Letter from David Williams to Wales

I just came upon this letter written by David D Williams to his sisters in Wales.  In it he describes his trip to Utah from Wales.  The letter was originally written in Welsh.  I have written of David and his immigration in his biography.  As mentioned in the history, David is the son of Frances Henneys and John Williams born in Wales in 1832.  He immigrated to Utah in 1864.  I am including a picture of some rolling hills in Southern Wales that I took with some friends in 2003.  Funny how he thinks how beautiful Utah was (then), and yet we feel the same about his Wales!

Ogden City

October 13, 1864

My dear sisters,

I have reached the end of my journey in the valley of Great Salt Lake well and happy, and I hope that you are the same. I shall now give you some of the history of my trip from the Old Country. This little letter is not large enough to describe all I saw, but I shall do my best to describe the outstanding features as briefly and inclusively as possible. We started from Aberdare on May 17th for Merthyr, where we stayed overnight. Next morning, the 18th, we started for Liverpool. After leaving the old rugged, craggy mountains of Wales behind us, we came to the flat plains of England and there saw the most desirable land such as we had never seen in all our lives. It was full of apple trees, plums, pears, and all kinds of other fruit, nature was a feast of beauty, all kinds of beautiful buildings of red brick. By evening we reached Liverpool. (One-half dozen words obliterated by creased paper) the streets were all paved. There is no time now to give details about this place. Next day we went down to the docks, and there we saw the General McClellan. This immense vessel laid about 70 yards long carrying 2000 tons. After getting everything in order, the steamboat pulled us on to the river, where we saw the great eastern, the world’s chief wonder. May 21st, we set sail for New York across the Atlantic Ocean. We saw many large fish. About the banks of Newfoundland we saw many large icebergs, some of them 200 feet high, and the portion above the surface of the water was but a third of the whole, so this enormous block would stand 600 feet high if it were all visible. We had a successful journey. We got one bad storm for about 24 hours. We were on the ocean for a month and 3 days. After reaching New York, we were taken to customs offices where all immigrants have to pass. After getting all in order there, we started out by steamboat on the river Genessee for about 160 miles to Albany. Here we took the train, and away we went for hundreds of miles along the borders of Canada. Then we crossed the river to St. Clair and through a part of Canada, then recrossed the same river to the United States and on to Buffalo. Here laid a large lake called Buffalo Lake. I don’t know its size but it was scores of miles long. After changing trains, we went on to Quincy. This lies on the bank of the Mississippi River. We crossed this river to the State of Missouri. Here is the most delightful land we ever saw, vast plains for hundreds of miles. I did not see a single mountain during my journey from New York to Wyoming (in Nebraska). We went along the banks of Mississippi for about 900 miles to St. Joseph. This was as far as we went by train. We were on the train for 11 days and nights, and were very tired for want of a place to sleep, having traveled 2000 miles.

From here we went by steamboat on the Missouri River for 200 miles to Wyoming, and here we came to the plains. We stayed in Wyoming for 3 weeks. July 21st we started over the plains, a company of 500 to 600 people, men, women and children, and about 80 wagons. After traveling on the plains for about 11 weeks, we reached the City of Great Salt Lake on Oct. 4th. This is the most beautiful city I ever saw in my life. It is full of apple trees, plums, pears, peaches, damsons, grapes, melons and all kinds of other fruit. The buildings are large and beautiful, and you seldom see a double house, but each house separate with a garden adjoining. The streets are all straight for miles, not a crooked street in the city. I stood by Brigham Young’s house facing the south, and I could see 20 to 30 miles of perfectly straight road. We can see for 80 miles here better than you can see for 20 there. After being here several days, I learned that father and my brothers were in Ogden City, 40 miles away, and that Richard is coming down to the festival (conference). This gave me no small amount of joy, for this was the first news I had of my father that he was alive. I saw Richard in the city, and when the festival was over, we started for Ogden City. John has moved out 200 miles from here, and he and his family were well when last heard from. Father is well and contented and he was as glad to see me here as I was to see him, and to hear that you are all well there. They want you to come next time and would love very much to see you. This is three times as good a country to live in if you care to work. I know that Sally is unable to come without help, but if Mary is able to come if nothing untoward has happened, and I would advise you, Mary, to come out next time, so we can later help Sally and her family. I would like to know whether or not you intend coming next time so I can give you a few instructions. It is a great country if one is wise to take advantage of the elements, and to do everything for one’s self, for which I can greatly commend these people, more so than the people of the old country. The women make all their own clothes – weave, roll, and everything; it’s a poor place for a tailor to live on his trade. They also make soap, candles, vinegar, yeast and everything for their own use. These people raise the material for sugar, and make molasses like the tressels you have, except that it is much better. The sugar is all in this molasses, and the refuse that comes from this is what you have for treacle. There is nothing else in particular that I can add at present. Father sincerely sends his regards to you, to his old neighbours, and to all the Saints, and hopes to see some of their names in the paper as immigrants the next time. Richard sends his regards to you and to all the saints and his acquaintances. Give me an answer as soon as you can, so I can have sufficient time to write back if you should come out next time. If you want to know anything, ask in your letter and I shall answer it with pleasure.

This briefly from your dear father and your brothers, John, David and Richard Williams.

Please give this letter (accompanying this one ) to William Rees.

A few words to William Rees, my brother in the gospel. I have taken my pen in hand to send you a few lines, hoping you are well and happy, and enjoying the comforts of the gospel, as I do myself at present; and I thank God for that. I intended to give you a little news of the plains and its creatures. But from what we hear, it is not likely there will be an immigration over the plains for some time, because the Indians are rather cruel and are at war with the United States. We were on the plains for 11 weeks because of difficulties. We joined another train (wagon train) and in all we had 150 wagons with about 1200 people; our train was about 4 miles long. The last train of saints came to Salt Lake City on Oct. 20th. Trains of gentiles had joined them along the line, and I heard people saying that they stretched over 10 miles while traveling. Eighty of the rich people of Salt Lake City were called, last festival (conference) to go south 600 miles and raise cotton, and the rich everywhere are being called on to help; and there is also a widespread call for people to go there to settle. They are going to build ships on the Colorado River, for that is the way the next immigrants will come, around the Cape Horn. I have to finish at present for want of space on this paper, with fond regards to you, to Thomas Griffiths and his family, to Mary Hoskins and her family, and to all the saints alike.

This briefly from your old brother in the Gospel, David Williams.

D.R. Mr. David Williams, Ogden City,

In Memory of Lowell Hansen and Garrett Smith

With a recent bout of suicides, I thought I would pay a bit of a tribute to Garrett Lee Smith and Lowell Eugene Hansen.  Both of them forced the concept of suicide into my life and required I come to some understanding of the idea.  I wanted to give some memories of these two individuals and the doctrinal concepts surrounding suicide.  What is suicide?  How does God look at suicide?  How am I supposed to deal with suicide?  How does God deal with those who commit suicide?

Lowell Hansen was an acquaintance I knew in Paul, Idaho.  I was young enough that I knew who he was, but did not really know anything about him.  After I was charged by a bull at our house, I remembered that within days he appeared at our home and removed the charge from the bull.  I watched him shoot, hang, gut, clean, and cut the bull.  It was fascinating.  I remember recognizing the butcher truck each time when I would see it on the road or at some other location.  I knew he built a log home because I always saw the truck parked near it.  Years later after I became involved in the same congregation and came to know him a little more as Brother Hansen.  It was not until I returned from my mission that I realized he even had a family.  I moved back to home in the fall of 2002 and I was assigned as a Home Teacher to one of Lowell’s daughters.  It was only then I really started to get to know the Hansen family more on a personal level.  It was shortly after that Lowell decided to end his life much like he did that bull.  I was called upon to help minister, however weakly, somewhat to the needs of his daughter and her then boyfriend.  The talk I reproduce in full below was given at his funeral and has provided much of the basis for my feelings and ideas on suicide.

