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.

Dan Rhoads, Rescuer Donner Party

Most of this is taken from the words of Dan Rhoads from a letter he wrote as well as a history.
Daniel and Amanda Rhoads

Dan Rhoads
I was born in Edgar County (Illinois) December 7th, 1821. I arrived in California, by the overland route, after a journey of five months from the Missouri River on the 5th of October 1846. Let me read from a letter I wrote to my in-laws. Quote:
“JULY 1847 Dear Parents I take my pen in hand to inform you that we are all well and hope that these few lines may find you all enjoying the same blessings We all arrive safe in California except Jonathan Patterson He died and was buried near the plains of California We made our arrival the 1st day of October (1846) through many difficulties and troubles The first part of our journey was pleasant and beautiful traveling and until we got about half way we began to get tired and out of heart The grass was failing and our cattle was weak After we came to the mountains the grass was very scarce Our travel was principally up rivers We traveled up the Plat river to the mountains Up Sweetwater to the South Pass from there on we traveled down the streams The last 300 miles is very near all rocks The nearer California the worse the road. From the bottom of the Cascade to the top is about 4 miles It took us 3 days to take our wagons and cattle up Our old wagon brought us through safe and we then sold it for 30 dollars. The Fannon boys and Thomas Rhoads (jr) enlisted for 3 months and went in the army and all the emigrants that could leave their families went along they was determine to gain the country or die in pursuit of it and without help they could never have gained it.” 
About half the emigration went to oragon. A part of what come to California went a new rout with Hastings through by the Salt Flats about half of them got in before the snows the balance got to the foot of the Cascade and campt over night and the snow fell about 2 feet deep they concluded to lay over a day for the snow to melt of the next night they had 8 feet. It snowed them in and the cattle got away and left them without any provisions.
Previous to this time, Captain Sutter, having heard that there still remained of the emigration of 1846 a party who had not yet come through and knowing from the lateness of the season the danger they were in sent a party composed of three Indians with pack mules loaded with provisions in charge of a white man to meet these emigrants wherever they might be found.
This pack train met with the emigrants, 80 in number, (since known as the Donner party) either at Donner Lake or a day’s journey east of it and was with them the night they encamped at the lake. That night the first snow of the season fell to the depth of four feet and the storm continued until the ground was covered ten feet deep. By this the work oxen and horses on which the emigrants might have subsisted until relief came, were scattered and with the exception of a very few, utterly lost.
The few miserable oxen saved and the provisions sent by Captain Sutter lasted the party but a short time. Then twenty-four of the emigrants, including Mrs. McCutcheon, Mrs. Graves and two other women, and the white man and Indians sent by Sutter, started without any food, in the desperate hope either of reaching the settlements (a hundred miles distant) or of encountering some relief party. Of course, many soon commenced dying from exhaustion and starvation and the survivors were compelled to subsist upon the bodies of those who perished. In about three weeks from the time the party left Donner lake some "wild" Indians living in the foothills brought to Johnson's Ranch on Bear River, 40 miles from Sutter's Fort, one of the emigrants named Eddy, half carried and led him a distance of about 30 miles. Eddy told the people at Johnson's that the four women and William Foster, all that remained alive of the party that left the lake were at an Indian Rancheria about 25 miles East of Johnson's. I may here observe that the Indians of Sutter's relief party were never afterwards heard from. The surviving emigrants stated that one had died and been eaten, but it was generally thought that the Indian had been killed for food and the other Indians became frightened and had left the party. On the arrival of Eddy at Johnson's a letter was dispatched, by Indian runners, to the Fort giving an account of the condition of the emigrants at Donner Lake…
The day after the arrival of Eddy at Johnson's a party started from the latter place to bring in Foster and the four women, which they accomplished in two or three days.
Captain Sutter made a call for volunteers to proceed to the assistance of the emigrants. A party of fourteen of which I was one was made up and at once started for Johnson's Ranch. Here we prepared for our expedition. We killed some beef cattle and dried the meat over fires. We pounded some wheat in Indian stone mortars and ground some in coffee mills. We cut the hides of animals we killed into strips for the future construction of snowshoes.
