Jordan-Watkins Wedding

Thomas and Margret Mordecae Watkins are pleased to announce the marriage of their daughter Margret to David Jordan, son of Benjamin and Mary Evans Jordan.  David and Margaret were married 21 September 1839 in Merthyr-Tydfil, Glamorganshire, Wales.

Much of the history below is taken from the sketch written by David and Margret’s granddaughter Martha Evans Anderson (1870-1930).  I have fleshed it out with dates and additional detail from source documents.

Margret Watkins was born 10 September 1816 in Merthyr-Tydfil.  She is believed to be the second of 5 children born to Thomas and Margret Watkins.  We really do not know a whole lot about Thomas and Margret Watkins.  A number of stories have survived which are shared below.

David Jordan was born 7 February 1820 in Merthry-Tydfil.  He is the first of four known children born to Benjamin and Mary Jordan.  Just like Margret’s parents, we really do not know much about this family.  At least minimal family history dates or stories have come down regarding either line.

Benjamin and Mary Jordan “were of a religious turn of mind and taught the Bible when he was just a boy, refined and of a gentle manner.”  Mary Jordan passed away in April 1843 when the family was still young.  The family consisted of David, Jane, Sarah, and John.  The Jordans were “a very refined and considered High Class people and of a high moral and religious character.  They were always proud of their personal appearance, always well dressed.”  The brothers were “devoted brothers, they lived and worked together with kind and friendly for each other.  When David and Margaret had children they all lived as a loving family together…this brother was named John Jordan.”

We really do not know anything of the Courtship between David Jordan and Margret Watkins.  “At this times Wales was in a prosperous condition and David and Margret were soon settled in which was very comfortable and spacious.  They had an extra room so that his father and one brother could live with them in their home.  His father lived only two weeks, when he died.  His brother continued to live with David and his wife.”

“Margret (Watkins) Jordan lost her mother when she was very young, leaving her father with a family of small children.  While the family was without the mother’s care, Margret met with an accident which left her with a crippled arm for the rest of her life.  This happened when she was about 2 years old…when her sister was carrying her on her back, when she slipped and fell.  Margret cried for days from pain before they learned that she had a broken arm at the elbow.  It had already started to set, it had been so long since it happened that they thought the child could not stand to have it rebroken and set properly, so it was never properly taken care of.”

“Margret’s father married again and brought into their home a most worthy and wonderful new mother to the children.  Grandmother used to tell us that she never remembered her real mother but their step mother was all that our real mother could have been.”

“When Margret was still in her teens and because of her crippled arm, she was apprenticed in a school for sewing.  The sewing at that time was all done by hand, they had no sewing machines.  Margret took to that kind of work very readily and was very satisfied to become a very good seamstress, while still a very young woman.  She was able to construct some of the finest work in the area.”

“Margret had a blind brother who learned to play the harp.  He was often requested to play, to entertain for groups at entertainments.  He carried his harp with him everywhere he went.  He was employed to play at different places and went alone to his employment places with his harp.  He became very popular and was loved by all his friends and family.”

“Margret continued to follow her trade as a seamstress after her marriage to Grandfather David Jordan, because she was very popular among the people of her community for her sewing.  As her family duties increased on her time, they had six children, two of which died in infancy, she gave up a lot of her sewing and devoted most of her time and energies to her family responsibilities.”

“David and Margret were among the very first in their area to embrace [T]he Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  They were baptized [18 January 1849].  Their children all grew up in the church.”

At this time there was a large branch of the Mormon church in their area of Wales.  “Their family was very faithful and devoted to their new church.  David was a good singer and also a composer and poet.”  He composed a number of beautiful poems.  One song was in honor of the Prophet Joseph Smith.  “As children, we remember hearing him sing this beautiful song, the music was very sweet and the words were all in Welsh.  We only understood it in part, but there was just something about the song that touched us very deeply.”

When they embraced the LDS church they had two little children, Mary and her older sister Gwyn who were 3 and 5 years old.  They were raised in the LDS church and were baptized when they reached 8 years old.

David and Margret’s first son was Thomas Jordan born December 1840 in Merthyr-Tydfil and dying June 1841.  We know very little about this little boy.

The first daughter was Gwenlliam Jordan born 2 August 1842 in Merthyr-Tydfil.  She was baptized in August 1851.

The second daughter was Mary Watkins Jordan born 5 December 1844 in Merthyr-Tydfil.  She was baptized 1 January 1852.

“David was a coal miner.  He and his brother went to work every day in the coal mines.  They were paid good wages at the time, so they did very well economically.”

“One day David’s shift in the mine interfered with his Priesthood meeting so he traded shifts with a friend of his.  He was the secretary of his group and felt like he should attend his Priesthood meeting.  Grandmother Margret told us that she remembers the incident very well.  It was a beautiful day and all was peaceful and calm.  Then at 9:30 am word came there had been an explosion in the mine.  People rushed to the place and it was soon learned that a large number of miners had lost their lives in the explosion and among them was David’s friend who was working in his place.  This was a great sorrow for David.  He loved this man very much and he was there instead of David.”

“As time went on, conditions changed.  Little by little the miner’s wages were reduced causing hard times.  Then there were strikes putting them out of work entirely for months.”

“Their two girls had by now grown into their teens.  They found employment and became independent.  There was also two little boys in the family.”  These two boys would have been David and Thomas.

