Sunday, October 8, 2017

Short Bios of Those Associated with the Ellsworth Handcart Company, 1856

Ellsworth Company, 1856. Brief Bios of those in the official Company list or are mentioned in the Journals of the Company

All information is gathered from the Mormon Pioneer Overland Travel Database ( or unless otherwise noted.

William Knox Aitkin (1819-1864) Travelled with the McArthur Co. Born in Edinburgh, Scotland, returned and died there.

David Argyle (1818-1905) born in Leicester, UK. Came with wife Rebecca Jane Finch Argyle (1824-1890), and children, Joseph Jr. (1842-1927), Benjamin James (1843-1917), Mary Ann (1847-1922), Frances (1850-1939), Alonzo Lorenzo (1853-1940), and Priscilla (1854-1932). Rebecca was pregnant during the journey and gave birth to son Hyrum born 10 November (1856-1929). The Argyle’s settled in South Davis County. David and Rebecca both died in West Bountiful.

Thomas Columbus Armstrong (1817-1900). Traveled with his mother, Eliza Salt Armstrong (1792-1860), and his son Thomas Columbus, Jr. (1843-1892). Had one of the wagons that accompanied first Ellsworth, and then McArthur, from Florence, NE to Salt Lake City. They were from Stepney, London, England. Settled in the 2nd Ward, Salt Lake City.

John Ash (1820-1915). Born in Cheshire, England. Traveled with wife, Sophia Edwards Ash (1829-1863), from Birmingham, England, and their daughter, Ellen Matilda (1854-1954). They settled in Cache Co., Utah where John took two additional wives.

Henry William Attley (1832-1911) traveled with his wife, Christina Stuart Attley (1826-1913). Henry from England and Christina from Scotland were married in St. Louis, 1856. They drove one of the wagons that accompanied the handcarts starting out with Ellsworth and ending up with the McArthur Co. Childless, they adopted a little girl and lived out their lives in Salt Lake City.

Saturday, October 7, 2017

Temple Service

Bountiful, Utah Temple at night. (although we're still missing our spire under repair and the scaffolding is still up.)

Last evening I did my regular service as a Veil Worker in the Bountiful Temple of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. It is one of the great blessings of my life. 

I have no intention of discussing sacred ordinances. They are sacred to me in a covenant with God sort of way. There are many scholarly and not-so-scholarly writings on the various subjects and that's not what this is about.

What I want to say, with some caution so as not to unnecessarily trivialize Temple service, is how amazing it is to work in the Temple. 

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

A Personal History of Depression and Anxiety

Some people have knee problems and have surgery to repair or replace with a prosthetic.

Some people have diabetes that requires constant care and monitoring.

Some people have mental illness that is just that -- an illness in the brain and emotional functions. It can be treated more like diabetes than knee problems, with constant care and monitoring. And one can live a fully successful and even happy (mostly) life.

Rather than recreating the whole exposé again, I will cut and paste some Facebook posts from the last couple of days. I deleted the names and links to comments from many good friends so those show up without an icon in front. My comments appear with my name and current FB pic (for Puerto Rico):

Dear Friends and Family:
I used to have guns. Do you know why I don't anymore? Because I suffer from a mental illness called depression*. My suicidal ideation was to drive up on the Skyline Drive, park, get out of the car so no mess, and blow my brains out.
I gave my guns to a relative that I trust more than any other to see that those guns are never used purposely or accidentally to take a life.
There are many in my family I can't trust with those guns. There are some in my family I can't trust at all because they treat me with vindictiveness and hatred for having beliefs different than theirs.
I am sick of guns and mental illness and the failure of those who should care and support me to see and hear my needs. The NRA is an evil and corrupt organization and has bought up politicians to sell more guns that result in more escalating deaths.
There is no unlimited right to bear arms in the US Constitution outside a well-regulated militia. A well-regulated militia would identify and treat those who are a danger to themselves and others in the bearing of arms.
*and anxiety, duh.

