Saturday, October 25, 2014

A Remembrance


As time moves on, the meaning and experience of memory and grief shifts and changes. Anniversaries, birthdays, holidays, reunions come and go, and our loved ones are sometimes with us, sometimes far away, sometimes beyond the veil. John A. Widtsoe wrote long ago to some grieving parents,
You have hard days ahead of you; that we know from our own experience in losing children. We can tell you, however, that though your bereavement is seldom equaled in a generation of time, yet through the possession and help of the Spirit of God and the healing influence of time, your grief will be assuaged. Your loss has been so grievous, so great, so unusual that mortal power of itself is unable to bring peace to you. Look upward. Continue to take the Lord into partnership, and the sweet influence of heaven will touch your hearts and transform your feelings.
Elder Widtsoe could not know have known that he was echoing and expanding upon words Abraham Lincoln wrote to another grieving family.
In this sad world of ours, sorrow comes to all, and it often comes with bitter agony. Perfect relief is not possible, except with time. You cannot now believe that you will ever feel better. But this is not true. You are sure to be happy again. Knowing this, truly believing it, will make you less miserable now. I have had enough experiences to make this statement. 
Our thoughts and prayers are with Allison's family on this tender anniversary.


Remembering our beautiful niece, cousin, granddaughter, daughter, and sister Allison Ann Bowers (January 21, 1999 - October 26, 2010).



We are, as ever, grateful for the gospel of Jesus Christ and the promise of the resurrection and that families can be together forever after death.
The soul shall be restored to the body, and the body to the soul; yea, and every limb and joint shall be restored to its body; yea, even a hair of the head shall not be lost; but all things shall be restored to their proper and perfect frame. And now...this is the restoration of which has been spoken by the mouths of the prophets—And then shall the righteous shine forth in the kingdom of God. (Alma 40:23-25.)

A Remembrance

As time moves on, the meaning and experience of memory and grief shifts and changes. Anniversaries, birthdays, holidays, reunions come and go, and our loved ones are sometimes with us, sometimes far away, sometimes beyond the veil. John A. Widtsoe wrote long ago to some grieving parents,
You have hard days ahead of you; that we know from our own experience in losing children. We can tell you, however, that though your bereavement is seldom equaled in a generation of time, yet through the possession and help of the Spirit of God and the healing influence of time, your grief will be assuaged. Your loss has been so grievous, so great, so unusual that mortal power of itself is unable to bring peace to you. Look upward. Continue to take the Lord into partnership, and the sweet influence of heaven will touch your hearts and transform your feelings.
Elder Widtsoe could not know have known that he was echoing and expanding upon words Abraham Lincoln wrote to another grieving family.
In this sad world of ours, sorrow comes to all, and it often comes with bitter agony. Perfect relief is not possible, except with time. You cannot now believe that you will ever feel better. But this is not true. You are sure to be happy again. Knowing this, truly believing it, will make you less miserable now. I have had enough experiences to make this statement. 
Our thoughts and prayers are with Allison's family on this tender anniversary.


Remembering our beautiful niece, cousin, granddaughter, daughter, and sister Allison Ann Bowers (January 21, 1999 - October 26, 2010).



We are, as ever, grateful for the gospel of Jesus Christ and the promise of the resurrection and that families can be together forever after death.
The soul shall be restored to the body, and the body to the soul; yea, and every limb and joint shall be restored to its body; yea, even a hair of the head shall not be lost; but all things shall be restored to their proper and perfect frame. And now...this is the restoration of which has been spoken by the mouths of the prophets—And then shall the righteous shine forth in the kingdom of God. (Alma 40:23-25.)

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Ann Prior Jarvis Diary — September 26–October 13, 1884

I sympathize with the feelings Ann expresses about not feeling like she accomplished much on any given day. The regular routine of life rarely feels like an accomplishment, and when you add chronic illness, such as Ann suffered, it's easy to overlook the great and abiding influence she had on her family at the time and over many generations.

The Thursday, October 2 Fast Meeting seemed rather uneventful, but taken together with Charles Lowell Walker's report of the same meeting, it's a lovely insight into Mormon religious practices.

Ann notes that Anthony Ivins preached on the Word of Wisdom; until well past the turn of the 20th century, the Word of Wisdom was not practiced as it is today, and many pioneers regularly used coffee and tea. The St. George pioneers usually had some of their sweet Dixie wine at meals and special occasions as late as the time of Prohibition, and a variety of liquors would have been used primarily medicinally.


