Donaldson-Van Leeuwen Wedding

George Henry and Minnie Van Leeuwen are pleased to announce the marriage of their daughter Dena to David Delos Donaldson, son of Mary Elizabeth Donaldson and the late William Scott Donaldson. David and Dena  were married in Salt Lake City, Salt Lake, Utah on 16 July 1919.

David is currently an independent plumber in Ogden, Weber, Utah.

The couple will return to make their home at 2310 Grant Avenue in Ogden, Utah.

David Delos Donaldson (he went by Dave, his son also went by Dave or Davie, so to keep them clear, I will refer to father as David and son as Dave) was born 26 March 1894 in Evanston, Uinta, Wyoming.  He was the second of seven children born to William Scott Donaldson and Mary Elizabeth Williams.  I have previously written of David’s parents at this link: Donaldson-Williams.  David grew up in Evanston, Uinta, Wyoming and Park City, Summit, Utah before moving to 2270 Moffits Avenue, now 2270 Ogden Avenue, in Ogden, by the time he was six.  He lived at this address until he moved to Twin Falls, Twin Falls, Idaho to work for Ballantyne Plumbing Company as a Sham Filler.  When he registered for the World War I draft on 5 June 1917, he was living on Shoshone Street North in Twin Falls and listed that his mother and two siblings were dependent on him.  He may have listed this in hopes of not being drafted.

Ballantyne Plumbing & Heating Company was newly incorporated (about 1916) by Varsell Ballantyne who had just moved from Ogden.  Varsell had been one of the incorporators of The Ogden Plumbing, Gas & Steam Fitting Company in 1904 or 05.  He had worked in the same spheres as David’s father and probably felt some desire to help the Donaldson family and invited David to Twin Falls.  He may also have been the master to which David was an apprentice, or another plumber worked with in the Ogden PG&S Company.  While David worked for Ballantyne Plumbing Company, it was located at 145 Second Avenue East in Twin Falls.  David lived on Shoshone Street North, probably not far from his employment.

The draft card indicates that he had gray eyes, black hair, and stood tall and stout.  David served in the U.S. Army during World War I.  When he was finally drafted, he went to Utah to report with his two brothers who were also drafted (another brother would also serve in World War I).  Unfortunately, the government cannot find his service paperwork and very little is known of his time served.  His obituary indicates he served in the 91st Division of the Army.  We do not know his dates, but this division fought in the Battle of Saint-Mihiel in 1918 and went on to fight in the Meuse-Argonne Offensive through the rest of the year.  It was in the Meuse-Argonne Offensive that David would receive his life lasting injuries to his lungs from the dreaded gasses of World War I.  One lung collapsed and never worked again, the other lost a large percentage of its capacity.  He would receive weekly treatment for the rest of his life (over 30 years) for these injuries at the Veterans Hospital in Salt Lake.  He became a member of the Disabled American Veterans, Ogden Chapter 4.

l-r: Ed, David, and George Donaldson

Berendena Van Leeuwen, who went by Dena, was born 28 December 1898 in Ogden.  She was the 10th of 12 children born to Gerhardus Hendrik and Hermina  Janzen Van Leeuwen.  I have written of George and Minnie’s marriage here: Van Leeuwen – Janzen Wedding.

Nine of these children would live to adulthood and marry.  Both parents joined the LDS church in 1887 and immediately sought to immigrate to Zion.  The family immigrated to Utah in 1888.  Gerhardus waited until the next year to immigrate.  Gerhardus had fallen from a ladder at work giving him head injuries that lead to epileptic seizures and bouts of insanity.  These considerations were perceived as mental illness at the time and could have kept the family from being admitted had they all come together.  The Van Leeuwen’s immigrated from Arnhem, Gelderland, Netherlands.  In the United States, Dena’s parents were known as George Henry and Minnie Van Leeuwen.  The Van Leeuwen family lived at various places in Ogden, mostly near Wall Avenue and 33rd Street.  Her father worked as a carpenter, more on the finishing side, for employment.  George may have even known of the Donaldson family.  Dena was baptized in the LDS church 7 November 1907 in Ogden. The family was extremely tight knit and was known for their large and very tasty family meals.  If company came over, a meal was put on.

George’s head and mental injuries continued to worsen as the years passed.  The family either had to keep him safe or calm him down before.  By the time 1911 rolled around, his fits were becoming uncontrollable.  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 when Dena was 13.  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.  “Momma Minnie,” as she was known to friends, died in 1921 in Ogden.  George died in 1932 in Provo.

Dena as one of the youngest children of the family was known among siblings as telling slight variations of stories to other siblings such that it would cause some contention within the ranks.  While the siblings were never distant from each other, a feud of one sort or another was always brewing or being fought.  It would always pass, but Dena often started many of the feuds and received a bit of flak for it.

David returned from the war and met Dena Van Leeuwen.  We do not know about the courtship or how they met.  We do not know why they chose to be married in Salt Lake.  David and Dena took a honeymoon to California.

David resumed work as a plumber in the 1920’s in the Ogden area.  Between 1920 and 1928, 5 children were born to David and Dena, all in Ogden.  Twins named Dena Dorothy and Dora Mary were born 28 May 1920.

Gladys Maxine arrived 20 September 1921.  Here is a picture of the three kids with Gladys against the wheel of the car.