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Arrival in the Valley, September 26, 1856

Failing to get a Rand McNally Map of Utah, I have not plotted these locations. The good news is that the Mormon Trail is followed by modern highway (for the most part). Take the side road down Echo Canyon and stay on it to Henefer. Turn left and go up and over to East Canyon, where the original trail is covered by the water of the reservoir (I went water-skiing there once and it just didn't feel quite right boating over a drowned pioneer trail). Then follow over to Little Mountain and Big Mountain where the original trail still exists just a ways to the south of the highway. Stop at the top of Big Mountain for the first views of the valley as this is the right place, and drive on down Emigration Canyon to This Is the Place Monument. The monument is free, it costs a bit to visit the pioneer village which is really cool, but you can get in for free if invited to special events like family reunions. The Heber C. Kimball Family Reunion is a hoot because you will run into people you never knew your wife is related to as there are thousands of his descendants. But the important thing is that Elinor Jenkins Vaughan (age 68 - approximate), Jane Vaughan Lewis (age 29), John Lewis (age 33), and John Samuel Lewis (age 8) made it! See the Ellswoth Company info here.  For earlier portions of the journey, see Iowa, Nebraska, and Wyoming segments.

And join in celebrating the entrance into the Valley of blessed, honored pioneers!

The first handcart company led by Captain Edmund Ellsworth, and including Elinor Jenkins Vaughan
 with her daughter's family, enters the Great Salt Lake Valley, Sept. 26, 1856
( media library)
DAY 106

The camp rolled out at 12 P.M. and Travelled 18 miles[.] the road was pretty good. We forded the Weber[1] about 1 P.M. and had dinner in the Weber banks[.] camped about 30 past 6 P.M. Wood, water and feed plenty. We were visitted by a few Indians. (Galloway OTD).

T. 23rd Came 21 mi and camped on E Kanyon Creek[2] (Oakley OTD).

Sunday, September 24, 2017

They Made It Across Wyoming, 1856

First of all, I broke these segments into modern state lines based on the highway maps I have charted. I'm still old-fashioned in that way even if no one uses state highway maps anymore.

In 1856, the territorial boundaries were at the continental divide. Nebraska was on the eastern slope and Oregon on the western, at least down to the 42nd Parallel North, the present-day northern boundary of California, Nevada, and Utah. And in 1856, Utah Territory went east to the continental divide to include what is now southwestern Wyoming. Still, there's some satisfaction in beginning Wyoming at Fort Laramie and on west to Yellow Creek at the Needles before Cache Cave and Echo Canyon in Utah. Ft. Laramie works, because it was there. And Yellow Creek because, well, that's another family story.

The numbered days continue from Nebraska and began at Iowa City from the departure on 9 June 1856. The first date is the 24th of August 1856. [Galloway was off by a day].

The names that are not footnoted are explained in previous segments, Iowa and Nebraska.

DAY 76

23rd Sun 24
The camp did not travell any to day[.] We were busey with the hand carts[.] At 6 P.M. We had a sacramental & saints meeting[.] a good time of it (Galloway OTD).

24 Sunday in camp all Day[.] an Indian visited us, we had a good meetting Partook of the Scarment some of the Brethen testified[.] Brothers France[,] Oakeley [John Oakley] & [William] Butler spoke[.] felt well and to thank my God for my Deliverance (Ham OTD).

Sun 24th The 1st Indian we have seen since leaving Florence came to our camp. Broke up an old waggon[.] Meeting in the eve[nin]g[.] Sacrament administered (Oakley OTD).

Sunday 24th Rested from travels but had to repair hand carts. Meeting at night. Received the Sacrament. Spoke at the meeting. Bro. Ellsworth spoke some time and said we had made great improvement; that the last week there had been less quarreling and those that had robbed the hand carts, or wagons, unless they repent their flesh would rot from their bones and go to Hell. (Walters OTD).

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Exist Light! And Light Was.

Gods "exist" in the entrance rotunda of the Griffith Observatory, Los Angeles, California
The King James Version is much too polite and complicated in its syntax. I have always preferred the phrase in Portuguese, "Haja luz!" E houve luz." And I worked it out in Welsh class last night:
"Byddwch golau!" Ac oedd golau.
"'Be light!' And light was."

I have no idea in what language He (They? We?) spoke the command when light was born. In our current state, we seem to have a little difficulty in expressing the concept.

Monday, September 4, 2017

Across Present-Day Nebraska with Ellsworth, 1856

Whew, there's a lot of hard pushing and pulling through sand. As they said, the Platte River was too thick to drink and too wet to plow.

The day-count follows from the journey across Iowa. The diarists and others mentioned that are not footnoted in this section were back in the Iowa section of the trail.

Locations were much harder to plot when the modern maps have changed significantly with canals and irrigation beyond the 100th Meridian.

In 1856, Nebraska Territory went all the way to the Continental Divide. We'll save that for the Wyoming/Utah final segment of this map. 

