Tuesday, July 29, 2014

I'm baaaaaaaaaaaaaack.............

Took a break from blogging - work got crazy, I went on vacation and ...... just took a break.   52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks is no longer happening in its original form as well.  I will continue to highlight interesting ancestors - but discontinue the rigid schedule, and will include other family history things too!

So the "think" this week is the 2014 Family Search Family History Conference at BYU.   It started this morning - and goes through Friday.

There are a few things that I see people do that annoy the crap out of me - and it seems like it happens more at family history conferences - perhaps because they are not geared more for business people who attend conferences frequently and know better.

#1 Annoyance.   Ppl pulling wheeled backpacks or briefcases who are totally self un-aware and a danger to everybody in the hallway.  Seriously ppl - KEEP THEM CLOSE TO YOU - not 3 feet back and quit stopping in the middle of hallways for no apparent reason.

Why do you have these things anyway?   Why are you carrying so much crap?    You don't need this much stuff.   Bring something you can carry - what is the most you really need?   Pen, paper, tablet if you have one and something to hold handouts.  You do not need to carry your whole paper file with all your research for all your family in it - nobody is going to ask you to whip out Aunt Bertha's death certificate!!!!

#2 Learn how to use a syllabus.   You do not need to write everything - that is why they go to great pains to get a syllabus to you.  This conference even put it on a DVD!!!    They KNOW that there are going to be lots of details ppl want - web sites, blogs, contact info., etc - it's almost like they prepared this nifty syllabus for you - which is 600 freaking pages - so that you don't have to write all this stuff down so you can pay attention.      Also - it contributes to #1 - Why are you paying an extra $40 bucks to have the 600 page syllabus printed for you - really? It's so convenient and searchable and easy to find what you want in a 3 inch stack of paper.

#3 Learn how to operate your devices.    TURN OFF THEIR NOISES!   That includes rings, message notifications, email notifications, the annoying click every time you take a picture of the slides that are already included in the syllabus (see above), and any other noise the make!!!!!

Now onto the fun part of the conference!    Even though I live about 45 minutes away - I'm staying at a hotel near the conference.   I have a "cheery" hotel room - it's all yellow and orange!   It is, however, a nice hotel and I am enjoying it.   I especially enjoy that I can get Starbucks latte's in the lobby - given that this conference is held on the BYU Campus - so no Coffee, Tea, or other caffeinated beverages are allowed!!!  If you know me - you know this is not my favorite rule!

The thing with these conferences - are that the Mormon church is very involved in genealogy - and this is not a bad thing.   But sometimes those involved forget that that there are reasons beyond submitting names for Mormon ordinances to be interested in family history.   I really find this annoying because so much of the public face and the theme for this year for Family Search is to find the story, yet at this meetings - I feel like ppl forget that part and its all about how many cards have YOU submitted for temple work?  I also think that sometimes ppl - both presenters and attendees forget that not everybody in the audience is a member of the Mormon church and there is no thought to explain what on earth they are talking about to this group of ppl.  

The break outs - so far - have been pretty good.    Here is what I attended today:

Using Records and the Internet to Find Ancestral Homelands:    This was an interesting session that covered the key immigration paths for people to enter the United States through.   Some good good web resources, and methods to use when researching.

Two Soldiers with the Same Name:  Which One is Mine?   This was a very interesting session that included several examples walking us through how easy it is to make mistakes and either find the wrong person without realizing it, or accidentally combine information from more than one person with the same name.     Some of the methods to discover mistakes were very interesting - and when I saw it in action - my first thought was:  "Duh... why didn't I think of that?"

Elementary, My Dear Watson!  Solving Genealogy Puzzles with Clues You Already Have:   This session was interesting - but the examples used were so specific - that many of the methods employed would not be all that helpful.    The examples included people that lived in very (VERY) small villages, and/or had very unique names.    This makes it easier to find information sometimes - where is is only a couple hundred ppl in a village, and you know what the village is - using brute force to look at every record in the church book is possible.   I didn't find anything helpful here to blow through either of my major brick walls - which is what I was hoping for.

Publish Before You Perish:  Leaving a Genealogical Legacy:   This was interesting - in that the presenter had some fantastic stories, but I have some pretty major philosophical differences on this topic.  I.E. when she said - paper will outlast digital copies of things like letters and pictures and records, I had to bite my tongue - literally.    The method she pushed - paper - multiple copies - provided to multiple ppl, and even better if you can find an institution such as a library or museum to take a copy too.     This view just kind of makes me sad.   The small part where she discussed digital records - she recommended sharing with ppl via CD's, DVD's and thumb drive.    Hello - welcome to the 21st Century - have you met the cloud yet??!!??     My own personal opinion on this topic - get it into Ancestry, get it into familysearch.org and get it on something like Google drive and share with any relative remotely interested.

Online Family Trees:  Separating Fact from Fiction:  This one opened a few eyes, but not much that I don't already know.    Ppl really really need to pay attention to these things!!!

OK - that is it for now - tomorrow is another - this one sounds like a less preachy topic, and 5 more break outs!!!!

Monday, May 12, 2014

52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks: Week 19 - A Wedding........ And Fun with the groom........

This story is about my parents - but mostly about my dad - Michael Rasmussen.  Updates today - my Great Aunt Nadine reminded me of some additional details.   A fantastic lesson on just how fast details get lost - I forgot some after only a week!!!!  

Big thanks to my great aunt and uncle for sharing this with me!    Not to mention participating in the teasing!

My parents were married on Flag Day - June 14, 1963.    Following the festivities, the family was gathered at my grandparents house.     My father worked in construction at the time, and several family members had been teasing him  - saying they were going to drive his car into the large hole that had been made to form the foundation for the 5 Points Shopping Center, in Bountiful, Utah.

So........ Mike goes into the house, and a couple brothers, and uncles push his car around the corner and attach a bunch of cans to it.      He comes out - and the car is missing!        Not amused, he hops into another car and heads to 5 Points Shopping Center.

