Our Family

Our Family

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

A Son of the Utah Pioneers

Finally, after checking and double-checking, I think I have the definitive list of my Mormon Pioneer Ancestors (those arriving in Utah between 1847-1869, including the few who didn't stay. . . .)

I have them all identified on my Ancestry.com "glvaughn" tree with the icon for the Mormon Pioneer Trail having lifted it from the Federal Register (OK, don't tell anybody at my work - but at least it's not for commercial trademark exploitation).

Saturday, November 28, 2015

The Genetic Leap and Spiritual Ties that Love Binds

My wife says that babies come cute so that we'll love and care for them. Teenagers become obnoxious so we're glad to get rid of them when they leave to go out into the world. Everybody loves or should love a baby. Honorable hearts break when babies are mistreated and unloved.

My share of baby-sitting comes this weekend as I'm no shopper so I stay behind with any number of young ones. This year, it's my two, beautiful granddaughters.

The oddest thing was that the younger of my granddaughters seemed so familiar. I knew I had seen that face before. Genetics are weird in that particular traits can pop up in the genetic scramble that makes us who we are physically. And there's something even stranger in the spiritual genetics that can't be defined by science, at least not yet, and seem so real if only by those intangibles of love and feeling that cannot be denied even if not counted and measured.

Saturday, August 22, 2015

"Utah, We Love Thee" (Whatever You Mean)

Look it up. Nobody can explain the origin of the name "Utah." We think it comes from a Native American word but there are all kinds of theories. It could be Navajo or some variation of Ute or Paiute or Shoshone language. It may even be a Spanish term.

My quandary began when I was working through ancestry.com on some relatives I thought I knew pretty well. There is always something more to learn.

Wood Family Cemetery on a rainy Memorial Day

My Mother Was a DJ!

[Previously posted on Keepapitchinin.org]

My family has done pretty well saving old items of personal history. Bless my dear paternal grandmother who saved every letter she ever received and in her later years, returned them to the senders! Going through this and other material transcribing letters digitally into family history records, I found the most amazing thing. A card from 1955 with my mother's name on it:

Wright Pioneers!

[from my other blog 24 July 2014 - Pioneer Day (in Utah)]

So, I got an email message from Family Search listing all my Mormon Pioneer ancestors. There was one name there I'd never known. And I couldn't match her up with anyone in my line. The system may not yet be foolproof. There's no internet infallibility in our church (or any other IT system I've ever heard of).

Yet I was surprised because I really thought my Mom had told me that our Wright Family of Coalville, Utah, were not Pioneers, but had come on the train. But there was Thomas Wright (1830-1909) on the list! His wife Annie Dale Wright (1842-1911) appears in the same Daniel D. McArthur Company, 1868.

Whatever my Mom told me it was at least half right because 1868 was the year before the transcontinental railroad was completed. In 1868, the Mormons heading for Zion rode the train to the then end of the line at Benton, Wyoming, eleven miles east of Rawlins. They didn't have to walk so far but it was still far enough across the most challenging parts of Southwestern Wyoming. Here's the report of their trip from the Pioneer Overland Travel Database:

My Wife and I Are 10th Cousins!

[From my "other" blog 14 Sept. 2014]

The Relative Finder program developed by the BYU Family History people has given me a lot of great connections. It works for anyone who uses Family Search including many non-LDS people. Our good bishop set up a group to allow us to see our relationship to any person in our ward. Everybody is connected somehow with fewer degrees of separation than one might think. This does not directly lead to family names for Temple work, but it does cause a lot of excitement with fun and interesting connections made.

So it turns out that my wife and I are tenth cousins! The program puts it out in this format:

Matthew Bristow Wheelwright and the Golden Spike

Maybe he was there, maybe he wasn't, but he has not been officially identified in the famous picture:
The Golden Spike
It's been a life-long desire of mine to get out to the Golden Spike National Historic Site and I finally did. The problem is that it's not on the way to anywhere, except the Spiral Jetty, which is where the Utah Science Teachers were having an outing. My daughter invited me to go along with her family. And it was fun.
Two of my Grandsons with the Jupiter and the 119 at Golden Spike National Historic Site, Promontory Pass, Utah

Cherokee Nation Will Return

[From my "other" blog]

Clicking away to firm up my ancestry.com family tree, I came across a picture I hadn't seen before.

