Tuesday, March 3, 2015

#52Ancestors: Week 8 The Tragic Life of Charles Pittard Cummings

I was recently working on cousins - and ran into Charles Pittard Cummings.   He married my 5th cousin, 6x removed!   Not exactly a close relative.     I happened to do a search in newspapers.com and came across a couple of articles about Mr. Cummings.    Namely - the story, the sad story, of his death.

Mr. Cummings lived a short life in New York.  He was born in 1834 and died in 1879.   Here is his story:


This article was followed by another article the following day:

I was amazed at the lengths that the writers of these articles went to put the life and death of poor Mr. Cummings in the best possible light!

The Brooklyn Daily Eagle.  Brooklyn, NY, Tuesday August 19, 1879.  
The New York Times, New York, NY, Wednesday August 20, 1879.

Monday, March 2, 2015

#52Ancestors Week 7: Benjamin Jackson - Where do the facts end and the story begin?

I'm still playing catch up for #52ancestors     So we'll pretend I'm writing this 2 weeks ago!!

I've been delving a bit more into my maternal grandmother's family the last little bit and came across the most amazing story.    Completely undocumented, of course.    I decided I wanted to see how much of this I can actually find documentation for.

Benjamin Jackson (from www.jacksonfamilyhistory.com)

First - the story.   I've seen this story several places on the internet - in several blogs, on www.familysearch.net, family trees, etc.  I don't know for sure where it originated - or from whom.     Since I'm not known for my creative writing skills - I'll just quote the story as found on the www.jacksonfamilyhistory.com web site.    On the image of the document - it is attributed to Donald L. Haynie.   The link directly to the document is here.

"Benjamin joined The Church of Jesus Christ of Later-Day Saints in the early days when the Gospel was first taught in England by Heber C. Kimball, George A. Smith, Wilford Woodruff, and others.  After he joined the Church, he was very faithful and, quite naturally, he wanted to "gather to Zion.".
Benjamin was a carpenter by trade.  He and his family decided that he should go ahead to America and, there, he would work as a carpenter to earn money which he would send back to England to pay the way to America for the rest of the family.  In 1849, he boarded a sailing vessel bound for America.
He was not heard from again until the late 1860s.  About the year 1870, he came into Nephi, Utah, riding a mule, hunting his family.  It was as though he had been raised from the dead.  He told the story of his life while he had been away from his family.  He had successfully crossed the Atlantic Ocean but, while crossing the Plains, he had joined a group of "Forty-Niners" on their way to California to search for gold.  He never wrote to his family in England or, if he had written, his family never received his letters.  And, he seemed to have been satisfied to live without his family for many years.  It is believed that he lived and worked in the area of Grass Valley, California, Near Sacramento.
When the Jackson family arrived in Utah in 1856, they took action to have Benjamin declared legally dead, since the had not heard from him for seven years.   His wife, Ann Grimshaw Jackson, was declared a widow.  Later she married a Brother Jenkins with whom she was living when Benjamin arrived in Nephi.
Benjamin built a small house on the north side of Nephi, and married "Old Lady" Scoggins with whom he lived for some time.  He turned his mule out on the range.  It is said that he left the bridle and saddle on the mule, so that it would be ready to ride in the spring.
Later Samuel and Hannah built a lean-to onto their home and Benjamin lived in it for a few years until 1880, when he moved to Salt Lake City to live with his oldest daughter, Elizabeth Jackson Kirkman where he died on January 4, 1887.  His Body is buried in Salt Lake city.
Benjamin's children were not satisfied with their mother being sealed to Brother Jenkins, so, on October 12, 1894, all of the children who were members of the Church, met in the Salt Lake Temple, where they had the sealing annulled, and had their father and mother, Benjamin Jackson and Ann Grimshaw, sealed to each other, and the children, in turn, were sealed to their parents."

In addition to this story - there were others that popped up when searching that mention that Ann, along with the youngest of the children arrived in America in 1856 aboard the ship Horizon and made their way to Nebraska.   One story mentions that the oldest son - John was living in Boston already by 1856 and that some of the family wanted to visit him before heading west, but Samuel, another son, prevented it because he was afraid some or all of the family would stay with John.    The stories also talk about how the family was assigned to the Martin Handcart group.  This is the group that was trapped in the mountains in winter and was rescued when Brigham Young received word in Salt Lake City that they had departed Winter Quarters much too late in the fall.      The location which seems to have the most information about this is www.findagrave.com.   Though, again, there is no documentation or indication as to the source of the various stories.    The Find-A-Grave link for Ann Grimshaw Jackson Jenkins is here.

OK - now the facts - that I have been able to confirm:

