Monday, June 29, 2015

Marin Company Handcart pioneer: Thomas Durham, 28

Thomas accepted the gospel when he first heard it.  However he had to come of age (22) before he could be baptized.  He served as the choir leader for four years in his branch before baptism, and then as the branch clerk and president for six years after baptism.  He was given a blessing by Cyrus Wheelock (writer of “Ye Elders of Israel”), “You will go to Zion but it will be by the skin of your teeth; and when you get there the Angels of Heaven will sing to you and give you music as you sleep, and you will be able to write it and sing it in the Temples of our God.”  He had married Mary Morton.  When he was determined to leave England, his parents pleaded with him not to go for his new religion.  Thomas was determined. 
He traveled with his wife, wife’s sister and another woman was assigned to their handcart.  In Nebraska some of his friends persuaded him to stay.  However he was still determined.  He indicated they had to guard cattle every other night.  Snow cam early, resulting in many difficult river crossings.  Ice floating in the rivers would cut his legs.  He would often make the trip several times, helping others across.  Their ration was reduced to four ounces of flour per person, or a pound for their group.  They would mix this with water, bake the mixture, and then share this four ways.  If not for the timely rescue, which included the brother who had given Thomas the blessing, they would not have made it to the Valley. 
He and his wife were asked to settle in Parowan, where he again served as choir director until his death (a total of 62 years with his time in England).
His choir sand in general conference on a couple occasions, he promoted music in the area, focusing on the classics.  On several occasions he heard music in his dreams, and would write these down.  He was able to sing his songs on a couple occasions in two different temples.

Taken from “Tell my Story Too” by Jolene S. Allphin 

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