Saturday, December 29, 2018

Emigrant Departure from Waterloo Docks, Liverpool, 1850

The bad news is that the Waterloo Dock in Liverpool was significantly modified in 1868 and is now blocked off by apartments and offices. But we know where it was at the lower end of Waterloo Road just north of Prince's Dock.

The good news is that I found an 1850 article from the Illustrated London News about emigration from Waterloo Docks. Grandma Elinor embarked on the Enoch Train from Waterloo Dock in 1856 for Zion. It couldn't have changed that much in six years.

The article is mostly about Irish emigration because of the potato famines and general conditions of abject poverty. There are important confirmations in the article that ships sailing to and from the United States used Waterloo Docks and that steerage passengers were boarded 24 hours ahead of sailing to be organized below decks and likely to clear space before the saloon (first-class) passengers boarded.

Thursday, December 27, 2018

Unauthorized Entry into the United States

trump's Aesthetically-pleasing Steel Slats (a.k.a. A.S.S.)
As I just looked this up to respond to a Facebook posting of a friend, I want to memorialize it so I can find it again.

It is a misdemeanor to enter the territory of the United States without presenting oneself at an authorized port of entry and fulfilling the legal requirements. 8 U.S.C. §1325(a).

But once within the territory of the United States,
"Being illegally present in the U.S. has always been a civil, not criminal, violation of the INA, and subsequent deportation and associated administrative processes are civil proceedings."

More on Historical Mormon Emigration from Liverpool Docks

Anonymous D and I continue on our project to link up the Mormon Emigration departures to the specific docks at Merseyside in Liverpool, England. D has linked up some old maps with new, public digital maps. We plan to have the docks linked and listed with the ships that departed from them.

Recently while Googling around the Liverpool waterfront, I found four dock markers that are visible to passers-by, possibly in a tourist coach along the Mersey. The route swings by new condos on Prince's Dock where Heber C. Kimball leaped ashore in 1837 then on to Waterloo Road.

We are happy to share with all. I think it would be most fun to take people there, perhaps a coach passenger would be seated high enough to see over the walls into the dock areas. Here's the map:

South to North from the wonderful Liverpool Waterfront public places, we could circle 'round Prince's Dock. Then on Waterloo Road, we could see the old stone markers for Victoria and Trafalgar Docks (across from Costco):

Monday, December 24, 2018

A Star for "The World"

When you consider the Christmas Star this night, think upon this poem by my distant cousin, Henry Vaughan, Silurist (1621-1695):

I saw Eternity the other night, 
Like a great ring of pure and endless light, 
All calm, as it was bright; 
And round beneath it, Time in hours, days, years, 
Driv’n by the spheres 
Like a vast shadow mov’d; in which the world 
And all her train were hurl’d. 
The doting lover in his quaintest strain 
Did there complain; 
Near him, his lute, his fancy, and his flights, 
Wit’s sour delights, 
With gloves, and knots, the silly snares of pleasure, 
Yet his dear treasure 
All scatter’d lay, while he his eyes did pour 
Upon a flow’r. 

Sunday, December 23, 2018

Ghosts of Missionaries Past

In Dickensian fashion, the missionaries of the Restored Gospel to the British Isles noted the great calamities resulting from the rich oppressing the poor. Their work began in 1837. I will quote them using as my source Truth Will Prevail: The Rise of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in the British Isles 1837-1987, Editors: Bloxham, V. Ben; Moss, James R.; Porter, Larry C. (LDS, University Press, Cambridge, England 1987) (TWP). I will attempt to transcribe the quotes as the missionaries wrote them leaving out the [sic]s and original sources:

Heber C. Kimball:
Wealth and luxury abounded, side by side with penury and want. I there met the rich attired in the most courtly dresses, and the next minute was saluted with the cries of the poor with scarce covering to screen them from the weather. Such a wide distinction I never saw before. TWP, 52.
Oh! When will distress and poverty and pain cease, and peace and plenty abound? When the Lord Jesus shall descend in the clouds of heaven - when the rod of the oppressor shall be broken. 'Hasten the time, O Lord!' was frequently the language of my heart, when I contemplated the scenes of wretchedness and woe, which I daily witnessed, and my prayer to Heavenly Father was, that if I had to witness a succession of such scenes of wretchedness and woe, that He would harden my heart, for those things were too much for me to bear. This is no exaggerated account: I have used no coloring here. They are facts which will meet the Elders of Israel when they shall go forth into that land [Britain], and then I can assure them that they will not be surprised at my feelings. TWP, 53.