  • 1849 - Benjamin Jackson came to America.     False.   Benjamin Jackson appears on the 1851 census living in Manchester, England with his wife, Ann and children:  William, Elizabeth, Martha, John, Joseph, Samuel, and Nephi.
  • 1854 So when DID Benjamin Jackson come to America?    There is a Benjamin Jackson coming to America in 1854 aboard the ship:  John M. Wood, leaving Liverpool on 12 March 1854 and arrive in New Orleans on 2 May 1854.  Benjamin is listed in the ships manifest with an age of 53, occupation of plasterer, address of 8 Welsley St. off Butler St., Manchester, England.   The log indicates his passage was paid by the P.E. Fund - which I assume is the Mormon Church's Perpetual Emigration Fund.   He is the only Jackson listed on this manifest.     Is this the same Benjamin Jackson?    I'm going to have to say yes on this - - - the age is right, the occupation of plasterer is reasonably close to carpenter.   But - the most convincing evidence is the address - 8B Welsley Street, Manchester, England is the address from 1851 census.    
  • 1849 - Joined up with some "forty-niners" and headed to California to find gold.  False - though its possible he may have gone to California between 1854 and 1870 - since we don't know where he was during that time.
  • 1856 - Ann Jackson and children arrive in Utah as part of the Martin Handcart Company.    This is confirmed by the Pioneer Overland Travel website.   Click here.  Did Samuel really stop the family from visiting John in Boston?   No idea.    John was in England as of the 1851 Census, and married in Massachusetts in 1859.    I was not able to determine when he came to America.  He would have been 18-19 at the time the rest of his family headed to Utah.
  • 1856 - Declared Dead.    I cannot find any documentation of this.  I'm not sure what the requirements were in 1856.  The stories I read all specify that he had not been heard from in 7 years.   This clearly is not the case.
  • 1850-70 Ann marries "Brother Jenkins".   It appears that "Brother Jenkins" is James Jenkins.   I don't find any marriage confirmation but James Jenkins does appear on the 1870 census living with someone named "Ann".   I have not been able to find any indication of a marriage or confirmation that the Ann in the Jenkins' household is Ann Grimshaw Jackson.
  • 1860's - Heard from in the late 1860's.    No documentaton - first sign of him after leaving England is on the 1870 census from Nephi, Utah.
  • 1870 - Came to Nephi.   True - he shows up on the 1870 census living in Nephi, Utah.
  • 1870-1880 - married "Old Lady" Scoggins.    I cannot find any documentation of a 2nd marriage.  I did look through the 1870 census and found a Samuel and Mary Scriggins.  When I looked at the actual document - it could be Scoggins.   I was able to determine, however, that Mary died in 1872, and Samuel in 1879  - so Mary could not have been "Old Lady Scoggins".   I did not find any other Scoggins in Nephi in the 1870 census.  This does not rule out the possibility that "Old Lady Scoggins" appeared sometime after the 1870 census.   By 1880 Benjamin is living with his son - so presumably if there was an "Old Lady Scoggins" - she died prior to 1880.
  • 1870-80  - Samuel built a lean to next to his house and Benjamin lived in it.    Benjamin does show up living with Samuel and his family in 1880.   No idea if it was in an adjacent lean to or not, he is enumerated as part of the family unit, no indication he was in a separate dwelling.
  • 1880 - Moved to Salt Lake City and lived with daughter Elizabeth (Kirkman).   Unknown - he is still living in Nephi with Samuel's family as of the 1880 Census.
  • 1887 - Died and buried in Salt Lake City.  Benjamin is buried in Salt Lake City at the Salt Lake Cemetery.   The 1887 Record of the Dead for Salt Lake City does show a Benjamin Jackson, born in Manchester England, who died on 4 January 1887 of Old Age.  Presumably that is him.

What an interesting story.  I suspect it has become somewhat embellished over the years.   Who really knows if he kept a bridle and saddle on his mule?    


Monday, February 16, 2015

#52Ancestors Week 6 (4 days late!!) A tragic mule ride in Hawaii.......

I did not have a chance to finish week 6 before I headed to RootsTech last Wednesday - so here it is!!

I was working on updating some records this week and ran into a person who never married, and died quite young,

I was quite intrigued what the story was went on a mission to find the story.....

John Edward Kirkman is my great-grand uncle.   He was born in 1886 and died in 1910.

Mules Grazing in Hawaii
After poking around a bit - I did find out what happened.   John Edward Kirkman was killed while serving an L.D.S. mission in Hawaii.   He was riding a mule between settlements, along a path that bordered the ocean, and the mule slipped and it and John fell into the ocean below, and John drowned.  At first - there was no body to be found, but later  his body was recovered.  What a sad event for this family.

Here are the articles I found which say what happens much better than I could:

Later on - this appears in The Improvement ERA

Published in the New Improvement ERA, Volume 14 in Nov 1911.

The Logan Republican, 12 January 1911, accessed on newspapers.com on 16 Feb 2015
The New Improvement ERA, Volume 14, accessed on books.google.com on 16 Feb 2015

RootsTech - Day 3 (2 days late!!)

Sorry for the late post - I had no time to post an update on Saturday, and was too lazy to do it on Sunday!     But Monday is here - and it is a work holiday!

This day was fully of annoying and dumb people!   Those that know me - know that I will give you the evil eye and/or say something if you are too annoying - and the filter was thin this day!

#1 Those people who sign up for the Family Discovery Day (Free) - then try to "sneak" into the RootsTech (Paid) breakouts with the other 20,000 of us.      Case in point - the ancestry.com breakout re: Tips and Tricks.   No fewer than 5 times since I had entered the room did the room host say that if you have the bright green band - YOU NEED TO LEAVE.   Yet - behind me sat a large group of women - their bright green bands clearly displayed, pretending not to hear, or assuming that they had the green bands with special powers and surely the announcer was not referring to THEM!!    This break out was standing room only - with people being thrown out.   Finally after several evil eyes from me and some others around them - they stood up and announced they "guessed" they should leave.   /sigh  You think?    This was a guess?

#2 The people sitting next to me in the hosted lunch by Ancestry.dna.  Turns out they both have ancestors from Germany - and they were VERY excited about this.  Yes people, you 2 are the ONLY people here with ancestors from Germany, and you managed to find each other - AMAZING!    So amazing that they couldn't seem to SHUT UP about it - even after the presenters were trying to present.    After several evil eyes from me, and a few Shhhh's from ppl behind/next to me.  I leaned over and asked them to either be quiet or go outside.    They looked shocked!  But to their credit - they did shut up.

#3 Same lunch - the woman behind me who is SURE that the DNA did not give her the correct results - who stated as much, and had her answer from the panel, but still could not shut up about it.   She didn't catch on to the evil eye either- and I asked her to shut up.

#4 The award goes to the person sitting behind me.  Evil eye would not work here because we were at round tables, and her back was to my back.   She answered her phone at least 3 times, and chatted - because yes, that is appropriate, and yes - everybody near wants to hear her obnoxious stories, and yes - when everybody else in the room is being quiet - it's fine for YOU to speak.     The best, however, is when her phone rings - YET AGAIN - and the person at the table next to me starts talking.  And the idiot behind me gets all excited because GUESS WHAT!?!?!   She's so excited that her and her long lost import telephone caller are actually in the SAME FREAKING ROOM, sitting at tables next to each other and isn't that AMAZING??!!??

Day 3 started - as usual - with a general session.   2 key note speakers in this one - A.J. Jacobs and Donny Osmond.

A.J. Jacobs is a funny guy!  I've heard him on NPR before, and he is even more interesting in person!  He talked about how he got the idea for the Global Family Reunion.  He also talked about his year of living biblically.   Fascinating!

Next up - Donny Osmond.    I was unsure what to expect from him - since I didn't know of any obvious connection to family history or genealogy.    He was surprising.  Very funny.   He has no shortage of ego!  And the occasional break out into song was entertaining!

