Saturday, January 29, 2011

Argentina's Dirty War

I usually don't delve outside of U.S. history, but since I was living in Argentina during this period, decided I would explore this theme.  I wrote about Dr. Santillan in another blog , who was caught up in this conflict.
The dirty war, probably started before the taking over of the military government in Argentina, but became more intense during this time.  It is estimated rebels and terrorists killed over 1500 people during this time.  In response to this, the government made war against a wide swath of people.  " The "ideological war" doctrine of the Argentine military focused on eliminating the social base of insurgency. In practice that meant liquidating many middle class students, intellectuals and labor organizers, most of whom had few ties to the guerrillas. By the end of the 1970s, such tactics had suppressed the insurgents, but Argentina suffered terribly from the ends-justifies-the-means attitude adopted by the military.

Official estimates but the umber of people who disappeared during this period as over 11, 000.  Civil Rights groups put the number at 30,000.  Many of those who disappeared were drugged, taken in an airplane ride over the ocean, and pushed out where their bodies would never be recovered.  In this way the government could deny responsibility.
 Because mos of the disappeared were left without voice, being taken in the middle of the night, subject to torture, and never heard from again, documentation and records are hard to come by.  Those kept by the military were destroyed after the Falkland Islands War.  The website: "The Vanished Gallery" is atempting to give voice to some of the disappeared.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Movie Review: Forgotten Voyage: ***The Mormon Sea Trek that Sparked the Gold Rush

This is an intriguing movie produced by Time Frame Films and directed by Scott Tiffany.  It tells the story of the Ship Brooklyn, and their six month 8000 mile voyage around the tip of South America, and to California.  The movie gives a very good idea of the cramped conditions on the ship.  It tells of their near death experience with a big storm at sea.  The approached islands off the Ivory Coast, before heading south the Tierra del Fuego.  The did not resupply on the Atlantic side, and then were unable to get to the normal resupply station in Chili because of a storm.  They finally maid land at Juan Fernandez Island and were able to harvest fruits and fresh water.

They traveled to Sandwich Islands (Hawaii) and from there to San Francisco.  They thought their journey would take them out of the United States, but when they arrived their the American flag was flying.

They arrived in 1846, and expected the rest of the church to meet them in California.  They established themselves in Yerba Buena (San Francisco) and established the first school and newspaper in the city.  The branched out to opposite establish the communities of Brooklyn and New Hope.  

 When the church stayed in Salt Lake, some went to Salt Lake to join them, while others stayed in California.  This movie tells the stories of Sam Brannon, who was the leader of the voyage.  He left the church when they didn't come to California.    He, more than anyone else was responsible for the gold rush, advertising it on the streets of San Francisco, and publishing it in his newspaper which he caused to be taken to the east coast.  He was California's first millionaire, using the member's funds to set himself up in business.  He owned a good percentage of San Francisco, Sacramento and Los Angeles.  His womanly and drunkardly ways eventually cost him.  His wife divorced him, and was awarded a million dollars in cash.  He had to liquidate his assets, which started his downfall.  He died a pauper, but had 20 years of incredible wealth.

John Horner was a member who stayed loyal to the church.  He established a farm in Fremont, and also did very well during the gold rush period.  He eventually moved on to Hawaii, and raided sugar cane.

I enjoyed this film.  It presented interviews from both sides of the Mormon equation, and did not rely on church members only.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Freighting and Courting in the Teton Basin By: Wilford Wardle

Wilford and Mellisa wedding photos

I found this short history in some stuff I had.  It is written in my grandfather's hand, and he must have been older when he wrote it, but it is undated.  I have tried to transcribe as written with a few corrections.  Some words I could not decipher, but perhaps someone more familiar with the geography or vernacular may have better luck.  I have underlined the words with which I had difficulty.

James Wilford Wardle Sr.

