Christmas Greetings

A quick Christmas update for everyone out there. 

Christmas went very well. I can say I am one spoiled boy! I have a wonderful wife with wonderful family. I am fortunate enough to have a comfortable home and a job to provide income. Who could ask for more? I have clothes to cover me, and gained more this Christmas. I have food to fill my belly (that of course does not include all the tasty junk food that comes this time of year).

The weather was in the upper 60’s with an almost continual rainfall all day. It was pretty. It was a nice relaxed day.

I phoned and talked to all my immediate family that I could. It was good to visit with them.

Dad is doing very well. He said for the first time in the last 10 or so years, he does not have swollen ankles. Something the doctors attribute to
the liver and gallbladder problems. He said he is still sore in the tummy, but the water weight is falling off him. In the last week he has squeezed
in his belt 3 notches. He says his breathing capacity is back up to what it was in about 2000. Another thing attributed to his liver and gallbladder.

Andra is happy and doesn’t have any complaints. She had a Merry Christmas and was looking forward to going out to Dad’s place for the evening. I wonder what she thought of her present.

Amanda’s family continues to do well. They rehearsed all the presents and how their morning had gone. It sounds like Christmas was good for them.

I visited with Rose Byrom from Runcorn for at least an hour over the two days. Who would have thought the housewife of 7 years ago would now be a lecturer at John Moore University and Halton/Riverside University? Neither she nor I would have believed you. She should have her Master’s by the end of 2007. Life changes quickly.

I sat down and did some family history. Ended up with a serious road bump in some of my research. I found the Confederate Record for James A
Meredith. In the 1880 Census my James Thomas Meredith is living with an old man, James Meredith. That old man claimed little James was his son. That just seems implausible. How did he marry Nancy Graham if he was still married? Oh his wife is living with a sick daughter in that same census. So, knowing Nancy married a James Meredith, we always assumed it was old man James’ son, James Jr who was the father of James Thomas Meredith. Well, I found the Confederate record for James’ service. He was killed in Lexington, Virginia in a battle in 1864. Well, that makes it pretty difficult for him to be the father of a boy born 4 years later. Everything points that this confederate soldier, James Anderson Meredith is the same James A Meredith, son of James and Sarah Meredith. Their birth years, even the A for a middle name, and the soldier joined the Confederate Army in Pulaski County. The missing James A Meredith did not add any more children to his family, and his wife is alone and head of household in 1870. So, it all pieces together. So now back to the drawing board. Is old man Meredith really the father of James Thomas? Is that the real reason why he and his wife are living apart, or is it really as the census says, she is ill? Why did Nancy let the boy go to live with the father/grandfather? Where is the marriage record? That is what I really need to verify she married a James. Oh, another piece of evidence, old man James’ history tells he lost two sons in the war. Daniel, and another not named. This could certainly be the James A I have been seeking for such a long time.

On a good note, I found the father my Edith (Edie) Boothe. His name was Daniel Boothe and had quite the family. It took me a good hour just to get everything in relation to his children and wives situated. I also pursued some more on the Martin lines hoping to find something, but nothing yet. Will Virginia yield her secrets to me? I sure hope so.

Tomorrow we are headed back up to Washington. Taylor Duncan’s wedding is at 1:00 and we are planning on attending the temple while we are there. It will be great to see Paul and Kathy again, along with the rest of the family. I wonder who else of the family will be coming out. I have some new temple names to print up while we are there. Should be a good day.

Thanks be given

There is not a whole lot to report on at the present.  We enjoyed a Thanksgiving here in blessed Virginia.

Amanda and I drove to Massanutten, a resort up in the hills.  We went up to spend Thanksgiving with Amanda’s Uncle and Aunt.  It turned out to be an interesting day.  I enjoyed the drive up to the area.  Gordonsville was the highlight of the day, the town having a personality completely its own.  A rare thing it seems these days.

Massanutten wasn’t anything to boast about.  They do have a very large indoor water park.  Other than that, it was just a bunch of condos in the middle of the mountains.  Don’t get me wrong, the mountains were beautiful.  How much more beautiful without the “hello, here I am” presence of the resort? 

Amanda and I have determined we will never go out to enjoy our Thanksgiving meal again.  It seems to undermine what the day is about.  Who would have ever thought it was Thanksgiving.  Where was any resemblance of Thanksgiving, other than a commercial version of the foods associated with the date? 

