Friday, December 31, 2010


I made a brief trip this summer, but most of my pictures were deleted.  Here are the ones that remain.  Promontory Point was the site of the Golden Spike where the railroads came together in 1869 and created a rail line across the United States. 

Chinaman Arch

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Rescue of the Handcart Companies 1856; Brigham Young

Brigham Young must have approached the general conference with heavy heart.  He had been informed the day before that close to 2000 immigrants were on the plains, two handcart companies, two wagon companies, several freight companies.  It was already early October.

Brighan Young had met with church leaders the evening before to discuss what was needed.  The handcart plan was established with the idea that the Saints would be met on the plains with resupply wagons.  This was lacking, and the handcart companies would be facing starvation rations.

And so Brigham Young introduced the theme of the conference:

"I will now give this people the subject and the text for the Elders who may speak today and during the conference.  It is this.  On the 5th day of October, 1856, many of our brethren and sisters are on the plains with handcarts, and probably many are now seven hundred miles from this place, and the must be brought here, we must send assistance to them.  The text will be, 'to get them here.'  I want the brethren who may speak to understand that their text is the people on the plains.  And the subject matter for this community is to send for them and bring them in before winter sets in.

That is my religion; that is the dictation of the Holy Ghost that I possess.  It is to save the people.  This is the salvation I am now seeking for.  To save our brethren that would be apt to perish, or suffer extremely, if we do not send them assistance...

I will tell you all that your faith, religion, and profession of religion, will never save one sould of you in the Celestial Kingdom of our God, unless you carry out just such principles as I am now teaching you.  Go and bring in those people now on the plains."

An so was put into motion one of the greatest rescue operations of the Mormon migration.  The rescuers would be successful in bringing many Saints to the valley, while over 200 of them would die along the trail.  By the time the meeting had concluded men were making preparations to be part of the rescue.  Women removed underlinens to donate to the cause.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Mormons in the Donner Party

I knew there were Mormon rescuers of the Donner party, but did not realize some of the party were also Mormon.  This site tells the story of Levinah Murphy.  The only correction I owld make to the story, is it mentions that the rescuers are from the Mormon Battalion.  That is not accurate.  The two Mormon rescuers, Dan and Thomas Rhoads were fellow pioneers with the Donner party.  The separated at the Sublette cutoff, the Donner party trying a new route, while the Rhoads went with a group that traveled the traditional route to California.  The result is well known.

Levina and three of her children passed away.  Three of her children survived.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Book Review: *****Silent Night:

A couple years ago, Charity and I did a Christmas presentation.  We told the story of the 1914 truce.  In 1914 the troops spontaneously ceased hostility and a truce ensued, which lasted more than a week in some places along the front line. This book tells the story of this Christmas season along the front in France.

It seams many people called for a truce this Christmas time.  The bloodshed along the front had been horrendous.  Pope Benedict XV, who had just been nominated as Pope, called for a truce.  However the governments involved in the fighting did not think a truce was a good idea.  And so the ment took matters into their own hands.

Along the front on Christmas Eve, the truce was gained in a precarious manner.  It started for the most part with the German troops  share their Tennebaum, putting their Christmas trees on the parapets, and shining flash lights on them.  The strange lights were seen by the soldiers on the line opposite them.  The truce continued as with men along the front saying, "Come over here" and the reply "no you come over here."  "Don't shoot" and finally, small groups ventured out.

Songs were heard along the lines.  In one place a German baritone mounted the parapets and sang, "Stille Nacht, Heilige Nacht."  The book talks of this night in this manner.  "Voices reached them across the dark void of No Mans Land.  The the Scots saw dim figures silhouetted on the German parapet, and about them more lights.  With amazement Maddison realized that a Christmas tree was being set there, and around it Germans talking and laughing together.  "Hoch!  Hoch!  Hoch!" they shouted happily."

Another story of this day involves a German Baker who was making  marzipan balls for the holidays.  Opposite this part of the German front was a group of Algerians fighting with the French.  The Christmas holiday meant nothing to them and the kept up a steady fire upon the Germans.  A shot got too close to he baker, and he had finally had enough.  He grabbed a Christmas tree and headed into No Mans Land with it.  He struggled over the hills ca, now you rrying the tree.  The Algerians held their fire, thinking the baker was too comical or just crazy in his baker's hat.  The units next to the Algerians also informed them what was taking place.  The baker got to the middle of the field, and their he set the tree.  He calmly took some matches and lit the candes and said, "There you blockheads, now you know what's going on.  Merry Christmas!"

along the lines troops from opposing sides came together and shared their provisions.  This included special rations and packages for the holidays.  In some areas the truce lingered.  During the following days, spontaneous soccer games broke out.  The men played in their bulky boots.  Most often score wasn't kept and the men just played.  A more formal game was played in one location.  The German's won 3-2, but one solider commented in may have been because the British official had too much Christmas Spirit towards the Germans and missed an off sides call.

The Christmas of 1914 was remembered fondly by the survivors of the war.  It was brought to our memory a few years ago by the Mormon Tabernacle Choir with Walter Cronkite providing the narration and telling this story.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

December 7, 1941; Captain Mervyn Bennion

Today is Pearl Harbor Day.  Next year it will make 70 years the Japanese attack on Peal Harbor.  That day Captain Bennion was killed, and he was later honored for his courage.

Captain Mervyn Bennion was aboard the USS West Virginia.  He was the closest I have to a relative at Pearl Harbor.  My father's brother-in-law was a cousin to Captain Bennion.  My father at this time was two years shy of graduating from high school.  His oldest sister, Audrey, had married Ellis Chase.

Captain Bennion was aboard the USS West Virginia when it was torpedoed.  It was on the outside of a row of ships.  However it wasn't a bomb striking his own ship, but a bomb strike on the USS Tennessee which was inboard of the USS West Virginia, that mortally wounded Captain Bennion.  He was struck by shrapnel in the abdomen.