First break out session - Ancestry - Tips and Tricks:  I love hearing Crista Cowan present, and after the utter disappointment when another Ancestry employee obliterated this class at the Family Search conference at BYU last summer - I was excited to hear someone who knew what she was talking about.   Other than idiots in the room (see #1 above) and some technical difficulties - she did not disappoint.  I learned much!

Next was lunch - - -this was hosted by Ancestry.com and the topic was AncestryDNA.    I love this topic.   There were some issues - see #2,3 and 4 above - but it was fascinating.   The science people attend this lunch - so you get a different view.  That being said - some sciency people should not be allowed to interact with the general public - and I'm sure there were a couple of people offended in this session.

Janet Hovorka was next - with:  6 steps to Choreograph Your Research Across the Internet.   This was an interesting class, and she always does a  good job.   I didn't learn anything earth shattering in here though.

Next - Nifty and Powerful Technologies for Genealogical Analysis and Documentation, hosted by Ron Arons.   This was interesting - and I would love to hear more about his work on forensics.   But  this could have been a hand out.  He listed sites, costs, and refused questions, and had very little explanation as to what these sites do.

Last class - You Don't Own Your Ancestors hosted by James Tanner.   This was a fascinating class that had quite a few people in the room upset.    Basically - the name says it all.   That research you think is "yours" really isn't and you need to get over it.  His message - learn to share and play nice with others.

All in all - it was a great meeting and I'm looking forward to next year already!!!!!

Friday, February 13, 2015

RootsTech Day 2

Day 2 at #RootsTech began with a general session.     There were 2 key-note speakers.   D. Joshua Taylor and former First Lady Laura Bush, who was joined by her daughter Jenna for an interview on stage as well.

I love hearing and watching Joshua Taylor - he's a great speaker - very knowledgeable, but super funny.     He told a story about how he used to steal cheese as a child, and later learned that one of his ancestors had been transported to Australia for theft...... of cheese.

Next - Laura Bush gave a phenomenal presentation about family and life in the White House.   I haven't heard her speak before - she is funny, and terribly sarcastic.   The audience was touched by her presentation, particularly the part the covered the events of September 11th.

My first break out what - 6 Things you Need to Know about Picture Sharing On Line.   I had higher hopes for this class - it was more like being lectured too, and nothing other than common sense and warnings to be careful.  Thanks - I knew that part - I'd like a little clarification here - its confusing!   

Next - New Innovation at Ancestry:  Better Research and Powerful Stories.      I heard a little bit about the BETA going on with Ancestry during the Innovators Summit.  I signed up for it.   But I had not figured out yet how to get my account to actually show it.     I read that this presentation was going to talk about some new things at Ancestry - including the BETA underway.   This breakout did not disappoint!  The presenter, Dan Lawyer, was funny and the session was very informative.   During the presentation I figured out how to get into the BETA on my iPad and was able to follow along - and I must say - I LOVE IT.     I spent most of the evening working in the BETA version of Ancestry - and I quickly got used to it - - - the links for FamilySearch are not yet in there - so once I needed to access that, I went back to the regular version.

Next up - AncestryDNA.   Another phenomenal breakout - and this one was FULL.   We were packed like sardines in here!   One of the big reasons I wanted to go to this session was to learn more about "Circles" - how they were made, how they worked, and what you can do with them.       I walked away with yet more ideas to research with DNA  (some of which I was working on all evening!!)

Next - Genealogists, Technologists, Privacy Advocates:  We Really Need to Talk!   I was hoping this would be a better discussion about how to handle privacy concerns in genealogy (Can you right-click and copy those pictures?   Put them on a blog?)   Nope.  This is definitely not what this session was about.   The purpose of this session was for the presenters to push their position on some legislation that is being proposed regarding the SSDI.     I can see both sides to this story - but I fear these guys are a little on the conspiracy theory side of things, and their efforts may damage the cause.   Their focus is on one aspect of this case - and they are missing some really big points.      Had it been a larger room, I would have slipped out - unfortunately - it was not possible to do without being really really obvious!

After that - I headed back to the hotel.............  I passed this-which I thought was a parking meter - but turns out it's a clever way to donate money to help the homeless!

It's late - and I'm headed to bed!  Final day tomorrow!!!

Thursday, February 12, 2015

RootsTech Day 1

#RootsTech day 1 started early.........

I went to breakfast and met Barb.    Barb makes jewelry - really lovely jewelry.   She uses a couple different mediums - but the most interesting is old spoons!   Yes - old spoons.   She hammers them out flat and designs tree of life type patterns then hand cuts them out.     You can find out more about Barb and Barb's Branches here.

I ended up visiting Barb's booth and I bought myself a new pendant - I love it.   This is one she made out of copper.   I think I'm going to head back tomorrow and check out rings!

There were 2 key note speakers again today.    The first one was Dennis Brimhall, President & CEO of Family Search.   I've heard him speak before.  He is a great speaker.  Very knowledgeable and funny!     

Next was Tan Le.  She told an incredible story of her journey from Vietnam to Australia and later to the United States.    It is an incredible story - and the audience was mesmerized. 

Next - I headed to my first break out of the day - Map My Ancestors.    This one was OK-nothing earth shattering or particularly new.   The presentation was a little dry.  It was being filmed and I got the impression that the presenter was a little nervous.

After lunch at Olive Garden, I headed to break out #2.    Genetic Genealogy:  The Birth of the DNA Revolution.   This was one of the best break outs ever.     It was presented by Bennett Greenspan of Family Tree DNA, and one of the most interesting and informative presentations on DNA I have ever heard.   The history, the process that led him to be one of the pioneers in the DNA for genealogy movement, and his ability to present complex material in an amazingly easy to understand format blew me away.   I debated between 3 breakouts - I am so glad I selected this one.     I walked away with a few ideas for tackling some of my own DNA mysteries.

Next - more DNA information - this time with CeCe Moore.    This presentation:  Exploring Family Stories with DNA from PBS' Finding your Roots with Henry Louis Gates, Jr. - was another one of my all time favorites.    The audience got a glimpse at the process that CeCe Moore uses to solve genealogy mysteries and some of the stories that never make it to the show.    Incredibly informative!  And yet more ideas to deal with some DNA mysteries I am working on.

