This little baby, born feet first, just celebrated his 55th birthday earlier this month!
01 Apr 2016 Leave a comment
Alzina Eliza Messinger was my great-great grandmother! She was only sixteen years old when she married 19-yr-0ld Alfonzo Miles Skinner. The Messinger and Skinner families had traveled different routes to Utah during the 1850’s and then both families settled in Beaver, Utah.
1870 US Fed Census – Alzina living with her parents/family in Beaver, Utah
1870 US Fed Census – Alfonzo living with his parents/family in Beaver, Utah
1870 US Fed Census – John Gray living with his parents/family in Beaver, Utah
1880 US Fed Census – Alzina & Alfonzo (married) living in Beaver, Utah
The young couple met in Beaver and made it their home after marriage on 9 Feb 1874 in the Endowment House. They were married for nine years before the birth of their one and only child on 11 Jan 1883 in Beaver, my great-grandfather Chester Louis Skinner (at left). Then after suffering for years with heart disease and dropsy, according to his obituary, Alfonzo died on 9 Mar 1891 and was buried in Beaver near his father and father-in-law.
The year after Alfonzo’s death, Zina married John Gray on 22 Jul 1892 in Beaver. John Busby Gray was born in Scotland and traveled to Utah as a young child with his family. His family had also settled in Beaver suggesting that John knew Zina as a teenager. John was the same age as Zina and had not previously been married. Their union produced only one child, a daughter named Jennie born in Beaver on 17 Feb 1893.
1900 US Fed Census – Zina & John Gray (married) living in Beaver, Utah with 17-year-old Chester and 7-year-old Jennie
1910 US Fed Census – Zina & John living in Beaver, Utah with 17-year-old Jennie
John died on 30 November 1914 and left Zina a widow again. He was buried in Delta, Utah. Zina then began living with Jennie’s family until her death on 30 Sep 1930. At that time, they were living in Ruth, Nevada. It is likely that David William Cook, Jennie’s husband, worked in the open-pit mine there.
But where was Zina buried?? That is my real question! I made my husband drive me out to Ruth, Nevada (near Ely) during the summer of 2012 in an attempt to search for her grave site in the cemetery there. It wasn’t until this past summer, as I searched for obituaries in old newspapers, that I found her resting place. I wondered if the Beaver newspaper would carry information about her death and it did! Here is Zina Gray’s obituary in The Beaver Press. I found out she had worked as a nurse!
Find-a-Grave confirms that Zina is buried in the Mountain View cemetery in Beaver with Alfonzo… but in an “unknown” grave location there. I will keep searching that cemetery until I find her! Zina is gone, but not forgotten.
1920 US Fed Census – Zina living with Jennie’s family in Delta, Utah
1930 US Fed Census – Zina living with Jennie’s family in Ruth, Nevada
17 Jan 2016 Leave a comment
Ann Eliza Hancock, my great-great grandmother, was born nearly 100 years before my own birth. She was well known in Panguitch, Utah and considered the oldest resident at age 86-years when she died. Her obituary (see below) describes her many abilities… her ability to teach and lead the young folks… her charitable feeling for those in need… her strong will power to do good at all times and to accomplish any undertaking she took upon herself… her extensive work in the Relief Society. Specifically, the obituary states that “her journalism and poetry will not be forgotten.” To that end, I write this post in tribute to my Grandma Lida.
Ann Eliza married Elias Hatch in 1882. They had a total of nine children, five of whom preceeded her in death. Elias, or Lyle as she called him, died in 1934 leaving her a widow for the next sixteen years. I believe most of her poems were written during this time. This gem is one of my favorites:
UNTITLED I am glad I left that little town And came to this dear place For if I had stayed I would never of seen My husband's smiling face For fifty years I lived a happy cheerful life For fifty years I am proud to say I have been Lyle Hatch's wife
I love the charming grammer and the words that just don’t quite fit at times. I admire her boldness and willingness to put herself out there. Her positive influence in that small town cannot be calculated! However, unfortunately, time has a way of erasing our lives… unless we leave behind documents that can be treasured by descendants. So, here they are for you to treasure! You can see her despair and loneliness in these tributes to her husband. Read the worries between the lines of her thoughts on the War. Get a glimpse of small town life in these many tributes to friends and neighbors and personal experiences she shares.