Garrett Smith was on a bit more personal level for me.  I first learned of him in Manchester, England when he was assigned my companion as a new missionary.  I was called as a trainer to him, although I only knew of him as Elder Smith.  We served together, 24 hours a day, for 6 weeks.  We had many a conversation and became close friends.  I had some frustrations with him due to some of his learning disabilities and my lack of patience.  He knew of this and I do not think I always helped in our relationship.  When the 6 weeks were up, we had both profoundly influenced the other though.  He convinced me that I should consider leaving civil engineering and looking more into political science and law.  I think I had convinced him that his disabilities were not a very good excuse for settling for mediocrity.  I left England to return home and he finished in 2002.  We had planned several occasions where we would get together for old time’s sake, but they kept falling through due to poor scheduling and other issues.  We finally set a date to get together on the 13th of September in 2003.  I was going to drive down to Orem, Utah where he was and spend the weekend.  Unfortunately, I received a phone call that week only to find he had hanged himself in a closet after consuming alcohol and sleeping pills.  I had a great desire to attend his funeral so a roommate from Logan drove with me to Pendleton, Oregon for the funeral.  I took a copy of the talk from Lowell’s funeral with me and gave it to Garrett’s parents.  Garrett’s mom, Sharon, later thanked me for the talk.  Our Mission President, Phil Wightman, spoke at the funeral and while I doubt he had read the talk, he referenced very similar themes as Hyrum Smith did at Lowell’s funeral (Hyrum Smith was Lowell’s Mission President too).  Sometimes I find myself wondering what Garrett’s life would be like if he wasn’t reposing in the ground at Weston, Oregon.

I lost the talk over the years and had repeated requests come to me for a copy of it.  Those asking were mostly individuals I had shared with at the time of Garrett’s funeral who were moved by it and wanted to give a copy of it when someone else took their life.  I had probably a dozen requests for the talk in 2010, so I ended up contacting Lowell’s widow for a copy.

Here is a copy of the talk by Hyrum Smith given 6 December 2002 at the funeral of Lowell Eugene Hansen in Paul, Idaho.  At the end, I will give some other thoughts I remember Phil Wightman giving at Garrett’s funeral.

My brothers and sisters, I wasn’t really sure until about 3 o’clock this morning why I was asked to be here, but somewhere around three, I knew.  The spirit indicated to me that I am uniquely qualified to speak here today, and I’ll share with you why as I share some thoughts with you.

I’m honored and humbled that Emma Jean asked me to be here.  When she called Monday, I was stunned as I’m sure all of you were.

Public speaking is not something that is foreign to me.  I do it for a living.  I’ve spoken before thousands of audiences, but never an assignment like this.  I’d like to begin by suggesting that we are met here today in the house of God.  That same God who sent Jesus here to help us.  We meet today in the name of Jesus Christ who died to save us.  I would ask that you keep that in mind as I share a few thoughts with you this morning.

I’d like to begin by sharing four scriptures with you that describe, as many scriptures do, how our Father in Heaven, and our Savior feel about us.  I think we need to be especially reminded of that.  I’d like to go first with the 29th section of the Doctrine and Covenants and read verse 5 “Lift up your hearts and be glad for I am in your midst and am your advocate with the Father.  And it is His good will to give you the kingdom.”  I would then take you to the 62nd section of the Doctrine and Covenants and read verse 1, “Behold and hearken, o ye Elders of my church saith the Lord your God.  Even Jesus Christ, your advocate, who knoweth the weakness of man and how to succor them who are tempted.”  Now go with me to John, Chapter 3, verse 16, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son.  That whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.  For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world but that the world, through Him, might be saved.”  Last I would take you back to the Doctrine and Covenants, in section 18.  “Remember the worth of souls is great in the sight of God.  For behold, the Lord, your Redeemer, suffered death in the flesh.  Wherefore He suffered pain of all men that all men might repent and come unto Him.  And He hath risen again from the dead that He might bring all men unto Him on conditions of repentance.  And how great is His joy in the soul that repenteth.”  I share those scriptures with you, brothers and sisters, as a preamble to what I would ask you to consider as we have met here today.

This wonderful man, father, husband, son, brother, missionary, I knew him well as a missionary.  He was one of the great missionaries of our mission – most of the Idaho people were.  He made a big mistake the other night.  Huge mistake.  He knows that he made that mistake now.  It cost him his life.  But only his body died the other night.  His soul, his spirit, his brain, his mind are still very much alive – very active.  It’s like going into another room.

I was led to a talk that Elder Jeffrey Holland gave at a very similar funeral.  Jeff Holland and I served as missionaries in the same mission, British mission, lots of years ago.  He’s a very dear friend.  He was asked to speak at the funeral of a young man who had taken his life.  This is what Elder Holland said, and I am going to interject Lowell’s name into these remarks, because they fit perfectly today.  “We’re here to celebrate Lowell’s life, not his death.  We’re here to praise the Lord and love God for the atonement and the resurrection, but we’re also here to say, particularly to the youth in this congregation and others who struggle, that Lowell made a mistake.  Now he would be the first to say that.  Someone said, ‘A man to be good, and I would add a woman, must imagine intensely and comprehensively – he must put himself in the place of another – the pains and pleasures of the man that has become his own.  Until he can do that, he must never sit in judgment on a man or his motives.’  We need a better vocabulary, Emma Jean.  We know what we mean when we use the language of death.  But the master of heaven and earth, the Savior of the world, the Redeemer of all mankind, the living Resurrection said that, “When you live and believe in Him, you never die.”  So, we’ll let Lowell go for a while.  But he’s not dead, in any eternal sense, and you know that.  You know that now, you’ll know it tomorrow, and you’ll know it next week.  You’ll especially know it when he is spiritually close to you, whispers to you in your dreams, helps through the veil to raise your grandchildren.  You’ll know that Lowell lives.  It is important to me to bear testimony to you that Lowell lives – just as we testify that God lives and Jesus lives.  We testify that Lowell lives and spiritually and is loved of God and of us.  We miss him.  Death was an intruder this week.  We weren’t ready.  We do miss him and we are sorry, but none of that diminishes the brightness of his life.  The grandeur of God’s plans – the reality of life and the resurrection – of eternity and the Celestial kingdom.  Lowell is being buried with all the promises and symbols of his covenants safely around him.  God in his mercy will work out all the arrangements even as Lowell works out his acknowledgement of his mistake.”  Un-quote.

Those are words of an Apostle of God.  I would like to pose five questions to you now.  The first of which no one has an answer for, but I think we need to deal with it, because I don’t think there is a person in this room that hasn’t asked this question in the last five days.  The second, third, and fourth question, I came from southern Utah this morning, to answer.  Because there are answers to those three questions, and I believe I can answer them for you.  The fifth question, only the people in this room can answer.  I don’t know what that answer will be, but I’m going to pose it.

Here’s the first question, which has been on the minds and lips of probably everyone.  “What was he thinking about?”  What possibly could have driven him to make this mistake?  What’s the answer?  I don’t know.  Nobody here knows.  What sort of despair and anguish and pain causes someone to do that?  I don’t know!  He made a mistake, so we really don’t know the answer to that question.  But that’s not the important question.

The second question, the one that I think I am uniquely qualified to answer, and one of the reasons why I think I was asked to be here is, “What is Lowell thinking now?”  Lowell’s very much alive.  He thinks, he breathes; he has probably had an opportunity to walk with his Father in Heaven.  DO you want me to tell you what he is thinking now?  He’s afraid.  He’s sorry.  He’s in anguish.  He’s suffering.  He’s wishing he hadn’t done it.  I know that.  How do I know?  Several years ago, I made some big mistakes.  We all make mistakes.  Hopefully not as big as the ones I made.  Because of those mistakes, it was required that I lose my membership in the church for several years.  And after I went through the process of approaching my Bishop and my Stake President, and going through the church judicial system – which is amazing, I found myself asking the first question a lot.  What was I thinking?  I couldn’t even answer that question for me.  But I know what I thought about after.  I know about the pain.  I know about the anguish.  I know about the suffering.  It’s awful!  So rest assured, and knowing Lowell as I know him – the integrity of this man, he’s in a lot of pain.