Last break out of the day was:  Using Technology to Uncover your Genealogical Treasure Trove.    Somewhere I missed the boat on this one - I didn't realize that it focused specifically on tracking down the genealogy of African Americans.    But - despite this not being a topic that I've struggled with personally - this presenter was AMAZING.   This session was hosted by Janis Forte.  I've never heard of her.   She was fantastic!   Super funny, and down to earth, but with a lot of experience and hints of how to research this topic.   I could have listened to her for another hour easily!    

After the sessions - I headed to the opening night social - The One Voice Children's Choir with Alex Boye.  The kids were amazing and a pleasure to listen to............    I had to give the evil eye to the couple behind me and finally flat out told them to go talk somewhere else.    SOME PEOPLE!!!!!

Tonight - I'm going to log into Ancestry.com and check it out - I signed up for the beta today and I'm anxious to see what is out there - though it's so late I won't have much time!

Tomorrow I will be there early - as First Lady Barbara Bush is one of the key note speakers and I expect it will be PACKED!!!

Oh - check this out - a water fountain with a water bottle filler!     Made me chuckle!

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

RootsTech 2015 - Innovator Summit

This year - I decided to attend the Innovator Summit at #rootstech.  This summit is held on Wednesday, the day before the official first day of RootsTech.   It is devoted to more "techy" related topics in the genealogical community.   Since I work in the software industry - I thought this would be a great blend of both work and hobby - and it was!!

Welcome to Innovator Summit Day!

Even though I live close enough to commute to RootsTech - I like to stay downtown anyway!     So - last night - I got out my suitcase to pack - and was presented with 2 very sad faces!!!

Bella and Peanut

This morning - I went downtown and intended to leave my suitcase at the hotel - and then come back later to check in.   To my surprise - there was a room ready for me.  Go Marriott!!!  At 8am!!!   So I was able to get checked in, drop everything off in my room, grab a coffee at Starbucks and head over to the Salt Palace for the 9am

Sunny Hotel Room at 8am!

Salt Palace

There were 2 speakers in the general session.    Scott Sorensen, the Chief Technology Officer at Ancestry.com spoke first.  He talked about the history of Ancestry.com, and the ways they innovate, despite being a fairly large company.

Next, Nathan Furr spoke about innovation, what it means, how to do it, etc..  He was an amazing speaker - I have a few ideas I will be taking back to work with me - since innovation is a key focus this year where I work.

Next I headed over to the first breakout:  Inside Look at Ancestry.com's Innovation and Product Development.      This was a presentation of several key people at Ancestry.com and provided more information and details about the process used to innovate.    I have even more items from this presentation to talk about at work.  This was phenomenal!

Following the breakout - lunch was served and the top 8 finalists of the Innovator Challenge presented their projects to a panel of judges.  The top 4 will be determined and present later this week.   Some interesting ideas here - and one "miss".    The miss was a project to keep medical history for your family and be able to deliver it to various members of the family quickly when needed - say during a medical emergency.     Perhaps they did not get the overview of the audience that attends RootsTech...........


Next - I left the Innovator Summit - and headed on over to the FGS track to listen to a presentation by Judy Russell, about ethics and genealogy.   I heard Judy Russell speak last year at RootsTech and thoroughly enjoyed it and have followed her blog - http://legalgenealogist.com/.     This was a fascinating presentation.  I am never quite sure what the rules are about using pictures from something like Ancestry or FamilySearch.   This presentation was more an overview, I will be attending 2 more related breakouts later on as well.

Judy Russell - The Legal Genealogist

After this - I headed back over to the Innovator Summit side of the Salt Palace with the intent on attending a break out about automation.   This was supposed to last 2 hours - and it was not what I thought it was........  I was expecting something along the lines of automating processes, tasks - in a techy software type discussion.  What it actually was - several genealogists with a wish list for the developers in the audience asking for help with research, etc.    I was starving and left after an hour to head back to the hotel to do a little work and get some dinner!

View from My Hotel Room - Salt Palace is on the Right-Middle

At 7 - I headed back to the Salt Palace to attend the FGS evening social, which I have been looking forward to ever since I heard about it!    Behind the Scenes:  Family History & Television.   I watch every genealogy related TV show on - Finding your Roots, Genealogy Roadshow and Who Do You Think You Are.    I LOVE those shows.   And this evening social was with some of the "stars" and researchers for those shows.      

Salt Palace at Night

The first part of the evening was watching excerpts from the various shows - including a clip of an upcoming episode of Genealogy Roadshow.  Next - the panel answered audience questions.   It was fascinating!   One of my favorite questions was about whether the shows were scripted.   The answer was yes and no - there are outlines, and writers, but the people presenting have a lot of latitude.    And it was a resounding no scripting at all for the people who are highlighted - across the board, all the reactions are real.     The panelists from Who Do You Think You Are told us that the celebrities they highlight don't know what to expect - including where they will be going, or what they will be hearing.  They are told what kind of clothing to pack and whether they need a passport or not - that is it.

Behind the Scenes Panel
Now - I'm back in my room - and looking forward to Day 1 tomorrow!!!

Saturday, January 31, 2015

#52Ancestors: Week 5: Julia Matilda Cruse

When I went looking for someone to write about this week, I deliberately hit mothers side of the tree. For some reason - my problem children seem to hang out on my fathers branches, so lately, they have been getting more of my attention.

I started opening up the branches looking for a first - someone that I have not done a lot of research on who was "the first" of that line to enter the United States.

I started opening up the "Howe" line - and quickly ran into Julia Matilda Cruse.    I know almost nothing about her, other than she married Amos Howe, who I have done a bit of research on already.

A few things occurred as I researched her -
  • What an amazing woman!!!!
  • I met a new cousin!!!!
  • I realized I cannot possibly write her entire story.   It would need to be a book of it's own.  I will do my best to convey key points to illustrate her life as best I can, and provide source information  for further investigation for those who may be interested.

Early Years
Julia Matilda Cruse was born in 17 July 1823 in Boxford, Berkshire, England.  She had a happy childhood surrounded by parents and siblings.  The family was prosperous, and the children were loved, and well cared for.

Religion was an important part of Julia's life - even as a young woman.    Her family were members of the Church of England.     In 1845, Julia had been living on the Isle of Wight with her sisters family due to some health issues.  She returned that summer to find her mother distraught because one of her sisters had "disgraced" the family by joining the Mormon Church.

