The Days of Pioneers

Pioneer spirit

“The foremost quality of our pioneers was faith, with faith in God, they did what every pioneer does…  they stepped forward into the unknown.”     Dallin H. Oaks

“The descendants of these pioneers can partially settle the account by being true to the cause for which their ancestors suffered so much to be part of.”    James E. Faust


The Bee Gee’s song “Island in the Stream” blares from the radio of our Honda CR-V as we fly across miles and miles of barren flat fields surrounded by sage brush, rocks, and weeds. There is no sign of habitation for as far as the eye can see.


As I sit here in the comfort of my car, I think of my ancestors, who slowly traipsed across the many states in covered wagons looking for new lands to settle.

Here I’m bored with the flat scenery, but saved by playing the music in the comfort of my car versus sitting on the hard wooden bench seats of the wagons.  The pioneers did not have the ability to play music as they traveled along, unless someone played a harmonica or fiddle as they bumped along the dusty roads.  How spoiled we are.

This part of the world, to our pioneers, must have looked bleak.  I admire their fortitude for continuing through this unknown territory to who knows what they would find.  I even wonder if the desire to seek new came from their family, who left their home country for a new land?

What would it have been like to land in a new world in the late 1700’s from Germany, not even being able to speak our language?  Then to travel across such desolate areas…

How does one leave the comfort and familiarity of our home to forge ahead into a new, unknown territory… especially without the vibrant music of the Bee Gee’s to encourage us along.

Later in the day, the gray clouds rolled in plastering themselves on the road directly in front of us.  Then I thought of Christopher Columbus’ theory that the world was flat.  Boy, it sure looked that way. It appeared as if the end of the road was a spring-board into outer space; or are we a bunch of lemmings following one another right off the cliff?

The pioneers forged ahead without GPS systems, and without detailed maps.  Heck, there weren’t even any street signs to tell our ancestors whether they were going the wrong direction or not.  To add to the dilemma when they arrived at their destination, they had to worry about growing their own food as they couldn’t run to the grocery store to pick up a few things.  Heck, they didn’t even have a McDonald’s or a Pizza Hut, so they could stop to bring home a fast dinner before they settled in for the night.

I’m delighted that my ancestors did find their way to the NW as they had one heck of a long road to hoe with desolate lands and weather to deal with in route.  I wonder if I would have been willing to make such a long trip with friends and family in tow?  But what an awesome adventure!

Pioneer quote





About Gwynn Rogers

After 20 years of sales and marketing experience in the fields of real estate, high tech, and corporate travel, Gwynn has moved on to the career of “Grandma.” When not teaching her granddaughters an extensive vocabulary of “alley-oop-boop, ups-a-daisy, cowabunga or bummer”, Gwynn can be found hunting for mentors for the Kitsap Youth Mentoring Consortium, or chasing her fantasies on her treadmill. Gwynn currently freelances for magazines.
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14 Responses to The Days of Pioneers

  1. Avatar Tina Peterson says:

    You’ve covered the bases, Gwynn! I can’t tell you how many times I’ve thought the same things. The courage of our ancestors is amazing! Thanks for sharing.

    • Avatar Gwynn Rogers says:

      Boy Tina, since you are out driving around the mid-west and the south at the moment, you must really be viewing the larger picture of what it was like to travel the country in covered wagons. It amazes me that our ancestors knew where they wanted to go… or did they? Did they just give up and stop when they tired of traveling?? It is too bad we can’t talk to our ancestors now.

      Have fun exploring the Wild West! And Thanks for commenting!

  2. I, too, marvel at the courage and fortitude of the ancestors. Our lies are very different! Would they hum along to the Bee Gees? Hmmm…

    • Avatar Gwynn Rogers says:

      Ok, my ancestors probably would have been scandalized by the Bee Gees, but heck there were no radios or CD players back then. Family couldn’t have even listened to Beethoven or Mozart if they wanted to. I suspect the Country music of today is considerably different from the days of old too.

      Then the frightening question is… what is left to be explored? What comes next?

      Have fun in Hawaii and thanks for taking time to visit.

  3. At least when our ancestors crossed the plains the midwest was not full of GMO corn!

  4. Avatar Susan Scott says:

    Loved this Gwynn thank you! The US certainly has people from all over the world. I love reading about those explorers coming to America, the land of the free and plenty. It’s amazing to think of lands traversed without the facilities we have these days. Real pioneers.