Charles Jordan was born 3 November 1848 in Merthyr-Tydfil.  He died in December 1848.

Margret Jordan was born 26 Jul 1850 in Aberdare, Glamorganshire, Wales.  She died in June 1852.

David Moiah Jordan was born 7 June 1854 in Merthyr-Tydfil.

Thomas Jordan was born 17 March 1857 in Merthyr-Tydfil.

Ann Watkins Jordan was born in 1861 and we do not know how long she lived.

“Margret now returned to her sewing again to support the family during the hard times.  In a few years, the two girls got married and came to Utah, leaving their parents and the two brothers in Wales.  This happened in 1864.”

I have previously written about Gwenlliam Jordan and her marriage to David D Williams at this link.

“David and Margret had now been members of the LDS church for 20 years.  They were however very happy and contented until their daughters left for America.  They were also making every effort to join their daughters in Utah.

“Then they were made very sad by the death of their youngest son.  He was 11 years old.  Many of the members of their church had gone to Utah and they were feeling lonesome and sad.”  David Moiah Jordan died 14 October 1865.

“The Elders that served as missionaries in their area always found a big welcome in the Jordan home, even in the middle of the night would stop by and found a welcome and told them that it was like coming home.”

“They themselves were making every effort to prepare to go to Utah themselves.  They were planning to sail with the next company of Saints that were to leave by ship for New York.”

“It was now 9 years since their two daughters had gone to Utah.  One day the Elders called on them and told them that the next ship would sail in three weeks.  They counted their money which they had saved and it was not enough.  So they decided that they would have to wait for a later sailing date, until they could accumulate some more funds.”

“When they had secured the money they needed, they sent word to their daughters of their plans so they would expect them.”  The Jordan’s departed 29 July 1872 from Liverpool, Lancashire, England.

“After a lazy and weary journey crossing the Atlantic Ocean, they landed in New York City, on the 13th of August 1872 and remained in New York with their 15 year old son.  They found employment and remained there until October.  They received a letter from their 2 daughters containing money for them to continue to Utah.  Some of the money came from their daughter Mary’s husband, who sold his team of horses to get the money to send to them.”

They arrived in Brigham City, Box Elder, Utah on 10 November 1872 “after visiting in Ogden with their oldest daughter Gwenie Williams, and then they continued on to Brigham City where their daughter Mary Evans lived.  It is useless to try and describe how happy they all were to be back together again after 9 years of being apart, and praying for the time when they could all be together in Zion.”

David and Gwenlliam Williams

David and Gwenllian Williams

“The first winter in Utah was very hard on them because of the extreme cold temperatures and the abundance of snow.  It was particularly hard on Grandfather David because he was used to working underground in the coal mines of Wales.”

“Their daughter Mary and her husband William Evans were living in their two room log cabin at 1st East and 3rd South, just one half block south of the First Ward Meetinghouse.  They had 4 children by now, Margret, Mary Jane, Martha, and Abraham, who was just one week old when their grandparents arrived in Brigham City from Wales.  These newly arrived grandparents remained with William and Mary and their 4 children in their small home the rest of the winter of 1872.”

“At this time the railroad was being built from Ogden to Logan and the three men, Grandfather Jordan, son-in-law William, and the 15 year old son (Thomas) of David and Margret Jordan, all found work building for the railroad.  It was very difficult for David and his son to endure working out in the awful cold weather through that first winter.”

“Two years later, William Evans purchased another house on a large lot.  The house had 4 rooms in the Third Ward at the corner of 3rd West and 3rd North.  It was on the northwest corner of the intersection.  When they moved into the bigger house with their 4 children, they sold the old house to David and Margret who lived in their log home for the rest of their lives.”

“They lived comfortable and made it very attractive and comfortable.  They were neat and tidy people and they kept a beautiful garden which they were very proud of and they produced a lot of products for their table.”

“They were very interesting people to talk to and had many interesting and the conditions and memories of their lives in Wales and the extensive knowledge and testimony of the gospel, made it always a pleasure to visit with them.”

“As time went on they worked at many different things that there was to do around Brigham at that time, which was all real hard labor.”

David and Margret attended the Endowment House in Salt Lake City, Salt Lake, Utah to receive their own endowments on 10 October 1878.  David and Margret were sealed to each other the same day.

“Their son Thomas grew into manhood and they decided that they would build themselves a better house.  They erected the foundation and bought as much of the material for the house as they could the first year, with hopes that the next year they thought and hoped that they could continue building the house.”

“However, the winter came and there was no work to be had for them.  Their son Thomas decided to go to Evanston, Wyoming to work, putting up ice, and they had some relatives.  He obtained employment in one of the coal mines near by.  He was doing well and was very happy there with the thought that he would be able to help his parents with their new home building.”

“This was not to be because Thomas was severely injured in an accident and word was sent to his parents at Brigham City.  His father, David, went to Evanston to see his son but Thomas died just one hour before his father arrived on February 28, 1880.”

“This was a great sorrow to Thomas’ family and destroyed all their hopes for completing their home building plans.  When spring came, David sold all the building materials that he had accumulated for their new home, spent the rest of their lives in the original small log house.”

