Escape to Freedom in the American West "Fort Zion" and the Story of the Mormon Migration to Utah

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Fort Zion, historical fiction by Robert L. Foster

On December 23rd, 2005, members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormon) will celebrate the 200th anniversary of the Church’s founder, Joseph Smith Jr. (1805-1844). Church members across the globe will celebrate Smith as an American prophet whose vision and message from God started the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and ultimately one of the biggest religious migrations in history.

In the mid-nineteenth century, members of the Mormon Church in New York suffered religious persecution, which forced them to seek refuge on the frontier; first Ohio, then Missouri, and finally, Nauvoo, Illinois. But, with every passing day it was evident that to live in safety and to have religious freedom, they would have to keep moving westward. These hardy pioneers eventually migrated across the Great Plains and Rocky Mountains to the Great Basin, present day Salt Lake City, Utah. The history of the first part of this migration is captured in Robert Foster’s historical novel, "Fort Zion."

"Fort Zion" opens with Joseph Smith struggling with the difficult decision of whether to lead the Mormons farther westward away from the persecution and violence experienced in Nauvoo and other Mormon settlements, or to endure the increasing hostility from non-Mormons directed at those who sought to practice their faith. Ultimately, in 1844, Smith organizes a secret Wagon Train of volunteers to travel to the Great Salt Lake. Their mission is to discover if that remote area would be far enough away from religiou persecution to live peaceably and whether the aea is suitable for the 20,000 Mormons who will follow, to build their homes and raise their families.

In "Fort Zion," the author gives the reader an accurate portrayal of Mormon life in the 1840s and the issues surrounding the Mormon migration to Utah. He also adds conflict and adventure to the story as the first Mormon Wagon Train, led by a non-Mormon ex army officer and Mountain Man, travels across the Plains on what would later become known as the Mormon Trail.

"Fort Zion" is an excellent story that accurately relates the history of one group of people who helped settle the American West.

But, even though Joseph Smith’s dream of moving members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints westward was fulfilled, he never participated in this great adventure. A mob in Carthage, Illinois, murdered Joseph and his brother Hyrum, June 27, 1844; A Sad event that Fort Zion's author weaves into the end of his story, leaving the reader anxious to read the next book in this series.

contact Sue Schrems, 405-364-9647


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Sue Schrems