Maxine appeared 3 August 1924.  Lastly a boy, David William came 25 November 1928.

A shot of all 5 children on the front porch of the home that David built at 629 8th Street in Ogden.

Here is a picture of the home from the side.  You can see from this point that the home is probably older than 1920’s and that Dave probably added the addition onto the back rather than building the entire home.

In 1930, the family lived at 753 Browning Avenue in Salt Lake.  We do not know how long they were there, but they moved back pretty quickly to Ogden living on 8th Street.  Times were hard during the 1930’s so David went to Boulder City, Clark, Nevada to work on the building of the new Boulder Dam (later named Hoover).  He also headed to Napa, Napa, California to work in the shipyards as a pipe fitter, primarily on submarines. Jennie Bremer, a niece to David and Dena, told of a funny story when David was replacing the plumbing in their home after a serious earthquake in Los Angeles.  David was deathly afraid of earthquakes and while he was working in the basement or under a cupboard if an aftershock hit he would rise up and run from the house.  He told Jennie at one point that he did not want to be caught in the basement if the house should fall.  Well, being little kids, they played with this some.  They would sneak to the window of the room he was working in and shake the screen and windows in a way that sounded like an earthquake.  She said it was funny to see a man as big as “Uncle Dave” to hop up and run out of a room like that.  They would laugh and laugh over it.  They made sure not to do it too often so he would not suspect anything and she does not believe he ever knew of the joke they would pull on him at least once every time he visited.  She did comment it was a bit sad to see him winded for a while after he hopped and ran, but the guilt from it would only come later in life as she realized what she had done to him.

David would often visit family to help with their homes or other needs.  He also come home to Ogden fairly regularly on the weekends to visit the family. He finally found employment in Ogden at the Ogden Depot in 1937 as Supervisor of Maintenance.  In 1939, the family returned to visit the area David had worked, Donaldson extended family in the bay area, and the 1939 San Francisco World Fair.

After World War II, the family moved to 639 Wall Avenue.

Life in the 1940’s treated the Donaldson family much better, even despite the war.  David still had his penny-pinching ways.  Dave would refer to David as the “King of the Tight Wads.”  Dave started working about 12 years old as a shoe polisher at a barber shop on Washington Ave.  David had told Dave that now he was 12, he was expected to be a man and take care of himself, that the Donaldson household would no longer be carrying him.  When he brought his paycheck home, David would take half of it for the family.  This incensed Dave over the years and he quit reporting his full pay to his father, who took half of it.  David even went on to require Dave to pay rent for his space upstairs in the Wall Ave home. Sometime between 1942 and 1945, David’s mother’s husband had passed away and she wanted to move in with the Donaldson family.  David tried to get Dave to move his bed to the back porch so his mother could take the upstairs.  Dave made it very clear he would move his bed, but it would be out of the house and he would never come back.  David’s mother did not move in and Dave kept his “apartment” even after he married.

David insisted that Dena only needed two dresses and no more.  The family would often buy her dresses, shoes, or other things for her birthday and Christmas, so she did not ultimately go without.  But he refused to buy for himself or for her.  Dave and Betty Donaldson got a pretty serious scolding one time for buying Dena a crystal berry bowl indicating that it was going to spoil Dena and the family.

Dena grew up LDS and David did not.  Dena saw that all her children were raised LDS with little difficulty from David.  Apparently smoking is what kept him from being baptized.  When the time would come for Gladys to marry, the Bishop determined that he was not going to allow them to be married in the temple without David being a member.  David had made it known he did not want any of his girls to marry a poor boy and would not submit. All four of the girls married in the next two years, and then Dave in 1953.  Interestingly, David never joined the LDS church, but the family put it into the obituary that he was a member.  Gladys ended up being married in the Donaldson home on 8th Street, but David refused to allow the Donaldson Bishop to do the honors, so the Plain City Bishop of Glady’s husband, Milo Ross, performed the wedding.

Gladys married Milo James Ross 4 April 1942.

Dena married Chauncey De Orr Michaelson 7 December 1943.

Maxine married Sterlin Delaino Telford 24 December 1943.

Dora married Malcolm Claire Birch 11 September 1943.

Dave married Betty May Oram 12 April 1953.

Maxine, Gladys, Dena and Dora Donaldson (don't know which is which of the twins)

David retired in 1949 from the Ogden Defense Depot due to his physical condition and inability to breathe.  About this time, the family took a trek to visit family and friends throughout the west and to see some national and church historical sites.  Included was Hoover Dam, St. George Utah Temple, Mesa Arizona Temple, Cove Fort, Lake Mead, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, and San Francisco.

The family, not caring about the thoughts of others, loaded the car and set off.  Dena, who loved and raised canaries, insisted they come with her.  So the canaries rode in cages that were wired to the outside of the car (and the canaries lived through the entire trek).  Dave joked that driving around they looked like the Beverly Hillbillies in their early 40’s sedan with bird cages wired to the back of the car.

David would claim that the only relief he could receive for his lungs was through smoking cigarettes which would calm his breathing and ease the pain.  Remembering also, this was also a slogan for some cigarette companies!  He picked up smoking while still in the military, but he would become a chain smoker very early on. The smoking would later aid in his death from emphysema.  It was not uncommon at all for David to light one cigarette from the one he was finishing.  He was also known as a dirty smoker among the family in that he would allow the ashes to fall anywhere and would even throw his butts on the floor in the house, in the toilet, or even leave them in the drain of the bathtub after he finished bathing.