“Their sorrow over the loss of their son weighed so heavily upon them that it changed their life’s hopes for the future.  However, their faith and convictions in the gospel and the LDS Church which they accepted in Wales; and the trust in their Heavenly Father never failed them.  Faithfully they continued to attend all their church duties and their testimonies grew and were wonderful to hear them speak.”

“Grandfather David was able to adapt himself to most any kind of employment; and with the products of their well kept garden and the fruit that he raised in the years at their home, they had a comfortable living.”

“They also took a great interest in the Temple work of the church and were some of the first to attend the new Logan Temple after its dedication in 1877.”

“They had their family genealogy all in order so that when the temple was ready, so were they.  They traveled to Logan often to do temple ordinances for the members of their family and stayed a week at a time on many occasions to do this temple work.”

“This work of love continued until David’s health began to fail, but he continued to obtain information and prepare records on the members of their family for the work to be done in the temple for their dead ancestors.”

David and Margret were sealed to all their children in the Logan Temple 27 June 1888.  Gwenlliam and Mary were both happy to be physically present for the occasion.  All of the other children had passed away prior.

David Jordan

David Jordan

“Grandfather David Jordan’s life came to a peaceful end November 26, 1893 in Brigham City, Utah.  So peaceful and sweet was his passing away that our family can be proud of that dear old Grand Sire.  He was the first fruits of the gospel in our family.”

“Grandmother Margret was not the last one in their little home, and she felt the loss of her companion very keenly, but she was visited and comforted by her living daughter and grandchildren.  She wanted to continue living along in their home.”

“It had been 25 years since she and her dear husband came to live in that little log cabin; and there she wanted to stay until she could go to join her dear departed companion.”

“She lived another 7 years after her husband died.”

Mary Jordan Evans, LaVan Jones, Margret Evans Jones, Margret Jordan

Mary Jordan Evans, LaVan Jones, Margret Evans Jones, Margret Jordan

“She died November 19, 1902, at home in Brigham City, Utah.  She was buried in the Brigham City Cemetery beside her beloved husband.

A side note at the end of the above: “This was written by granddaughter Martha Evans.  This story was copied from a note book, in the hand writing of Martha Evans.”  “It is probably a repetition of the story I have previously translated from his hand-written record that I have previously had translated and distributed some years ago.  However, I am sure that it is more more in detail than the one I translated previously because there is much more of it.  Yours truly, Wesley Anderson 10 May 1986″

Gwenlliam passed away 3 September 1900 in Slaterville, Weber, Utah.  Mary passed away 8 December 1923 in Brigham City.

Williams-Davis Wedding

Here is another life sketch I want to share.  This time of John Haines Williams and Sarah Jane Davis.  John is the father of David Davis Williams and Mary Jane Williams Davis.  He is the brother to my David D Williams.  At some point I hope I have more history to write of David D and John Haines’ parents, but at this point there are far too many questions.  In all honesty, it seems that their parents John Williams and Frances Henneys have had their history confused, merged, and corrupted by some other Williams lines.  Until we can sort the real information on our line from the rest, I have delayed writing to keep from perpetuating mistakes and confusion.  For example, it appears John Williams died in Ogden, Weber, Utah in 1867.  But some have him merged and combined with John Williams who died in 1876, 1870, and 1867.  On with the already written history.

I will offer more family information after the life sketch.  I do not know who wrote this history.

~

“John Haines Williams was born February 1, 1829, at Pembrey, Carmarthenshire, Wales, a son of John Williams and Frances Hennys.  He was the fourth child of ten children: Frances, Elizabeth, Catherine, John, Mary, David, Sarah, Richard and Joseph.  His father was a collier by trade and worked hard to sustain a large family.

“Sarah Jane Davis was born 5 July 1830 at Kidwelly, Carmarthenshire, Wales, the daughter of William and Margaret Davis of Kidwelly.  She was the youngest of the nine children born in this family: Margaret, Mary, Ann, William, Eliza, John, David, Lewis, and Sarah Jane.

“After their marriage, John and Sarah Jane made their home in Llanelli, Carmarthenshire, Wales, where he worked in the coal mines.  Here two sons were born, William and David.  Upon hearing the gospel and the advantages of life in America, they worked, saved, and made plans for a new home there.  Those who emigrated in their party were: John, Sarah Jane, their sons, William and David, his father, John Williams, then a widower, and his two brothers,  David and wife and Richard.  They took passage from Liverpool, England with a group of Saints in the year 1855, spending eight weeks on the water.

“Landing in New York, they went to Scranton, Pennsylvania to make their home.  While living there, the men worked in the coal mines.  At Scranton, two more children were born, Thomas John and Ann.  The family lived in Scranton until 1859 and then came west, making their home in Ogden, Utah for several years.  There Eliza Bell, Sarah, John, and Mary were born.

“When a group of Saints were leaving for southeastern Idaho, John and Sarah Jane and their eight children went with them and settled in Malad Valley.  At first, they lived in Woodruff where George and Frances were born.  Later they moved to Malad and took up a homestead of three hundred twenty acres at Gwenford.  There they worked hard clearing the land of sage by hand to prepare it for planting.

“John Haines was a lover of fine horses and cattle.  Many people of the valley bought animals from him.  They built a three-room log house and were happy in their new home.  Here Joseph, the eleventh child, was born.