We went back and pretty much watched the TV for the rest of the day.  Driving home, we were relieved to leave the situation which seemed lacking so much.

Hopefully, I can pay some homage to the day here even though the day did not provide much.

This week, I discovered I am the posterity of individuals who lived at Jamestown.  Yes, next years celebration of 400 years in America, honored even by the Queen, is directly relevant to me.  Not just through this nation, but through my ancestors who lived there.  The Clark (or Clarke) family, the Summers, Lumpkin, and Thompson groups I am all related to.  There is a possibility my Clark’s even come from the famous John Clark, who was the Master’s Mate on the Mayflower.  He had been to Jamestown before, imprisoned in Spain, made the trip of the Mayflower, and eventually made his way back to live in Jamestown.  He died not too much afterwards.  I am also a descendent of the Graham Clan who settled parts of Virginia, West Virginia, and Kentucky.  They extended into Missouri, Indiana, Iowa, and Ohio as well.  I am an American very deep in some roots.  One of those Grahams was a personal friend of George Washington, and convinced him to help endow a new school he had founded.  Yep, a Graham founded Washington and Lee.  My history includes three future presidents, universities, and other numerous recorded aids to society.

My roots expand the ocean many times.  My roots run to Wales, Ireland, Scotland, and England.  My ancestors were in the court of rulers; my ancestors even ruled parts of the Roman Empire.  My ancestors come from Sweden, Norway, and the largest number from Germany.  I have family who can be traced into Russia, Australia, and a score of other nations.  The foundations I have been given are broad and inclusive.  I am so very fortunate.  Each of us have a history which began long before we were born.

Those blessings extend beyond my family.  This nation, which has its hopes in liberty and freedom are one of the greatest blessings to me.  I am very fortunate.  It may be a weakness in many ways, but is a great boon in many more ways.  I pray for the principles upon which it is founded to continue to go to the whole earth.  I pray that those principles would be grasped by other nations and be implemented into their states.  I pray our nation might return to the principles of truth and freedom for which it is founded.

I remember the lives of those who were given for this freedom I enjoy and others do not.  Two of my Great Grandfather’s were gassed in WWI and both lived to tell the tale.  Both met painful and difficult deaths due to it.  One grandfather has purple hearts to show for his wounds and success in WWII.  The other grandfather tried to enroll, but due to health issues was not allowed to be a part.

I pray for the soldiers of freedom everywhere.  I care not what nation they represent, as long as they are there for liberty, freedom, and truth.  I pray God will bless those who represent those hopes and ideals.  That those who do not represent those ideals, or those they represent, will be thwarted in their designs.

It is with gratitude I offer my thanks to He who makes death not a fear.  I thank and give adoration to the Savior of all mankind, even Christ that we might all live again.  That despite wickedness and fear, we have nothing to fear but sin.  I express my deepest thanks for the restoration of His church back on the earth and the miracles which abound about us.  The gathering of lost nations, the restoration of Israel, the building up of the kingdom in preparation for the king whose right it is to rule.  My deepest sympathies are with the restoration and furthering of eternal purposes upon the earth.  My greatest joys and delight come from this impressive, yet almost unrecognizable effort happening in our midst.

I am pleased to have been born at this time of such great blessing.  It is with a certain hope I see the future, despite all which is prophesied to come upon us.  So much pain that the Saints will barely escape with their lives.  We have seen little or nothing of what is to come.  Nations will rise up against nations and desolation shall abound on all the earth.  Those of the order of God have not need to fear though.  This I am grateful for.  For the Priesthood which shall protect those within the covert from the storm, for the Resurrection that those who will be lost; both for their own sins and for a more full judgment upon the wicked.

Most close to home I thank for those who are dearest to me.  I am thankful for those who so deeply touch the deepest parts of my soul.  Many who are now separated from me by death, but that too shall not be for long.  My dearest wife, and all her splendor for which I am a blessed soul.  My parents who fought and struggled so hard for my upbringing and their abiding love for me. 

There is a whole multitude of souls I could reference for their influence in my life.  The more I learn and contemplate, the more I realize how intricately every soul is linked to one another.  Even years later we remember the influence of another.  There are influences from childhood, influences from events far away, and even influence from beyond the grave.

My heart is full.  I am thankful for all things. 