In this portion the Mormon Pioneer and the Oregon/California Trail really were separate. The Oregon/California started (ironically) in Independence, Missouri and cut up to the Platte River where it followed the south bank all the way to Fort Caspar (Casper, Wyoming). The Mormon Trail cut west from Florence (Omaha), Nebraska and followed the north bank of the Platte with a detour up the Loup Fork cutting back south to the Platte then up the North Platte (all on the north bank) to Fort Caspar. Of course, some Mormons used the south bank and some Oregon/California travelers used the north bank. (And there were several variations as to where the trail began with cut-offs, etc. throughout.)

The more I learn about these people, the more connected I feel - and that's just not my own Vaughans. The Moyle Family in this company became connected by marriage with my Wood Family of South Davis County, Utah to produce Apostle Henry D. Moyle. The Piedmontese Saints are cousins of my Dad's Mother's family. And I'll let the challenges of the Piedmontese speak for themselves in the accounts that follows.

Nebraska Map Part 1, from Omaha to Lexington, Nebraska

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

How I Became a Zen Master

It was later that I read the Tao of Pooh. It was when I was only three-years-old that I listened over and over to the song:

Cottleston, Cottleston, Cottleston Pie,
A fly can't bird, but a bird can fly.
Ask me a riddle and I reply
Cottleston, Cottleston, Cottleston Pie.

Saturday, August 26, 2017

Twelve Steps to Recovery from Racism

"Hi! I'm Grant! I'm a recovering racist."

"Hi, Grant!"

This came to me in the night with a lot of other dreams of really weird stuff, but this might just work!

The LDS Church has done really well in applying the 12-Step program for drug abuse and some sexual issues borrowed with acknowledgment of and slight modification from Alcoholics Anonymous or AA.

So how does is apply in our Racism Recovery program?

Thursday, August 24, 2017

How Thick Is Family Blood?

Back sometime in the lost, golden age when Barack Obama was President of the United States, I was engaged in a political discussion on the internet with a member of my extended family. This person said that Obama was the most racially divisive president ever, but that because I was blood family we would always be connected. I wanted a divorce.

Recently, that is since white-nationalists marched with torches chanting their antisemitism in Charlottesville, and since the LDS Church responded with a statement clarifying its first that "white-nationalism," "white-supremacy," and promotion of "white-culture" were sinful and unsaintly, another member of my extended family left voice mails for me saying that I was full of hate and a disgrace to the family name. I want another divorce.

It is odd that the only person you can divorce in your family is your spouse. I suppose you can disinherit your children and kick them out at some point from your basement. But I love my wife and kids. My wife is still with me going on 38 years of love amid life's challenges and my kids have pretty much moved out for good. Or, at least we can hope.

The concept of family honor and "blood thicker than water" strike me as pretty creepy when they are used to attack my beliefs and my personhood. It's probably a small fraction of what some minorities feel when under attack by antisemitism or white supremacy.

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Wyoming Wildlife

Not at all comprehensive, but pretty good for a 24-hour period.

We take a break from politics, religion, and history to share the wildlife photos taken while I was up in Wyoming for the eclipse.

The fist entry is not biologically even if legally "wild." They are feral horses, not wild except as decreed by Congress (with all wisdom abounding). Yes, the Mustangs of the True West:

Thursday, August 17, 2017

A Death in Echo Canyon

A Mormon Pioneer Wagon Train in Echo Canyon on a day without the rain but otherwise still seemingly miserable.
Likely after 1861 because of the telegraph poles.
No wonder Echo Canyon has always haunted me!

Early in my blogging life, I became friends with a great, Mormon historian, Ardis Parshall. You can find her work at She kindly corrected me when I told her that my family had a story that my 2nd Great Grandfather, Daniel Bartholemew Roman, had come across the plains in 1855 with a handcart at the age of four. You see, the handcart companies didn't start until 1856.

And I just discovered where that handcart story might have come from.

