Wednesday, December 27, 2017

More Pioneer Research, Winter Edition

Centerville Ward Chapel, Davis County, Utah (1879). Centerville Canyon behind.
Only the center part is original. There have been several additions over the years.
Strolling the streets of Centerville, Utah today, it was nagging me that I still haven't solved the problem of where in town the Thompson Family lived for a few years in the 1860s when my 2nd Great Grandmother, Annie Thompson, was born April 3, 1863. She died as a young mother in 1890, leaving my Great Grandfather at age seven. He died in 1963 and I knew him well, so there is some responsibility here.

Hitting the internet when I got home, I checked out the listing of historical sites for Centerville to see if there is a record of a pioneer home built by a Thompson Family. I'm suspicious there was not. They were hard-working but not with much financial means in life and they likely boarded or shared space with another family in their brief time here. Or because they were here for a few short years, any home would not have been long remembered as belonging to them.

Monday, December 25, 2017

More or Less a Christmas Poem by Cousin Henry Vaughan

A little historical and literary context here for my distant cousin, Henry Vaughan (1621-1695). He came from a conservative corner of Wales that was mostly loyal to the King in the English Civil War. He did not like Puritanism and his allegiance to the King was both religious and political. This poem gives feeling to the sentiment of the old church (High Anglican wasn't much different from Catholicism out where he was) that was passing away. He was a religious purist sometimes admonishing the excesses of the conservative church and sometimes the harsh, judgmental heresies of Cromwell's Commonwealth governed by Puritanical values.

There is a Christmas sentiment here: The Shepherds seeking a new Christ Child for restoration of the True Christian Religion. And what is this about "westward hence thy course will hold?" There is the obvious astronomical reality of the light or sun setting in the west, but the New World was discovered and inhabited by Europeans before the time Henry Vaughan lived. Could he have been holding out hope that a new revelation or restoration could come there away from corrupt Europe and England? Maybe so.

The problem is that current political and religious power in the United States leaves me in the same despairing worry as Vaughan.

Maybe somewhere in the West there will be a new Nativity of True Christianity.

Cochiti Pueblo Nativity by Louise Suina

Sunday, December 24, 2017

Disney Pixar's Coco, highly recommended

Coco is the Christmas movie I would recommend. I haven't seen the new Star Wars yet, but my son-in-law has tickets for us to go the day after Christmas. I understand there are controversial surprises in The Last JediCoco surprises in its unique presentation of the Mexican traditions for Dia de los Muertos, Day of the Dead, or the celebrations, yes, celebrations around All Saints Day.

The altar in Coco with photos of deceased family members

Saturday, December 23, 2017

Hiraeth 2016: Dydd 29-30, The Valleys, Cardiff, Farewell

We had a morning appointment to arrange for a replacement monument for the grave of our 4th Great Grandfather, John Vaughan (1789-1851). The place was in the outskirts of neighboring Newport. Across the street, I noticed a Reliant Robin, the amazing three-wheeled British car! I went over to snap a few pictures at various angles. A group of tough looking mechanics came out of the garage and demanded to know why I was taking pictures. I explained that I had never seen a Robin before except for, you know, that show about cars on TV.

"Top Gear," one of them said, and we all started to laugh which defused the situation to avoid me becoming a rugby ball.

A Reliant Robin in all its glory.

Friday, December 22, 2017

Hiraeth 2016: Dydd 27-28, Hay, Blaenavon, LLantilio Crossenny, White Castle, LLansantfraed.

There is a strange reluctance with me to finish projects that I enjoy. But finish we shall even if the hiraeth is overwhelming.

The 27th day in Wales was a work day as my wife and I helped pack up and clean the BYU House. We wanted to earn our keep to stay a few extra days until the lease expired. My wife did break away to go back to the antique mall Professor Tom showed us in Cardiff to purchase the best example of what we think the teapot was like that my ancestor may have carried across the plains of America.

Mid to late 19th Century, inexpensive pewter teapot similar to what we imagine would have survived a handcart journey
tied to an apron string

Saturday, December 16, 2017

Hiraeth 2016: Dydd 26, Welsh National Museum and Cardiff Bay!

It was sad to break the fellowship of British Expeditions 2016. As our time wound down, Professor Tom headed off for an adventure hiking the Pembrokeshire coastline trail. The rest of the group had a drawn-out farewell in Cardiff.

First we went off to the National Museum Cardiff. What a place! Dinosaur bones to masterpieces of art! And am ddim! (free entry).

