Thursday, September 30, 2010

Return to the Journal

[Note: The header picture shows a couple of the natural arches in the Arches National Monument near Moab, Utah.]  

We left my great-grandfather in Illinois driving a stagecoach off and on and then delving into the chair business off and on, and now we find him still there in l845 and '46:

Jan 1845: Worked in the chair shop and helped his pop with the wheat crop.
Feb: Received notice that all Mormons should gather in Hancock County, Ill., as soon as possible.
Apr: Listened to Brigham Young speak a couple of times, once to a crowd of around 20,000 while on a scouting trip in the Nauvoo (formerly Commerce) area for a place to live.
May: Moved in with a friend until he could build a house in Hancock County.
        Planted corn. Finished planting corn.
Jun: Moved in with his father.
Aug 22: His father died. His mother sick.
Aug 23: His wife had a baby boy.
Aug 26: Mother seems to be getting better.
Sep 6: Mobbers getting active again and burned some houses. He expected his would be next, but the mobbers        were turned away by one of them being shot by Porter Rockwell.
Oct 5: A conference was held and it was decided the Mormons should move outside the United States to the Rocky Mountains to avoid the persecution they had been going through.
Nov: Threshed wheat and slaughtered hogs.

Feb: His mother fell ill again.
Mar: Mother passed away. Buried her by his father in the Nauvoo cemetery. Busy making wagons for the trip west.
May: Nine wagons head for Council Bluffs, Iowa.
Jun: The Government wants 500 men to fight the Mexicans.
Jul: He started for Council Bluffs. The Mormons will send the 500 men.
      Arrived in the area of the Bluffs.
Aug: Began building a house. Put up eight tons of hay.
Dec: Traveled 625 miles this year.

[Note: As you have probably gathered this isn't a word for word copy of the diary, but a paraphrased, edited, picking out the most interesting parts version, and I have left out a lot of names, dates, and entries in the hopes that it will be more interesting. Nine hundred and forty-seven pages is too full of day-to-day, repetitious info to put in a blog.]

Sunday, September 26, 2010

A further digression

Yesterday was a big day in our great-grandsons' lives being that it was their first soccer game ever. A crowd assembled to watch the event. I bet there were at least fifty people (mostly parents of the players, with a few like my wife and I) in the spectator section. Of course, there were two games going at the same time at the elementary school field. The temperature was only 105 degrees, no breeze to stir the few leaves on the ground, but it was a lively group gathered under the playground awning and under a tree on the other side of the field yelling their hearts out for the sweating players. In a hard-fought contest, with the team goalie doing cartwheels under the goal net out of boredom, the final score ended up 2-2, I think. There seemed to be a couple of goals that were called back for some unknown reason and the ball given to the other side.

There was no lack of courage of the six and seven year olds as they prodded, pushed, kicked, and wrestled for the ball with two or three players picking themselves up and getting back into it, even the girls, a couple of whom were taller, faster, quicker, stronger than the boys and almost ran circles around the tired, dirty sweaty boys. But it was the boys who prevailed, getting all the goals, although one girl almost kicked one in.

When it was over, finally, they were all given a bottle of water and a snack of something or other, and allowed to walk around and cool down, discussing their stalwart efforts with the coaches (my granddaughter, who was no slouch when it came to kicking a ball when she was that age, and their grandfather, my son-in-law). We gave them a jolly good pat on the back and a "way to go, good kicking" support yell and discussed where we would eat lunch.

As it turned out, my wife and I ended up eating pizza with the daughter and coach, and the unanimous vote was that it was a fine game, an outstanding performance, an encouraging effort, a fun time, and a great way to spend a hot Saturday morning, writing be damned.     

Thursday, September 23, 2010

I digress from The Journal

I was reading Chris Enss' Journal at that she will be receiving the Spirit of the West Alive award on October 16, 2010, at Saguaro Ranch Park, and I was curious. Is this the park in Glendale, AZ, where I used to take my dog, Boney, for walks in the mornings? By golly, yes it is! The Wild Western Festival will be held there on Oct 15, 16 and 17, 2010, with all kinds of celebrities, performers and western entertainment. Spaces are $200 for the weekend to sell your books and western crafts, if any are still available. Festival site:

Mark your calendar, rent your space and sell your books! The spaces are 10x10, plenty big, or just come on down and partake of the excitement!