Of course - the car is not there.      He heads back to the house - and sees the car around the corner.   He goes and gets the car - takes off the cans, and pulls it into the driveway - and heads back into the house, seriously annoyed.     The relatives strike again - this time pushing the car into the garage and shutting the door.  

He comes out again - and sees the car is missing - again and throws his hands up in the air.     I'm not exactly sure who told him where the car was this time.   Ah hah - an answer - when he came out - the person pulling the car into the garage hit the brakes and he saw them - so he knew something was up........again.

When its time to leave - and Mike and Bette get into their car and head to their apartment in Salt Lake.      The trouble makers get into a car and follow - and every time Mike and Bette's car stops at a stop sign - someone hops out and tries to attach cans to Mike and Bette's car.     Finally Mike realizes what is going on and starts making turns to lose them.    They never did successfully get the cans attached.

No problem - they know where the apartment is and head over that way.    A little later - they knock on the door.    My poor parents!

Revenge was had the next day - on the way out of town to the honeymoon, Mike stopped by his parents house where people were staying.  He quietly went down the hallway with water in hand, opened up the door and thew cold water on people!!!!

Monday, May 5, 2014

52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks - Week 18: Finding Friends - Norma Rasmussen

Recently, I received some of my grandmothers things - including a personal history she wrote about her life, pictures and letters from WWII.   These are priceless and I have been looking through everything and slowly updating both ancestry.com and familysearch.org.  .

One of the best parts getting this information was tracking down Melissa.    Using clues on the pictures and in the story - I tracked down Melissa's daughter and was able to share the stories and pictures with her.   Melissa was my grandmothers best friend.  

Melissa and Norma
Melissa and my grandmother shared a wedding....... and a lamb..........

In 1940, my grandmother, Norma Shepherd was dating Fred Rasmussen.    He took her to Lagoon - a local amusement park in Utah which still exists today.   Part of the group included Fred's cousin, Cecil.    There were things in the ground that sent out a puff of air and made the girls skirts fly up.     Norma was wearing a very full skirt and got caught by one of these things and her skirt flew up over her head.   Cecil made a comment about "the cute pink panties".    Norma was embarrassed and everyone laughed.

Norma was working in Salt Lake City and staying with Melissa.   A few days later who shows up on their doorstep?  Cecil!  Norma agreed to go out on a date, only if Cecil could find a date for Melissa.   He did and they went out and had a great time.    Dancing the night away, staying up all night, driving to Helper and a street dance the next day.

"Hello Honey
Remember me?  
I'm the guy that had you out all night way back in 1940 on July the Fourth. Are you and Melissa the talk of the town or is everything alright?
Did Fred have anything to say or don't you know?
I hope you don't know because I don't want you to go out with him."
The next time Cecil showed up - he brought along one of his friends, a sheep herder named Faye.    Melissa and Faye hit it off.   This w
as in July 1940.   They couples continued to date all through July and August.   Going dancing, fishing, camping, swimming.

 On August 23, 1940 the group went on a drive to Monte Cristo, near where Faye's camp was.    The car stopped and would not start again, and it started raining.  Faye talked them into going over the hill (my grandmother said the "hill" was several hills and 10 miles), to his camp for some lamb stew.   He killed one of the lambs, made stew and ate.    Later they hiked back to the car - taking a remaining leg of lamb with them.   They were able to get the car started and started heading home.

Faye and Melissa started talking about getting married and wanted to stop and get a wedding license on the way home.     Norma and Cecil decided to go ahead and get married too!   They stopped at Norma's house and dropped off the leg of lamb then headed to Melissa's house and dropped off the girls.   The next day - Faye and Cecil picked up Norma and Melissa, and at Cecil's insistence headed off to find Norma's father to tell him of the plan.

They found him at his job, Norma introduced them and Cecil told him they were getting married the next day.   Norma's parents wanted her to wait a few days until after pay day - but Melissa and Faye did not want to wait - so they all headed off to the courthouse.   Norma was wearing her 9th grade graduation class, and Cecil had a suit with a shirt that had a frayed collar.   After the ceremony, everybody went to Norma's house and ate the leg of lamb!!!!  

They newly married couple spent their wedding night in the basement of Cecil's sisters house.   Cecil left the next day to return to work on the Railroad.   Within a few weeks, he had a place for them to live and Norma joined him.

Norma and Cecil
Faye and Cecil

My grandparents were married for over 50 years.   My grandfather died in 1999 and my grandmother died in 2012.

Personal History, written by Norma (Shepherd) Rasmussen

Monday, April 21, 2014

52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks: Week 16 - Luther Morris Palmer - Fact and Fiction

Shortly after I started researching family history - I ran across Luther Moses Palmer - my 3x great grandfather.  .    At first - I was all excited - look at the stories!  He was a Dr. who attended Brigham Young!   Wow!!

Then - I started to realize that you should not believe everything you read!  I learned about documenting things.   And I learned that almost all families have stories that are just that stories!  

Periodically - I'd revisit Luther Palmer or find another bit in his story.   It helps that he is closely aligned to my biggest brick wall - so when I actively research Mr. Brick Wall - I find out more about Luther Palmer as he is my brick wall's father in law!

So first - here are the "facts".   I feel pretty good about the facts in this timeline as I have things like census records, marriage certificates, death certificates and newspaper articles to support this list.    Also there are several "facts" from this list that also show up in the stories.  This is important - because some of the stories are pretty unbelievable - so sometimes I think there are 2 Luther Moses Palmer's running around.   But then I think.   The odds of there being 2 Luther Moses Palmers, living in Chicken Creek at the same time, and later living in Ouray Colorado at the same time, and both having daughters named Lola Mae are pretty slim.   So slim, that it's all but impossible.