David’s lung issues would come back to haunt him more and more as the years passed.  The cigarettes were no longer delaying the pain or inevitable loss.  His emphysema would come in fits to such a degree that he would be confined to bed and the family would have to place newspaper on the floor around the bed to catch the black phlegm (sometimes bloody) he would cough up.  His emphysema would become more and more restraining on his life in the last 5 years of his life.  It was the reason he had to take such an early retirement.  In the end, he had a couple of days where he was coughing and could not breathe and went to the Veteran’s Hospital in Salt Lake City.  After a two day stay, the chronic lung disease caused a cor pulmonale that took his life on 24 September 1953.  Four days later, he was buried in Ogden City Cemetery.

Dena moved on with her life and kept busy visiting and spending time with family.  Dave, who had recently married and was living in an apartment upstairs, decided it was time for a major cleaning of the house.  They completely and thoroughly cleaned the home, wall-papered and replaced wall-paper, and replaced the carpets and furniture to remove all the cigarette smoke grease and filth.

Betty told me that as long as she knew the family that she really loved Dena.  She said everyone loved Dena.  She said that when she remembers the home in Ogden on Wall, that every time she drove into the driveway that the curtains would part and a Dena’s curly white hair, bright blue eyes, and big smile poke through with a little wave.  Apparently she had an infectious laugh which was both giddy and happy.

Four of her siblings were still alive and she had 11 grandchildren by the time 1955 rolled around.  Then one day she was visiting at the home of Jane (Jantjen in the Dutch) Bremer, her sister.  Dena needed to hurry off and Jane warned her that she should not go.  Jane was known in the family for having the gift of foretelling the future.  Jane told Dena that if she left at that time she would be in a terrible accident.  Dena gave no heed and left to go on her way.  Dena was known by all to speed, and she was doing so this day.  Sure enough, as she drove north on Wall Avenue in Ogden and at reaching 2nd street, a truck made a left hand turn from the right lane and hit the rear passenger side of the 1955 Oldsmobile.  Her vehicle was sent careening and slammed broadside into a telephone pole on the north east corner of the intersection (133 feet from the point of impact).  The initial hit threw her into the passenger side of the front seat with the passenger door open, her leg partially out of the opened door.  Then the impact collapsed the dashboard in on her and slammed the open passenger door on her leg.  She broke her hip, leg, and back with a number of other injuries.  The door had closed and latched on her leg and had to be cut open.  She was taken to the hospital where the family did not expect her to live.  She underwent a pretty major hip and back operation.

Dena was put into a full body cast for the next six months that reached all the way up to her armpits. Dave created this bar with a rope/cloth over the bed by which she could lift herself up so they could place a bedpan under her to do her business.  Betty would help her do the business, clean her up, and make sure her needs were tended.  The cast was eventually removed but she could not properly walk or get around very well.  She was pretty much confined to her home for the rest of her days.  At times a little heat came into a relationship and she would go spend some time with one of her other children, but she came back.  She had a terribly heavy hospital bed she used these last few years.  Dave made it clear early on that once he moved that bed out of the house again, he was not ever moving it back in so her stays elsewhere were of short duration.

Dave and Betty would take Dena around to visit places and get out of the house.  Betty joked that Dena loved to go fishing and that she could catch fish in the gutter if she tried.  She had a gift for catching fish. Dave and Betty set up a little camp chair so she could fish on camping trips.  They would leave her be for a while and she would giggle at the birds and once and a while one would fly to her.  She giggled openly and happily at everything.  Her grandson, Milo Ross, remembers her in the full body cast but yet she would smile and the whole world would smile with her.  He thought she was a funny lady with tongue twisters, slight Dutch accent, and catchy little jingles.

Dena had problems with her body that come from inactivity, like regular kidney stones and other painful problems.  But she always had a twinkle in her eye and a contagious laugh.  She never, if ever, complained about the lot cast to her in life.

On the 5th of March, 1959, Betty Donaldson, Dena’s daughter-in-law had finished work and was headed to the theater to catch a matinee.  She felt a distinct impression that she should go home.  Dave was at work and she had the whole afternoon free, so she did not see the need to go home.  As she waited in line at the theater, she knew she needed to go home so she caught the bus.  She made it home and all was well.  She changed her clothes and then Dena called up to her.  Dena had this sinking feeling in her chest, was not feeling very well, and was asking Betty for help.  Betty called the Dr. and for an ambulance.  Dave, who never called home from work, had felt impressed to call home.  Betty was just headed up to the hospital.  Dave met her there.  Dena had suffered kidney failure which lead to a heart attack and she passed away that evening around 10:30 PM.  She was buried four days later next to David in the Ogden City Cemetery.

Gratitude to Grandpa Ross

I thought I would share a couple of thoughts about my Grandpa.  He has lived a long, hard life.  He is amazingly humble despite some of the experiences he has endured.  While I would not know how to handle losing my family as a 4-year-old, he appears to have handled it well.  I do not think I would handle well the hardship of war, but he dealt with it and moved on with his life.  He struggled to provide for a family, especially the needs of a daughter with physical and mental handicaps, but spent over 50 years in her service.  Now he has lost his wife (6 years ago) and he still manages to keep a full garden, serve in the temple, and regularly visit individuals in the hospital, in his community, and old-folks homes.  I hope I am going just as strong when I am 90 (in February 2011).Somebody noticed his life of service and rewarded him for it.  Here are a couple of pictures from an award ceremony at the University of Utah last November.

