Wednesday, October 22, 2014

The Lost Mormons of Carson Valley

Genoa (Mormon Station), Nevada, Pioneer Cemetery
There is another tempting title for this, "Journey to Genoa" that has already been used for a highly fictionalized novel of some of the pioneer people of this area, including my family. It isn't very well written in a literary sense. Most of the entertainment value comes from the whoppers of wrong information such as the Cavalry riding in to rescue disaffected Mormons (in 1853) and a questionably historical visit to a San Francisco bordello and opium den. Sigh.

The different title might have distracted web searchers from the book which is decidedly anti-Mormon. And putting the title in here might have the same positive effect.

We learned from our visit to ancestral lands in Wales that a sense of place really helps in untying or cutting through the Gordian  knots that family history can present us. We see physical connections that can firm up or dispense with certain theories. While we are still sifting through that, I thought I would share some basics here, and pics.

Mormon Station was founded in 1851 as Brigham Young wanted to fill-out the distant borders of the Great Basin and Utah Territory. Then in 1857, the Mormons were called back from the Carson Valley due to the perceived threats of the Utah War. The name "Mormon Station" had already been changed to "Genoa" and is still recognized as the first non-Native American settlement in Nevada (then part of Utah Territory). And when Brigham's call came to go back to the other side of the Great Basin - not all went. And our relatives seem to show up there by 1860,

The Mormons who stayed had no formal church organization. In fact, even civil government broke down between 1857-1861 when the Territory of Nevada was getting organized. Many of the Mormons later joined the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (now, Community of Christ). They were often referred to, even by themselves, as "Josephites" to distinguish them from the "Brighamites" of the larger group that followed Brigham Young to Utah. Their main difference was to follow the son of Joseph Smith as a prophet and to denounce and deny polygamy that was associated with the LDS in the Salt Lake side of the basin.

But anyway, let's get to the pictures:

Genoa, Nevada and the Sierras looking towards Jacks Valley
Downtown Genoa. This is striking as it compares so well with a drawing from 1859.
(next slide, please) 

 Detail, from Capt. James H. Simpson's Report of
Explorations Across the Great Basin in 1859
Sigh. The Museum was closed for the season.

*Except for the Native Americans

Looking up Jacks Valley from the South near Genoa

Existing house (uninhabited) at approximate location of Johns Home

Old cottonwoods indicating other possible location of home
And, it is Indian Land

Looking down (southward) Jacks Valley. Possible Johns home on ridge near road.
Jacks Valley Ranch north of Johns Land

Lower Jacks Valley looking north, or up valley, with modern subdivision
I say "lost" but they are known to God. And with His help, We're going to keep on moving heaven and earth until we find them and can offer up saving ordinances on their behalf. They'll still have agency to accept or not, but they do not have the option of our quest to find them ending.

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