Third question, “Will the Lord allow Lowell to repent?”  Every natural instinct in your body knows the answer to that question – Of course!  He allows everyone to repent.  There’s a myth that floats around the church from time to time.  It suggests that people who take their lives have committed an unpardonable sin.  I’m here to tell you today that’s just flat not true.  The Lord will allow Lowell to repair that mistake.  He’ll walk him through it.  He’ll help him do it.  He’s going to allow that.

Fourth question, “Will the Lord forgive him?”  Every natural instinct in your body knows the answer to that question.  The answer is yes.  He will.  He will forgive him.  And Lowell will receive all the blessings that he rightly deserves from a wonderful life.

Those are the three questions I can answer with surety.  The fifth question, I can’t.  The fourth question was, “Will the Lord forgive him?”  The answer is yes.  The fifth question is, “Will you?”  I know from sad experience that lots of people don’t.  But the Lord has asked us to forgive.  He said, “I the Lord will forgive whom I choose to forgive, but of you, you’re required to forgive all men.”  I need to talk about forgiveness for a moment.  Does the mistake that Lowell made the other night blot out all the good that this man did in his life?  No!  Elder Holland reflected on that.  He was a wonderful missionary.  He was a great father.  He was a great man.  He was dedicated to his Father in Heaven.  Like many of us, he made some mistakes, one big one.  It doesn’t blot out everything he was.  We heard of a wonderful tribute from a beautiful daughter today about the kind of dad he was.  None of that gets wiped out.

As I went through the initial stages of my repentance process, one of the major sources of the anguish was the worry that no one would forgive me.  Because I somehow got it in my mind as I grew up in the church, that to ultimately forgive someone, for a transgression, you had to forget it.  Because we were taught in the scriptures, that when repentance was real and complete, the Lord forgets.  How does He do that? He forgets!  Wow!  Can we, mortals, reach a level of spiritual maturity where we can forget what happened the other night?  I don’t think so.  Do you think that anybody in this room will ever forget that Lowell took his life?  Not in this life.  I don’t think so.  Do you think anyone, who knows me well, will forget that I was excommunicated from the church?  Nope – Hyrum Smith…business leader, great, great grandson of the prophet’s brother, Hyrum?  No one will ever forget that!  Do you think my kids will forget that?  No!  BUT, and this is one of those moments where the spirit instructs and saves, in the middle of the night, the spirit taught a great lesson.  Forgiveness doesn’t mean forgetting.  Forgiveness means remembering – but it doesn’t matter any more.  I think we can achieve that.  I think we can reach a point, as mortals, where we can remember and have forgiven to the point where, in remember, it just doesn’t matter anymore.  I challenge each to deal with the fifth question, “Will you forgive him?”  I believe you can – you must!  That’s what the Lord wants you to do.  But you’ll never forget.

I want to share a concept with you that has helped me think through a number of things.  During the Vietnam War, I was in the military during that period of time; there was a man by the name of Stockdale.  He was an admiral.  He was the highest-ranking man to spend time at the Hanoi Hilton as a prisoner of war.  And while he was in the prison, for about six years, he discovered that there were three basic types of people incarcerated in that prison.  He discovered the same thinking that Victor Frankl discovered at Auswich during the Second World War.  Victor Frankl wrote about it in his book, “Man’s Search for Meaning.”  Then Stockdale wrote about it, and it has become known and has been written about in a number of books since – the Stockdale paradox.  The three groups of people that he discovered were these.  There were pessimists, optimists, and realists.  And this is how he defined each group.  The pessimists saw the brutal facts around him and quit.  The optimist had boundless faith and ignored the brutal facts.  The realist saw the brutal facts, but had faith they could be dealt with.

The reason I share this with you is that in this book, when he wrote about this he said the interesting thing about these three groups is that the first two groups of people died in the camps at Vietnam.  Died!  Didn’t make it back!  I understood why the pessimists didn’t make it.  They saw the brutal facts.  They were in the middle of South-East Asia.  They were 8,000 miles from help and the Marines aren’t going to get in here.  We’re going to be here forever, and they died.  And some very healthy bodies died.

The second group stunned me!  The optimists died!  How come the optimists died?  Because the optimists had boundless faith but were not willing to look at the brutal facts.  And they said to each other, “You know we’ll be out of here by Christmas.”  “We’ll be out of here by Valentines.”  Every rustle in the bush was the Marines coming to save them.  And when every rustle in the bush wasn’t the Marines coming to save them and when they weren’t out by Christmas, and when they weren’t out by Valentines, they died.  They gave up and died.

The realists survived.  They saw the brutal facts.  “We’re in the middle of South-East Asia.  We’re not going to be rescued for a long time, but you know what guys, we’ll stick together.  We can handle this.”  And they did.

A good friend, by the name of Jensen, was in our mission – Lowell knew him – served six years in that prison.  There were several LDS fellows there, and the way they kept themselves sane was they would try and remember LDS hymns.  They would tap by Morse code on the bars of the jail, and they would send what they could remember of each hymn.  They gathered lots of hymns.  And one hymn they worked on for four years.  They got the first three verses in about 18 months, but the fourth verse took two and a half years to get.  They finally got the fourth verse.  When they got back, there was only three verses.  They had created their own verse, but they survived.  Now why do I share that here?  I want to ask you the question as what are you going to do about this issue?  Pessimists see the brutal facts – Our dad killed himself.  It’s pretty awful.  Nothing so wrong, it’s awful!  And you can give up – if you want.  The optimist ignores the facts – puts on a smiley face and pretends it didn’t happen.  And the optimists live a lie.  The realist sees the brutal facts – We lost our dad, our husband, our son – pretty awful.  We’ve got to gather together and help each other now to survive financially and economically.  We’ve got to get through school.  We’ve got to do stuff that dad normally would have helped us with.  It isn’t going to be easy.  The optimist has the faith that we can do it.  And so I’m asking you today, “What are you going to be?”

On the 19th of October of last year, not this year, but 2001, Steven Covey and I, we have a business together, were asked by Mayor Giuliani of New York City, if we would come back to Manhattan and do a free, one day, workshop for the families of those affected by the 9/11 disaster.  He told that their mid-town Manhattan Sheraton had donated their ballroom.  They donated our rooms to stay.  Would you come back?  We’ve got people in some real pain.  Would you come back and speak?  We said, “We’re there!”  We got there on a Thursday night.  The seminar was to be on Friday.  I got there about midnight.  I’ve been in Manhattan many, many times.  As I flew up the East river, I was coming from Chicago, and saw the lights where the World Trade Center used to be, it was kind of an eerie feeling.  It was a very different landscape now.

At five o’clock the next morning, Mayor Giuliani had arranged for a tour, a private tour of ground zero for Steven and me.  At that point, which was just five weeks after the event; sixteen hundred policeman had surrounded ground zero, and had blocked it off.  You couldn’t get down there without a police escort.  We had to go through four checkpoints to get to ground zero.  About 5:15 in the morning, we found ourselves standing on the street in front of where the Marriott Hotel used to be. It used to be called the Vista Hotel.  I’ve stayed in that Hotel many times.  Only I wasn’t really standing on the street.  I was standing on 16 feet of compacted debris.  And as we stood there looking at this horrific hole in the ground, the policeman who had been assigned to be our guide began to tell us his story.

He said, “You know, I was here that day.  I was standing on the street right about where we are.  I heard this big bang, I looked up, and all this stuff came flying out of the World Trade Center.”  He said, “You know, it looked like paper when it all came out until it started hitting the ground.  It was fifty foot I-beams killing everyone it hit.”  He said, “I watched 34 people jump from those towers.  Four of them holding hands.  I watched eight firemen lose their lives from falling people.”  I’m not even believing this.  Then he looked at me and said, “Mr. Smith, how many computers do you think there were in the World Trade Center?”  I said, “Probably a lot.”  He said, “We haven’t found one!”  I said, “How come?”  “3,000 degree fire.  It’s still burning.”  As he was talking, a crane pulled a big I-beam out of the rubble, and the end of the I-beam was dripping molten steel.  Then he said, “You know the second plane hit and then the building started to come down – we all thought we were dead.  We got under a car, and somehow we lived.”  That’s how our morning started.

