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.

Sunday, May 27, 2018

Mountain Men: Ya Can't Live with 'em; Ya Can't Live without 'em

The Wyoming State Historical Preservation Office (WSHPO, pronounced "Wyoming Shipo") and historians with the LDS Church interpreting the Devil's Gate/Martin's Cove area on the Overland Trail in Wyoming, have established that it was Charles (1812-1865), not his brother Basil LeJeunesse (1814-1846), who was known as "Seminoe" and established the fort at Devil's Gate.

These brothers were amazing as most Mountain Men were. They all knew each other; Basil traveling with Kit Carson and John C. Fremont's mapping expeditions. Basil was killed by Modocs at Klamath Lake. Charles abandoned his post at Devil's Gate in 1855 due to troubles with the Cheyennes. Cheyennes killed Charles in 1865 at Clark's Fork, Yellowstone. His half-Shoshone sons took their vengence by killing Cheyenne Chief, High Backed Wolf.

Generally aware of the Handcart stories, I knew there was a ramshackle trading post at Devil's Gate that served as a shelter in the miserable winter of 1856-57 for those guarding the freight emptied from the wagons to carry some of the handcart pioneers of the Willie and Martin companies to Salt Lake City. In the past couple of years, I also became aware that the earlier and more successful handcart companies of that year took the Seminoe Cutoff. It was only two weeks ago that I managed to put the two together to understand it was this "Seminoe" guy who explored the cutoff that saved some trouble for my handcart ancestors and had established the fort/trading post at Devil's Gate.

A portion of the archeological site with the reconstructed fort right next to it. And Devil's Gate behind.
Looking up the Sweetwater Valley from the original site of Seminoe's Fort. Martin's Cove is to the right.
Split Rock can be seen in the far distance.

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Alice Cooper Predicted our Political Present

Oh, my Gosh!

I just heard this song recently and checked the lyrics. This is donald trump! Alice Cooper, of all people, called it in 1972!

I'm your top prime cut of meat, I'm your choice
I wanna be elected
I'm your Yankee Doodle Dandy in a gold Rolls Royce
I wanna be elected

Sunday, May 13, 2018

Welsh Heritage in Idaho

Last Friday, I had the opportunity to participate in the dedication of the Welsh Heritage Square in Samaria, Malad Valley Idaho.

I scored an excellent Welsh cake at the refreshment table.
Let me get my political diatribe out of the way. There is nothing wrong with celebrating any culture as it can be done without denigrating others. This was a community event and Welshness was not a requirement. There was a gentleman who appeared to be an African-American cowboy who was talking to a lot of people and must have been a local. For all I know, he has Welsh ancestry but it is entirely beside the point. All are welcome to celebrate and there is no false superiority of putting down other heritages.

It did seem like a blessing that it did not rain more than a few, sporadic drops. The rain was torrential coming through Odgen that morning. My old Potuguese, now Welsh mentor, Dr. Dennis, was present in his Welsh costume along with his wife.

Sunday, April 29, 2018

Baptism for the Dead: Getting to Know You

Volume 7 of Documents in the Joseph Smith Papers is out. (I seem to have skipped a few so my collection is not yet complete.) My purpose is acquiring this volume was to learn as much as I could about Joseph Smith's first teachings on Baptism for the Dead. (See Doctrine and Covenants, Section 128 for a fuller, scriptural background.)

Joseph first mentioned baptism for the dead at a funeral for Seymour Brunson on August 15, 1840, but there is not much recorded from that discourse. He then addressed it at the General Church Conference in Nauvoo in early October 1840 when hearers were so motivated they immediately left for the Mississippi to perform baptisms for their dearly departed. And, once again, some of his teachings were not fully recorded. Still, there are footnotes to contemporaneous reports such as a letter from Vilate Kimball to Heber C. who was on a mission in England. This would be how the British Saints and missionaries such as Richard Steele would have heard about the new doctrine so early.

And there is a very important aspect of what Vilate tells Heber. Here is the section of her October 11, 1840 letter from online, digital sources at the LDS Church History Library:

Friday, April 27, 2018

Another Reason for Conservatives to . . .


I'm not saying you should necessarily do anything. But if you anti-environmentalist, pro-development, pro-fossil-fuel people need a reason, try on some of these:
all are stewards—not owners—over this earth and its bounty and will be accountable before God for what they do with His creations (see D&C 104:13–15). All humankind should gratefully use what God has given, avoid wasting life and resources, and use the bounty of the earth to care for the poor and the needy (see D&C 49:19–21).
To be complacent with His creations offends Him (see D&C 59:18–21). . . .

The earth is endowed with an array of natural resources that will provide for the human family if they are used as the Lord instructed—to care for the poor and the needy and not use more than is needed (see D&C 104:14–18); to avoid waste (see D&C 49:19–21); and not to forcibly take resources from another (see D&C 59:20). . . .
Check with your local utility company, local community groups, or on the internet to find suggestions to conserve energy and to recycle. Support community recycling programs. Consider starting a community garden. Support local civic groups that promote stewardship and conservation. Be an involved citizen in government. Be informed, respect the views of others, and treat everyone with civility. . . .

Sunday, April 15, 2018

Cymru, March 2018 XVII, The Final Adventure

This is the last post on my recent trip. I returned with a few good books for me to continue the intellectual adventures. One was a great survey of politics, social life, religion, and war (of course) in Medieval Wales:

A good read!
Reading along, I came across a person named Rhys Gryg. I said to myself, "I know that guy!" Well, at least I discovered his castle. And I'm getting ahead of myself in this story.

My old college professor and again my mentor for new adventures in historical travel sent me an email while I was still in Wales. He wanted help in finding a location of an ancestral farm of one of the individuals signed up for our Wales/Scotland tour coming up in August. It was in Carmarthenshire.

Great! I hadn't yet been to Carmarthen, the city of Merlin ("Caer Merddyn" in Welsh meaning "Merlin's Fort or Castle") It would be easy to swing by the town after I found the farm.

And I did find it way up on the highlands above Carmarthen. 

My question is: How did Mormon Missionaries ever find this place in the 1840s?