  • 1827 - Born July 5 in Oswegatchie, New York
  • 1850 - Census - Potawattamie, Iowa - Stock  Driver
  • 1851 - Iowa Census - Potawattamie, Iowa
  • 1860 - Living in Salt Lake City, Utah
  • 1860 - Married to Mary Elizabeth Veach
  • 1870 - Census - Chicken Creek, Utah - Farmer
  • 1872 - Married Dora Elizabeth Bosch
  • 1880 - Census 2 of them - Fayette, Sanpete, Utah.  Farmer/Stock and Chicken Creek, Sevier County  - Stock Dealer (diff wives)
  • 1885 - Divorced from Mary Elizabeth Veach - Restraining order filed to prevent him from disposing of property
  • 1891 - March 15 in Richfield, Utah-Son murdered
  • 1894 - Daughter involved in "fornication" with Mr. Elliot Hudson from Annabella who is convicted and serves 30 days in jail.
  • 1900 - Census - Ouray, Colorado - Farm Laborer
  • 1903 - Living in Colorado - Ridgeway - Daughter moves in after her husband is killed.
  • 1910 - Census - Salt Lake City, Utah - Occupation = "Home"
  • 1915 - Died - Salt Lake City, Utah - 250 1/2 West 4th North

Now the stories

  • 1847 Crossed the plains
  • Went to California at the time of the gold rush and studied medicine
  • 1851 Returned to Salt Lake City to practice medicine.   At some point became one of Brigham's physicians.
  • 1864 - 1875 Lived in Chicken Creek
  • 1872 - Married 2nd Wife (Polygamist) Dora Bosch
  • 1875-1882 Lived in Spring City, Sanpete County, Utah and a ranch south of Juab
  • 1877 Attended Brigham Young at his death
  • 1882 Moved to Fayette, Sanpete County, Utah
  • 1884 Goes to Mexico with 2nd wife and children.
  • 1885 Luther Palmer and Mary Veach are divorced
  • Sometime before 1900 - goes to Colorado after Mexico - practices medicine until 1900
  • 1901 Wife dies of Cancer - moves to Salt Lake City
  • 1915 Dies in Salt Lake City after being cared for by daughter from first marriage - Sarah Ann.

Now some analysis - - -

  • Crossed the plains in 1847 - doubtful.   Depending on your definition of crossing the plains - if you mean to Utah - no.     Another unverified story is what is reported as his mother's journal (Patience Delila Pierce) - the family left NY in 1838.   The family did not head for Utah until 1848.   The LDS History web site shows Luther Palmer in the Frederick A Mitchell company arriving in 1858.
  • Went to California during the Gold Rush - doubtful.   According to Wikipedia the gold rush was from 1848 to 1855.   Given the information above about when he likely came to Utah.   In conjunction with 1850 and 51 Federal and State census' showing him in Iowa - this is doubtful. 
  • Luther Palmer was a Physician - this is the strangest of all the tales, and doubtful.    A doctor?  He's doing some awfully strange things for a doctor, and there is a odd lack of evidence for this. 
    • He almost certainly, based on the information in the previous 2 sections,  did not go to medical school in California  prior to 1851 and return to Utah and become one of Brigham Young's physicians.
    • Nowhere on any of the records listing occupation does he show up as a doctor.    
    • Newspapers covered almost anything - and if he was a physician attending Brigham Young - you would think that would make the news.    He and/or his family are showing up in the newspaper for other items - but not this?
    • Brigham Young didn't like doctors and stayed away from them as much as possible.  This was one of the more interesting things I learned in researching this.     
    • He wasn't living in Salt Lake City during the period of time he was Brigham Young's physician.  He was in Sanpete and Sevier counties.   That is a 2 hour + drive today on modern highways.    It is very unlikely he was commuting from Chicken Creek to Salt Lake on any sort of regular basis.
    • He's oddly absent in the AMA documentation.  I did find 2 references (links below) to him as a Dr - never is a specialty, schooling or other details listed - as they seem to be with most of the doctors in the records.   One did note that he was an Allopath.   In reading about Allopath's on Wikipedia - particularly in the 19th century - this was an unflattering reference to people who practiced alternative forms of medicine.
    • In her reported journal, his mother is considered a nurse, and one of his wives was a nurse - so perhaps he picked up some things?
    • He supposedly practiced medicine until 1900 while living in Colorado - but in the Colorado census he is listed as a farm laborer.   Much closer to the Stock driving farming occupations listed in other census records.   If he is a physician - he's doing his best to keep it from appearing in any records.
  • Goes to Mexico - then Colorado - Possible.  Not sure when this move to Mexico happened - but he's testifying at his son's murder trial in 1891, and his daughter is fornicating with Mr. Hudson in 1894 (or at least that is when he was convicted!) so it must have been sometime after 1894.
  • 1901 Wife dies of Cancer, moves to Salt Lake City.  Perhaps - but timeline is off.  His wife died in 1899 - though I don't have what I call good documentation on that date.  However - there is documentation refuting the 1901 date and the move to Salt Lake City.      She is not listed on the 1900 census, and he is present in Ouray Colorado when my brick wall, his son in law, John McGovern is killed in 1903.    An article in the Ouray newspaper in 1904 mentions that he is moving with his daughter to a fruit farm in Montrose Colorado to help her out after losing her husband in 1903.
  • While it does not appear he moved to Salt Lake City in 1901, he is listed in the 1910 Census in Salt Lake City living with a "friend" and his occupation listed as "home" 

More than almost any other ancestor I have researched, I have a picture of Luther Moses Palmer in my mind.   I realize that a lot of it is based on some stories that may not be completely accurrate, coupled with some pretty interesting documented stories about he and his children, as well as the paper trail that exists, mixed in with a healthy does does of assumption.  

So - that being said........

I think that Luther Moses Palmer was probably a character.  I think he made decisions without always thinking too far in advance.  I think he kept an eye out for the next big thing, or the next scheme.   He seems to be restless - moving all over, trying new things.  I have an impression that he may have had quite an ego and enjoyed and maybe even encouraged some of the stories about him.   He kept his family close - and the moved around in a group so I think his children must have loved him.    I can almost picture him telling some of the wilder stories to his grand kids.   I think he would have been an interesting person to know!

