Sunday, September 23, 2018

My Double-Date As a Missionary

It's time to tell this story. . . .

My missionary companion and friend gave me his permission some time ago. My policy remains to avoid naming names to preserve some privacy, at least to avoid my friends' names turning up on an internet search linked to my blog. And it does protect the innocent as we all were in this unusual circumstance.

Mormon Missionaries are supposed to be celibate for their missionary terms of service which is nearly always successful. We aren't even supposed to date or socialize with romantic intentions as our time is totally dedicated to the Lord's work. This is quite an amazing accomplishment for young men and women in their late teens and early twenties as they learn that the spiritual aspects of life can be more powerful than natural, human behavior.

Language Training Mission (LTM) and Provo Temple, Fall 1976
In the preparatory Language Training Mission ("LTM" now, Missionary Training Center) in Provo, Utah, they drilled into us how we needed to be cautious because young women in Brazil could be very, uhm, tempting and some would be interested in snatching up a young North-American if they could. My companion friend was "snatched."

Still, it was all innocent if some of it slightly outside of regular missionary rules of decorum.

Friday, September 21, 2018

Meet Me at Alexandra Dock No. 3 on Saturday!

This just might work. If only it were Saturday, May 22, 1886, in Liverpool!

Ever the one to want to stand in exactly the same place where my ancestors have stood and to lead others to their ancestral spots, I had to know where the actual dock was where my Great-Great-Grandfather boarded the S.S. Nevada to come to America.

The Mormon Migration database is a great resource to find immigrant ancestors who came from Europe from the 1840s through the early 1900s. The Mormon immigrants were well organized by the British Mission with transport arranged at the lowest fares. The ships are documented with passenger lists and departure dates from Liverpool, England which saw no less than 1,695 Mormon emigrant ship sailings!

On my recent trip with Mormon Heritage Association, I found the Liverpool docks fascinating. Liverpool is on the Mersey Estuary with tides from the Irish Sea. The docks are not what I was used to in US harbors with piers sticking out into Elliott Bay (Seattle), San Francisco Bay, or the New York Harbor. Liverpool docks are more like rectangular pools of water separated from the Mersey by locks and short canals. As a tidal river, the Mersey mud is exposed at low tide. At high tide, the locks can be open and the ships enter and depart through the canals in or out of the various rectangular docks. "Sailing with the tide" now makes a lot more sense.

Canning Dock in the very nice public space of the Liverpool Waterfront.
The Mersey at low tide with mud exposed outside the docks.

Saturday, September 15, 2018

Sir Walter, the Scot

The Death of Morris the Spy, by Camille-Joseph-Étienne Roqueplan (1827)
Edinburgh fascinated me on my first visit before I knew I was destined to be a tour consultant. Navigating the Escheresque street levels of the old city was playing three three-dimensional chess. Even digital Google maps couldn't straighten that out. And monuments to Sir Walter Scott were everywhere! No wonder the Scottish Nation loves him as reality superseded fiction when he was the one who found the crown jewels of Scotland hidden in a chest deep in the dungeons of Edinburgh Castle!



More confident in my Welsh experiences, I have much to learn about Scotland. (And I'm still learning all I can about Wales!) I thought it necessary to do a bit of literary study of the great Sir Walter having only read Ivanhoe, when I was much younger and more prone to adolescent dreams of knights and fair damsels offering only unrequited love. Ivanhoe isn't much about Scotland either.

So I took it upon me to read the the Waverley Novels. Waverley was first thinking that would be enough or at least encompassed the Waverley oeuvre. But, no, all the Scott novels are supposedly in the canon. I next read Rob Roy thinking that will do it covering both the 1745 and 1715 Jacobite Risings. Scott is still an entertaining read, but he's no timeless Dickens. It is interesting that Scott was writing two hundred years ago and it's now over three hundred years since the rising of 1715!

Wednesday, August 1, 2018

Family History Connections in County Durham, England

Please note "5-mile" scale in key. This area is not large.
So I've been researching a bunch of ancestral sites for people going on our tour in a couple of weeks. I realized there is still a lot more work to be done for our own people.

Still kicking myself for not going north with my Aunt and Dad's Cousin in 2010, I will try to get there next summer. In the meanwhile, I am tracing Thomas and Isabella Vaughan who joined with the LDS Church in Stockton, County Durham in the early 1880s leaving for America in 1886 and 1887 respectively.

The 1871 Census finds Thomas still in South Wales working in his father's profession as a puddler in the ironworks of Abersychan. His first appearance is his marriage to Isabella Bowman in the Register Office, not a church, in Bishop Auckland, County Durham, England on the Third of August, 1875. They both gave their residence as Blue Row, which I assume was their first home. Sadly, Blue Row no longer exists. I did find an old picture of what it looked like:

Blue Row, South of Bishop Auckland, 1950s (from Facebook page on Bishop Auckland History)

Friday, July 27, 2018

Child Labour - Industrial Revolution - Wales

While researching places to visit for my new travel consultant gig, I came across the notorious blue books of the Children's Employment Commission (1840s-1860s) that were presented to the British Parliament at the request of Queen Victoria. The Commission's work was to survey the employment conditions and education of children throughout Great Britain. The brief, first-hand reports are disturbingly fascinating.

Here are the principal ones from the Welsh ironworks in the 1840s. I have visited these locations. They are in are three successive valleys, west to east.  I have a 2nd Great-Grandfather who was at Ebbw Vale while his father was a puddler not long after these reports. I leave them for your contemplation:

Cyfarthfa Ironworks, Merthyr Tydfil, Wales:


Wednesday, July 4, 2018

Let Freedom Ring!

As we, the People of the United States, through our delegated elected officials continue to incarcerate children separated from their parents who were attempting to enter our borders, let us pause to think about this on the day we celebrate national independence.

These photos were released by the U.S. government. My source here.


Saturday, June 30, 2018

Lord Nelson's Biscuit

Daniel Maclise: The Death of Nelson
Mural in Parliament, Westminster, London
There are times when I wished I had £3,000.00 to buy a biscuit.

Recently, an interesting lot came up for sale at Sotheby's and was then auctioned off again. It included what is believed to be the world's oldest hardtack biscuit. And not just any biscuit, but one belonging to an Able Seaman who fought with Admiral Nelson at Trafalgar.

And it gets better. The Able Seaman was my ancestor, the father of Mormon Pioneers!

The biscuit gets the news, but it is the other items that are of more importance.

That's one, huge biscuit, by the way!