Next week, the Utah Pioneer Heritage Arts organization, together with the Panguitch Quilt Walk Festival Committee, invites you to the sesquicentennial observance of the Panguitch Quilt Walk of 1864. The origin of the commemoration, as told on one website, is:
In March of 1864, fifty-four pioneer families led by Jens Neilson left Parowan and crossed the high plateau to the east to settle what is now known as Panguitch. Lane was soon cleared and irrigation ditches and canals were surveyed and dug. However, weather in the high mountain valley did not allow crops to mature that first year.
With fierce winter storms, facing starvation, seven men left Panguitch for Parowan to get supplies for the staving settlers. They drove a light wagon as far as they could before getting bogged down in heavy snow. They laid a quilt down on the show and knelt down and prayed. While still on their knees on the quilt, the men realized they had not sunk down into the snow. So they began laying a quilt on the snow, walking across it, and then laying another, and so on, all the way across the mountain to Parowan.
Alex Matheson recorded their story: “At one time we were about to give up but we had a little prayer circle and asked God for guidance. We decided if we had faith as big as a mustard seed we could make it and bring back flour to our starving families. So we began our quilt laying in prayerful earnest. In this way we made our way over the deep crusted snow to parowan. The return trip was harder with the weight of the flour, but we finally made it to our wagon and oxen and on home.”
This year’s celebration will be a 19-mile, two-and-a-half-day trek along the Old Spanish Trail near Paragonah. Organizers would especially welcome the participation of descendants of the original seven quilt-walkers:
Thomas Jefferson Adair
John Lowe Butler, Jr.
Thomas Morgan Richards
John Paul Smith
Organizers have sent me a .pdf with details about cost, trail amenities, overnight accommodations, and planned activities. If any Keepa readers would like a copy of this .pdf, please comment here and leave a correct email address behind the scenes, and I’ll send it out.