More than 700 family descendants and friends of early LDS Wyoming settlers commemorated their ancestors' lives recently during a "Mormon Row Centennial Celebration" on land that is now part of Grand Teton National Park, just outside Jackson Hole, Wyo.

The celebration - which included an outdoor barbecue, potluck, auction and re-enactment of early Sunday School and sacrament meetings in the Grovont Branch - marked an opportunity for descendants to learn more about the pioneers' struggles and accomplishments.Throughout the celebration, descendants exhibited family memorabilia at individual booths under a brightly colored, circus-sized tent. Bands, comprised of musicians who descended from original settlers, also performed.

The celebration itself marked 100 years since James Ira and Ann May migrated from Rockland, Idaho, over Teton pass into the Jackson Hole Valley on July 6, 1896. Brother May claimed a 160-acre plot with a view of the Grand Tetons for his homestead.

Lester May, 84, said that his grandfather discovered "sagebrush as high as his horse's back."

Several years after Brother May moved his family to the Jackson Hole Valley, approximately two dozen early 20th century homesteads grew up along a straight line of road just east of the Grand Tetons and 15 miles north of Jackson. This area became known as "Mormon Row."

For a time the name "Mormon Row" was used derogatorily, but the title eventually acquired positive connotations. Today descendants proudly lay claim to their Mormon Row heritage. The land in which their ancestors settled, however, is almost entirely owned by the U.S. government as a section of Grand Teton National Park.

Except for one acre of private land, all the original homesteads were bought by wealthy philanthropist John D. Rockefeller and given then to the U.S. park system more than 40 years ago.

Participants called the centennial celebration, put on with the park's permission, a way to recommit themselves to the "noble legacy left by their forebears."

An enormous tent housed booths displaying photographs, family histories, art work, needlework, and antique furniture, ranching and farming equipment. These booths were created by descendants of original homesteaders to educate their families as well as the general public about pioneer life on Mormon Row.

Using minutes from Church meetings held by the small Grovont Branch a century earlier, descendants talked in a Sunday service about pioneer life.

During the meeting, 10-year-old Sara Glynn Moulton related her family's pioneer story. Young Sara told the audience that her ancestor Sarah Denton Moulton gave birth to Charles Alma while they crossed the ocean to meet the Saints. Although, when they arrived in the West, Baby Charles was thin and frail, he and his mother survived the difficult ocean voyage and the even more difficult handcart trip.

"Would everyone who is a descendent of the Moultons please raise their hand?" asked Sara during her two-and-a half minute talk. More than 100 descendants' hands went up. "As you can see," said Sara, "baby Charles recovered his health all right."

Lanny May, 62, said during the Centennial Celebration her family members felt satisfied that Mormon Row, a nearly pristine site in Jackson Hole nestled somewhat away from major tourist attractions, will be safeguarded for their children, grandchildren and other visitors from around the world to enjoy.