Sunday, February 24, 2019

Davis, Howe & Co. 

The Davis, Howe & Co. was founded in 1873 when Nathan Davis and Amos Howe became partners.  Nathan Davis was approached to build the baptismal font for the St. George Temple for The Church of Jesus Christ of Later Day Saints.  He contacted Amos Howe and in 1873 they became partners and founders of Davis, Howe & Co.

The Davis, Howe & Co. is of interest to me, and is in my family history focused blog because Amos Howe is my 3x great grandfather.   In reading about the lives of Amos Howe and his family, I found that this foundry was an important part of history in Utah, within the L.D.S. Church and even had influence in the foundry business well outside of Utah.

Amos Howe
Brigham Young provided the general design of the font, and Davis, Howe & Co. was responsible for translating the design into patterns and and building it.    The same design was used in several other temples, and Davis, Howe & Co. worked on those as well.

The initial design was was rejected and a multi state hunt for the perfect oxen was made.   Once the "perfect" oxen was found, it was brought to the foundry where a special stall was built for it to be housed in while models were made.

Picture from  (link)

Amos' portion of the company was passed from him to his son, George Edward Howe, my 3and remained in operation until it closed during the great depression.

George Edward Howe
The Deseret News described the foundry as "the most extensive works of the kind between Omaha and California." (Deseret News, 2 November 1874)

One of the things that the foundry created was a new design for the Fire Hydrant - as described in this article published in the Deseret News on 25 February 1875.

This hydrant was manufactured in the late 1870s by Davis, Howe & Co, a foundry that produced milling and mining machinery and other wrought and cast ironwork in Salt Lake City. The company was founded in 1874 and, in 1876, in partnership with then superintendent Thomas Witton Ellerbeck whose is largely credited with the construction of Salt Lake City’s waterworks system and gas plant in the 1870s. Ellerbeck, who was chief clerk for President Brigham Young, designed the hydrant with Amos Howe, which reportedly “differ[ed] from any other hydrants in the world” to permit access to the main valve, below ground, by passing through a hatch into a cavity constructed of 2” thick wood; in other words, it required no digging for repairs. The cavity also served as a means to prevent the freezing of pipes by creating an air pocket around the lower barrel and main valve. Many of these hydrants are still in service today, with the first having been installed in February of 1876.   (Link to Picture and Article)

I enjoyed finding out that some of the things I saw growing up, and some that are still around, were produced by my ancestors.   Some of the things designed and/or made at Davis, Howe and Co. include:
  • Several baptismal fonts in Mormon temples in Utah
  • Steel roof on the Salt Lake City Mormon temple
  • ZCMI Facade in downtown Salt Lake City
  • Gateposts for temple Square in Salt Lake City
  • Base plates for Hotel Utah
  • Many, many fire hydrants.

Deseret News - accessed on
Utah Historical Quarterly, Spring 1995, Volume 62, Number 2, The St. George Baptismal Font, Margaret M Cannon (link)
Hydrantology (link) (link)

Sunday, February 3, 2019

John Kirkham and Family Come to Utah...

I have a LOT of Mormon Pioneer history in my family.   I had assumed that my Kirkham line was one of those Mormon Pioneer lines....... imagine my surprise to find out, they are not....

John Kirkham and Elizabeth Ward are my 4x great grandparents.     The Kirkham family lived in  Lincolnshire England until they emigrated to America in 1850.   The family entered the United States through New Orleans, LA rather than the more popular way through New York City.     

In a twist of coincidence, my Briggs line also emigrated from England and entered the United States through New Orleans - less than 6 months later and the 2 later merged when Ann Kirkham married Thomas Briggs.

The Briggs emigrated after joining the Mormon church and were headed for Utah.   I had assumed that was also the case with the Kirkham's.

Much of this story comes from the book:  Reuben Kirkham, Pioneer Artist by Donna L. Poulton, published in 2011, and by a short family history written by Ida Kirkham which can be found in several places - I accessed it through Family Search.

On September 4, 1850 The Kirkham's boarded a ship named "North Atlantic" in Liverpool, England  - destined to New Orleans, Louisiana in the United States.    Based on the account of Reuben Kirkham's life in the book Reuben Kirkham Pioneer Artist, the family was not part of the Mormon church at that time - however aboard were many Mormon Immigrants headed to Utah. 

Within a week of arriving'in New Orleans, the family took the Mississippi Steamer Salt Anna to St. Louis.   Once in St. Louis, John, who was a carpenter by trade found work, 2 daughters went to work sewing at a local shirt factory, and 2 sons - George and Jonathan went to work as ships' mates on the Mississippi river.

A year or so after arriving in St. Louis, the family moved again.  This time to a farm about 10 miles away near a railroad construction site.   John set up a store that catered to the workman and railroad needs.    Reuben recounts a story that his father, John, would sell liquor to the railroad workers.     He did not have a license.   The police arrested him and he was sentenced to 2 hours in prison.

A year later - in 1852, the family moved back to St. Louis, and by this time the eldest daughter, Ann was being courted by Thomas Briggs.    It was Thomas who introduced the Kirkham's to the Mormon church which they later joined, and as a result eventually made their way many years later to Utah.

Ann and Thomas Briggs married in March of 1853.   Thomas became the head of both families.   In October 1853 both families left St. Louis to head to Barbadoo, Wisconsin.     Anne's brother George - who by then had been married and later separated was to go with the family on the next boat.  George never arrived and nobody saw him again.  It is assumed he drowned in the Mississippi River.

Barbadoo was disappointing - it was not the farming community Tomas Briggs had hoped for.  Both families quickly left and headed 100 miles south to Hebron, Wisconsin to settle.   They arrived in winter with little money and got by with shooting partridges and squirrels, cutting trees for firewood and spending what little money they had left on potatoes.  The families began to dream of moving to Utah during this time.    In the following years, the family farm did well and they began to put some money away, but in the winter of 1855 Thomas was injured and not able to work and their savings was soon used up.  They soon lost the farm and were forced to move to Whitewater.

By 1856 - Thomas' health had improved and the family once again rented a farm in Janesville where both families shared a house and barn.   Once again - they were able to start saving for the move to Utah.    By 1862 the families were ready to move to Utah.   Ultimately the Thomas and Ann Briggs headed out, but the Kirkham's stayed behind in Wisconsin.

Not much information is available about the Kirkhams between 1862 and 1868.   In 1868 the Kirkham's decided to head to Utah - via wagon.   They headed to Laramie City, Wyoming and joined a wagon train headed to Utah led by Captain Chester Loveland.    The group consisted of 40 wagons and 320 people.   They were provided with 1.5 lbs flour and 1 lb bacon per adult per day, and sugar, molasses,coffee and dried fruit.    The Kirkham's arrived in Utah on August 20, 1868, just under a month after leaving Laramie. Thomas and Ann, who by then had 6 children of their own,  greeted the Kirkham's upon their arrival.   It had been 6 years since Ann had seen her mother. 

Not long after arriving in Utah, the Kirkham's received word that one of their sons, Jonathan had been found murdered - his throat slit - in the Snake River in Idaho.  Why he was in Idaho and what happened were never discovered.

The Kirkham's settled near Thomas and Ann Briggs in Bountiful, Utah where they remained for the rest of their lives.
Reuben Kirkham Pioneer Artist by Donna L. Poulton, 2011
Mormon Migration Web Site:
Personal History Account by Ida Kirkham - Accessed on Family Search:

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 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

First - the story.   I've seen this story several places on the internet - in several blogs, on, 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 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   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 on 16 Feb 2015
The New Improvement ERA, Volume 14, accessed on 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 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 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!!!