Thursday, July 24, 2008

In Our Lovely Deseret


I thought it was high time I learned something about my pioneer ancestry. After all, I've lived in Utah for 14 years now. But I'm not from here. I'm from Michigan. And it wasn't until a year or two ago that I even found out I HAD pioneer ancestry. My mom laughed right out loud when I asked her if we had any pioneers in our family. Not only did I have pioneer ancestors, she told me, they settled the small town I live in now! Oops. That was my clue that it was time for me to do a little geneology. So two years went by and it's Pioneer Day 2008. I sat down today to read the incredibly detailed family/church history album my Uncle James wrote a few years back. Man, I can't believe the things I have read today. Some funny, some pleasantly suprising, some shocking, some downright ridiculous. It was only 160 years ago that my pioneer ancestors crossed the plains to Utah, but you'd think it was the Dark Ages by some of the things that happened to them. Here are a few of the fun and interesting things that caught my attention:

1) My great great great? grandmother Ann was a cradle robber. She got dissed by her fiance, headed west without him, and ended up marrying his younger brother, 8 years her junior. Sounds very soap opera-esque!

2) That husband, Willliam, was in the Mormon Battalion. I think that makes him kind of famous in Mormon history. I'm not really sure because I have no idea exactly what the Mormon Battalion is. I've heard of it, but I haven't read that far into my family history album yet. I'm skimming. Cut me some slack.

3) Ann traveled West in the company of future prophet and church president, John Taylor. I think that also qualifies me as having famous ancestors, right?

4) Ann and William were Manx. That means that their cats didn't have tails. Also that they came from the Isle of Man.

5) William's father, John, lived just up the block from Brigham Young and James Taylor in Nauvoo. They must have had awesome block parties. Although maybe a bit preachy.

6) This is one of the ones that kills me. It's 70 years after America was established as a nation with a very intelligent, well-writen, civilized constitution. But in the 1840's there were random militias roaming the countryside deciding what to make everyone do or not do. In this instance, one of them showed up in Nauvoo and told everyone Mormon to leave and kicked out anyone who sympathized with Mormons as well. Can you imagine?? Hello, this is AMERICA. We are a DEMOCRACY. You can't just show up and tell everyone else what to do because you have more guns than they do. Ok, unless you live in East Compton and wear red, yo. But otherwise, we have LAWS and RULES, people. So of course the Mormons appealed to the governor. But he was down with the gangstas too, evidently, because he pretty much gave them the thumbs up. Nice. Great job, America.

7) When Ann arrived in Salt Lake with one of the first big groups of Pioneers in October of 1847, there was no food. I really had to think about that one. NO FOOD. And no way to get food. No stores, no farms, no internet, no neighbors to borrow from. There was just NO FOOD. I can't imagine the faith those people must have had to arrive in a completely barren land, in the fall with no chance of planting, no one to help them, most of the country hating their guts, and only the food left in their wagons after 4 months of traveling to sustain them until help could come. Now that is FAITH. In light of that, it seems I might be able to go out and get some more food storage this week and quit complaining about how hard it is on me to store all this stuff I might never eat.

8) One of Ann's travel mates, Isabella Horne, wrote in her journal that when they arrived in the Salt Lake Valley and began building their two room house inside the fort set up by the earlier group, they installed two windows they had brought with them from Back East. Again it struck me how crazy it must have been to live in a time and place where, if you wanted to be able to see outside your house, you had to carry windows with you for thousands of miles across bumpy ground in a hand-made wagon and hope they didn't break before you got there. Wild.

9) There were 5 laws set up on the books at this time in SLC. One of the five was a law against standing around doing nothing. The punishment? Lashings. Good thing that one has been taken off the books! Ouchie.

10) A tribe of nearby Indians made friends with the Mormons after John Taylor healed their chief's son. In return, the Indians shared some flavorful ground meal with the Mormon settlers. John's wife learned to make bread and cakes with it. Eventually, John Taylor went to find out where the Indians got the meal from. Turns out it was ground up roasted crickets. YUM! I'm guessing he didn't share the source of the meal with his wife.

11) William was at Sutter's Mill in California in 1848-49 when gold was discovered. He was able to collect enough gold to set himself up fairly well when he made it back to Utah. Maybe that's where my sister's fondness for gold comes from. It's genetic.

12) Wlliam and Ann eventually had kids, though their taste in names steadily declined. They started strong with Mary, William Edward, and Eliza. But then they hit the downward spiral with Joseph Lamoni and finally Enos Moroni. Yikes.