Friday 26  Weather windy  I slept all morning I have taken Cold sent a letter to England I hope they will get it

Sat 27   Weather warm days, cold nights, bought a clock for Josy to take to school it cost two dollars seventy five cents also a broom 50 cents

Sun 28   Weather dull it is Thomas birthday Em will have a surprise party for him to night I have made the rice pudding we had a good time at Em spent a pleasant evening John Woodbury recited Josey favoured us with two

Mon 29   Weather pleasant  I went with the buggy and fetched Josey home from the third Ward School went to the store took Amelia riding posted a letter to London

Tus 3029 Weather fair going to get Josey took Em for a ride

Wed 1   Weather windy

Thursday 2   Weather cloudy attended Fast Meeting only four men & two ladies but there was a good sp[i]rit prevails
I know it is good to attend Fast meetings

Fri 3   Weather cool mornings I have not gone out to day
Mrs Woodbury called. Mary brought me some Chow ^chow^
I have not done much work to day

Sat 4   Weather pleasant I had my cough very bad for ^hours [indecipherable]
put a jar of grapes down for pickles

Sun 5   went to meeting loaned the buggy to Thomas he took Em for a ride they spent the evening ^here^
Tony Ivings [Anthony Ivins] preached on the word of wisdom
I felt ashamed of my self I ought to have had that sermon lived up to for many years past

Mon 6   Weather cold mornings Br Greenwood from Nutrioso called here to day. I do not know where this day is gone to    had a letter from Charley

Tus 7   attended relief society meeting bought a Grammer for Josey. Price sixty cents

Wed 8   Weather pleasant

Thu 9   let Josey have fifty Cents in money

Friday 10  Wea[ther] pleasant

Sat 11   Churned cooked dinner

Sun 12   Weather pleasant  I did not attend meeting I did not feel very well

Mon 13   I have not accomplished much to day boiled some fruit


From Charles Lowell Walker's Diary
St. George Oct 2nd  Pleasant daytime, cold at night. Went to Fast Meeting and spoke a short time, confessing the hand of the Lord in delivering me from trouble, and when in a sore strait he heard me. I touched a little on the Book of Enoch and the pre existence of our spirits and the great privillege we had of proving ourselves before our Father and be true to him and dillegent in keeping all his commandments. The Brethren and sisters testified to the good spirit that prevailed at the Meeting. We had an enjoyable time, tho but few were present. Better at times than Sabbath meetings.

Sat 4, 3 P. M. Went to the Seventies Meeting. There was not much done or said that was pleasing to me, as some of the brethren seemed to possess the spirit of fault finding...

Sunday 12th Oct. 1884 Pleasant...went to Meeting. Pres. Mcallister gave a brief synopsis of conference news...Jno Morgan was chosen to fill the vacancy in the first Presidency of the Seventies...

Notes
John Woodbury — John Taylor Woodbury (1863-1936), a younger brother of George F.'s wife Eleanor.

Mrs Woodbury — Ann Cannon Woodbury (1832-1921)

Br Greenwood from Nutrioso — Adam Greenwood (1857-1904) who may have brought the letter from Charles Defriez Jarvis.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Brigham Young in the Southern Settlements, 1864

One of the modern wonders of the field of documentary editing is the work of LaJean Purcell Carruth.


The Church History Library has recently released LaJean's transcription of remarks made by Brigham Young during a trip to Southern Utah in 1864. His remarks tended to be rather practical; in Fillmore he told the people about the continuing nature of revelation:
I say to you, as I can to the whole world, there has not yet been a revelation given to this people from the time Joseph commenced to receive revelation but what would be [altered] provided the people were capable of receiving more. The Lord has to speak to the people according to their capacity, not according to his capacity. We are not prepared to receive all the heavens has for us. The Lord gives revelation upon revelation, here a little and there a little. Those precepts he gives we should improve upon them. . . . The Lord is laboring and has been for long time to prepare a people to receive blessings. He sent his gospel, called Joseph, gave the Book of Mormon, to prepare us to . . . receive all the blessings the earth can bestow, and the blessings of eternity. You and I believe alike with regard to the fullness of his power and goodness. He has blessings and wants bestow them on the whole human family. We believe alike. Why are we not blessed then? We are not ready to receive the blessings.
In Beaver, the teams were all hitched up to leave when Brigham Young turned and walked into the bowery [1] and said, "I want the attention of the congregation. I shall not stop to have singing and prayers. Do your praying when you get home and sing when you please. I have a few words to say [and] I am going to say them."


He told the people of Parowan to beautify their town, and the children of Parowan to "learn your letters, to spell your single syllables, to learn to put together letters [and] syllables to make words, and words [to make] sentences, and then to make subjects, until you become [a] man and woman worthy of the character of intelligent beings."

