The Mormon Trail: A Unique Phenomenon?

  • Meghan McQuay


Contemporary scholars focusing on Mormonism continue to compare the Mormon Trail to the Israelite Exile, as well as emphasising that the trail was more of an anomaly compared to the Oregon and California trails. This notion is explored in this paper and aims to prove that Mormon tradition and collective memory has been changed to fit this comparison. As a result of focusing solely on the differences of the Mormon Trail between other trails, scholars have neglected to include it within the pattern of westward migrations during the 19th century. This paper aims to do the above, thereby situating The Mormon Trail within the context of the large migration patterns that occurred during the 19th century, as well as outlining aspects that make the trail distinct. While the Mormon trail indeed exhibited differences from the other trails, it must be mentioned that some commonalities can be found. The trail however, proves to be unique in the context of the Mormon faith and family organisation. Difficulties with travelling, responses to violence and the persecution of their faith, were some of the elements that set the Mormons apart from the other migration trails explored in this paper. The importance that the family played along the trek to Utah is also delved into. Children often assisted with various tasks on the journey. The role that diseases such as Scurvy and Cholera played in these westward migrations is also explored, which proves to be a linking factor between the Oregon, California and Mormon trails.

How to Cite
McQuay, Meghan. 2024. “The Mormon Trail: A Unique Phenomenon?”. the Ascendant Historian 3 (June), 87-93.