I was born Nov 2, 1891 at South Jordan, Utah to William Haston and Annie S. Sorenson.  In 1892 they moved West Jordan, Utah where I started to school.  [I] attended 1-2-3 grades.  I moved back to South Jordan 1899 went to 4-5-6 grades.  I moved to Victor, Idaho Nov 1.  I was 14 years old the next day.  While we lived at West Jordan I went with my father to Bingham and hauled  hay and ___ there and the same at South Jordan and worked on the farm and with the sheep in the hills South of Salt  Lake and Weber River at Ashley, Utah.
After coming to Idaho I worked on the range at Victor.  [I hauled] Freight to St. Anthony, Rexburg and Jackson, Wyo.  In 1908 I went to South Jordan with pack outfit to get 1900 herd of sheep which Elmor Curtis, Father and me took to victory coming up about where the 19 [15] comes now to Malad, then to Lava Hot Springs then through the hill to Victor.  We had the sheep and too big range to take [care] of so there lots of work to do.  Still freight all the time.  In 1911 father got the mail to Jackson, Wyo.  We had about 40 head of horses working on the road all the time.  Besides the sheep and horses, I helped to freight to Jackson Dam.  I hauled all the gate lifts over.

I was hauling there and also the mail when I started to go with Mother.  I was at dance at Driggs and my sister Mary asked me if I wanted to meet a girl.  I think it was love at first sight.  We had went together.  June 1913 I was on the mail and freight.  I would come in off the road, hire the teams or take saddle horse, go 20 miles to dance, back to Victor, get there in time to get the horses ready for the haul.  One night I was at Jackson Dam which was 75 miles to Victor.  Mother called said they was a card from Melissa to come down [to] a dance.  I didn’t have my load off.  I found foreman at 9 o’clock.  Told him I wanted to get unloaded.  He got some men and got load off.  I went to the cook house.  The cook said he would get me some things to take at 4:30 in the morning.  I had the horses all ready started out 5:50, was at Victor at 6:30 [in the evening] with six horses and two wagons making 75 miles which was a two day drive.  Got on a horse [and] went to Meliss’a place.  Her and Ray was waiting for me.  [I] went to Chase to the dance.  I go back Victor at 7  [in the morning.]  Father and the boys had the team all ready for the mail for me to take.  The next day I went to Jackson with freight.   [I] went from there to Kemmerer.  [I] was on that trip about 26 days.  There was one other man with me.  We had three wagons and ten horses each.  It snowed on us all the [way] from Kemmerer to Danles.  At Danles there was about 2 ½ feet of snow.  We was about 10 days making 90 miles.  The pass had about four feet of snow.  We had to bring the wagons down the back, one at a time.  We had grain for our horses but no hay.  When we got [to] Jackson that the best lot of horses I ever seen.  They never done a thing.  After we get to Victor for two weeks Loady want us to make another trip to Kemmerer but it was too late in the fall.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Movie Review: ***^More Precious than Gold; The Mormon Battalion

More Precious then Gold is a movie produced by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in 1997 marking the 150th year anniversary of the Mormon Battalion.  This movie tells the story of how the Battalion was recruited in Iowa, after the Saints had been expelled from Illinois in the early months of 1846.  Nearly 500 Saints were recruited.  A few women also went with them as laundry maids.  Most of the Battalion members made it to San Diego, having pioneered a wagon trail from Santa Fe to San Diego.  Some of them had returned to find the Saints due to illness.

The Battalion stayed in San Diego for a time.  San Diego was then a village.  Members of the Battalion helped build a court house.  They white washed and did work for te improvement of the community.  They dug 20 wells.

Later that year they were discharged from military service in Los Angeles.  Most returned directly to find the Saints at that time, but about 80 headed North, and went to work for John Sutter.  John Sutter had wanted to build a flour mill and a wood mil, but lacked the skilled labor to accomplish this.  The Mormon Battalion members solved this problem.  Eight members helped build the saw mill in Columna under the direction of James Marshall.  In January of 1848 James Marshall noticed some gold in the trace that they were digging for the mill. This was the beginning of the Gold rush.

