In 1840 Mormon Missions began in Wales. Many of these new converts to the Church Of Latter Day Saints began coming to the United States.
Many Welsh descendants have have a perception of our Welsh ancestors who emigrated to the Utah and Idaho. The way our Welsh emigration history is taught is that beginning in 1840 the Mormon Church began sending missionaries to Wales to teach and convert the people of Wales to the Mormon religion.. Upon becoming member of the church all of the new church members packed up their family and headed for the United States and once they arrived in The United States they immediately began their trek west for Utah and Idaho. Much of this information taught to us growing up is wrong.
In reality for the vast majority of the new Mormons in Wales it would be years before they would leave for the United States. The church attempted to get as many new converts in Wales as they could and encouraged most of them to come too the United States and then head west to Zion. The reasons for delayed departure were the planning of the trip,saving for the cost of the trip, and fulfilling any church work they were called to do by the church.
The Welsh converts had to pay their own way to head to the United States. Sometimes it would take years for many of these families to save up enough money to go. A common misconception is that the families always traveled together to the United States. While this is true in many case it was also common for the man to travel to the United States first in hopes of getting a home ready in Utah for his family whom would arrive at a later date.
There are also many documented times when wife and children would travel to the United States first and left the Husband in Wales. The husband would ship the family off first for a variety different reasons. He may have been working steadily in Wales and wanted to save a bit more money up to have in the United States so they could get established faster. The more common reason was church service. They would fulfill any duties the church assigned to them. It was not unusual for a member to be performing missionary work for upwards of 4-5 years.
There were many "creative financing" situations where the family would be split up for the trip over to the United States. They parents may send the children on a ship to the United States with other church members when room was available. The parents would work to save enough money for their own passage and usually within a year would follow their children to the United States..
The ships crossing from Wales to the United States took about 30 days. Upon arrival we picture them new Welsh emigrants getting off the ship and immediately beginning the trek west toward Utah. In reality, Once the new emigrants arrive in the United States many of them had to find. Work was hard to find and they needed to work and save money while they planned and prepped for the next Mormon organized wagon company to head west.
Many of the men would work building handcarts,wagon wheels, and anything else the wagon train would need. This period of time between arriving in the United States and actually leaving with a wagon train for Utah varied but could be as many as 3-4 years and sometimes even longer.
Many newly arrived welsh Immigrants were in for culture shock. Imagine arriving in a new country on your way to "Zion" and immediately you begin to second guess your decision to come to America because you can't find work, you don't speak the language, cultural racism,a feeling of abandonment by the Mormon church which is why you were came to the this country in the first place
Just When all hope was lost everything began to come together for your trek west. The feelings of abandonment by the Mormon Church gradually dissipated and then you completely went away as the wagon train began the journey to Utah.
Once a Mormon wagon train left for Utah things got even rougher. Death,sickness, unfriendly indians, both spectrum's of the thermometer from extreme hots to limb numbing colds a countless other trials led to an every hardship inmaginable for these Mormon pioneers.
A Mormon pioneer wagon train experienced many physically exhausting days. Times were very hard for the wagon trains but spirits were often kept high with the anticipation of arriving in Utah.
Mormon Pioneers did not always use handcarts. In fact most of the Mormon pioneer wagon trains never used handcarts. But the wagons and handcarts would break down. When all extra wagon wheels were used up they had to fabricate new ones by hand.
Upon first arrival in Utah and gazing at Zion for the first time there were triumphant shouts of cheers. With all of the struggles the Mormon pioneers had in getting to Utah their real work was about to begin. Many were trained in the basics of farming and then sent off to help settle a new township.
Church members were also very active in the various church callings as they are today. It was common for married adult men to go on missions for the Mormon church to help spread the Gospel throughout the west.
The building of churches,homesteads,and missionary work among countless other tasks kept the early Mormon settlers into Utah quite busy. In fact if you look at Utah,Southern Idaho and countless other communities throughout the world you will see the direct descendants of these early Mormon pioneers continuing on with the work their forefathers started. Spreading the gospel of the Mormon Church,raising a family, and fulfilling any duties the church may call upon them to perform.
This quick overview just breezed over the vast history of the Mormon immigrants from Wales and Mormon pioneers in general. I will share future articles that will go into detail on the struggles of the early pioneers to Utah and Idaho, the founding of Mormon communities and many more topics detailing Mormon Pioneer history.