Daniel came from Piedmont, Italy with his widower father, David Charles Roman. Daniel's deceased mother was Jeanne Malan, of one of the first families to join the LDS Church in Italy. Daniel's father David, remarried in Utah to a widow who came with the Ellsworth Handcart Company in 1856, Suzanne Robert Rochon. She became widowed when her husband, Jean Michel Rochon, died in Echo Canyon on the 22nd of September, 1856, four days short of the Salt Lake Valley. An account of his tragic, though nameless, death is in the journal of William Butler, an Irishman, and Captain of the Second Hundred in the Ellsworth Company:
Upon arriving at Echo, Utah I became very sick and was forced to lie on the ground due to the pain in my stomach. After praying and resting a short time, I was able to continue on. As the company had gone on down the canyon, I was forced to travel alone, there being a terrible rainstorm raging and I was unable to see except when the lighting would flash. While traveling alone, I overtook an Italian and his little girl with their handcart. They also had been left behind to die. This man died before morning. I buried him the best I could, not having a shovel. I then traveled on, taking the little girl and her cart with me. During that day we overtook another man and his daughter by the name of Clark. They also had been left by the main company. I said to myself later, “Had it not been for Mr. Clark and his assistance I could not have continued on.” We overtook the main company the following day. Here we camped to bury our dead. Our provisions almost exhausted, we all cut down to one cup of flour a day.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Hell to Pay

Sick to my stomach doesn't begin to express what I felt watching the links below. I suffered so you don't have to unless you want to.

The first is the President's melt-down, press conference of yesterday (Tuesday, August 15, 2017, a day that should live in infamy). I watched the whole thing. The first part was about infrastructure. At about 7 minutes, he opened it up for questions and he went way downhill from there.

NY Times Transcript and Video of trump's Press Conference

Then there was this from one of the organizers of the legally permitted march in Charlottesville (Yes, First Amendment protected). It's a selfie-video he did when he learned that there was a warrant out for his arrest. He claims to be a peaceful and law-abiding neo-nazi. [WARNING: rough language].

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!

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 that 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:

Saturday, July 1, 2017

Helping Hands - Projeto do Brasil SUD

Maybe I'm not paying enough attention, but I didn't realize that the Mormon or LDS service project for local communities at large, "Helping Hands," originated in Brazil. I was watching this video (in Portuguese) and it said that the internationally used, yellow vest, with hands in blue and green, represent the national colors of Brazil as an acknowledgment of the program's Brazilian origins!

Que coisa!

Then I realized that I had the evidence in pictures of my two youngest children as LDS Missionaries in Japan and Ohio, USA, wearing the yellow, green, and blue!

My son, A-5, shoveling snow in Japan wearing the "Helping Hands" or "Mãos que Ajudam" vest.
My son, A-6 (second from right), recently returned from Ohio, wearing the Brazilian "Helping Hands" colors on a t-shirt with a few others.

Friday, June 30, 2017

Dear Red States

Can you please finally admit that there are worse things than a Black Man in the Oval Office?

Thursday, June 29, 2017

Updated Trek Guidelines

As a Pioneer Trek Agnostic, I found Keepa's link to an updated booklet of the LDS Church on Handcart Trek Reenactments interesting.

Once again, don't get me wrong! I love a good historical reenactment as much as any interpretive historian. I've explored a lot of pioneer trails, etc., etc. What I don't like is emotional manipulation as a substitute for a truly valuable, spiritual experience.

So, I was pleased to see that the worst abuses of trek are now discouraged. I cut and pasted the items in italics:
Reenacting deaths or violence—including mob violence— is not to be included as part of treks.
I guess that's a bit stronger than "discouraged."

There was a Senior Seminary trip to Echo Canyon I attended years ago. It was a lot of fun to travel there and stand beneath those pinkish sandstone cliffs as they told us about the Utah War and the defenses built up on top where we were to hike. Then, a couple of cowboys rode up on horses and in very threatening manner yelled at the leaders about why we were there again when they had been told to stay away, etc.

One of the fathers that had driven our group ran for his car to get his gun. You see, we had come from the Wyoming side of the trail. Well, a little south of the main overland trail, but right on the later trail of the out-and-back companies, the stagecoach, and the eventual railroad. Rock Springs is a wild and woolly place even today.

Echo Canyon, Utah, on the Mormon Pioneer, Pony Express, and California/Hasting Cutoff Trails
Free use Wikipedia commons by gracious permission of  Flckr User: Leoboudv

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

A Parade of States

As it was vacation, I had my own agenda at Philmont. I had to address some work issues when I could get internet and cell coverage. And I had my historical projects to continue.

But I was asked by one of my wife's fellow faculty to prepare "A Parade of States" slide show like the one she had me do about ten years ago for a sample Cub Scout Blue and Gold Dinner. I thought I still had it and it needed some updating. Searching my cloud, I only found the "Answer Key" which gave me a good guide to redo it. I even found some of the original pictures on Google.

It really is a challenge to find a unique and "positive" picture that reflects a state. A few of them present quite a challenge. How do you do something for Mississippi that couldn't apply as well to Alabama, for example?