Monticello and Vernal

This weekend was a great trip.  I don’t know if I have written this, but Amanda and I made a goal to hit all the Utah Temples before we move away.  We made this goal in Jan or Feb and have been working on it since.  Monticello and Vernal both posed a problem for achieving that part of what we wanted to do.  Why not knock them both out at once?  So we did.  We took this past weekend, drove down to Monticello on Friday and stayed the night.  We stayed at, and highly recommend the Monticello Inn (in the phone book as Triangle H) especially if you are LDS.  They were more than wonderful with us.  She even called the temple to make our reservation for the 8:00 session for the next morning.  We attended the 8:00 session and when we came out, got our photo (we are taking a photo with us and each temple as well, Amanda’s idea!) and headed out.  We drove back up through Moab, over to Fruita, Colorado, up through Rangely, Colorado and into Vernal.  It was a beautiful day for a drive.

Vernal turns out to be one of our favorite temples.  There is something about it.  It has more character than some, and it seemed more like home to me.  We were sitting in the chapel waiting to go on the next session when I kept looking at the only other couple in the room.  I was sure it looked like the parents of a friend from high school.  She looked younger though, and he had some chops, so I had my doubts.  Finally, I just had to know, walked up to them, and sure enough, it was Scott and Anita Jensen from Paul, Idaho.  Anita was a cub scout leader for me for a few years.  Bryan, their son, helped me secure a ring at a great price for Amanda last year.  We chatted, and were one of only a few couples on the session.  I will tell you what, there is something that is inspiring when the rays of the sun are coming through the veil when they lift the curtain before being introduced.  It just lit up the room and I loved it.

On the session was also a Shane Mayberry.  Afterward, I visited with him and asked if he knew a Carma Preece.  He said he went to school with her son.  I asked about her, and found out she only lived a block of two from the temple.  Before we left, by asking others, he had her address and phone number for me.  So, we are close, why not visit.  I gave her a phone call, she was home, and we were invited to stop.

She is the first person I have ever met who is related to me through the Ross line.  In fact, her maiden name is Ross and her father is the brother to my Great Grandfather.  It was interesting to look at her characteristics and physical makeup.  She must have barely have been over 5 foot.  Similar to most of my closer Ross relatives, other than my Dad, who inherited his height from the Donaldson side.  Amanda snapped a picture of a portrait of her parents.  Giving me the first copy of a photo I have of any of the other Ross siblings.  I have a rough, vague, damaged photo of my Great Grandparents, and nothing of them together.  My Great Grandmother died in 1925 after giving birth.  The baby also passed away with her.  For some reason or another, the Sharp line did not like my Great Grandfather, John William Ross.  So he was run off, and my Grandfather’s family farmed out to members of the Sharp family.  My Grandpa to the Ed Sharp family, Uncle Harold to the Delwin Sharp family, and Paul Ross to Fred and Vic (Sharp) Hunt.  The only thing we really know is that he moved to California.

He died in the Veterans Hospital in Livermore, Alameda, California.  As far as we can tell, all of his siblings ended up in California as well.  John had a sister named Fanny, who married a Calvin Dickerson Phibbs, who was the judge in Rupert, Idaho for a time.  Calvin’s father and some other family members are buried in Rupert.  But the Phibbs went to California as well.  Then there was a Robert Leonard Ross, and his life is very sketchy.  Have very little idea of him.  He was married to a Minnie Belle Hambrick, Rose Ann Clawson, and Ruby Leaster Hall.  The only one of these I could confirm was Rose Ann Clawson, who had been married to a Sanders, but he married her in Burley, Idaho.  Then there was Carma’s father, James Thomas Ross who settled in the Vernal area.  Apparently he was the one who went to Utah so his children could marry LDS.  They missed Virginia so much, they named their first child after their old home.  So, Carma’s older sister is named Vesta Virginia.

It seems to me that somehow they caught wind of the opening of the Sugar Factory in Paul, Idaho, so they moved there from Virginia.  I know the Phibbs were there before the Ross family was.  Fanny and Calvin were married in Virginia in 1906.  The Phibbs all moved to Idaho and then Fanny probably invited her other siblings to go.  Fanny arrived there sometime between 1912 and 1914 as children changed their birth locations.  My Grandpa has a half brother, Hobart Day, born in 1911 in West Virginia.  My Great Grandparents were married in Fort Logan, Colorado.  How that ever happened I will never know.  My Great Grandmother was married to a Mark Lewis Streeter, who gave another half sibling to my Grandpa, June Streeter.  Great Grandma went with Mr. Streeter and they operated a confectionery in Paul, Idaho named Streeter’s Confectionery.  There doesn’t seem to be records of this in Paul, other than a Hall’s Confectionery which according to my Grandfather would have been in the same location.  Whatever happened, my Great Grandmother divorced her Streeter husband in 1919.  My Grandpa is the oldest, born in Plain City.  Paul was born in Paul, John Harold in Burley, and Ernest Jackson in Plain City, who died.  So that pretty well breaks down the time in Idaho for my family.  My Great grandmother married Streeter in 1917 or so as June was born in June 1918.  Fanny and Calvin were there until after 1930, when their last child was born in Rupert that year.