Improvement ERA, November 1914  - click  
The Lancet Clinic, January - June 1915 - click.  
Evening Dispatch (Provo Newspaper) - July 13, 1894 click
The Daily Enquirer Newspaper April 30, 1891 - click
www.findagrave.com- click
Ouray Herald, March 11, 1904

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks: Week 15 - Kathie Rasmussen

Kathie Irene Rasmussen is the aunt I never knew.  She died when she was only 11 years old.    She was both my fathers little sister, and my mothers friend.


My parents grew up living close to each other and attended the same schools.    My mother said that it was at Kathie's funeral that Michael (my father) was Kathie's sister.

Kathie Irene Rasmussen was born on October 2, 1944 - 3 months shy of my fathers 2nd birthday.     A mere 4 months after Kathie was born - my grandfather was called to serve in World War II.  Basic Training in Rhode Island and then on to Japan.



My grandmother sent letters from the kids, pictures and cards during my grandfathers time in the war.


In October 1955, shortly after her 11th birthday, Kathie's school called and asked her mother to pick her up - Kathie was not feeling well.         Her mother brought her home, and called the Dr. - the flu was going around.   Kathie told her mother that she had been hit by a ball while playing kick-ball - nobody knew then that the ball had caused her brain to bleed.  She did not improve and collapsed a few days later.    She was taken to the hospital and died a short time later.

Monday, April 7, 2014

52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks: Week 14 Jeanette Taylor Jones

This week - I'm writing about my 2x Great Grandmother, and my introduction to AncestryDNA.

This starts with spitting in a tube....... I was so excited to get the AncestryDNA kit.    Dismayed at seeing how big the tube is, then relieved to find out that the "bottom" of the tube is really not where you think it is!  Thank Heavens!        I spit in the tube that night and sent it on its merry way the next day.

Then - days and days and weeks...... of waiting!   Then one night - the results arrived!   And I had matches!  Double bonus!!

So - I start going through the matches.     At that point - just figuring out what it all meant when I see a familiar name.   Not a name of a relative, but the name of someone that I had been watching for weeks!   Crista Cowan from Ancestry.com, the Barefoot Genealogist!   OK - now I was completely excited - I have some sort of actual family connection to CRISTA COWAN!?!?!?  Wow!!   I had been watching videos featuring her for weeks on Youtube!!!

OK - Open it up and ummmmm....... yea, no idea where the actual DNA match is and that tree is one SERIOUSLY large tree.    I looked for awhile - the moved on to some other matches, planning to come back to it later - after I got the hang of how this all works and maybe learned a trick or two to help find links and how these matches work!  

Then - I get a notification that I have a message!   Weeeeeeeeeeeee!   And wow - its from Crista Cowan!   How very exciting!!

As exciting as that was - the information it contained was fantastic and helped solve a brick wall, and revealed an sad, but very interesting story about my 2x Great Grandmother.   Had it not been for DNA and Crista Cowan - I'd still be trying to hunt down Jeanette Taylor!!!

So now - onto the story of Jeanette Jones, aka Jeanette Taylor.

Jeanette Jones was born in 1864 in Utah to John Markland Jones and Elizabeth Smith Mulliner.  While she was very young, her parents moved to California.  The family was never reunited.  I saw several versions of what may have happened - but it seems nobody really knows.    What is known is that her father died enroute to California in 1871.   Her mother may or may not have returned to Salt Lake City and may or may not have married again, it's all quite mysterious.

There is no indication that Jeanette was formally adopted by John Taylor, but she did take on the Taylor name.

In 1884 Jeanette married Charles Ross Howe.  The couple had 8 children and Nettie filled her days taking care of her children, cooking and homemaking.    She was an active member of the Daughters of the Utah Pioneers.  Several articles in the Salt Lake Tribune mention various functions she attended and participated in as part of her duties of that organization.

Nettie Taylor Howe, as she was known, died in 1943.

Amos Howe, Foundryman, by Margaret Cannon, 2005, Family History Library

Monday, March 24, 2014

52 Ancestor in 52 Weeks: Week 12 - Greg Rasmussen

This week I highlight my uncle, Greg Rasmussen.    

I attended Greg's funeral this past weekend, he died on March 17, 2014.

Obituary from stgeorgeutah.com

I spent a fair amount of time with Greg growing up, not as much later on as I moved to different parts of the country and he moved to LaVerkin, and later Hurricane Utah.

When I was growing up - I went almost every weekend to my grandparents house with my dad.   Even though Bountiful was a mere 20 minutes away from our home in Salt Lake City, Bountiful was like visiting another world.  It was like going on vacation.

Grandma's house had a huge garden, chickens, a swing set with tire swings that my grandpa made himself.  My uncle Kurt lived there too, and on and off - Uncle Greg.

Greg was the uncle that taught you things your parents didn't want you to know, and let you do things your parents did not want you to do.    I learned how to play blackjack when I was about 7-8, I learned about music and I learned that uncles can be crazy.   He let my brothers have their first cigars and took them hunting.  He loved animals and he loved to cook and he loved to play, and he was perfectly fine including the little kids.  When he married Stacie Clark - I played blackjack with both of them.   I went to my first casino - and I was not yet 21, with them.

Greg and Stacie (Clark) Rasmussen - Wedding Day
As I entered High School, Greg was working with my dad at the insurance company, as was my sister, and my other uncle Kurt.    

Not to long before I left for college, Greg and Stacie had their first baby - Aaron, and while I was at college - their second baby Robyn.  While the kids were still young, Stacie was diagnosed with cancer and passed away.  Greg moved to LaVerkin and he and the kids lived with my grandparents.

After high school - I didn't see all that much of Greg.   Mostly at family functions here and there and funerals.    He helped my aunt, his sister, a great deal with my grandmother as her health declined.  Not too long after my grandmother died, Greg was diagnosed with colon cancer.   He had not been healthy for awhile already.

His daughter moved to Hurricane and had her first baby - Greg's first and only grandchild.    He was able to be part of her life for a short while, and hopefully she will remember him.

