Thursday, February 22, 2007

Meg's Book - Chapter XXVIII - The Wagon Trail

Trivia - Men from the discharged Mormon Battalion were the first to notice gold in the mill race at Sutter's Mill. And during the several months during that initial period of time, Jonathan wrote nothing in his journal...

It is from Jonathan's Mormon Battalion journal that I predominantly formed my image of him as a quiet, simple, good man. That and the description of how his wife mourned his death.


ktb said...

Great chapter! One of the things at the back of my mind though, and getting louder is that I am not sure what is happening with the refugee Mormon's in general at this point. They are in Utah now, the ugly cricket locusts have come and been eaten (then regurgitated) by the sea gulls, but what are their plans, what are they talking about in groups as they socialize? A tough situation to be in with many uncertainties, as Elvira reflects on regarding the crop and the rains. This is their land, are they in general happy, scared, looking forward to building, etc. I have cheated and read ahead in history, so things are not quite settled yet (understatement) but they did not have that option so they are not worried about that yet. I think having a broader context to better apperciate how Elvira sees other parts of her life right now while waiting for Jonathan to return would be beneficial.

Just spent the last two days imputting data and pictures into my Family Tree Maker program. Quite a lot of people. Hope you consider yourself fortunate to have so many ancestors in historically significant situations. All mine are tailors, cigar makers, Inn Keepers, harness makers and such. Good occupations, but they do not seem to have been in any historically significant events. Makes for a much less dramatic story if I were to write something along the lines of what you are doing. Actually, it would be so boring as to be funny!

Pat said...

Replying to ktb:
While it is true that ancestors in significant historical settings provide an interesting story, obscurity is not necessarily dull. It is the very lack of great detail in Elivira's own history that makes it possible for Meg to weave her tale. Well documented lives are often more difficult to create a story around since there is always a possibility that your story contravenes known facts.
Meg's grandmother, my mother, wrote a very interesting autobiography, and most of the interest is in what may feel are the mundane details of a life that included the great flu epidemic, the first world war, the depression, the second world war and the space age. Learn about the cities where your people lived and the way things were when they lived there. You will find them anything but dull for merely having survived what were always 'tough times' from the perspective of our day. I do agree that Meg could widen her focus at times to include some community observations, although the events that affected Elvira were a trial to all the other pioneers. I would like to see some mention of the nearly constant arrival of more immigrants. When were the first settlements begun? It may have been necessary for the men who were in the Mormon Battalion to return before the spread of 'Deseret' could begin. This period of time was full of so much, that on the other hand, a tight focus might be wise to keep from getting too diffuse.

ktb said...

Replying to pat:
Your comment is so true regarding individual lives and the flow of historical events painting their way around us, or through us. Some of those events are related, others are not. What is different here, and what probably elicited my comment is the continuous string of well documented Mormon history leading to present day circumstances.

As for community observatons, Meg is probably saying, darn muse, first he wants more feeling and personal emotions in the chapters, now he wants more external content!

daughterofheaven said...

A good movie is "Avalon," the story of new immigrants who arrive in Baltimore (We took it in back when Tara was gah gah about Elijah Wood). Wonderful tale about ordinary people.

It's amazing how much time it takes to actually do genealogy. I was in a conversation the other day with someone who warned about military and civil servants who don't have a life outside of work. I quipped that I do family history, and the conversation ended with us deciding I would have to live until I was 400, if I remember right.

ktb - this is why you are my muse for this book. They say that the portion of an iceberg that stands above the surface of the water is only 10% of the whole, and with my book I am only going to be able to deliver an impressionistic sketch of one facet of that 10%.

In that sketch I mean to deliver an understanding of Mormon polygamy that gives the reader a view of it that both sees it as noble during the Nauvoo times, harsh but community-binding during the pre-statehood days, and absolutely wrong during the post-manifesto years.

What I probably haven't emphasized enough in the book is that these folks believed they were saving the world in building the kingdom of God. They had been evicted from New York, Pennsylvania, Missouri, Illinois, and (at this point) have fled to the intermountain west in hopes of finding a place where they could build the kingdom in peace.

In the next chapter I can have Melissa Lot and Elvira go into this. A fun thing for me, being steeped in the lore, is that I get to tap into the story of Mary Fielding. Because it turns out that the company leader who told Mary to stay in Winter Quarters (implying she would merely be a burden on the company), was Cornelius Lot, Melissa's father (since it's not nice to malign folks, he is never named, but I found a footnote online). In the final revision, the conversations between Melissa and Elvira will occur before Jonathan returns, since Melissa reached the valley on 23 Sep and Jonathan didn't get to the valley until 6 Oct.

By the way, the first settlement was North Canyon (later renamed Bountiful) in Sept 1847. The second was North Cottonwood (later renamed Farmington) possibly in 1847, maybe in 1848.

Given what happened to the sod fort, I'm sure they were thrilled to be moving out...

daughterofheaven said...

By the way, found a nice site that gives details about the early settlements:

and another that documents to overland pioneer companies

Was unwell today so stayed home. In noodling around on the second site on the internet, found out that Jonathan was the spiritual leader of the Holmes-Thompson company, where Thompson was the "Captain of Fifty", kind of like the difference between Carver and Standish for the Plymouth Pilgrims.

Also, had wondered for years now when Jonathan's wife, Sarah Ingersoll Harvey, arrived in Utah. I knew she married Jonathan a few months after the marriage of her last surviving child in 1862. Found a great resource at the site that tells all about the pioneer companies - when they left (from where), when they arrived, complete with diary excerpts. So I was able to find Sarah Ingersoll Harvey Floyd and her family coming across the plains in 1853. By the time Job Welling marries into the family, only two of her seven children will be alive (when Job's wife died, only two of his seven children were still living).

Fun, fun, fun.

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