That is my 3rd Great Grandmother, Peninah Shropshire Cotten Wood (1827-1879). She was the mother of George C. Wood (1864-1923), and the grandmother of Addie May Wood (1880-1909). My mom has long taken pride in a claim to Native-American ancestry. Not wanting to judge by someone's looks as in the picture above, I can't help but think my mom is probably right.

Scouting Adventures on the Mormon Pioneer Trail

My daughter (the rescue party) at Echo, Utah on the Mormon Trail
Now it’s a total of three adventures I’ve taken unexpectedly from the East Fork of the Bear. The first was a few years back when I was up here with some Varsity (14-15 year old) Scouts. One kid, whose mother always fed him nutritiously at home, tended to gorge on forbidden items when out with the Scouts. Hot dogs and marshmallows aren’t so great coming back at 3 o’clock in the morning.

My own boy who was the Varsity Team Captain came to wake me in my tent. He told me that the guy had gotten sick and he took care of it the best he could. It was bitter cold that year, certainly below freezing because water was. My boy’s strategy of taking care of the other boy who woke up and said he was sick, was to advise him to puke into his sleeping bag. Not a bad strategy all things considered, especially considering the plan to keep using that tent along with the other boys not wanting to be puked on.

My Inner-Child Helps my Aunt Solve a Family History Issue

[from my "other" blog 4 June 2012]

There he is, that little guy! It's great to be the oldest grandchild at least on my Dad's side of the family. Christmas 1958 was apparently a major extravaganza that way.

I scanned this one at fairly high resolution mainly so I could see all my haul of toys (I remember the horse and the jack-in-the-box). Then I sent it to my Aunt with a couple of other photos not knowing it would solve a frustrating family history problem for her.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

A Few Memories and Digital Connections

John Alfred Wright (1882-1962)
Louisa Ann Staples Wright (1882-1944)

We stayed overnight at my parents' last night. We made sure we cleaned up after ourselves, washed the sheets, etc., to be sure we were not a burden. They like us to come. We had a restful exit as dad insisted on making waffles.

On arrival last night, I had a flash in the bedroom where I noticed the familiar portraits of my mom's grandparents. "Hey," thought I, "those aren't in the digital family pics I have from my mom." I was thinking of the ways they could mysteriously disappear to be carefully packed in our car but I opted for the straightforward approach the next morning.

Monday, June 8, 2015

Curiouser and Curiouser

Found it.

Yes, you can download and upload the raw DNA data from ancestry and use on other sites. The easiest appears to be gedmatch.com, a "crowd-sourcing" site that needs our financial along with DNA contributions. It's all still very confusing and I still haven't figured out how to look at my Y Chromosome which I seriously need for Welsh connections.

But I found my American Indian percentage! Or at least one of the versions. There are several ways to look at DNA on the Gedwatch site. It scares me to begin to understand them cuz of a little knowledge and stranger-danger, etc. One of the analyses gave me:


Sunday, June 7, 2015

Not Illegitimate - Not Adopted

Not that there's anything bad with adoption or even illegitimacy for that matter. We know my Vaughans, with "John the B," started out illegitimate. Apparently Petersons back in Denmark, too.

What my DNA testing through Ancestry.com accomplished well was to link me genetically to the families I already have in my tree. Mormon family genealogies are largely to credit for that. (Along with not much foolin' around).

There is one significant name missing. Yep, Vaughn. We need more Vaughn/Vaughan DNA tested! Cousins, Uncles, Aunts, etc., please note! In another section of my Ancestry profile, I have confirmed Vaughan DNA with a distant cousin in Utah County with matching ancestors from Thomas Vaughan (1850) back. So it's there, it's just not well documented yet. We need more testing.

Here is the general genetic confirmation of my Family Tree:

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.

Monday, May 25, 2015

"For the Strength of the Hills" - The Malan/Roman Heritage

The story about my Great Grandmother's brother Gus Roman's tragedy with the motorcycle prompted me to go deeper in the family history archives with my ancestors of the French-Italian Piedmont. We did get a hymn (#35) from our people of the mountains. And Malan's Peak above Ogden, Utah, is named for one of my ancestral families.

Malan's Peak from Weber State University

The Rice Family - Either They Knew Or Didn't Know the Prophet Joseph

Trying not to go all logical on a legalistic evidentiary basis, but I am fortified in my testimony of the prophetic calling of Joseph Smith, Jr., in what is not said in the history of some of my ancestors.

