Ellis Album

Ellis Album, Photo 68 – William Samuel Ellis Family

William Samuel Ellis & Vaughn Parry family
As captioned by great-grandma, “William S. Ellis, Lula, Wilma, Donna & Vaughn”

 

I edited this photo several weeks ago not knowing who the people were.  Last week, when I opened up my Ellis album scans to write the next post in the series, I still had no idea who these people were.  They weren’t in my tree, not a one of ’em.  The man is labeled as “William S. Ellis” so, I went to FamilySearch, started with my 2nd great-grandfather, Frederick William Ellis, and looked through his descendancy until I found this grouping of people.  Then suddenly it made sense.

Frederick is my 2nd great-grandfather.  He was a polygamist.  William is a son from his second marriage to Sarah Jane Barker.  Sarah is in my Ancestry tree but until I wrote this post, none of her children were in my tree.  I’m not sure how I feel about all of that.  A bit of guilt for not including them…?  I’m really not sure.  It definitely wasn’t an intentional slight or anything.  This branch of my tree is so well researched by cousins I really only add info when I’m adding a photo, story, document, or other artifact from Grandma’s collection.  Then I thought of my 3rd great-grandmother, Maren Katrine Thomasen, who was part of the “other” family – meaning the second wife – and wasn’t treated very well and wondered if I am unintentionally part of the problem of second families feeling slighted.  Hmmm.  I guess I need to add the rest of Frederick and Sarah’s children and descendants.

Setting all of that aside, isn’t this a lovely family portrait?  I am so delighted to be able to add this to the collection of photos for William & Vaughn on FamilySearch.  While they have several photos, the ones that are there are not very high-quality scans.  They do have a black and white photocopy of this photo, as seen here, but my image is in excellent shape thanks to great-grandma.  I hope William and Vaughn’s descendants will treasure this scan.

Two more comments on this family.  It appears William and Vaughn had four children, these three daughters, and one son.  Sadly, their son, Oleen William Ellis, died at the age of seven from acute septic tonsilitis.  This is likely the last family photo that was taken before Vaughn died in 1939.  The photocopy on FamilySearch gives the date of this photo as 1934.

 

ps – aren’t their dresses incredible?!

 

 

This photo comes from the thirty-second page of the album.  Here are pages thirty-two and thirty-three to give context for this photo:

IMG_1667

This post is part of a series sharing this wonderful old family photo album.  You can learn more about the album here.

 

11 thoughts on “Ellis Album, Photo 68 – William Samuel Ellis Family”

  1. Fascinating! You know I find the whole polygamy thing intriguing, trying to understand how women shared their husbands (since I am so possessive!). Thanks for sharing and being so upfront about the issues of second families.

    1. Thank you, Amy. I am also fascinated by polygamy, as you know. I am currently reading a new Church History book that was written by Church Historians –

      https://history.lds.org/saints?lang=eng

      Of course, polygamy is mentioned throughout, so lately I have been even more fascinated by this practice. It was far more limited in scope than most people believe. Strangely, I am beginning to see it’s place in a new way. I still would not be the least bit willing or interested to live it today, but I can see how it offered protection and safety for single/widowed/divorced women, particularly mothers, who were fleeing West with the body of the Saints. The persecution that early church members experienced was significant and constant until they finally settled in Utah. Even then, they still struggled for many years but at least had more ability to protect themselves and were far removed from other settled areas.

      You are welcome – I think it’s so important to be honest in our thought process on issues like this if we are going to come together and understand/accept/face sticky historical issues like polygamy.

      ❤️

      1. Thanks for sharing that. I was not aware of the persecution of LDS members. But was it because of polygamy or because they had broken away from the mainstream of Christianity?

        1. Well, the persecution was definitely caused by several factors. Differences of opinion regarding religion, loss of parishioners from neighboring churches who joined the church, people seeking the gold plates for financial gain, fear as new communities of LDS people would grow and neighbors or neighboring communities would worry that it would hurt them in some way (results of elections, etc), and on and on. It occured from the beginning (1820) and for several years after they arrived in Utah (1849 was the arrival date of the first group of Saints in Utah).