    • Avatar Gwynn Rogers says:

      Being a pioneer is an interesting topic. In the days of old, my German and Welsh families came to the states to be free from torment in their country of origin. So when they came to the states they worked at learning English and living a new life without forcing their culture on others. Now, it almost seems as if that mindset… being an American is no longer true. I hate to see the clashes between cultures, religions, color, etc. that seem to be taking place now. But, maybe I’m wrong… there were always these clashes. I would think moving to a new country could be a rough experience. It took a great deal of determination for our ancestors to forge a new home. They definitely were resilient people.

      Thanks Susan, for commenting.

  5. While I have traveled across the U.S. with music blaring, I must say I do love the sounds of the birds and other critters living in tall grass and sage. Some of our local birds have the most beautiful songs, and then there’s that one mockingbird that sings them all but with a syncopated “beep, beep.”

    Otherwise, you know, most every society who came to this country tried to enforce their culture on the natives, and some downright brutally. The horror.

    As for my ancestors, legend has it they got chased out of the old country….

    Well written, Gwynn.

    • Avatar Gwynn Rogers says:

      Yes, my German ancestor was a guard to the German King. They had a disagreement and my ancestor was thrown in prison. When he managed to get out he and his entire family headed to the “New World.” Then this ancestor’s great, great grandson fought in the Indian Wars before he became a judge and a University of California at Berkeley Regent.

      I’m reading the book, Unfamiliar Fishes, by Sarah Vowell, who is part Native American. It is extremely well written and she is quite vocal about the way we treated the natives of various lands that we conquered… Hawaii, Puerto Rico, Guam, here. It is a mind-boggling book. It is from the library… you would love it!

      Yes, landing in a new home is a horrifying experience… leaving the familiar for the unfamiliar and then trying to fit in and deal with a new culture. My ancestors definitely were determined people… anyone traipsing into a new land deserves a lot of credit.

      Thanks for your compliment… and for stopping by!

  6. Avatar patgarcia says:

    From your point of view, a very interesting article, and I’m happy that you have fun memories of your ancestors trudging through unknown territory, but I don’t think my ancestors were happy about being hunted down and gathered together as slaves and forcefully separated from their families and put on boats that brought them to a land that was totally strange to them. They couldn’t speak the language and they definitely weren’t considered as human beings.
    If I am proud of anything, it is those people that survived those many ships that transported us, among which were my own ancestors and learned to overcome the degradation of slavery. It has been said that only the strong ones survived those ships. If that is the case, then I am happy that my ancestors had the determination to survive.


    • Avatar Gwynn Rogers says:

      Yes, Pat, sadly some ancestors were treated horrifically! I absolutely hate what various cultures do to one another. Your ancestors were treated grotesquely, as were the Native American people who were already on this continent. Where we have ‘some’ family similarities is that the sisters of my ancestors were sold as indentured servants to pay for their trip across the ocean. They were never heard from or seen afterwards.

      There were terrible things done to people of color. There were also terrible things done to women. Inequality still exists to this day. However, the good news is that there are people like you and I that do NOT believe in these inequalities and care for people, no matter who they are. Hopefully, I pray, that inequality will go away, and unfortunately, it is not happening over night. I AM delighted that our ancestors were tough enough to hang in there so that we could meet! Your ancestors would be proud of you!

  7. We are spoiled, and that’s the beauty of modern life, I suppose. Those who came before us had to work hard just to live day to day, and taking on such a long journey, as you illustrate, was almost like going to war — might or might not make it. But brave they were, and here you are, Gwynn, as a result. I sure am glad they persevered. Also, glad to have made it back to the world of blogging and to your post. The gray weather and too many days off had me disconnect, as you saw, a little too much.
    Great post, Gwynn, with your mix of beauty, information, and humor. Thank you. I too wonder if I’d have been able to live in those days … who knows.

    • Avatar Gwynn Rogers says:

      Actually, Silvia, in “those days” some of my relatives literally went to war as they fought the Native Americans for control of the land. Later, one of those relatives joined the Union’s army. He is the one who later became a California Superior Court Judge and a Regent at UC Berkeley.

      Even you risked leaving your home for a strange land. What drives you to seek out new and unexplored? Heck, I take my hat off to YOU! My only exploration was moving from Washington State to California in 1960… for me that was like landing on the moon! Then it was “whip-lash” moving back.

      Have you taken your son back to Romania to visit? When he grows up and has children what will he say about the adventures you had in moving to a new land?

      The various experiences we all have are such an education… and they fortify us for change. I too am so glad we met, although I wish the physical distance between our homes was not so far… when you become famous and go on your book tour, make sure you include Seattle or Poulsbo on your list!! 😉

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