Saturday, December 15, 2018

What E'er Thou Mappest

Without going through the whole story of the famous missionary stone which if you need to know the basics you can check out right here. The point of this is that I found the likely location of where the stone originally was. Best of all, young Elder David O. McKay's missionary apartment is still there!

The original stone is with the Church History Museum of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. There are copies around in Missionary Training Centers and now, thanks to Elder Jeffrey R. Holland, in the Stirling, Scotland Museum!

When last in Stirling, we couldn't quite figure out where the stone had been seen originally. And we weren't sure the coach could make it through the narrow streets if we had to wander. It was adventure enough getting in and out of the Castle car park. 

Then tonight, I realized that I had some resources in my home library that might help me figure out where the stone had been. And not only that, I discovered that Elder McKay recorded where his missionary apartment was in 1898, No. 9 Douglas Street, and the building is still there!

Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Book Report: Seth Abramson's "Proof of Collusion"

The good news is that America will survive.

The bad news...

...we are being governed by a criminal conspiracy compromised by a foreign adversary, Putin's Russia.

Abramson's book is unique in historical journalism. He is not an investigative reporter as were Woodward and Bernstein. Well, both of those guys are still around, but not like they were in the days of Nixon. Abramson provides in disturbing detail a narrative from the public record of the crimes of #Individual1 (donald j. trump) and his associates. Most importantly, and as Rober Mueller has now concurred in court filings, the quid pro quo is revealed that the trump family and presidential campaign conspired with Putin's Russia to elect #Individual1 and with the promise of financial rewards in Russian real estate deals in exchange for the removal of sanctions against Russia for the invasion of Ukraine and interference in U.S. elections.

The book is disturbing and hard to accept, except that Abramson has been proven correct in his predictions and reporting to date. Abramson's book is basically a narrative of the long Twitter threads he has been providing over the past couple of years analyzing the alleged crimes of #Individual1. There is some cosmic justice that a well-researched and reasoned Twitter feed will help bring down a president who has a dynamic and occasionally damning presence on Twitter. This modern political world is blessed and cursed by new technologies.

I could only read this book after the revelations in court last week confirming the criminal conspiracy far exceeding the Watergate break-in and cover-up. And there's some satisfaction in writing this on the day #Individual1's personal attorney and fixer, Michael Cohen, was sentenced to three years in prison even though fully cooperating with the investigations (Mueller had recommended lighter sentencing, the US Attorney in the Southern District of New York recommended a bit harsher treatment in the financial investigations and prosecutions ongoing there).

Amazingly as he was sentenced, Cohen said he was finally "free."

Sunday, December 9, 2018

Christmas Eve 1841, Llanfoist, Wales

It isn't much, but another missionary journal from my 4th Great-Grandmother, Elinor Vaughan's era in Llanfoist tells us:
“My next appointment was at Llanfoist where I found a steady and attentive congregation. This is a dark and sootey place owing to the vast amount of coal and iron works here.” 

James Palmer Reminiscences, circa 1884-1898 LDS CHL MS 1752_f0001_00071. 

This source must be based on a contemporaneous journal as there are dates that would not be remembered unless recorded somehow. James Palmer occasionally traveled with Elder John Needham who baptized Elinor Jenkins Vaughan on 17 December 1841, just one week before the Christmas Eve meeting in Llanfoist. Elder Palmer also helped establish the Branch at Llanthony in the Black Mountains and was the first missionary to preach in Abersychan in June 1841, apparently without much success.

Elder Palmer is credited with the first recorded baptism in South Wales. His Reminiscences records that on either the 23rd or 30th of November, 1840, he baptized John Preece and William Williams in the River Monnow at Skenfrith, Monmouthshire. It just so happens that I took pics there on my visit last Good Friday, not knowing about this history (even though it's recorded in Truth Will Prevail: the Rise of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in the British Isles 1837-1987 (University Press, Cambridge, UK 1987), p. 240, as well as the Reminiscences at p. 13.)

The River Monnow at Skenfrith, Monmouthshire, Wales. First baptisms in South Wales near here.

Tuesday, December 4, 2018

Worse than Benedict Arnold

Benedict Arnold in Continental Army Uniform

It could be argued that Benedict Arnold was simply loyal to King George III as the king still claimed sovereignty over the American Colonies and had sent an occupying army to suppress a colonial rising. And fortunately, General Arnold's plan to deliver the fort at West Point on the Hudson was foiled by exposure of the plot.