Somebody also noticed in Plain City and Farr West and both cities recognized him as an Honorary Citizen.  These are some pictures from the 4th of July Parade for Plain City.  Farr West honored him at the 24th of July Parade.
Honorary Citizen
Keep up the great work Grandpa.  You are a great example and my hero.

 

 

Flanders

I thought I would write a little in relation to Veteran’s Day.  For the most part, it seems this holiday is forgotten in the United States.  Really, American’s celebrate the same day on Memorial Day in May.  I can understand the European View of holding it on the 11th of November.  It is the day WWI ended.

I remember well the time I first experienced Veteran’s Day.  I sat in the Eccles Ward Chapel in Patricroft, England.  There on 11 November 1999 I sat.  The services started at 11 AM.  We had the hymn, opening prayer, and a few comments by the Bishop until 11:11 arrived.  It was then we took two minutes to remember what was done.

Growing up in Idaho means we had little or no realization of any war.  There are no war memorials outside of cemeteries to commemorate anything.  No war in modern days has taken place anywhere near Idaho.  Even the American Civil War means little to Idahoans.  My grandfather served in the Philippines during WWII but he speaks so little of it.  I had Uncles and Great Uncles who perished in WWI and WWII.  I had been to their graves but they were the dead, just like the other dead in the cemetery.  The idea of dying for one’s country meant very little to me.

One of my first memories of England is the day after we arrived.  We were taken into Altrincham Town Centre and there we proselyted for an hour or two on the way to the mission office.  I did notice the cenotaph.  I thought how oddly placed it was.  It was something that we have relegated mostly to cemeteries in the United States.  Once and a while you find one in front of a town or city hall.

While I served in Hyde, Cheshire once of the way we knew where to turn in town was at the cenotaphs.  The same in Dukinfield.  When we arrived early at one member’s house we would loiter at the cenotaph to street contact until time for dinner.  A number of times I thought how oddly placed these things were.  I knew they were naming those who died in the ‘Great War’.  For some reason or another I thought they doubled up on the names over the various cenotaphs.  It never occurred to me names are not typically duplicated on these things, or if they do, the intention is not to do so.

Suddenly I found myself sitting in a church meeting remembering.  These souls did not fight for my country.  However I felt come into my heart a gratitude for their sacrifice.  Could I do the same thing if called upon?  Somehow a dawning realization came upon me of the hundreds if not thousands of names I had seen on cenotaphs in my first year in England.  They were everywhere.  There were continuous reminders of the dead who fought for their country.

About a month later I found myself walking the streets of Runcorn, Cheshire.  There is a large cenotaph probably around 15 feet tall.  The bus would drive by it every day.  I could not help but notice the little red, fake flowers on popcicle sticks stuck in the flower bed all around it.  The cenotaph meant more to me by this point but what were the little red flowers?  I noticed each of them had a name written on them and they appeared hand-made.

I asked what the little red flowers meant that were still scattered everywhere a month after the 11th of November.  I was then told about Flanders Fields and the poppies.  The poem was shared with me.  It made sense, I felt the poignancy of it.  The imagery is intense while the poem isn’t all that catchy to me.  In fact, some of it still doesn’t make sense to me so I share only the first verse here:

In Flanders Fields the poppies grow
Between the crosses row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

Would I have this type of courage?  Would I be willing to go and serve my country so willingly?  Even if I was drafted, unwillingly?  To set aside all other hopes and aspirations to serve my country?  I did so for my church.  I would think I would be willing to for my nation.  While I am not entirely enamoured with my country at the present, would I still be willing to do it?  Probably.

In fact, I feel some desire to serve in the military.  However my life hasn’t permitted the chance and my wife is against the idea.  I don’t think I will be making that decision.  But I wish to honour those who do and especially those who died in doing so.  Accordingly, when I saw my clock at 11:11 this morning, I stopped for 2 minutes to remember.  What does our future hold?  I don’t know.  But our past is nobler because of these good souls who gave all.  Not only to join, but they never returned.  We were on the side of right then, and our nation was preserved.  I hope and pray our nation continues on the side of right and we will yet be preserved.

An uncle of mine arrived in Whitney, Idaho a year after his death in WWI.  His remains arrived in a lead casket which was buried with great fanfare for the small community.  WWII repeated this scenario with another Uncle, another family line, buried in Richmond, Utah.  His body arrived months later and he was interred with great fanfare.  May we live our lives in such a way, regardless if dying for our nation, but let us die in such a way that the community wishes to come out and pay homage for your great sacrifice for the future of man, good, and our country.

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. 

Visit from Grands

This week brought some happy differences from the mundane run.  Not at all to give the impression that life is mundane though.  The longer I live, the more I realize it is just like beauty, all in the life of the beholder.  There are those people wandering their lives thinking they are a nobody and with nothing great in their character or soul.  Then there are those people who find fascination, excitement, and life in all there is about them.  They are a different breed.