My biases go to the National Parks and some are just too easy like the Grand Canyon for Arizona. But what do you do for Iowa?

Well, I'm going to share with you now to see if you can identify the 50 States (sorry, DC, I did not include you. Besides, you would have been one of the obvious ones).

Tomorrow, I will post the Answer Key and you can self-grade to see how well you do. I"m sure there are ways to Google the image, or break the embedded codes, whatever, especially if you are Putin's hackers, but try to do it fairly.



Monday, June 26, 2017

Guest Post - Moral Development in Children

My Daughter (A-4) is pursing a Masters Degree and prepared this pamphlet for a class assignment. I thought it was worth sharing and she gave me permission.

Take it away!

Thursday, June 8, 2017

Why I Hate Government

Evil everywhere
Yeah, really I'm no different than anybody else. Except I seem to be the one idealistically bashing my head against the wall trying to make things better.

Last night we watched an episode of The West Wing in which the usual crises appeared and circumstances were such that there was no good way out or to solve the bigger problems of evil.

I have a difficult work assignment in personnel law, an area of the practice that I've been trying to get out of for a good 20 years now but can't seem to do so because there is no one else to do it and I have the experience and I'm stuck. I can't resolve the problems of right and wrong any more than an attorney in the practice of domestic relations (at least I have that to be grateful for, but personnel law is second only to divorce on the civil side for horrible situations - thank heavens I don't deal with too much criminal!!)

And then there's fired FBI Director Comey's testimony coming up this morning. Today will not be the end of the most disgustingly corrupt and morally evil man to inhabit the White House since maybe Warren G. Harding. Or what I'm afraid of is that trump is actually the worst ever. The Republican Congress still controls. They will not likely turn on trump as long as they think they can squeeze through things to help the wealthy or those who think they are or want to be wealthy (like a lot of Americans) to the disadvantage of the poor and especially disfavored minorities. There is some overlap there in the electorate. Kansas is starting to figure that one out. But it takes a lot of thought and some bad things happening for most people to get it.

Sunday, June 4, 2017

The Last Wagon

Nobody died. Nobody ate anybody. But we did have an adventure on the Donner-Reed Party's route along the Hastings Cutoff.
The Last Wagon by Lynn Fausset
We went with some great public servants from the Bureau of Land Management (BLM). When I saw the notice of this trip on BLM's Facebook page, I immediately thought of my old friend from all the way back to grade school who is now teaching Law Enforcement at Great Basin College, Elko, Nevada. And he has a four-wheel drive.

In the old days, we did our exploring on bikes and in the woods. Sometimes our moms would meet at the grocery store and each would say, "I thought they were at your house!" while we were miles away from either. We found a lot of cool places but the golden hoard of some lost mine or buried treasure always eluded us. We did learn that the reward is in the adventure itself. That is the life lesson. So we took on another adventure yesterday on National Trails Day. 

The best part was to spend some good time together in one of those friendships that picks up after 40 years without skipping a beat. His wife came along and the night before our adventure, she and my wife found a connection in quilting and got along great. My buddy and I talked a lot about the old days but more so about who we are now and the mutual respect we have for each other. Friendship.

Saturday, May 27, 2017

The Latest Revelations on Jared Kushner

Would you buy a used car from these guys?
The latest news reporting on trump scandals is that first-son-in-law, Jared Kushner, may have attempted to set up secret, back-channel communications with Russian officials during the transition. This is reported independently by the Washington Post and Reuters who claim sources (i.e., leaks) from within US Intelligence Agencies.

This immediately tells us that trump's war with US national security interests is not over and they are fighting back. The leaks are troubling, not as much as leaks but what they appear to reveal.

First, they reveal that US security agencies do not trust trump and his family. Whether the underlying facts are true or not, there are powerful elements of the US government who are undermining trump. Some of these disclosures may be technically illegal. However, all federal employees, political or career, sign an oath that their highest duty is to the Constitution of the United States. It is not to the President or any party or political view. It is to the Constitutional Union of these United States. (If you need a Hollywood explanation, try the scene in Clear and Present Danger in which James Earl Jones playing he CIA Director (the voice of Darth Vader) tells Harrison Ford, playing  government agent, Jack Ryan (not Han Solo) that his highest duty is to the Constitution, not to the President. Now, it's still very troubling that this appears to be a silent coup of the security forces by leaks to the press and likely formal and appropriate revelations to Congressional Committees and the new Special Counsel. This is really big time.