When we got back to the hotel at about 7:30, we had to shower.  We were covered with soot.  At 8:00, this meeting began.  There were 2,000 people jammed into a ballroom designed for 1,500.  People were sitting on the floor.  It started by two New York policemen and two New York Firemen, carrying the American flag in.  I will tell you, It’s hard.  And then the Harlem girls choir, sixty young women from Harlem, filed in and sang three patriotic songs, and the music that came out of those kids was amazing.  I was very grateful that Steven Covey had to speak first because I was a mess.  He spoke for two hours, and then I had to speak for two hours.  As I approached the front of the room, there were people all around on the floor.  A fireman, about half way back, in uniform, stood up, and he said, “Mr. Smith, are you going to tell us how we get of bed in the morning when we just don’t give a darn anymore?”  That’s how it started.  It turned out to be one of the toughest, and ultimately the most rewarding experiences I’ve had.  I said these words to the fireman – and I want to say these words to you – Emma Jean and the children, and their extended family, and everybody here.  If you don’t remember a think I’ve said, remember this statement.  I said to this fireman, “Pain is inevitable.  Misery is an option.”  And he seemed a little stunned.  Now what do I mean by that?  The fact is, brothers and sisters, bad things happen to good people.  They just do.  Airplanes fly into buildings.  Rivers overflow their banks.  Dams break and flood out villages.  Accidents happen – people die prematurely.  Bad stuff happens to good people.  How we choose to deal with the pain is ultimately a measure of who we are.

That’s why the Lord gave us the gospel of Jesus Christ.  To help us deal with the pain.  Some of the most serene, magnificent, wonderful people I’ve ever known have gone through some major pain in their lives.

Will the Lord forgive?  Yes!  Ten days ago, tomorrow, President Hinckley and Elder Maxwell, laid their hands on my head and restored all my blessings.  Not just some of them.  All of them.  And President Hinckley mentioned three times in the most amazing blessing I’ve ever heard, all the blessings.  I’m here to testify to you today that that will happen to Lowell.  He’ll be there.  He’ll be ready, Emma Jean.  He’ll welcome you with all his blessings.  So the challenge for us as the living – to go on.

When the pioneers came across the plains, they periodically had to stop and bury the dead.  And the scene was always the same.  There’d be a family standing around the grave, and if you looked off into the distance, you could see the wagons – and the wagons were ready to go.  The wagons had riders in them.  They were waiting for the family to get through with that funeral so that they could move on because they knew, “If we don’t move on, then we’ll die!”  They buried their dead, and they moved on.

Well, the wagons are surrounding the building, and they’re ready for us to move on.  We pulled off the highways of our lives to pay tribute to a great human being – who made a mistake that can be fixed.  And when we’re through here today, we’ll get back in our wagons and move on.  We’ll survive.  Don’t ever forget the brutal facts, but never lose faith that they can be dealt with.  I bear you my testimony that God lives.  Jesus is the Christ.  He loves everybody in the room.  He’ll take care of Lowell.  He’ll take care of us too.  I bear that witness in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

Here are a few more thoughts from my memory of Phil Wightman’s talk from Garrett’s funeral.  The talk centered around the scripture in 1 Corinthians 13:12-13 which states, “For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known. And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity.”

In essence, since I went to the funeral with Lowell’s funeral talk in my mind (in fact, my friend, Taylor Willingham, read it to me again on the drive up and I gave a copy to Garrett’s parents) the basics of the talk were the same.  Brother Smith approached it with some practical questions and answers to those questions.  President Wightman approached it from a doctrine side that we do not really know what goes on in the minds of these individuals when suicide is completed.  But we have to have charity, love them and their families, and move forward.  In the end, the Lord will sort all things out.

Rest in peace Garrett and Lowell.  I look forward to meeting up with you both again some day.  Until then, I hope we all can appreciate the suicidal act and hopefully help avoid it in the future, and work forward from those who do commit this unthinkable deed.

Van Leeuwen – Janzen Wedding

Harmanus and Johanna Janzen are pleased to announce the marriage of their daughter Hermina to Gerhardus Hendrik Van Leeuwen, son of Gerrit and Elsebina Van Leeuwen. Gerhardus and Hermina were married in Arnhem, Gelderland, Netherlands on 31 March 1880.

Gerhardus is a carpenter and the family will make their home in Arnhem.

That might be somewhat how the wedding announcement might have been like for the couple, except in Dutch.  When referring to individuals in the United States, I have kept the English capitalization of Van and Der, while the Dutch individuals I have maintained the Dutch preference.

Gerhardus Hendrik Van Leeuwen (who went by George Henry in English) was born the fourth of nine children to Gerrit van Leeuwen and Elsebina Maria Catharina Weenig on 16 October 1856 in Oldenzaal, Overijssel, Netherlands.  I have written of them at this link: Van Leeuwen-Weenig Wedding.  He was a carpenter by trade, on the finishing side.  He would also tune and service organs.  After moving to the United States, he worked as a finishing carpenter.

We do not know anything about how they met, the courtship, or the marriage in 1880.

Hermina Janzen (who went by Minnie) was born the fourth of nine children to Harmanus Janzen and Johanna van der Meij on 19 August 1860 in Gorssel, Gelderland, Netherlands.

George and Minnie would eventually have 12 children born to their marriage (Here are some pictures of the children).  Nine of these would live to adulthood and marry.

Gerhardus Hermanus Van Leeuwen was born 22 February 1881 in Arnhem and died 19 November 1883 in Amsterdam, North Holland, Netherlands.

Shortly after Gerhardus’ birth, the family moved to Amsterdam.  The family moved around quite regularly, sometimes only living in one place for a couple of weeks.  This may show the family was struggling financially.

Elsebina Johanna Van Leeuwen was born 5 January 1883 in Amsterdam and died 18 Mar 1883 in Amsterdam.

Johanna Hermiena Van Leeuwen (known as Annie) was born 30 January 1884 in Amsterdam and died 20 July 1958 in Ogden, Weber, Utah.  She married Ibele Idsenga (known as Emil Edsinga) 3 February 1905 in Ogden.

It is assumed that around this time (1885-1886) is when George incurred a head injury.  My Great Grandmother, his daughter Dena, indicated he fell from a ladder.  Other siblings reported to descendants that he was struck in the head with a board.  This is believed to be the reason why the family moved back to Arnhem, that due to his inability to work, this may be the reason they returned to Arnhem to be near family and rely on them for help.

Elsebina Maria Catharina Van Leeuwen (known as Elsie) was born 7 March 1886 in Arnhem and died 2 March 1927 in Ogden.  She married Elmer Leroy Staker 2 May 1906 in Salt Lake City, Salt Lake, Utah in the LDS temple.

The family then moved back to Amsterdam perhaps in pursuit of employment again.  It was in Amsterdam that the Van Leeuwens met with missionaries of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  George and Minnie were both baptized 4 June 1887.

Gerhardus Hermanus Van Leeuwen (reuse of the older sibling’s name, known as George) was born 29 August 1887 in Amsterdam and died 21 January 1937 in Ogden.  He married Maria Timmers 17 September 1908 in Salt Lake City.

According to George’s 1932 death certificate, he suffered from epilepsy with psychosis for 45 years. That would predate his immigration to the United States. His mental health could have become an issue when immigrating, and it may have been easier if Minnie and the children had gone first and established their new home. That may have enabled George to follow the next spring without risk of having the family turned back. With family already in Utah, immigration officials would hopefully admit him into the country.  Epilepsy had a stigma of illness that the family had to deal with, everything from wickedness to a contagious disease.  This way, only he would be turned away, and hopefully with the family already there, the officials would admit him to the country.  George arrived 21 March 1889 in New York City, New York on the S.S. Veendam having left Rotterdam.

Minnie’s membership records appear in Ogden 1st Ward and Wilson Ward of the LDS Church by October 1888.  The family settled in the area around Wall and 32nd in Ogden.  A number of other Dutch emigrants were also in the area.

Hermiena Van Leeuwen (known as Minnie) was born 26 January 1890 in Ogden and died 21 August 1971 in Ogden.  She married George Berglund 22 September 1915 in Ogden.