Somehow, I feel like in Richmond, I walk through a load of people with no excitement in their lives.  Life is a labyrinth for them to wander and walk.  There are so few who are in it for the game, and the experience.

The great Samuel Clemens, a fascinating man.  One who watched the every move of those about him with great detail.  Their every movement captured their personality for him.  That is one of the things that made him such a great writer.  He was able to take those little details and wind them into a story and make the characters that much more real. 

Suppose it would be the experience of the riverboat pilot which would teach you even more closely to watch the details of the water.  The slightest quiver could mean life or death.  Just his assumed name of Mark Twain shows a certain yearning.

Earlier this week I was able to pick the brain of a man who I found to be very fascinating.  A silent man in the past, but who gave voice this week.  I wanted to hear his story.  So I started to inquire and found some wonderful stories.

Having William Borah fresh on my mind, I was thinking of the honour of the President of the United States coming to visit you in your home state.  Senator Borah toured with him and introduced him to all audiences that he was presented before.  For some reason this has really lingered with me the past weeks.  President Roosevelt paying one of the greatest honours to a man of the opposite party.  President Franklin Roosevelt went to Republican Idaho and toured with its Senator.  It also showed the distinction of Senator Borah.  This really has hit home with the latest election.

So it was with greatest delight that I wandered through the mind and history of Mel Thompson.  Learning he moved with his family to Nyssa, Oregon in the mid 30’s.  They moved up there and basically homesteaded a new territory.  Knowing many of my own family would move to that same area within the next 10 years I really sought to pick his brain. 

Family history and my delving into history met ironically in the mind of Mel.  He told of the experience when he was still in school that the President of the United States came to town.  Yes sir, little Nyssa, Oregon welcomed the President.  I knew who one of the men was who traveled with him, the same Senator Borah.

These stories come to life for me when I can go to the places these events happened.  But they come so much more alive when I know a person and can learn from firsthand experience.  Like sitting on the porch of the Price home in Malad, Idaho where Senator Borah visited with Helen Daniels Price’s father.

Having been to Nyssa several times in my life, the latest just in 2005 when I traveled out there with a visit to Parma.  The Amalgamated Sugar Factory, with which Dad was closely tied for a good 25 years.  Cannot forget the Sharp family members who moved, and some of which still live in Malheur County.  The Fort Boise replica is not far away either.  Oh, and the elusive Rhoda Christensen Davenport Pappas Halan who wrote letters from there, but that is the end of the story.  I have found no more.

All truth can be circumscribed into one great whole.  That truth certainly extends beyond the theoretical.  That truth engulfs us into it as well.  Funny thought, to consider ourselves the truth, but in essence all things are truth.  Whether we like or live it or not; even our lying is in truth and will be treated as such.  Our lives mingle, intertwine, and are very much related to each other.  How could one ever conceive that their actions don’t affect another?  President Roosevelt, Senator Borah, and in the school yard where the children were let out from class to go out to the street to see the President’s motorcade prove that point.  One of those children had a face, had a personality, and had the name of Melvin J Thompson.

Last weekend, we went to Washington to attend the temple, to see Amanda’s grandparents, and to witness of a baby blessing.  It was a great weekend, but turned even better when Amanda’s grandparents came to stay with us for an evening.  An honour I would be willing to give a lifetime to do with one of my sets of grandparents.  (I suppose I am giving a lifetime to do so!)  It will yet come to pass and I will cherish that day.

We attended the Washington Temple Saturday morning.  Amanda and I were asked to be the witness couple for the session.  That was our second time.  Shanna just thought that was something else.  I wish I could have done an endowment with any of my grandparents, living I mean.  It bothers me even still today my Grandfather, my only living grandparents, chose not to come to our sealing.  For what reason I do not know, and probably prefer not to know.  There again, how woven our lives are together.  That the mere presence, or absence thereof, would so affect me.  What if Mel Thompson had not been in the audience that day?  Who would ever have known?  Nobody would have known, but now I do.  Somehow it rings a siren to my soul and brings back me back to the reality of the past.  It seems so far distant sometimes.  But now that nameless face has altered my life some 70 years later.  Even further, all those who read this will be altered to one degree or another, by this events significance.  That says nothing of all the other individuals present that day.  How many of them told that experience later in life, how many wrote it down, how many family members recall that event today.  I would venture that at least one somewhere, somehow, even if from a recorded record.

Our families were tied a little more closely that day in Washington and the following convo.  The drive back to Richmond brought out the stories of childhood in Pingree, Idaho; Nyssa, Oregon; and Ogden, Utah.  The stories included excursions to the Pacific and World War II and running into Mel’s brother at Pearl Harbor from Air Craft Carrier #77 to his training at Farragut in northern Idaho.  His missing attendance at the Laie, Hawaii Temple by one day was told followed by his bouts in learning telegraphy for the railroad.  Even those appear to be the most ordinary have a life to tell.  Sadly, it is in the eye of the storyteller that plays just as much of a role as that of the listener.  The listener has to seek and find connections, living what is true empathy.  In return, the speaker has to give of himself in such a way for the other to experience it. 

Is it any wonder the gospel works the way it does?  Not only does one have to be prepared to receive, but the giver has to be prepared to give.  Otherwise neither will give nor receive and both will most certainly not be edified.  One side operating just doesn’t work.  It falls on deaf ears, or is droned out before even arriving at the other party.