Friday, May 19, 2017

Brown's Iris Gardens, Kirkland, Washington

Family History can get real strange. I planted irises this Spring. It kept reminding me of a relative/friend of my Mom's that I remember from growing up on Finn Hill. We were far away from family, but mom found one, a descendant of Daniel & Peninah Cotten Wood and she shared some copies of Wood Family history that I still have.

Her name was Alta Brown. And remembering that she and her husband ran Brown's Iris Gardens, a rather beautiful place up there when Finn Hill was not all houses, I thought I would try to find her on Family Search to see how we were actually related. It was a frustrating search as I ultimately found that her name was Hazel Alta McCarty Brown (1909-2003), so she was very contemporary with my grandparents.

I remembered that they sold irises. The internet informed me that they hybridized irises. Her husband, Rex, registered 93 varieties. Alta registered a whopping 267 varieties!

A few of the varieties developed at Brown's Iris Gardens

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

trump and the Яussians

At Yalta, trump would have said, "Do you want more than Eastern Europe? Sure, take Western as well! I know who my buddies are!"

trump would have resolved the Cuban Missle Crisis by saying, "Forget Cuba, I've got some great golf courses in Florida and NJ where you can park your missiles!"

Monday, May 15, 2017

A New Quest for the Welsh, Frond Finial

The roofers finished this morning. It's now lunch-time and I'm at home. The new roof looks great!

We really like the color as it is close to Welsh slate with a slight greenish tone.

Here's what we were going for:

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Dreams Found and Lost

The joke yesterday was that I was getting my wife a new roof for mothers' day. She'll still get her regular flowers--in the garden. The Saturday before is time for the family tradition of buying and placing bedding plants in front of the house as we are solidly in May and almost past the freeze threat in the shadow of the everlasting hills. With global warming and all, we're pretty safe. However, there are no longer any children at home to help me plant annuals which is just fine as gardening is one of my new passions (note the lilac hedge above, lower right, coming in just fine!).

Waking up too early this morning due to other stresses, the thought came to me that the number-one, cliché responsibility of a good provider is "to put a roof over your head." As we're getting quality shingles with a "life-time" of 30-50 years, they will last me out and I have fulfilled my obligation here.

Sol Hurok is credited with:
"The sky's the limit if you have a roof over your head." 
We are getting a slate-colored asphalt shingle "a cool gray with a beautiful green undertone--exactly like real slate." Green is my wife's favorite color and slate matches with our Welsh homestead. (Our house, like nearly every home in Britain, has a name, "Tŷ Fychan" or "Vaughan House.")

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

What the WHAT!?

So, in case you somehow haven't heard, trump fired James Comey, the Director of the FBI for, get this:

Lying about Hillary's emails!

OK. I can't help it if I find it hilariously funny in a dark humor sort of way.

I just got an email from a friend who has been walking the world since retirement from my office. He says:
We got through Nixon. We will get through this. I am more concerned in the long term about global warming than I am about Trump.

He has a couple of good points there.

Sunday, May 7, 2017

A Bad Day for fascists

In honor of the French election in which the far-right, nationalist candidate resoundingly lost, we hope and pray for America and share the following:

Take that, fascists!

Saturday, May 6, 2017

I Guess I'm the Oddball

The New Standard of Patriotism
President Obama never hugged the flag enough
I get it. I understand.

I know why you like trump so much. Whatever he accomplishes or doesn't, it's just the way he says things. He uses that bigly edgy voice to bash Democrats, Illegal Aliens, the Liberal Elite, Government Workers, Godless Scientists, Abortionist Proponents, Muslims, Secular Humanists, Mexicans, it goes on and on.

I get that you are not racist because if only "those" people behaved like you, like real Americans, then they would be OK. That would be like Congresswoman Mia Love living in Saratoga Springs, Utah and acting just like all her neighbors regardless of her darker shade of skin. It's like Raul Labrador, Congressman of Idaho who may have come from a Puerto-Ricana family but went to BYU and goes to church and acts just like all the other Mormons and has conservative credentials for the non-Mormon Idahoans. You love the guy! You're not racist!

Saturday, April 29, 2017

"Family Burying Ground" on former Johns Ranch, Jacks Valley, Douglas County, Nevada Confirmed!

I've been trying to arrange some time to search archives in Nevada to access the local Genoa newspaper for any indication of Abednego Johns and Jane (Jeanette) Vaughan Lewis Johns. The prize would be a descriptive obituary giving their burial place. For some odd reason, I thought to search for an archived copy of the Genoa paper elsewhere and my search turned up the J. Willard Marriott Library, University of Utah, Salt Lake City, Utah. "D'oh!"