On September 14, he told the people of St. George gathered in the new Bowery[2] to keep working at developing their water supplies.
It is the will and pleasure of the Almighty [that] he change the veins of this water in the mountains and causes them to come out in springs when he pleases. And if we will work with our might and in good faith the Lord will work and he will preserve us from those that would overrun. He had not the place for us to go to prepared, but he had these mountains, and until he has, he will preserve us in these mountains. He will withhold the [frost] and send the [rain] that the Latter-day Saints may not be afflicted.
The people of St. George were working hard to build the St. George Tabernacle, started the previous year as a public works project to keep the people from starving to death in the desert, and as Brigham Young spoke, they were moving into a period of great food shortages and severe hunger and malnutrition.

His comments the next day emphasized the fact that the people listening to him were new members of the Church. Several people in the congregation would have been members since the 1830s, but most had been baptized in the 1840s or 1850s, and needed to be trained in the practicalities of Mormon religious life. He said:
When you come to a meeting like this and one of servants of God get up to pray, let every man and woman be in silence. . . . When a man [is] engaged in praying and we are looking away, and they are looking at the bonnet of one, and how the collar of another sits [and thinking] I wonder where my cattle is, and how my meat is I put in the stove, and how the children are doing, and the mind[s] of the people are all over creation, the Lord can’t bless such a people. . . . Mothers: take this lesson and carry it home with you, and when the father is engaged in prayer have the children kneel down with you, and have them pray and teach them to pray as their father prays, and ask for the things he asks for, and when a word is spoken keep that in your heart. If the people can do this with their eyes staring around, they can do what I can’t do.
Charles Lowell Walker did not report on the conference at the time, but later he noted,
Bro Brigham and a number of the twelve Apostles and others paid us a visit about the last of Sept and spent three days with us and gave us some very good instructions and doctrine on our present condition, and future hapines. We had a time of rejoiceing and were comforted by the rich teachings they imparted unto us. And I must confes I felt sorry and even lonesome when they left us. I felt in my heart to bless them for their kindnes and good will towards us on the mission. (245)

After Brigham Young left St. George, he traveled through Gunnison and Manti.[3] His final comments were in Mount Pleasant on September 27. He said:
 [It is] a little over 500 miles that we have traveled from the north to the south to visit the saints this season. Settlement after settlement, [we have] gathered the people together under a bowery like this, and you would think you was in Salt Lake City at headquarters. [We] see the faces of those that is familiar to us, and see the large congregations of the saints. It cheers and comforts and stimulates the brethren, and they feel they are not forgotten. The elders went and preached to them in foreign lands and gathered them, and now they are not forgotten, [but] still [they are prayed] for and preached to and presided and led and guided and counseled and directed. What for? The building up the kingdom of God for the establishment of the kingdom that Daniel saw and wrote about.
Well, that was a lot of text of his remarks, and you can read the rest of them at the Church History website, but what a great addition to the historical record to have these comments, since they were taken down in shorthand and previously unavailable.


Notes
[1] A bowery was a temporary structure built of posts with a covering of tree boughs.

[2] Since the Saints had just begun construction on the Tabernacle, they would have met in the Bowery. The first St. George Bowery was directly south of the Tabernacle, but a new Bowery was built for Brigham Young's visit, as the short-lived newspaper Veprecula noted, "on the block north of the public square, between the tithing office and the St. George Hall. It is 85 feet long, 45 feet wide, and 14 feet in height. The center of the roof is a deck 11 feet wide, supported by stupendous cedar and pine pillars 8 feet apart, with sawed lumber joints bolted firmly to each one of them." (Diary of Charles Lowell Walker, 244.)

[3] Things remained interesting in St. George for a few days after the visit: on Sunday Orson Pratt, Jr., publicly separated himself from the Church and was excommunicated. See more in Richard and Mary VanWagoner, "Orson Pratt, Jr.: Gifted Son of an Apostle and an Apostate," Dialogue 21:1. The VanWagoners note in the article that the portrayal of Pratt and his family in The Giant Joshua is off base. (Of course that can be said about many of the people in that book.)

The map is the 1870 Gamble map from David Rumsey Maps.

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Ann Prior Jarvis Diary — September 13–25, 1884

This section of the diary includes stake conference, slightly cooler weather, visits from friends, and Josephine starting a job teaching in the St. George Third Ward School.


