Follow Me to Zion leads readers across the American plains of the 1800s with the Willie Handcart pioneers.
With photographs and journal entries, the pioneers’ story becomes more personal.
When James G. Willie led 400 emigrant pioneers on a thousand-mile journey across the plains, he knew the trek would be arduous. They were leaving dangerously late in the season, and the company was ill-prepared for the rigors of the trail. But what he could not know was that the winter of 1856 and 1857 would be unpredictably early and extraordinarily severe. Nearly one-sixth of his company would die along the way. Yet from one of the worst tragedies of the American western migration emerged triumphant stories of personal endurance, unsurpassed courage, epic heroism, and unwavering faith.
Follow Me to Zion by Andrew D. Olsen and Jolene S. Allphin recounts more than twenty of these amazing stories in a compelling new volume. With dozens of full-color illustrations by artist Julie Rogers, this keepsake volume pays tribute to the men, women, and children who have become an enduring witness of the power of faith and sacrifice.
My parents converted to Mormonism when I was a toddler, so I do not have any ancestors with pioneer heritage. Thus, I had never really felt a deep connection to the pioneers. Of course, I admired their courage and faith, but it always seemed distant and removed.
My feelings about the pioneers didn’t change immediately as I started to read this book. The narrative seemed a little detached, and the journal entries that were shared had that old-fashioned feel to them. However, as I continued to read, my heart softened, and I began to feel a connection to those pioneers. So many people died along the way, many of them men who carried the brunt of the suffering and gave their everything to help their families and loved ones survive. I was amazed at the small acts of kindness, the miracles that occurred, and the strength of the women who had to continue on in spite of their losses and grief.
Follow Me to Zion is a beautiful, top quality book that would look great on any coffee table. The stories would be excellent as supplements for Family Home Evening lessons or talks. I recommend the book to anyone who would like to learn more about the personal stories of the Mormon pioneers.
Follow Me to Zion is now available at Deseret book and at other select retailers.
About the authors:
Andrew D. Olsen is the award-winning author of The Price We Paid: The Extraordinary Story of the Willie and Martin Handcart Pioneers. Andrew and his wife, Linda, are the parents of three children.
Jolene S. Allphin began researching the Willie Handcart Pioneers in 1999 in preparation for a reenactment trek. Her website, www.tellmystorytoo.com, provides more than 800 biographical sketches of the 1856 Handcart Pioneers.
About the artist:
Julie Boswell Rogers is an acclaimed artist who has won many awards. Her art has been featured in LDS publications, visitors’ centers, and the LDS Church History Museum.