Jantjen Van Leeuwen (known as Jane and Jennie) was born 30 December 1891 in Ogden and died 27 July 1942 in Los Angeles, Los Angeles, California.  She married Frederick William Bremer 10 December 1913 in Salt Lake City at the LDS temple.

Maria Van Leeuwen (known as Mary) was born 15 November 1893 in Ogden and died 16 August 1977 in Ogden.  She married Andrew George Hewitt (known as Andy) 22 September 1915 in Salt Lake City at the LDS temple.

Hermanus Van Leeuwen (known as Herman) was born 10 July 1896 in Ogden and died 26 November 1973 in Ogden.  He married Cora Edna Biddulph (or Lowe) 21 July 1916 in Ogden.

Berendena Van Leeuwen (known as Dena) was born 28 December 1898 in Ogden and died 5 March 1959 in Ogden.  She married David Delos Donaldson (known as Dave) and I have written of their marriage at this link: Donaldson-Van Leeuwen Wedding.

Christiena Van Leeuwen was born 16 March 1901 in Ogden and died 20 March 1901.

Catharina Johanna Van Leeuwen (known as Kate) was born 2 December 1902 in Ogden and died 27 November 1975 in Ogden.  She married Richard Leslie Collins (known as Les) 17 March 1920 in Ogden.

All the individuals who knew the family mention first how close the family was.  The family was known that once a visitor was around, the food came out.  Apparently Minnie was a master cook and all loved her food.  She apparently made loaves and loaves of bread at a time.  The neighbors knew what days she made bread and would regularly buy loaves from her.  Friends of the children knew what day to come and eat some of Minnie’s bread.  After she passed, her daughters had all learned well and continued the tradition and into their own families after marrying.

The family was also known for the practical jokes they would play on one another and the constant play quarreling.  Even throughout life, some of the siblings would make up stories about other siblings that would make the sibling mad and things turned hot for a while and then the favor would return.  All throughout the rest of their lives, the siblings met together oft and enjoyed meals together.

Five children in back (l-r): Minnie, Annie, Elsie, George and Jane. Second row: George, Dena, Hermina. Front: Mary and Herman.

The above photo placements are as follows.  You can tell George and Minnie Van Leeuwen.  Dena is sitting on the stool between the parents.  The five children behind from left to right are Minnie, Annie, Elsie, George, and Jane.  The two in front of George are Mary and Herman.  Kate was not born yet when this picture was taken roughly in 1902.

George’s head and mental injuries continued to worsen as the years passed.  The family either had to keep him safe during a fit and keep him calm to keep from inducing a fit.  By the time 1911 rolled around, the family could no longer deal with his mental condition on their own.  Dena referred to her “Daddy” as tender and sweet and then at the switch he would become angry and threatening.  He had made enough threats and raised enough raucous that neighbors called the police.  George was committed to the Utah State Mental Hospital in Provo, Utah, Utah in 1911.  The family tried to get him out and succeeded.  Unfortunately, he lost control again and ended up spending the rest of his life in the mental hospital.  The family would drive down nearly every weekend to pick up “Daddy” and keep him for the weekend before taking him back.  By the mid 1920′s, they could not even take him home on the weekends his condition was that poor and uncontrollable.

Photo from George’s Utah State Hospital file

“Momma Minnie,” as she was known to friends, died 9 June 1921 in Ogden.  She was buried 3 days later in the Ogden City Cemetery.  When Hermina died in 1921 she left a will specifying $1 to Gerhardus who was in state care and otherwise her estate was divided among her surviving children.  Hermina died at Elsie’s home.  George died 5 January 1932 in Provo, Utah, Utah.  He was buried 3 days later beside his wife.

Sharp-Stoker Wedding

Milo Sharp, Archie Richardson, Mary Ann and Ethel Sharp, Roy Richardson

William Stoker and the late Emma Eames Stoker are pleased to announce the marriage of their daughter Mary Ann to Milo Riley Sharp, son of William Sharp and Mary Ann Sharp.  They were married in at the Episcopal Church in Plain City, Weber, Utah on 11 May 1879.

Milo is currently a farmer in Plain City.

The couple will make their home in Plain City.

Just trying to write these first three paragraphs was not easy with this family.  So many twists and turns with each individual name makes it difficult to find the proper wording and fashion to form the sentences.

I struggled on whether to call Mary Ann by her other known name, Lillian Musgrave.  After marriage, she was known as Lilly M Sharp.  Mary Ann was born 24 February 1861 at in Reading, Berkshire, England.  The family was likely living at 18 Albert Street within St. Mary’s Parish.  She was the fifth and last child (some show her as the 6th of 7 children though) of William Stoker, a journeyman saddler working in Reading, and Emma Eames.  Emma contracted tuberculosis (listed as phthisis on the death certificate) and passed away 28 April 1863 at the same address after a year struggle with the disease.  Mary Ann never knew her mother.  Her father and older sister (Alice) joined the LDS church 27 May 1863.  Her older brother, William Thomas, eleven years her senior, had joined 5 December 1860.

The family wasted no time in gathering to Zion.  The Stoker family departed from London on a ship called “Amazon” 4 June 1863.  George Q Cannon dedicated the ship which was entirely of Saints (880+) headed for Zion.  It was this same ship that Charles Dickens wrote that the Mormons were not taking misfits and scoundrels, but the “pick and flower” of England.  Even George Sutherland, future U.S. Supreme Court Justice was on this ship.  Here is a link to the story by Charles Dickens: The Uncommercial Traveller.  The LDS church also tells of the story that day at this link: Amazon Departure.  The ship sailed to Liverpool before finally heading out for America.  Elijah Larkin, who would help found Larkin Mortuary, noted that on the 16th and 20th of June, Thomas Stoker was administered to due to a sickness since leaving Liverpool.

The “Amazon” landed at Castle Gardens, New York, New York on 18 July 1863.  The Saints took rail to Albany, Albany, New York and then to Florence, Douglas, Nebraska through Detroit, Wayne, Michigan.  From there they hoofed it on to Salt Lake City, Salt Lake, Utah Territory arriving 3 and 4 October 1863 (depending on which of the two companies), just in time for General Conference.  Several of the company wrote of Brigham Young coming out to greet them and giving them advice.

William moved almost immediately to Ogden, Weber, Utah and set up shop working with leather.  William wasted no time in remarrying to Eliza Sinfield in Ogden 18 May 1864.  While Mary Ann is listed as a child for William and Eliza on the 1870 Census, she was actually living with George Augustus and Victorine Jane Dix Musgrave.  She is listed with their family on the 1870 Census as well.  Additionally, the other children from this first marriage were also being raised by other families.  Family lore indicates that William and Eliza could not afford to raise these older children and farmed them out to families that could afford to take care of them.  Other evidence points that they were not all that poor, but it is not likely we will ever really know.  Here are three of the sisters later in life.

l-r: Mary Ann Stoker Sharp, Jeanette Stoker Rogers, Henrietta Stoker Weston

Mary Ann was raised by George and Victorine Musgrave.  She knew who her real father was, but had no real childhood memories of him.  George Musgrave was a school teacher and musician in Plain City.  George and Victorine were unable to have children and Mary Ann was probably a welcome addition in their home.  Victorine had also been adopted.  Although not formally adopted, George and Victorine called her Lillian Musgrave, but she grew nicknamed Lilly.  The rest of her life she went by Lilly and took the Musgrave as her middle name after she married with the obvious middle initial “M”.  Here is a picture of Victorine Jane Dix Musgrave.  Her son, Austin, even lists his mother’s name as Lillee Musgrave.

George and Victorine knew music and taught school.  Naturally, Lilly was taught the same.  She ended up participating in the second dramatic association in Plain City.  Some of their shows put on were, “Mistletoe Bough,” “Mickle Earl,” “Maniac Lover,” “Fruits of the Wind Cup,” “Streets of New York,” “The Two Galley Slaves,” “The Rough Diamond,” “Earnest Mall Travers,” and “Ten Knights in a Bar Room.”

