May 10, 1869, marks the day when East met West as the last spike, a Golden Spike, signaled the completion of the transcontinental railroad.
That one act indicated the beginning of a new era -- and the end of an old one -- in transportation. No longer would pioneers need to pull a handcart or ride in a rickety wagon when they could "fly" to the territory on steel rails.
The significance of that date was equally important when Annie Taylor Hyde founded the Daughters of Utah Pioneers (DUP) in 1914. Anyone who had one or more of their ancestors arrive in the Salt Lake Valley without the benefit of the railroad, qualified for membership.
Today, any woman may join DUP whether she has early Utah pioneer ancestry or not, although only those with ancestors arriving before 1869 may serve as officers.
At the recent annual district convention of the Davis East Bountiful and Davis Bountiful Center Companies, members addressed the theme, "Capture the Vision of DUP" in an effort to keep Taylor Hyde's dream alive. Dawna Thayne and Elaine Call, representatives from the International Board of DUP, spoke to the group and a luncheon was served.
Annie Taylor Hyde was a granddaughter of LDS Church president and pioneer John Taylor. In an effort to preserve the history and stories of their ancestors, she invited 46 descendants of pioneers to her house and organized the first camp of the Daughters of Utah Pioneers.
As membership grew--there are now over 20,000 members worldwide--several camps were combined to form companies, an organizational format which continues today.
Although the organization of the DUP was originally formed for descendants of early LDS pioneers, the organization now includes descendants of any immigrants to the territory of Utah and the state of Deseret, and can be of any nationality or religious belief including those who arrived here from China, Africa, and elsewhere.
"It's a wonderful social group," says Bountiful resident Maradene Heap. "It's a marvelous history for people who have ties to the settling of (Utah)."
The objectives of the Daughters of Utah Pioneers have not changed in more than 103 years: "to perpetuate the names and deeds of pioneers by preserving old landmarks, marking historical places, collecting artifacts and history, and establishing a library."
As part of its historical study and preservation, each camp selects a different county to research each year.
The preservation of these early pioneer stories is a vital part of keeping one's heritage alive, says Heap. One such story involved an early settlement in Manti where the people lived in dugouts in nearby hills. It was soon discovered, however, that the makeshift homes had been built right on top of several rattlesnake beds.
"Not one child was bitten," says Heap. "I cringe when I think about that."
For Heap, whose ancestors settled the city of Meadow, Fillmore County, membership in DUP has been an important part of her life.
"Fewer and fewer stories are remembered unless they're written down," explains Heap. "We want to keep and gather those stories."
The International DUP is accepting applications through May 7, 2004, for the Days of '47 Royalty Pageant, which will be on May 15, 2004. Any group or family may sponsor a young woman for the pageant.
For more information about the pageant or the DU., contact Jane O'Bryant at 295-0899.