As the family became more familiar with the Mormon Church, several other members joined.    Her sister, Mary, who had caused the tears shed by their mother, was baptized in 1845, followed by her mother in 1846.   1847 saw Julia's father and brother in law's baptisms. On October 11, 1848, Julia was baptized a member of the Mormon Church by elder John Legg.   During this time Julie had been engaged to a young man she met on the Isle of Wight, but ended the engagement because the young man would not join the Mormon Church.

Julia Comes to America
In 1849, Julia, along with 2 of her sisters, Charlotte and Mary, and Mary's husband and 5 children ages between 3 and 15 decided to leave England and come to Utah.   They left Liverpool on September 2nd, aboard a ship named The James Pennell.

The ship had been chartered by Orson C. Pratt.    Arrangements had been made to make for as orderly and easy voyage as possible.

The boat contained 236 Mormons.   Each was provided with the amount of provisions required by law, plus some additional items.     Provisions were planned for 10 weeks, with a stipulation that any remaining provisions, should the voyage be shorter, to be "gifted" to the passenger to be used for their trip from New Orleans to St. Louis and then to Utah.     It was amazing to me to see how organized groups were - below I've attached a viewer which shows the letter sent by Orson Pratt to Thomas Clark who was in charge of the expedition.


As voyages go, this one was pleasant.   Here is a letter from Thomas H. Clark to Orson Pratt regarding the voyage:

"Ship James Pennell, New Orleans, October 22nd, 1849.
Dear Brother Pratt,--I feel it my duty to inform you of my safe arrival at New Orleans, and also a small sketch of our journey across the sea. Brother Barlow and Brother Alrin were chosen as my two counselors. I ordained Brother Alrin to the office of an elder, and then formed the company into ten divisions, with a president over each, to see that cleanliness and good order were kept, and also prayers every night and morning. We had preaching, and administered the sacrament every Sabbath, and also preaching Tuesdays and Thursdays. The officers also stood to their post, as men of God, so that all was peace and harmony during the time.
There has been but very little sickness on board. We lost three children, which were weaned just before they were brought on board; all the rest of the babes have done well. I think it would be well to inform the Saints not to wean their children just as they come; for if they do, they will likely to lose them before they get across.
Captain James Fullerton is, I think, as kind a captain as ever crossed the sea, and has been very kind to us; he has granted us every privilege which he possibly could, and made us many presents; his officers and crew were all very kind to us. The captain is a good man, and worthy to bring companies over. The ship is a good sailing vessel. We were just seven weeks crossing, and our passage was more like a pleasure trip than a sea voyage.
The Saints are all in good health and spirits, and most of those that are going to stay here, have obtained work already.
I have again proved you to be a man of God, for every word you said, when you blessed me, the night before we set sail, has been fulfilled to the very letter.
The Saints return you a vote of thanks for the good outfit you gave us, and for the quantity and quality of the same, which was good.
Brother McKenzie has met us, and has done well in helping us. He has taken a boat to sail tomorrow for St. Louis; and has also taken houses for the Saints that stay here. He has brought cheering news from the Bluffs, and also from the Valley. They have published the arrival of our vessel in the news, and consider it the most respectable and well behaved company that ever entered Orleans.
Please to give my kind respects to Sister Pratt, and all the family, and the Saints. May the God of heaven bless and preserve all his Saints, is the prayer of your brother in the gospel of Christ.
Thomas H. Clark, President.P.S. The ship "Berlin," arrived the same day, and has lost forty-three of the passengers with the cholera. "

St. Louis
Once the family arrived in New Orleans, Mary and her family headed directly to Utah, and Julia and Charlotte headed to St. Louis, where they stayed to earn money before heading to Utah.    The sisters worked as dress makers.  Both met their husbands while participating in the church choir.      The exact date that Charlotte and Julia were married is unknown - it was 1850 or 1851 depending on where you look.  Charlotte's first 2 children were born in St. Louis in 1851 and 1852, and in 1853 Charlotte and her family headed to Utah.

Julia married Amos Howe in 1850 or 1851.   Amos had a reputation for exceptional design and planning in metal manufacture.  By 1852 plans for a coast to coast railroad were underway and travel by railroad was becoming popular.    Amos was asked to move to New York to help design and plan the manufacture of railway cars.  In 1854 the family returned to St. Louis where Amos opened up a foundry shop with partner William H. Stone.   (Note this is not the same William Edward Stone that Mary Cruse married in England and emigrated to the United States with).

By 1864, Julia wanted to be with her family in Utah, and the family prepared to head west.  By then, the there were 3 children - Edgar, George and Charles.   2 other children had died as infants - James Eli, and Horace Howe.   Julia was pregnant, and suffering from lung disease.      Against her Dr.'s advice, the family decided to head west to Utah.

The Howes had the financial means to travel independently, but it was dangerous to travel alone.  The family headed out with the Warren S. Snow Company on August 19, 1864.    Along the way, the family became friends with Joseph A. Young, Brigham Young's oldest son who was returning from a mission in England and also travelling independently with the group.

On October 25, 1864 the family arrived in Salt Lake City, Utah.  They stayed first with friends, and later moved into a house in 17th Ward, where eventually they would build a house of their own.   Amos was born on November 7th - a mere 2 weeks after their arrival.    Julia's lung issues had resolved during the trip west, never to return.

Julia's sister lived with her family in Ephraim Utah.    Amos was asked to set up a merchantile in Ephraim and the two families became close.  Charlotte's husband was killed in 1865 in the Black Hawk war.    Amos and William were part of a group that were attacked by Indians, and while Amos managed to flee, William Stone and several other people in the group were killed.  Amos and Julia took care of her sister's family - sending a check to Charlotte each month.

In December 1866, young Amos died.  Charles Howe recalled his mothers sadness, and how she sat in her rocking chair and cried, until one day, Charles gave her a hug and said "Ma, please stop crying so much, you have me left to love and kiss.".    Julia later called that young Charles' words are what prompted her to "get a hold of herself."

