thegenealogygirl


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Treasures: Penitentiary Letter

 

 

These are my 2nd great-grandparents, Susan Kaziah Davis and Frederick William Ellis.  They were both born in England.  They each joined the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and immigrated to America.  They made their way to Utah where they met.  In 1869, they were married in Salt Lake City.  They had ten children.  Their youngest son, Claude Albert Ellis, is my great-grandfather.  His daughter, Mary Margaret Ellis, is my grandmother.  In 1930, Frederick was a widower and is found living in the home of his son Claude.  This means that my Grandma spent some of her growing up years with her Grandpa Ellis living in her home.  She knew him well.  And, that is probably why I have so many Ellis family treasures.

Back to Frederick and Susan.  And Sarah.  In 1881, Frederick married Sarah Jane Barker.  Frederick was a polygamist.  He and Sarah had six children.  It wasn’t long after his marriage to Sarah that polygamy became a felony.  LDS polygamists were forced to make a choice.  Frederick was not willing to divorce Sarah.  And so, on two occasions, he spent time in the Utah Penitentiary.

Growing up, my Grandma only had happy, positive things to say about her grandparents.  She had a framed picture hanging on her wall of the Frederick William Ellis family.  At the time it was taken, Sarah was no longer living.  Front and center are Frederick and Susan, surrounded by 12 of the children from both wives.  (One had died, I’m not sure why the other three were not in the photo, maybe they lived too far away at the time it was taken.)  Grandma seemed to have no negative feelings about polygamy.  And since it was so close to her, generationally speaking, it had an impact on my perspective.  I just really didn’t think much about it.  It just was.  And now that I am older, I wish I had thought to ask my Grandma more questions about what polygamy was like for her grandparents.  But I did not ask.  And so I am left to try to glean what I can from the bits of their lives they left behind.

This letter, was among the treasures in my Grandma’s boxes.  It was written by Frederick to Susan on 1 January 1887.  It is 131 years old.  What a treasure!

 

 

Transcription:

Utah Penitentiary

Jan 1st 1887

Dear Susey,

I recived your letter yesterday and wase very glad to hear from you and to know you wase feeling better, I have been watching for a letter evry day for a week, Mother and Father sent me up a cake and a Pie and apples and candy for Christmas, I expect thay well come up and see me before thay go Back,

We had a concert on Christmas eve and we had a good time, being on of the committee you know what part I have to take, We have one evry week, I feal a little more at home now I have on my my new close, I do not feal

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so much like a black sheep thay say I look good in them

Bro Tracey Left here the other day and I expect he will call on you some day

I have got one of the school arithmetic now but I do not know wether I well go to school or not yet, as Bro Butler is in this Cell he his willing to tell me all I want to know

I have sent to Father to get me some Books and some over shoe’s and you can fix it with him when he comes home

I sent to you the other day for a few things I expect you have recived the letter before this

Pleas tell Fredy not to do anything to the hay Rack before I come home as I well be home in time then I well make a new one tell him

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to get some good strate stakes about 3 or 4 feet long to go around the rack if he has time

I would like the children to write to me at any time as it well be all the news I well get from home and tell them to be good children and I well see them again some day

I hope you had a Merry Christmas and I wish you a happy new year remember me to the Bishop and tell him I well write to him some day this is about all I have to say at Present

Hoping this will find you all well

I Remane yours

Truly

F. W. Ellis

If I had my slippers I would like it

 

That last line may be my very favorite part.  There is something so gentle and understated about it as well as the fact that it just catches me off guard each time I read it and I usually laugh out loud a bit.

There is something so cool about holding a letter this old.  What a joy to be the current steward of this family treasure.

 

Happy Monday!  Do you have any old family letters?  If so, what is the oldest letter you have?

 

 

ps – If you are curious about polygamy in my tree, let me tell you a bit.  My Dad descends from all LDS pioneers.  In his part of my tree, I counted 19 pioneer men and only 4 were definitely polygamists and 2 might have been (more research is needed on those men).  Additionally, I have one female ancestor, Sarah Jane Marler, who was married to a man who was not a polygamist (from whom I descend) and then when he was killed she married his best friend who was already married.  Many people are under the impression that polygamy was practiced by all members of the LDS church.  That is not true.  Many LDS men were never polygamists.  The church issued what was known as the Manifesto in 1890, officially ending the practice of polygamy.  Of course, that wasn’t something that could be followed immediately.  But it did mean that no more men entered into the practice of polygamy.  I have heard that a few more marriages somehow happened, but generally speaking, no more polygamous marriages occurred after 1890.

