Saturday, March 03, 2007

Meg's Book - Chapter XXXII - Handcarts and Torches

Trivia - A lot happens in this chapter, but all of it is germane to the core theme of the book (Birth and Death of Mormon Polygamy). As I move away from amazingly well documented events, I am taking some liberties. I don't know that Jonathan and Elvira took in the Wellings and the Beuses, but I do know that the Church leadership took particular care to place the handcart pioneers, and it seems the large stone house would have been seen as a good refuge for some of those pioneers. The background for the Wellings and Beuses is true.

I also don't know when during 1857 Josephine died, let alone how she passed. Nor do I know that Sister Floyd was there. But Widow Floyd is the sort of person who would have been there to help (she became the first Relief Society president in Farmington).

Historical accounts paint a picture of some 30,000 people streaming south to Provo. So I presume that Elvira and her daughters were part of that migration. Given Jonathan's military background, it seems reasonable that he would have been assigned to execute the scorched earth policy, had tensions risen to the point of requiring it.


daughterofheaven said...

After sending out the chapter, I realized that the Saints couldn't have returned to their homes in April. Because John Whittaker Taylor was born in a chicken shed in Provo in mid-May. So here is the revised paragraph:

In mid-April, the tension eased. Brigadier General Albert Johnson had marched his army through the valley without touching anything, and had continued straight through to Camp Floyd, to the west of Utah Lake. Brigham Young had peacefully surrendered the governorship to Washington’s appointed man, Alfred Cumming. In June, emissaries arrived from President Buchanan offering to pardon the Saints for their rebellion if they would swear loyalty to the United States. But we were never disloyal. Brigham silenced the objections of those who were tempted to rebellion by the insult and accepted the conditions of the pardon. With fealty sworn and accepted and the people formally pardoned, Brigham declared it was safe to return home.

Pat said...

It's interesting how the detail of John W.'s birth helped with the proper temporal placement of the events. You are being properly punctilious about clarifying where fiction and truth don't quite meet, and in the final version of the book you can attach a chapter by chapter explanation of your variations on the theme at the end of the narrative, but don't use footnotes or try to attach the explanations at the end of each chapter. Let those curious to know go to the back of the book.

ktb said...

A lot does happen in this chapter, but it flows well once again. I enjoy hisotry, and your fictional history is as close to the truth as I can tell. Had to refresh my memory on the Mountain Meadows Massacre. A number of factors appear to have contributed to that, including possibly Parley P. Pratt's murder in Arkansas, where part of the Fancher Party originated from (

I think I might have added a little more narrative on the migration south given the time and hardship that had to have caused, but the chapter is still very good without it.

daughterofheaven said...

I was thinking of having Elvira be involved in what happens with the birth of John Whittaker Taylor. Sophia (one of the pregnant ladies from the story of the cricket mash) was very pregnant when the evacuation was ordered. They got to Provo expecting to be living out of wagon boxes like everyone else. But someone had a home they let Sophia use. Or rather, a structure that had served as their original home when they first settled in Provo. At the time it was offered to Sophia, it had most recently been used as a chicken coop. The women spend days cleaning it up. Finally, it was fit for Sophia to stay in for the night. But she woke up covered with bed bugs. So they spent several more days with kerosene, etc., ridding it of any possibility of bed bugs. And it was in this structure that John Whittaker Taylor was born in mid-May, 1858.

The amusing tie with John's later life - he apparently didn't mind bed bugs. His wives couldn't stand that the filthy, nasty insects didn't bother him.

jl said...

OK I am a little more clear about things: The Sarah in the last chapter must have been Jonathan's daughter. And then Elvira's girls....

You talk about Jonathan's third wife being addressed in the next chapter... Who is his second wife? I assume you will include her as well.

As I read each chapter, I feel like I am reading a personal historical account. I am in awe at how well you do this. However, I am now curious about every detail. At the very least, each chapter leaves me wanting to know more.

daughterofheaven said...

Hi jl,

Marietta was Jonathan's first wife. So Elvira is his second wife. In the blessing Joseph gave Elvira years ago (in my fiction - no such blessing is documented to have occurred), he prophesied that the day would come when Elvira would be asked to share the father of her children with another woman. It's so fun writing historical fiction when I know 'the future.' It's been fun using that fictional prophesy to mess with Elvira and Jonathan over the years. But as everything that I've inserted into this book, I haven't indulged in 'fiction' that is not at least plausible.

jl said...

Silly me!!!! I knew Elvira was Jonathan's second wife, with Marietta first. When I read your chapter intro, I thought of Elvira as the "first" wife in the polygamy sense: wife 1, wife 2 and so on; all married at the same time.

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