The family prospered in Utah and in 1873, Amos, along with his partner Nathan Davis, opened the Davis, Howe & Company Foundry.   Around this time, Julia, ever mindful of her faith, decided that her husband needed to take a 2nd wife.  Julia believed that the family would not be able to reach the highest level of salvation unless this was done.    Julia worked with her sister, Charlotte to find a suitable candidate and sent Amos to meet Amy Mellor in 1876.   On October 19th, 1876, Amos and Amy were married.  Initially Amy lived in the same house with Julia and Amos, but moved into her own house nearby about 5 months later.    Julia kept a journal during this time and expressed how hard it was for her, to have Amy so close, and her relief when Amy moved into a separate house nearby.    Though Julia expressed her difficulty privately to her diary, she made a point of getting to know Amy and they became friends.

Julia was a devoted mother and wife.  She was very active in the Mormon Church and was known for her "good works."   She hosted orphans, widows and less fortunate people in her home, and taught English to new immigrants arriving in the Salt Lake Valley.  She was a Sunday School Teacher, treasurer for The Relief Society, an assistant superintendent of the Juvenile Retrenchment Association, and president of the Mutual Improvement Association.

L.D. Adler wrote a tribute to Julia which appeared in a 1953 Relief Society Magazine:
"To Heaven's voice you have been true -
The youth of Zion pray for you
And love you for your sake,
You've taught them long and faithfully
To ever true and steadfast be -
And never God forsake."
In 1913, Mary Beth Talmadge wrote a tribute to Julia Cruse How - to commemorate her 90th birthday.   The article was published in The Woman's Exponent, June 1913 edition.

Julia Cruse Howe died at the age of 92 on June 16, 1916 - just one day shy of her 93rd birthday. When her grandson, Ralph Howe, wrote to tell the family in England of her funeral he said "She looked beautiful and heavenly in her casket - much younger than her 93 years."    5 prominent members of the Mormon church and 175h ward  spoke at her funeral - W. J. Beatie, George Albert Smith, Anthon H. Lund, Bishop F. S. Tingey, and Mrs. W. N. Williams.  She was buried very close to the location where her family entered the Salt Lake Valley, with her husband and son in the Salt Lake City Cemetary.


Special thanks to Sharon Turley who provided me with permission to use pictures she posted on search.org, a copy of the article from The Woman's Exponent, and other information.    One of the best parts of working on family history - is meeting new cousins!!!

Friday, January 30, 2015

Family History Library

Yes - I live near Salt Lake City, Utah, and Yes - I love family history, and No - I have never been to the Family History Library........ until TODAY!!!!

ComiCon is going on in downtown Salt Lake, a stones throw from the Family History Library - so I decided to go early.   The FHL opens at 8am - I was there at 7:55am!!     Found a place to park (street parking is limited to 2 hours!!!!) and headed in!

I've been anticipating this for a couple days, I had a citation in hand, and limited expectations for the day.   I wanted to get familiar with the FHL, find the citation, and attend a class regarding how to handle incorrect relationships in www.familysearch.org.

In I go!    There is a LOT of Mormon FHL missionaries in the entrance - all eager to help me!    This is good - since I have no clue where to go!    One approaches me and directs me to a room to watch an introductory short video, and gives me the name tag that lets everybody around you that you are a n00b and may need extra attention.  After the video, he took me to the main room and found someone to help me find the microfilm with my citation.

My citation is not something she's seen before.  Of course - everything I've tried to run down for Mr. James Gates has been difficult, why would this be different?     We get it figured out in short order, and head off to the ROWS and ROWS and ROWS and ROWS............. of microfilm.

We find the drawer with my box and she takes me to the viewer stations (I haven't touched a micro-fiche machine in close to 30 years!)   I get settled and hit the microfilm.  

Unfortunately - the record doesn't provided much help with Mr. Gates, but I'm glad it prompted me to head to the FHL!!!

One thing I had heard, but fully realized the power of, is that the ENTIRE FHL catalog is on line.   Now that I'm more familiar with this part of the search options on www.familysearch.org, I'll use it to help.   Then next time - I can have a stack of items to look up!

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

#52Ancestors - Week 4: Will the real John Gates please step forward?

Last week I was contacted by someone who's father is a DNA match with my great uncle.    Family Tree DNA (FTDNA) predicted the match at 2nd-4th cousin.    She is also from Canada.   My mind immediately goes to my most annoying brick wall - John McGovern who supposedly came from Canada.    

That doesn't seem to be it - no McGoverns in her family.     We do share a potential common ancestor Nicholas Olmstead.  Problem is - he is my 9th great grandfather, which would be my grand - uncle's 7th great grandfather.   This seems like a stretch for a predicted relationship of 2nd to 4th cousin.......   But - it's the only lead we see - so I start working on it.         The theory is that my ancestors come through Nicholas' daughter Elizabeth, and her family comes by way of Nicholas' daughter Sarah.

I started looking - and a few generations down - run into a problem.  Turns out she's run into this problem too - one of her brick walls!

This problem's name is James Gates.   He may have been born in 1775,  1777, or 1781.   He may have lived in Connecticut, Massachusetts, Canada or all of the above.  He may have been married to Mary Willard or Lucina Gaston, and may have had a marriage before Mary or Lucina - to Polly Clarke, who's name may have been Mary Clarke and she went by Polly........

That is a LOT of maybe's.........

By this time a few days had passed, and I had been introduced to another person in this same family line - and now the 3 of us are comparing notes and seeing what, if anything we can piece together......

I found a record that was had indexed information only - but the record is held at the Family History Library in Salt Lake City.    Just so happens that I live near Salt Lake City and I work about 3 blocks away, yet............  I have never been there!

I just happened to have already taken Thursday and Friday off work.   On Friday - I am headed to the Family History Library for the first time ever :)

So - this is NOT a story about John Gates - because I still don't know who the John Gates in my family is....... but it IS a story about how John Gates allowed me to meet new friends, improve my research skills, and got myself into the Family History Library for the first time ever.  I may learn more about John Gates at the library - but I will learn more about this resource that can be used to find out more about the people in my family.

So - thank you John Gates, whoever you are......... hopefully soon I will know more about YOUR story!

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

#52 Ancestors - Week 3: Nicholas Olmstead

The topic this week was birthdays - I didn't stick with that topic.   Last week I was contacted by someone that is a DNA match with my great-uncle.  The suspect link, which we still have yet to prove, is the Olmsteads.     This is a line that I had not looked at much - and as I started looking at what we believe may be our most recent common relative, Nicholas Olmstead, I found myself delving into areas of U.S. History that I was not familiar with.      While the result is more or less a bare-bones timeline, I learned a ton.      Where was my passion for genealogy during my school years?   I would have had a whole different appreciation of the history of America!!!