James Thomas had only one child born in Idaho at Rupert.  She is a middle child, and the rest were born in the Vernal area.  That child, Sydney Bea was born in 1922.  As for Robert Leonard, he married the one wife in 1919 at Burley, but that is about all that is set in stone for him.

I do not know what the draw was to California.  All of them seemed to have died there.  I don’t know where Robert died, but I know it was in 1944 and everyone says it was California.  Nobody seems to know where, and I have not found a record.  My John William died in Livermore in 1948.  He remarried a Zane Coffey in Rock Springs, Wyoming.  We don’t know what happened to her, if they stayed together.  Fanny died in 1943 in San Francisco.  James died in Los Angeles in 1964.  California had such a draw that both of their parents, James Thomas Meredith (legally, but went by James Thomas Ross) and Damey Catherine Graham both moved to California and died in 1951 and 1933 in Fresno and Marysville respectively.  I do not know if my Great Great Grandparents ever came to Idaho, or spent any time in Utah.  Carma told me that she met her grandparents in California, so that makes it seem that while she has memory, they were not in the Vernal area.  Who knows for sure.  I seem to remember somewhere that James Thomas Meredith/Ross was a Bishop in California at one time, indicating he spent some time there, long enough to become acquainted and be called.  I don’t remember for sure if it was him or someone else who was called as Bishop.

Anyhow, it was interesting to visit with Carma.  She told me of a couple of visits to Grandpa and Grandma’s place.  She told me how impressed she was with how tender they were with Judy.  They have not visited Plain City since the early 1970′s.  She told me of a time that Grandpa came to visit them in Vernal.  She said they took them around and introduced them to the family and showed them the area.  The one comment that was interesting was that Grandpa used to swear up a storm.  According to her, every other word was a swear word.  I have never known him like that.  The only time I ever heard him swear was when the emphasis was needed, or another word sometimes just did not seem to fit.  She was surprised to learn that Grandpa and Grandma had become active.  I thought that was interesting.  She was even more surprised to learn that they both worked in the Ogden Temple for a few years.  Carma now works in the Vernal Temple.

It was good to sit and visit with her.  She loaned me a book that was given to her just the month before with all the descendents of James Thomas Ross (Jr).  I was excited about that.  It looks like we will have to call on Carma on the way to Denver at the end of this month.  To return the book and perhaps to glean some other memories from her mind.  She is 81 now, and who knows how much longer she could be around.  Getting into those ages, things change so quickly.  However, I hope she will still be around when we come to visit Utah again, and that we can pay her another visit.  Funny how things happen.

We had a great visit and we snapped a picture of Carma and me together.  I enjoy visiting family.  There are always more stories to hear.  I have many more, I record of all my visits in my regular journal.  Sorry you don’t get to read of some of those adventures.  Perhaps someday I will reiterate some of them here.

The Approach

Everyone keeps asking me if I am nervous and anxious about what is coming.  Well, honestly, much to everyone’s dismay, I am completely calm about all of this.  I am reminded of the classic Smith saying, I am as calm as a summer’s morning.  Now, that does not include the preceding sentence about being a lamb going to the slaughter.  Some might say that, but I most surely do not.  It must be admitted that my still being here in Washington DC and not seeing anything leading up to it might be helping.  We are within a week.  I feel no apprehension at all.
On another note, yesterday I walked out of the elevator reading a letter and accidentally ran into a man.  He fell backwards and against the wall.  I apologized and helped him into the elevator.  It was only as I walked down the hall I realized it was Senator Lindsey Graham from South Carolina.  It made me feel bad.
I will definitely miss Washington DC.  It is such a beautiful city.  I imagine the feeling here is like the first visitors would have been to Rome, London, Paris, or some of the other ancient magnificent cities.  Plus there is a certain ability to keep learning here that I enjoy.  Many other jobs are not so requiring on a person to continue to learn.