Keith Johnson, Deseret Morning News
Days go by, seasons pass, years slip on. Old buildings give way to new. Streets become highways. The landscape is altered.
The fact of the universe is that nothing ever stays the same. Sometimes change is abrupt, but mostly it's subtle; you hardly notice until one day you look around and realize that a lot of little changes have added up to big change.
And if someone or something is not there to say this is how it was, you might not remember or appreciate just how different it all was.
For 75 years, the International Society Daughters of the Utah Pioneers has been doing just that: marking the important events and locations of Utah's history. By now, the DUP has erected some 534 monuments scattered across not only every county in Utah, but also in 12 other states and 11 other countries.
"October, 1840, James Burnham, first missionary from Zion for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, arrived in Wales and the first branch was organized at Overton, Flintshire, with 32 members," reads marker 363 in Merthyr Tydfil, Wales.
"From 1870 to 1876 Major Wesley Powell and his assistant Almon H. Thompson of the U.S. Colorado River Explorations established headquarters at Kanab. On this spot they erected a stone foundation and raised a tent which housed a telescope by which means the meridian was established," notes monument 208 in Kanab.
"In the spring of 1864, fifteen families of pioneers came from Paris, Idaho, and settled Clover Creek, the name used until President Brigham Young changed it to Montpelier. After building crude homes, the settlers erected a large building of logs which was used for church, school and community center. . . . The bell topping this marker called the people together for many years," says marker 66 in Montpelier, Idaho.
And so it goes, from marker 1, which was placed in Tooele in 1934, to marker 534, which honors Pettyville pioneers in Sterling in Sanpete County.
"The Daughters have become a monument-building organization," said former DUP president Kate Snow, at a convention held in 1933, when the group decided to design an insignia and plaque, incorporating a yoke of oxen, that would go on all DUP monuments. Before that, the DUP had built some monuments but allowed other groups, such as the Utah Trails and Landmark Organization to place the plaques. But now, despite the added expense, the Daughters would have their own plaques. "If we are going to do big things, and be worthy of our name, we must dare, we must cooperate," Snow said.
All these years later, "the markers are a very important part of what we do," says DUP president Mary Johnson. "They let people know exactly what happened and where it happened."
And what is exciting, she said, is that placing the markers has been a true grass-roots effort. "The local chapters make the recommendations, do all the research and build the structure. We (the international society leadership) verify the research and provide the plaque."
The society allows up to four new markers a year. Two new ones have been approved for this year. But because many of the markers are placed on roadsides to allow easy access for travelers, another constant challenge is keeping up with changing roads. "When roads have to be widened, the markers might have to be moved. We try to keep them someplace close by, but that's an ongoing challenge," Johnson said.
The monuments are numbered in the order they were erected, explains DUP marker chairman Dawna Thayne. So by looking at the numbers, you get a look at the history of monument building.
The DUP has also produced a booklet that lists the markers by both number and location. "I keep a book in my car," says marker board member Carole Maddux. "When we travel, we love to visit the markers in that area."
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