Pioneer monument to free and enslaved, member and non-member pioneers of color.
Dedicated July 22nd 2022 at This Is the Place Heritage Park, Salt Lake City, Utah.
Click here to watch the Pioneers of 1847 Dedication.
Jane Elizabeth Manning was born in Wilton, Connecticut, around 1821. Jane and her siblings were unusual in never knowing the bonds of slavery. After embracing the gospel, her family joined a caravan of Saints traveling to Nauvoo, Illinois, in 1843, but were forced off a boat in Buffalo, New York, because of their race.
Determined to gather with others of their faith, Jane said: “We started on foot to travel a distance of over 800 miles. We walked until our shoes were worn out, and our feet became sore and cracked open and bled until you could see the whole print of our feet with blood on the ground. We asked God the Eternal Father to heal our feet, and our prayers were answered forthwith.”
After Jane’s arrival in Nauvoo, Joseph Smith’s immediate response was, “Sister Emma, here is a girl that says she has no home. Haven’t you a home for her?” Jane lived with the Smiths and became close, like family.
After Joseph Smith was martyred, Jane and her husband, Isaac James, with their sons Sylvester and Silas, joined others and would soon embark on yet another treacherous journey to escape religious persecution. Jane was expecting her third child, Mary Ann, when she and her family entered the Salt Lake Valley in September 1847. Jane remained a faithful and respected Latter-day Saint until her death in 1908.
Green Flake was born into slavery on Jan. 6, 1828, on the Jordan Flake plantation in Anson County, North Carolina. At the age of 10, Green was separated from his mother and given to James and Agnes Flake. The Flakes moved to Mississippi, where at age 16, Green heard the testimony of a Latter-day Saint missionary promising the reunification of families for eternity.
As a new convert to the Church, Green was assigned by Brigham Young to the vanguard company that led the trek west. Green was joined by his future brothers-in-law Hark Wales and Oscar Smith. The group of 42 men and 23 wagons blazed the trail for tens of thousands to follow. Green is known to have driven the first wagon into Emigration Canyon under the direction of Orson Pratt. They arrived at Parleys Creek on July 22. The first pioneers of 1847 plowed the land and planted crops for those who came in the following days and months.
Green remained a well-respected Latter-day Saint throughout his life. He spoke at multiple Pioneer Day celebrations alongside Church leaders. Brother Flake and many others like him trusted in God’s promise of a reunited family after this life. Many of the enslaved were buried in unmarked graves. Knowing that, Green carved his own headstone, which reads: “In my Father’s house are many mansions.” He was laid to rest next to his wife, Martha, in the Union Pioneer Cemetery in Cottonwood Heights, Utah, in 1903.
Brothers Hark and Oscar were born into bondage and lived on the John Crosby plantation in Mississippi. While still an adolescent, Hark was separated from his family and gifted to newly married Sytha Crosby and her husband, William Lay. Oscar was inherited by William Crosby. The enslaved brothers then became known as Hark Lay and Oscar Crosby. Once freed, Hark chose Wales as his surname and Oscar chose Smith.
Pioneer John Brown was later assigned to be in charge of a few workers, taking Hark and Oscar to Council Bluffs, Iowa, where they were all selected to be part of the advance team in Brigham Young’s vanguard company. They were tasked with charting a course and improving the trail into the Salt Lake Valley.
As enslaved men, Hark and Oscar were keenly aware of what it felt like to desire freedom, even if the freedom the Saints sought was that of religious worship. They reached the Salt Lake Valley on July 22, 1847, two days ahead of Brigham Young.
Washakie was a well known leader of the Shoshone people and friend of Brigham Young. He was baptized into the Church in 1880 along with 300 members of the Shoshone Nation who pioneered the way for all Native Americans and their descendants to come to know the gospel of Jesus Christ.
Click here to see how the story of Latter-day Saint Native Americans is kept alive in inspiring artwork.
Click here for a story about Latter-day Saint Shoshone Heritage.