I suppose one could also argue that Individual 1 is merely loyal to his highest interest, his own view of a great America with him at its head. It all revolves around him and it's all in his head under that mass of highly controlled hair cover which must take so much work it helps explains why the rest of his appearance is so slovenly.

Monday, December 3, 2018

The Shoes are Dropping like Cats and Dogs or Something

This is the message I sent to Utah Senator Mike Lee's office early this morning:
Dear staffer reading this. Please consider sharing this idea with Sen. Lee. He has the chance to step up and be a big leader and advocate for the MAJORITY of Utahns. Mueller is about to drop some more shoes in the investigation that show Trump and his admin compromised by Russia in financial and political dealings. Trump is not popular in Utah even among Republicans and Trump support is dropping. It's going to get worse. We need a Statesman to come forward who will help save country and the Republican party from the constitutional crisis of a criminally compromised executive with an adverse foreign power - Putin's Russia. Please get the Senator to step up and be that Statesman. Work with your new freshman Senator, Romney, and get him going on this. It shouldn't take much prodding. Get him to take it on as a project like saving the SLC Olympics. But Lee can take the lead here and be a big hero. Your party is in trouble (I'm a Dem myself). And our Nation is in peril. Please have the Senator step up and deal with trump's apparent crimes here. Many thanks. Please do not respond to me.
#Individual1 is going down soon. Mueller has the goods. The startling revelations in his personal lawyer, Michael Cohen's, strangely additional guilty plea of last Friday are a marker laid down by the Special Counsel that he has the evidence on the whole criminal conspiracy of #Individual1, his family enterprises, his administration, and Putin's Russia.

Thursday, November 22, 2018

A Thanksgiving Prayer from Henry Vaughan

These lines from my distant cousin, the Silurist Poet Henry Vaughan, match my sentiments on a Thanksgiving Day morning. From his poem, The Bee:
The truth, which once was plainly taught,With thorns and briars now is fraught.Some part is with bold fables spotted,Some by strange comments wildly blotted;And Discord—old Corruption's crest—With blood and blame hath stain'd the rest.So snow, which in its first descentsA whiteness, like pure Heav'n, presents,When touch'd by man is quickly soil'd,And after, trodden down and spoil'd.
O lead me, where I may be freeIn truth and spirit to serve Thee!Where undisturb'd I may converseWith Thy great Self; and there rehearseThy gifts with thanks; and from Thy store,Who art all blessings, beg much more.
Give me the wisdom of the bee,And her unwearied industry!That from the wild gourds of these days,I may extract health, and Thy praise,Who canst turn darkness into light,And in my weakness show Thy might.

Welsh Black Bee

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!

Wednesday, August 1, 2018

Family History Connections in County Durham, England

Please note "5-mile" scale in key. This area is not large.
So I've been researching a bunch of ancestral sites for people going on our tour in a couple of weeks. I realized there is still a lot more work to be done for our own people.

Still kicking myself for not going north with my Aunt and Dad's Cousin in 2010, I will try to get there next summer. In the meanwhile, I am tracing Thomas and Isabella Vaughan who joined with the LDS Church in Stockton, County Durham in the early 1880s leaving for America in 1886 and 1887 respectively.

The 1871 Census finds Thomas still in South Wales working in his father's profession as a puddler in the ironworks of Abersychan. His first appearance is his marriage to Isabella Bowman in the Register Office, not a church, in Bishop Auckland, County Durham, England on the Third of August, 1875. They both gave their residence as Blue Row, which I assume was their first home. Sadly, Blue Row no longer exists. I did find an old picture of what it looked like:

Blue Row, South of Bishop Auckland, 1950s (from Facebook page on Bishop Auckland History)

Friday, July 27, 2018

Child Labour - Industrial Revolution - Wales

While researching places to visit for my new travel consultant gig, I came across the notorious blue books of the Children's Employment Commission (1840s-1860s) that were presented to the British Parliament at the request of Queen Victoria. The Commission's work was to survey the employment conditions and education of children throughout Great Britain. The brief, first-hand reports are disturbingly fascinating.

Here are the principal ones from the Welsh ironworks in the 1840s. I have visited these locations. They are in are three successive valleys, west to east.  I have a 2nd Great-Grandfather who was at Ebbw Vale while his father was a puddler not long after these reports. I leave them for your contemplation:

Cyfarthfa Ironworks, Merthyr Tydfil, Wales:

Wednesday, July 4, 2018

Let Freedom Ring!

