Wednesday, August 16, 2017

We Shall Overcome

Whew! I wasn't so sure for the past couple of days. The events in Charlottesville with nazis, the kkk, and neo-confederates marching and one of them killing a woman and injuring several others were so horrifying. I about had another episode of trump derangement syndrome.

Then the LDS Church came out with a clarification of their earlier condemnation of racism in Charlottesville.  I'll let them say it:
     It has been called to our attention that there are some among the various pro-white and white supremacy communities who assert that the Church is neutral toward or in support of their views. Nothing could be further from the truth. In the New Testament, Jesus said, “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself” (Matthew 22:37-39). The Book of Mormon teaches “all are alike unto God” (2 Nephi 26:33).
     White supremacist attitudes are morally wrong and sinful, and we condemn them. Church members who promote or pursue a “white culture” or white supremacy agenda are not in harmony with the teachings of the Church.

Wow! Just, WOW!

I am blown over.

The fact that this was released just an hour or so before trump had a melt-down news conference equating anti-fascist protesters with the nazis, kkk, white supremacists, neo-confederates, and alt-righters who were marching in Charlottesville is astounding. It is a faith-promoting incident that helps shore up my already strong faith in my Church and its leadership.

I've been rambling on Facebook and Twitter but it helped me refine a sentence to contain my views:

The only "white culture" at risk is the one that defines "others" by race to deny them rights, equality, and even humanity.

I love my Welsh heritage! I'm learning the language (slowly) which is a pretty weird thing to do. But it in no way denigrates any other human being or group. (I have been a little rough on the saxons, I'll admit, but as they are another "dominant"  group, of which I share significant DNA, I'm not all that serious about it).

Which brings me to DNA. There is no, and never has been, any "pure" race of any group of people. I have predominately Western European DNA according to the Ancestry.com test. I also have traces of Eastern Europe and Mediterranean DNA. Taking my raw data results to other sites and analytical systems (DNA analysis and the various logarithms are still in their scientific infancy), I do find a trace of Native American and weird connections to various samples of ancient bodies uncovered by archaeologists. 

The whole concept of "Western Civilization at risk" which apparently started with Charles Martel and later, Isabella and Ferdinand driving out the Moors from Spain, is still only defined by defining an "other" to save yourself from. According to the BYU Ancestor Analysis, I have royal Moorish ancestry.

Every culture of the human experience has intrinsic value and has gone into our melting pot of common humanity. It's good to preserve and honor all these various cultures. It is not good to set up artificial constructs to classify them into a threat or something to be lorded over.

Monday, August 7, 2017

Another Lost Pioneer: Found!

Elizabeth Bourne Thompson (1822-1878)
I'll just cut and paste my submission to the LDS Church History Library and their response. The important thing is that her descendants will now know that she was with her family in the Ellsworth Handcart Company.

I have been doing some indepth research on the Ellsworth Handcart Co. of 1856 in preparation for writing about my ancestors who were in the Company (Eleanor Jenkins Vaughan, her daughter, Jane Vaughan Lewis, Jane's husband, John Lewis, and their son, John Samuel Lewis). I found evidence to place a pioneer in the company who is not listed with the rest of her family in the company's lists and is identified in the overland travel database now reflected on Family Search as coming to Utah in "unknown companies."

John Oakley's journal [included in the overland travel database as: Oakley, John, Journal excerpt 1856 June-Aug.] for Thursday, 19 June 1856 records "I baptised 7 persons[.] Betsy Bourne for remission of sins. . . ." This was in Skunk Creek, near Green Castle, Iowa. I could not find a "Betsy" or "Elizabeth" Bourne in the Ellsworth or McArthur Companies (which were together at this point). But there is a large family of Thomas Bourne included with Ellsworth so I went to Family Search, Family Tree. Elizabeth Bourne, likely known as "Betsy" was the daughter of Thomas Bradford Bourne by his first wife, Susannah Lane, who died in 1829. Thomas is listed in the Ellsworth Co. with his second wife and their children who would have been step-siblings to Elizabeth. I don't know why "Betsy" was left off the Company rosters. She is not on the ship manifest with the family on Mormon Migration database either. But the fact that she is mentioned in Oakley's diary as part of the handcart companies travelling through Iowa, gives some evidence that she came with the rest of the family in 1856 (of course she could have stayed in Florence, but as she's not recorded in any other company from Florence on, it's more likely she was left out of the Ellsworth list where the rest of her family appears). I hope this is of some help in tying down when Elizabeth Bourne came to Utah.

