By Myrna Trauntvein
Yes, it's correc--dreams really do come true.
Brent Boswell and his parents, Dixie and Don Lynn
Boswell, dreamed that there could be a successful
presentation of the Mormon Handcart Pageant in Nephi.
They set about writing it, directing it, getting
volunteers for it, and getting support. They organized a
handcart committee and called for assistance from all who
Somehow, they managed it all.
Friday, at the first annual Mormon Handcart Pageant in
Nephi, there were 2,300 people on hand to view the first
night, Aug. 30, of the first pageant. On the second
night, Aug. 31, at the county fairgrounds arena at dusk
there were 3,200 people in the stands.
"We were pleased with the success this year," said
Boswell. "We hope it continues to grow as the word
He said there were visitors from as far away as Alaska
and one of the families, progeny of one who was featured
in the pageant, brought 50 family members who were
attending a family reunion to the pageant.
"We had a granddaughter, who was in her late 90s,
attend on Saturday," he said. "It is not unusual to meet
decedents who are great- or great-great-grandchildren but
to have the granddaughter of one of the handcart pioneers
is quite unusual."
David Leavitt, county attorney, was one of those who
participated in the pageant as the leader of the Martin
"It was a great honor for me to be part of this
production," he said.
The pageant tells of the courage and fortitude of the
Martin and Willie handcart companies who were caught
without proper supplies on the cold plains in early
Theirs were tales of courage and inspiration as they
made their way to Utah finally to be rescued by those
sent back to save them by President Brigham Young. Young
had not known of the plight until two returning
missionaries made it to Salt Lake City and informed
The production was well-staged using all of the arena
for many of the scenes. One of those, popular with the
audience, was a pioneer dance, after camp was made in the
The audience clapped, in time with the music, and
generally seemed to get into the swing of the party.
The light moment, however, was followed by the heroic
vignettes of moments that tugged at the heart-strings as
young children died, older people bid good-bye to family
members, and a young engaged couple was parted when the
man died because he froze to death following a day
carrying others across a frigid river.
The parting of the young couple featured a love-song,
sung by the woman pioneer, on parting with her fiance.
The song was written by a local woman, Rachel Goates.
All was professionally accomplished and the sound
pre-recorded for just the right amplitude for the
"Under spotlight, this outdoor, night-time event
featured moments of human greatness exemplified by those
tremendous Latter-day Saints who were in these handcart
companies and by those who came to their rescue," said
"The sesquicentennial of the handcart rescue will be
in 2006, and we plan to still be producing the pageant at
Of course, some special activities will be planned for
This was the first year of the pageant and the first
production of what organizers plan as an annual
In addition to the pageant, written from information
taken from the journals of Utah Handcart Pioneers, each
day at the fairgrounds there was a craft fair, musical
entertainment, historic vignettes and a dinner.
Those events ended at dusk when spectators entered the
east side of the arena for the production.
The pageant is being presented in remembrance of the
rescue of the Martin and Willie Handcart Companies.
Boswell said the rescue had special meaning for
residents of the area because, after their arrival into
the Salt lake Valley, some of those handcart pioneers
were actually sent by Brigham Young to help settle Nephi
and the surrounding communities.
Boswell said credit should also go, not only to
volunteers on stage, but to all those who helped behind
the scenes. Recently, $50,000 worth of lights were
donated to the pageant and David Mosteller, a local
electrician, became the head electrician over
In addition, Bob Lowe, wagon master for the
sesquicentennial re enactment of the 1847 Mormon pioneer
trek, moved to Mona and agreed to serve as wagon master
for the pageant.