The Perpetual Immigration fund was established to provide the needed cash to help saints immigrate from Europe. Over 26,000 church members were assisted in immigrating to Utah through this fund.
In 1856, numerous way stations were established along the pioneer route. These way stations provided the pioneers with places of refuge along the trek and where they could find needed supplies including fruits and vegetables. One of these was Genoa, Nebraska. It has particular interest to me, because it was a critical although sad stop for my Bowden ancestors on their journey west.
My great great grandfather and great great grandmother, William and Elizabeth Bowden joined the Church in Wales. On November 22, 1854, William and Elizabeth Bowden, their five children and their oldest daughteržs husband, and their three children boarded the ship Clara Wheeler in a group of 422 saints bound for America and ultimately Zion.
On the almost two month journey across the ocean, the oldest daughteržs 8-month old baby died. The Clara Wheeler docked in New Orleans on January 11, 1855. From there the group traveled by a river steamer up the Mississippi to St. Louis.
Now without cash resources enough to purchase the needed wagons and supplies to cross the plains, they were forced to spend two-years working in St. Louis to raise the needed funds.
In the spring of 1857, they left St. Louis with a party of about sixty saints. They arrived in Genoa, Nebraska in April of 1857. Stopping in Genoa to re-supply and to help other pioneers headed west, they raised crops and did other work that was necessary. However tragedy struck. My great, great grandfather William died at 48 years of age of typhoid. Also the husband of their second daughter was killed while helping to tear down a building, leaving her alone to raise and care for a thirteen-month old son.
On June 7, 1861 the Bowden family finally started the long trek to what is now Utah. The group included my widowed great great grandmother, her oldest daughter, husband and children, a widowed daughter and her infant son, my great grandfather who was 22, and his two younger brothers.
They arrived in Salt Lake on August 24 1861, almost 7 years after beginning their journey in Europe. My great grandfather married, moved to Alma, Wyoming, then to Randolph, Utah and finally to Vernal, Utah.
These noble ancestors improved roads, which I have traveled and planted crops, which I have harvested. Oh how I am thankful for their courage, testimony and sacrifice. May we all be noble pioneers. May those who follow us travel roads that we have improved, over bridges we have built and eat of the crops which we have planted.