My most persistent pioneer forebearer was Ira Rice (1793 -1868). Born in western Massachusetts, he helped pioneer western New York. As a veteran of the War of 1812, he took a land bounty and pioneered in what is now Michigan. Converted to the LDS Church, he moved to Illinois and helped build the communities in the neighborhood of Nauvoo, Illinois. Following Brigham Young west with the Saints, he pioneered Farmington in Davis County, then North Ogden, then he went to help settle Providence in Cache County. When a call went out to pioneer the Muddy or Cotton Mission south of Utah's Dixie, Ira readily volunteered. President Young supposedly told him that he had done enough pioneering in his lifetime. (He was up to seven pioneering experiences by my count). And he probably should have listened as Ira died from the effects of exposure in a flood at Beaver Dam, now in Arizona. He is buried in Washington, Utah.

Ira's son William Kelsey Rice (1822-1913) established a claim on some land in Farmington, Davis County, Utah, where the Farmington City Cemetery now lies and where he is buried. William was born in Manchester, Ontario County, New York. Sound familiar? Yes, that's the same neighborhood where  Joseph's family lived at the time of his First Vision and the Angel Moroni's visits to the boy prophet.

The Rices left upstate New York in the mid-1820s, a few years after the time of the First Vision and during the time of the Angel Moroni's appearances to Joseph. This is where the lack of evidence comes in to help establish a very important point. The histories I have of the Rices make no mention of the Smith Family of the neighborhood of Palmyra and Manchester.

Family History - Indian Pictographs near Salmon, Idaho

[another oldie but goodie from June 3, 2012]:

With my inner child calling me again, I've gone back to the work digitizing photographs and transcribing letters from the earliest years of my memory. In that process I posted on Facebook the following photo for  Mother's Day:

Easter Sunday, April 2, 1961. Birch Creek near Salmon, Idaho 

The Pioneer Hymnbook

[From Pioneer Day, 2012]

My mom gave me a treasured heirloom - a 19th Century LDS Hymnal. It has little if any collector's value as it is separated from its binding and missing a few pages. It is treasured because it has the apparent signature of one of my pioneer ancestors.

James Brigham Staples (1853-1910) was the son of Richard Staples (1796-1868) and Louisa Field Staples (1813-1870). Richard and Louisa were baptized into the LDS Church on 27 February 1850. As James was born three years later, his middle name was likely given in honor of Brigham Young.

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Confederates in the Closet (and Slaves!) Easterling and Carter

Impatient for my DNA report, I'm digging all I can on the internet looking for my alleged Choctaw Indian ancestry. My mom is especially proud of this. Turning over genealogical stones does find other things that we must face.

Sabra Ann is the alleged  Choctaw descendant and has the dark hair and high cheekbones indicating possible Native American ancestry.

Giles Bennett was a cavalryman for the Confederacy.

And, there were Slaves.

As a widow in 1906, Sabra applied to the State of Mississippi for a widow's pension available because of Bennett's service to the "Late Confederacy." She wrote that he served in the 27th Mississippi Cavalry. Documents from Ancestry.com place Bennett in the 4th Mississippi Cavalry and the Confederate States 8th Cavalry. That all may be true as some men enlisted, served their terms, and reenlisted in other regiments. We will have to request what records are in the U.S. National Archives to determine what official records show.

Territorial Execution 1887

[From my PMM Blog, February 20, 2012]

Back to my project of transcribing my 2nd-Great-Grandfather's prison journal, I found his account of an execution with a rather spooky postscript. Grandpa Wood was in for unlawful cohabitation which he believed not a crime as he maintained his religious beliefs and practices took precedence over federal territorial law. It is interesting that throughout the journal he drew a clear distinction between his people or the "Cohabs" and the criminal element he called the "Tuffs" [or "Cons."]

The subject of the execution was a "Tuff" who had perhaps broken both the laws of man and of God. According to the Deseret News, Fred “Welcome” Hopt was executed for the July 3, 1880 murder of John F. Turner of Provo, Utah. Turner was a teamster and the son of Provo’s sheriff. Hopt had a history of several run-ins with the law and supposedly had sworn vengeance against the sheriff and his family. He was convicted of hacking John Turner to death with an axe while the young man was sleeping at camp near Park City. The body was found a week later in Echo Canyon where it had apparently been dumped by Hopt.