And I struck gold.

Genoa Courier, Friday, March 21, 1890
Genoa Courier, Friday, May 30, 1890
"Family Burying Ground in Jacks Valley" and "on the west end of Johns ranch." We are closing in.

This confirms my suspicions and possible inspiration from my last visit that there is a family burial plot on the ranch. I was thinking more easterly, but west up against the mountain does make sense and matches my initial thoughts. It would be a mile or so south of the well-documented Winters Family Cemetery on the current Ascagua Ranch that I visited last October.

Now that they are all securely archived and sourced on with enough evidentiary explanation and proudly proclaimed provenance that no one should ever try to delete them, I share them here. (Of course sharing them here gives me assurance that more people in the family have them in case someone has to go back in to FamilySearch to fix what someone else changed or deleted!)

This also gives a solid clue that at least as of 1890 (the year of the burned federal census) Jane and John Lewis's son, John Samuel Lewis, resided in Reno.

Still, the question remains, where are the graves? Do markers still exist? Has no one noticed them? The Washoe Tribe has not responded to my emails or letters. I'm going to have to try and call. I have some other potential contacts to try as well.

"Family Burying Ground" indicates a place already established by 1890. The others deaths in the family that we know of are in 1860 or '61. These are Mary Evans Johns (Jones), Abednego's first wife, who died in September 1860, and Jane's mother, my 4th-Great-Grandmother, Elinor Jenkins Vaughan, who died after the September, 1860 Census and before the January, 1862, Nevada Census, also in Jacks Valley.

As my Cousin Judy and I have agreed since we found out just a few years ago that Jane and her first husband, John Lewis, and son and her mother, Elinor Vaughan, came to Utah with handcarts in 1856, if we find Jane, we will find Elinor.

Well, we're pretty close to finding Jane "on the west end of the Johns ranch."

I think we need to talk to some Washoe archaeologists.

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Cholera Cemetery above Tredegar, Wales

Copyright Robin Drayton and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence.
This is one of the bleakest, saddest places on earth up above Tredegar, Wales on Rhymney Hill. The cholera victims were buried up there because, well, cholera. While the story I am writing is not intended to be illustrated, this place makes an appearance.

We don't see much cholera today because of clean and safe drinking water and sewage systems generally through people united in governmental activity. During the Capitalist exploitation of the Industrial Revolution in Wales, there was no economic incentive to provide sanitary or sewers or clean drinking water. It was illegal for the workers to organize. The towns were controlled by the same wealthy men who controlled the pits and furnaces. When cholera struck, the masters left for houses deep in the country. If workers died, more were readily available from the poor of Ireland and elsewhere.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Unbridled Capitalism

Still working on my family history writing project, I said I wouldn't post. But, part of my project is the research, particularly of Tredegar in the 1840s and 50s. I am continually horrified by the abuses of unregulated Capitalism on the working poor in Wales during the Industrial Revolution. We're not just talking hard-working, tough guys, but women and children too.

I have yet to visit Tredegar in the Sirhowy Valley, but I was just one valley over in the Ebbw Vale and I drove by on the Heads of the Valleys Road, AKA the A465. And we visited Merthyr Tydfil two valleys over on the west side and went to church there in the beautiful Stake Center that sits with some irony up above the abandoned Cafarthfa Iron Works.

So, I share with you tonight some horrifyingly beautiful art pieces of what South Wales was like in the Industrial Revolution when the wealth of Britain and its Imperial war power was built on the blood and crushed bones of Welsh men, women, and children.

An Iron Forge at Merthyr Tydfil, Julius Caesar Ibbetson, 1789

Saturday, April 8, 2017

A Note to Readers: Writing Project

Jane "Jeanette" Vaughan Lewis Johns
Born: 1827, Hay, Breconshire, Wales; Died: 1890, Jacks Valley, Nevada.
Mormon Handcart Pioneer of 1856
It may seem that I'm in a blog hiatus. There's not much more than I can say about the lunacy of trump in charge. I refuse to follow every foible and only hope and pray that the sleazy huckster does not launch off WWIII and nuke us all.

I am heavily involved in writing. It is far enough along that I can feel confident there will be some kind of finished product. It is a history of my 4th-Great Aunt, Jane "Jeanette" Vaughan Lewis Johns (1827-1890). Her life was fascinating and I have so many pieces of it but not the full story. So . . . I'm taking some poetic license to write in the historical-fiction genre.

