1 of 7
Kenneth Mays
The Rebecca Winters grave near Scottsbluff, Nebraska.

There is a wonderful story and historical site from the days of pioneer travel across the plains of Nebraska near the present-day city of Scottsbluff. It is simply known as the grave of Rebecca Winters.

Kenneth Mays
The Rebecca Winters grave, Scottsbluff, Nebraska. Her name is seen inscribed in the wagon wheel.

“The Rebecca Winters’ gravesite is one of the few graves of the 6,000 Latter-day Saint pioneers who died while making the journey across the plains to the West. She was traveling in the James C. Snow Company in 1852 when an outbreak of cholera took her life. William F. Reynolds inscribed her name and age onto a discarded iron tire. It reads, ‘Rebecca Winters — Age 50.’ Several individuals traveling west made mention of the grave as they passed it while traveling through the area. In 1902, when surveyors were planning the Burlington Railroad through the area, the grave with the iron tire was again discovered. The railroad decided to redirect the rail line out of respect for this noble pioneer mother who died on the plains. Also, the railroad constructed a small fence around the grave to help protect it,” according to mormonhistoricsites.org (of which I am a board member).

1 comment on this story

Rebecca’s remains were moved a short distance in 1995. This was done for considerations of safety because the grave was so close to the busy railroad line. The site is a wonderful “must see” for anyone following the route of pioneers. It is a tribute to all pioneers but, particularly, the female pioneers of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints who lost their lives making the journey to Zion.

It is likewise a reminder of a positive story — a refreshing change from stories frequently associated with persecution: the kind and gracious act of the railroad by rerouting the tracks in deference to Rebecca and all committed pioneer women.