Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Pioneer Ancestors - Smith

James Smith Jr. Family Picture
Back row: David, Selina, George, Lucy, Jim, Annie
Front row: Arthur, James, (Emma), Jane
[assuming picture taken after Emma died in 1907, also missing children Martha & John who died young]
Here's the little bit about James Smith that covers the pioneer trek. (You can find the entire life sketch here.)

The Smiths lived in Oakley, Bedford, England. It was here they first heard the gospel. James and his wife Emma were both baptized on September 23, 1863.  After joining the church they made plans to go to Zion. James worked in a coal mine to earn money for the trip. On April 29 or 30, 1866, he, his wife, Emma, and three children - Arthur (4), Jane (3) and Martha (1) † - sailed for America on the ship "John Bright". After a hard journey of 6 weeks, they landed in New York and went by cattle car to Wyoming, Nebraska (a small village about 7 miles north of Nebraska City on the west bank of the Missouri River). On July 6, they left there and crossed the plains with the first mule train of the Captain Thomas E. Ricks Company arriving in Salt Lake on August 29, 1866. James became ill on the way with "mountain fever". He rode in the wagon part of the way but walked the greater part with the aid of two walking sticks. He let the two little ones, Jane and Martha, sometimes take turns riding on his shoulders. Upon their arrival in Utah, they camped in what was known as the Tithing Yard. On November 19, 1866, they moved to Kaysville and rented a farm from Mr. Booth. Later on they purchased a farm on the east of town and eventually built a brick home. 

Smith home - 13 Crestwood Road, Kaysville, Utah
Here's a short excerpt from Emma's life sketch:

Emma walked a thousand miles. Since she was healthy, she was not permitted to ride. Every
morning, she carried her year and a half old baby. Arthur (my great-great grandfather) was five and Jane was three. (They had seven additional children after arriving in Utah.) Since they were in hostile Indian country much of the time, men had to guard at night. Emma often told her grandchildren how she crossed the Platte River, clinging to the end gate of the wagon and dragging her feet through the cold water. When they reached Echo Canyon, Captain Ricks told Emma to get up in the wagon, that she had walked all the way and now she should ride. They were standing near a rock and he said, “Sister, sit down on this rock while I give you a blessing. You deserve it, for you have been faithful.” She rode until they reached Salt Lake City.
Emma Sutton Smith and son Arthur
You can find a short biography of Arthur Smith here and some information about his family life and occupation here.

I hope you're enjoying these stories; I know that I am! And if someone asks you in Sunday School to share a personal pioneer story, I hope you'll remember one of these.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Pioneer Ancestors - Porter

Sanford Porter is my great-great-great-great grandfather. As you can imagine, I never knew him, and I'm not sure I ever personally knew anyone who actually did. However, I definitely heard stories about him as I was growing up. That's probably because someone actually kept records and published them. That shows the importance of writing journals and personal histories. Now there's even a website devoted to him - Sanford Porter - that has tons of interesting information.

Here's an excerpt from the introduction to the biography that was written about Sanford Porter, Sr.:

Sanford Porter and his family joined the Church in Illinois in 1831 and then moved to Independence, Missouri to join with the Saints.  They were “on the front lines” during many of the events of early Church history.  They helped to build the Nauvoo Temple and received their temple ordinances there.  They suffered at Winter Quarters and buried family members there. They contributed a son to the Mormon Battalion.  They crossed the plains with an 1847 wagon company.  They founded Porterville, Utah and spread out across countless other communities. Today their descendants number in the tens of thousands.  Their story of faith, sacrifice and devotion to the Restored Gospel is an inspiration to all.

I'll try to keep this post a bit shorter than the last one! We're descended through John President Porter, who was born in New York in 1818, was baptized as a teenager in Missouri, and followed the church to Nauvoo. In 1843, he married Nancy Rich.

You can find his biography here. It's just as fascinating as his dad's. The Porter's were part of the Charles C. Rich Company, crossing the plains and arriving in Utah on October 2, 1847.

After arriving in Utah, John married a second wife, Mary Palmer Graves.
Mary Palmer <i>Graves</i> Porter
Here's a short sketch of her life:
Mary Palmer Graves was born in Vermont in 1818. She married George Washington Bratton in 1835. They were later divorced, because George wanted to stay in the east and Mary wanted to go with the Saints to Utah. She and her four young daughters crossed the plains in 1852. On 25 Febuary 1855 Mary was sealed to John President Porter. From this marriage came two children, Charles Graves Porter and Sarah Ellen "Nellie" Porter White. She died in Porterville, Utah in 1896.