Many local men gave up their work and headed to the gold fields.  The Mormons would look for gold in their spare time.  There was an island where gold was discovered, Mormon Island, where many panned and mined for gold.  Many of the Mormons were quite successful.

When the Mormons had finished their work, they took their wages with goods in kind, with which they were going to make their way over the Sierra Mountains to Utah.  In doing so they pioneered a trail, over 160 miles through the mountains, which would become a route for the gold rush minors of 1849.

The movie tells the story of Elias Allen.  He and two companions were murdered as they were scouting for the group.  His pouch of gold was discovered which was sent to his widow.  She was able to use the gold to purchase a wagon for her trip to Salt Lake.

I enjoyed this movie.  It helped me understand the roughness of the Sierra Nevada Mountains.  What a struggle to get wagons, and build a wagon trail through the mountains.  Today you can travel the route in two hours.  In pioneering the trail, there were days they would only make it a mile.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Sonoma: Barracks, Mission, Bear Flag

For those living in the Northern California area, I would recommend a visit to Sonoma to view the historical sites.

The Sonoma Mission was founded on July 4, 1823.  It was the farthest North of the California missions.  It was also the last mission founded.    It was secularized in the 1830s, and was eventually sold for private use.

The Sonoma Barracks are next to the Mission. The Barracks were made under the direction of General Mariano Vallejo.  They were built as a response to the Russian presence at Fort Ross on the coast.  It was built in stages between 1834 and 1841.  In there busiest time there were 40 soldiers stationed there.  However the Russians left Fort Ross and the Fort Ross was sold to John Sutter.  As a result the presence at the Barracks was reduced and in 1846 there were no troops.

 Across the street from the Barracks is the monument commemorating the Bear Flag Revolt.  Conditions between the newly arrived American immigrants to California, and the Mexican Government was not good.  This was exacerbated by the U.S. agreeing to the admittance of Texas as a state.  Mexico still claimed Texas.  The rumor among the new immigrants is that they were being told they had to leave California, leaving all their possessions behind.  This did not set well with them, and encouraged by Captain John Fremont of the U.S. military who was in the area on a surveying mission, they decided to strike against General Vallejo in Sonoma.  He represented the Mexican government in the area.  He was sympathetic, but still the same, it was decided to take him prisoner.  Thirty-three armed men, mountain men and new immigrants, poorly dressed but heavily armed pounded on the General's door early in the morning of June 14 and demanded his surrender and the surrender of the fort.  He donned his best uniform.  The "Bear flaggers" had constructed a flag of a grizzly bear, with a lone star (in sympathy of Texas) and a red bar at the bottom with the words California Republic.  (General Sonoma thought the bear looked more like a pig.)
After taking him prisoner, the question of authority came up.  Some questioned what right they had to act this way.  William Ide thought they should be doing more.  He admonished the men that they should be more than "thieves in the night" but should be a revolution.  "Choose ye this day what you will be! We are robbers, or we must be conquerors!" Most of the men followed him, but a few took General Vallejo back to Fort Sutter where Captain Fremont was situated.  The flag was raised on the plaza June 14, 1846.  William Ide spent much of the night writing a proclamation to the local residents, inviting them to join the revolt.  He had experience having helped write the presidential platform for Joseph Smith, the martyred Mormon prophet. 
The California Republic effective existed for about a month, until the U.S. troops, under the direction of  Commodore Sloat. took over the Barracks.  William Ide had been the president of the Republic for about a month.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Movie Review: ****Onward Alone
No longer available

This movie, available through BYUTV tells the stories of the women left behind by the Mormon Battalion.  It makes its presentation through modern dance, song and narration.

The Mormon Battalion was mustered to support the Union in the Mexican-American War while the Saints were in Iowa, after being driven from Nauvoo.  500 men marched from the Midwest to San Diego.  They pioneered the trail from Yuma to San Diego.

I had never considered the stories of the women who stayed behind.  This movie will increase your appreciation of this history.