Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Faith of My Fathers (and Mothers)

Every line in my family crossed the plains of the midwest to reach SLC. Some simply came from Nauvoo --others crossed the Atlantic and sailed up the Mississippi and then crossed with handcarts. In total, 53 people/families crossed. And then, that's not all! In the early 1900's all four lines (my paternal and maternal great-grandparents) migrated to southern Alberta. My entire heritage is represented by strong, faithful Saints, who sacrificed jobs, countries, languages, wealth, comfort, children, parents, friends, and sometimes their lives --all in order to peacefully live the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and to be sealed together as families in the Temples of God. Their sacrifices are important to me; they are a part of me.

Here are a just a few excerpts from their stories (thanks to my mother for compiling them all as a Christmas gift to her children. Honestly, mom, this history is invaluable! Thank you!!):

Joseph Hyrum Proctor:
"On 28 June 1844 the Prophet Joseph and Hyrum Smith were martyred at Carthage Jail. The day of their funeral 2 July 1844, a son was born to James and Lettice Proctor; the bodies of Joseph and Hyrum were taken past the Proctor home enroute to the funeral so the new son was named Joseph Hyrum Proctor.... In 1852, James Proctor took his family across the plains to Salt Lake City. They were with the Allen Week Company. Joseph, then a boy of 8, walked most of the way..."

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James Ole Olson and Nellie Pearson (Persdotter) Olson:
"...Mormonism was very unpopular in Sweden...the parents and relatives on both sides labored with the Olsens to get them to give up Mormonism but to no avail. They were both ostracized from their families, relatives, friends, and neighbors. This soon affected the cabinet trade. Each month they earned less and less, yet they stayed with the church and helped the missionaries all they could. In order to provide the necessities of life, James began to sell his household goods and finally sold his home...
...in 1863 they joined a group of 375 emigrants who were leaving point in Northern Europe to sail for America...their oldest son Olaf had passed away just a month before their sailing date.
...At Omaha (Florence) Nebraska, they had to wait for teams to come from Utah to transport them overland to their destination. While waiting, the father James, and the baby son, Paris, took sick with pneumonia and died just one day apart...The little three year old son and father were buried in the same grave.
It was a sad time for Nellie...She was 4,000 miles from home, her native land, and 1,000 miles from her destination. She was alone with her three little daughters and expecting a sixth child in October and she spoke very little English...
...Each family rode above freight which was transported to Utah. (They) were assigned to ride on a wagon which held five cook stoves, so their belongings were placed above the stoves on the shelf on which they were to ride, so in preference to riding so high, they walked much of the way..."

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George and Polly Stringham:
"On Jan 22, 1846, George and Polly received their endowments in the Nauvoo Temple. In 1846, they were on their way to Winter Quarters, to prepare with other for the journey...On June 4, 1848, "they" left Winter Quarters, with their two sons, George Ammon and Benjamin Joseph. Their oldest son, Briant, had arrived in the valley the year before, so had a place, a home for his parents, and something to eat. George was 58 and Polly 45, when they arrived..."

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Gustavus Williams and Hanna Maria(h) Andrews Williams:
"The Williams family made a temporary home in Winter Quarters. While there, Ellen died (she was 2)...Mariah continued to work as a midwife and nurse. One night after sitting up all evening with a sick friend, the woman told Mariah that she would die in the morning and asked her to raise her young boy. The boy was named Charlie and was the same age as her own boy Hyrum. They became known as the Williams' twins. The Williams family crossed the plains in June 1848 with Brigham Young and Heber C. Kimball."

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Jane Smith Coleman:
"Jane was born 22 September 1838 in Dundee, Forfershire, Scotland...The gospel was brought to the family by their Uncle William McEwan. All of the family joined the LDS church except the father (Alexander Smith). He did not take kindly to the new religion, but he took the family to church, and then went to his own church. He would call for the after church was over. In 1850, Alexander Smith was stricken with typhus fever and died.
...After the death of their father, Jane and her sisters worked at weaving, working from 6AM to 6PM. They earned $2 a week for their work...