At one time she submitted poems for publishing and received a rejection letter. She was crushed. You can read about it in her “personal experiences.” Here’s another gem about that:
CRUSHED HOPES I think that I shall never be A great writer of poetry Of that there seems to be no hope I can never rise to pull the ropes My name will never be so great That I will ever nab the bait For this I am not great enough Just the old gal, to write the stuff
These poems are an insight into Grandma Lida’s soul and personality. My heart has turned to her… she’s gone but not forgotten!!
03 Jan 2016 Leave a comment
At our family Christmas party, my sister Shellie announced that they would be adopting a FOURTH baby due to be born in January. Well, that baby was suddenly born a few days later on December 29th! My sisters’ family quickly drove to California where they are now waiting to bring baby Emily across state lines back to their home in New Mexico. Introducing Ms. Emily Jean Erikson… this is baby Jess’ first cousin, once removed
*I previously wrote a blog post about my sisters’ baby John
27 Dec 2015 Leave a comment
Deaths and births… the cycle of life! Announcing the birth of my second grandbaby, another little girl, named Jessica Noelle!
Mom and baby are both healthy and happy and were able to return home in time for Christmas. Interestingly, their picture was included in a news article about the hospital changing names. It’s interesting because I was also in the news at a very young age in the same newspaper!
15 Nov 2015 Leave a comment
Dean’s father, Fred Lewis Crandall Jr, passed away earlier this month. This picture is one that he gave to mom when he proposed to her. We will miss him, but his funeral was an inspiring event and celebration of a long-life well-lived. He is gone, but not forgotten.
Dad had one younger brother, who was able to fly from Oregon for the funeral. And, two of mom’s sisters were able to be there; one of which flew in from Hawaii and brought some beautiful tropical flowers. Mom made the flower arrangements for the chapel.
29 Aug 2015 Leave a comment
My summer diversions came crashing to a halt last week with the start of school, which means that I am back to work now. Throughout this past summer I have spent one day a week at the BYU Family History center. Downstairs in the Harold B. Lee Library is a cozy little genealogy center full of rows and rows of microfilms. Several hundred of these microfilms contain the old newspapers from small towns in Utah. Since my ancestors are all Utah Pioneers (literally), and since many of them settled these small towns, I have been able to find mention of them in their hometown newspapers!
In particular, I have been searching for obituaries. Yes, I know that I could go to Utah Digital Newspapers and let them help me find obituaries. That is a great website; however, there is something very satisfying about the hunt through the pages of a little newspaper to find your ancestor’s name. And there is so much more to see! In that day, the deaths in town were front page news and that is where I have found all my obituaries… alongside whatever other meaningful activities were taking place in that town. This is how I came across the tragedy that befell the Gowers family of Nephi, Utah during the summer of 1921.
I am not related directly to the Gowers family, but have an indirect connection through my great-great auntie Deltha. Those that have followed my blog may remember my three-part series on the life of Deltha and her tragic end. (Here is part one, part two and part three.) For a quick refresher, Deltha Bowles (at right) married Clyde Gowers (at left) and then both were killed three years later in an automobile crash during June 1921. I found Clyde’s & Deltha’s double obituary on the front page of the town newspaper in Nephi. “All Nephi mourned” for them and their parents were left to raise their two sons.
*Photo above says it was taken in 1921. Must have been taken just after the death of Clyde & Deltha since Clyde is not included in this picture with his siblings and father. However, Clyde’s & Deltha’s two sons (Don & Jay) are included in this picture. Left to Right Seated: Elmer, AlfredJr, Don (lap), Ronald, AlfredSr and Mont. Left to Right Back: Jay (baby), Eva, Clarence, Bernell, Eugene and Laura.
Then, as I continued to scroll through the weekly newspapers that followed, I was saddened to see that the Gowers lost another son, Ray, just two months later. His body was shipped home from France where he had been killed in the world war. The Gowers were forced to hold another funeral that summer in August 1921 and again the town rallied around them, this time with full military honors for their son Ray Gowers (at left). Subsequently, imagine my shock to find that only one month later in September 1921, the Gowers’ 15-yr-old son Elmer died from complications due to an appendicitis attack. The town newspaper announced the funeral for Elmer Gowers saying, “Mr. and Mrs. Gowers have the heartfelt sympathy of the people of this city in their latest bereavement, as it is felt that the present summer has been filled with sorrow and trouble for them.”
