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Author shares forgotten Utah history through book series

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Arianne Brown
Arianne Brown is a mom of nine who writes columns for many local and national publications. She currently resides in Payson, and enjoys looking for good happenings in her area and sharing them for others to read about. For more of her stories, search "A Mother's Write" on Facebook.

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In the summer of 1847, thousands of men, womenbrand children entered the Salt Lake Valley after traveling thousands of miles tobrescape religious persecution.

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The accounts written by these Pioneers has givenbrthe state of Utah a rich history to be proud of. In fact, many settled in thebrsouth end of Utah County, building historical buildings that have lasted over abrcentury, with stories to last the ages.

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There is some history, however, that isn’t taughtbrin a middle school Utah History class, that author and historian, RogerbrBlomquist wants to share through his book series, “South Pass.”

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The series now has three books beginning with thebrfirst handcart company in Volume I, and going through the military saga of Johnston’sbrArmy in Volume III.

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And while Blomquist has created his ownbrcharacters and storyline in the series, he did all he could to keep it asbrhistorically accurate to teach the readers some history of Utah that is oftenbroverlooked.

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“The South Pass series begins with thebrfirst handcart company, which has all-too-often been passed over for the morebrfamous and ill-fated Martin and Willis handcart companies,” he said. “One thingbrthat most people don’t know is that Butch Cassidy’s father came across with thebrDaniel MacArthur company. Butch’s uncle, who was 6 years old at the time,brbecame lost and his father (Butch’s grandfather) had to go look for him as thebrrest of the company continued on. Volume III, Johnston’s Army begins thebrmilitary saga of the Utah Expedition, where 2,500 soldiers, one-third of thebrUnited States Army marched on Utah to put down the imagined and exaggeratedbruprising and goings-on in the Great Basin. This is a history that has beenbroverlooked for many years and it is time the people of Utah reclaimed thatbrhistory.

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Blomquist, who has his PhD in American FrontierbrHistory, and taught at the university level for several years, says he wantedbrto find a way to share the history of Utah in a way that people couldbrunderstand.

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And while he is an active member of the Church ofbrJesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, he says there is so much more to the storybrthat he hopes can enrich people’s lives.

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“Utah history, while rich with history of thebrChurch of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, also has a rich history thatbrincludes the Gentiles,” Blomquist said.

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“As the series continues beyond these threebrbooks, it will look at Colonel Patrick Conner coming into occupy the UtahbrTerritory during the Civil War, the mining operations that took place, thebrNative Americans who lived with and against the Saints, and of course thebrjoining of the Transcontinental Railroad at Promontory Summit in 1869.

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“We have a great and diverse history in thisbrstate that we still have yet to claim and celebrate and I would love to see usbrdo just that.”

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As for the storyline, Blomquist said he set outbrto create the books for his granddaughter, Kalin, who he and his wife havebradopted, and anyone who is searching for identity and purpose in life.

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He hopes that those who read the books will comebraway not only learning history, but gaining understanding of some of life’sbrtoughest challenges.

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“Through the South Pass series, I want mybrgranddaughter, and others to learn that even with great tragedy, there canbrstill be great triumph, especially with the love of family,” Blomquist said.

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“I hope that anyone who may be struggling withbridentity or Gospel questions, may be able to find some commonality with thebrcharacters and their actions in this book. While the end result is an engagingbrand entertaining story, the heart of the series is to help others find theirbrway through life. I hope that readers find the epic journey enjoyable, and inbrdoing so, are able to learn much of this forgotten history. I also hope thatbrregardless of religious affiliation, that readers will find pearls of wisdombrthat will enrich their lives.”

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The South Pass books can be found by goingbrto bqpublishing.com/. Books can also be ordered on Amazon Prime andbrKindle.  (Brownbris a Serve Daily contributor.)

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