All was not well in Zion during these years in Plain City.  Family lore has it that when a Bishop (Lewis Shurtleff, branch president 1870-1877, bishop 1877-1883) extended himself beyond what the members felt was right, these families made sure it was known.  The final straw came when Bishop Shurleff started telling the members what they would give as tithing.  These were not just on the fringe members, but good standing members of the church in the area.  William Sharp (Lilly’s future father-in-law) began construction on St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in 1877 for many of these disaffected members (Still standing today and owned by the Lions in Plain City).  For whatever reason a significant group of members were excommunicated between 1877 and 1882.  Many of Plain City’s leading members were excommunicated.  Excommunicated 31 January 1879 were William Sharp (the same who built the new church), Mary Ann Sharp (William’s ex-wife, divorced in 1876, Lilly’s future mother-in-law), William Skeen, Edwin Dix, George Musgrave (Lilly’s adopted father), Thomas Musgrave, Thomas Singleton, Thomas Davis, George W Harris, Jonathan Moyes, John Moyes, Winfield Spiers, James Wadman, Robert Davis, John Davis, and Thomas Robson.  These lists also have “and wife” as well as “and family” which seems to indicate that this list may have included spouses and families.  Mary Ann Sharp (Lilly’s future mother-in-law) is the only woman, but perhaps because the rest were representing their families, where with the recent divorce she was not represented by William.  Many of these families returned to the church after time away, some individuals never did.

While Lilly’s name is not on the list, she was probably classified with the Musgrave family.  We do not have any record of her baptism, but she was with the Musgrave family attending the newly established St. Paul’s Episcopal Church.  Although it seems Victorine Musgrave was excommunicated, she continued active with LDS Relief Society (or she was not excommunicated).  It was during this time, Lilly also come to fall in love with Milo Riley Sharp.  William Sharp, with the assistance of Milo, had also helped build the Musgrave’s new home.  In St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, J. S. Gellogly married Milo and Lilly on 11 May 1879.

 

Milo Riley Sharp

 

Milo Riley Sharp was born 23 Jul 1857 in Lehi, Utah, Utah.  He was the fourth of six children born to William and Mary Ann Bailey Sharp.  Mary Ann did have a child, Lorenzo Padley, from a previous marriage in which she was widowed.  William and Mary Ann Sharp immigrated to Utah in 1853 after joining the LDS church in 1848 and 1846 respectively.  At first they were sent to Lehi but had a number of issues with range for the cattle and some other minor squabbles.  Water was also not found to be very dependable in the Lehi area.  William learned of land north near Ogden that was going to be opened up from some of the Saints passing through Lehi (abandoning Salt Lake City before the arrival of Johnson’s Army).  These Lehi Saints were told of ample land and good water that was available west of Ogden.  A scouting expedition went to search out the area in the fall of 1858 and visited with Lorin Farr who told them of the available plain to the west.  You can read more of his parents at: Sharp-Bailey Wedding.

The Sharp family left with other Lehi Saints on 10 March 1859 to travel to this new area.  The group arrived 17 March 1859 at what is present day Plain City.  William Sharp put his carpentry and masonry skills to work making adobe brick and helping build the first homes in Plain City.  In one of these first adobe brick homes is where Milo Riley grew up.  William served in the Plain City band, the Plain City Z.C.M.I. board, a builder, and a city leader.  Milo’s little sister, Evelyn, was the first girl born in Plain City in October 1859.

Milo’s mother, Mary Ann Bailey Sharp, moved out on Christmas Eve 1875 and refused to come back to William.  William sued for divorce and Franklin D. Richards granted the divorce (in probate court) on 19 May 1876.

Milo Riley Sharp as a young man

As mentioned earlier, the Sharp’s also had a falling out with the LDS church and were excommunicated the same day as the Musgrave family.  Since there were not loads of people in Plain City, Lilly and Milo knew each other.  The conditions in the community, their respective families excommunication, probably help to forge the commonalities they had and lead to their marriage.

Milo kept busy working with his father building homes and other masonry and carpentry work.  He also had time to play first base at baseball and played on Plain City’s first baseball team.  The team could beat all the other northern Utah teams except Salt Lake.

The marriage of Milo and Lilly eventually produced a quiver of 12 children.  Milo Ray on 29 February 1880.  George was born 2 August 1881 and passed the same day.  Effie was born 6 June 1882 and died 6 September 1883.  Delwin arrived 30 June 1884.  Ernest and Austin came 7 Jan 1886.  Edward William appeared 25 October 1887.  Victorine showed 23 November 1889 and later married Fredrick Lawrence Hunt.  Mary Irene materialized 26 June 1892 and married Oscar “Os” Child Richardson.  Edith dawned 4 February 1895 and married Clements Richard Martin.  Ethel was born 9 April 1898 and I have written of her at this link: Ross-Sharp Wedding.  Emily appeared 5 April 1900 and quickly extinguished 31 July 1900.  Nine of the children lived to adulthood and 8 of those married and had children.

Mary, Lillie (Mary Ann), Ethel (baby), Victorine, Edith (in front) Sharp

Milo built a new home for the family early on so the family had room to grow.  He added to it as more room was needed as you can see in this photo.  We do not know the year it was originally built, but we know the children after 1888 were born in this home.  The home’s address is 2897 N. 4200 W. in Plain City.

Milo successfully farmed all of these years.  He kept busy with civic affairs.  He was elected constable of Plain City on the Republican ticket in 1891.  In 1893, he sat on a committee to investigate the incorporating of Plain City, although it was not incorporated until 1944 with grandson William Albert Sharp serving on the town board.  Milo and Lilly were singers and continued to play in the Plain City bands.  Lilly was also well-known for her poetry.  In 1911, Milo finished building a new home, pictured below (address is 2771 N. 4200 W. in Plain City).  Milo farmed hard until he caught influenza and eventually pneumonia passing away at the early age of 59 at 9:30 a.m. 24 June 1916 at his sister’s home, Victoria Maw, who lived at 5 Warren Court (which I believe may now be Warren Row or Lane in Ogden).  His funeral was held in the little church he helped his father build, St. Paul’s Episcopal Church on 27 June 1916.

Lilly lived in this home until she passed away in 1935.  Her son, Ernest Sharp, never married and helped take care of her and then lived the rest of his life in the home.

Lilly kept a clean home.  The grandsons were taught to stop by every time they passed, especially to and from school.  This permitted dishes to be washed, wood to be hauled, and wood to be split.  Lilly had a strict regimen for cleaning pots, dishes, and pans (especially bedpans).  This included the outdoor pump station, even with lye to remove odors.  The boys knew to take special care not to make a mess when carrying fire wood or in any other way on entering the home.  The gate was always to be closed, whether coming or going.  While this might seem stern, she always opened the door for those coming and going and gave them a warm smile.

Mary Ann Stoker Sharp

Mary Ann Stoker Sharp

Lilly often made bread, keeping her own live yeast, often from warm potato water.  She had her own milk separator and used it.  The boys helped make butter and she treated the boys to buttermilk and warm bread.  She would also warm apples in the oven to share or dried fruit.  She kept a full root cellar with homemade cured meats, dried fruits, and bottled vegetables.  The Sharp family had onions that could be used to flavor soups and other needs.  Many of the family still grow these onions even until today.  Many mushrooms and water crest were gathered too.

Lilly often had kind words and a warm, gracious smile.  She kept a small table in the pantry where she brushed her teeth with salt, baking soda, and a bar of soap.  The bucket was always there with a drinking cup and a ladle to draw water.  She was thin and tall.  She wore long dresses from her neck to her feet with shoes that went up about six inches.  She kept her hair rolled in the back of her head held with a comb with long teeth.  If she was not thin enough, she wore a corset to make her look even smaller.  She was very neat and proud in her appearance.

She kept a spinning wheel in the home for the times when she would spin wool into thread.  She also had the grandsons help turn her mattress from time to time.  She did not leave the house much in her later years unless she had a ride, but even then did not stay long before going home.  It was clear she enjoyed watching her grandchildren.  The last decade or so of her life, she had to use a hearing tube to hear.  Some of her grandchildren joked that it was like using the telephone, just you could see who was on the other end.