He refused to leave his post.  The USS West Virgina was struck by 6 torpedoes and at least two other bombs.  The Captain held his wound closed with one hand, while commanding his crew.  He initially refused to leave the deck, and was instrumental in keeping the ship from listing so it was able to be later recovered.

He was eventually carried from the deck, but died from his wounds.  Captain Bennion was awarded the Medal of Honor.  I know one of the camps at Pend Orielle (Navy Boot Camp) was named for him.  Also the USS Bennion.

Book Review: Westward America

Driggs, Howard R., Westward America, American Pioneers Trails Association, New York, 1942; water colors by William H. Jackson.

This book is a fascinating read, and  just as fun is to browse the water colors.  The author, as well as the illustrator lived or knew those who had lived trail.  This story tells of U.S. Westward expansion from a 1942 mentality when it was OK to be proud of American accomplishments and manifest destiny. 

This book tells many stories from Lewis and Clark and Sacajawea, to the coming of the railroad and the Golden Spike.  A few samples of the book follow:

Death took its heavy toll during these crowded years.  Thousands of men, women and children, unable to endure the strain, or seized with some dread scourge like the cholera, went into their graves all along the painful way.  Most of their resting places are unmarked, for the simple reason that there were few lasting materials on the prairie lands with which to erect enduring monuments, and precious little time while the trains were in the mountain lands to carve lasting inscriptions on any stone that might be set at a grave.  P 34

Education of a lasting kind was gained through this frontier experience.  The pioneer trail tested the mettle of every one, young or old, that dared to follow it.  It brought out the best and the worst in human nature.  Weaklings usually went down; wickedness was generally brought to swift and certain punishment.  Only strength of body and of character stood the test and came through strengthened and trained for the conquest that lay ahead.  P 35

These were the Mormons—a devout band of Americans—made homeless a second time by an un-American persecution.  Their youthful prophet leader with his brother had been slain two years before in Carthage jail—victims of religious and political intolerance.  P 37

Not all the stories, however, were of trouble and sorrow.  For the younger ones, and for many of their elders, the journey across the plains was one of thrilling adventure.  The prairie lands in spring and summer were bright with blossoms. There was the fun of gathering new flowers, and sometimes wild fruits, along the way.  Prairie dogs barking from their populous villages, buffalo and antelope on nearby hills, wolves and coyotes slinking about, all added to the excitement of travel.  Besides there were the various birds that brought life to the plains—wild geese and ducks, prairie chickens, owls and eagles, and such songsters as the meadowlark and the robin to cheer the way with their songs.

Camping out at night under friendly stars was another rich experience.  Evening stories and songs round the fires, with an occasional dance on the greensward to the tune of fiddle, accordion or banjo, all helped to chase the darker hours away.  Then came the rosy dawn and the great red sun, rising seemingly “right out of the ground,” to light up the old trail for another day’s journey towards a dreamed-of home…   p 67

The first of these bridges, built by a French frontiersman, Reshaw, spanned the river just east of the site of Casper.  It was there in 1857 [6] when the belated Mormon handcart companies trailed by.  Members of those companies have told the writer that they would have used this bridge, but they could not pay the high tolls.  As an alternative they had to pull their cars through the cold stream, which nearly swept some of the women and children down with it.  That same afternoon a bitter wind froze their water-soaked clothing and bedding; and a snowfall at night took a heavy toll of lives.  This was the beginning of one of the major tragedies of the plains.  P. 87

I have thoroughly enjoyed this book.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Documentary Movie Review: Paper Clips

This is a documentary film I watched on the documentary station of Dish Network.  It caught my eye because President Hodgman talked about the history of the paper clip in stake conference.  He related a story told to him by an older person he home taught.  She was from Norway, and told him the history of the paper clip.  It was an invention  from Norway.  When the Nazis occupied Norway during the war, the were unable to express open support for the Jews.  However many would wear a paper clip to silently express their support.

This film documents the story of the Witwell Middle School in Tennessee.  They embarked on the "Holocaust Project" as a means of learning tolerance for other cultures.  In the course of their study, and learning that 6 million Jews were murdered by Hitler, a student asked, "What is 6 million?"  That is what sparked the "Paper Clip Project;" the gathering of 6 million paper clips, so they would have some idea of the concept of a number so great.

The gathering of the paper clips was an interesting story, but the thing that made this movie moving was the interviews, and the presentations of survivors of the Holocaust and their children and grandchildren.  It was moving to hear the stories of those who were children and survived this experience.  (25 percent of those killed were children.)  Also those who related how they had missed grandparent relationships, the cost was greater than we can ever believe.

We were in Washington, and the family went to the Holocaust Museum while I went and got the car.  They were impressed with the exhibit of shoes, collected from those who had been murdered.

When I watched this story, I was filled with anger towards President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad of Iran.  That he would have a pulpit at the U.N. for his anti-semitic statements and denial of the Holocaust is upsetting to me.  Also that the U.S. would give him and audience upsets me.  However the goal of this movie is tolerance, and acceptance.  I just don't think that extends to those who are bigots in their own right.

This movie is available through Netflix Instant.

Angel of Marye's Heights

This is a script I wrote for  my son's 8th grade history assignment

Angel of Marye’s Heights

Narrator:  I am going to present to you the story of the soldier who became known as the Angel of Mayre’s Heights.  I am going to do this by portraying him, a gentleman who wrote a poem about him, and a fellow soldier.  The gentleman:

Mr Clark:  (at a desk writing) Mr. Walter A. Clark, 1908 The Angel of Mayre’s Heights:

A sunken road, and a wall of stone
And Cobb’s grim line of gray
Lay still at the base of Mayre’s hill
On the morn of a winter’s day

And crowning the frowning crest above
Sleep Alexander’s guns,
While gleaming fair in the sunlit air
The Rappahannock runs.

On the planes below the blue line glow
And the bugle rings out clear,
As with bated breath they march to death
And a soldier’s honored bier.

For the slumbering guns awake to life
And the screaming shell and ball
From the front and flanks crash through the ranks
And leave them where they fall.