As we, the People of the United States, through our delegated elected officials continue to incarcerate children separated from their parents who were attempting to enter our borders, let us pause to think about this on the day we celebrate national independence.

These photos were released by the U.S. government. My source here.

Saturday, June 30, 2018

Lord Nelson's Biscuit

Daniel Maclise: The Death of Nelson
Mural in Parliament, Westminster, London
There are times when I wished I had £3,000.00 to buy a biscuit.

Recently, an interesting lot came up for sale at Sotheby's and was then auctioned off again. It included what is believed to be the world's oldest hardtack biscuit. And not just any biscuit, but one belonging to an Able Seaman who fought with Admiral Nelson at Trafalgar.

And it gets better. The Able Seaman was my ancestor, the father of Mormon Pioneers!

The biscuit gets the news, but it is the other items that are of more importance.

That's one, huge biscuit, by the way!

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

It's Civil War of Minds and Hearts - With Some Unnecessary Pain, Suffering, and Death

Fortunately, there are no organized armies yet. There are shots being fired in mass shootings and attacks on unarmed People of Color, even when they peaceably assemble in church.

If you are a trump believer, all immigrants are brown and criminals. They "infest" and threaten "white culture." This is as if Jefferson Davis became President of the United States and spread the lies of slavery.

We need a new Lincoln. We need to stand for Union and Human Rights for all. We need to respect the dignity of People of Color who contribute wonderfully to this Great Nation. We need to denounce and fight every attempt to place the falsehood of "white culture" as the American Way.

Thursday, May 31, 2018

An Apostle's Family Forged in Welsh Iron

Albert Ernest Bowen (1875-1953). LDS Apostle 1937.
Albert E. Bowen is not one of the big names in LDS Church leadership. He was a serious-minded, hard-working man. He appears to be best remembered and quoted in LDS General Conference for his teachings on Self-Reliance and the Church Welfare Program. He wrote a booklet entitled "Constancy Amid Change" that was updated in the 1980s as well as authoring a Sunday School course of study, "The Church Welfare Plan."

One of the more recent General Conference quotes attributed to Elder Bowen was in an address by Elder J. Thomas Fyans in 1982:
The only way the Church can stand independent is for its members to stand independent, for the Church IS its members. It is not possible to conceive of an independent Church made up of dependent members—members who are under the inescapable obligation of dependency. The Lord must want and intend that His people shall be free of constraint whether enforceable or only arising out of the bindings of conscience. It is not believed that any person or people can live from gratuities—rely upon them for means of subsistence and remain wholly free in thought, motive and action. History seems to record no such instance. That is why the Church is concerned that its members, who have physical and mental capacity to do so, shall render service commensurate with their capacities for aid extended. That is why the Church is not satisfied with any system which leaves able people permanently dependent, and insists, on the contrary, that the true function and office of giving is to help people into a position where they can help themselves and thus be free.
Elder Bowen knew a lot about self-reliance. Born on a farm near Samaria, Idaho, he worked hard in his youth. He spent a harsh winter with a brother homesteading a parcel of land in Star Valley, Wyoming. His mother, Annie Shackelton Bowen (1840-1929) shared her love of books and learning and Albert did well in school, served a mission in Switzerland and Germany, and studied law at the University of Chicago. He excelled in the practice of law and business in Cache Valley and Salt Lake City, Utah. He was called to be an Apostle by President Heber J. Grant in 1937.

What interests me is that his father was David Bowen (1837-1910), born in Blaenavon, Monmouthshire, Wales. He traveled to Utah in the Ellsworth Handcart Company in 1856 along with my 4th Great Grandmother, Eleanor Jenkins Vaughan (1789-1861). The Bowens and Vaughans must have known each other.

Sunday, May 27, 2018

Mountain Men: Ya Can't Live with 'em; Ya Can't Live without 'em

The Wyoming State Historical Preservation Office (WSHPO, pronounced "Wyoming Shipo") and historians with the LDS Church interpreting the Devil's Gate/Martin's Cove area on the Overland Trail in Wyoming, have established that it was Charles (1812-1865), not his brother Basil LeJeunesse (1814-1846), who was known as "Seminoe" and established the fort at Devil's Gate.