Lilly passed at 10:55 p.m. at her daughter’s home, Victorine Hunt, 6 May 1935 of hypertension with chronic major carditis and pneumonia.  She had remained faithfully active in the Episcopal Church until she could not get around very much.  Later in life she needed assistance as she could not walk very far.  Her funeral was held in the Plain City LDS chapel with Rev. John W. Hyslop officiating on 9 May 1935.  She was buried with Milo in the Plain City Cemetery.

Raymond Draper, Caroline Ross Gallegos, Milo Ross

Donaldson – Williams Wedding

David and Gwenlliam Williams are pleased to announce the marriage of their daughter Mary Elizabeth to William Scott Donaldson, son of Joseph and Sarah Donaldson.  They were married in her parent’s home in Slaterville, Utah on 2 Oct 1890.

William is currently employed with Union Pacific Railroad as a conductor in Ogden.

The couple will make their home in Ogden.

The farther you get back on some of these family lines, the less we know about the individuals and their lives.  This really is unfortunate.  If they had kept journals, or recorded some of their thoughts and at least given us some history, how much the richer we would be.  Look at how much a few sentences written on the back of this old photograph tell us that we would not otherwise know!

The back of this photograph has the following written on it.  “[illegible] master (??) held this photo for about 46 or 48 years then gave it back to me for a keep sake.  when she left for California to make her home.  she was 70.  taken in 1891 we lived in Evanston Wyo.  Donaldson was Union Pacific Conductor.  Mary Elizabeth Williams Donaldson.  Born apr 7th 1869 on Wall ave. between 24th and 25th street.  Just South of the Brigham Hotel in the old home.  Daddy sold the old home to Barnard White.  William Scott Donaldson Born June 18 1865 Cape Vincent Jefferson county New York.”

I assume the writing is by Mary herself since there is a reference of the photo being given back (William died in 1913).  But then why would she refer to her husband as “Donaldson” in reference to his work?  The details given of the birth and its location with the references of “Daddy” selling the home makes me think it is safe to assume this is written by Mary herself and the language is probably a norm of the time.

The reference to the Brigham Hotel (called the New Brigham Hotel on the National Registry) is interesting because that building is still there at 2402-2410 Wall Ave.  No homes still exist in that block.  We knew she was born in Ogden, but from that little note, we now know which block of Ogden.  I have written about her parents at this link: Williams-Jordan Wedding.

The writer on the photograph indicates that the Donaldson family lived in Evanston, Wyoming in 1891.  William George was born 23 Aug 1891 and David Delos 26 Mar 1894, both in Evanston.  (Read more about David’s family at this link: David Donaldson Family)  Mary may very well have been pregnant in the photo.  The photo was taken in Ogden or Park City as the bottom of the photo tells us that is where Adams Bros (and ride an elevator!) was located.  The family then moved to Park City, Utah where Joseph Ellis was born 28 Aug 1896 and Irvine Todd on 11 Jun 1898.

On 11 Jun 1900, the family lived at 2270 Moffatt’s Lane in Ogden.  Moffatt’s Lane is no longer the name of the street, it was renamed between 1910 and 1920 as Ogden Avenue.  William is still a conductor for the railroad.  On 20 Apr 1910, the family lives at the same address and William indicates to the census taker he is now a plumber and owns a shop.  William and David are both listed as apprentices, and I assume both are for their father. Somewhere in all this, he also had a confectionery store, of which we have one picture but no other information.

William Scott died 12 Sep 1913 of bladder cancer at Dee Hospital and was buried in the Ogden City Cemetery on the 14th.  He was barely over 48 years old.  The death certificate indicates William was the owner of a plumbing business.

William Scott was born 18 Jun 1865 in Joyceville, Frontenac, Ontario, Canada.  His mother was born in Cape Vincent, Jefferson, New York.  You can read more of his parents and siblings at this link: Donaldson-Todd Wedding.  As far as we can tell, all the children were born in Joyceville.  He did mention on both the 1900 and 1910 Censuses though that he was born in New York.  Maybe this was to claim his privileges as an a U.S. citizen.  Who knows.  He is not found on the 1880 Census presumably because he is in Canada.  Several of his siblings also finally show on the 1900 Census in New York and Ohio, but his father and mother lived their entire lives near Joyceville or Pittsburgh, Frontenac, Ontario, Canada.  His venture west most likely came with his employment by the railroads.  He did not join the LDS church until 1911.  His son John Edmund joined in 1910, Joseph Ellis the same day as his father, and William George and Samuel Alvin within the next 4 years.  The others did not join (although David Delos obituary says he did).

Back l-r: Todd, George, Mary, William. Front: Dave, Alvin, Ellis, Ed Donaldson.

Mary probably grew up near where she said she was born.  She was the oldest child (that lived) of 10 children.  The census taker in 1880 described the home as on the railroad grounds in Ogden.  The block where she said she was born is very near the Union Station and may have qualified as the railroad grounds.  The original station which was built in 1869.  No street or anything else, just on the railroad grounds.  The 1870 census does not give any indication where the family lived other than in Ogden.  The last two children were born in Slaterville (1881 and 1885).  The marriage record indicates in 1890 that Mary was a resident of “Slateville”.  The 1900 census records do not tell us where in Slaterville.  Mary’s mother, Gwenlliam Jordan Williams died there in 1900.  When David died in 1911, he was back in Ogden living at 3256 Wall Ave (this home is gone).

Mary remarried 11 Jul 1918 to Anthon Edward Peterson.  The family still lived at 2270 Ogden Ave in the 1920 census.  The four youngest still living at home.  By the time the 1930 census arrived, Anthon and Mary were living at 541 Washington Ave, which house I believe is still standing.  Anthon and Mary would remain together until he passed away in 1942.

All accounts of Mary is that she was stern and cold.  Her grandson, David William Donaldson (Dave), indicated that she was snooty, high-minded, and a brat.  Apparently she was very condescending and negative in every interaction.  After Anthon Peterson passed away, she sought to move in with her son, David Delos Donaldson and family.  The offer was apparently there to take her in for whatever years she had remaining.  However, Dave was not having any of that and indicated that if she moved in, he moved out.  This was between 1945 and 1948.  She ended up not moving in because of Dave.

Back l-r: David, Ellis, Edmund. F: George, Todd, Alvin Donaldson

Mary remarried 20 Nov 1945 to Thomas William Stoker (a cousin of mine on a different line).  They remained together until she passed away of old age 29 Mar 1951 in Ogden, just shy of 82.  At the time, Thomas and her were living in Huntsville.

