Memorial Day 2017


Memorial Day 2017 with my family was really wonderful.


Part One:


While driving north to begin our adventures, we talked about the origins of Memorial Day, our cousin James Boles and his life and sacrifice, and where we were headed.

Part Two:


A picnic lunch with my 4th great grandmother, Maria Amanda Dolby Skeen at Lehi Pioneer Cemetery.  This sweet little cemetery is just a grassy park surrounded by trees and a flowing irrigation ditch.  There is only one marker sharing the history of the cemetery.  We know that Maria is buried there.  She was the mother of 9 children, 4 who pre-deceased her.  She died in 1854 at the age of 36, leaving her husband with 5 young children.  Maria and her family were Mormon Pioneers who experienced extreme persecution and were driven from one place to the next, finally traveling with the saints to what is now known as Utah.  A few short years after their arrival, Maria passed away.



Part Three:


A few hours in the American Fork Cemetery.  We had a list of ten of my husband’s ancestors to look for, and 16 little star shaped flags to post on any veteran’s graves that had no decorations.  This year I couldn’t find actual flags so I had to make do with my Dollar Store find.


This little darlin’ was so fascinated by everything about the cemetery.  He wanted to know all about every headstone he came upon.  He was searching for “soldier headstones” and “B-E-C-K”.


He was so happy when he found his first “B-E-C-K” headstone.  Of course I missed his huge smile and caught his explanation instead.  😉


Jacob S and Elizabeth H Beck, my husband’s 2nd great grandparents


With my camera in hand, I obviously had to photograph any headstone that caught my eye.  I have a bundle to add to findagrave.


It was a lovely cemetery visit, to a beautiful cemetery, in a fantastic setting, on a perfect day.

Part Four:


We made some new family memories exploring the beautiful Cascade Springs.














Even the drive home was picturesque.  The summit took us to an elevation of 8060!

It was a Memorial Day to remember.


Happy Wednesday!  I hope you preserve a special memory today.



ps – Why do 15/almost 16 year olds insist on being ridiculous in photos?  Sigh.  My 19 year old recently told me I need to lecture his teenage brother and tell him to just smile for photos.  Haha, he was the scowler/face maker not so long ago.  A normal phase I suppose…



Photograph Showcase: Frederick & Susan

These beautiful photographs are of my 2nd great grandparents Frederick William Ellis and Susan Kaziah Davis.  The photos are not labeled with dates.

Frederick and Susan were both born in England.  They each joined the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  They met in England at a church meeting but were separated when Frederick immigrated to Utah.  Some time later, Susan and her family immigrated to Utah as well.  Both Frederick and Susan crossed the plains in wagon companies as Mormon Pioneers.  After being reunited in Utah they married in September of 1869.


Photograph Showcase: Family Photo

Frederick & Susan Ellis family.jpg

I found this photo in one of my Grandma’s boxes.  I was instantly fascinated.  Something about this photo seemed different from the other photos of this family.

It didn’t take long for me to discover the story.  This is a family photo taken just before Frederick William Ellis departed for Tasmania as a missionary for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

The noteworthy detail?  Frederick is the father of this big family.  He was asked by his church leaders to leave his family and serve a mission.  He agreed to go.  His family supported him.  They were proud of him.  He served faithfully from October 1893 until May 1896.  Two and one half years away from his family.

Frederick and his wife Susan Kaziah Davis are my 2nd great grandparents.  I descend from their son Claude Albert Ellis.  Claude was just 3 years and 3 months old when his father left.  He is the little one holding his mother’s hand.  He is also the father of the Grandma whose boxes I just received.  That Grandma is the person who wrote each name beneath the photo.  She was also proud of her grandparent’s sacrifice.

During RootsTech, the Church History Department for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints announced a new database, Early Mormon Missionaries.  I checked the database for Frederick’s missionary service and found his entry here.  Do you have any early Mormon Missionaries in your family?


Still Here!

Carter & Harrison, bear lake, 2014

My little fellas, Bear Lake, 28 June 2014

I’ve been itching to get back to my blog – there are so many things I have to say, and so little time!  Here are a few of the big genealogy things that have been on my mind:

  • I created a fabulous mini book for our family reunion to help the great grandchildren learn more about our family.  It was awesome!  And even better, the kids loved it and worked on it.
  • Facebook groups for genealogy – which are your favorites?  They can be great and well, not so great.
  • FamilySearch indexing day was amazing.  I’m so impressed with their final numbers!  My two teenagers participated.  Can I just say I was completely surprised?  It turns out my 13 year old is pretty excellent at deciphering old handwriting.  Now I just need to figure out how to get him actually interested…  Did you join the fun?
  • Today is Pioneer Day.  I have lots of Mormon Pioneers in my tree.  Today is a tender day for me as I consider the many hardships they endured.  Last night my 13 year old offered our family prayer.  Among other things he said, “Please help us to remember the real meaning of Pioneer Day.”  Such a sweet moment for my mother heart.  I love this quote – “Can we somehow muster the courage and steadfastness of purpose that characterized the pioneers of a former generation?  Can you and I, in actual fact, be pioneers [today]?”  – Thomas S. Monson.  Do you have any Mormon Pioneers in your tree?
  • I have one more LARGE family reunion this summer.  I am one of the three people in charge.  I need to come up with some sort of activity, some family history type activity.  I have a few ideas brewing…
  • Who Do You Think You Are? started back up!  My favorite show.  Do you watch?
  • My family and I have discovered a new {to us} show on Netflix – Alaska The Last Frontier.  I am in love with this show because I have three generations in my family that were involved with homesteads in Alaska.  There were two homesteads, one was completed, one was not.  The one that was completed was started by my 3rd great grandfather Henry Hyde.  He died before it was completed so his wife Alice Whiteley Hyde completed it without him.  Watching this show has really opened my eyes to how difficult life is in Alaska.  I am gaining new respect and admiration for this part of my family with every episode I watch.