Too often there are those who are giving for the wrong reasons make it strained.  Those who seek it for the wrong reasons ruin the experience.

Anyhow, it was a fascinating lesson, and I was able to come and grasp some more of the 60’s.  I have really struggled coming to understand the 70’s and 70’s.  I just cannot tell why.  Even though I was born in the late 70’s, there seems to have been some type of disconnect.I have been fully engulfed in Richmond, Utah in 1961 and 1962 through the eyes of Lillian Coley Jonas Bowcutt.  The lifestyle of a lady in her 60’s though just does not seem to portray the era.  Especially this is true in a community which was still very rural and in some ways behind the times.  I just cannot seem to get the culture of the time.  50’s, 40’s, 30’s, I feel like I have a very good grasp, like experiencing through proxy.  In stepping backwards farther, I struggle to back further and feel it is due to the 60’s and 70’s.  Honestly though, I have not much desire for that time.  I don’t know why.  So I push further back into the 20’s and 1800’s without it. 

Anyhow, I never really got to pick Shanna’s brain much.  I got Mel on such a roll that he was not about to give up his shine.  We both were so enjoying it while the others just slept, knitted, or did something else.  So I regret not picking apart Shanna’s past, which I am sure holds many interesting experiences and stories.  Perhaps another day, with the right experiences will open that book.

They spent the night, and we had breakfast together before Amanda went to school and I went to work.  Mel, Shanna, Dennis, and Gwen toured the Museum of the Confederacy and St. John’s Church.  We invited them for dinner, of which they accepted.  We made white chili for their dinner.  They loved it, we put it over rice with corn.  In the end, games and conversation were out as Dennis seemed not very desirous to stay.  So we bid them adieu and wished them well on their drive home.

It was an experience I will not soon forget.  It is a rare thing such experiences happen.  So much has to align for such events to occur.  A man I had viewed as so quiet proved to be very perceptive, keen, and wise.

I don’t like the tone of this little blog, so I think I will be leaving.  I feel like I am condescending or portraying some type of sage.  Which I am not attempting, but failing.  I am so weak at words it is frustration.  What I would not give to have the power and verse of Mark Twain or Hugh Nibley.

The family net spreads wide

Wow, do I have a few things to share. With the limited time I am taking to write this, I don’t really have time to do it justice. But I will attempt
to give an overview. 

Sunday I thought I would try and call a distant cousin of mine. My Great Great Grandfather was born in Pulaski County, Virginia. He had a half
brother, who was a few years younger who was born there as well and remained there for his whole life.

So, my Great Great Grandfather’s half brother had a son whose name is Howard Ross Sr. The only reason I knew all this is back in the 60’s and 70’s he wrote a book on the Ross family and my Grandfather was given a copy for some of his help with the book. I knew Howard was around 81 years old. It just happened a few years ago, I ran upon a missionary who served in the West Virginia mission. I asked if he ever served down around Bluefield, West Virginia and he told me he served in that ward. I asked if he knew a Howard Ross who was about 80. He laughed and confirmed that anyone who lived in Bluefield knew Howard Ross. That missionary was very helpful in securing his address for me. Well, I wrote ole Howard a letter and to my delight he called me one evening in Logan, Utah while at school (about 2004). I was in the middle of a party of sorts, so I told him I would call him back. Somehow I lost his number and could not call him back. Worst of all, I did not have his mailing address either. On top of that, I did not know how to contact the missionary who gave it to me. So I was where I had left off.
The only thing I remembered from that short conversation was that he personally knew my Great Grandfather and my Great Great Grandfather had visited his family when he was still a boy.

Since moving to Virginia, even while in DC last year, I tried to find Howard Ross. Ross is a common name, and there was not a Howard Ross in the phone book anywhere near the area I needed. I ended up calling several dozen Ross numbers in the book in Western Virginia, but not one knew who I was trying to get. So I had decided I would just have to drive out there and ask people on the street of Bluefield. I never got the courage to do so as it is several hours away and if I found him, I was sure he would be out of town.

Sunday, something came over me, and I thought to try and find him again. I went to my family history and tried to find a name I might be able to only have one or two hits on in West Virginia and Virginia. I decided maybe I would look through my file and see if there were some towns which were small and possibly a Ross might be in one. Well, I saw Naoma, West Virginia as the birthplace of a family. I searched it, and a Willie B Ross came up. I had a Willie B Ross in my file, and so I called. It was a little awkward as I had him as dead. I rang the number and I asked for Willie’s wife. Sure enough, it was her. I told her how I was related and she said she did not know as much about that as her husband and that I would have to talk to him.  That was a little awkward knowing he was dead, a little more so when she went to fetch him!

In the conversation with Willie B Ross, he was indeed the person I had in my file (I did not tell him he was dead though). We went through all the
children, dates, birthplaces, and then he gave me his son’s phone number, John Ross. John is a physicians assistant in Beckley, West Virginia and
personally knows ole Howard Ross. Well, I thank them, hung up and called John. It was a good visit with him. He informed me it would have to be
short as his basement was flooding at that moment. He was kind enough to give me Howard Ross’s phone number, and his son, Howard Ross Jr, and his daughter’s number, Sally’s number, and then chatted on and on. I was feeling guilty since his basement was flooding and so I excused myself and let him go.

