SALINA, Sevier County — Over the past several weeks, Deeanna Price says she has learned a lot about her pioneer roots thanks to technology and perseverance.

A few weeks ago, Price first took a serious interest in visiting the graves of all of her pioneer ancestors in honor of Pioneer Day.

"I started up in Heber City,” Price said. “I have gone out to Nephi, down to Wayne County, these are where some of my ancestors were buried.”

Alice Christenson, Deenna Price and Price's mother, Linda Chappell, stand near the grave of Deeanna Price's great-great-grandfather in the Pioneer Cemetery in Salina, Sevier County. The headstone was found under 5 inches of sod and dirt.
Alice Christenson, Deenna Price and Price's mother, Linda Chappell, stand near the grave of Deeanna Price's great-great-grandfather in the Pioneer Cemetery in Salina, Sevier County. The headstone was found under 5 inches of sod and dirt. | Sam Penrod, Deseret News

The Family Search app helped Price find information even her mother didn’t know.

“She told me that she had 35 grandparents or relatives who came across the Plains, and she was going to visit all for those graves,” Linda Chappell, Price’s mother, said.

Her stop in Salina a few days before the holiday to find the grave of a great-great-grandfather, Daniel Cook, who has been buried here since 1875, put her effort to find each of those 35 graves by Pioneer Day to a complete stop. The headstone was nowhere to be found.

The Pioneer Cemetery in Salina was the first established in the community, and while it is still well maintained, time has taken a toll.

A headstone marking the grave of Daniel Cook, who has been buried at the Pioneer Cemetery in Salina, Sevier County, since 1875, is pictured on Monday, Aug. 6, 2018. The headstone was found under 5 inches of sod and dirt. It was discovered after Cook's gre
A headstone marking the grave of Daniel Cook, who has been buried at the Pioneer Cemetery in Salina, Sevier County, since 1875, is pictured on Monday, Aug. 6, 2018. The headstone was found under 5 inches of sod and dirt. It was discovered after Cook's great-great-granddaughter was looking for his grave using the Family Search app and couldn't find it. The headstone was found by the caregiver of the cemetery. | Sam Penrod, Deseret News

With the help of a cousin, Alice Christenson, who lives nearby, they searched for a few hours with no success.

“We looked and looked, and it was pretty much grass all over,” Christenson said.

But in recent days, thanks to a cemetery caregiver, the headstone was found buried under 5 inches of sod and dirt.

“It was really like finding a treasure. It was exciting,” Christenson said.

The caregiver didn't give up and has since uncovered another 30 to 40 flat headstones that over time had disappeared in the pioneer cemetery.

“I didn’t know I had a great-great-grandfather here in the Salina Cemetery,” Price said. “I would not have known without that Family Search app, and I have enjoyed discovering these different pieces of information that I had no idea were there, but I want it preserved so my kids can come out and see this and maybe my grandchildren will get interested.”

But it is this headstone that has helped connect these women to their pioneer past.

“Not that you even know them, but it just makes you feel closer to them knowing where they are and their lives,” Christenson said.

And a renewed commitment to help keep that history alive for future generations.

“I think it is history worth preserving,” Price said. “I think we can do better.”

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