And the gray stone wall is ringed with fire
And the pitiless leaden hail
Drives back the foe to the plain below,
Shattered and crippled and frail.

Again and again a new line forms
And the gallant charge is made,
And again and again they fall like grain
In the sweep of a reaper’s blade.

Richard Kirkland:  (best southern accent you can do)  I was born in Kershaw County, South Carolina, Camden town, August 1843, the second youngest of 7 children.  My mother passed when I was 2, so I owe my raising to my grandparents, father and older siblings.  We farmed three large tracts, which kept us busy. 

When my home state of South Carolina seceded from the Union; there was no doubt I would enlist.  You see the Union is like a marriage, if one party is aggrieved, it has every right to leave the union, and that is what my state decided to do, leave the Union.

I thought war was all glory, but quickly I learned otherwise.  Flags waved and woman cheered as we marched out of town to Charleston.  We had visions of easy victory and battlefield glory. 

I participated in most of the battles in the Eastern Theater, Manasses, the Seven Days’ Battle when we repelled the Union Army that was threatening Richmond.  We then fought in Maryland.  However I imagine you are most interested in the battle of Fredericksburg.

If the Union had been able to obtain the high ground, they’d have had us whipped.  The Rappahannock saved us. They had to cross the river, and when their pontoons did not arrive on time, General Lee lead us onto the high ground. We had two days to fortify, before the Union troops could cross the river and join us for the dance.

I served in Kershaw’s Brigade, under General Joseph Kershaw.  By this time I had been promoted to sergeant.  We were stationed to the right of the heights, defending a draw near Hazel’s Run.  To our right were Jackson’s men; and it was there were the fighting began on the morning of December 13.  I understand the Federals gave quite a fight; but Jackson and his men were able to repulse them. 

After they were repulsed on the right the federals tried their luck against our center; the heights beyond Fredericksburg; Marye’s Heights.  This was defended by an old sunken road.  This road, over the years had had a wall built around it when stones were removed from the road.  This defensive position had been improved over the last couple of days.  It presented a formidable defense.   

Under the orders of General Burnside; Maj. Gen. Edwin Sumner's troops began their assault at noon. Targeted by Confederate artillery atop the heights that blasted holes through their formations, the Federal forces doggedly worked their way to a canal spanned by three partially destroyed bridges. Cannonballs continued to tear through their lines at this bottleneck, sending more and more soldiers to an early grave.

Eventually, Sumner's men established their lines under the cover of the canal ditch that afforded some protection. From there it was pretty much an open slope - with very little cover - that led to the fortified stone wall behind which our forces were amassed. The men fixed their bayonets, and, with a Yankee war cry, they charged.

Instantly, the artillery barrage, joined by almost uncountable rifle fire, rained down upon the advancing men, cutting most down where they stood. Those who were not killed sought out any cover they could find ... the lone brick house, a few scattered outbuildings, several slight knolls. Wave after wave, the Union soldiers left the safety of the canal ditch in an ill-fated attempt to breach our lines at the top of Marye's Heights.

The death toll was staggering: in just one hour, they suffered 3,000 dead.

For our part, we defended our front, but we were not pressed as hard as Marye’s Heights.  During this pitched battle, our regiment was called upon to move and reinforce the sunken road.  We first covered the advance of another regiment.  When we repositioned we came under cannon fire; so we double timed and made our way as quickly as possible.

The sunken road was a well defended position.  Our men were in three lines, each taking their turn at firing, so we were able to keep up a steady volley:  Shoot, step back, remove your ramming rod, clean the barrel, Place your powder and a mini ball, tamp down the ball, replace your ramrod, take a powder, open with you mouth, place powder in the flashpan, step forward, aim, fire. 

Despite the impossible odds, the Federals continued to pour out into the killing field where ceaseless cannonballs and bullets ravaged their lines. All through the day, more and more Union soldiers entered the fray, picking their way around the bodies of their dead and wounded comrades with most of the newcomers fated to soon join them. Charge after charge, they carried on, with some of the attackers making it within 25 yards of our line before being cut down in a deadly hail of gunfire.

The smoke lay so thick that we could scarcely see the enemy. The Federals rolled out their dead for shelter, and used dead horses for breastworks.

After 15 separate, unsuccessful charges up the hill, the fighting ceased for the night, leaving the slope littered with thousands of broken, bloody Union bodies. Around midnight, Union soldiers ventured forth under cover of darkness to gather what wounded they could find.

Although the fighting had ended for the day, the suffering continued through the night. With a cold north wind sweeping in across the field, temperatures plummeted below freezing, leaving the remaining wounded to cry out in anguish.

You may know, but perhaps you don’t, that being wounded, losing blood, creates a tremendous thirst.  Weird, unearthly, terrible to hear and bear, were the cries of the dying soldiers - lying crippled on a hillside so many miles from home.  They filled the air, breaking the hearts of soldiers on both sides of the battlefield.  “Help Me!  Water, water! 

As dawn broke, the two armies faced each other.  Our brigade occupied the road at the foot of Marye's Hill and the grounds about Marye's House, the scene of our desperate defense of the day before. One hundred and fifty yards in front of the road and stone wall, lay Sykes Division of Regulars, U. S. A.  Between them and our troops a murderous skirmish occupied the whole day, fatal to many who heedlessly exposed themselves even for a moment.

Still the wounded cried, "water ! water !"  I was grieved at the suffering of the Union wounded. All that day those wounded men rent the air with their groans and agonizing cries.

Finally I could take no more.  I visited the General Kershaw as he sat in his headquarters in the North room upstairs of Mrs Stevens' House. (With an expression of disgust in his voice) General, I can't stand this.  All night and all day I have heard those poor people crying for water and can stand it no longer. I come to ask permission to go and give them water."