Thursday, August 3, 2017

trump Sets Grand Jury Record

Robert Mueller, Special Counsel investigating Trump. Now with Federal Grand Jury.
The third Watergate Grand Jury investigated the President. It was convened January 7, 1974, nearly five years after Nixon first became President.

The Whitewater Grand Jury first subpoenaed records from First Lady, Hillary Clinton, in May 1994, over three years after Bill Clinton became President.

News broke today in the Wall Street Journal, a fairly conservative news source, that Special Counsel, Robert Mueller, has convened a federal Grand Jury in the investigation of Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential campaign. CNN reports that this includes financial dealings of trump corporations and links to Russians.

Thursday, July 27, 2017

South Pass

Looking West from South Pass. Pacific Butte on the left.
"Top of the World," some say even if it is not a peak and hardly a pass in the traditional sense of crossing mountains. One does have a sense of a spherical earth dropping down in nearly every direction (Wind River Range on the north excluded).

My grandson and I had a wonderful trip exploring portions of the Overland Trail in Wyoming in commemoration of the day after Pioneer Day and my wife's birthday, as she is out of town. The OT refers to four recognized trails that crossed here although Native Peoples have crossed here for millennia. The trails are: Oregon, California, Mormon Pioneer, and the Pony Express. We could also add in the Astorians in 1812, Mountain Men, the Whitman-Spaulding Missionaries of 1836, some commercial stage lines, the overland telegraph, and many visitors, but only us two last Tuesday.

As one of our purposes was family history, I will illustrate a few sites with reference to the Ellsworth Handcart Company of 1856 with my direct-line ancestor, Elinor Jenkins Vaughan, her daughter Jane Vaughan Lewis, Jane's husband John Lewis, and their son, John Samuel Lewis. They crossed South Pass on September 13, the 96th day out from Iowa City. They camped three miles down this road at Pacific Springs which can't be seen but is at the base of Pacific Butte on the left, just before the small ridge, just left of center. My Grandson and I walked down and back to get a feel for the trail. It was a good walk and a better talk.

At one point, I explained that while pioneer children may have sung as they walked and walked, they were probably not always happy. I told him that he was big enough he would likely have helped with the family handcart, but the younger children above toddler age would get up, have a breakfast of biscuits and tea (long before Pres. Grant started enforcing the Word of Wisdom) and head out on the road in a group led by adults while the others packed up the camp. Eventually, the handcarts would pass the children. Then, the two or three wagons with the company would pass as the oxen were slower than people with handcarts. Hopefully, the new camp would be ready when the children came in. We imagined that mothers might have gone back up the trail to meet their children if they weren't needed for cooking or setting up their camp. I also explained that the children were sometimes guided by the adults with long sticks, like a gaggle of geese. And they were poked or prodded (or worse) if they lagged.

Sunday, July 23, 2017

A Heart of Flesh

A-5, third from left.
One of my son's invited me down to Provo today as he was to speak in church and participate in a musical fireside this evening. The trumpet choir of the evening portion is above.

The remainder of this post will be the transcript that my son prepared to give his talk:


New Year’s is often associated with goal setting and resolutions. In Japan, people will choose a kanji, or Chinese character, as their theme for the year. In my Japanese class last January, my sensei asked us each what character we had chosen, and I responded that I chose “kokoro(心) which translates best to English as the heart. This has become the theme of my scripture study throughout this year.


I’ve always found the heart to be a difficult matter to comprehend, being very analytical and a logic based thinker. I pray that the Spirit will be able to convey my feelings and thoughts to you and whatever inspirations from God that you need in your life right now.

Saturday, July 15, 2017

It's Not a Quest If You Find It


If the only things that happened were that I had a great road trip with two of my boys and a chance to show them Jacks Valley, Nevada while telling them stories of our ancestors and how we found them, then we can't be the least bit disappointed that we found no actual grave site.

We made good time and followed the paved routes closest to the original California Trail, Humboldt Route (I-80) crossing the forty-mile desert (US-95) from the Humboldt Sinks (Lovelock) to the Carson Sinks (Fallon). Then it was US-50 on the Pony Express route right into Carson City and then South, turning up the official route onto Jacks Valley Road

Saturday, July 8, 2017

Alexander Hamilton

Not one generally to cherry-pick the Founders, I can't help it when Hamilton appears to prophesy the rise of a Demagogue like trump.

"Why does he write like he's running out of time?" -Lin Manuel Miranda

OK, that one wasn't it. It's this one, prompted by a tweet of Peter Daou. And as I have to check the source, I have the volume of Hamilton's writings from the Library of America edition from which the quote was taken. Here's a cut and paste: