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'Follow Me to Zion' chronicles 20 Willie handcart pioneers and rescuers

Published: Friday, Nov. 29 2013 6:00 a.m. MST

"FOLLOW ME TO ZION: Stories from the Willie Handcart Pioneers," by Andrew D. Olsen and Jolene S. Allphin, art by Julie Rogers, Deseret Book, $29.99, 288 pages (nf)

The simple message was found cross-stitched onto two small pieces of fabric, bookmark-size, inside a journal belonging to handcart pioneer Thomas Normington.

"Follow me to zion."

Similar to the Savior's invitation, "Come, follow me" (Luke 18:22), the slogan seemed to fit as the appropriate title for a new book that recounts 20 compelling stories of members of the Willie Handcart Company and their rescuers.

"Follow Me to Zion: Stories from the Willie Handcart Pioneers" is co-authored by Andrew D. Olsen and Jolene S. Allphin, with dozens of full-color images by artist Julie Rogers.

"For many years, as we have been writing about the handcart pioneers and representing them in paintings, countless people have asked for these efforts to be combined — for stories to be written and illustrated together," the authors wrote in the book's preface.

Among those pioneers featured in the book are James G. Willie, the company's captain, along with the James and Elizabeth Cunningham family, Bodil Malene Mortensen, the William and Jane James family, the Ole and Ane Madsen family, and the Jens and Elsie Nielson family. Each profile includes excerpts from firsthand accounts, what happened to them after they reached the Salt Lake Valley and reflections on their lives by descendants.

This book also contains the most comprehensive, up-to-date listing of members of the Willie Handcart Company.

"We hope the combination of stories and art in this book will be a source of inspiration," the authors wrote in the preface. "We also hope that the stories of these Saints will encourage all toward a greater commitment in living the gospel and greater faith in facing the storms of life."

Olsen is an editor for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and the author of "The Price We Paid: The Extraordinary Story of the Willie and Martin Handcart Pioneers."

Allphin has published nearly 300 biographical sketches of the pioneers in "Tell My Story, Too."

Rogers' art has been featured in church publications, visitors centers and the Church History Museum.

Email: ttoone@desnews.com Twitter: tbtoone

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