I then phoned Howard. Number disconnected. I called Howard Jr. Number disconnected. I thought and prayed for Sally to answer. Well, some old man answered and I knew I was at a dead end. I told him my name was Paul Ross.  He asked if I was the son of Milo Paul Ross, grandson of Milo James Ross, great grandson of John William Ross, and great great grandson of James Thomas Meredith-Ross. I knew I must be have hit the mark.

He too was in the middle of a family crisis at the moment and visited with me only for a short 20 minutes. In the meantime, I gleaned this much
information.

My Great Grandfather came to visit in the 1930’s. Howard remembered it because he was missing a finger. He asked what happened. Apparently he had a spider bite and because of what was happening to his finger, he dipped it in acid. Well, the doctor said he saved his life, but was going to have to lose his finger. I thought, what an interesting story. He then asked if I knew anything about my Great Great Grandfather. I said I did not. He told me he also came to visit in the 30’s from out California. Apparently he was a Bishop in Fresno, California. He came to visit the family and was upset they did not have a cow. He asked how they could be self-sufficient without a cow. Apparently he went out and purchased a cow for the family for the time he stayed there. Howard roared with laughter when he said then when he left, he went and sold the cow, and went back out west. We had a good little visit about life and where I was, and what he was doing, and then his crisis brought him back to reality and he excused himself. We set up an appointment for a meeting sometime in the spring, he said only if he lived, he was not going to be there if he was dead. I very much hope I can meet up with him, to learn some stories on the side I know so little about.

After hanging up the phone, I called my Grandfather to confirm and pick his brain a little. Grandpa is usually pretty tightlipped about the family, but he opened up about quite a few things last night. Here is some of what I got (combined with what I already know).

He was born in 1921 to John and Ethel Ross in Plain City. Ethel had been in an accident on the old train line that used to go out to Plain City. She
had received some type of settlement from the railroad (documentation I will have to try and find) and then moved to Paul, Idaho and bought a
confectionary. It was on what is now Idaho Street. Dad has a good stash of checks, paperwork, and other stuff from the old confectionary. It was
there, running the confectionery, that she met Mark Streeter after he returned from military service. I don’t know where or how much he served in WWI, but they were married. I don’t know that either, but they had a daughter, June Streeter who now lives in Adelanto, California. Grandpa said Mark Streeter ran off on her.

She kept busy at the confectionery until she met John William Ross. He and all his family had lived in West Virginia in the 1910 Census. I think his
sister, Fanny Ross Phibbs (her husband was Judge Calvin Dickerson Phibbs in Rupert) was the first one out. I think she came first(between 1912 and 1916), and then convinced the rest of her family to come out. Especially with the opening of the new sugar factory at Paul, and the building of the new city for all the employees. Fanny obviously lived in Rupert, and the rest of her family came out. I don’t know when John met Ethel, but he served in the Army. While he was stationed at Fort Logan, Colorado he was a cook. She went to meet him, and in 1920 they were married at Fort Logan. I assume they had met at some time previous to his military service. I don’t know the dates of his military service, and where all he served. Grandpa said he thought his father had been gassed, but was not sure about that. The 1920 Census has him in Colorado as an army cook.

On a side note, John had been married in 1910 in West Virginia. He had a son in 1911 named Hobart. I will get to some stories about Hobart in a
minute.

Grandpa was born in Plain City in 1921. Paul was born in Paul, Idaho in 1922. Harold in Burley, Idaho in 1923. Then Ethel had Ernest in 1925 in
Plain City. Ernest was born in July, Ethel died in August, and Ernest died in September.

Grandpa does not remember living in Idaho. Of course, he was probably too young. He does remember his mother’s death. He was terribly upset because they would not let him see his mother in the casket. They said he was too young. He said he was old enough to know his mother was dead and wanted to see her.

He remembers his father afterward bundling them up, they went to Ogden, and caught a train to Idaho. They then lived with James and Damey Ross in Rupert, Idaho. He doesn’t remember his father being around during this time. James and Damey contacted the Sharp’s (Ethel’s maiden name) and had them come get the boys. They could not afford to feet them anymore. Sometime in the early spring, he said Os (Oscar) Richardson and Dale Sharp drove up to Rupert in Os’ Hudson and picked them up. He remembers the drive past the poplar trees from the old town outside the Paul factory through Heyburn, over the river bridge there, through Declo, Malta, and all the way back to Plain City. He lived with Ed Sharp, whose wife was an East; Paul lived with Fred and Vic (Sharp) Hunt, and Harold lived with Delwyn Sharp. Paul in 1922 fell from a barn and died of a concussion a few days later.

From that point on, he never saw his father until 1948. So from 1925 until 1948. Apparently the Sharp’s forbid him from coming to visit. Grandpa has a whole bunch of letters from his father that were sent to Vic Hunt, but they were never given to the boys. Only after she died, did Grandpa and the others find out about the letters. They are actually very tender. Grandpa said his father had told him the reasons why the Sharp’s forbid him from coming to visit, but he did not want to disclose them. He said he was going to say nothing against the Sharp family who were so good to him. (I took that to mean it was not so much John’s fault, but the Sharp’s.)

