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Woman ready to retrace her ancestors’ 1,100-mile journey

April 19, 1997

ST. JOSEPH, Mo. (AP) _ Sarah Louisa Robinson is taking the long way home to Utah _ on foot.

Ms. Robinson was to join about 40 families departing today from Council Bluffs, Iowa, on a three-month, 1,100-mile re-enactment of the great Mormon migration to Salt Lake City.

For Ms. Robinson, 22, taking part in the Mormon Trail Wagon Train means paying homage to ancestors who made the arduous journey in 1847, pulling handcarts loaded with their belongings as they sought haven from religious persecution.

Her great-great-great grandmother, Sarah Louisa Van Orden, was only 11 years old when her family began the journey to Salt Lake City. All 32 of her ancestors took the route.

``When I was growing up, I thought I had a silly pioneer name, but now I realize its importance and understand the legacy of my ancestors,″ said Ms. Robinson, a Utah native who has spent the last 18 months in St. Joseph as a missionary.

The pioneers suffered many hardships, but ``even with all the heartache, they danced and sang,″ Ms. Robinson said.

The Iowa Mormon Trails Association has sought historical accuracy in the event. Last year, Mormons re-enacted the first leg of the original group’s journey, from Nauvoo, Ill., to Council Bluffs.

The trek to Salt Lake City was expected to attract all denominations and ages and include people from Germany, Russia and Japan.

The walkers hope to arrive in Salt Lake City on July 22, two days before Pioneer Day, Utah’s state holiday that commemorates the original pioneers’ arrival at the Great Salt Lake valley.

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