The General regarded me for a moment.  He finally said, "Kirkland, don't you know that you would get a bullet through your head the moment you stepped over the wall?" Yes, Sir, I know all about that, but if you will let me, I am willing to try it. After a pause the General said: "Kirkland, I ought not to allow you to run such a risk, but the sentiment which actuates you is so noble, that I will not refuse your request, trusting that God may protect you. You may go."

My eyes lit up with pleasure. Thank you Sir, I said.  I ran rapidly from the room and down the stairs. However I paused, turned around and bounded back up the stairs, two at a time, and reapproached the general. Certainly he thought my heart had failed me. He was mistaken.  General, can I show a white handkerchief? The General thought a moment, then slowly shook his head, saying emphatically: "No, Kirkland, you can't do that.”  All right, Sir, I'll take my chances. (salute)
Accepting these conditions, I collected a number of canteens from my fellow soldiers, left my weapon behind, and scrambled over the wall. I filled the canteens at the well behind Mayre’s house.  I then crept onto the field, exposing myself to enemy sniper fire.  The greatest danger was at the outset.  The Union soldiers did not know my intent.  They must have thought I intended to rob the dead and wounded.  I weaved like a snake as quickly as I could, and heard several balls whistle past, that were hurled in my direction.  My fellow Confederates watched expectantly, fearing a shot from the Union line would take my life. I scrambled to the nearest sufferer.  The Union soldiers watched, but did not fire.  I knelt down alongside the wounded man, gently cradled his head, and lifted a canteen to his parched lips. The Union line broke into a loud cheer. This done I laid him gently down, placed his knap-sack under his head, straightened out his broken limb, spread his over-coat over him, replaced his empty canteen with a full one, and turned to another sufferer.  The cheering subsided, and the Federal forces watched in silent awe as I went from wounded soldier to wounded soldier, bringing what little comfort I could to these dying men. After my intent was known, the danger was over.  I would give each wounded man a drink, and then replace their canteen with a full canteen, taking theirs to refill.  For an hour and a half I carried canteens back and forth, returning to replenish them at the well, and then venturing out into the killing field again.  I continued until all the wounded upon our front had been supplied with water, and the cries for water had subsided.

Mr. Clark: 
And then from out of the battle smoke
There falls on the lead-swept air
From the whitening lips that are ready to die
The piteous moan and the plaintive cry
For “water” everywhere.

And into the presence of Kershaw brave
There comes a fair-faced lad
With quivering lips as his cap he tips,
“I can’t stand this,” he said.

Stand what? The general sternly said
As he looked on the field of slaughter
“To see those poor boys dying out there
With no one the help them, no one to care,
And crying for water! water!”

If you’ll let me go, I’ll give them some.
Why, boy, you’re simply mad;
They’ll kill you as soon as you scale the wall
In this terrible storm of shell and ball,
The general kindly said.

Please let me go the lad replied.
May the Lord protect you, then!
And over the wall in the hissing air
He carried comfort to grave despair
And balm to the stricken men.

And, as he straightened their mangled limbs
On their earthen bed of pain,
The whitening lips all eagerly quaffed
From the canteen’s mouth the cooling draught
And blessed him again and again.

Like Daniel of old in the lion’s den,
He walked through the murderous air
With never a breath of the leaden air
To touch or to tear his gray-clad form,
For the hand of God was there.

And I am sure in the Book of Gold,
Where the blessed angel writes
The names that are blessed of God and men
He wrote that day with his shining pen
Then smiled and lovingly wrote again,
The Angel of Marye’s Heights.

Ario Niles:  I served with Richard Kirkland in many battles.  He distinguished himself at Gettysburg and was promoted to lieutenant.  After Gettysburg, we went with Longstreet’s Corp, to support the fight in the West.  We entered the fray around Chattanooga, the Battle of Chickamauga, on the second day of the conflict, September 20, 1863.  We fought back and forth charging and counter charging, for Snodgrass Hill.  Towards the end of the day we broke through the Union line; then met a stiff resistance from their reserves which forced us to make a temporary retreat.  A few of us, with Kirkland, were in front of the line when we found ourselves exposed.  I turned back quickly, but Kirkland insisted on facing the enemy and firing at their advancing troops, covering our retreat.  He was shot in the chest and fell mortally wounded.  James Arrants and I tried to carry him from the field.  “No I’m done for,” he said.  “You can do my no good.  Save yourselves.  Tell Pa I died right.  I died at my post.”  Those were his last words.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

letter 1916

Nephi Nov 28/16
Isaac J Wardle Esq
            My Dear Most Respected Old Friend.  How are you.
I was much disappointed because I did not meet you at our annual HandCart meeting.
I hope and pray that you are well in health in your old age. and prospering.
Very pleased to tell you I am well.  getting old.  This time last year I was in California.  I visited Los Angles.  thence to San Diego. thence to Old Mexico.  thence to San Francisco.  We took lots of trips.  Visited the fair both at San Diego and San Francisco.  With My wife son & daughter and daughrters husband.  We met our son at Frisco who had been to Autralia on a mission.  we enjoyed our trip very much.
I organized a H.C. Daughters in Nephi.  I am sending you a clipping of the Newspaper.  thinking you would enjoy the lines I pened and wrote.  Well Isaac  I have got me an automobile.  We take much pleasure in it, visiting around amongst relations.  You and me are in much better condissions than we were at this time 60 years ago,   I can remember one morning.  every tent was blowed down. but ours.  You did stake our tent down strong and firm My dear Brother.  I honor and respect you much more than I can explain.  You and my brother John (he was a boy 15) hauled me on the hand cart for hundreds of miles.  Can I forget you.  Can I ever repay, you for your kindness  No, No, 
I have just made my will.  I have 6 sons & 6 daughters.  I am doing right by all of them.  All receive equal.  I let nothing pass out of my hands until me and wife passes away.  You know my second wife died.  her children receives the same as all the rest.
You know I was on a mission in England.  4 of my sons been on foreign missions.  Cross the deep sea.  One of my sons has just gone on another mission.  One of my sons is a Bishop.  he seems to fill the bill well.
I will now Close my dear old boy.  I am writing without the use of glasses.  my hand is steady in March I will be 79.  you are 81.
God bless you.  May peace crown your latter days.  Please let me hear from you.  get someone to write for you
I am yours Very Respectfully
Langley A. Bailey

jI posted this on m genealogy blog but thought is  worthy of posting here as an original source of Utah life around this time as well as the story of the Marin Handcart Company

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Hyrum, Utah

Hyrum is a small community in the Southern part of Cache Valley, Utah.