These brothers were amazing as most Mountain Men were. They all knew each other; Basil traveling with Kit Carson and John C. Fremont's mapping expeditions. Basil was killed by Modocs at Klamath Lake. Charles abandoned his post at Devil's Gate in 1855 due to troubles with the Cheyennes. Cheyennes killed Charles in 1865 at Clark's Fork, Yellowstone. His half-Shoshone sons took their vengence by killing Cheyenne Chief, High Backed Wolf.

Generally aware of the Handcart stories, I knew there was a ramshackle trading post at Devil's Gate that served as a shelter in the miserable winter of 1856-57 for those guarding the freight emptied from the wagons to carry some of the handcart pioneers of the Willie and Martin companies to Salt Lake City. In the past couple of years, I also became aware that the earlier and more successful handcart companies of that year took the Seminoe Cutoff. It was only two weeks ago that I managed to put the two together to understand it was this "Seminoe" guy who explored the cutoff that saved some trouble for my handcart ancestors and had established the fort/trading post at Devil's Gate.

A portion of the archeological site with the reconstructed fort right next to it. And Devil's Gate behind.
Looking up the Sweetwater Valley from the original site of Seminoe's Fort. Martin's Cove is to the right.
Split Rock can be seen in the far distance.

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Alice Cooper Predicted our Political Present

Oh, my Gosh!

I just heard this song recently and checked the lyrics. This is donald trump! Alice Cooper, of all people, called it in 1972!

I'm your top prime cut of meat, I'm your choice
I wanna be elected
I'm your Yankee Doodle Dandy in a gold Rolls Royce
I wanna be elected

Sunday, May 13, 2018

Welsh Heritage in Idaho

Last Friday, I had the opportunity to participate in the dedication of the Welsh Heritage Square in Samaria, Malad Valley Idaho.

I scored an excellent Welsh cake at the refreshment table.
Let me get my political diatribe out of the way. There is nothing wrong with celebrating any culture as it can be done without denigrating others. This was a community event and Welshness was not a requirement. There was a gentleman who appeared to be an African-American cowboy who was talking to a lot of people and must have been a local. For all I know, he has Welsh ancestry but it is entirely beside the point. All are welcome to celebrate and there is no false superiority of putting down other heritages.

It did seem like a blessing that it did not rain more than a few, sporadic drops. The rain was torrential coming through Odgen that morning. My old Potuguese, now Welsh mentor, Dr. Dennis, was present in his Welsh costume along with his wife.

Sunday, April 29, 2018

Baptism for the Dead: Getting to Know You

Volume 7 of Documents in the Joseph Smith Papers is out. (I seem to have skipped a few so my collection is not yet complete.) My purpose is acquiring this volume was to learn as much as I could about Joseph Smith's first teachings on Baptism for the Dead. (See Doctrine and Covenants, Section 128 for a fuller, scriptural background.)

Joseph first mentioned baptism for the dead at a funeral for Seymour Brunson on August 15, 1840, but there is not much recorded from that discourse. He then addressed it at the General Church Conference in Nauvoo in early October 1840 when hearers were so motivated they immediately left for the Mississippi to perform baptisms for their dearly departed. And, once again, some of his teachings were not fully recorded. Still, there are footnotes to contemporaneous reports such as a letter from Vilate Kimball to Heber C. who was on a mission in England. This would be how the British Saints and missionaries such as Richard Steele would have heard about the new doctrine so early.

And there is a very important aspect of what Vilate tells Heber. Here is the section of her October 11, 1840 letter from online, digital sources at the LDS Church History Library:

Friday, April 27, 2018

Another Reason for Conservatives to . . .

I'm not saying you should necessarily do anything. But if you anti-environmentalist, pro-development, pro-fossil-fuel people need a reason, try on some of these:
all are stewards—not owners—over this earth and its bounty and will be accountable before God for what they do with His creations (see D&C 104:13–15). All humankind should gratefully use what God has given, avoid wasting life and resources, and use the bounty of the earth to care for the poor and the needy (see D&C 49:19–21).
To be complacent with His creations offends Him (see D&C 59:18–21). . . .

The earth is endowed with an array of natural resources that will provide for the human family if they are used as the Lord instructed—to care for the poor and the needy and not use more than is needed (see D&C 104:14–18); to avoid waste (see D&C 49:19–21); and not to forcibly take resources from another (see D&C 59:20). . . .
Check with your local utility company, local community groups, or on the internet to find suggestions to conserve energy and to recycle. Support community recycling programs. Consider starting a community garden. Support local civic groups that promote stewardship and conservation. Be an involved citizen in government. Be informed, respect the views of others, and treat everyone with civility. . . .

