I Am A Pioneer
This was written by my Grandmother back in the 1960s. Included is a note from my Aunt, her daughter. My Grandma was talented in many areas, especially in writing and painting. (She also made the best apple pie—a recipe that unfortunately died with her.)
– John Hamilton
One night my mother, Golda Guymon, suddenly woke in the night and information about pioneers started going through her mind. She got up and started writing, as fast as she could, all the thoughts that were so vivid to her.
Later she sent the article to The Improvement Era, which was the LDS Church magazine at the time. It was published in the July 1966 issue and called “I Am a Pioneer.”
After it was published she received a letter from President Spencer W. Kimball asking for her permission to use the article in some of his talks.
I find it very touching and feel it speaks to all of us, her descendants. We had ancestors that lived through those perilous times. How thankful we should be for their faithfulness and courage.
– Grace Guymon Jones
I am a pioneer. A short miracle-filled century ago I was here, young, vibrant, hopeful, with dreams, glorious dreams that have been fulfilled beyond my most extravagant hopes.
To arrive here, I trudged weary, endless hours, days, weeks, and months over hostile prairie land, in scorching sun, in drifting snow, enduring icy winds that chilled one’s very soul. Each lonely, anxious mile brought haunting memories—satanic mobs, fathers and husbands pleading for time, precious time. “Give us only till the winter snows are gone. If we are forced to leave now, many of our women and children will perish from the merciless elements.” Our beautiful city—burning, ruthless flames crimsoning the bitter night. Multitudes desolate, hungry, cold, driven much as animals from homes where comfort, joy, and contentment were of such a short moment. Huddled shivering on the opposite shores of an unfriendly, ice-bound river, we watched with horror the soul-searing panorama. Would that these visions could be erased from our sorrowing memories.
Praying, ever praying, knowing that somehow, somewhere, these trials would be finished; that somewhere in the West—our Promised Land—we would again know the priceless joy of security and peace of mind.
I am a pioneer. I can tell you of many things you have forgotten, yes, of which you have never even known: of hunger, always hunger, the demon fear always at our side; of ravaging sickness; the lonely little mounds of earth left behind; yes, and of graves of noble mothers too, as we trudged wearily on ever westward over the relentless desert trail. Less faithful ones have said we gave our lives for a creed whose God had forsaken us.
As I gaze on your grandeur and luxuries of today, I would that you might have the capacity to experience with me a small part of the hardships, the sorrows and calamities I have known. The price tag is high, my children. How easy to be oblivious to the past.
As down through the years I have beheld my children and their children’s children, I have prayed with all the fervor of my soul that they would not forget me. My heart cries out in anguish, Dear God, help them to remember who they are, their priceless heritage, the debt they owe to us who blazed the trail; we ask only as full payment that they keep the faith, follow the teachings of the Master, that they will gain eternal life.
Yes, I am a pioneer. As you relax in your comfortable homes, surrounded by every luxury that makes of joy this modern day, I would have you remember that I lived in a dugout at Winter Quarters. I watched loved ones die because I could not give them warmth and food. There was no doctor with his miracle drugs to heal. God seemed to have forgotten us. Trial by the fiery furnace was indeed our lot. There were to be none of weakened faith to build his glorious empire in the West.
Yes, I am a pioneer. As you feed on the bounties of the land, whether it be from your fabulous markets or the fruits of your own labors, remember me. I have boiled leather to ease the hunger pangs. I have eaten roots and thanked God on bended knee for his gift of buffalo meat. As you sleep in secure peace and comfort between snow-white sheets and satin coverlet, remember, I have hovered many long hours over my little ones, fearing lest they utter a cry betraying their presence to lurking red men crouching with uplifted tomahawk outside our meager cabin. I have counted the minutes, the hours with throbbing pulse, praying, listening—sometimes in vain—for the returning footsteps of a beloved husband, son, or father.
Yes, I am a pioneer. As you travel effortlessly in beauty and comfort on highways as smooth as silk, I pray you, remember me. I walked wearily beside tired oxen, as doggedly they plodded on and on with their precious loads of our sole earthly goods. Wind and sun and cold left their mark on me. My burning vision ever searched the distant horizon, praying for peace and safety as night closed in and camp was made. I have known the “peace that passeth all understanding” as we knelt in humble, fervent prayer around the glowing fires at eventime. I have crossed much of a continent thus to help build this shining empire of the West.
Yes, I am a pioneer. Dear Father above, guard well my children and their children and their children’s children. Let not Satan with his glittering, tempting packages of sin lead my posterity astray.
Heaven and earth are yours, my loved ones, if you will but serve the God of this land while you dwell here in mortality. I beg of you, keep the ideals I represent ever enshrined in your hearts, a living, pulsing symbol of your priceless heritage. I am your pioneer!