...The Smith family...left Dundee, Scotland on April 30 (or 4 May --sources are inconsistent), 1856 to come to America. They traveled on the "Thornton" with 758 other Mormons. The Thornton left Liverpool on May 3, 1856 and had a fair voyage to New York, arriving 14 June. After a train trip westward through Albany, Buffalo and Chicago, the company reached Iowa City on 26 June.

...James G. Willie, the returning missionary who had been president of the Saints on the Thornton voyage became Captain of the Fourth Handcart Company. The Willie Company consisted of 500 persons when they left Iowa City. The Smith family consisted of Marjory, the mother, Marjory aged 22, Jane aged 17, Mary aged 15, Elizabeth aged 13, and Alexander Joseph, aged 6...

...They also had to carry or put Alex on the hand cart as he had been crippled by black measles..."

(You can read about the Willie Handcart company here, or watch the movie 17 Miracles, which is based upon the true story of the Willie and Martin Handcart Companies. By the way --Jane and all of her family reached Salt Lake City alive.)

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"Franklin Overton Holt was born July 31, 1852 crossing the plains at Ash Hollow, Nebraska..."

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Isaac Bullock and Emma Stott Bullock:

"Emma was born January 27, 1840 (to William Stott and Sarah Lees Stott)...

...Early in 1849, with their departure date set and their goal nearly a reality, William's wife, Sarah Lees Stott, died. Her death is recorded in Liverpool, Lancashire as March 10, 1849. She was buried in the Rishworth Chapel Yard... their determination to emigrate persisted and, on the 8th of September, the family group left Liverpool by steamship "Berlin"...

...It was a joyful, yet sad occasion. William's parents, John and Susan Stott remained behind in Oldham. Probably ever again would they see his parents...They were also leaving behind Sarah and two sons, James...and Thomas...that had passed away...

The ocean voyage took six weeks and four days. They dropped anchor in New Orleans on October 23, 1849, but what a voyage! The dreaded disease of cholera struck the ships' company just two weeks out of port...deaths, funerals and burials at sea averaged more than two a day. Forty-three of the Ships company of 128 died...

...In the early spring of 1852, the family...started their journey to Nebraska...Here, the William Stott family joined the 17th Company Wagon train of 40 wagons...Isaac Bullock was captain of the group... From Edwin Stott's journal quote: 'However, it would appear that Captain Isaac Bullock was at times concerned with matters other than Indians and buffalo, for Emma, my youngest sister, then an early teenager, seems to have made a vivid favourable and lasting impression on him.' Sometime later, April 6, 1857, he sought and obtained her hand in marriage as (his second wife)."
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("Zion, Ho" by Minerva Teichert)

"I marvel at the different backgrounds of members of the Church. You come from all walks of life—all cultures, languages, political circumstances, and religious traditions. This multiplicity of life experiences has caused me to reflect on the message of one of our hymns, 'Faith of Our Fathers.' In the refrain, these words are repeated: 'Faith of our fathers, holy faith, we will be true to thee till death!'

"The faith of our fathers—I love that phrase.

"For many members of the Church, these words bring to mind valiant pioneers who abandoned the comfort of their homes and traveled by wagon and on foot until they reached the valley of the Great Salt Lake. I love and honor the faith and courage of those early pioneers of the Church."

Dieter F. Uchtdorf, "Faith of Our Father," Ensign, May 2008, 70

Happy Pioneer Day!

3 comments:

Chocolate on my Cranium said...

Loved reading all these little excerpts! I can never get enough reading about all these courageous people who were called to do so many physically hard things.

And thank goodness for mothers and grandmothers who write all the stories down for us! I treasure all the family histories that have been painstakingly put together.

Shauna said...

I'm visiting from WW. Your mother is wonderful for putting all these histories together. Thanks for sharing. I can't believe that whole family with the Willie Handcart company made it to the Valley!

Geri Lawrence said...

CHERYL it appears that we have two common ancestors, Gus and Hannah Williams and Jane Smith Coleman.Gustavus and Hannah were my GG grandparents. I was so excited to read those stories. I had not heard about the "Williams twins"
Would it be possible to purchase a copy of the book that your mother put together for you? Do you or your family have many pictures of any of our ancestors and have you heard of a Williams Bible?