I've been researching this song for over a year. My sister asked me to do a biographical sketch of my great grandmother who grew up in a polygamous family in the 1880-1890 period of territorial Utah. Because she left no photos or journals, I started digging into her parents and grandparent's records. This is the story of my great-great-great grandparents who joined the Mormon church in the early 1840s, when the founder was still alive. By the time they got to the United States, Joseph Smith had been killed and several splinter groups had formed. They got swept into the group that followed Brigham Young. The widowed Elizabeth's baby was born in Wyoming. It was November, and the wagon company was caught in the middle of a blizzard. Her baby, Charlotte, was my great-great grandmother and ended up being raised by her older sister, Ann, after her mother suffered a nervous breakdown a few years later.
The Zion that Elizabeth and John had been hoping for turned out to be a failed utopian experience. Living the law of consecration, they had sacrificed all their money, time and energy to the church. Elizabeth's family moved into a one room cabin with a dirt floor and tarp roof. They starved, worse than the famine they'd left behind in England. The daughters married young into polygamous marriages in order to better their lives.
1. Elizabeth and John had a small farm in England when apostles from America came to call.
They'd been married seven years, had three young children, and were told that to follow they must give up all.
It's the end of the world we've known.
Time to reap what we have sown.
The Saints are gathering in Zion,
so that's where we are going.
When we get to Zion, land of milk and honey
on the banks of the Mississippi
We'll never starve; we won't need money
When a paradise awaits you and me.
2. Leaving England four years later and one child more, the family boarded a ship to New Orleans.
They'd scrimped and sold; put their savings in the church's store following their newfound faith means:
PC & Chorus
3. Left the boat for a steamship, passengers got ill. Change of plans, Zion's moving on the map.
John learned of the baby just before his heart stopped still. Left alone, Elizabeth felt trapped.
When we get to Zion, that Promised Land
Tween the Jordan River and an inland sea
We'll make an oasis of the desert sand
'Cause a paradise awaits you and me
Zion, Zion, beautiful Zion.....
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