“Desiring the best in education for their children and having a desire to share their happiness in the truths of the gospel, Thomas was sent to Europe and labored as an L.D.S. missionary in England and Wales.  After his return home he attended school and taught school for many years.  This privilege could not be afforded the others after the death of their father.

“Sarah Jane was a very proud, cultured and refined woman, a wonderful homemaker, seamstress and cook.  Many enjoyed her delicious home-cooked meals.  She had to make bread nearly every day.  The Indians were prowlers at that time.  They came to her home often, but she believed in the admonition of President Brigham Young; It is better to feed them than fight them.  This she did.

“John Haines died on January 20, 1882 at the age of fifty-three.  Sarah Jane worked very hard caring for her family.  Her daughter, Frances, lived with her until her mother=s death on August 4, 1892.  They were both buried in the Malad City Cemetery.”

~

Some more family history information.

John Haines Williams born 1 February 1829 in Pembrey, Carmarthenshire, Wales and died 20 January 1882 in Gwenford, Oneida, Idaho.  He was buried 23 January 1882 in Malad, Oneida, Idaho.

Sarah Jane Davis born 5 July 1830 in Kidwelly, Carmarthenshire, Wales and died 4 August 1892 in Samaria, Oneida, Idaho.  She was buried 7 August 1892 in Malad.

John and Sarah were married in 1849 in Kidwelly.

Their children are:

William Davis Williams born 20 June 1850 in Burry Port, Carmarthenshire, Wales and died 10 May 1916 in Malad.  Buried 13 May 1916 in Malad.  Married Hannah Maria Thomas (1849-1900) 10 April 1871 in Samaria, Oneida, Idaho.

David Davis Williams born 19 June 1852 in Llanelli, Carmarthenshire, Wales and died 27 June 1927 in Samaria.  Buried 30 June 1927 in Samaria.  Married Rebecca Price Williams (1857-1936) 31 December 1877 in St. Johns, Oneida, Idaho.

Catherine Williams born 4 April 1854 in Llanelli and died 27 March 1856 in Pennsylvania.

Thomas Davis Williams born 3 August 1856 in Hyde Park, Westmoreland, Pennsylvania and died 24 January 1900 in Woodruff, Oneida, Idaho.  Buried 27 January 1900 in Samaria.  Married Mary Ann Davis (1860-1895) 20 January 1881 in Samaria.  He married Agnes Ellen Bowen (1868-1943) 18 May 1897 in Brigham City, Box Elder, Utah (married by Rudger Clawson, later LDS Apostle and member of the First Presidency).

Ann Ellen Williams born 11 April 1861 in Scranton, Lackawanna, Pennsylvania and died 26 August 1936 in Malad.  Buried 28 August 1936 in Malad.  Married Joshua “Jessie” Lewis Thomas (1857-1928) 26 March 1888 in Malad.

Sarah Williams born 3 May 1862 in Ogden, Weber, Utah.  We don’t know anything more about her.

Eliza Bell Williams born 4 June 1963 in Ogden and died 15 September 1941 in Samaria.  Buried 19 September 1941 in Samaria.  Married William Lewis Jones (1857-1889) 19 January 1887 in Logan, Cache, Utah.

Mary Jane Williams born 8 April 1864 in Ogden and died 20 March 1903 in Samaria.  Buried 24 March 1903 in Samaria.  Married Samuel Deer Davis (1859-1923) 10 October 1882 in Salt Lake City, Salt Lake, Utah.

John Haines Williams born 18 February 1866 in Ogden and died 9 August 1956 in Malad.  Buried 11 August 1956 in Samaria.  Married Rebecca Morse (1869-1938) 14 February 1886 in Malad.

George Haines Williams born 15 October 1867 in Woodruff and died 26 December 1950 in Woodruff.  Buried 29 December 1950 in Samaria.  Married Sarah Elizabeth Morse (1872-1908) 20 September 1890 in Samaria.

Frances Williams born 10 April 1870 in Woodruff and died 18 July 1948 in Woodruff.  Buried 20 July 1948 in Samaria.  Married Samuel John Williams (1865-1943) 14 December 1898 in Samaria.

Joseph Davis Williams born 15 January 1872 in Malad and died 5 November 1943 in Samaria.  Buried 9 November 1943 in Samaria.  Married Rachel Morse (1872-1937) 18 August 1896 in Samaria.

Our garden

After spending a day working in our yard, I thought about how little I felt like I really accomplished.  I mowed the lawn last night and today sprayed weeds, picked some dandelions, and turned over some soil for Amanda.  She planted flowers in the flower beds, jalapenos, peppers, zucchini, tomatoes, and squash.

As I puttered around the yard, I thought of how the British call their yard a garden.  Our garden is where we grow food, their garden is where they grow flowers, grass, and hedges.  Then I thought about how there are people and that is all they do for a living, maintain gardens/yards.  In honour of the season, I found some photos of gardens we have been to that seem to be more than just flowerbeds.  Sorry, no photo of our yard is included!

Here is a picture of one of the gardens at Lyme Park in Disley, England.

Garden at Lyme Park in Cheshire County, England

Garden at Lyme Park in Disley

A shot of the gardens at Mirabell Palace in Salzburg, Austria.

Some of the gardens at Mirabell Palace in Salzburg, Austria

Some of the gardens at Mirabell Palace in Salzburg

Some of the gardens at Hampton Court Palace in Richmond Upon Thames, England.