When I was in Hurricane for Greg's funeral, I was in the car with his daughter and granddaughter - who is 2.     The baby was in the back seat and regularly asked for her Papa, not understanding that he was no longer there for her.

Greg Rasmussen and his granddaughter

Rest in peace Greg! 

Monday, March 17, 2014

52 Ancestors: Week 11 The Civil War

I was so excited this week to FINALLY find an ancestor that served in the Civil War.    At the time of the Civil War - my family, for the most part, is either in Utah, or on their way to Utah.  I have TONS of relatives who served in the Revolutionary War, WWI, WWII - but not so much in The Civil War.

Alphonso Ray
I also have literally thousands of DNA hits with people who are living in, or who's families come from the south.   I have yet to find any ancestors in the southern part of the United States.  Because of this mystery - I keep an eye out for anybody serving in The Civil War, or moving to the south, or even Virginia!!!

Last week, while trying to look at some of the several thousand "shaky leaves" - I ran into Alphonso Ray, my 2nd cousin, 4x removed.  Here is his story - the parts that I know of.......

Alphonso Ray with his wife and children

Alphonso Ray was born May 16, 1831 in St. Lawrence, New York.  On September 2, 1864 he joined the Union troops fighting in The Civil War as a private, assigned to Company F.    At some point he became a Sargent and he served until he mustered out on June 5, 1865 at Alexandria, Virginia.

Company F was part of the 2nd Regiment in the NY Calvary, which became better known as The Harris Light Calvary. 

There is not a lot of information specifically about Alphonso Ray during his time in The Civil War, but there is a lot of information about The Harris Light Calvary.  They participated in several key battles toward the end of The Civil War, and were present at the surrender of Robert E. Lee at Appomattox.

Some of the key battles that The Harris Light Calvary participated in during the time that Alphonso was with them were:

  • Battle of Opequan, Winchester
  • Battle of Cedar Creek
  • Sheridan's Raid
  • Appomatox Campaign

Following The Civil War, Alphonso Ray returned to his family in New York, and in 1870 he moved to Kansas where he lived until his death on December 18, 1912.   He was married to Frances Bailey and had 7 children.

www.newspapers.com - The Winfield Daily Free Press

Sunday, March 9, 2014

52 Ancestory Week 10: Thomas Briggs and the Twice Buried Leg

Thomas Briggs is my 3x Great Grandfather.  Lucky for me - he was a prolific writer, and prominent in Utah history - so there is a lot written by and about him.  One of my favorite stores started as old family lore and was so outrageous that it seemed unbelievable.   Then - I found it in one of the books written about him as well.

Thomas Briggs had issues with one of his legs since he was a small child - perhaps even since birth.    His condition is described as a "withered limb" which had stopped growing and was very painful.   His parents had consulted many physicians, but nothing was able to help.

In 1848 the Briggs family was living in Hull, England.  That year, yet another doctor was consulted about Thomas' withered limb.  The diagnosis was that nothing could be done and the child would not live much longer.

In reading about Thomas Briggs, I learned that faith healing is something that he believed in strongly.  The first mention of healing by faith in his life - was his withered limb.      The Briggs family joined the Mormon church earlier in 1848.  The story goes that upon hearing the doctors prognosis that year he decided to pray for healing, and asked that the Mormon Elders join him in prayer, and if his prayer was not answered, resign himself to death.

The Briggs home was the meeting place for many Mormon meetings, and the next time the elders convened in the Briggs home, a special prayer was said for Thomas.    The next morning, he awoke and his withered leg (his left) was the same length as his right leg, and within a few weeks was equally strong.

There are many other stories of healing by faith in his writings, but my story is about his leg.   The next time we hear about the leg is in 1855.   By this time Thomas and his family had left England for Utah.  While they arrived in America as expected, it took several years before Thomas made his way from Missouri to Utah.    In 1855 Thomas was married and living in Missouri.  He fell and hurt his leg.  Initially thought to be a minor injury, the leg quickly became infected and he almost died.   In 1856 he had a relapse of the infection in his leg and was was once again declared on deaths doorstep.   He declared to his wife that he had a vision telling him that he would live in the mountains and build a large house, and not to worry.     

Thomas, now living in Bountiful, Utah, re-injured his leg in 1885 and was once again told that he would die.   Once again he reported a vision.  This time the vision directed him to have his leg removed.    He asked his son to take him to Salt Lake City, and on December 15, 1885 had his leg removed.   He had his whole leg removed and was left with only a 6 inch stump.    Once again - nobody expected him to live - but he did.

Thomas had arranged to have his leg buried in the cemetery.    For months after his leg was removed, Thomas experienced severe discomfort in the missing leg.  In particular from the foot.    Thomas convinced his sons to exhume his leg.  While he sons were out digging up his leg, he experienced some discomfort and then the remaining part of his leg turned ice cold.  Thomas reported to his wife that he knew that his sons had just removed the leg from the box.      The sons straighted out the leg, uncurled the toes, and then wrapped it carefully in cotton and placed the leg in a larger box, allowing it to be in a more "comfortable" position, and then re-buried the leg.    From that point on, Thomas no longer experienced any discomfort.

Precious Memories, Sixteenth Book of the Faith Promoting Series.  George C Lambert, 1914, Salt Lake City Utah

Monday, March 3, 2014

52 Ancestors - Week 9: Is it Ellen or Ann?

This week has been the week of questions......... I first noticed a single anomaly in the information available about my 2x great grandmother........Mrs. Levi Jackman. 

It started out with:   Where was Ann Jackman actually born?   And has grown to many more questions!

Carterton New Zealand

Let's start at the beginning.     I saw a mention that my 2x Great Grandmother Ann Jackman was born in New Zealand.   

New Zealand?   Huh?   

I had her down as being born in Utah.     Not to mention my DNA results put my ancestry solidly in Denmark/England/Ireland/Sweden.   

Ann was born in either 1879 or 1880 so I suspect that movement between Sweden and New Zealand and Utah is not particularly easy, nor common.