My fave, the Blue Lady or La Parisienne, 1874, Pierre-Auguste Renoir
No, I think this was my favorite:

Friday, December 15, 2017

Hiraeth 2016: Dydd 25, Stourhead, Stonehenge, Winchester, Avebury

The last day of tour was a whirlwind! We went back into England, but as we visited ancient megalithic sites, pre-saxon, pre-roman, likely even pre-celt, it was cool.

First we had to visit another grand estate. Stourhead was interesting, though, because of its grand gardens that have been used for filming many a movie including the Pride and Prejudice with Keira Knightley and some dude.


Thursday, December 14, 2017

Hiraeth 2016: Dydd 24, Ogmore, Coity, Ewenny Priory

It was another Sunday, so we took off for sites in Glamorgan after church.

This is the day I knew my wife really loved me because she visited castles in the rain and was smiling!

Coity Castle in the rain.

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Hiraeth 2016: Dydd 23, St. Davids

St. David is the patron Saint of Wales. Many legends and a cathedral have sprung up on him, but the essence of the Saint is his teaching:
"Gwnewch y pethau bychain mewn bywyd"
"Do ye the little things in life"
I'm with you there, Dewi Sant! While he has a grand cathedral, the essence of the man permeates the soul of Cymru.

St. David's Cathedral, Pembrokeshire

Monday, December 11, 2017

Hiraeth 2016: Dydd 22, Tretower! and Llanthony

It was old home week back in Wales and back to the ancient home of the Vaughans at Tretower Court and Castle (check the link if you don't believe me!). While not the most impressive castle or manor house in Britain, it still has its unique charms besides being the ancient seat of my surname. Cadw, or Welsh Heritage, has done much to recreate the late medieval hall most impressively with the art work of Tony Barton who based his wall hangings and other representations of the Vaughans and their half-brothers and cousins, the Herberts, in contemporaneous styles.

Tony Barton emailed me and said that as he was commissioned by the Welsh Government,
he considers the Tretower art to belong to the People.
Thus, I have used his representation of the Vaughan armorial for my personal symbol. I am one of the Vaughan People.

Sunday, December 10, 2017

DNA 2: The Y-DNA Test

It's likely that I have a Y Chromosome as it's been working for me so far.

Frustrated by the imprecision of the test, as good as it is. And with more people taking it the better it gets. I still need some info on my direct paternal line. That's what I've been researching and we have that one illegitimate birth. We have circumstantial evidence for the father, but it would be nice to pin it down.

There's also the question as to whether we can pin down the medieval Vaughans who were sufficiently wealthy and of the gentry with even a few knighted to sire significant offspring legitimate, illegitimate, and otherwise. I mean, everybody in the Glasbury/Talgarth area of Breconshire are probably related anyway. The most likely multiple-great-grandsires are those who had the monetary means and power to get away with it.

And then there's the tantalizing mystery of ancient origins. My son's test from 23-and-Me said his Y Chromosome "looked like" it came from Irish strongmen, one of whom we know established the Kingdom of Breichniog that become Brecknock then Breconshire.

So, I ordered a detailed Y-Chromosome test from Family Tree DNA. It's the mid-range test as the top-of-the-line seems to be for establishing a common father with a male sibling, My brother and I already accept what our parents told us.

The kit comes in a smaller package than the test.

The scribbles are my poor attempt with "Paint" to redact my personal identifiers

Hiraeth 2016: Dydd 21, Edinburgh, Sore Feet, Hadrian's Wall, and Hamilton

After getting home I was officially diagnosed with bone spurs. While they may help to keep me out of Vietnam and make me President some day, they are an extreme pain. The hike up Yr Wyddfa (Mt. Snowdon) did me in. After wandering around Edinburgh for a day, my feet would go no further. I went and sat in the Museum of Scotland (free internet). My wife went with the group to climb Arthur's Seat (still on my bucket list with better shoes and ibuprofen).

Our group with healthy feet on Arthur's Seat
I did see a few more sites in Edinburgh.

To prove I was in Scotland

Saturday, December 9, 2017

Hiraeth 2016: Dydd 20, Edinburgh (in a clearly Celtic land)

Scotland is full of our Celtic Cousins, so we're fine. I have a maternal line that goes back there. And Edinburgh is a very unique city. For one thing, it is built on several different levels like three-dimensional chess or maybe an Escher drawing.

We've got about about three street levels here.
It is also dark, enlightened, and ancient. Monuments to philosophers, poets, and warriors abound.

And there is a beautiful cemetery across from where J.K. Rowling wrote some Harry Potter. She took names from the monuments for some of her characters.

Hiraeth 2016: Dydd 19, Bangor and Conwy

Had a bit of my own adventure going off to the archives at Bangor U. Professor Ron dropped me off and I took the train to Conwy in the afternoon to meet back up with the group.