Although we worked night and day without intermission, except for short intervals for sleep, these preparations occupied us three days. The provisions were then packed on mules and we started on our journey without a guide, and trusting to the judgment of our leaders, John P. Rhoads (my brother) and Resin P. Tucker to find our way. Until we struck the snow we took the emigrant trail.
Our road was in very bad condition and at frequent intervals we had to unpack the mules and drag them out of the mire. In about five days traveling on an average five or six miles a day we reached the snow which we found three feet deep. Through this we worried along some five miles when it became too deep for the mules to go any further, it being eight feet deep and falling all the time; a regular storm having set in. Our encountering the snow so deep and so much sooner than we had been led to anticipate utterly disheartened some of the party and six men turned back.
We made a camp and left the mules in charge of one of Sutter's men. Our party now consisted of seven. John P. Rhoads, Reasin P. Tucker (now in Napa Valley), Sept. Moutry (now in Santa Clara), Aquila Glover (dead), a sailor named George Foster, a sailor named Mike, and myself. Each man made a pair of snowshoes. These were constructed by cutting pine boughs, stripping off the bark, heating them over the fire and bending them in the shape of an ox-bow about two feet long and 1 wide, with a lattice work of rawhide for soles. We attached them to our feet by means of the rawhide strips with which we were provided. On these we had to travel continuously except at brief intervals on hillsides and bare spots when we took them off.
Each man also took a single blanket, a tin cup, and a hatchet and as near as the captains could estimate, 7 pounds of dried meat. Thus equipped we started. Foster had told us that we should find the emigrants at or near Truckee Lake (since called Donner Lake) and in the direction of this we journeyed. Of course, there was no trail, we had no guide and most of our journey was through a dense pine forest but the lofty peak which overlooks the lake was in sight at intervals and this and the judgment of our two leaders were our sole means of direction.
For the guidance of those who might follow us and as a signal to any of the emigrants who might be straggling about in the mountains, as well as for our own direction on our return trip, we set fire to every dead pine tree on or near our trail. At the end of every three days journey (10 or 20 miles) we made up a small bundle of dried meat and hung it to the bough of a tree to lighten the burden we carried and for subsistence on our return.
The first day we made 7 or 8 miles. At sunset we "made camp" by felling pine saplings 6 inches in diameter and cutting them off about 12 feet long and placing them in the snow making a platform 6 or 8 feet wide. On this platform we kindled our fire, roasted some meat for supper and then throwing our blankets over our shoulders sat, close together around the fire and dozed through the night the best way we could. If we had made the fire on top of the snow without the intervention of any protecting substance, we should have found our fire, in the morning 8 or 10 feet below the surface on which we encamped. In this manner we passed every night of our journey both to and from the lake on the part of the road covered by snow.
We went on making from four to six miles per day leaving a very sinuous trail by reason of the impossibility of pursuing a straight course through the dense forest and of our having to wind around the sides of hills and mountains instead of going over them. The snow increased as we proceeded until it amounted to a depth of eighteen feet as was afterward discovered by the stumps of the pine trees we burned.
We traveled in Indian file. At each step taken by the man in front he would sink in the snow to his knees and of course had to lift his foot correspondingly high for his next step. Each succeeding man would follow in the tracks of the leader. The latter soon became tired, fell to the rear, and the second man took the head of the file. When he became fatigued by breaking the trail he would fall back and so on each one in his turn.
At sunset of the 16th day we crossed the Truckee Lake on the ice and came to the spot where we had been told we should find the emigrants. We looked all around but no living thing except ourselves was in sight and we thought that all must have perished. We raised a loud halloo and then we saw a woman emerge from a hole in the snow. As we approached her several others made their appearance in like manner, coming out of the snow. They were gaunt with famine and I never can forget the horrible, ghastly sight they presented. The first woman spoke in a hollow voice very much agitated and said "are you men from California or do you come from heaven?
