Historical Background

The Gates of Eden is a girl’s coming-of-age story grounded in three of the most complicated, heartbreaking and colorful years in the history of the American West. Between 1856 and 1858, several hundred impoverished immigrants, converts to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, perished on the handcart trail.

Many arrived in Utah to a fiery Mormon Reformation, with its teaching that plural marriage is a requirement for entry into heaven.

The era also saw federal soldiers marching on Utah, determined to abolish polygamy and the prophet’s political theocracy, and the tragic Mountain Meadows Massacre in southern Utah, where much of the story is set.

Characters and Events

Although the story was initially inspired by the life of my great-great-grandmother, the primary characters in The Gates of Eden are wholly imaginary. The public characters, however, are real; they are directly quoted or abide by generally known facts about their lives and personalities.


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