 


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Treasures: Man & Beast

IMG_3929 - edited

 

My great-grandmother, Hope Estelle Maffit Duval, was very talented.  Among her many well-developed hobbies was a love for ceramics.  She created, painted, & fired hundreds and hundreds of various ceramic items.  This pair – a Native American Man and a White Buffalo – are among those many ceramic items.  They currently live on top of a bookshelf in my parent’s home.  While I was there a few weeks ago, my Mom had me photograph them (along with several other items).

I love the details on the Buffalo so I took lots of pictures of him.  My mom told me that Grandma Duval tore up a terry cloth towel and used bits of terry cloth dipped in silt to help create the fur.  She said that Grandma loved White Buffalo and that she thinks it was because they were considered “lucky”.  A quick Google search reveals that White Buffalo were considered “sacred or spiritually significant” in many Native American religions.  Because Grandma Duval spent a lot of time with Native women who lived near Spokane, I would guess that she was honoring Native American tradition with her White Buffalo rather than just viewing him as “lucky”.  Either way, she definitely put a lot of time into her White Buffalo!

Did any of your family members create ceramic items?

 

 

Happy Monday, I hope you find a special family treasure very soon!  In person, or online.  If not, I hope you will choose to preserve and share photos of a family treasure this week.   xoxo

 

 

ps – I photographed these two fellas using my new ShotBox.  It is super handy!  The man was too tall but I still used the backdrop and lights outside of the box and it worked great!!

 

 


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Photograph Showcase: The Anniversary Pendant

 

DUVAL, Deane, wearing the aniversary pendant

Deane Alice Duval, wearing her mother’s anniversary pendant

When you are the daughter of photographers, you have your picture taken a lot.

Like, a lot, a lot.

So when you are the great-granddaughter of photographers, you have seen a lot of photos of your Grandma.

Like, a lot, a lot.

So sometimes, the photos kind of blur together in your memory.  And sometimes, bits of stories and treasures in those photos go unnoticed.

And then, every now and again, a detail pops out of a photo and smacks you in the face for the first time.  The detail was always there, but it went completely unnoticed until one day, it didn’t.

I scanned this photo.  A long time ago.  But I scanned it.  That means I looked at it at least three times.  Once before I put it on the glass, once on my computer screen, and then again when I pulled it off the glass.  But who knows how many other times I looked at it?  I don’t.

But just last night when I was flipping through images to choose a photo to share, a detail in this photo jumped right out at me for the first time.

 

DUVAL, Deane, wearing the aniversary pendant - crop

The pendant my Grandma is wearing didn’t belong to her.  I don’t know if it ever did.

There have been three owners that I know of.

First – my great-grandmother, Hope Estelle Maffit.  According to my mother, it was an anniversary gift given on the first anniversary of her marriage to my great-grandfather in 1931.

Second – my mother.  I remember her wearing it a lot when I was growing up.  Only ever on Sundays, but still, she wore it a lot.  I frequently wore my mother’s jewelry but I don’t remember ever wearing this.  I loved it, but I never wore it.  Maybe I wasn’t allowed.  I don’t remember.

Third – me.  A surprise.  Last year when I went for a visit, my mom gave it to me.  I didn’t know what to say.  I don’t think I ever told her how much I loved it.  But of all the pieces of jewelry she owned, it was the one item I would have chosen for myself after she is gone.

Treasure doesn’t even begin to describe how I feel about it.

But finding it in this photograph last night – there just aren’t words to explain how this photograph struck me.

Four generation of women.

One pendant.  A gift to symbolize love.  A love that is one-eighth of my story.

 

A treasure, to be sure.

 


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Treasures: Susan Kaziah Davis History

Susan Kaziah Davis

Susan Kaziah Davis is my 2nd great grandmother.  In 1915, at the age of 65, she wrote a brief sketch of her life.  This manuscript was passed down to her son Claude Albert Ellis, and to Claude’s daughter Mary Margaret Ellis, and to Margaret’s son Blake, and then to me.  Margaret is my grandmother and Blake is my uncle.

This brief sketch was used as the basis for a longer personal history written by Susan and her son Claude.  That history can be found here.

