I feel like you are missing a huge part of very fundamental Mormon church history. They were chased out of places, that much is fact. However that was during Joseph Smith's time mostly. When Brigham Young was in charge he understood the value of separatism.
BY completely and absolutely wanted to take his group of people farther away from the government so that he could live the way he wanted to live. He was able to sell the same vision to plenty of people who voluntarily crossed the vast distance to settle in the SL Valley.
These people were not refugees. I feel that this is historically inaccurate. They were religious separatists and their move was voluntary or even perhaps based on coercion by their leaders.
Whether the trail was "well beat" or not is almost moot. It is irrelevant how well worn the trail was, walking across the United States is an extremely difficult thing to do.
Lastly, what crime were they guilty of?
Separate argument (kind of): The idea of whether they can be called "pioneers" or not is an interesting discussion. MJ is saying that they can not be called that because others had already "pioneered" the trail.
MJ, I think you are technically right. However, if we take that stance then the word "pioneer" becomes useless. Nearly everything has legitimately already been done. If we use the word that way then we will never have the need to use the word pioneer again unless we are talking about the first people in space/to the moon/mars, etc. Those will be very few instances of use.
Besides that, I think that we can accurately use the word "pioneer" because when we refer to the settling of the west we have the tendency to call everybody during that period a pioneer.
So, with both of those things in mind, I think we can call them pioneers. It shouldn't matter that they might have been the 600th person to walk on a particular trail and that they didn't personally blaze the trail. They were doing something that was new at the time and personally dangerous.
I think that this is how most people, including historians, are going to continue to use the title.
Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 04/13/2013 05:11PM by snb.