Happy 24th of July, Pioneer Day!

Bonnie Barber

Happy Pioneer Day, or 24th of July! Pioneer Day is quite the celebration in Utah – it commemorates the entry of the first Pioneer’s into the Salt Lake Valley and essentially marks the beginning of the State of Utah. Especially in Parowan, Pioneer Day has a special place in the hearts of community members and our family in particular. All the way back in 1851, Parowanians celebrated the first ever Pioneer day – and a celebration it was! From the history books - “Pioneer Day was celebrated in grand style for the first time in Parowan, Iron County.  The day was ushered in with the thundering of artillery, waving of flags, beating of drums and shouting of the people.” The Iron Battalion performed; a grand parade; several dinner parties ensued; and the day ended beautifully with a grand dance, boasting participants of all ages! 

Particularly for descendants of Lizzie, Pioneer Day celebrations have been close to home! For it was Sarah and Charles (Lizzie’s parents-in-law) who were also part of the trek of pioneers that crossed the country and settled Utah, Iron County and Parowan in particular. 

Many years later, wonderful Lizzie spared no expense of bravery and passion when she stood in front of the Old Rock Church just as it was about to be torn down, and insisted that if it went down, they would have to take her down with it. After quite some time, and on July 24th to boot, something certainly worth celebrating happened: 

The Old Rock Church, after the city tried to tear it down, was finally renewed close to the original.  The project was completed by 1940, and so on July 24th, 1940, the old bell again peeled forth its glad tidings, calling the people back to their Old Church once more for a joyful celebration.  The house was crowded, many standing.  The old Choir members took their places, again as in the past.  The organ played and the familiar songs of the Pioneers, among them Come, Come Ye Saints, and after years of silence filled every corner of the old building.  Many old relics of Parowan's history had been gathered and now they are housed in the old church where they could be better displayed.  The pictures of the Pioneers and early settlers adorn the walls on either side and make an inspiring sight.” (words from D Watson, Lizzie’s son, retrieved via family history books). 

Share your Pioneer Day traditions with us in the comments! 

(Photo of the Old Rock Church in Parowan, Utah)

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