After recently attending RootsTech - I decided to use some of my new found knowledge and approach this like a real genealogist and create a research log to lay this all out and see if I could find answer.....

  • 1900 census says she was born in Utah.
  • 1910 census says she was born in New Zealand, but wait - that was lined through and it says Pacific Isles.
  • 1920 census says she was born in New Zealand.
  • Death Certificate says she was born in New Zealand

There is a big difference between New Zealand and Utah.  So how is New Zealand possible?   

One record mentions her mother is Danish and was born on the island of Sj√¶lland, which is written in English as Zealand.   Maybe someone got Zealand in Denmark confused with New Zealand?    

Her father is listed pretty consistently as being born in Sweden.   

How did someone from Sweden end up meeting someone from Denmark in the 1800's?   And why on earth would either be in New Zealand?

Elsinore Utah

I see on the 1910 census that another Peterson is listed as as wife to another Jackman living next door.   A quick check tells me this is Ann's sister Mary and Levi's brother Reuben Oliver.

Quick check of her census records shows similar confusion between Utah, Pacific Isles and New Zealand.

OK........7687687987 searches later things are getting even more interesting.....

  • Is her name Ann?  Anna?  Anne? Annie? or is it Ellen??????
  • Is her middle name Margaret or Marguerite?
  • Was she born in 1879 or 1880?
  • Did she come to the United States in 1892?  1893?  1894?
  • Is her last name Peterson or Petersen?
  • Is her father's name Charles?  Chas?  Carl?  or Karl?
  • One site tells me that many immigrants changes their names to be more English.    It used Charles Peterson as an example and indicated that the last name in Sweden may have been Pedersen, Peddersen or August. 
  • Is her father's last name August?   Or is that his middle name?
  • Is her mother's name Ane?  Anna?  Annie?

Pacific Islands

Here is where I am as of today.

I learned that between 1871 and 1874 there was an assisted immigration program in place in Sweden which encouraged young families and single people to move and settle in New Zealand.  Similar programs were going on in Denmark, Finland, England and Germany.     This gives a possible way where 2 people from different countries could have met and married and started a family so far away.

I found records on the New Zealand Birth, Death and Marriage site of a marriage between Charles August Petersen and Anna Sofia Hansen in 1874 - which matches most of the references to this couple and their marriage date.     I found mentions on the same site for all of Ann's brothers and sisters who were also supposedly born in New Zealand. 

Except - I found no record of Ann.   I did find a record of an Ellen Margaret born to Charles August Petersen and Anna Sofia in 1879.  Supposedly Ann was born in 1879 or 1880 - depending on where you look.

I went ahead and ordered the print outs for the marriage between Charles August Petersen and Ann Sofia Hansen - to see what information may show up.  I also ordered Ellen's birth print out from New Zealand.   I'm eagerly, and not so patiently, awaiting additional information.     

Must.  Solve.  The.  Puzzle!!!!!

Monday, February 24, 2014

52 Ancestors Week 8: John McGovern - My First Brick Wall

John McGovern, my 2x Great Grandfather, was my introduction to the concept of a brick wall.  And I have not made much progress at all......

Once I started researching my family, I thought:  Oh, this will be easy!     All those shaky leaf matches - weeeeee, just bring everything into my growing tree.   I quickly learned 2 things:

#1 Trust nothing those shaky leaves lead you to until you have analyzed the information carefully yourself.
#2 When you get stuck on a person - that is a Brick Wall

Meet my 2x Great Grandfather, John McGovern.   Birth date - who knows.   Based on the information in the census, I can get close - sometime in 1847.   Possibly December 1847.

He was born in Canada/English - I'm not positive what that means.   Speculation is that it means English speaking Canada rather than French speaking Canada.

John McGovern - age 47, married Lola Ann Palmer, age 21 on March 10, 1895.   I note that the son listed on the 1900 Census was born in 1893 - 2 years before the couple was married.    Not unheard of that there is a baby before marriage, but it did pique my interest.   I was able to find that Lola Ann Palmer was involved with a Mr. Elliot Hudson.   In 1894, in Utah, Elliot Hudson was convicted of, and spent 30 days in jail for fornication with Miss Lola Ann Palmer.

So.... who are Owen's parents?

  • Is he the son of Elliot and Lola, the result of the "fornication" poor 21 yr old Elliot was convicted of?
  • Is Owen the son of John McGovern and Lola Palmer?  If so - why can't I find any mention of John McGovern in Utah around that time?  
  • Is Owen the son of John McGovern and a previous wife?

Ouray, Colorado is, and was, a very small town.   I found several McGovern's there, more than I would have suspected.   I followed every McGovern I could find, to no avail.  I did learn that there are a LOT of McGoverns.   There are a LOT of John McGoverns, and there are a LOT of McGoverns that came to Canada from Ireland.

I have spent hours hunting through newspapers from the 1800's and early 1900's in Colorado trying to find some hints about John McGovern.     There were McGovern;s involved in mining, in politics, in wrestling.   I did find a couple of articles about the how John McGovern died.

The end of John's life was documented in startling detail.   I thought that newspapers today were graphic.  I learned that the early 1900's had some pretty graphic reporting.

At the end of his life, John McGovern was working for his father-in-law at the Billy Creek Sawmill.    On December 12, 1903 there was an accident.  The boiler exploded and killed 3 men, one of which was John McGovern.

I found 2 newspaper articles - one reports that "McGovern had a leg blown off and was thrown through the building" (Plaindealer, 18 December 1903, Front Page), another article titled "Blown to Atoms" states that "McGovern's head was blown off and his brains were scattered in all directions and his body was found literally wrapped around a post in the mill several feet from wherehe was standing, reduced to a pulp and so badly mutilated that identification would have been impossible had it not been known it was him." (Ouray Herald, 18 December 1903, Front Page.)