It was the awfulest and most horrible sight that ever was seen to go to their cabins and see the human frames that was there. They had been without food except a few work oxen since the first fall of snow, about 3 weeks. They had gathered up the bones of the slaughtered cattle and boiled them to extract the grease and had roasted some of the hides which formed the roofs of their cabins. We gave them food very sparingly and retired for the night, having someone on guard until morning to keep close watch on our provisions to prevent the starving emigrants from eating them, which they would have done until they died of repletion.
When these emigrants had first been stopped by snow they had built small cabins using the skins of the slaughtered oxen for roofs. Storms nearly continuous had caused the snow to fall to the depth of 18 feet so that the tops of their cabins were far beneath the surface. The bodies of those who had perished were lying on top of the snow covered with quilts. When a person died an inclined plane was dug to the floor of the cabin and the body slid up to the surface, the inmates being too weak to lift the corpse out. So far the survivors had not been compelled to partake of human flesh. I remember seeing but 3 living men. Very few women or children had died up to this time.
The morning after our arrival John P. Rhoads and Tucker started for another camp distant 8 miles East, where were the Donner family, to distribute what provisions could be shared and to bring along such of the party as had sufficient strength to walk. They returned bringing four girls and two boys of the Donner family and some others.
The next morning we started on our return trip accompanied by 21 emigrants mostly women and children. John Rhoads carried a child in his arms which died the second night. On the third day an emigrant named John Denton, exhausted by starvation and totally snow-blind gave out. He tried to keep up a hopeful and cheerful appearance, but we knew he could not live much longer. We made a platform of saplings, built a fire on it, cut some boughs for him to sit upon and left him. This was imperatively necessary. The party who followed in our trail from California found his dead body a few days after we had left him, partially eaten by wolves.
As we were now guided by the stumps of the pine trees we had burned on our way out as we never had to stop to determine the road and as the ground we traveled over was mostly descending we made much more rapid progress than on our journey East being only five days from the lake to the camp where we had left our mules. Had we not made the journey thus quickly I do not know how we ever could have gotten through as will be seen. The first night after leaving the lake we consumed the last of our dried meat expecting that our next days journey would bring us to one of our "caches" of provisions which we had left hanging to the boughs of trees. When we reached this point we found that some varmint had climbed up and eaten our cache so that we had to make a supper of some strips of raw hide which we still carried and which we cut from our snow-shoes, roasted. We passed the night on our usual platform--there had to be several to accommodate the entire party. This rawhide was our sole subsistence for 3 days until just before we reached our "mule camp" when we met a party going east under the guidance of a half-.breed named Brit Greenwood who acted as pilot. Greenwood told us that when his father, Caleb Greenwood, an old Rocky Mountain hunter and trapper, heard that our party of seven had started over the mountains without a guide, he offered to wager the money he was to receive for piloting a party, that not one of us would ever come back alive; and the bet was not taken.
When we reached the camp where we had left our mules we remained until next day. During the night, the food in camp not being guarded sufficiently the eldest boy of the Donner family managed to eat so much dried meat that he died the next day. We here found a party of sailors from the U.S. Squadron commanded by Lieutenant Selim E. Woodworth U.S.A. and piloted by old man Greenwood before referred to. This was a novel business for the sailors and I heard that they suffered terribly when they reached the deep snow.
Glover and myself were the weakest of the party suffering greatly from exhaustion caused by deprivation of food and want of sleep. We mounted mules and returned to the Fort. It was a long time before I recovered from the effects of the expedition. My brother, John Rhoads, made a second and a third trip with relief parties none of which, however met with the difficulties experienced by our party.
On the discovery of gold I mined at Mormon Island and with the other gold seekers at that point paid Sam Brannon one third of the gross amount taken out. I continued mining until the autumn of 1849.  After the prophet Brigham Young called the Saints to Utah I went East in 1850 but was not contented and returned to California where I have since resided, experiencing the vicissitudes of fortune incident to a life in that country.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Book Reviews: Pioneer Women and A Multicultural Portrait of the Move West.