Check out this news article describing the interesting ‘health crusade’ to honor Elmer Gowers (at right) and the manifestation of love from the entire town for the Gowers family in their multiple losses over the summer of 1921. The town newspaper said, “Every available seat in the North ward meeting house was occupied Sunday afternoon at the funeral services of Elmer Gowers, while a large number were unable to get inside of the building, all of which bore silent testimony of the sympathy that was felt for the parents and family of the young man in their latest bereavement.”
25 Jul 2015 Leave a comment
For one week, during the summer of 1980, I had a very small glimpse of what it means to be a Pioneer. We pulled handcarts a total of about 12-miles through the canyon near Springville during that week, with most of the travel occuring on the first day and late into that night. At one point, we stopped and prayed for a good place to camp. Some people were crying and we were all very sleepy and worn out. I remember sitting there with my friend and I asked her if she could stand up and dance… then I did it. Even with blisters on my feet, I felt that I could still find enough energy in my spirit to overcome the physical exhaustion. I guess I had to prove it to myself.
The next morning we pushed our carts another mile and then camped there for the rest of the week. We cooked and cleaned and played and danced. We had the opportunity to wash our hair in a very cold spigot one day, and then danced up a dust storm that night. This news article gives a good outline of our itinerary. It mentions that I was the only one to hit the target with a shot gun. I was just very lucky! The target was an older watch attached to a tree. I aimed… then closed my eyes… and pulled the trigger. The “leader” (from BYU) was shocked that I had hit it. Then, he gave me the metal ring around the watch because that is what I hit.
This pioneering experience was 35-years ago and before “trekking” had become as popular as it seems to be now. The most important thing I learned was something about myself… that I could, if I would, tap into a source of inner strength to get me through tough times. I think the source of that kind of strength is the Light of Christ. I want to have that kind of inner strength to help myself and others. My great-grandmothers had that type of strength. As mothers, they traveled with their families to ‘Zion’ with the Willie & Martin Handcart companies. My heart is turning to my Pioneer ancestors… See Malachi 4:6
16 Jul 2015 Leave a comment
I ran across this news article recently and had to share! I was looking up obituaries in my hometown newspaper, The Times News of Nephi, Utah. Actually, the paper was called the Juab County Times from 1909 – 1917. This fun article was on the front page of that newspaper for February 10, 1911. Who knew “chain letters” had been around that long?!
I had just found the marriage announcement for my great-grandparents, Leo & Bertha Bowles, in the November 18, 1910 issue. I then continued to scroll through the microfilm just to see what was “front page” news in Nephi after their marriage. I don’t know if Bertha was one of those “frightened” women, but she almost certainly saw this article in the newspaper😉
I love how the editor shares the exact wording, grammar and spelling of this letter that “originated from some ignoramus crank!” Can these letters ever really be traced to their original source?! I did a little bit of googling and found one article, The Curious History of Chain Letters, that suggests these types of letters have been around since as early as 1888.
17 Jun 2015 2 Comments
“Baby John,” as he is known in our family, was my nephew. He was born to my sister and brother-in-law, Shellie and Bill. Today is the 17th anniversary of his death. He was born 3-months premature and only lived 8-months. The best description of John’s short life was given in this Eulogy by his father during the funeral.
John only weighed 1-lb 5-oz at birth. My family was living in California and my sister’s family was living in Utah. I never saw John alive. My husband did see John while on a business trip to Utah. He said you could put a wedding ring over John’s hand and all the way up his arm to the shoulder.
John spent almost his entire life in the hospital, with the exception of two stroller rides. When he was finally able to go home to his family, he lived there only one week before passing. It’s almost as if he was hanging on to life for just that chance to live with his family for one brief, happy week.
Despite his health challenges, he did have a happy life… and was definitely well-loved. He seemed to adore his older brother, James. Elder James Erikson is currently serving an LDS mission in Ecuador. If John were still alive, he would likely be preparing for his own mission before his 18th birthday in October.
I first saw Baby John in person the night before his funeral. I helped my sister dress him for burial and held him for the first time. I was astonished by my sister’s strength when she stood to bear testimony at the end of the funeral. She said she knew she would have the opportunity to see John again and raise him as his mother. When she said that, I also knew it was true! Her tears were due to sadness for the long separation ahead.
John is buried at Vine Bluff Cemetery in Nephi, Utah. Gone, but not forgotten.