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NATIONAL SOCIETY OF THE SONS OF UTAH PIONEERS

By Florence Youngberg

Sons of Utah Pioneers caravan from Nauvoo, 1947

The concept of the SUP (Sons of Utah Pioneers) goes back to the turn of the century. In 1900 Senator Reed Smoot put forth the first efforts to bring the society into existence, and Parley P. Jensen tried again in 1910. Neither effort was wholly successful, but the idea was kept alive.

Little more was done until 1928 when the forerunner of the George Albert Smith Chapter in Provo was organized and sustained for five years. It was called simply "Sons." This chapter helped provide the basis for the later organization of the Sons of Utah Pioneers.

In 1933 Lawrence T. Epperson convened ten men and began formulating the constitution and by laws of the organization. The national society was officially organized at this meeting and officers were chosen. Epperson was elected the first president. On 29 March 1933 the National Society of the Sons of Utah Pioneers was incorporated as a state society in Salt Lake City, Utah.

The society was formed with the idea of keeping the memory of the Utah pioneers alive. It was to be non-sectarian and non-political. Members could be of any race or creed but would be brought together because of an interest in perpetuating the ideals and history of the early pioneers. "Pioneer" originally referred to those who came before the railroad on 10 May 1869, but this concept, while predominantly the basis of the society, has grown to include others who pioneered later.

Membership has grown to about 2,400 at the present time. Life memberships or annual memberships may be purchased; the money collected helps run the organization. The national headquarters building is in Salt Lake City at 3301 East 2920 South; it is located on the edge of the hollow coming out of the mouth of Parley's Canyon. It is an appropriate location because it was from Parley's Canyon that many pioneers came into the valley. The building houses a growing research library where anyone can come to research their ancestors. Donations of manuscript histories, genealogical information, and other items of historical interest are welcomed. Building tours are offered, and the building is open five days a week. The building also is used for chapter dinner meetings, family gatherings, dinners, golden wedding anniversaries, seminars, and other community activities.