The garden of Hampton Court Palace, former home of Kings and Queens of England

The garden of Hampton Court Palace, former home of Kings and Queens, in Richmond upon Thames

Lastly, a view of one of the less ornate gardens at Maymont in Richmond, Virginia.

Part of the gardens at Maymont in Richmond, Virginia.

Part of the gardens at Maymont in Richmond

The MTC

With my brother-in-law entering the Missionary Training Center (and now already left for his Carlsbad California Mission) I looked through some of the photos I have from the MTC.

That morning we met with the Stake President to finalize everything before driving out to Provo, Utah, Utah.

The morning to go to the MTC with Milo Ross, Colleen Lloyd, and Jackie Melycher (aunt)

The morning to go to the MTC with Milo Ross, Colleen Lloyd, and Jackie Melycher (aunt).  My Grandma particularly liked this photo because it also gives a side profile of me as well as the front.

One final blessing and setting apart before leaving.

Gene Hansen, Paul Ross, Milo Ross, setting apart (again)

Gene Hansen, Paul Ross, Milo Ross, setting apart (again)

The first picture is at the front doors before going in.

Arriving at the MTC

Arriving at the MTC

My first companion Elder Kody Young from St. George, Washington, Utah.

Kody Young and Paul Ross, companions at MTC

Kody Young and Paul Ross, companions at MTC (the camera is incorrect, this was December 1998)

Our first snow while at the MTC.

Snow at the MTC

Snow at the MTC

One of my most distinct memories from the MTC was the heating.  I don’t know what it was, but I ended up with a bloody nose at least once a day.  I was not the only one.  Apparently it had something to do with the dryness of the air and the ventilation systems.  It made for long days where my head was not always in the lessons but often worrying about the next nosebleed and whether I had tissues nearby.  If I had to go to the bathroom, the paper towels only seemed to make the problem worse.

Elder Holland came and spoke to the MTC while we were there.  He insisted on the opening hymn as “Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer.”  After we sang it, he wanted us to sing it again with the silly extra phrases we all know.  It was quite a bit of fun hearing an organ play the introduction and then for us to sing along.  It was also in this talk that he told us that if we had to come home before our time was up, we better come home on a stretcher.  Even at the end, we should have worn out our days as missionaries.  We were so close the the Christmas holidays that we regularly sang Christmas music.

Our MTC District attending the Provo Temple.  Four of us were going to England, the remaining ones were headed to Peoria, Illinois.  The thing I remember most about the Provo Temple were the white escalators.  Years later when I went back, they were gone!  I was a bit disappointed not to see the white escalators again.

Our MTC District, I only know four of the 11.  From l-r, #5 is Elder Olson, #9 Elder Scow, #10 Elder Young, #11 Elder Ross.  The rest were going to Peoria, Illinois if I remember correctly.

Our MTC District, I only know four of the 11. From l-r, #5 is Elder Olson, #9 Elder Scow, #10 Elder Young, #11 Elder Ross.

There were a few things in the MTC that disgusted and horrified me but I will not relate them here.  They were not becoming of missionaries and I let them know.  There were also plenty of fun and enjoyable times.

Then the five of us were flying off to Manchester, England just in time for Christmas.

Elder Olson, Elder Scow, Sister Dunn, Elder Young, and Elder Ross at Salt Lake City airport flying out

Elder Olson, Elder Scow, Sister Dunn, Elder Young, and Elder Ross at Salt Lake City airport flying out

Some good friends and family came to see us off.

Elder Scow, Elder Young, Bryan Jensen, Elder Ross

Elder Scow, Elder Young, Bryan Jensen, Elder Ross

More friends and family.  My Sister, Dad, and Great Aunt Andra and cousin Denise, all came to share.  Sadly, my Grandma was told I was leaving from the wrong gate and was not present so I did not get to see her one last time.  She made it to the concourse just as the plane was about to leave and they let her send a package on the plane to me.  Very good friends to come say goodbye!

Andra Ross, Elena McBride, Milo Ross, Elder Ross, Denise Andra, Brenna Barnes, Adelaide Andra

Andra Ross, Elena McBride, Milo Ross, Elder Ross, Denise Andra, Brenna Barnes, Adelaide Andra

Maybe I can start sharing some more photos of the mission as time goes on.  I should get out my journals to add some more flavor to these entries than just photos.

Apostolic Brush

Ruby and David Haight, Paul Ross, Rose and John Byrom

Ruby and David Haight, Paul Ross, Rosie and John Byrom

I stumbled upon this picture the other day and thought maybe it was time to share it.  This picture has an interesting story behind it.

On the far right are John and Rosie Byrom.  Rosie is mostly in the shadow so it is difficult to make her out.  I served in the Runcord Ward from around December 1999 to around August 2000.  John served as Ward Mission Leader and Rosie as a Ward Missionary.  (The Byroms have since separated and divorced).  I served in the ward for a long time and they remained in their callings for the entire time, so we built a friendship which, I feign to believe, still exists to this day.

I returned home from my mission in December 2000.  It was not long into 2001 that I learned the Byroms were planning on visiting Utah.  Of course, I invited them to spend some time in Idaho.

