The new Pioneer Center President Ballard dedicated at This Is The Place Heritage Park

Among the more than 60 historic pioneer homes and buildings located at the This Is The Place Heritage Park is a replica of Mary Fielding Smith’s small brick home. Mary, the widow of Hyrum Smith, and her young son Joseph Fielding Smith traveled the 1,300 miles from Nauvoo, Illinois, to the rough desert valley of what-is-now Salt Lake City.

Whenever President M. Russell Ballard, her great-great-grandson, visits the humble dwelling, he is humbled by the impact and influence she had in “making this valley blossom as a rose.”

“It’s a very tender thing for me,” President Ballard, Acting President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, said of visiting the structure.

That sort of feeling of connection is an example of what President Ballard and others involved in the building of a new Pioneer Center at the entrance of This Is The Place Heritage Park hope for visitors.

“One of the things we hope happens when people come here is that they’ll start thinking about their forefathers — to study and know about them and appreciate them and see their accomplishments,” President Ballard told the Church News.

“We would not have what we have here today without the vision of this wonderful couple,” President Ballard said, referring to Ellis Ivory and his wife, Katie Ivory.

Ivory said his work on the Heritage Park through the years has grown in him a deep love for the pioneer story, which includes his great-great-grandfather, who was part of the advance company that came with Brigham Young.

President Ballard told the gathering of about 100 attendees they must never forget their roots. “We must never fail to teach our children, our grandchildren, our great-grandchildren, the price that our forefathers paid to make their way to this valley, and to make this desert to blossom and grow and be this wonderful, wonderful place,” President Ballard said.

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