Sat 13 Attended conference to day took Josey up to the wine cellar as she plays in the farce

Sun 14 Weather cloudy had a slight shower attended conference  I have enjoyed the conference more when there was four of the Apostles but if I observed all I was taught   I shall be a blest woman
we went to Em to supper & spent the evening there

Mon 15  Weather warm in the day time but cold at nights
I feel cold as I sleep on the porch. had a visit from Br Reidhead from Woodruff

Tus 16  Weather pleasant Father took Eleanor & Rose to the Temple  Eleanor stayed with me I took her for a ride before taken her home her health is poor

Wed 17   Weather fine

Thu 18   Weather pleasant had a ride received letters from Arizona

Friday 19    Weather warm

Sat 20  Weather warm I went with Father to the spring had a pleasant ride took Anne for a ride in the evening

Sun 21   Weather cloudy this morning I took Father to the Temple in the buggy then took Amelia for a ride then Anne came stayed to supper

Mon 22   Weather fine I have the house to myself as Josey has commenced to teach in the third ward

Tus 23   Weather fine I did not goo to meeting

Dr. Silas Gardner Higgins

Wed 24   Weather pleasant I took Elanor to Br Higgins
I brought Josephine home from School Charles Robson called to see us an old friend we had not seen him for twenty three years.

Thursday 25  Weather very pleasant cool nights I had a good night rest last night I am very thankful for it  Oh how thankful we ought to be for good health when we suffer pain and affliction we are humbled when we are well we are apt to be haughty and think we are important I feel my sufferings are for my good if I were well all the time I might forget my heavenly Father and he would be slow to hear my prayers in the day of trouble  I took Eleanor to Dr Higgins he had gone to Washington took Amelia for a ride

From Charles Lowell Walker's Diary
[No entries until October 2.]

Notes
took Josey up to the wine cellar as she plays in the farce — Your guess is as good as mine!

Br Reidhead from Woodruff — John Reidhead Jr. (1827-1916) of Woodruff, Arizona, was an 1877 Arizona pioneer. He could have brought news from Ann's children in Arizona. Some of these church leaders, including Charles Robson, could have been heading to Salt Lake City to General Conference.

Br/Dr Higgins — Silas Gardner Higgins (1822-1904). He was practicing as a physician for both St. George and Silver Reef and the surrounding communities. His practice would have been mostly limited to herbal remedies, and there's not much he could have done for Eleanor with her severe heart problem.

Charles Robson — Charles Innes Robson (1837-1894) one of the founders of Mesa, Arizona.

Sources
Pat Sullivan Henshaw, "Silas Gardner Higgins," [digitized photograph], Source.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Ann Prior Jarvis Diary — September 1–12, 1884

The people of St. George had a few stormy days as a cold front moved into the region. It was a welcome break from the heat of the summer, but the lightning reminded Ann of her son Willie's death. 

Ann regularly mentions her use of the buggy. It must have been an ongoing novelty for this Londoner to own a buggy, and of course it allowed her to get out, since she otherwise would have been homebound, and it also allowed her to offer rides to other women in the community and build some social capital.

September [1884]

Mon 1 Weather warm health very good for which I am thankful. we had a terriffic Thunder & lightning in the evening the worst since Willie was killed

Tus 2 Weather fair spent the day kniting reading writing took Sister Calkins riding took Sister Loughe home from her daughters

Wed 3 Wheat^h^er threating Cloudy lightened all night was very bad at night could not lie down for hours took Anne for a ride stayed with her late as Josey was ataehersel [?]

Thurs 4 Weather indicates a storm attended Fast meeting. a good spirit prevaled the meeting good instructions from the brethren Mary Mansfield [Bentley] baby was blessed. attended ladies Monthly meeting enjoyed myself

From FamilySearch Family Tree, courtesy of "kariburton."

Friday 5 Weather Windy sit with Mary some time knited sent a letter to Heber George played a game or two of checkers had the buggy for Eleanor

Sat 6 Weather pleasant had a good nights rest it was quite cold in the night so I think they had frost in the mountains George had the buggy for Eleanor

Sun 7 Weather fine went to meeting took Em for a ride took Mrs Calkins to & from Harmonds had a good night rest the nights are cold

Mon 8 Weather cool this day is passing away and I have note accomplished much our time is all we can say is ours I frequently grieve that time flys and I do not do much work I do not visit. my desires are good but I do not put them in practise I would like to do good every day I live

Tus 9 Weather quite pleasant it is relief society day we meet to work to make quilts I had a ride Mary Gates asked me to let her ride she enjoyed very much. Sister Squires is dead attended my meeting sewed some patchwork.