And then I noticed it had also been advertised in last month's True West Magazine. So I expect there will be a LARGE crowd. Come on down and join in! 


Sunday, September 19, 2010

Journal - 1843-44

[My ggpa was a religious type and spent a lot of time going to church meetings, even speaking at some. I will pass over these in most cases.]
Jan 23: Worked sawing wood last week for my Father.
Feb 15: Sold chairs for resale, kitchen chairs, complete, $1.25 each.
He worked off and on at Mill Creek sawmill.
June: Got married. [Married the daughter of the sawmill's owner.] A big wedding celebration.
Jun 26: Took up housekeeping in a cabin owned by his father-in-law near the sawmill. He made some chairs for the household.
Oct 13-25: He and wife got sick from the ague and had the shakes off and on.
Dec 17: Baby came early and did not survive.
Jan: Attended a conference to hear charges against one of the church members made by one of the married females
Jan 14: The woman who made the charges brought a club and pummeled the man with several whacks before they could get it away from her.  [I think she was madder than a wet hen.] The woman and her husband were kicked out of the church. [It wasn't explained what the charge was, but I can imagine it was some sort of sexual thing, fondling or maybe worse.]
Mar: Moved up by his father's place, and settled in with a sister whose husband had died. {This was in Quincy or near Quincy.]
Apr: Put in six acres of oats.
May 13: Picked up another sister from New York in Quincy. She is relocating here.
[Talk about Freedom of Speech and Freedom of the Press, what happens next is hard to believe in this day and age, but back then things were different.]
In June, a citizens' mob in Hancock, Ill., raided the office of the Nauvoo Expositor and destroyed the printing press of the Mormons,. The City Council said it was a nuisance and had it scattered in the street.
Jun 28: Joseph Smith and his brother, Hyrum, were shot and killed in the Carthage Jail by a mob of citizens and John Taylor was injured. [So much for Freedom of Religion.]
Aug: Due to all the rain this summer farming was not a very successful venture.
Dec 31: 1844 ended on a bad note due to poor health didn't make much money, but managed to survive.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

My g-gpa's journal

May 31, 1841: Returned to driving stage on his old route from Jacksonville to Naples, Illinois.

Jul 1, 1841: Quit driving stage. Attended a murder trial presided over by Judge Stephen A. Douglas in Jacksonville. The murderer was sentenced to be hung on 23 July, but he broke out of jail a couple days before and "went to Texas." He left a note saying he was sorry to disappoint his friends who had planned to watch the hanging.

For the remainder of 1841, he did odd jobs and made several trips to Jacksonville, Quincy, Columbus, Nauvoo for one thing and another. Traveled about 1500 miles in the year.

Jan-Feb 1842:  Frank A. and I became business partners and commenced building a shop to make chairs. We bought the tools, built our shop, and began making chairs.

March 1842:  Fell ill and thinking that I would no longer be of this earth, I was baptized into the Church of Latter Day Saints. I soon began to feel better, but still rather weak.

April: Began working on chairs.

May: Went to Nauvoo and witnessed a parade by the Nauvoo Legion commanded by General Joseph Smith.

June-July: Busy with chairs and attending church meetings.

Aug 1: Voted on election day in Columbus. Turned 25 years old this month.

The last months of the year 1842, he worked in a sawmill operating a lathe. Evidently the chair business didn't work out. He traveled about 900 miles in 1842.

Sunday, September 12, 2010


In Illinois, my g-gpa got a job as a stage-coach driver, his route running between Columbus and Naples on the east side of the Illinois River. It was now 1839. He had to cross the river to deliver the mail, for which he used a boat that was left on the bank by the ferryman. In the winter of 1839, with the ice flowing in the water, he hopped in his boat to cross, and about the middle of the river the ice was too thick to row past and he had to work his way down river a ways with the ice. He managed to get near the shore where there was an old boat partly in the water and partly on the bank and an icy log near the boat which he found after falling out of his craft and into water up to his chest.

He struggled to climb on the log, but it was icy and nothing to hold onto, and his heavy, wet clothes prevented him from pulling himself out of the water. So, he was stuck, holding onto the log, but knew he would soon freeze to death if he didn't get some help. It was the middle of the night, nothing to do but yell as loud as he could for help. As luck would have it, the ferryman had been watching for him since the ice had become bad after he left the boat for him on the other side. The ferryman came running and helped him climb out of the river, and got him to a nice warm fire and a change of clothes.