The full resolution scans for this handwritten sketch can be found here.  Smaller images of this sketch are presented here in order:

Transcription of Susan’s history:

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Ogden Utah

April 28th, 1915

A Brief Sketch of the life, & happenings of Susean K. Ellis, Wife of F. W. Ellis. and Daughter of Sarah E, & Edward G. Davis, Born Jan 28th, 1850, Bath Summerset England,

My Mother and Father joined the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, about the year 1849, just a short time preceeding my birth, I being born with my

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eye lids sealed together, but through the anointing with oil, and the faith of my mother, I was made to see,

I was blessed with a name by Bro Kendel.

My Father was made president of the Bath branch of the Church, and Counsel meetings were held at our home every monday evening,

Our doors alway’s remained open to welcome any of the servent’s

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of God,

When about twelve years of age, I went to work at the Corset factory, where my Father was engaged as a presser, and two of my sisters as seamstresses,

A year later after my Father’s death, my Mother had to begin work in order that we might obtain a living, We continued working at this factory for five years longer, “And were greatly favored, & respected by our head Maneager”

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When we decided to emigrate to Utah,

During our short stay in England as members of the Church, we rec’d great persecution from mob’s, which gathered to persecute the saints,

Many times my Father had to remain at the Poleace Station the greater part of the night, to avoid being mobed, and our windows were broken in with rocks from the hand’s of our enemies,

I was very sickly

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the greater part of my younger life, and when we decided to come to Utah, A great many people tried to perswade Mother to leave me in England with them, as they thought it impossible for me to stand the voyage across the water, and told mother that she would barry me in on the ocean, but through the faith, & ambition of my mother, & the goodness of the Lord, I was permitted to come to Zion,

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We sailed from England on the ship Colorado, Tues, july 14th, 1868, with a company of six hundred (600) saints, under the direction of William B, Preston,

After a voyage of about two week’s, we arrived in New York, July 28th, 1868, The Company continued on as far as Benton Neb, arriving Aug 7th, 1868,

We left Benton Aug 14th, 1868, for Utah, with an Ox team company, numbering 61 wagon’s, & 411 passengers, under direction of Capt. Daniel D. McArthur,

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arriving in Salt Lake valley in Sept 3 1868,

There were six deaths on the journey,  One being a young man by the name of Harry Popel, who was acciedently shot, “Also one birth”

Our journey accross the plain’s was very pleasant considering the mode of travel, The evenings were spent singing hyms, and listening to our brethern talk, We had not the hard-ships to indure which some companies had,

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We were meet in Salt Lake City by Sister Irish, who took us to her home, that we might rest for a few days,

I went to work at the “Salt Lake House” as Chambermaid, with Mr Little, as owner, After two months service I went to live with a family by name of Foalsome, staying with them about four month’s, I then went to live with a family by name of George Alder, for two month’s, Here I took sick with Typhoid feaver,

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and Erysipelas, and was under the care of Sister Polly Felt, for seven weeks I was very sick, but rec’d the best of care,

While in the City I took an active part in the seventeenth ward choir, under direction of F. W. Ellis,

In July 1869, I accompanied Bros James Ward, F. W. Ellis, & Miss Marry an Ellis, to North Ogden, and made my home with Bro. & Sis Ellis, at Plesant weiv [Pleasant View],

I also lived a short time with Sister Lizia Brown,

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On the 6th, of sept 1869, three month’s later, I was married to T. W. Ellis [Frederick William Ellis], in the Endowment House at Salt Lake City, by Bro Daniel H, Well’s,

I joined the Relief Society in 1869, shortly after arriving in North Ogden, and with a number of other’s we used to walk from Plesant view, to North Ogden each week to our meeting, & choir practise, I acted as a visiting teacher until just about four years ago,

My Husband was asked to take charge of

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the coaperative store, which then stood on the East corner of the old Dudman lot,

This necessitated our moving to North Ogden, which we did, and lived in one log room just behind the store, “which was used partly for a granery” Until four month’s after our first baby was born, When we moved to where we now live,

In 1881, My Husband was married to Sarah Jane, Barker, Both Family’s lived

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together until the persecution started, and my Husband then built another home at Plesant view,

My Husband was taken to the Penitentiary Dec 13th, 1886, where he served a term of six month’s, and then again later, the 13th, Dec 1890, he was made to serve two month’s more, This was a hard trial for me, having such poor health at that time, and a large family to take care of,

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In 1893, My Husband recd a call to the Australian Mission, which he accepted, and left Nov 6th, He was gone for 2 1/2 years, during which time we did every thing possible to support him, & ourselves,

Two of My boy’s also have filled mission’s of late, My oldest son “Freddie” spent two years in the Western States mission, and my youngest son “Claude” spent two year’s in

