Trailing Mormon Pioneers - Our History


Wednesday, January 28, 2015
A History of the Making of the Early Latter-day Saints Database


This database is the combination of efforts of the Land and Records Office in the Illinois Nauvoo Mission and researhers at the Pioneer Research Library at the Trail Center at Historic Winter Quaraters in Omaha, Nebraska. All serving under the Historical Pioneer Research Group.

The Land and Records Office started working on the database in 1987 and have been collecting and adding information since then. A missionary couple (Don and Diane Snow) had the assignment in the Illinois Nauvoo Mission of preparing the PAF file for posting on the Internet. The original emphasis of the Land and Records Office was on the Nauvoo period (1839-1846), but it now includes Latter-day Saints from 1829 up to the Utah period (1868).

The research of the Pioneer Research Libray is to gather the names of pioneers who lived in the 23 Winter Quarters Wards and the more than 90 settlements of Latter-day Saints in the Middle Missouri Valley and across the state of Iowa during the years of 1846 – 1856. Their emphasis began with the gathering of names of members of the Iowa Branches, Winter Quarters Wards and those buried in the Winter Quarters Cemetery but not limited to that specific time period or area.

The names in the database are mostly early Latter-day Saints. Where their parents’ information was available it is included. Families are linked together as well. We know it isn't complete and we will continue to correct and add to it. We also know, realistically, that absolute completeness and accuracy is impossible in a project of this magnitude. Still, we feel this is a major help to historians and family historians.

The usual custom we have followed for old LDS locations is to show the old name with the current name in parentheses, e.g. Kanesville (Council Bluffs), Pottawattamie, Iowa, USA, and Zenos (Mesa), Maricopa, Arizona, USA. The counties we have listed are usually the current counties, but we have also mentioned variant locations and spellings in the notes. We have felt that where the place is actually located and where the records might be found override other considerations. Besides the places, we have also made uniform some of the names since spelling wasn't emphasized in those years and different spellings were sometimes used for the same person. The Next Generation software that is used to form the web pages for this data has a Soundex search that may help in finding people with variant surname spellings. If you can't find your ancestor and you think he should be here, you might want to try variant spellings yourself. The Next Generation software program also allows wild card searches, e.g. John* picks up Johnson, Johnston, Johnsen, and other variants.

We have converted most of the sources that were stored in the notes into real genealogical source citations with the intention of eventually having notes only for items of biographical, research, and general interest. At the present time we have left the sources in the notes, even though we have extracted most of them into real source citations. We have also developed a way to include active Internet links in sources and notes. In order for you to obtain source documents, we have tried to list a repository for each source, e.g. the Family History Library, but many can be found in multiple locations.