During the majority of time I served in Runcorn I had a companion by the name of Brad Hales.  Also in our district was a senior sister companionship of Meriel Peterson and Patricia Kleinkopf.  We were all native Idahoans and were in close proximity of each other.  It was natural that the Byroms also wanted to visit each of them while they were in Idaho.

This particular day we drove to Oakley, Idaho to visit Sister Peterson.  We had an enjoyable breakfast and conversation.  Sister Peterson decided she wanted to give us the tour of Oakley because there were some architectural gems that she thought the Byroms would enjoy.  I grew up near Oakley so I was familiar with many of these local landmarks.

We all piled into my little Camry and away we drove.  We had not made it very far driving down some of the streets of Oakley when Sister Peterson announced, “Wait, David is home, he will want to meet you!”  She had me turn around and we pulled into a little home in Oakley.

I had no clue who David was and I was not familiar with the home we were now pulling into the driveway.  We all exited the car.  In the yard there was a man trimming his hedges with a large straw hat and a large set of sunglasses that you only see old people wear.

Since Sister Peterson indicated that David would want to meet the Byroms because they were from England, I remained at the front of my car in the driveway and leaned back against it in the hot, summer, morning sun.

I have to give a little bit of background on the month prior.  We are in the latter half of July 2001 at the point of this picture (I recollect it was the 21st, but may be wrong).  I had just spent considerable time in Hawaii with family at the beginning of the month.  During that time I picked myself up a shirt and a shell necklace among other items.  As you can see in the picture, I am wearing my red shirt (not the blatant Hawaiian design you regularly see).  For years I thought I was in a pair of board shorts too, but this picture corrects my memory on that tidbit.  But I had continuously wore my new puka shell necklace since the trip to Hawaii.

Back to the story, I am leaning on the front of my car watching the Byroms enter the back yard through the hedge and approach this old man in a large straw hat and holding an electric hedge trimmer.  The man stopped trimming and turned to greet his trespassers.  Curiously, after what was a short couple of moments, probably no more than 20 seconds of conversation, this man leaves the Byroms and Sister Peterson and headed my direction.

My first reaction was that I was doing something wrong so I looked around to see my misstep.  Alas, not seeing I had done anything wrong I approached the man and met him near his hedge.  He had set down his trimmer before arriving to me and he pulled his hand out of his glove to shake my hand.  I shook hands with him and he with his free hand reached up and took of his hat and glasses and asked me my name.

My first thought was something along these lines, “Boy, this David fellow sure looks familiar.”  He asked my name and I gave it.  He asked about my Ross name and whether or not it was Scottish.  I informed him it was my name but not the name of which my ancestors carried.  He then informed me that Ross was a common name in Scotland where he had served as a Mission President.

He then grew quiet and he sidled up closer to me and put the hand with the hat and glasses in the small of my back while still holding my other hand in a handshake.  He was now close enough that his face was in my shadow (and he was considerably shorter than me).  He then broke the handshake and with that hand reached up and touched my puka shell necklace.

“What is this?”

“My necklace?”

“I am disappointed that you have fallen from the principles of the gospel that we teach as missionaries.  We teach than men and women have separate and distinct roles and this is confusing the two.”

My first impression was, “How did you know I served a mission?”

This man then turned to walk away back to the Byroms and Sister Peterson.  As he walked away, the thought occurred, “You have just been rebuked by an Apostle.”

Then it dawned.  David was David B Haight, one of the twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  This was an individual I recognized as a Priesthood Leader and on my first meeting with him, I had been rebuked.

I stood there reeling from what had just happened.  It stung.  David went to the back door of his house and summoned his wife Ruby.  Ruby appeared and they all stood 25 feet away from me chit chatting about England, Scotland, and whatever else they were talking about.

What seemed like an eternity was likely only a minute or so, if that.  I remember reaching up and taking the puka shell necklace off and holding it in my hand.  I dwelt on what was really an unintended and probably unwanted visit that was a bother to me and this old man.  Sister Peterson just commented he was home and a few lines of dialogue just ended up potentially effected my eternities.  According to him I was already on the path, so I guess it did not matter what he said except to correct my backsliding ways.

Next thing I knew, the distant conversation between the Haights and Byroms had stopped and this Apostle was returning to me.  He again held out his hand as if to invite another handshake. I held out my hand with the necklace in it and he cupped his hand to receive whatever I was offering.  I dropped the necklace into his hand and once he realized what it was he let it drop to the ground.

He held out his hand again inviting mine in a handshake and I clasped his.  He sidled up close to me again, put his other hand in the small of my back, and was close enough to be in my shadow and that I could smell the salt in his old man sweat, and he continued…

“Where did you serve your mission?”  (I remember thinking that was an ironic question since the Byroms were from England, Sister Peterson served in England, and he asked where the fourth member of the party served his mission?)

“England Manchester Mission”

“How long have you been home?”

(After a quick mental tally) “Nine months”

“Elder, you hold the Priesthood.  You have a duty to uphold that Priesthood.  You should have been married by now.”

He released my hand, pulled his hand from the small of my back, turned, and walked away.  Maybe 4 steps later he turned around and said, “When it happens, I want to know about it.”

He returned to a conversation with Ruby, Sister Peterson, and the Byroms.

I stood there while they chatted for a few more minutes.  I do not recall hearing anything of the conversation between them, even if I was close enough to have heard.