Grandpa said he got a letter in early June 1948 saying his father was in Livermore Hospital and would only live a few more days. His sons were
requested to come and visit him. Great Grandpa Donaldson, Grandma’s Dad, gave Grandpa the money to go see his father. Harold did not want to go. Grandpa went to Livermore, Alameda County to the hospital. He walked in the building, up the stairs, and right to the room where his father was. He just knew where it was at. He sat down there and saw his Dad in pretty bad shape. This was a veteran’s hospital.

They started to talk. The hospital staff escorted him out because he was to have no visitors. He explained the position, showed them the letter from the Red Cross, and they let him go back in. He stayed there through the night talking with his Dad until he passed away. He said he learned quite a few things. I could tell Grandpa was crying over the phone. He would not tell me most of what he said. He just said he sat there and held his hand while talking through the night.

He found out that he used to take a taxi from Ogden, pick up Betty Booth, and they would ride out to the Sharp farm. John would sit in the taxi while Betty did whatever she was doing there. Grandpa remembers the taxi sitting there by the side of the field and the man and woman waving at him. He never knew that was his father or Betty Booth. Later in life, he said Betty was an old widow who could not take care of herself. Grandpa and Grandma would pay for her coal and Grandpa did repair work for her home. He even reshingled it one year, and Betty’s family made him sign an agreement that she did owe him anything. Her family did not know Grandpa and Grandma were paying for the coal. They thought it was the Maw family, who delivered the coal. Grandpa found it very moving to find out that he had supported the woman who had made it possible for his father to see his children. He thought it was a fitting service.

Grandpa would tell me nothing about what they visited about that night other than his father talked about life. Apparently he married an old widow in California who was wealthy and that took care of him the rest of his days. Grandpa did not know if the widow was still living when his father passed away.

Grandpa then took me through some of his war stories. He dwelt mostly on a recent deal where he had been honored at some stadium for being so decorated during WWII. He said the announcer interviewed him first and this was some of the things he told the announcer.

Those who were decorated during WWII were only the lucky ones who lived through the battle. He said the more that died around you, the more
decorated you became. He said his awards are not for his bravery, but a symbol of how many more died around him and he was fortunate to not have fallen. Grandpa was wounded 4 times during the war. He said they were all part of doing the job just like you smash your thumb once and a while with a hammer while working. He found it terribly disappointing that the longer time goes on, the more we honor the living who made it through the war. He points out that it is the dead who need remembered, not the living. What about those who never had family? Grandpa has a family who will remember him. What of those whose lives were snuffed out and have not family to remember them?

He pointed out to the announcer that a bar of soap was his best friend. He lived for weeks at a time in a foxhole. He even brushed his teeth when he had extra water with a bar of soap. On more than one occasion, a man would jump into his foxhole for cover, and by morning the man was dead. He had spent a couple days with a dead man because they could not get him out. One man he buried there by the foxhole and later told others where he was buried when the battle was over so they could go back for him. He said we don’t understand war. He said do we realize that in a foxhole for days, weeks you have to go to the bathroom. You put some dirt in your helmet, do your duty and set your helmet out of the hole until morning so you could bury it and hope your head was safe uncovered in the meantime. You always hoped you had enough water to rinse out the dust and whatever else so it didn’t stink too bad. The same clothes for weeks at a time, in a very humid, wet environment.

He said his awards for bravery were because he did what needed to be done because he was tired of the foxholes. He wanted to move forward. He was lucky that artillery and others gave enough cover that they were able to take the high ground.

Anyhow, it was a great conversation. I enjoyed the time. He cut it off, said he appreciated the phone call, and to call again some time. He then
hung up. (In usual Ross fashion, we are not much for telephone etiquette)

It was an interesting conversation. A man who never knew his father really, then had a crash course for a day until he died. His mother is only a
memory of younger childhood. Ed Sharp from what I understand was very hard worker and worked his children just as hard. I need to talk to Dean and get some more information about his parents before he gets too old.

Well, that story pretty much ends there. But there is another one that goes with it.

I started looking at applying for University of Virginia Law when I noticed it asked for family members who had gone to UVA. I remembered Evelyn Hoogland (who is a first cousin of my Grandma Ross through the Van Leeuwen family) telling me her daughter graduated from UVA. I needed to know what year she graduated. I called Evelyn and she gave me Kay’s phone number and told me to call her. So I called my cousin, Kay Hoogland. She graduated in 1981 from UVA and I remember Evelyn showing me a magazine or two with Kay on the front page. I knew Kay had made a name for herself. I phoned her at home outside Chicago. We had a wonderful visit and like we were old friends, I enjoyed our talk. She gave me encouragement, offered help, proofreading, even a letter of introduction. I was thrilled. She gave me one professor to contact and get to know who apparently is from Northern Utah. His name is Richard Merrill, and with a name like that, I would assume is related to Marriner Wood Merrill and his family comes from Cache Valley. I guess I could even be related to him! We will have to pursue that end.

It is time to wind down, and I am over my time limit. I learned a whole heap on Sunday. Made some new connections, and I hope opened some doors. I only scored average on the LSAT (only those who were diligent to read this far will get this news) so I am going to need a miracle to get into UVA or any other wonderful law school. Kay could be the unlocking of that miracle. More importantly, I unlocked a great number of doors to my own history and family on Sunday. The Spirit of Elijah is alive and well. An effectual door has been opened, and there are many more yet to come!

Time for rest and FHE. Love to you all. I love you, I know the church is true!