I'm modeling after John dos Passos or Aleksandr Soltzenitsyn who wrote historical fiction interspersed with real documents and contemporaneous newspaper articles of the day. I have some of those things for Aunt Jane and family so I'm putting them in and writing stories around them. I also have some themes and I think I can work it into an artistic whole.

Friday, March 24, 2017

The Art of No Deal

Let's face it, trump is a fraud. The spectacular failure of "repeal and replace" brings that home today. It's not a good day for Speaker of the House, Paul Ryan, either. You should at least be able to get the support of your own majority party. The bill was withdrawn because neither the ultra-conservative "freedom" caucus would support it nor the more "moderate" Republicans in the House who might like to get re-elected in districts that went for Secretary Clinton.

Two of my predictions about trump as president have already come to pass. (And I'm hoping some of the others don't!)

It has been seven long years since Obamacare passed and the best the Republican Party could come up with was a last-minute, slap-dash fraud of a bill that would reduce coverage for millions and be a nightmare to administer.

Remember, trump said he would repeal and replace with something much better with less expensive coverage for all! And if you believed that, I've got some steaks, vodka, and a college degree to sell you.

Thursday, March 23, 2017

The Constitution Is NOT A "Negative" Document!

I know what they mean. It's the whole conservative line that the U.S. Constitution's purpose was to establish a limited government. Even though it came after the failed Articles of Confederation to give the national government more, not less power. Don't believe the propaganda. Read the document itself.

Today someone posted a clip from the Senate hearings to confirm (or not) Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court. Senator Sasse of Nebraska set him up for this "negative" document thing.

So I had to respond:

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Russian Interference and Interests, Yes. Collusion? Maybe Not

Glenn Greenwald
It s necessary to share a warning that there may not be evidence to come forth in the congressional investigations of trump and Russia to show any direct collusion to subvert the recent election.

A recent article by Glenn Greenwald, liberal investigative reporter who has been publishing Eric Snowden's revelations, explains that Democratic leaders worry that there is no such evidence found to date and that it will greatly disturb the Democratic base. It seems too many dots are being connected even if some of those dots of Russian interference and financial influence back and forth do exist.

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Holland Saves Western Europe!

The Red, White, and Blue, and Orange!
Ziko-C - Own work. Kerktoren Oude St Mauritius, Silvolde, Koninginnedag 2008. Toren uit ca. 1570.
Not that I'm a big expert on internal or external Dutch politics, but the weak election results of the Partij voor de Vrijheid - PVV (Party for "Freedom") of yet another nationalist populist who shall remain unnamed on this blog was a good sign yesterday. It shows that the march of nationalism that resulted in so many millions of deaths in the horrific wars of the 20th Century may be turning a corner in 21st.

A friend an I discussed the cycles of history yesterday and how we fail to learn to stand up for the rights of the oppressed. The struggle keeps cycling around but blood and horror always seems to rule on this earth. Before the nationalistic wars of the 19th Centuries, we had the nations battling over colonies and slavery and the oppression of peoples of different cultures and tones of skin color. Before that were the feudal kingdoms of "might makes right" and he who had the most gold or bigger sword lorded it over the serfs, peons, or peasants.

But back to the plucky Dutch (I have some ancestry there, by the way, on both my Dad and Mom's side. 19th Century Mormon converts on my Dad's and back to Colonial New Amsterdam Dutch on my Mom's). In the 20th Century, the Netherlands were rolled over by the Nazi war machine surrendering but never quite as their resistance was strong. Many helped Jews escape to neutral Sweden. The resistance wore the hidden safety pins to flash their unity that have now become a symbol of support of immigrants and refugees in this country as I wear them. After the war, Mormon Dutch gathered their potato harvest to feed the starving survivors in . . . Germany. It was such a relief to see their rejection of nationalism yesterday.

Monday, March 6, 2017

Yes, Perpetual Change

NPR had some show on about studies of the brain and how ones favorite music resides in the same portion of the brain as personality. Pop psychology or Science is beyond me. And if true, my favorite music in all its diversity might explain my warped psyche.

On the way down to Provo for Welsh class today, I had to take a break from the news and go to a "happy place." That was Yes's Perpetual Change from The Yes Album (1971). Not quite the sound poetry that followed on Close to the Edge, it still has odd lyrics and amazingly complex rhythms and themes on a tune. There are passages that grind in hard rock riffs and others, lyrical and anthemic passages that soar.