switzerland, Italy, France, Australia, the Hawaiian Islands, and elsewhere to the United States to gather with fellow members of the Church at their "Zion" - originally Nauvoo, Illinois, and eventually the Salt Lake Valley, Utah Territory.

"...Mormon pioneer immigrants of the nineteenth century experienced a monumental endeavor fraught with considerable difficulty and danger. Both transoceanic and transcontinental travel was attended with increased risk because of a wide variety of acute diseases, communicable illness, and accidental injury. It was not a journey to be taken lightly."

Although the majority of these people completed the journey successfully, the threat of illness and even death was a significant risk for those who chose to make the journey. Travel during the nineteenth century was neither an easy nor a particularly safe undertaking, and many of the Saints fell victim to sickness, disease, and injury. A significant number of the migrants died en route. Although mortality and fatality rates for Latter-day Saint immigrants appear to approximate or be slightly below those found among comparable immigrant groups of the period, still hundreds of early convert immigrants fell ill or died, most often from acute diseases or accidents.

By 1869, perhaps 70,000 Mormons had walked or traveled in wagons across 1,300 miles of wilderness to Salt Lake City, Utah, leaving perhaps 5,000 in graves along the way. Their journey was equal to the distance from New York City to Miami, or Seattle to San Diego. The exact number of Saints who died is not known, but it is estimated that some forty-two hundred to five thousand perished between 1846 and 1869. Some 670–700 died crossing the Atlantic or the Pacific, while another 3,400–4,300 died during the overland journey.

The purpose of this project is to honor those who were lost along the way. Many sources and projects celebrate those who successfully completed the journey, but here we'll remember those who died in the attempt.

How to Participate

Please add profiles for all those who died on the journey to Utah Territory/State of Deseret before 10 May 1869, the date that the Transcontinental Railroad was completed. Those who actually reached Utah should be added to one of the other Mormon Pioneer projects.

  • Try to include in the "About Me" section of each person a brief biographical sketch of their lives. See any of the pioneers on the 1847 Brigham Young project as an example.
  • Include a photograph of your ancestor if it is possible to do so without violating copyright restrictions
  • Your pioneer's profiles should be marked as "public" and not "private".
  • All included profiles should be as complete as possible, including birth and death dates as well as birth and death locations. It would also be very helpful if the immediate family of your pioneer ancestor, (their parents, siblings and children) profiles were public profiles also.
  • You may add a link to project profiles in the Honor Roll, below, along with a brief (1-2 sentence) summary of their fate

Honor Roll

If you would like to include a profile here but don't know how to create the link, please feel free to contact a Project Collaborator (listed on left) for help.

  • James Dickerson Allen - On the night of 6 July 1852, at Little Sweetwater River, Wyoming, James Dickerson Allen was assigned guard duty. Although he was ill, he refused to let anyone else take his turn on guard. He died in the middle of the night of cholera, at age 48.
  • Daphne (Haynes) Hamblin - Her family spent two years preparing for the journey, but just as they were ready to leave, Daphne became ill. She died on 5 April 1847 and was buried along the trail in Pottawattamie County, Iowa with only a crude marker for her grave.
  • Gardner Clark - died of scurvy on 11 April 1847 at the age of fifty-six
  • Joanna (Carter) Roundy - Soon after the birth of her second son, the family moved to Winter Quarters, Douglas County, Nebraska, where Joanna died on 5 February 1847. She was 22 years old.
  • Henry James Clegg - Just fifteen-months old, Jimmie died at Mormon Grove a few days after his mother and is buried next to her. His father and six year old brother continued on to Utah

Finding Aids

Although many of these sites are helpful in locating those who died along the way, none of them contains a complete list of pioneers who met with fatal illnesses or injuries. Often the best way to locate these profiles is when working with a family group who journeyed to Utah together. Those who completed the journey can be included in the appropriate Mormon Pioneer projects for the year(s) of their travel; those who died along on the trail can be included here.