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‘Write What You Know’ Guides Local Author ‘s Narrative

Dec 05, 2019 06:49PM ● By Arianne Brown

“Write what you know.” These were the words that came to Roger Blomquist’s mind when he began authoring his book series, South Pass that documents early pioneers on their trek toward Utah.

For nearly his entire life, Blomquist has spent time studying the American Frontier from several perspectives: as a resident, student, teacher, actor, film maker, leather worker, and now, author. 

“I was born and raised in the Wild West of Utah, Texas, and the deserts of Southern California,” he said. “In the early 1990’s, I worked as a horse and buggy driver, giving historic tours around Temple Square in Salt Lake City,” he said. “I found while conducting tours, that I had a love for history. Because of this, I decided to go back to school to study westward migration, eventually earning a bachelor’s and master’s degree in American Frontier History from BYU, then a PhD from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. I was able to take the knowledge I earned to teach history at the university level.”

Intermingled with his studies and professional life as a teacher, Blomqist worked on film and movie sets, creating and playing parts in many Latter-day Saint inspired films. One of the films ran into budgeting issues and was left without funds to afford saddles unique to the time period. Blomquist decided to learn the trade, and not only made a saddle for the film, but earned an award for his work.

Additionally, Blomquist’s activity in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints faith drove him to want to learn more about the Mormon pioneers and those living in the area at the time. It also led him to marrying his wife, becoming a father to her 10-year-old daughter, and then getting sealed in the newly dedicated Nauvoo, Illinois Temple.

Little did he know, his life would soon change dramatically, and his ability to work through unexpected problems would help him with what lay ahead.

“After marrying my wife, I became a father to her 10-year-old daughter, who, in her mid-teens would bring a beautiful granddaughter into our lives,” Blomquist said. “We didn’t know who the father was, and my wife’s daughter decided to go on with her life elsewhere, so we were able to adopt our granddaughter and raise her.”

Fueled with the desire to show love to his granddaughter in the wake of what had started out as rough beginnings, Blomquist turned to what he knew.

“To help my granddaughter with many of the questions she would face during this life, I decided that I would write a book for her,” he said. “I wanted a story that included my testimony of the Gospel as well as life lessons. I know so much about Utah history, and the struggles the people faced during their journey westward, and I thought this would be the perfect setting for a story for my granddaughter to help her through her struggles. I hoped that the story and lessons written in the book would perhaps serve as an outside individual to help guide her through life.”

The first book in the South Pass series, South Pass Handcart Journey (Volume 1) is about a young girl named Sara, who loses her father while her family moved to the Great Basin to live with the Saints. Sara, who is the character Blomquist gave to his granddaughter, finds herself pulling handcarts with her siblings and a grieving mother in the first experimental handcart company across the Mormon Trail.

South Pass Handcart Journey (Volume 1) is one of two published books in the series that Blomquist says he hopes others will learn from, too.

“There is so much in Utah’s history that many don’t know about,” Blomquist said. “While these books are historical fiction, I have put so much history in it that I have learned through my own studies as a student and professor, and I’m excited to share these stories with readers.”

The South Pass Series can be found by going to (Brown is a Serve Daily contributor.)