13) So, I also found out that my other pioneer line, the Nicholes, are listed in English record books as being Gypsies on both sides of their family. So that's where I get my fondess for travel. It's genetic too. See this geneology stuff is totally paying off!

13) Ok, so it looks like I have another cradle robber in my family. Harriet Nicholes married James Nicholes (a year after they had their first chid, cough cough) ages 25 and 19 respectively. What's the dealio? Looks like I'm not following family tradition too well. My husband is OLDER than me.

14) The town I live in (not to be named for the fact that there could be crazies out there reading this) used to be named Lake Town. Who knew?

15) Oh my gosh! Pligs! On both sides. Just found out. Whoa.

Well, that's about it. Learned some cool new stuff today. What about you? Any fun pioneer stories to share?

11 comments:

Deanna said...

I just found your blog through Over the Tipsy Top Design, Tonia. You are doing a good job.
I love the story of your niece and the "David's. I am a hugh David A. fan and was able to go to the concert in Salt Lake, what an awesome show it was. I live in Idaho.

jennie w. said...

wow, thanks for the family history
tutorial. I figured there must be some pioneers in there somewhere.

Christie said...

That's really fun. Where did you find all of this out? I also have some pioneer ancestry - one of my great-something grandmothers came over in either the Martin or Willy Handcart company (can't remember which). Funny thing is, she came over without any other family. She was 14 and had a child, but there is no record that she was ever married. We think she may have been the mistress to the head of the company. Funny huh?

Mama C. said...

Geneology is such a cool thing. Kudos to all of you who put in the time and energy to find out about your family history! :) It must be so exhilerating to read about the cast of characters that make up your family's past. I found it amazing to read, and I'm not even related (or... am I? ;)

xox,

C.

MiaKatia said...

I love family history stuff, just not so fond of the work that goes into it. Which for me is a pretty weak excuse since my mother did a ton of it already.

Erica said...

:hysterics: I guess you'd count me a cradle robber too. I'm not as bad as your Ann, but I'm a bit worse then Harriet.

Need help? I'm 7 years older then my hubby.

Kati Atwood said...

Hey, I have an extra interesting tidbit for you. I read an article about a week ago about research that BYU has done on the financial situation of mormons and non-mormons during the time Gov. Boggs issued the extermination order. It turns out that many people (including Gov. Boggs) made BANK on the land that the mormons left behind. And the timing of it all worked out VERY beneficial because of something or other (sorry don't remember). Anyway, interesting to note that it wasn't just pure hatred. It was cold and calculated greed. Just some fun FYI

Sara said...

That is pretty awesome to find out, I love reading about the history of pioneers. Makes me appreciate being so spoiled!

Grandma Lorie said...

Do you have Mormon Ancestors? Duh! You DID mention Anne, William and Rachel, and mentioned the Nicholes, but trot your little body upstairs to the Family tree I (your mother) painted for you as a wedding present. Those 15 people above Olive Maiben and Joseph Kelly Nicholes were ALL pioneers! The good-looking guy with sideburns 3 steps up from Olive was NOT a pioneer. He left his wife over the church. And the ugly old woman in the fancy hat right next to him didn't like the Mormons either. But she was fanatically controlling of her daughter, so she went along to make sure her son in law treated her precious daughter like a queen. She almost broke up their marriage in the attempt.

Note to Kristie: The Martin AND Willey Handcart company were one and the same. They had two sponsors, and nearly killed off all their people by starting a month later than Brigham Young told them too. Yes, all who survived kept powerful testimonies until their deaths, but how often I have wondered if so many would have died if they had followed Brigham's advice.

PS, Ari, I loved your Chinese signs. I feel like volunteering to the Chinese Government to go over there FREE and translate all their mutilated signs into real English. But maybe they do it wrong to keep the tourists happy and laughing. It's a thought.

Arianne's Mom, Grandma Lorie

Omgirl said...

Actually, Mom, it is you who is in the wrong, not Christie. The Willie and Martin Handcart Companies were two different groups. They left 10 days apart and arrived in SLC 21 days apart. Here's a link to read up on it...
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mormon_handcart_pioneers#1856:__Willie_and_Martin_handcart_companies

alex dumas said...

Well, that's cool stuff. You're lucky that someone did all of that research for you. Hopefully by now you've seen the Work and the Glory movies and you know what the Mormon Battalion is.

In my family, I am the researcher. I am second generation LDS, so very little has been done.