These two books are both geared towards young people, most likely middle school age.  And they both do not have very positive things to say about Mormons.

The book "Pioneer Women: The lives of Women on the Frontier" Linda Peavy and Ursula Smith, University of Oklahoma Press, 1996, is the more balanced book with regards to Mormons, but it mostly focuses on the question of polygamy  It does present a fairly balanced story with one exception.  It starts a sentence, since a goodly percentage of Latter-day Saints had two or more wives..."  I think polygamy was the exception rather than the rule and only a minority of Latter-day Saint men had a second wife, and very few more than two.  It also presents an anti Mormon cartoon.  To the books credit is does label it this way.  It shows the several wives reacting to a Mormon bringing a new wife home.  Of course the new wife is younger than the other women.  In fact the current wives were part of the decision making process in marrying another wife.  The Priesthood was also a part of the decision making process, and permission from the Priesthood was a requirement for a polygamous marriage to be sanctioned by the Church.

To the book's credit, it does have some positive comments about Mormons.  One is in regards to suffrage for women.  Utah as a territory granted women the right to vote very early.  (After Wyoming the first territory to do so.)  This is downplayed as a way for Mormons to maintain power as non Mormon men were more likely single.

The second book, "A Multicultural Portrait of the Move West,"  Petra Press, Marshall Cavendish Corporation, 1994, is pretty much a hit piece as far as the Mormons are concerned.  The author had a definite slant to her comments with regards to Native Americans and Mormons and often writes as fact things that were more rumor and unfounded accusations.  She writes of the Danites going up and down the state murdering people.  She does not provide any evidence to back this up.  She also says Mormons "challenged" the Constitution by practicing polygamy.

It is disparaging  that books such as this are promoted to young people, and that controversial statements are presented as fact, without any documentation.  So if someone wanted to red about different groups of pioneers, I would suggest the first book about Pioneer Women, and leave the other on the shelf and seek information elsewhere as it is not documented, and presents opinion as fact.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

The History Nut

Maybe I should have studied history in college.  My Dad did, and received his Master's from USU, writing his thesis about the forced move of the Uncompahgre Ute Indians from Colorado to the reservation in Eastern Utah.  He took several trips doing research, and maybe from this began a desire to know more about history.

However first love of history go father back than my Dad's travels.  While growing up, we lived in Illinois for a couple of years in Carbondale. A member of the branch had a property with enough open land to have a branch garden.  This property had something else.  It had bomb craters from the Civil War.  You could still see them.  I was fascinated with the Civil War.  But when a teacher offered me a how-to baseball book or a Civil War book I took the baseball book.  I was still a boy, and playing baseball was something I did a lot back then.

I did study some history in college.  I took the history of Cache Valley course, and did a research paper on the History of the Reorganized Church in Cache Valley.  Not many people know that the son of Joseph Smith, Joseph Smith III, visited Cache Valley as president of the Reorganized Church, and there was a great debate between the two philosophies in the basement of the Logan Tabernacle.  (The main floor was not completed and the basement was the largest room available in the Valley at the time.)  At one point someone yelled from the gallery, "Don't talk to the son of the prophet that way."  Joseph Smith had a great respect from the people which carried over to his son.  Even so there were not a lot of converts to the church headed by Joseph Smith III.

I also recently delved into WWII history, as I wrote my father's history.  It was good to understand that war a bit better.

I have also studied pioneer history as part of learning of my own ancestors.  More recently I have been learning California pioneer history.  Did you know there was a battle in Santa Clara as part of the Mexican American War?  There are many things with regards to history I enjoy.  I am often reading a historical work, so this will give me a place to write about those things, and share what I learn.

PS  My Dad's thesis is in the special collections section of the USU library.  The paper I wrote is there as well.