          They were repeatedly attacked in organized mob violence but also in smaller, disorganzied ways as well. At first, they kept moving further west but eventually they felt the need to defend themselves, their families, and their property and weren’t getting support or assistance from law enforcement or the government. Unfortunately, that led to some retaliatory violence as well. That of course instigated even more violence and the cycle worsened for everyone. This video is about 7 minutes long and offers some good insight into some of the presecution that was endured: https://www.lds.org/media-library/video/2018-03-0100-questions-and-answers-about-the-hawns-mill-massacre?lang=eng

          The final date of LDS church members being driven from their community was when they were forced to leave Nauvoo, Illinois. There is no specific date for that because it occured over time. This article does a pretty good job outlining that series of events:

          https://www.deseretnews.com/article/513131/BATTLE-OF-NAUVOO-WAS-FINAL-CHAPTER-IN-THE-EXPULSION-FROM-BELOVED-CITY.html

          After leaving Nauvoo there were lots of other hardships as church members continued West in fits and starts based on their own circumstances. When they finally settled in Utah, there was a great sense of relief. The persecution and trials certainly weren’t over, but there was a lot more peace and safety for them than ever before.

          1. What a terrible history. I will take a look at the video. We human beings certainly are capable of far too much hate, violence, and prejudice.

        2. Oh, a few other items you could look up that might shed some light for you are – Govenor Lilburn W Boggs extermination order, the martyrdom of Joseph & Hyrum Smith at Carthage Jail, and then a more hopeful tale is found in the movie 17 Miracles which outlines a bunch of true stories of the Saints immigrating to Utah. It is available to watch on Amazon if you have Prime – https://www.amazon.com/17-Miracles/dp/B078G3VXJP?_encoding=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=9325&linkCode=ur2&tag=netfli-20 As one who has studied a lot of the history of Mormon Pioneers, I love this movie. I think it does a pretty good job of telling the overarching story of hardship many pioneers faced.

  2. I guess polygamy is less disruptive of families than the men who are serial “husbands”, abandoning one wife and children for a succession of newer models. One of my cousins has four kids to a man who likes to think of himself as a serial monogamist.

    On a lighter note; I love the women’s dresses. I especially like the variety. In my family’s portraits it often looks like everyone had their dress made from the same fabric and pattern — like the von Trapp kids in the Sound of Music.

    1. Yes, I have to agree. I still can’t even begin to wrap my head around polygamy though. I definitely wouldn’t be willing to live it.

      I love their dresses too! So pretty!!

      Back to the polygamy thing though – Amy and I have had plenty of comment conversations about it in the past. This is what I responded to her and thought you might be interested as well:

      “Thank you, Amy. I am also fascinated by polygamy, as you know. I am currently reading a new Church History book that was written by Church Historians –

      https://history.lds.org/saints?lang=eng

      Of course, polygamy is mentioned throughout, so lately I have been even more fascinated by this practice. It was far more limited in scope than most people believe. Strangely, I am beginning to see it’s place in a new way. I still would not be the least bit willing or interested to live it today, but I can see how it offered protection and safety for single/widowed/divorced women, particularly mothers, who were fleeing West with the body of the Saints. The persecution that early church members experienced was significant and constant until they finally settled in Utah. Even then, they still struggled for many years but at least had more ability to protect themselves and were far removed from other settled areas.

      You are welcome – I think it’s so important to be honest in our thought process on issues like this if we are going to come together and understand/accept/face sticky historical issues like polygamy.

      ❤️”

      1. Thanks for that Amberly. I know almost nothing about the history of your church, so it is good to learn more.

        As a non-religious person, I simply can’t get my head around religious persecution. For me, it’s as insane as hating someone because they prefer mashed potatoes to roast; or cut the crusts off their sandwiches. I don’t mean to trivialise this, but as an outsider, it looks like people who fundamentally agree on something (the existence of God) arguing (and killing each other ) over the details.

        Societies all find ways to adapt to their circumstances and it seems like polygamy was a useful adaptation.

        1. I agree! Religious persecution makes no sense. And I know you weren’t trivializing – that is actually a good example of how senseless it all seems. Polygamy was definitely useful but didn’t last very long. Although its effects certainly have.

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