John McGovern left behind a Lola Palmer, and 6 children.  They had been living at housing at the mill.  The young family fell on hard times.    There was a mention in the newspaper of a fundraiser that the town put together, later Lola moved in with her father.   In 1910 Census shows no sign of Owen, and Claude, Clifford and Rodney living as "inmates" at the State Industrial School in Jefferson Colorado.    

Lola married Luther Bevell in 1905 and the 1910 census shows the 2 youngest of John McGovern's children, Luther and Maude living with their mother and their stepfather and several children of that marriage.

Monday, February 17, 2014

52 Ancestors - Week 7: Lyman Howe

A few weeks ago - I learned that my Howe ancestors owned a very famous Inn - for over 150 years - before it was sold to someone outside the family.   I want to do a post following the history of this tavern - but today I'm going to focus on the final member of the family to be the inn keeper - Lyman Howe.

The Wayside Inn

The Wayside Inn 1935

First - a brief introduction to this inn I have been speaking of............it had 3 different names, but the last name, and the name it is most famous for is:  The Wayside Inn.   Yes - it's THAT inn.  The one that Longfellow wrote about his book - Tales of a Wayside Inn, published in 1862.

The inn, located in Sudbury, Massachusetts,  started out as the Howe Inn, then was changed to the Red Horse Inn to distinguish it from the other Howe inn a few towns away, and then was changed to The Wayside Inn.    The inn started as a Samuel Howe's house - and he deeded it to his son, David in 1702.  David converted the house to an inn.  It then passed from father to son until Lyman Howe took over as inn keeper in 1830.  

Red Horse Inn Sign

Besides Longfellow, the inn has had quite the history:

  • George Washington in 1775 and again in 1789
  • The Marquis de Lafayette in 1784 and again in 1824
  • Henry David Thoreau in 1853
  • Rumor has it that the Wayside Inn was the inspiration for the childrens song:  Mary Had a Little Lamb - though other information is that the schoolhouse associated with the song was not originally there, but moved to the grounds when Henry Ford owned it.
  • The mill on the grounds is used as the Pepperidge Farms logo
  • It was owned by Henry Ford - yes THAT Henry Ford, the car maker.
  • The inn is haunted - the most prominent ghost being that of Jerusha Howe, Lyman's sister.
  • Lyman Howe is the inspiration for Longfellow's poem - The Landlords Tale
  • The owners of the inn consider it the 1st living museum in America

Pepperidge Farm Logo

Wayside Inn Mill

Lyman Howe was born November 6, 1801 in Sudbury, Massachusetts.

Lyman is described as being imposing, dignified and grave in appearance.    He was gentleman type farmer - overseeing his land, but doing little work.    He liked material things - often seen in his chaise around town as he visited the schools, went to the post office or errands.   He was proud of the family silver - brought from England, and was called Squire Howe.    He never married.  One report is that he considered the country girls beneath him.

Lyman Howe

Lyman Howe became inn keeper of The Red Horse Inn in Sudbury, Massachusetts in 1830.

Lyman was an educated man, particularly in astronomy.   He was active in civic affairs, serving as a Justice of the Peace and a member of the school committee, leader of the Congregational Church choir.  He was well known and respected in town, and known for his stories.   He was scared of lightening.  He would sit on a high stool in the bar room and count flashes and calculate how far the storm was.

With the arrival of the railroad, coaches were not used as much, and business at the inn waned as Lyman got older.  In March 1861 died.  "He was found dead in his bed by his faithful negro servant, Pete."  (This quote appears in almost all the sources listed below).   He had  no wife and no children.  There was an auction held in November of 1861 to settle Lymans debts totalling $6,600.

The inn was passed to distant family members who did not with to continue running it.   For a time they rented it out for special events, and ultimately sold it to Edward Rivers Lemon.

The dirge for Lyman How was sung by Dr. T. W. Parsons, one of the many authors and poets who spent time at the inn.

"Thunder clouds may roll above him,
And the bolt may rend his oak;
Lyman lieth where no longer
He shall dread the lightening stroke."

Never to his father's hostel
Comes a kinsman or a guest;
Midnight calls for no more candles;
House and landlord both have rest.

Fetch my steed!  I cannot linger.
Buckley, quick!  I must away.
Good old groom, take thou this nothing;
Millions not not make me stay."

Howe Coat of Arms hung in The Howe Inn


  • http://www.wayside.org/about
  • The History of Sudbury Massachusetts 1638-1889, by Alfred Sereno Hudson, Published by The Town of Sudbury, 1889.  Link
  • The New England Magazine, March-August 1894, New Series Volume 10, Old Series Volume 16 Warren F. Kellog, Publisher.   Link
  • Daughters of the American Revoluation Magazine Volume 8, January-June 1896.  Link
  • The Wayside Inn, Its History and Literature.  An address delivered by Samuel Arthur Bent at the Wayside Inn on June 17, 1897.   Link  
  • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wayside_Inn
  • http://www.howegenealogy.org/
  • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mary_Had_a_Little_Lamb

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

52 Ancestors Week 6: Ruby/Gayle Rasmussen

My grandparents wrote histories of their lives, and both mentioned my grandfathers sister a couple of times.    I never knew my grand aunt.   In his history, my grandfather, mentioned that she had served in WWII, in my grandmothers history, she mentioned something about Ruby flying in WWII.   Flying?   A woman in WWII?

First I checked the internet to see if women flew in WWII.  There were a very few.    I started looking at lists, I could not find her name anywhere on those lists.      This unsolved mystery BUGGED me.   Seriously BUGGED me.   I wanted to know more about this woman!

I knew from what my grandparents wrote that she had been married more than once, I knew that at one point she was married to a Herbert Adkins, and that he was not her first husband, I knew that she had another husband named Joe, and I knew she had 2 children.  I knew that she did not like the name Ruby and that she made her family call her Gayle.    

So - I began to try to hunt down information, each new bit leading to more questions - it was driving me nutty!   Then, one day, I ran into a real estate listing that mentioned a woman that - based on the VERY little information I knew about Ruby's daughters - just may be one of them!!

