Between Two Worlds: The history of Mormon Colonies

November 19, 2019

EPCC partnered with the El Paso Museum of History and the National Endowment for the Humanities to host the event Between Two Worlds: The Lives of Mormon Settlers on the Border, giving the public a closer look at the history and lives of these people.

 

 

Dayana Bañuelos/ Tejano Tribune

(L-R) Lisa Elliott, EPCC Mass Communication Professor and Clayton H. Bench Director of Religious Studies at UTEP speaking at the National Endowment for the Humanities. 

 

 

The event was held at the El Paso Museum Of History on Nov. 7, with over 120 people in attendance.

 

 

The conversation was about the history of the Mormon Colonies in Mexico and how the “folklore concept of liminality” has played a role in the settlers’ lives as well as well as their relationships with Mexico and the United States.

 

EPCC Communication Professor Lisa Elliot, was the director for the project and spoke to the large audience.

 

“We appreciate you taking time out of your life to come and learn about American colonies and the concept of liminality from some panels we have,” she began.

 

Liminality can be described as an ambiguous or middle state in a right of passage. 

 

According to author Rebecca Jansen this idea comes into play with the Mormon colonists of the area due to their history as outliers.

 

Panelist Clayton Bench introduced the audience to the history and background of the Mormon Colonies in Mexico

 

“Mormons began to seek solutions to the growing opposition to polygamy and the constant threat of arrest to those who practice in our legal and extremely unpopular marriage,” explained Bench.    

 

“Church leaders, including the highest officials in the church of the Mormon community, rather than hiding in some instances, moved from place to place to avoid arrest in the face of what they viewed as extreme persecution and clear violation of what they saw their religious liberty, their belief to worship as they please. 

 

Moments ago, they began to endorse the idea of having the Mormons move out in Utah, Arizona, and heading into parts of Mexico,” added Bench.

 

Various groups such as the Mennonites went to Northern Mexico to settle for various reasons Mormons went primarily for religious freedom.

 

The audience heard testimonies directly from Vera Pratt, Carol Ann Hatch, and Michael Mullen, people whose lives are connected to the Colonies. 

 

Attendees also received journals and guidelines with tips to help begin collecting their heritage.

 

Elliot thanked the National for the Humanities and her fellow colleagues at EPCC for their support in impacting the society in order to help them in collecting their heritage.
 

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