A week or two later, he was driving across the river on the ice with his stage and horses.

His father made a trip to Michigan to bring his mother home. She went there to be safe when he and his father went to Missouri, and by the time she got home a couple of years had gone by. One of his sisters died in 1839 from childbirth. He must've have been close to her, because he was badly upset by the tragedy. [A note here before we get too far into it. My g-gpa's father had only one wife, but a passel of kids, unlike W (my g-gpa), who had two wives later and even more off-spring.]

Well, we'll have to see what happens next as 1840 begins and ends. He's eventually going to travel across the prairies to Utah. Do they run into Indian troubles? Or something worse? Or maybe no troubles at all?

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Reading my Great-Grandpa's Journal

I feel very fortunate that my GGpa on my mother's side of the family kept a journal. He was born August 10, 1817, in Dryden, New York, and died July 23, 1903 in Utah. The family first came to America in 1633 and settled in Wethersfield, Connecticut, and have scattered across the country since then. But my ggpa left New York as a young lad when the family moved to the Kirtland-Painesville area, in Ohio, and on May 26, 1838, they began the journey to Far West, Missouri.

He relates the day-to-day travel, miles, wheels broken, axle trees broken, etc., and other problems that came up on the trip. From Painesville, Ohio, to Far West, Missouri, it was 855 miles, crossing Indiana and Illinois and down into Missouri. They arrived at an uncle's house ten miles east of Far West on August 30, 1838, and found themselves in the midst of the Mormon troubles. The local people resented the Mormons for moving into their country with their "strange" ideas of the Christian religion, my words not his, and they formed mobs to chase them out, killing some and being killed. He states that the mobsters burned their own houses and left the county and blamed the Mormons for it to further alienate them and the Governor of Missouri supported them. And the upshot of all this mobbing and countering was that they were driven from Missouri in May 1839. He went to Illinois, settling near Quincy and also visited Commerce (name later changed to Nauvoo).

This diary was published in June 1984, first printing, and second in June 1997, and was 947 pages long in three volumes. This printing contains all three volumes in one heavy book, plus some auxiliary pages, pictures, and an index.

It's a first-hand account of some events in American history as seen through his eyes, and it will be interesting to see what transpires as I read along through it.

Sunday, September 5, 2010


I see where e-books are coming into the school system. They are getting more invasive all the time and seem to be taking over from old-fashioned books. Libraries are into the business, too, at least some of them are, providing e-book readers for check out. I'll have to check into this and see if the local libraries are carrying them yet. It'll be a lot cheaper than buying one. Do they allow for a certain number of books at a time, or can you search and download anything you want while you have it?

I can see that, in the long run, e-book readers in the schools would be an economical buy, depending on how long a reader will last. School libraries will be a thing of the past, and the students will have greater access to books. That's the good side of it. Right now, I can't think of any downside, unless it has to do with batteries and battery life or reader life. Can you hook those things up to your PC or an electrical outlet?

There are so many different types and so much to learn about each one, I get the big turn-off just thinking about buying one. I'll probably just look it up on the internet and go by the cheapest one to start with, when I get around to obtaining one. Then again, I want all the bells and whistles, so maybe I'll have to take out a loan. Aaaagh! This technological stuff drives me nuts.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Bluff, Utah, photos

Entering Bluff from the west:

Nearer the cliffs a couple blocks from the main drag:

An old empty house, probably built after the flood in the 1880's. It was pretty run down::

The cliff on the eastern edge of town with huge boulders broken away from the bluff. The directional signs give you an idea of the size:

An empty building with an old, broken down '46 or '48 or later Buick in front across the road from the boulders. The sign reads "Cow Canyon Trading Post::

Another photo of the big boulders and the cliff as you leave town to the east:

The Navajo Twin Rocks, a Bluff attraction, also called the Twin Sisters, on the road leaving town to the east:

A car entering the town from the east with the cliffs on their right:

The Twin Sisters again with telephone poles in front (drat it!):

The flood plain with hay growing on a farm in the valley. The San Juan River flows on the other side of it beneath the ridge across the valley to the south::

Anyway, this is the setting for Murder Under the Cliffs, a forthcoming novel. An ex-sheriff comes to Bluff to write a history of the town and gets involved in a murder and has to hunt down the killer or killers. It's a western, of course.