Nicholas Olmstead is my 9x great grandfather.   He was born in England and came to the United States in 1632.  He was a civic minded individual which means that records of his comings and goings are recorded in history books of the various settlements that were being created in the 1600's.   He settled in Hartford, CT approx 5 years after he arrived in the US and stayed there until he died in 1684.      His emigrated to the United States with his family and cousin.   This group of 3 men appear together in the history books.    They moved to Hartford together, served in civic positions together and fought together in 2 wars.   His father, James Olmstead is listed as one of the original founders of Hartford, and his name appears on the memorial honoring the men that settled that city.

One of the most interesting things I learned is that trials for witchcraft did not originate in Massachusetts and existed in various places in New England well before 1692.  

With that - here are the key facts I learned about Nicholas Olmstead and his life:

  • 1613 - Born at Fairstead, Essex, England
  • 1632 - Arrived in Boston, MA, U.S.A. - Aboard the ship named Lion or Lyon
  • 1634 - Moved to Hartford, CT, U.S.A.  
  • 1637 - Fought in the Pequot War

The Pequot War occurred in 1637.  It was a relatively short war.   Nicholas served under Captain Mason.   The group left Hartford CT on May 28, and battled the Pequot Indians.  Over 600 Pequot Indians were killed and his group returned home within 3 days.   Nicholas received a grant of land for his participation.   Several of his family members also participated.

  • 1640 - Married Sarah Loomis
  • 1646 to 1647 - Served as Surveyor of Highways

I was not sure what this was exactly - what does a Surveyor of Highways do?  I did a little research, I could not find anything specific to CT, but based on what I read - it appears that a Surveyor of Highways was in charge of making sure that bridges and roads were kept in good repair, and deciding the specific route of any new roads that are needed.

  • 1653 to 1662 - Served as Townsman for the North Side (of Hartford, CT)

I researched to see what exactly a Townsman did.   Depending on the town - it could be any number of things including making sure buildings were kept in repair, being in charge of roads and fences, responsibility for overseeing the town finances, and judges in petty cases.

  • 1658 - Received rank of Corporal of the Hartford Troop of Horse
  • 1662 - Received rank of Ensign of the Hartford Troop of Horse
  • 1662 - Served as a juror of a trial that accused 2 people of witch craft - Nathaniel and Rebecca Greensmith who were convicted and executed.

  • 1669 - Served as List and Rate Maker
  • 1672 - Appointed Deputy to General Court
  • 1673 - Received rank of Lieutenant of the Hartford Troop of Horse
Nicholas was placed in command of troops and sent to New London and Huntington, and was made a Captain in 1675.
  • 1675 - Received rank of Captain, during King Phillips War. 
  • 1684 - Died at Hartford, CT 


  • www.ancestry.com
  • www.familysearch.com
  • Genealogy of the Olmstead Family in America, Compiled by Henry King Olmstead M.D., Revised and completed by Reverend George K. Ward A.M..  Published by A.T. De La Mare Printing and Publishing Company, Ltd., New York, 1912.    Link
  • http://www.loudounhistory.org/history/virginia-transportation.htm
  • A History of Connecticut by George Larkin Clark.  Published by G.P. Putnams Sons, The Knickerbocker Press, New York, 1914.  Link
  • http://freepages.genealogy.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~nyterry/towns/hartford/hartwitches.html
  • http://wc.rootsweb.ancestry.com/cgi-bin/igm.cgi?op=GET&db=witchtrials&id=I0165
  • http://www.history.com/news/before-salem-the-first-american-witch-hunt

Sunday, January 11, 2015

#52Ancestors: Week 2 - Moses Monroe Curtis

The topic this week is "King".    I struggled with deciding how to apply this topic.   I looked for the name "King" in my family - that failed.  I looked for someone interesting that was involved King Phillip's War - and while it was interesting to do that research, I didn't find a single person that made sense to blog about.  Lots of controversy over who may or may not have been involved and what they may or may not have done - but nothing concrete.  Next - I looked for places named "King".   Charlton Kings popped up.   I have friend that lives there - so it caught my eye.  The wife of my 1st Cousin 4x removed came from there and that led me to him - Moses Monroe Curtis.    So - my post this week is about him!    In a very round about way - the theme is in there!!

I recently read the book:  Brigham Young, Pioneer Prophet by John G. Turner.   I learned a lot from that book about both Brigham Young, and the experience of the Mormon church members in Nauvoo, Winter Quarters and Utah.  Things that I never learned in Primary or Utah History.    The author includes a lot of description of the events going around the Mormons so I learned a lot about the history of the time as well.  Researching the history of Moses Monroe Curtis was amazing because he was alive, and in some cases, near many of the key events going on at this time covered in some detail in the book.

Moses Monroe Curtis was born in October 28, 1840 in Nauvoo, Illinois.    When he was 4 years old, Joseph Smith was killed in Carthage.   Moses was very young, but did recall the incident - primarily the experience of seeing the bodies laid out as people walked by to pay respect.

The Curtis family headed west with the Mormons who were forced to leave Nauvoo.   At that time their primary food source was corn..   Parched, ground and eaten with milk or baked into bread.  Rusk was made by taking the bread, crumbling it up, and drying it in the oven.   Before the family could leave, they had to make enough Rusk to get from Nauvoo to Winter Quarters.  

By 1847 the family was living in Winter Quarters.   It was decided that Moses' uncle, Lyman Curtis, would head to Utah in 1847 with both his and Moses' families possessions, and then he would return for the others.    During this time, Moses Sr. then father worked on the Mississippi for corn.  The family prepared the corn for themselves to use on their own journey and also sold corn for 10 cents per bushel to buy provisions needed to head to Utah.     Lyman's wife, Sophrina and his daughter Melissa both died from Cholera while at Winter Quarters.

By the spring of 1850, the corn had also been supplemented with buckwheat, and the family was ready to head to Utah.     They were part of the Stephen Markham Company which left between June 20-27, 1850 and arrived in Utah between October 1-3, 1830.  The company consisted of 77 people.

