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 No wonder the Scottish Nation loves him as reality superseded fiction when he was the one who found the crown jewels of Scotland hidden in a chest deep in the dungeons of Edinburgh Castle!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!

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

It's Civil War of Minds and Hearts - With Some Unnecessary Pain, Suffering, and Death

Fortunately, there are no organized armies yet. There are shots being fired in mass shootings and attacks on unarmed People of Color, even when they peaceably assemble in church.

If you are a trump believer, all immigrants are brown and criminals. They "infest" and threaten "white culture." This is as if Jefferson Davis became President of the United States and spread the lies of slavery.

We need a new Lincoln. We need to stand for Union and Human Rights for all. We need to respect the dignity of People of Color who contribute wonderfully to this Great Nation. We need to denounce and fight every attempt to place the falsehood of "white culture" as the American Way.

Thursday, May 31, 2018

An Apostle's Family Forged in Welsh Iron

Albert Ernest Bowen (1875-1953). LDS Apostle 1937.
Albert E. Bowen is not one of the big names in LDS Church leadership. He was a serious-minded, hard-working man. He appears to be best remembered and quoted in LDS General Conference for his teachings on Self-Reliance and the Church Welfare Program. He wrote a booklet entitled "Constancy Amid Change" that was updated in the 1980s as well as authoring a Sunday School course of study, "The Church Welfare Plan."

One of the more recent General Conference quotes attributed to Elder Bowen was in an address by Elder J. Thomas Fyans in 1982:
The only way the Church can stand independent is for its members to stand independent, for the Church IS its members. It is not possible to conceive of an independent Church made up of dependent members—members who are under the inescapable obligation of dependency. The Lord must want and intend that His people shall be free of constraint whether enforceable or only arising out of the bindings of conscience. It is not believed that any person or people can live from gratuities—rely upon them for means of subsistence and remain wholly free in thought, motive and action. History seems to record no such instance. That is why the Church is concerned that its members, who have physical and mental capacity to do so, shall render service commensurate with their capacities for aid extended. That is why the Church is not satisfied with any system which leaves able people permanently dependent, and insists, on the contrary, that the true function and office of giving is to help people into a position where they can help themselves and thus be free.
Elder Bowen knew a lot about self-reliance. Born on a farm near Samaria, Idaho, he worked hard in his youth. He spent a harsh winter with a brother homesteading a parcel of land in Star Valley, Wyoming. His mother, Annie Shackelton Bowen (1840-1929) shared her love of books and learning and Albert did well in school, served a mission in Switzerland and Germany, and studied law at the University of Chicago. He excelled in the practice of law and business in Cache Valley and Salt Lake City, Utah. He was called to be an Apostle by President Heber J. Grant in 1937.

What interests me is that his father was David Bowen (1837-1910), born in Blaenavon, Monmouthshire, Wales. He traveled to Utah in the Ellsworth Handcart Company in 1856 along with my 4th Great Grandmother, Eleanor Jenkins Vaughan (1789-1861). The Bowens and Vaughans must have known each other.