Deseret News, "Deaths," September 24, 1884, 16.

Wed 10

Thur 11 Weather warm attended the monthly meeting of the relief society I walked to the Lyceum Father had the buggy for me when I came out I was very thankful as I had palpitation of ^the^ heart very bad

Fri 12 Weather windy. went to the Sunday School Entertainment in the evening 



From Charles Lowell Walker's Diary
St George 4th Sept. 1884 Hot weather still continues. This morning I attended fast Meeting and blessed William Oscar Bentley. I then spoke a short time on the antiquity of the Gospel as pertaining to the people of this Earth. Also touched on the free agency of Man and the exercise of the free and independent will which God had given to his creatures for a wise and noble purpose of choosing the good and refusing the evil. Others of the Brethren followed much on the Same strain and on the fulfilment of ancient and modern prophecy. We had a time of rejoicing and testimony, those presiding bearing witnes to the good Spirit dictating those that Spoke...


Notes
Sister Calkins — Asa Calkins (1809-1873) had two widows, Mariette Symonds Barney Calkins (1810-1886) and Agnes Perkes Calkins (1840-1916). I would assume from context and ages that Anne meant Mariette. (There may also be a third widow, but as far as I can tell she was deceased by 1884.

Sister Loughe — One of the wives of Darius Lougee (1815-1893), either Maine native Sarah Leavitt (1822-1899) or Englishwoman Alice Hulme (1833-1898).

Mary Mansfield baby — William Oscar Bentley Jr. (1884-1974), the son of William Oscar Bentley (1851-1920) and Mary Ann Mansfield (1859-1949).

sit with Mary — I assume she meant her daughter-in-law Mary, not the Mary mentioned the previous day.

Mrs Calkins — Is "Mrs Calkins" the same as "Sister Calkins"? 

Harmonds —Probably the home of the widowed Eunice Chidester Harmon (1834-1905). None of her children seems to be married in 1884.

Mary Gates — A member of the large Jacob Gates family. The options are Vermont native Mary Minerva Snow (1813-1891), Mary Ware (1844-1909), and Mary Ware Gates's pre-teen daughter Mary Gates (1872-1909). If Mary Minerva went by the name "Mary," this is most likely to be her, since Mary Ware Gates lived for some time in Bellevue (Pintura) and ran a small hotel there.

Sister Squires —Englishwoman Maria Morrel Squire (1814-1884), the wife of William Squire. She had two living children at the time of her death, Agnes and John, and her husband survived her by about a year. Her obituary notes that she lived in Fourth Ward, so it was not likely that Ann would have interacted with her extensively. 

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Perpetual Fund: A Personal Response

From Wikipedia.

As the descendant of those who used Perpetual Emigrating donations to gather to Zion, and a descendant of others who contributed to the Fund and helped the poor Saints immigrate, John Lyon's poem "Perpetual Fund" strikes an emotional chord as I consider the lives and sacrifices each of these people made as they worked to obey the commandments of God and provide a heritage to their descendants.

Many thanks to Ardis for publishing this poem at Keepapitchinin: The Mormon History Blog.

For more information on the Perpetual Emigrating Fund, see my brief history and summary of resources: The Perpetual Emigrating Fund.

Joseph Litson and his sister Eliza Litson Glade.

Perpetual Fund

By John Lyon (1850)

Come on, ye rich, with all your gifted store,
Give to the poor, and God will give you more!
Your feeling hearts, responsive to His call,
Will find His love and blessing best of all:
Yes, tenfold int’rest on the things you have,
And more than all your charities e’er gave!
Why should the rich not help the lab’ring poor?
Both are compell’d to knock at Mercy’s door!
As well the river scorn the stream and brook
From which it all its swelling greatness took;’
Or the great sea retain her liquid store,
Nor give one drop to quench the parched shore;
As Wealth withhold accumulated toil,
And say to Poverty, starve on the while!
Let richer Saints pour in their glit’ring gold,
‘Twill pave your way to Zion’s mountain fold!
Ten thousand hearts with prayerful ardour seek
The means to live, yet mourn from week to week,
Who could be blest through your beneficence,
To go where labour gains a recompense!
Oh, then! let love your names in sums record
What you will do for Zion and the Lord!
Ye poor who labour, learn with pure delight,
How much in value was the widow’s mite!
How farthings multiplied to pence make pounds,
And pounds to hundreds, thousands, have no bounds!
‘Till ev’ry Saint’s relieved, and sinner stunned,
Will shout, look here! at this Perpetual Fund!