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the Eastern States Mission, The oldest son, “William” of the second Family spent 4 1/2 years in the Japanese Mission,

I am happy to state that I have been priveleged to go through the temple a number of times, and do work in behalf of our dead relative’s,

I am the Mother of ten (10) Children, six boy’s, & four Girls, all “but one” of which are living at the present time, and all but

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two have made their home’s in the Idaho Country,

I am now (65) years of age, and am enjoying better health than when a girl alout the age of 18 year’s,

 

There is something extra special about reading a sketch of someone’s life in their own handwriting.  Even though there are more detailed histories of her, this one is my favorite.  I feel like the items she chose to include on these brief 15 pages must have been the very dearest to her heart or the most painful.

I am grateful for Susan and her life.  I’m grateful for the fine son she raised who grew up to be the father of my own beloved Grandmother.  I’m thankful that this treasure found its way to me.  And lastly, I am thankful for the technology that has allowed me to preserve and share this family treasure.

 

Happy Monday, I hope you have a meaningful genealogy experience today!

 


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A Special Christmas Gift & the Lesson FamilySearch Taught Me

A Special Christmas Gift

Every year for Christmas I try to give my parents and siblings a meaningful family history gift.  Sometimes it’s simple, sometimes it’s not.  What it always is, is a work of the heart.

This past Christmas, the gift was fairly simple, but definitely meaningful.  And because it was created based on a family treasure found in my grandmother’s archives, I gave this particular gift to my children, my parents and siblings, my uncles and cousins, and my grandmother’s only living sibling.

So what was this special token of our shared heritage?

A slim, 23 page book.

The first 15 pages were a carefully scanned copy of a handwritten personal history recorded by my 2nd great grandmother Susan Kaziah Davis.

Susan is my Grandma’s Grandma.  Susan was born in 1850 in Bath, Somerset, England to Edward George Davis and Sarah Esther Mudd.  Edward and Sarah had joined The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in 1849.  They continued to live in England for several years.  After Edward’s death in 1863, Sarah and the children worked hard to earn enough money for passage to America and the journey to Utah.  They arrived in the Salt Lake Valley on the 3rd of September, 1868, having travelled by wagon train.  This makes Sarah, Susan, and the other children Mormon Pioneers.

At the age of 65, Susan wrote a 15 page personal history.  Later, Susan and her son Claude, my great grandfather, used this handwritten history to write a more complete history of Susan’s life.

The original 15 pages are handwritten by Susan in her beautiful penmanship.  I have that original handwritten history and wanted my whole family to be able to enjoy it.

I used a local printshop that I trust to create the scan.  They scanned it in black and white and printed it on a creamy colored cardstock that was similar to the color of the original paper.  I created 8 additional pages that were added after the history.  The print shop printed them up and bound them with a small spiral binding at the top.  Here is one of the books.

Susan Kaziah Davis book

I tried to keep it almost as simple as I found it.  I added my extra pages after Susan’s own writing.  I wanted my family to be able to discover her life from her own writing, just like I had, when I found this treasure.

In the 8 additional pages, I included a letter from me, a few photos of Susan (reprints of scans), a photo of Susan’s mother Sarah, a lovely family group sheet for Susan, her husband and children, and one for Sarah, Edward and their children.  I also created a relationship chart so that each recipient would know how they are related to Susan.  Here are the 8 pages, in the order found in the book, with names of living people edited out except for mine.

I was very happy with this small gift I was able to share with my family.

The next step for me was a more permanent preservation effort for the handwritten history.

I instantly thought of the free FamilySearch book scanning service at RootsTech.  I had used this service at RootsTech in 2016 and was very happy with the quality of the scan.  The item I scanned that year was a Family Record book kept by Susan’s husband Frederick William Ellis.  Here are two sample pages from that scan:

The book can be found in the FamilySearch Catalog here.  The actual images of the book can be found here.

The scans turned out great!  I was very pleased and thought this was a great way to preserve something for my extended family with little work on my part.  The book is 86 pages long and while I certainly could have scanned them, this saved me lots of time.

Because of my previous experience with the FamilySearch Book Scanning service at RootsTech, I decided Susan’s handwritten history would be one of two books I had scanned at RootsTech 2017.

When I picked up my precious manuscript from the book scanning booth I very nearly walked over to a different booth that accepts donations of family items about early Mormon Pioneers.  I almost donated this small history so it could be preserved and available for all of Susan’s descendants to view in person at the Church History Library.  I had already recreated a physical copy for my family.  I had already had a nice scan created by FamilySearch.  Donating it would ensure it’s preservation.  But some nagging feeling caused me to keep on walking.

