Retracing the Trail to Salt Lake City


Contributing Writer
Janet Wahlberg

In the winter of 1846-47, Brigham Young began making plans to lead a band of Mormons across the United States to its western boundaries. He wanted to settle them in an area that no one else wanted so that they might live in peace. That location was the Great Salt Valley, now known as Salt Lake City. The migration continued over the next 20 years, some traveling in wagons and some pulling hand carts with all their worldly goods. It was an arduous journey with many dangers, weather, difficult terrain, lack of water at times, and hostile Indians, to name a few. The Mormon pioneers continued to migrate to the Great Salt Valley for the next 20 years establishing many farms, villages and their center of faith, Salt Lake City. Over the years they developed Salt Lake City into a thriving city with many beautiful buildings such as their Temple and the Tabernacle. Eventually they established an incredible library that currently houses the largest collection of genealogical records in the world.
It is to that library that a newly founded group of local genealogists, The Fenton Travelers, will be headed on their first and very ambitious research trip. The Fenton Travelers Group was formed to facilitate travel plans for western New York researchers to major and regional genealogical repositories. As we head out on our trek to Salt Lake City we will not be pulling handcarts but will be traveling in the comfort of an airplane to spend a week doing research at the Family History Library in Salt Lake City. Rooms have been secured at the Plaza Hotel, immediately adjacent to the Library. One need not be experienced as there are many, many research assistants at the Library who will gladly help you get started. There is no cost for use of the facilities or for the assistance of one of the library volunteers. For those of you unfamiliar with the Family History Library, it is 5 stories of resources. There is a bank of computers located on each floor that allows you to access many genealogy sites such as Ancestry or the Family Search catalogue, all for free. There are also thousands of microfilms and books, not to mention maps that are available. Each floor is equipped with copiers and other equipment and supplies. These are available for a very modest fee. Again, there are volunteers ready and willing to help you use the microfilm readers, copies and other amenities.
Our stay will be from October 26th thru November 2nd and travel arrangements have been made with, Jean Voight, a travel consultant, to provide the hotel group rates and assist with transportation plans. Her fee is included in the registration fee. Her contact information is: Jean Voight, 119 Tintern Ct., Charlottesville, VA 22901 434-973-8689. You will need to identify yourself as part of the Fenton History Center group and tell her your departure city and any preferences for your travel; or you may make your own travel arrangements.
A registration fee of $50.00 (checks payable to Fenton History Center) will include an orientation at the Hall House in August for participants to help plan for the trip. We will be making suggestions on how to plan your research, set goals and gather pertinent documents that you might want to have with you. A “get acquainted session” is planned for Sunday night at the hotel with additional information available there.
The Fenton Travelers Group is associated with the Fenton History Center in Jamestown, New York. Coordinators for this trip to Salt Lake City and the Family History Library are Jack T. Ericson 716-326-4335 and Karen E. Livsey 716-665-3168. Additional information can be found on the Fenton History Center Web Site, Give us a call if you would like to join this group of adventurous souls.
In addition to the Hall House Monday – Saturday 10 a.m. – 4 p.m., local research assistance is available at the Family History Center at 851 Forest Ave. on Wednesday 7 p.m. – 9 p.m. and Thursday 9 a.m. – 3 p.m.
To read Janet Walberg’s previous genealogy columns or to delve deeper into her writings and insights for searching out and recording your own family’s genealogy, please go to and visit Janet’s own web page.