Friday, September 5, 2014

Poor John Tanner

This picture has been kicking around Ancestry for several years and someone just added it to John Tanner's entry on FamilySearch Family Tree. 

I have never seen any explanation as to why anyone thinks it is John Tanner, or any explanation as to where it came from.

As explained in the following article it is unlikely that there are any pictures of John Tanner:

The Tanner Family Daguerreotype (see included links as well)

In order for a picture to be attached to John Tanner's Family Tree entry it should have a clear chain of ownership with the identification of the picture made at the time it was taken and not rely on a guess several generations later, which could very well be the case with this picture, since no one has indicated anything to the contrary.

The picture may have been originally labeled "John Tanner," but there were two other John Tanners in Utah in the 19th century. One was a Swiss immigrant. One was John Tanner's son John Joshua Tanner, often called "John Tanner" in vital records. From time to time I've seen Tanner descendants confuse John Joshua with his father.

Now that I'm looking at a picture of John Joshua, this does look a very little like him. 


It also looks a very little like Nathan. 


So this could be one of John and Lydia's sons. But it is unlikely to be John Tanner, the father, and should not be attached to his entry unless someone has definite and convincing proof that it is him.

As stated before, proof would include information about who owns the original, when it was taken, and when and by whom the identification was made.

Update, September 7, 2014I put my kids on this case, and they immediately concluded that the man in the first picture was not related to John Joshua and Nathan. For reasons they suggested shape of ears, shape of eyes, shape of nose, shape of creases from nose to mouth, shape of beard at mouth. These conclusions are being made from a low-resolution picture, but these are all the type of markers that help identify pictures.

As noted in my analysis of the possible photograph of John Tanner's relative-by-marriage Samuel Shepherd, a picture needs to meet several tests:
  • What is the provenance of the picture? (Who owns it and why? What is the chain of ownership?)
  • Is there an identification included with the picture? Who made it?
  • Is the technology appropriate to the time it was supposed to have been taken?
  • Were there daguerreotypists or photographers operating in the area at the time?
  • Any family resemblances? 
  • Do the ages of the people in the photograph seem to be accurate?
  • What can the clothing tell us about when the picture was taken?
  • What other details in the picture help locate the picture and identify the subjects?
I would be happy to find that some member of the family had a picture of John Tanner, but because of the history of the Family Associations and genealogy projects through the years and all the factors mentioned in the Tanner Family Daguerreotype analysis, I would be very surprised if there was one.

PS The man in the first picture seems to have some African-American or Indian heritage. That was not uncommon in colonial America, but I don't think DNA tests have shown that to be the case in the Tanner family. (But the DNA tests I saw were done many years ago. Perhaps if people in the family have had tests done more recently, they could share the results associated with the Tanner line.)

“One Line a Day”

A few weeks ago as I was transcribing Ann Prior Jarvis's diary, I realized that most days she just wrote a line or two but over time her consistent effort resulted in a valuable record of her life and the history of her family and community. So why couldn't I do the same?

As a child, my father took seriously the counsel of Spencer W. Kimball to keep a journal, so he did that faithfully, and also trained his children to do the same. Here is one quote from President Kimball on journal keeping:
Any Latter-day Saint family that has searched genealogical and historical records has fervently wished its ancestors had kept better and more complete records. On the other hand, some families possess some spiritual treasures because ancestors have recorded the events surrounding their conversion to the gospel and other happenings of interest, including many miraculous blessings and spiritual experiences. People often use the excuse that their lives are uneventful and nobody would be interested in what they have done. But I promise you that if you will keep your journals and records, they will indeed be a source of great inspiration to your families, to your children, your grandchildren, and others, on through the generations. Each of us is important to those who are near and dear to us—and as our posterity read of our life’s experiences, they, too, will come to know and love us. And in that glorious day when our families are together in the eternities, we will already be acquainted.
After I married and my family grew and I became busier, I fell out of the habit, but thanks to Ann and her diary, I decided to look for a new journal and resume the habit.

It turns out there are a number of one-line-a-day” diaries on the market. I chose one from Amazon and a few days later it arrived. It's a great format for me. The space allows a few lines of small text. I keep it next to my bed and can write at the end of the day without it taking more than a minute or two.

The cover is not too well done, which was a disappointment, but the diary still works and the important thing is to leave this record of my own life.



Sunday, August 24, 2014

William Tanner Lives Again: A Summary of the Tanner Genealogy in 2014

I confess that I have not done much work on the Tanner line past John and Joshua Tanner. I knew the recorded history contained dubious genealogy and fake royal lines, but felt that those who were more interested would spend time on it, and I would continue to do what I do best: 19th century family and community history.