History of Hyrum

            A party of pioneers lead by Ira Allen established a settlement in Hyrum in the spring of 1960.  The used logs and constructed 13 dugouts and one log home in a hill side where there was a water supply in the east bench.  Permanent settlement had come to Cache Valley the year before, with the initial settlement in 1856 in Wellsville.  This was abandoned for a time because of the Utah War. 
            Peter Maughan, church leader, visited the community and suggested it be moved to drier ground.  A fort type construction was made along the current main street.  This was with houses lining the street with windows and doors facing inward.  By the fall of 1860 there were over 120 residents of Fort Hyrum.
            After ground was plowed and crops put in, the next item of community business was establishing a canal for irrigation.  Using only a spirit level and shovels they brought water from the Little Bear River, a distance of nine miles, in 21 working days. (Allen et al.)
            Cache Valley was Shoshone Bannock country.  The Native Americans continued to hunt and live in this area after the settlers arrived.  The settlement was an encroachment upon their territory which they tolerated.  The general policy was to feed the Indians rather than fight them. Several different parties came through the area, gathering choke cherries, or hunting.  One time a group stole several horses.  A group of “Minutemen” from Hyrum were able to recover them.  Native American issues continued until the Bear River Massacre of 1863.  Colonel Patrick Connor led a group of 400 troops from Fort Douglas in Salt Lake and attacked the Indians in the northern part of Cache Valley.  After this the residents of Hyrum no longer had to live in the fort.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

The Battle of Bear River or Bear River Massacre

The Battle of Bear River is an almost forgotten battle, except to the descendants of the Northern Shoshone whose way of life changed drastically as a result. The battle took place January 29, 1863.   For more detailed information please refer to the Wikipedia link above.

There had been conflict between the Mormon settlers and the Shoshone people for some time.  There had been minor skirmishes, and some thievery.  In Smithfield an Indian had been hung as he was accused of stealing a horse.

Colonel Patrick Connor finally decided it was time to teach the Shoshone a lesson.  Colonel Connor commanded a force out of Fort Douglas.  These were made up mostly of Stockton Volunteers.  Stockton is in California.  The volunteers weren't all from Stockton, but enlisted there.  Many of them were disgruntled, having been stationed far away from the Civil War fighting taking place at the same time.  Their petition to be moved East had been denied.

Colonel Connor sent a smaller force of infantry, taking traditional routes North to where the Shoshone were camped, near present day Preston, Idaho in Northern Cache Valley.  He took a larger force of Calvary over trails in the tops of the mountains, thus keeping their journey North more secret from local residents, and the Shoshone.

The Shoshone had heard of their coming, and had made some preparations, cutting trails through the snow, and trenches from which they could fire.    When the U.S. forces first came to the Bear River Valley opposite the camp, the Shoshone sent an envoy to them, thinking they could still negotiate a peace.  However they soon discovered that Colonel Patrick Connor had already moved past this stage and they were fired upon. 

The initial frontal assault by the U.s. forces failed, and they sustained significant casualties.  However they regrouped, and flanked the Indian forces, who were soon routed.  It was then that the affair turned into a massacre.  The U.S. forces were taking no prisoners among the some 300 warriors involved in this affair.  A few escaped; some by swimming into the Bear River, where there was a warm spring which kept them from freezing.  Man of the women and children were also killed.  Some of the troops lost control and many of the women were raped. 

The official casualty accounts of the Shoshone vary, ranging from 160 to almost 500 .  Colonel Connor indicating 224 warriors killed and 160 woman and children taken prisoner.  Hans Jasperson, Danish Mormon immigrant indicated he walked the field and counted 493 Shoshone dead.

On the other hand, their were 14 soldiers killed and 49 wounded, seven fatally.  Residents of Franklin, Idaho opened their homes to the soldiers, taking the wounded in and provided blankets to protect them from the cold.

Bear River, or Bear River Massacre has been almost lost to history.  It represents one of the most tragic Indian massacres in our history.  However events taking place in the East kept the focus of our nation.  The month before this massacre had been the Battle of Fredricksburg in which the Union lost 13,000 casualties.   A few weeks before the action in the Bear River Valley was the infamous "Mud March" in which Burnsides efforts bogged down after several days of rain.  He was replaced as commander in chief Jan. 25, 1863.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Book Review: ***Hard Road West: History and Geology along the California Trail

Written by Keith Meldahl and published by the University of Chicago Press 2007.  This book will tell you more about how mountains are formed than you can even think of to ask.  It then takes all that information and relates it to the pioneer trail.  Why the pioneers choose the route they took, and how is it that those circumstances were there.  For example the pioneers tried to stay by water, fuel and feed whenever they could.  So it stands to reason that they follow rivers.  But how is it the Sweet water does not go in and out of mountain ranges, but presents a relatively smooth descent to South Pass.  This book gives the answer, explaining that at one time their were mountains there, and they fell.
Why does the trail wander into the Black Hills instead of hugging the Platte.  It happens the Platte goes through narrow canyons.  The book points out that the river in many places predates the mountains.  And that is why you have these narrow canyons like Devil's Gate.  The river was there as the mountain rose over millions of years, and slowly cut the chasm.
If you like geology, you would love this book.  If you want to understand the Pioneer Trail, and the hardships with the journey, this book is for you as well.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Movie Review: **^Brothers, on Holy Ground

Finally a movie worth watching with regards to 9/11.  This movie was produced in 2003 by Engine House Productions.  It was filmed by Mike Lennon.  He was a fellow New York Fireman, and had filmed, in documentary fashion, one of the victims of 9/11 before his death.  He also interviewed others of the survivors, some of whom had survivors guilt.  This film talked about the outpouring of condolences for the fire houses of New York, almost all of which were affected by this day with a lost comrade.  This movie brings home some of the tragedy of that day.