I'm so grateful we have these wonderful examples of courage and faith to follow, and I hope my grandchildren think the examples their parents, grandparents, and great-grandparents are setting are worthy of emulation as well.

Stay tuned - one more family to go!

Monday, July 21, 2014

Pioneer Ancestors - White

William White & Elizabeth Warn White
(1830 - 1890)  (1828 - 1906)

William was a successful ship's mechanic and earned a comfortable living. He met Elizabeth (Betsey), a young widow, while serving as an LDS missionary, and they were married after his release. Together they raised 9 children, 4 born in England and 5 in Utah. Because of his employment, they didn't even immigrate together; Betsey did that on her own in 1862 and he joined them a year later. There aren't any oceans or ships in Utah, so William struggled with finding employment; he just didn't like farming. He was, however, a good mechanic and eventually found work in the coal mines. Betsey supplemented their income with her dressmaking and millinery skills. I copied her lifesketch below**, which will make this a long post, but it will save you from having to click on the link. What a fascinating woman she is.

Fredrick William White
(1852 - 1935)

Fredrick was William and Betsey's oldest child. Apparently this great-great grandfather of mine was pretty mean and ornery. It's probably not good to speak ill of the dead, so I won't repeat any of the stories, but you can read them for yourself on FamilyTree. Or maybe it's just that little girls (the ones who wrote the stories) are afraid of their old grandfathers. Anyway, someone's also attached the autobiography he wrote which covers several years of his childhood and young adulthood. Fredrick was born in England where his parents joined the church. When he was 9-10 years old they immigrated to Utah and crossed the plains in 1862. It looks like he worked in a lumber camp for a while, and then was a fish and game warden.

