Monday, November 12, 2018


Last March, I was privileged to visit Hereford Cathedral when the weeping window of poppies was on display in commemoration of the one-hundredth anniversary of World War I. It was raining.

Sunday, November 4, 2018

A Prayer for Election Day

Dear Father of All,

We thank Thee for the blessings of living in a land of liberty where are free to govern ourselves for the good of all.

We pray that we can elect honest and wise people to assist us in our self-governance, that the purpose of the Constitution may be established that man not be in bondage one to another.

We are grateful for the inspired Constitution to protect us in our rights to worship Thee and to join with others in free assembly of all varieties for doing good and for open discussion of ideas and petitions to our government.

We are grateful for the results of a tragic Civil War for a more perfect Union that allowed our forebearers to prohibit slavery and establish that all people of the United States share the same rights of equality and fair treatment regardless of their station and conditions of life.

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

The SS Nevada of the Guion Line, Liverpool to New York, 1886 and 1887

The SS Nevada of the Guion Line or the Liverpool and Great Western Steamship Co.
Oil painting presumed to be by James Douglas, in the Mariners' Museum, Newport News, Virginia

Sometimes, playing around on Google pays off. I found this image of an oil painting from the Mariners' Museum in Newport News, VA. It is the ship that brought my Great Grandfather George Robert Vaughan and his family to America in 1887. His father, Thomas, arrived a year earlier on the same ship.

The color and detail are so helpful. Note the two rows of portholes along the line of the hull just above the water line. One of those might have been opened during calm seas to get some fresh air to my infant Great Grandfather. The black smokestacks with the red stripe were distinctive of the Guion Line.

The ship had only one propeller which necessitated the sails in case the engine failed. Steamships were soon outfitted with two engines and screws for additional speed and if one system failed, there was another for backup rather than having to rely on the sails. This artistic representation is a bit fanciful as the sails were rarely used especially if the ship was at full steam as appears here.

The Nevada was built at Palmer's Shipbuilding & Iron Co., Jarrow-on-Tyne outside of Newcastle, England in 1868. That was the same year that Mormon emigrants began using steamships rather than the slower, less-expensive and soon outdated sailing ships. Steamships were coming into their own just as the transcontinental railroad was close to completion across the United States. Steamships and railroads greatly facilitated and expedited the journey from England to Utah. The Guion line became the preferred company for organized Mormon emigrant passage because of the favorable treatment and reduced fairs arranged between the Guion agents in Liverpool and the Church leaders of the British Mission. The Mormons were organized and orderly passengers generally respected by the captains.

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Democrats Don't Kill Babies

Rather, Democrats support health care for women and children. This includes birth control for women which I know some object to on moral grounds. It also includes the termination of a pregnancy in cases of rape, incest, and when the health of the woman is at risk. I also understand that this is morally unacceptable to some people and that "the health of the woman" is a phrase that has a lot of interpretation. Some will have interpretations different than mine and the Democratic Party.

So the question becomes, who is going to make that determination about the health of the woman? Or for that matter, who is going to make the other determinations as to whether the pregnancy is the result of rape or incest? What if the fetus growing in the womb is determined by a doctor not to survive birth or have a chance to be live long after birth because of serious physical deficiencies?

Democrats generally believe that these decisions should be made between the woman and her doctor. The woman has the choice to involve her family (or not, especially if the relationships can be dangerous to her life or health), any religious figure or friend for advice, and her own conscience. These are decisions that powerfully impact core beliefs on life and death of all involved. The question remains, who should have the responsibility to decide?

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!