The company encountered many buffalo herds and frequently had to stop, circle the wagons, chain the cattle and wait while herds of buffalo stampeded around them.   The buffalo also provided a source of food.  Occasionally a buffalo was killed and the meat made into jerky to eat along they way.

They company had contact Indians several times during the trip.  Some of these meetings were combative and hostile.   One story appears in 2 sources.    The basics of the story are the same, but some of the details differed.     A Cheyenne Indian wished to acquire a white woman to take as a wife.   Some of the boys were talking to the Indian and someone made a joke that for a price, the Indian could acquire a white woman.   There is 2 versions of the price - one says it was 7 horses, the other says it was 5 horses, 2 buffalo hides, 2 antelope skins and some dried meat.   In any case - the Indian later returned with the asking price.   The company tried to explain this was a joke, and some sort of drama ensued.   One version says that the company had to give the Indian much needed supplies to settle the matter, another version says that the company was followed for several days by an Indian party, and one night the Indian attempted to abduct one of the girls.  A fight ensued, the girl was saved and the Indians disappeared, and were not seen again.

Once the family arrived in Salt Lake City, they were dispatched to what is now Provo and cleared land, built a house and planted crops.   Moses grew up on the farm and continued to have periodic encounters with local Indians - some friendly, and some hostile.

April 1862, Moses was called by Brigham Young to go to Winters Quarters and bring a company of immigrants to Utah.   One of the immigrants he assisted in bring to Utah was a young lady from Charlton Kings (Cheltenham) England.  The young men sent from Utah had been full of pranks and mischief while in Winter Quarters, and some of the immigrants feared them.  This fear grew large enough amoungst the population of Winter Quarters, that the Apostles living there had to step in and restore confidence regarding the ruffians from Utah who were to take them to Utah.  Moses returned to Utah with the Homer Duncan Company in 1862.    One of the members of the company was Martha Sims, who had come from Charlton Kings, Cheltenham, England with her family to join the Mormons in Utah.    Martha was not scared of the young ruffian from Utah and  once they reached Utah Martha and Monroe Moses Curtis were married.

Mariah Curtis and Martha Sims
I could not find any specific statement that Moses was a polygamist, but it is indicated in many places that he had 3 wives.   The Birth/Death/Marriage dates, combined with the children's dates of birth make is pretty clear that Moses practiced plural marriage.

Moses Monroe an Sarah Josephine Curtis Family
By 1877, Moses had married his second wife, Sarah Josephine Mecham, a widow with 3 children.  The Curtis family  was asked to join the United Order in Arizona and to head there to assist in settling the area and setting up the order.     The family first settled in Northern Arizona, the moved to the Gila valley in 1880 where they settled permanently.    The city now known as Eden was first named Curtis Ward, and Moses Monroe Curtis was selected as the Bishop.

From Salt Lake Tribune, May 13, 1910
In 1879 Moses married his 3rd wife,  Miriam Melina Rudd, who was also a widow and had 4 children.

Moses and Malina Curtis
Moses lived in Eden for 37 years then moved to Thatcher.   His wife, Martha died in Eden.   Sara Josephine died while the family was living in Thatcher, and Malina died in Pima.

Moses died while living in Pima of a heart attack on March 13, 1929.   His obituary lists that he had 29 children, 136 Grand Children and 91 Great Grand Children.    It also says that the story of his life would make an interesting book.

Some of the key United States and Mormon Church historical events that Moses Monroe Curtis lived through are:
  • 1844 - Joseph Smith murdered in Carthage Illinois
  • 1844 - Brigham Young sustained as President of the Mormon Church
  • 1846 - Mormon's expelled from Nauvoo, Illinois
  • 1847 - First Pioneer Company leaves Winter Quarters for Utah.  (Moses Uncle Lyman included.)
  • 1848 - Gold Discovered in California
  • 1850 - Utah becomes a Territory
  • 1857 - Mountain Meadows Massacre
  • 1861 to 1865 - Civil War
  • 1864 - Abraham Lincoln assasinated
  • 1867 - Salt Lake Tabernacle completed
  • 1869 - Transcontinental Railroad completed at Promontory Point, Utah
  • 1877 - St. George Temple dedicated
  • 1880 - John Taylor sustained as 3rd Mormon Church President
  • 1889 - Wilford Woodruff sustained as 4th Mormon Church President
  • 1893 - Salt Lake Temple dedicated
  • 1898 - Lorenzo Snow sustained as 5th Mormon Church President
  • 1898 - Spanish American War
  • 1901 - Joseph F. Smith sustained as 6th Mormon Church President
  • 1903 - Wright Brothers first flight
  • 1908 - Ford Introduces the Model T
  • 1914 to 1918 - World War I
  • 1917 - Heber Grant sustained as 7th Mormon Church President

Below is an article that appeared in 1923 in the Improvement Era periodical about Moses Monroe Curtis

  • Obituary from the Thatcher Guardian, 1929.  Found in ancestry.com or familysearch.com.  The newspaper archives go only as far as 1922, so not available on newspapers.com - yet.
  • Moses Monroe Curtis, Pioneer, The Improvement Era, Volume 26, No. 10, Page 899-905, available from Internet Archive - link: https://archive.org/stream/improvementera26010unse#page/n0/mode/2up.
  • Stephen Markham Company Information:  https://history.lds.org/overlandtravels/companyDetail?companyId=191
  • Almost an Indian Bride by Susan Ellen Johnson, From Young Women's Journal , June 1907, https://history.lds.org/overlandtravels/trailExcerptMulti?lang=eng&companyId=191&sourceId=5558
  • Pioneers and Prominent Men of Utah, by Frank Esshorn.  Link:  https://books.google.com/books?id=9WMTAwAAQBAJ&pg=PA833&lpg=PA833&dq=moses+monroe+curtis+pioneer&source=bl&ots=IB2VmJkOgs&sig=asjZlU95zCslEWUjd5R1Mev0kSM&hl=en&sa=X&ei=zQOzVMnVI46qogSl8ILABQ&ved=0CDkQ6AEwBg#v=onepage&q=moses%20monroe%20curtis%20pioneer&f=false
  • US History Timelines:  http://faculty.washington.edu/qtaylor/a_us_history/
  • www.ancestry.com
  • www.familysearch.org
  • Salt Lake Tribue, May 13, 1910, archives at: www.newspapers.com