News: Neillsville - Mormon Tabernacle Choir (Midwest Tour - 2013)

Contact: Dolores (Mohr) Kenyon

Surnames: Jarrett, Danielson, Cardon, Jurgaitis

----Source: Clark County Press (Neillsville, Clark Co., WI) 6/12/2013

Mormon Tabernacle Choir (Midwest Tour - 2013)

Mormon Tabernacle Choir to Stop in Black River Falls during Midwest Tour; Choir is to honor Wisconsin pioneers who harvested lumber to build historic Nauvoo temple and community

The Mormon Tabernacle Choir will make a special stop during its 2013 Upper Midwest Tour. The choir will stop in Black River Falls (BRF) Wednesday, June 19, 2013 to honor the Mormon pioneer loggers who harvested the lumber sent downriver to Nauvoo, IL, a city central to the history of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormons).

The choir members will view a commemorative historical marker they paid for and donated for placement next to the Foundation Trail where it runs through the Field of Honor Park.

The marker’s placement will be near where the mills used by the Mormons when they processed over one and a-half million board feet of lumber. The lumber was then floated down the Black River to the Mississippi River to Nauvoo 400 miles away.

In recognition of the pioneer’s hard work and ingenuity, the choir will perform specially prepared musical numbers for members of the BRF community.

“The sacrifices of these logging pioneers are not well-known, even among church members,” says Mormon President Ron Jarrett. “We wanted to honor these unsung heroes by singing their praises.”

The special dedication will come near the end of a 10-day tour by the all-volunteer choir, which they undertake every other year to share their love of music and to bring peace and joy into the lives of their listeners.

BRF Mayor Ron Danielson will conduct the recognition event, which will begin at 10 a.m. at the Field of Honor Park. I will include remarks from Elder Craig Cardon, a member of the First Quorum of the Seventy, one of the church’s governing councils, in remembrance of the hundreds of pioneers whose unselfish labor provided shelter for thousands and, in the process, built character, integrity and strength.

Between 1839 and 1846, under the leadership of church president Joseph Smith, Nauvoo grew from a humble town with one stone house and a few poorly constructed cabins to a metropolitan city rivaling the population of Chicago.

During the period of rapid growth, Mormons built over 2,500 homes and numerous other business establishments like stores and mills. The most ambitious architectural projects were the Nauvoo House, a large hotel and the Nauvoo Temple, the Mormons’ place of worship.

The decision to build both the Nauvoo House and the Nauvoo Temple dramatically increased the need for lumber, which was scant in the Nauvoo area. Reports reached church leaders that inexpensive, quality lumber could be obtained in Wisconsin, and the decision was made to establish saw mills there.

A small work party of 32 pioneers traveled to Wisconsin in September 1841, and, within the next four years some 200 church members were working the mills and camps. They ultimately operated four different mills and maintained six logging camps to supply the mills.

The work was difficult, and the conditions harsh. The first season, before gardens were established, loggers’ diets sometimes consisted of only salt pork, flour and potatoes, augmented occasionally with game, fish, nuts and berries.

In addition to the one and a-half million board feet of milled lumber, the Mormons harvested an estimated 200,000 shingles and an inestimable number of loose logs, hewed timber and barn boards between 1841 and 1845. The short, straight and relatively mellow Black River floated a dozen lumber-laden rafts to Nauvoo.

Church members in Neillsville and surrounding areas have kept their forebears’ memories alive for over a century.

“They came here to honor God,” says Mary Jurgaitis, a Latter-day Saint who lives a half block from an early Mormon-logging site. “I like to imagine the loggers’ satisfaction at the moment they came around the last bend in the Mississippi and the Nauvoo Temple was brought into their view. What a thrill that must have been for them.”

City of Black River Falls is arranging busing for Mormon Tabernacle Choir

By Pat McNight

Anticipating a crowd of people will want to see the Mormon Tabernacle Choir when it stops in Black River Falls Wednesday, June 19, the city is making arrangements to provide shuttle service to and from the Field of Honor Park.

Because of the road construction in the downtown and the limited parking space at the Field Of Honor Park, the city is asking visitors to park at the Jackson County Fair Park, on the west of the city on STH 54W, or the Walmart Super Center parking lot, located at 616 STH 54 E.

Busing to the Field of Honor will begin at 8:30 a.m., and visitors will be transported by bus back to their vehicles at the end of the choir’s performance.

The choir is planning to be in Black River Falls at 10 a.m. and perform two or three numbers following the dedication ceremony of the historical marker.

(Note of transcriber: it is my understanding the choir is about 600 members strong and will arrive in 11 buses and will go on to The Highground at Neillsville after this dedication and performance, to lunch being served by that community. DMK)



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