**Betsey's life sketch, written by her daughter, Clara Fanny White Sparks:
Elizabeth Warn was born June 30, 1829 at St. Helier, Jersey, Channel Islands (France). She was the daughter of John Warn and Elizabeth Hill. She was converted to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints at the age of eighteen and was baptized in 1847. She was a very good-looking young lady and had many talents, among them were dressmaking and millinery. She was called on in later years to use these talents to help support her family after coming to Utah.
She was married quite young to a seafaring man by the name of Ruben Camp, who was lost at sea not long after their marriage. She gave birth to a daughter, Rhoda Camp, no long after his death. She then taught in a private school. When her baby was eighteen months old, it died from a scald on the stomach by upsetting a cup of hot tea on herself. Rhoda lived ten days after the accident. During the time of her bereavement she met a young Mormon missionary, William White, who had been called to be a home missionary from Southampton. They fell in love with each other and after he was released from his mission they were married on February 16, 1852. At this time she was twenty-two years old. They lived in Southampton and near London and the first four of their children were born while living in England; Frederick William, Alfred George, Bessie Amelia, and William Edward. After they had been married for several years, William became a seafaring man. He took long voyages, sometimes being away from home for one or two years at a time. It was during one of these voyages that she was counseled to emigrate to Utah. So with a young baby two years old, and three other small children, she made the long trip alone to Utah in 1862 with the Captain James Brown Company. Her oldest child was ten years old at this time. They endured many hardships while making the journey across the ocean and by land to Utah. Like other pioneers they had to cross high rivers, and they became involved with a buffalo stampeded. The most trying experience was the illness of her baby who was ill during most of the journey. When she arrived in the Untied States she bought a cow to bring West with her to supply the much needed milk for the children. The journey across the plains was so long and hard that some of the oxen were unable to continue the journey, and it was necessary to yoke the cow up to complete the team. With her constant care, he wise judgment, and faith and prayers, her baby's life was spared and she arrived safely in Utah. She was met by her brother-in-law, Thomas Stenhouse, who had previously married her sister and came to Utah earlier. He was the missionary who had converted her in England. Elizabeth's husband, William, came to Utah a year later (1863) after being released from the English Navy. They had twice saved the transportation money and could have come together but his voyages away from home made their plan hard to follow and twice they had turned the money in to the emigration fund to help others less fortunate to come to Utah. Being an engineer on a sailing vessel, William made good money, and they had a beautiful home, both of which they had to give up as they made the decision to move with the Saints to Utah. They went to the Endowment House in Salt lake City on April 2, 1864, to receive their endowments and be sealed husband and wife. They secured a little home in Salt Lake City and one child, Ellen Marriah, was born there. She was nicknamed Nellie. There was very little demand in Salt Lake City for men doing father's line of work, and after the money they had saved gave out, they had a very hard life. Father walked to Cache Valley to take up some land to try his lot in farming. They settled in Smithfield. He erected a small house and left money to have it completed while he went to Salt Lake for the family. When they returned they found that the house had not been completed, so they were forced to move into one corner of the meetinghouse until it could be finished enough to live in. They put a dirt roof on the top and when the heavy rains came the mud and water came through on their furniture and clean beds. They put a shingle roof on the house the following summer. Two children were born there: Thomas Washington and Clara Fannie. Father later had an opportunity to run a sawmill so he moved his family up the canyon, and they lived there for a while. A fire broke out on both sides of the canyon and they were burned out. The men got their hair and whiskers burned off and father suffered burns and severe shock. The women were wrapped in wet blankets and coats. It was extremely hard on mother as she was in a delicate condition. They put all their belongings they could in the creek and later recovered what they could. After they had succeeded in getting out of the canyon a little distance, night came on and they made beds on a pile of logs for the little ones to sleep on. The children enjoyed the experience very much, not realizing what it really had meant to their parents. They then settled in Morgan County and not long after that another child, Walter Henry, was born. While there, another opportunity was given father to work in a canyon known as Hardscrabble. The family then moved again. Mother was a good financier and business-woman, and she made a palace of a log cabin. She was always full of hope and faith and high courage. She held school for her own children while in the canyon to get them started. At intervals throughout her entire life she worked at dressmaking and millinery which was the means of obtaining many of the little necessities and comforts. While in Hardscrabble Canyon, early in the spring a very serious thing happened to their oldest boy, Fred, then a young man. He went back up the canyon to cut down a dry tree for fire- wood. The jar from the cutting on the tree caused a tremendous snow slide to come down the mountainside. It rolled him over and over and finally covered him deep in the snow. The vibration of the slide caused another slide to come from the mountain on the other side of the canyon covering him still deeper. A man coming down the canyon saw the slides and having seen Fred earlier, decided he was buried under the snow. He hurried to the mill and notified father of the accident. Father rushed from the mill just as he was, with his sleeves rolled up and bare headed, and ran as fast as he could to the slides. Mother and the older children were very much distressed as they awaited the outcome. There was only one broken shovel available, but all the men gathered at the spot to take turns and do anything else they could. Some of them hurried away to find something to work with. All of this took time. They appealed to father to designate a place to dig. He was at loss and seemed a little doubtful, but he told them where to start and after they had dug there for a few minutes he changed the place a few feet. They continued to dig in that place and finally found his heel. If they had continued to dig in the place where they first started they would have struck his head. The man using the shovel fainted. In his frenzy, father jumped in the hole and started to dig with his hands. After working two and a half hours they finally got the body out of the snow. Everyone thought he would be dead, but mother said she would not believe it and prayed humbly for her boy's life to be spared. They brought the body to the house. He was black in color but they worked with him for some time and he finally came to. The next day he was able to sit up to the table to eat. It was a terrible shock to mother an the anxiety she went through while waiting at home for the outcome was severe, but she tried hard to be calm and put her trust in her Heavenly Father. There was not much income in the millwork so the family made another move. Father then took up a homestead not far from the mouth of the canyon. It was a very pretty place with rolling hills surrounding it. They erected a small two-room house. The following spring the two girls, Bessie and Clara, went to help their father work on the house. They did the cooking and slept under a big serviceberry bush. The rest of the family were still living at the mill until the house could be made comfortable. About two years later a baby girl, Pearl Mable, was born. She died when she was nine months old. Father was not a farmer and could not adapt himself to that line of work. He tried hard but finally gave it up and went to Coalville, Utah, to run an engine in the coalmine. Being a mechanic he enjoyed the work. The family was still living at the homestead near Porterville. Mother had an attack of plural pneumonia and they all feared that she would pass away. One evening she called the older children to her bed and told them she thought her time was short. She asked for the Elders of the Church and told them to send for father. The Elders came in a body and exercised great faith in her behalf. During the night she took a sudden turn for the better. Father telegraphed a doctor as soon as he received the news, but it was the next day before he could get there. He said that her condition was very dangerous but that she had passed the crisis. She had a very strong testimony as long as she lived that the faith and prayers of the Elders that night had spared her life. A few years later the family moved to Coalville where father had his work. Most of the family had married by that time and it was again necessary for Mother to take up dressmaking, so they moved to Salt Lake city where she could get more work. Clara and Walter were the only ones who went with her to Salt Lake. She immediately found work there decorating windows, trimming hats and dressmaking. Clara helped all she could and did a lot for a girl of fifteen. After leaving the mine due to illness, father got a few odd jobs here and there for a few years but finally had to give them up due to his health. He became a complete invalid during his last four years and died September 14, 1890. Mother had many trying circumstances and hardships during her widowhood. In a few years she moved to Logan to take up millinery and dressmaking. In the course of time all her family married and she was left alone. She met a very kind, considerate companion in Albert Swinyard and they were married. She spent the remainder of her years in peace and contentment after enduring so many trials and hardships. She died on September 12, 1906, at the age of seventy-seven. She was buried in Logan, Utah. Mother was dark-skinned, medium height and had a rounded form but was very straight. She had black curly hair which she work in ringlets piled all over her head. She also had large dark eyes. She had a strong self-sustaining character and a high sense of honor and loyalty. She was truly religious and charitable, a friend to the poor and afflicted, a wise counselor to her family, and was to the end true to the gospel which she had embrace in her youth. She was a devoted, faithful wife and mother.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Pioneer Ancestors - Beckstrand/Rau