Then a couple of years ago some friends invited my family to vacation with them in New England. We returned home through Rhode Island and as we drove a few of the highways and byways of our smallest state, I was surprised by feelings of deep connection to the place and people.

Despite these feelings of connection, my list of projects often falls prey to the demands of everyday life and I have not done much work on the Tanner genealogy, but there has been a recent surge of interest in the subject, so here is a brief summary of the research.


This is how the family currently looks on FamilySearch Family Tree. This shows John Tanner's entry KWJ1-K2F and Joshua Tanner's entry L7BX-YNF. [1]

This chart shows that John Tanner (1778-1850) is the son of Joshua Tanner (1757-1807), the son of Francis Tanner (1708-1777), the son of William Tanner (1660-1757). From what I've gathered of the current dispute, most people agree on the first three generations but disagree on the identity of William Tanner and his parents and wives.

— o o O o o —

Several family books were published before it became common to list sources. I will not list them all. They include valuable stories that would have been lost if they had not been written, but also contain genealogies that range from reliable to incorrect. [2] The family books seem to rely on the research of George Clinton Tanner of Minnesota, most notably the following:
Tanner, George C. William Tanner of North Kingstown, Rhode Island, and His Descendants, 1905. (Also available here.)
All of the genealogical information should be independently verified before adding it to an online family tree. [3]

Stone bridge in Argyle, New York, used as is from Sébastien Barré at Flickr.

The most thoroughly-sourced exploration I've seen of the Tanner colonial genealogy is by my father, James Tanner. I have also done a few small projects, so I will list our work together by generation. Some of these links are to my father's blog, Genealogy's Star. Some of these links contain interesting comments from cousins. Some of the articles may include ongoing research, so if you have questions, please ask.

John Tanner (Tabitha Bently) (Lydia Stewart) (Elizabeth Beswick)
The John Tanner Story (a previous summary of resources)

Joshua Tanner and Thankful Tefft
Looking for Thankful Tefft (Part One) (Part Two) (Part Three)

Francis Tanner

William Tanner

Here is another reliable resource, Karen Bray Keely's website on the Tanner family, mostly on John Tanner and his descendants: (Tanner Family)

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Current Genealogical Research

As mentioned in the comments to some of these articles, some family members have put significant effort into tracing the genealogy, but as far as I can tell from internet searches and public family trees, none of these efforts are publicly available.

I have not been contacted by people working on the family line, except in blog comments, and have limited time right now to work on this project. However, if you have done work on the family and would like to run it past me or my father, contact me at amyancestorfiles at gmail dot com or my father at genealogyarizona at gmail dot com. My father has expressed interest in doing further research, and I would be happy to review your research.

Prescott Farm, Middletown, Rhode Island. Source: susteph.

Research Directions

One of the weaknesses of many sources on the Tanner family, including George Shepherd Tanner's book, John Tanner and His Family (1974), is that they seem to lack historical context. They do not take into account differences in religious and family life in previous centuries, nor do they take into account changing boundaries, migrations, or the connections between family and community groups.

Did you know that John Tanner crossed the plains with relatives of his first wife's family and his nephew Benjamin Baker, among others? Did you know that although the beautiful movie about John Tanner, Treasure in Heaven, shows him loading up a couple of wagons and leaving New York with "a few others," the family moved with a large group of around 45 people?

Who were these people?

And why is it important?

The reason it is important is that when you are tracing a family through the generations, it is vital that you do not choose a single person in each generation and go back from son to father to grandfather, ignoring wives, children, siblings, cousins, and in-laws. If you do this, you are going to miss valuable connections that will help confirm that you are tracing the right family. It is important to understand the extended family.

Next, in order to trace families back correctly, it is important to have an understanding of the geography. Where did they live? How were the places related to each other? How far is it from Rhode Island to Greenwich? Greenwich to Bolton Landing? Which counties did they live in and how did the boundaries change over time? Knowing the correct locations are important so you know where to look for records, which will be cataloged by locality.

Last, it is important to understand the history: local, national, and international. Why did they live where they did? Why Rhode Island? Why Greenwich? Why Bolton Landing? How were those places connected? When did they move and why? What did they do there? What does it mean that they were Baptists? Were any of the Tanners Seventh-Day Baptists? How did religion play into their moves? When and why were they involved in warfare? What can tax records tell us about them? Were they northern slaveowners like some of their neighbors? Why or why not?

It does take work to understand extended family, geography, and history, but without it, it will be hard to treat your ancestors' lives with fairness and accuracy and an understanding of their real experiences, not just the experiences you or someone else think they should have had.