Rosie had a picture taken of the occasion.  Sister Peterson sacrificed herself in the moment to take the photo that now memorializes this occasion.

I shook hands again with Elder David Haight and Sister Ruby Haight and we headed on down the road to see some other homes.  I ended up driving many more hours that day to Boise, Idaho City, Stanley, and elsewhere chauffeuring the Byroms through some of the sights of Idaho.  Rosie Byrom teased me about the moment the rest of the time I was with them.  After all, it is not every day that you get rebuked by an Apostle.  I cannot recall if they overheard the conversation or if I told them about it.  I cannot imagine that they overheard the conversation due to the close proximity in which David and I spoke that day.

Oddly enough, it weighed on me for a long time.  It became the butt of jokes as time went on, especially as David continued to age.  He was already over 95 at the time of my meeting him.  Roommates and friends would indicate that I better hurry or else I would not fulfill the rest of my duty to let David know when it happened.  I will not lie, it became a great story to tell people.  People loved to hear about my rebuke by an Apostle.

I regularly tell the story to individuals I am close to and that wear a necklace.  Missionaries I worked with I regularly told the story, especially if they wore a necklace.  I admit, I never wore a necklace or bracelet of any type since that date.  I know a number of missionaries who have “fallen from the principles we teach as missionaries” and forsaken their evil ways.  Honestly, I do not know that the story is one that should be heeded by others.  But for the deep effect it had upon me at the time and the power in which he spoke to me, I recognize it was for me.  Others should be careful about applying revelation of others to themselves.  But I do believe there is a principle here that we can learn, I just don’t know that I can very clearly articulate it.  I know the principle clearly for me, but don’t know how narrow or general to make it in application to others.

I remember Rosie reminding me that if I properly repent, I would be married within another 9 months.  Boy if that did not apply a little pressure!

As a side, I did pick up my little puka shell necklace and ended up giving it to a friend when I returned to Missouri later in August.  I don’t believe she has any clue what that little necklace meant to me.

There is more to the story.

On the following Monday, I believe 23 July 2001, I was in Salt Lake City with the Byroms.  After an endowment session, Rosie announced we were to go to the Church Administration Building.  She did not tell us why and I thought she just wanted to see the sights from the Church Office Building.  We walked in the Church Office Building and after Rosie talked to the man at the desk, she said we were in the wrong building and we needed to go to the Church Administration Building.  I informed her that the Church Administration Building was not really open to the public.  Rosie announced that we had an appointment.

In light of my experience a few days before, I was not really thrilled about our appointment in the Church Administration Building.  We walked around to the front door of the Church Administration Building and walked in.  As we approached the man at the security desk he asked,

“Are you the Byroms?”

Rosie responded, “Yes.”

“We have been waiting for you.”  (Never a very heartwarming phrase, whether the morgue, jail, CIA, bank, or Church Administration Building)

The man then responded, “You will need to leave your bags here, take the elevator to the fourth floor, take a right, and it is the last door on the left.  I will let them know you are coming up.”

We entered the elevator and headed to the fourth floor.  Rosie then turned and commented to me, “John helped provide security and drive for Elder Ballard while he (Elder Ballard) was in England for the Preston Temple Dedication.  He told us that if we were ever in Utah to stop and pay him a visit.”

Suddenly the realization came to me that I was going to visit with my second Apostle in less than a week.  I am a fairly laid back guy but felt some apprehension after the experience just days before.  We turned the corner and there stood M Russell Ballard in the doorway.  He invited us in to his office, introduced us to his secretary, and then ushered us into his office.  Across from his desk, I think, there were two nice wing-backed chairs.  Another chair was already there for me, or we pulled up a chair.  Elder Ballard left the office for a moment and then reappeared pushing a little chair toward me.  We were already all seated and he asked,

“Where is your wife?”

“I am not married.”

“Oh, that is something you will have to fix.”

He turned to push the little chair back out the door.  I heard Rosie chuckle and comment, “In the mouth of two or three witnesses…”

Elder Ballard returned and took his seat and we had a nice conversation that probably did not take more than 15 minutes.  Once again, Rosie had a picture taken.

Paul Ross, Rosie and John Byrom, Elder Ballard

Paul Ross, Rosie and John Byrom, M Russell Ballard

That was the extent of the interaction and I felt some sting from the second witness of my duty to uphold the Priesthood.  But it was a pleasant experience.  Rosie reminded me often after that, “In the mouth of two or three witnesses shall every word be established.”

Well, time passed and eventually Elder David B Haight did pass from this veil of tears at the end of July 2004, three years after our encounter.  Fortunately, Elder Haight and I did have an opportunity to talk again regarding our first interaction that lessened the blow of the occasion.  Nevertheless, roommates and many friends called after Elder Haight’s passing to let me know how dire my situation was now that the revelator had passed and I had not fulfilled my duty.

Rosie commented to me that I could fulfill my duty by reporting my marriage to Elder Ballard when the time came.

Well, forward a few more years and I became enamored with a little red-headed girl from Kaysville, Utah.  She came to enjoy her time with me and after a while we would end our walks with a little dancing on the porch of the Alumni House at Utah State University.  It became a regular thing to end our walks and evenings out with a dance and closing conversation on the porch of the Alumni House.  I dare say we danced on the porch of that building more than 60 times.  It was on the porch of this little Alumni House that I made an unofficial proposal to Ms. Hemsley.  It just seemed like the right place.