I found some documents that appear to be from ancestors of mine. But I still have some work to get it all tied down.

Friday, December 8, 2017

Hiraeth 2016: Dydd 18, Caernarvon, Snowdon, and Dolbadarn

This has to be in the top 100 days of my life. North Wales did not disappoint. We drove up and around fulfilling the unfortunate explanation we heard from more than one of  the Cymry, "If you want to get anywhere in Wales, you have to go out to England and back in." There is no north-south M-highway in Wales. That doesn't mean if I had my way, we wouldn't wander the valleys, mountains, and seashore. But then, it would have been hard to fit all this in one day.

While Caernarvon was established by Edward I to put down the Welsh, today it is thoroughly Welsh.

Walking to Caernarfon Castle
You just can't beat this. (At least not until the next day.)

Caernarfon Castle. The round dais is where the current Saxon pretender to the title, Prince of Wales, was invested by his mother.

Thursday, December 7, 2017

Hiraeth 2016: Dydd 17, Church, Beaupre, Tinkinswood, and St. Lythans

It was Sunday, so we went to LDS church services in Cardiff again. There were some missionaries leaving for home so the members stood to sing them the "farewell and come back again" song (I didn't get that quite right). And I couldn't resist snapping a phone pic in church.

"Farewell and Come Back Again"
And what do you do after church on Sunday? Why, visit ancient sites in surrounding Glamorgan, of course!

First up was Beaupre Castle.

We climbed over a sty and hiked across a field to Old Beaupre

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Hiraeth 2016: Dydd 16, Big Pit, Blaenavon, Romans at Caerleon

It was good that I was uploading my pics every day as on this day, back in Cymru in the land of my fathers, my SD card failed. I only have a few that I took with my cell phone. We couldn't take pics in the coal mine anyway, and I had already been to Blaenavon. So really, only Caerleon out of Newport was lost. Well, so was the Round Table.

Our group readying for a trip down the mine.
This idea just came to me, but I wonder if "lift" for "elevator" in Britain comes from the industrial use of the 19th Century in these pits. One had to get out of those by lifting up to the surface while in America, we started building skyscrapers to "elevate" us.

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Hiraeth 2016: Dydd 15, St. Michael's Mount, Cotehele, Scorhill on Dartmoor

St. Michael's Mount is the little brother to Mont Saint-Michel. I mean, I'd heard of Mont Saint-Michel in France or at least off the Normandy Coast thereof. I didn't know Cornwall had a its own little one going.

St. Michael's Mount at low tide.

Monday, December 4, 2017

Hiraeth 2016: Dydd 14, In which we travel to West Wales (AKA Cornwall)

Cornwall was known as West Wales in medieval times because the Saxons recognized they were up against another plucky group of strange little people with pixies. It is a Celtic country, if only a county of England now. And it is a strange, mysterious place.
We started off at Tintagel, the legendary birthplace of King Arthur. Here I am excited beyond belief at Merlin's Cave at the Sea below the Castle!

"You're a Wizard, Merlin!"
This place was just astounding, the ruins of the castle are high above the cliffs dropping off to the Sea.

My wife at Tintagel Castle

Sunday, December 3, 2017

Hiraeth 2016: Dydd 13, Kenilworth, Tolkien, Stratford-upon-River

Woke to a glorious Cardiff morning:

Went to Kenilworth Castle in Warwickshire, bastion of Simon de Montfort, John of Gaunt (Father of the Lancasterians), and Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester, who wooed or not Elizabeth I (It depends on what "woo" means, not to mention "virgin" Queen).

We approach Kenilworth, a beautiful, red-sandstone castle.

Saturday, December 2, 2017

Hiraeth 2016: Dydd 12--Seeking the Welsh in Oxford (and the Cotswolds)

Once more over the Severn Crossing, we headed to the nearby Cotswolds. The first stop was some little church I'm going to need help with in remembering the location (all I had to do is Google "hobbit door church in the Cotswolds"). It is in Stow-on-the-Wold, Gloucestershire at St. Edward's Church.

Very Tolkienesque or C.S.Lewisy

Friday, December 1, 2017

Hiraeth 2016: Dydd 11, Harry Potter in Lacock and Roman-Georgian Bath

We left Wales again (sigh) but saw some great places.

The A-Team
The village and abbey of Lacock, Wiltshire is mostly preserved in its bygone eras. It has been used as a setting for many a film and BBC series including, ta-dah! Harry Potter. Yes, welcome to Godric's Hollow:

If you throw some dirt, mud, and straw on the street, you can get to "Old English Village" pretty quick.