Farm in Greenwich, New York, used as is from Doug Kerr at Flickr.

Checklist for Tanner Family Research

Collaboration. Who is currently doing research? Can we form a committee, formal or informal, to combine information? If we divide up the work, we can cover more ground than if everyone is duplicating efforts. [4]

Adding Sources to FamilySearch Family Tree. Family Tree is a good way to pool information. If everyone would spend some time and add the sources they have, it would become a great resource for information on the family. [5]


Four important notes:
  • When you make a change in Family Tree, leave a note about why you are making the change. People can't read your mind, and if they don't recognize your name, they won't know whether to trust your change.
  • Don't make a change unless you have a source to back it up. [6] 
  • Primary sources (sources made at or near the time of the event) take precedence over secondary sources (those made later), and just about everything takes precedence over user-created family trees.
  • The published Tanner family books should be taken with a grain of salt. It is best to make changes based on records created at the time of the event. I see someone has recently changed Lydia Stewart Tanner's name to "Stuart" based on the Maurice Tanner book. This is unfortunate since the family name is spelled "Stewart" in most sources created around 1800, and the occasional later use of the spelling "Stuart" is more likely due to a rise in Scottish nationalism than historical fact. [7]
We Will Never Know Everything. There will be some things we will never know about the family, but this doesn't mean there aren't many wonderful discoveries waiting to be made.

Lake George, New York, used as is from Eric at Flickr.

Finally...

We appreciate all of you and your interest in the family genealogy. We hope you will be able to help. We'd all like to get this right. Let's work together.

If you don't care to put in the effort to learn to do 18th century mid-Atlantic and New England research, please work on your line between yourself and John Tanner. Collect pictures, documents, sources, and stories, and add them to Family Tree. (Whether or not you're a member of the LDS Church, relevant research methods are mentioned at Researching Your Mormon Ancestors.) Don't forget the women of the family, as has so often been done; learn about their lives and tell their stories, too.

Please leave comments, questions, or suggestions here or contact my father or me by email. If you have sourced information available online or in print, please send me a note so I can add a link here.


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Footnotes
[1] Due to the problem of IOUS (Individuals of Unusual Size) created by the switch from NewFamilySearch to Family Tree, John and Joshua Tanner and other family members have at least one other non-mergeable entry. The entries I list are currently their main entries. Every so often (okay, at least once a week) someone goes in and tries to fix the problem, but until NewFamilySearch is closed down for good, it is not possible to fix. So don't bother trying to fix the IOUS's.

[2] As an example of a problem arising from a printed family book, I mentioned in my recent post Finding Thankful, Joshua, and Tabitha, that the Maurice Tanner book noted that John Tanner's sister lived in Mexico, New York, so subsequently many family trees showed her children as being born in Mexico. However, they were all born in Greenwich and many of them died there; it was not until late in her life that the widowed Esther Tanner Wellwood moved to join one of her sons in Mexico. Additionally, her husband is sometimes listed as her child.

[3] Why go back and source and double-check all this genealogy? (a) Because the original work was done in an era when fraudulent genealogies were not uncommon. (b) Because we have much better accessibility to resources now than even professional researchers had back then.

[4] Just think what it would be like to divide up into subcommittees, for example one committee in charge of Joshua Tanner, another for Francis, one for Argyle/Greenwich history and sources, another for Bolton Landing, one for the Teffts, another for the Bentleys, etc. (Pipe dream here?)

[5] There is no way to list sources in sub-categories, so as people have been adding sources to John Tanner's entry, I've been adding years to the source titles, if possible, and sorting by year. If the source does not lend itself to a timeline, it goes on the end by record type. FamilySearch has recently made a change so the source shows who originally added it, and who has made the last change. This is nice, so it doesn't make it look like I added all these sources just because I changed their titles.

[6] There are a very few exceptions, for example, if a date or place needs to be standardized. However, people who delete relationships or individuals because they don't understand them or make willy-nilly merges are not helping the cause. One example from this past week, luckily not the Tanner line: someone merged two people with the same name, resulting in a grandson showing as the husband of his grandmother. Brings a new meaning to the old song "I'm My Own Grandpa."



[7] The Stuart spelling seems to trace back to Nathan Tanner's 1884 history of the family. In 1902 Francis M. Lyman uses the spelling "Stewart," and John Tanner's son's name is always written "William Stewart," although his death record just uses "S." "Stuart" needs to be changed back to "Stewart" unless someone can find a source made during Lydia's lifetime using the spelling "Stuart."