Last year in honor of Pioneer Day I wrote some blog posts on the pioneers from Wayne's side of the family. See here, here and here.  This year it's time to do my side. So first up are my dad's grandparents, Karl Johan Beckstrand and Karen Pedersen Nielsen Rau Beckstrand.
Here's their short biography, which I copied from the "Memories" section of FamilyTree.

Carl (Charles) Johan Beckstrand was born 26 June 1829 in Grandstrope, Vellstad, Jonkoping, Sweden.   He was the son of Knut Johan Beckstrand, a soldier of the ocean, (sailor) and Ingerid Jacobson, who was a very religious woman and took her children many miles through deep snow in the winter to attend church.  Neither of his parents had a chance to hear the Gospel.  When he and his brother, Elias August, were grown, they went to Denmark and worked as painters.  They remained there for seven years.  It was here that they heard the missionaries and joined the Church [on 28 June 1858].  They and their sister, Christina, came to America in May 1861.

Karen Nielsen Petersen Rov was born 1 Feb 1826 on the Isle of Fejo, Lolland, Denmark. She was the daughter of Nels Peter Anderson Rov, a sailor, and Karen Maren Madsen.  We know little of her early life, only that she worked for some of the Dukes and Earls in Copenhagen, Denmark when she was a grown girl.  She and her sister, Maren, joined the church [on 13 July 1859] and came to America in May 1861.

Carl Beckstrand and Karen Petersen Rov did not know each other before departing Denmark for America.

From Andrew Jensen's Record of Scandinavian Emigrants:
On May 9, 1861 a company of 565 Scandinavian Saints (375 Danish, 128 Swedish and 64 Norwegians) sailed from Copenhagen by the steamer, "Waldemar".  They were accompanied by several missionaries who had labored faithfully in the Scandinavian Mission and were returning home. They went to Kiel, Germany, then sailed on two different steamers, the "Brittania" and the "Eugenia" to Grunsby, England.  They proceeded by special train to Liverpool where they were put on board the shop "Monarch of the Sea", which was the largest vessel that had carried emigrants across the ocean up to that time.  This company was also the largest to cross the ocean on one ship to that date.

The Saints were treated kindly by  both officers and crew on board the ship, and the provisions were good and sufficient.  The company was so large that there were not enough kettles, so each family could only cook five times a week.

From Copenhagen to New York nine persons died, most of them being children.  Fourteen couples were married and four births took place on board.  The weather was favorable most of the way, though the ship had to battle against the wind for a few days.  Large icebergs were passed, one towering over 200 feet above the water.

They arrived in New York on June 19, having been on the ocean nearly a month.  From there they traveled by rail and steamboat to Florence, Nebraska.  

Preparation for the journey across the plains was at once made and those who had no means to outfit themselves for the long journey were assisted by teams from Utah.  These were the first sent from Utah to the Missouri River to assist the poor Saints gathering in Zion. Most of the Scandinavians were assisted in this manner and went with Capt. John R. Murdock's company. 

Others were assigned to the company led by Capt. Samuel A. Woolley, traveling with about 60 ox teams.  Carl Beckstrand and Karen Petersen Rov were both assigned to the Samuel A. Woolley company.  Neither of them had a wagon, but were assigned to help others who did.  Charles had purchased a gun in Florence and was responsible to help supply fresh meat for the company.  One evening after the Saints had camped and were preparing supper, he saw a black and white animal and shot it.  He had never seen a skunk before and had no idea that his killing it would cause them to have to move camp in a hurry.

Karen walked the entire distance leading a cow.  She gathered grass in her apron as she walked along and fed it to the cow after they had camped.  She had one pair of shoes which were worn out before she had come half of the way.  The remainder of the way she walked barefooted.  Neither of them told much of their travels so very little is known.

Apparently my dad has possession of the little bucket Karen used crossing the plains. What a fun treasure!