Sunday, April 15, 2018

Cymru, March 2018 XVII, The Final Adventure

This is the last post on my recent trip. I returned with a few good books for me to continue the intellectual adventures. One was a great survey of politics, social life, religion, and war (of course) in Medieval Wales:

A good read!
Reading along, I came across a person named Rhys Gryg. I said to myself, "I know that guy!" Well, at least I discovered his castle. And I'm getting ahead of myself in this story.

My old college professor and again my mentor for new adventures in historical travel sent me an email while I was still in Wales. He wanted help in finding a location of an ancestral farm of one of the individuals signed up for our Wales/Scotland tour coming up in August. It was in Carmarthenshire.

Great! I hadn't yet been to Carmarthen, the city of Merlin ("Caer Merddyn" in Welsh meaning "Merlin's Fort or Castle") It would be easy to swing by the town after I found the farm.

And I did find it way up on the highlands above Carmarthen. 

My question is: How did Mormon Missionaries ever find this place in the 1840s?

Friday, April 13, 2018

Guest Post: Parkland

This is from my youngest son, now a student at Brigham Young University:

88 Every Day
On February 14, 2018, a live shooter entered into Stoneman Douglas High School and proceeded to kill 17 of his former classmates along with injuring 17 others. Since the hours of this tragedy, proponents and opponents of guns and gun control have entered the media in an attempt to prevent future tragedies such as this from occurring. The culture of the debate results in extremism on both sides that leads to no progress. Gun control opponents don’t want to see more school shootings. Gun control proponents don’t want to take away every gun from every citizen. To make progress, we need to analyze effects of guns on our communities and families and break away from our gun culture to allow for more gun control laws that promote safety for everybody.
The debate on gun control is an increasingly sensitive topic that dates clear back to December 15, 1791, when the Bill of Rights was ratified. Within the Bill of Rights was amendment 2 “The right to Bear Arms.” This constitutional amendment is often a foundation of the debate. Within the amendment, it is stated that “the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Cymru, March 2018 XVI, We're Still Here!

It rained and I didn't care. There was more to see and do, especially the Good Friday "fireside" at the Merthyr Stake Center. Until that evening, I was off schedule with much to do.

Starting at the Valley of the Rhiangoll, or Cwmdu, just above Tretower, I needed to stop and photograph the standing stone. There is one in the middle of that valley that I could never see because it forms part of a hedgerow and is covered in greenery during the summer. I thought I had seen it as I drove by on the narrow highway up that valley. At Tretower they told me I should just stop at a farm gate and walk along the highway to take photos.

It actually worked. Even on that narrow highway, the fast drivers slow down for pedestrians. There isn't much shoulder to walk on, less to park on, but I did find a farm gate and parked only halfway in a ditch. And I got it!

Well over two meters, it is higher and produces that bump in the hedgerow to look for.

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Cymru, March 2018 XV, Hereford Weeps

Even if I was in Herefordshire for the day, I was still staying in Wales so it counts. And I found wonderful things in Hereford Archives and Records Centre (HARC)!

After exhausting my known sources, I sat on the banks of the Wye and had a late picnic lunch. This was the view:

Then I walked past and back over the old bridge

I wanted to see the Mappa Mundi and chained library. But they were closed as there was to be a funeral service.

Monday, April 9, 2018

Cymru, March 2018 XIV, Brecon Midst the Beacons

It rained hard that morning. As I still had a spot reserved at Powys Archives. After taking some pictures of where I thought my ancestor's flax fields might have been, I went back to check the indices and browse through the books on the shelves. Not having had enough time to digest what I had already found, I headed off to Brecon.

Pen y Fan, I believe, the highest peak in the Brecon Beacons.
Brecon is the old county town and I hadn't yet been and I needed to go. Unfortunately, the Brecon Museum is undergoing extensive renovations and is not open at present. I was still able to get a feel for the medieval city.


Sunday, April 8, 2018

Cymru, March 2018 XIII, Powys Records Office and Our Last Prince

The early walk around Talgarth gave me a morning rainbow which is always a good sign.

Then it was off to Llandrindod Wells, Wales (they really need to work on some of these names) for Powys Records Office!

A new facility since my last visit.
 They were waiting for me and were so very kind and helpful. And as I blogged here and here, I found what I came for. There's more to do now, of course, which will necessitate a return. Such is the nature of research.