At one point the firemen below a certain floor were told to evacuate, and it talks of those who left the building worried about those who were above.  It also showed the reactions of wives and friends.  It was a moving expose.  I would recommend this movie.  I got it at the library.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Movie Review: *September 11

September 11 was produced by Empire Arts in 2002. That means it was produced within a year of the tragedy of 911 when nearly 4000 people were killed on American soil by Islamic terrorists.   It is a documentary presenting the stories of September 11 from several different angles.
I must admit I was unable to watch it very closely.  Not because it was showing graphic material, but because it seemed to me like a propaganda piece trying to put the reaction of different societies into a different light.  It had the Iranian School teacher trying to get her children to understand the tragic event, it showed an interaction between and Egyptian film maker and a U.S. soldier killed years earlier in the bombing in Lebanon.  To me it was an attempt by different cultures to explain how they would be effected by 911 and that it wasn't going to be good.  It did not show the dancing in the street in some Muslim countries which was recorded the day the tragedy.  You can't wash over the tragedy by telling the story in a different way than it happened. 
I would not recommend this movie to anyone.  I got it from the library.  If you see it there just let it stay on the shelf rather than waste your time.

Movie Review:*The 11th of September; Moyers in Conversation

This movie presents the Bill Moyers show, and conversations he has with his guests following the terrorist attack against the World Trade Center.  It presents several different guests, with different views.  The first episode, I think the evening of 9/11 has a conversation with regards to the bravery of the firemen and police officers.  Everyone was going down and the rescue staff were going up.  Everyone was running away, but the police and firemen were running  towards the disaster.

The next week presented an individual talking of taking everything slow, and turning rage into I don't know what. He had written about a Japanese terrorist attack in the subway.   He commented that the U.S. were also terrorists, nuclear terrorists.  I don't know what point he was trying to make; he must have been an American hating citizen.  Bill Moyers seemed to agree with him.

He presented his own minister, a humanist it would appear, as well as people of the Islamic faith.  The point being even though Islam has its groups of extremists, so does Christianity.

And then another week he w=has a guest talking about the Crusades, and being careful with regards t our own religious views.  We have to look of ourselves as "The Devil."  Why do other cal us the devil and are willing to die killing us.

This was boring.  It does let you know why Obama won't use the work terrorist, or Islamic.  They are just people from diverse groups who want to kill us.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Chamberlain at Gettysburg

The first link is from the movie "Gettysburg".  The other two are both from the comedian, inspirational lecturer, Andy Andrews, telling the same story.  Joshua Chamberlain was an incredible man, who at the end of the war, was the general who received the arms of the Confederacy as part of the surrender.  At that time he was a Brigadier General.  He returned to civilian life after the war, and became governor of Maine.

After watching these three links I think you will have an appreciation of how history, sometimes, hangs by a thread.

