Our Family

Our Family

Saturday, May 30, 2015

Lost, in Centerville. Annie and Grandpa Thompson

Annie Thompson, born Centerville, Utah, 1863
She seems so familiar to me; and so determined in her fragility. The flowered hat is not her usual wear. It could almost be a miner's helmet it seems so out of place. She is the mother of my Great-Grandfather, John Hyrum Wheelright (1882-1963), someone I knew and whose hand I held that had held hers.

This has been bothering me since I moved here. I want to know where she was born as I live within a mile or so, one direction or another, of that unknown place. There is also her Grandfather, Edward Thompson (1816-1863), who died and is buried in Centerville.

When my oldest son came home from his mission, I gave him the task of going to Centerville City Hall to ask about a burial record to identify Edward's plot. There is none. The lists of Centerville graves in the LDS Family History Library tell me that records of the cemetery only began in 1863. As Grandpa Thompson died on 2 January 1863, buried on 3 January 1863, they probably had not started that record-keeping as it's hard to write things down in the middle of winter. The ground and the ink would both be frozen. The cemetery was still managed by the LDS Centerville Ward, Davis Stake. It was turned over to the city later, likely at the time of incorporation, 1915.

And here we are celebrating Centerville's Centennial, which is a bit odd celebrating the rather late incorporation when there were Mormon settlers by the end of the 1840s. The LDS Centerville Ward was organized by 1856. In the midst of centenary celebration, I'd like to know where my ancestors were, and are, still resting in the ground.

They won't let me dig up the unmarked graves in the cemetery, so I have to dig elsewhere. The Thompsons - all three generations - were in Centerville only from 1860 to about 1868. The first clue I dug up was at the Family History Library.
Centerville Ward Records, Historian's Office Library, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 23778 (FHL Film No. 025,855)
All that does is confirm the death and burial dates. And it is clear he was buried in Centerville. As part of the dittos for "died in Centerville, buried in Centerville," we can only assume he is in the Centerville Cemetery along with everybody else so designated.

Later, I found this:

Centerville Ward Records, Historian's Office Library, LDS,
23778 (FHL Film No. 025,855), p. 10.

Edward was rebaptized upon arrival in Centerville, June 4, 1860, by James Brinkerhoff (another familiar family name in the area). That was a common practice in pioneer days to rededicate oneself or simply to help establish valid record keeping.

Still, Edward's grave is unknown and unmarked. You can take your pick, I found a few of them in the cemetery this morning:

 Personally, I like the one with the tree. I think I'll adopt it.

Edward, Mormon Pioneer and leader of the Thompson Family he was, is not a direct, blood relation. His son William and father of Annie was adopted by Edward, or William chose the Thompson name as good as any since his mother married Edward who helped raise William back in England. And that's all OK because we're sealed up to adopted members of families. So maybe we don't need to know the actual site as there's no matching genetic material that we know of down there.

Still, Annie is blood and only one handhold from me across the generations. She was born here as I confirmed as well:

Centerville Ward Records, Historian's Office Library, LDS, 23778 (FHL Film No. 025,855), p. 37
And she was blessed on June 4, 1863, by William Reeves, a counselor in the Centerville Ward Bishopric. That's something I can add to Ancestry and FamilySearch.

Annie died young at age 26. She is buried with a stone memorial in Ogden. She married in 1879 at only sixteen years of age (and not to a polygamous husband). The young age might match the photograph above as a sixteen-year-old's wedding portrait. She gave birth to six children including my Great-Grandpa.

I hate it when these pioneer women die so young. We don't get to know them well as their children barely did. There is one story from my Great-Grandpa that my Dad's Aunt, Virginia Wheelwright, recorded:
About the only thing father told me about when they lived in Hooper besides the death of his sister was one night he, with his mother and the small family, were visiting neighbors. His father was not with them. He was lying on the floor. His mother said, "Don't go to sleep, John. If you do I can't carry you." He awoke to find the house dark. He got up and walked home alone. When he got home his mother came to the door wearing a long white nightgown.
Death, friends, honesty, reality, and waiting up at night for the boy she couldn't carry. He also remembered her death and cried about it as an old man.

Annie, I still want to know the house in my town where you were born. I'll keep looking. I will see you one day, probably in a long, white gown as you'll be waiting up for me.

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