Mormon Newsroom
News Release

Wyoming’s Governor Visits Martin’s Cove  

Family history documents presented to state leader

Leaders from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints hosted Wyoming Governor Mark Gordon and members of the Wyoming State Legislature at the Martin’s Cove: Mormon Trail Site in Wyoming to highlight the importance of the area and discuss ways in which the Church can serve in the state of Wyoming.

Elder S. Gifford Nielsen, president of the North America Central Area, and Elder Michael D. Jones, an Area Seventy, and other area leaders met with Governor Gordon, Senate President Dan Dockstader, State Senator Drew Perkins, State Representative Lloyd Larsen and State Representative Evan Simpson on Wednesday, October 20, 2021.

At the meeting, Elder Nielsen spoke about the Church’s desire to work with the governor and other state leaders to strengthen Wyoming’s families, respond to humanitarian needs, improve communities and build testimonies in the healing power of Jesus Christ. He also explained the significance of the Martin’s Cove site, saying, “The state of Wyoming is very important to our faith because the pioneers on the trails of Wyoming were traveling ... to join the Saints in Salt Lake [City].”

On November 4, 1856, the Martin handcart company, comprised of roughly 500 Latter-day Saints emigrating from the British Isles, made camp in the cove to ride out a heavy blizzard accompanied by severe winds and frigid cold on their journey to the Salt Lake Valley. On November 9, 1856, the weather had subsided enough to allow them to continue their travels with the help of a rescue party sent by Brigham Young.

Governor Gordon paid tribute to the fortitude of the Saints who made this journey and said he recognizes the same fortitude and dedication in modern-day Saints in Wyoming. “To be at this sacred place in Wyoming is important to me,” he said. “The pioneers had a commitment to the future and a vision for making their lives better, and that remains unchanged in the Latter-day Saints in Wyoming today.”

Latter-day Saint Charities and volunteers work to address hunger and other humanitarian needs across the state of Wyoming. The Church’s organization has donated over 450,000 pounds of food to food banks and pantries in Laramie, Afton, Rawlins, Casper, the Wind River Indian Reservation, Gillette, Moorcroft and other locations across Wyoming. This effort is directly aligned with Wyoming First Lady Jennie Gordon’s program, the Wyoming Hunger Initiative, which works to end childhood hunger in the state.

Working together with local interfaith councils, such as the Gillette Assistance League, Church members can serve others in their communities. The Gillette Assistance League, an interfaith organization of Latter-day Saints and members of the Catholic, Methodist, Presbyterian and Salvation Army churches, works to sponsor a clothing drive, collect and distribute school supplies, and sponsor a school program that provides food for 500 Gillette school children who are facing hunger. Projects posted on JustServe provide an opportunity for members and their interfaith friends to identify service needs in their community.

During the meeting, Elder Jones presented Governor Gordon with several family history documents, including newspaper, census and other records from FamilySearch. Elder Jones surprised the governor with stories about common ancestors that showed how he, Elder Nielsen and the governor were not-so-distant cousins.

Kevin Hyde, historic site president, told the story of the Willie and Martin handcart companies and explained how the site helps visitors come to a greater understanding of miracles, faith and sacrifice.

Brother Hyde and his companion, Janice Hyde, hosted the event and led a tour through the sacred historic sites.

At the end of the visit, Elder Nielsen said, “It was a very special experience to host Wyoming Governor Mark Gordon and members of his staff at Martin’s Cove. We had a remarkable time together. He had a chance to learn more about the faith and courage of the early Saints who sacrificed deeply in their trek West looking for religious freedom. As we visited, we found that we have many common interests, one of which is taking care of those in desperate situations. With the humanitarian effort of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, along with the Church’s JustServe initiative, we look forward to exploring more opportunities to work together in the future.”

There are nearly 70,000 members of the Church in Wyoming.

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