Months later, Amanda and I returned to Logan under the guise of visiting some friends.  While on the campus I took her to that little porch of the Alumni House and there after midnight, now on 4 July 2005, I fell to my knee and proposed to her.  Of course she said yes and we danced and kissed there on the porch of the Alumni House.  Interestingly, before we left that night, I caught sight of a huge portrait hanging inside the doors that open to the porch that had become an important part of our courtship.  As I looked closer, I could see the familiar sight of a man whose face I knew.  As I got a little closer to see in the dark the portrait lit only by fire escape signs it dawned on me it was a portrait of David B Haight.

If that was not a little coincidental, and perhaps a little creepy, I do not know what is.  Elder Haight’s portrait had actually witnessed some of the most personal moments of my courtship.  The building I had only known as the Alumni House is properly named the David B Haight Alumni Center.  Somehow it seemed the whole experience had just came full circle.

We sent a wedding invitation to Elder M Russell Ballard with a short note explaining that due to Elder Haight’s passing I was sending the note and invitation to him to fulfill my duty.  He responded with a card thanking me for my note and invitation and suggested I consider my duty fulfilled.  He also apologized for not being able to attend our reception (which I am glad about, surely some further duty might have been laid upon me if he had!)

There is my story for the above photo with the Haights and Byroms.  Maybe some day I can tell my story about Elder Hales (the Apostle, not my missionary companion)…

William Mills

William Mills 1839 - 1910

William Mills 1839 – 1910

This is another photo that was recently provided to me by a cousin.  She did not know if we are related to him or not.  Here is the photo and I can indicate I am not related, and I do not believe she is directly either.  Since I did not see the photo available elsewhere, I thought I would make it available just in case it is a one of a kind.

William Mills was born 4 November 1839 in Spurstow, Cheshire, England.  The back of the photo has “Wm Mills 4 Nov 1839″ written on the back.  He married Margaret Ann Hawkey on 1 June 1867 in Salt Lake City, Salt Lake, Utah.  After she died, he married Caroline Virginia Hughes 13 December 1883 in Salt Lake City.  He died 10 November 1910 in Paradise, Cache, Utah.  He was buried 14 November 1910 in the Paradise City Cemetery.

Remember, Remember

Despite also being popular for Guy Fawkes Day which recently passed, Remember, Remember also relates to Remembrance Day, Armistice Day, or as we treat it in the United States, Veterans Day.  As an American, the day is more a holiday than a solemn occasion of reflection or remembrance.  Nevertheless, I thought I would honor it this week.

Arlington National Cemetery, Nov 2005

Interestingly, we find many people signing up for secession from the United States.  I find it interesting that Guy Fawkes Day and Remembrance Day are so close on the calendar and their memorable phrases start with the same repetition of the word “Remembrance”.  We seceded from the empire of Great Britain (which used to celebrate Empire Day on 24 May) and won the battle so secession became a legal right in the new colony.  Then part of that new colony seceded and lost the battle so secession was no longer a legal right.  The battle over secession is 1-1 on our soil but the latest precedent is against it.  Our Declaration of Independence is not a legally binding document, but it certainly underlines the presumption of which the nation was founded, and overturned in the Civil War.

Arlington National Cemetery, Nov 2005

Either way, we honor the veterans on both sides of those conflicts in this nation.  It just depends on where you live for which side you might feel a little more inclination.  Here in the west, we really acceded into the United States rather than won our right to be a part of this nation.  The French and Indian, 1812, and Civil War don’t mean much to us in Idaho.

Arlington National Cemetery, Virginia, Nov 2005

When it comes to the world wars of our century, we have a part to play.  Plus it certainly helps to have people we personally know who served and fought in these battles.  Most of us know people who lost loved ones in these two wars.  Hence these wars and accompanying veterans are more honored at present.  In these wars we fought against forced accession into whatever nation was seeking to obtain.

World War II monument, National Mall, Washington, DC, Nov 2005

Then we found ourselves during Korea and Vietnam in what is named the Cold War.  We fought against forced accession by nations we did not agree with (we ignored the rest) but also sought to help other nations secede and ultimately become free and independent.  We helped win that battle with the freedom of nations that were under the control of the United Soviet Socialist Republic.  Elsewhere in the world, Belgium, Portugal, Germany, and the United Kingdom continued to allow other nations to become independent and we supported that movement.

Anna Badger, Jeana Stuart, and Brad Hales at the Iwo Jima monument in Arlington, Virginia, Nov 2005

American policy and law is less than clear on what exactly our position is on secession.  The national mood towards our veterans does not even seem to be as clear cut as it has been in times past.  A divide continues to build.  I am not really sure over what.  Whether we are for or against secession, those who are willing to fight for that right, rightly or wrongly, deserve our honor.  After all, far too many of them gave the greatest sacrifice a person can give.  We find it much more noble when a person voluntarily gives their life (whether they live or die) than those who are not allowed to choose to do so (but not to diminish their sacrifice).  I honor our veterans because of what they give and those who give their all.  Remember, those who live beyond the conflict still have to live with it the rest of their lives.  May we honor all veterans who fight for their cause (are terrorists veterans?).

Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, Arlington, VA, Nov 2005