After I returned home from RootsTech, I checked for my book to show up in the catalog several times.  Eventually I quit checking and forgot about it until last week when I checked again.  I was very puzzled when I couldn’t find it.  I tried a bunch of tricks and I just wasn’t tracking it down.  So I got extra creative and finally – there it was.  The catalog name isn’t the best – A Brief sketch of the Life & Happenings of Susean (Susan) K. Ellis.  The catalog entry can be found here.  And the images of the scans can be found here.

Here is the first page from that scan:

FS scan of SKD history

I was sooooo disappointed in this scan!  They scanned it in black and white.  And at a low resolution.

Can I just say how glad I am that I did not donate Susan’s precious manuscript?!

After discovering this huge disappointment, I decided to scan the small treasure myself last week.  I used a flatbed scanner and scanned each page at a very high resolution and saved them as a .tiff file.

Here is the first page at about one fourth the size of my scan and saved as a .jpeg.  It looks so much better than the FS scan!

SKD history page 1

So what is the lesson?

 

I don’t know why I experienced such drastic quality differences with the FamilySearch Book Scanning service, but I did.  In the future, I will not waste my time having them scan something so small.  And I will definitely NEVER assume their scan has me covered and donate an item before making sure the scan is the quality I expect.

FamilySearch has earned my trust time and again.  I almost let that well deserved trust cause me to donate an item before it had been properly scanned.  I would have been heartbroken at my unnecessary loss.

I still trust FamilySearch and love their generous, inclusive, and vast efforts to help all people learn about their family’s history.

But I have now learned that my trust has a very important limit.  Everything I consider donating will be properly scanned and saved to various locations before I even talk about making that donation.

 

 

Have you ever used the FamilySearch Book Scanning service?  If so, what was your experience like?

 

Do you like to give family history gifts to your family?  If so, what types of gifts have you given?

 

 

Happy Monday, I hope you are able to properly preserve and share a family treasure very soon!

 

 

ps – I will post my scans and a transcription of Susan’s history in an upcoming post for my extended family to find and enjoy.

 


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Photograph Showcase: Grandma Costello’s Art

COSTELLO, Mary, 1939 sailboat art - smaller

This lovely little sailboat was created by my Great Grandma Mary Brown Young Costello in 1939 using chalk.  It appears to be an oil chalk.  My great aunt recently gave it to my sister who brought it straight to me to scan.

What a little treasure!  Grandma Costello was very talented.  She crocheted, cross-stitched, tatted, arranged flowers at a flower shop, and apparently created beautiful chalk drawings.

Aunt Barbara said that Grandpa Costello didn’t like her to draw.  I’m curious about that.  I wish I had been there to ask a few follow-up questions.  Like, did he dislike her art or the time she spent?  Or did she go somewhere to take a class and maybe that was his issue?  Expense, time, or a handsome art teacher?  😉

I am so happy my sister has a new family treasure to love and that she allowed me to capture a high quality scan so we can all enjoy Grandma Costello’s art.

 

Do you have any artists in your family?  How do you preserve and share their work?

 

ps – This drawing is framed under glass.  I did not remove it from the frame because of it’s age and the fact that it was created with chalk.  I scanned it on a high quality flat-bed scanner at my local family history center.  It turned out great!  I scanned it as a .tiff at about 1200 dpi so that family members could print the image in whatever size they prefer.  I sized it down and saved it as a .jpeg to share here.


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Major Milestone Right Here!

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IMG_7881

Last week I filed and filed and filed letters.  Do you know what a treat it is to open letter after letter and see your grandparents handwriting?  To touch the pages they touched?  To hear their sweet and enduring love for each other?  It was completely joyful for me.

I am soooooo happy to say that I filed every single letter for the 5 1/2 years they wrote to each other!  Ten Hollinger boxes filled with letters.

(Of course, I still have the letters from the 1960s when my Grandpa was in graduate school.  But we won’t even think about those yet.)

As soon as I finish scanning Aunt Vera’s scrapbook – these letters are next on deck for scanning.  I think they deserve their own blog.  Maybe this fall.  😉

IMG_7886

These four boxes were mostly full on Wednesday when I started.  They look so beautiful empty, I might just leave them on my table for a day to enjoy their tender place in my heart.

 

Happy Monday, I hope you conquer a special genealogy project sometime this year – it is an incredible feeling!