4 Generations: Jan (boy), Dora, Mary Donaldson, David Donaldson

Christiansen Family Photos

I just uploaded all the pictures I have of the Christiansen family relatives.  Here is my tie to the Christiansen family.
There is me.
Sandy is my mother.
Norwood is her father.
Lillian is his mother.
Martha Christiansen was her mother.  The same one I referred to in the past that Lillian gives no emotional record in her journal concerning her death.  She was born in 1879 in Fredrickstad, Norway.  She and her parents immigrated to the United States arriving in New York on the 2 Oct 1889.  It was a long route getting here as in the early 1880′s they moved to Melbourne, Australia.  After about 5 years there, they moved back to Norway.  It was then that they joined The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and then moved to the United States.  They found their way across the United States by rail and were sent from Salt Lake to Cache Valley.  They settled and homesteaded near Richmond, Utah.  Martha’s parents had 10 children.  Surprisingly, all of them lived through the move (the one’s who were born) to Australia, back to Norway, to the United States, and across the country.  They would only have one child die and that was the last child born near Richmond.  If anyone has more information on this family, I would certainly be interested.  I am especially interested since some of the children married husbands with common names which makes it hard to chase down, or they fall off the map and apparently out of the records of the church so they probably were not active.
Here is the family in full.
Olle Christiansen 1853 – 1900.  He was born in Trygstad, Norway, died in Richmond, Utah.
His wife from 1874 is Constance Josephine Eliza Jorgensen 1857 – 1932.  She was born in Drammen, Norway and died on a sightseeing tour in Portland, Oregon.  She is buried there.  Her parents Olavus Jorgensen and Hanna Mathea Christensen also came to Utah.  They died and are buried in Richmond, Utah.
Walborg Christiansen 1875 – 1951 Born in Fredrickstag, Norway; died in Salt Lake City, Utah.  She married to Charles Christian Anderson and lived in Salt Lake all her days.
Martha Christiansen 1879 – 1961 Born in Fredrickstag, Norway; died in Logan, Utah.  She married Herbert Coley.
Eivelda Christiansen 1881 – 1892 Born in Melbourne, Australia; died in Richmond, Utah.
Constance Christiansen 1883 -1953 Born in Melbourne, Australia; died in Pocatello, Idaho.  She was married to John Rocky Clawson and Charles Roy Huff.
Henry Owen Christiansen 1887 – 1932 Born in Fredrickstag, Norway; we don’t know where he died.  Church records have his exact death date but no location.  I believe he moved to Washington State and was married to Anna Wilder Hooser, but am not sure.
Rhoda Christiansen 1890 – 1965 Born in Richmond, Utah; death location is also unknown.  I believe she was living in either Vancouver, Washington or Nyssa, Oregon at the time of her death.  My Great Grandmother was writing to her in 1962 in Nyssa and in 1963 to Vancouver.  We have three marriages, none of which I am sure; George R Davenport, Edward Holman, and Peter Pappas.
Roy C Christiansen 1892 – 1892 Born and died in Richmond, Utah.
Jennie Christiansen 1894 – 1949 Born in Richmond, Utah; we don’t know where she died.  We assume her husbands were as follows; Peter Dee June, a Mr. Ewing, Orval Charles Sherwood, and Junior Albert Shirley.
Myra Christiansen 1896 – 1897 Born and died in Richmond, Utah.  There is another Myra Christiansen in church records born 2 years later, but I have no confirmation it is this girl.  Plus this girl is missing in the 1900 Census so she is either dead as the records and family tradition says, or who knows what.
Ole Loren Christiansen 1898 – 1977 Born in Richmond, Utah; died we assume in Oakland, California.  The dates and everything match, but I would like to have some contact with a family member or something to confirm it.  His spouses we believe are Sara May Strong and a Florence.
Anyhow, this line is a hard one to chase.  It is often misspelled as Christensen, Christinsen, Christianson, and so forth.  Plus there are so many of these other names it makes it tedious work to sort them out.  So I hope for some communication with a family member to open the door on these.  (If you are reading this and are related, please contact me!  Leave a comment with your e-mail or contact me directly, please)  This family has too many holes in it for how I like to do things.  But it seems to be so difficult to do.

Old Journals

Time has been flying by lately and I have been thinking or watching for something to write about.  It seems that some of it is so common knowledge, I wouldn’t dare post it here.  I still find so much of the ordinary as little miracles.  It seems so mundane that I would not want to bore the reader (which I have already started).
Then there are the little things that keep happening around us.  Anna Nicole Smith died.  The Colts won the Superbowl.  The Presidential contenders already starting.  Snow in New York.  Storms in Florida.  Sabateurs and terrorists in Baghdad are to be strangled.  Pelosi wants a plane.  Debate over whether the holocaust happened.
In the little world of Paul, everything marches to a different tone.  I suppose I just don’t see the world the same as others.  In fact, I seem to have the complete opposite of ideas about everything.  Since there always seems to be such a stark contrast, I don’t bother writing it.  Perhaps it is the fear of sarcasm.  Probably more of looking the fool.
For a note of news.  I received my journals in the mail this week.  The journals that were taken as evidence in my mother’s murder trial.  They were taken for what reasons I don’t think I will ever really know.  So, it has been since before 25 October 1998 that I last saw these journals.  Opening them, I feel like I am opening an old book from the 60′s.  Indeed, they smell like my Great Grandma Jonas’ journals.  (Which I am half through her last one)
Wow, I caught a glimpse into the mindset of a boy who turned 18 in the first book.  I found a boy who was getting ready for his first big move.  The first move from home.  The first move from family.  I was dying to get out and petrified at the same time.
I read of my wonderful, amazing, loving roommates.  They are still my dearest friends even today.  We communicate less, but I love them dearly.  I see into the mind of a boy who was very innocent and pure.  I feel the emotions of a boy who is disowned by his mother.  Stressed and devastated by the divorce of his parents.  Enthusiastic and zealous in learning a new religion.  Eager and a little too anxious after the girls.  There is the life of a young man whose stupidity is embarrassing.  In the same pages I am astonished by the insights of a boy who I would aspire to be.  Some of the mundane details are frightening that are noticed.  Yet, as dates come and go, I wonder why some of the most important events of life were not recorded.
I honestly see this person as so far away, foreign, and alien.  Yet I feel, somehow, the deepest intimations of the words.  Even the placing and style of the words on the page are familiar.  It scares me.  I laughed, I cried, and my heart swelled.  It was interesting to read the entries of others.  Some personally placed, others who were dictated to for the daily entry.  I read of the littlest events that were huge and read nothing of some of the largest.
Horrifying was to try and decipher what the investigators placed a marker for.  Some of the notes were damning to my father.  Sadly, some very important details and rumors which put him in a very bad light.  Perhaps I forgot them, perhaps I repressed them, perhaps time drifted them with time.  Other notes were of terrible destructiveness to my mother.  I record outlines of conversations with her on the phone which make me shutter in memory.
There were some events which were so extreme I could not seem to comprehend them now.  How after one conversation, I literally wept for hours.  My roommates horrified knew the details of what was taking place.  My heart broke into a million pieces.  My whole life crashed in one night.  It was with detail I emerged from that room to find my roommates sobbing as well.  They did not know what to do.  I sat at the piano and started to play.  James sat by me and told me he loved me.  I started sobbing and went to hide in my bedroom again.  He grabbed me and hugged me in the hall.  There I stood, embraced by James, bawling.  Within seconds I felt another embrace, and another.  Altan, Tom, James all held me tight.  We cried together that night.  They were my dearest friends and my world at that moment.  We all sat down afterwards and read the scriptures.  The Spirit manifest at that point was something I will never forget.  The love that enveloped us.
I describe my love for Kyla, Jennalyn, Amanda, Trisha, and a whole score of girls.  I talk of my heros and greatest examples.  Duncan, Tateoka, Christiansen, and Jentzsch families.  I had my first personal visit with my Grandparents and came to know them.  It was the first time I came to know my Grandma in a new light.  My life was beginning to be flooded with light despite the deep darkness hovering in all the pages.
It was a spiritual experience to read these pages.  They don’t even seem real to me.  Only hours later did my heart swell as wide as eternity in happiness and joy that I was this person.  I inspired myself.  Yet at the same time, realized what I had lost.  I have lost too much of that innocence.  I am now too mental, too cathartic, too doubtful, too old.  It was with a certain horror to witness what life had done to me and some of the decisions I have made.  I must needs repent.
Anyhow, it was a new experience.  In the end, I only scanned the last two books.  I lost interest and my memory became more keen.  It was so much as a story as just rehearsing something I already knew.  It is like learning to crawl again.  You just don’t have much patience for it after a while.
There were 4 journals they returned.  One is missing.  The good news is that it was the last.  I had just started it and was only into it about a month when it was taken.  It was probably 30 pages full at the max.  I am somewhat disappointed as I think those would be some of the most interesting.  What did I realize as things drew closer.  I knew things would break loose.  What was my reaction the night Dad told me he was going to engage Meta?  What was my feelings the night before the farewell?  What about shopping with Meta?  What did October and part of September hold that are now lost?  The Jerome County Sheriff insists they returned all the journals.  What happened to #4?  (There was another journal not placed in the numerical order.  An apocryphal one if you will.  Oh, I am currently on journal #17).
What does the next 10 years hold?  Will I read then of now and think similar things.  How stupid I am, yet how innocent.  How inspired and zealous?  I sure hope not.  Perhaps in 10 years, I can look back and say I was such a pitiful stig.  I complain, think too much, and am pathetic.  I have to change a few things to return to innocence.