Monday, October 18, 2010

William Ide: Bear Flag Revolt; Reenactment

William B. Ide

I always had a hankering for moving West. I was born in Vermont, but soon after becoming an adult I headed west, for the state of Kentucky. From there I moved to Ohio and then to Illinois. I married Susan Haskell and together we had 9 children.
I lived close to Springfield, Illinois, and while living there I helped nominate Joseph Smith, the Mormon prophet, for president of the United States. I also worked on writing his presidential platform. However when he was assassinated in June of 1844, I knew it was time for me to leave Illinois. I sold my farm and many possessions, and was able to outfit three wagons for my family. We also had a small herd of cattle to sustain us on the route. We initially traveled to Independence, Missouri, where we joined a company of other settlers headed for Oregon Territory.
It wasn’t until arriving at Fort Hall, that I met the mountain man, Old Caleb Greenwood. He convinced me, and a small group of settlers, to change our destination to California. We formed the Grigsby-Ide party, and headed to Fort Sutter, arriving in the Fall of 1845. Coming up the face of the Sierra was the most difficult part of our trek. Old Greenwood had determined we would have to take every wagon apart, and lift them by pulleys, one at a time. He had traveled the route the previous year and this is what they had done. I surveyed the route, and determined we could still use the oxen, but only on the more level parts of the mountain. We moved oxen to each of the areas with less incline. We used pulleys for the steepest areas, but where able to move our wagons up more quickly with the assistance of the oxen.
I had taken up residence North of Fort Sutter. We were allowed to settle under special arrangements with the Mexican government, and under the jurisdiction of General Vallejo.
During the spring of the following year men came to our door, telling how the Mexican government was going to force new emigrants out of California. The day I heard this, I took up my musket and joined a force of men who where going to intervene in this situation.
We visited the camp of John Fremont, a United States Captain in the area doing survey work with a group of about 50 men. Captain Fremont presented the plan of “Neutral Conquest.” Captain Fremont did not want to be directly involved in any confrontation with the Mexican government, but he was willing to protect those who might be involved in such a plan. He suggested that if some of the leading Californios were taken prisoner, then General Don Castro, the Mexican governor, and his men might be drawn into battle trying to rescue them. This would result in general hostilities between the United States and Mexico. We determined to go to Sonoma, and there capture the Mexican government officials.
Our group of 33 men arrived in Sonoma early morning of June 14, 1846. We went to the home of General Vallejo and demanded his surrender. Three men went into his home to work out the arrangements. General Vallejo took his time, dressing in his finest military uniform. You can imagine the contrast between his dress, and that of our group. Our clothing was well worn, and some of our group were mountain men who wore buckskins. General Vallejo also wanted change in the government of California, and said we did not need to take him prisoner. However it was felt best that he be returned, along with other leaders, to Captain Fremont.
At this time, our lack of official standing became an issue. No one had written orders from Captain Fremont (he did not want to leave any trace which would lead to him) and it was felt best that we disband and seek the protection of Captain Fremont. I had a sense our work was more than “Neutral Conquest” but one of independence, and so addressed the men: “Saddle no horse for me… I will lay my bones here, before I will take upon myself the ignominy of commencing an honorable work, and then flee like cowards, like thieves, when no enemy is in sight. In vain will you say you had honorable motives! Who will believe it? Flee this day, and the longest life cannot wear off your disgrace! Choose ye! Choose ye this day what will ye be! We are robbers, or, or we must be conquerors!”
After this speech the men rallied around me, making me their Commander in Chief. I immediately ordered that we should take the barracks. In a moment all was secured. 18 prisoners, nine brass cannon, 250 stands of arms and tons of copper shot, and other public property of the value of 10 or 12 thousand dollars was seized and held in trust for the public benefit.
We raised a flag in the town plaza proclaiming our independence. The flag was made by William Todd, who accompanied us from Illinois. He is the nephew of the wife of the lawyer Abe Lincoln. The flag had a lone star, similar to Texas which won its freedom from Mexico, and became a part of the United States. The grizzly bear was chosen as an emblem of strength and unyielding resistance. So we were known as the “osos” or “Bear Flaggers.” When General Vallejo saw our flag, he said it looked more like a pig than a bear. Upon the flag we wrote California Republic, declaring our independence from Mexican rule.
Our group numbered only numbered only 24 men as a group of men took the prisoners and themselves to the protection of Captain Fremont at Fort Sutter. And so we prepared for our own “Alamo.” We quickly set the barracks to order. I divided the men into two companies. The 1st rifle company went to cleaning the arms and repairing and loading them. The 1st artillery company set the canon to defend the fort, loading them doubly with grape and canister. We also set to obtain supplies for the manning of the fort.
But what is independence, without a declaration. I took it upon myself to write our declaration. I had some experience from my days in Illinois. So between one and three a.m. on the morning of June 15 I wrote: “TO ALL PERSONS, INHABITANTS OF THE COUNTY OF SONOMA AND COUNTRY AROUND; REQUESTING THEM TO REMAIN AT PEACE; TO PURSUE THEIR RIGHTFUL OCCUPATIONS WITHOUT FEAR OF MOLESTATION.” I wrote that we meant no harm to those who did not take arms against us. I then put forward our case: First to protect our women and children. We had been invited to come to California with the hopes of a republican government, but upon arriving found a military despotism, which threatened us with removal by force, and demanded we leave our property, and thus be despoiled of our means of defense or flight. Next to overthrow a government which had robbed the missions, appropriated their properties, and which had shamefully oppressed and ruined the laboring inhabitants of California with tariffs. And finally to establish and perpetuate a liberal, just and honorable Government, religious and personal liberty; which shall insure the security of life and property; which shall detect and punish crime and injustice; which shall encourage industry, virtue and literature; and which shall foster agriculture, manufacture and mechanism, by guaranteeing freedom of commerce. I proclaimed that we relied on the justice of our cause, the favor of heaven, the good sense of the people of California, and our own bravery and love of Liberty for our hope of success. I further premised that a government to be prosperous “…must originate among its people: its officers should be its servants, and its glory its common reward.”
This proclamation we caused to be translated and sent among the people. We were quickly reinforced by 30-40 locals. Over time our numbers continued to swell with those who wanted freedom. I understand when the men of General Castro, our enemy, read this proclamation, half of them, over 300 men, deserted.
For a time we thought we might have our own “Alamo.” Two of our men, who were conducting reconnaissance were taken prisoner by a group of local citizens and murdered. William Todd was also taken prisoner, but we managed to rescue him. Captain Fremont took revenge upon the local population, executing three Californios, who had nothing to do with the aforementioned murders. Those responsible for the murders actually went free.
One day it was reported that General Castro’s troops were marching upon us. I was in front of the fort, waiting to give the order for the canon to fire. As the troops approached, I recognized the voice of Kit Carson, on of Captain Freemont’s scouts. I quickly gave the order for our forces to stand down. In this manner General Freemont was saved.
Our government effectively was the presiding body over Northern California for almost a month. Our greatest criticism came from Captain Fremont who said I was trying to take California for the Mormons. Nothing could be further from the truth. When Captain Fremont came to Sonoma, we turned the government over to him, and he was assigned by Commodore Stockton to pursue General Castro’s forces south. I received no commission of him, but perceived my duty and continued on as a private. I marched with Fremont’s forces to Monterey, where I was discharged, broke and looking more like a beggar than President of a Republic. I was able to get passage on a boat, and return to my family. There I farmed, but later became involved in the government of Colusa County, serving as judge.