It was near Christmas, and I got a card and sent it to this person - with 2 hopes:  First that she would respond to my inquiry, and secondly that she was Ruby's daughter.    A few days later - a Christmas Card appeared in my mail - IT WAS HER!!!!!!!         She gave me contact info and suggested we speak after the holidays.  

I can be a little, lets say, impatient and I counted down the days until I dared call.  I didn't want this woman to think I was a crazy person!   She had also given me contact information for her niece.   So - in January - I started calling them both.    Again, trying not to act like a crazy person, I tried not to call every 5 minutes!   After a week or so - no calls back, I sent an email.   And the exchanges began.   I have since spoken to her niece as well and we have plans to touch base again in March. 

I started getting information and pictures during RootsTech 2014 - hard to know which was more exciting, the conference or getting the information.     I did learn that Ruby was not a pilot, she worked in an office and her then suitor, later husband, Joe was the pilot.

So......... this is Ruby's story - at least the parts I know so far...........

Ruby was born in Kaysville Utah on February 24, 1915.  She was the oldest of 4 children - my grandfather, Cecil Rasmussen, the youngest.    Ruby's father, James, worked for the railroad.  The family moved around a bit as James duties required - Kaysville, Roy, Ogden.    The family lived mostly in section homes, but their mother, Sarah Jackman wanted a house of her own.    A couple of years before she died - when the children were all in their teens, James bought an acre of land in Sunset and built a home.   The 2 boys, Cecil and Ivo helped, as did family friends, their way of repaying James for his help in building many of their homes.  The house was completed a couple of years before Sarah died in 1935.

Ivo, Ruby, Cecil (Baby), Grace Rasmussen

My family is full of people with strong personalities.    Ruby's granddaughter mentioned that she believed that her grandmother was a bit of a rebel.  The information I have put together seems to support that.

My grandfather wrote a story about Ruby and an unfortunate encounter with a old pistol - shortly after the family moved into the new house. These are his words:

"Not long after we moved into the new house, I was outside playing with an old 22 pistol and it was worn out and you had to revolve the cylinder with your fingers.  Anyway, it accidentally fired and the bullet went through my right side between the hip and ribcage, it was a lucky shot.  It scared me and I didn't want to go in the house and tell what had happened.  I was afraid mother might have a heart attack.  I waited awhile and finally went in and got my sister to notice me.   I told her what happened adn she caled everybody down and took me to the hospital.  The doctors laughed about it.  They ran a swab through the hole and disinfected it, they fastened each end shut with a stapler.  Then they gave me a lockjaw shot and we left for home.
By the time we got there I was starting to get hives and had a terrible itching, my joints were swelling and I was trying to cough my insides out.  It was a serious condition, but no one realized it.  Anyway, through the night the itching and coughing stopped but all my joints were swollen and I could hardly move.  They tried to get me up but I would only crawl.
They called my older sister.  She came out to the house with a gallon of rubbing alcohol, and after taking a drink or two, she gave a evil hiss, grabbed me and started breaking every joint in my poor pitiful body.
I gave a scream of agony and started to cry, but she was HEARTLESS.  She punished me like that for about 15 minutes and from then on I didn't feel any pain (at least not when she was within calling distance).  That one treatment cured me for good.  All the rest of my life, I started smiling whenever I saw her.   This was my older sister Ruby (she insisted we call her Gayle, this we did for fear of harsh and unusual punishment.)"

I suspect some parts of that story were embellished a bit - but its a great read!!!!

Ruby married her first husband, Wilson J. Coppes in 1933 when she was 18.   Mr. Wilson was having a busy couple of years.  Besides getting married, he was busy getting arrested and facing charges for possessing and distributing alcohol (Prohibition ended in 1933).     In 1932 - Mr. Coppes was arrested, along with his sister after finding 60 gallons of whiskey in a car on the farm, another 30 gallons buried in manure piles around the farm, and 5 gallons of wine (Ogden Standard Examiner, 25 June 1932).

I'm not sure when Ruby and Wilson Coppes divorced - sometime before March 1940 when Ruby married her second husband, Herbert Orlando Adkins.      Mr. Adkins worked for the D&RGW Railroad as a master carpenter.   My grandfather credits Ruby for helping him get a job with the railroad while she was married to Mr. Adkins.

In August of 1940, my grandparents were married.  Ruby was the only member of my grandfathers family that attended the wedding.

I haven't found any indication that Ruby/Gayle had any children yet.   The 1940 Census shows Herbert and Gayle living in Colorado with a 16 yr old listed as "daughter" - I'm assuming she was Herbert's daughter and that she lived with Herbert and Gayle.  

Again - I'm not sure at what point Herbert and Gayle divorced.   I see them in city directories listed as a couple as late as 1943.  I have requested a copy of Herbert's obituary in hopes it may have more information, but I won't have it for another few weeks.

Ruby enlisted in the Women Army Corps on 8 August 1944.   Her enlistment record lists her as married, 4 years of high school and her occupation as a sales clerk.  (Enlistment Record information available at www.ancestry.com.)

At some point she was divorced from Herbert and married Joseph Edward Galloway.   The only hint as to the date is that it was sometime after the war, though Joe was courting Ruby/Gayle during the war.  

Gayle stayed in touch with my grandparents - at least for awhile.   In their histories, I have a couple pictures of Gayle and Joe and their children, and several school pictures as their kids grew.

I'm hoping to learn more about Gayle and Joe's story after WWII, now that I have contacts from her family.   I look forward to getting to know these newly found family members better!!!

Gayle died in.......well there is some confusion here - somewhere between 1977 (my grandmother records the date as Oct/Nov 1977) and  February 10, 1981 - recorded several places including the Social Security Death index.   At first I thought my grandmother mis-remembered the date.  But when I was speaking with Gayle's granddaughter - apparently there is more confusion that I have not heard yet............

Ogden Standard Examiner
Personal Histories written by Cecil Rasmussen and Norma Shepherd Rasmussen
Discussions and correspondence with Gayle's daughter and granddaughter