The diary transcription follows. Spelling and punctuation are as in the original:

Saturday, May 2, 2015

The Ancestry DNA Test

[cross-posted from my other two blogs]

An expert genealogist friend asked me about the DNA test through Ancestry.com, so I thought I would explain here for one and all (Ancestry owes me for this advertisement).

First, the regular cost is $99 US but they have sales every couple of months when the price drops to $79. There is also a shipping fee of $8 bucks something, so figure that in either way.

The kit arrives by US Mail, and opens to to reveal this:

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Davis County Winds - My Peterson Great-Grand-Parents

Originally published at PMM on 1 December 2011:

Well, we know what the results of a "Category 2" look like now. I don't know what it feels like, because I missed it. I just got home from a few days with the Ute Tribe in Ft. Duchesne, Utah, and with their attorneys in Colorado.  On the way in we stopped at Arby's in Spanish Fork where a got a free meal because their power was flickering and they couldn't read my card.

Still, I'm a witness to the aftermath here in Davis County with at least a third of the signs down in Centerville's commercial district on Parrish Lane. There are some roofs missing over gas station pumps, and trees down everywhere. A few are down on houses. Some are down on power lines. Ours are still up but our blue spruce out front whipped off all the Christmas lights. And while the gate to our fence that I have repaired at least a dozen times is still up, there are several other segments of the fence missing. I told the guy next door that we'll have to be better neighbors now. He responded that he'll have to start wearing something when he's in the hot tub. TMI!

Our fence (well, part of it). Note the neighbor's hot tub.

Monday, April 27, 2015

"Return to the Holy Yew"

I'm not sure that this really fits here, and I'm not sure what else to do with it. It was originally published 22 October 2011 on PMM
This blogger & the ancient, possibly pre-Christian Yew at St. Mary's Churchyard,
Cusop, Herefordshire, on the border with Wales August 16, 2010.
I've had a few, clear spiritual experiences in my life. I don't often share them as I hold them most sacred. This one, I think was a spiritual manifestation, and I share it here mainly because, unlike the others, it doesn't make any sense. Maybe somebody can help me figure it out.

The Limbaugh House, Fruitland, Idaho, probably 1960

So when you see a picture like this, and you're in it, and you know and love those other people, and you can feel what you felt then 50 years later, you can't help but wonder about memory, time, and going on forever. I love you Grandma. You too, Kathleen.

originally published 17 February 2011 on PMM.

Geoge C. Wood: In Prison for Polygamy

Originally published 11 February 2011 on PMM.

President George Q. Cannon, seated center, George C. Wood, my Great-Great-Grandfather behind 
Pres. Cannon over right shoulder next to prison guard James A. Doyle in civilian dress.
Utah Territorial Prison, November 1888.
I've been working on a family history project with a cousin to transcribe the prison diary of our 2nd-Great-Grandfather, George C. Wood.  (My confession, unlikely to lead me to prison, is that I'm way behind on my part of the task. But as I haven't heard from my cousin for some time, she must be too. I'll get on it.)

It is an absolutely amazing story that is difficult to fathom. George C. Wood needs to have a book written about him which I may get to someday if I can get organized besides figuring how to get it past the family censors. It isn't really that scandalous - at least not by Utah family history standards. 

Joseph Ridges in Distress

Originally published 23 March 2015 on PMM as "Too Little Credit Where Much Credit Was Due: Joseph Ridges"

This nice little marker is just outside of my local sandwich shop near the corner of State Street and South Temple, across from Brigham Young's Lion House, Territorial and Church Offices, and the Beehive House. One of the architects is noted as Joseph H. Ridges, my 3rd-Great-Grandfather.

He is better known for building another "structure" or two, principally, the original Tabernacle Organ, now modernized and mostly replaced in all its intricate parts, but still retaining the essential features of Joseph's design. In the Daughters of the Utah Pioneers Museum is a composite photograph reproduced here in a church publication:


This is a new blog to collect all the blog postings that I already have about my own family history that do not fit on my principal family history blog: John and Elinor Vaughan Descendants.

The Vaughan Family has been my principal focus of energy for most of my reasearch as I feel a responsibility for my surname and paternal Y Chromosome. And I have many other stories of other ancestors to share that I will cut and past from my slowly dying main blog and new ones as they are created.

So, dedicated to my Peterson Cousins along with a lot of Wheelwrights, Rices, Bybees, Easterlings, Ridges, Wrights, Staples, and on and on and on, here we go!

Guest submissions are welcome. You can contact me directly at grant[.]vaughn[@]gmail[.]com.