John Sutter: California Reenactment

This is a first person reenactment based on John Sutter.  John Sutter had an important part in California Pioneer History.  he is one of the individuals I am prepared to reenact for a fourth grade presentation.
John Sutter:
Hello! Let me introduce myself. I am Johan Augustus Sutter. You may know me as John Sutter of Sutter’s Mill and Sutter’s Fort. I was born in the country of Germany, where my family was visiting. I am actually of Swiss decent. It was for that reason I called my farming kingdom on the Sacramento River New Helvetia, New Switzerland.
I did not leave Switzerland until I was an adult. I served in the Swiss army as a Captain of Artillery. I guess that is why I enjoyed giving a salute by canon for dignitaries who visited the fort. After the military, I tried my hand at business. Some of my business dealings turned bad; so as to avoid creditors, I determined it would be best for me to leave my country and travel to America. I left behind my beautiful wife and our four children.
I worked in St. Louis, Missouri for a couple of years, but always had a dream of going west and creating a farming empire. In 1838 I finally had my chance, joining with a group of Mountain Men headed for Oregon. From there I was able to take the ship Columbia to the Sandwich Islands (Hawaii.) I then boarded the brig Clementine which took me to the Russian colony New Archangel (now Sitka, Alaska.) The Clementine eventually carried me to Yerba Buena, (now San Francisco.)
Within a year of landing in Yerba Buena, I established myself at the fork of the Sacramento and the American rivers. I became a Mexican Citizen, as only citizens of Mexico were entitled to hold lands, and was granted by Governor Alvarado, almost 50,000 acres.
I hired many Native Americans to work at my estate. They were good workers, but generally not very permanent. Over time more and more Europeans came to the area, and they would also work for me.
My fort became the common point for most emigrants coming overland into California. I welcomed the Grigsby Ide Company, the Rhoades Company and many others. It was from Sutters Fort that rescue parties were sent to bring in the survivors of the Donner Party.
My Fort held a place in Bear Flag Revolt. Colonel John Fremont established a presence here, and for a time the Fort was under military rule. General Vallejo was sent here as a prisoner.
Thomas Rhoades first brought to my attention the presence of gold upon my lands. I had allowed he and his family to take up farming on my lands. I asked him to please keep the presence of gold a secret, but allowed him to extract gold for myself and his family.
I had plans for some time to build a saw mill as well as a flour mill. However the labor was not available. When over 100 Mormon Battalion men came to the area looking for work, I decided to proceed with these plans. James Marshall oversaw the construction of a sawmill at Colusa. Eight men worked with him. While building a trestle for the mill, they noticed a shiny substance in the water. This became the official discovery of gold, January 1848. Mr. Marshall brought me the news of this find, and I again asked him to keep it a secret. However Sam Brannon of the California Star newspaper got word of the find, and published it in his newspaper. He felt the cry of gold would bring people to our state, and economic prosperity. He sent 2000 copies of his newspaper to the East. It was also he who went through the streets of San Francisco yelling, “There is gold on the American River.”
I curse the discovery of gold. I knew that it would be the end of my farming empire. After the cry of “gold” I could scarcely get anyone to work for me. Everyone was looking for gold.
As the 49ers, as they came to be called, came to California, they trampled over my land with no regard for my propriety. They went so far as to file suit, saying as how they now lived on the land, they had squatter’s rights and the land was theirs. My title to these lands was deemed invalid. I was granted a monthly stipend for taxes I had paid on the land, which now were not mine. I was never reimbursed for the loss of my lands. So let me sing a little song in commemoration of the gold miners. I enjoy this song, as the ship Clementine brought me to California. “Oh my Darling”
I was able to bring my family to California. It was good to see my beautiful wife again. I gave my remaining property to my son, John Sutter and moved East with the hopes of convincing the government to reimburse me for my loss. The final insult was when the community I had established was named Sacramento for the river. I was hoping it would be known as Sutterville.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Book Review: Stories of Young Pioneers In Their Own Words

This book is written by Violet T. Kimball,Mountain Press Publishing, Montana, 2000. This book has many interesting stories. It tells not only the story of the Mormon Trail, but also the Oregon and California trails. It is a very good book for background information on what the trail was like, what activities the children participated in, and what tragedies befell some of the pioneers.

My favorite part of the book was a song from the out and backers (when young men would go out, pick up the Mormon pioneers and bring them back.) It refers to to ox team:
Whoa, haw, Buck and Jerry Boy
There's a pretty little girl in the outfit ahead
Whoa, haw, Buck and Jerry Boy
I wish she were by my side instead
Whoa, haw, Buck and Jerry Boy
Look at her now with a pout on her lips
As daintily with her fingertips
She picks for the fire some buffalo chips
Who, haw, Buck and Jerry Boy.

The author includes several stories of different pioneers at the end of each chapter. I enjoyed the story of Lizzy Flake Rowan, an African American Mormon who helped found the city of San Bernadino. She eventually married Charles Rowan, a local barber.

This book is full of many such stories and tidbits about the plains, romance, deaths, hardship, happy times. I would recommend this book for anyone who is interested in learning about the Western migration in our county.

Movie Review: Road to Zion; British Isles
The link may not always work, but it is shown periodically on BYUtv

This is a three part series of movies made for KBYU.  I know they are going to be shown on KBYU over the next week.  However I watched them from the KBYU website.
These movies helped me get a better sense of the conditions in England surrounding Isaac Wardle and his family.
The first movie took us to Preston, where the first missionaries to England traveled after landing at Liverpool.  The movie first presents the conditions in Preston, which was crowded having doubled in population over the last several years.  It also presented working in a textile mill.  It presented the story of the vision the missionaries had of the evil spirits which were determined to stop the work.  I had heard of this, but not heard the actual story.
It talked about the first baptisms in the River Ribble.  It also talked about the one of the first meeting sites, the cockpit which had been used for cock fights before they were outlawed. branch, The ward in Preston is the longest existing unit in the church.

The next film presented the second apostolic mission to England.  It presented Wilford Woodruff and the conversion of the group United Brethren.  The United Brethren had a chapel, which they gave to the church, the first chapel owned by the church.
This movie also told the early story of the Church to Wales.  Although Dan Jones wasn't the first missionary there, he had great success.  He was with Joseph Smith the night before Joseph was murdered.  Joseph asked him if he was afraid to die.  He said not for a cause such as this.  Then Joseph Smith prophesied that he would complete his mission to wales.  He actually completed two missions to Wales.  Dan Jones is known as one of the great missionaries of the church.
The third film started with the history of the church in Scotland.  7000 people immigrated from Scotland to the western United States in the 1800s.
It then talked about the history of printing and shipping in Liverpool.  It showed a replica of a ship and the berths in steerage.  I think the conditions were nicer in the film than those described aboard the Horizon.  To think of people leaving their families members behind, who they may never see again, is very moving.
The film then concludes with the modern church and the growth of the church in England.  The Church struggled through the two wars.  After this the policy of emigration changed, and members began to stay in England.  Then with the completion of the Temple in the late 1950s was the catalyst for continued growth. Today there are 44 stakes in Britain.
I would recommend these movies for anyone wanting to understand the history of England as it relates to the Mormon Church.