I’m still here, soaking up every bit of genealogy goodness I can find in the world.  See you in a few weeks!


Ancestor Story – Lyman Stoddard Skeen – 52 Ancestors

Lyman Stoddard Skeen

Lyman Stoddard Skeen is my 3rd great grandfather.  He was born 18 December 1850 in Keg Creek, Pottawatomie, Iowa to Joseph Skeen and Maria Amanda Dolby.  Joseph and Maria were both born in Pennsylvania.  In 1839 they joined the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  After their baptism they took their young family and moved several times with the other members of their new church eventually settling in present day Lehi, Utah.  Lyman was born during their westward migration.

At the tender age of four, Lyman’s mother died.  Eight months later his father remarried Rhoda Sanford.  In March of 1859 the Skeen family moved to Plain City, Weber, Utah where Lyman would live the remainder of his life.  He was a farmer and also worked in the construction of both irrigation canals and railroads.  He gave much of his time to public service.

Lyman married Electa Philomelia Dixon in Salt Lake City in the year 1870.  Together they had eleven children.  Electa died in 1891 and in 1892 Lyman married Annie Skelton.  Lyman and Annie had eight children.  That’s 19 children in all folks – 19!  I descend from Lyman and Electa’s son Joseph Skeen.

Lyman died at mid-day, the 4th of April 1933 in Ogden, Weber, Utah.


Ancestor Story – Peter “B” Peterson – 52 Ancestors

Peter B & Ann Powell Peterson FamilyPeter B & Ann Powell Peterson Family – back row, l-r: Margaret Elizabeth Peterson, Thomas William Peterson, John David Peterson, front row, l-r: Hans Christian Peterson, Ann Powell Peterson, Peter B Peterson, Mary Ann Peterson, & Peter Powell Peterson

Peter B Peterson is my 3rd great grandfather.  Let me tell you about him.

Peter was born 11 January 1841 in Denmark.  I have been fascinated by him for years.  He is the first Peterson, of my line, to come to America.  He came alone at the age of 18 traveling by ship, steamer and then handcart to Utah.  He was a hard working man who was dedicated to his family, faith and community.

A history of his life was complied by one of his granddaughters-in-law.  From it come these stories that I love:

“Peter worked in Salt Lake City until the spring of 1861 when he traveled north to Farmington, Davis County. Here he worked four years for a Mr. Anson Call. It was a happy day for Peter when he was reunited with his father, mother and two brothers Hans and Christian at Farmington. (1862) Lars was unable to come at this time because of military service, but followed his family to America as soon as he was discharged.”

“About this time {early spring 1869} he met Ann Powell, daughter of Bishop Thomas and Margaret Powell of Marriott, Weber County, Utah, but it was quite a challenge to court the young lady. At that time there was no bridge across the Weber River, so Peter would remove his clothing and swim his horse across, holding his bundle of clothing high over his head to keep it dry. Upon reaching the opposite side, he would dress quickly, hidden by the willows growing on the banks and then proceed to the Powell residence. Neither could converse in English. She was Welsh and he was Danish, but as he said, “We know we loved each other.” They were married December 12, 1870.”

“In the winter he cut blocks of ice from the river and stored them in sawdust in a special ice-house for use during the hot summer months. It is said that one hot summer day a woman stopped on her way home from Ogden. She had been riding in a wagon facing the sun and was almost overcome by the heat. She said, “Oh Bishop Peterson, may I have a little piece of ice.” He gave her a nice block to take home.”

“Peter B. was a good husband and father and tried to give his children every advantage possible. In his autobiography he said, “I have aimed to give my children as good an education as means and circumstances would permit.” To do this he sold several acres of his land and mortgaged his farm paying 8% interest. He paid this off and kept his place clear. He also purchased additional land so that eventually he owned one hundred forty acres. His sons all attended Brigham Young University at Provo. Peter Powell, the second son attended Stanford University for two years and received his masters degree. He then taught at the B.Y.U. for two years, then became Principal of the Oneida Stake Academy at Preston, Idaho. He left the academy to attend the University of Chicago and received his Ph.D. He then taught first in a Wisconsin University and later at Moscow, Idaho University. Hans became principal of Davis County High School. John David was the athlete of the family and while attending B.Y.U. played on the main team in quarterback position. He was a star player and was carried down the street on the shoulders of his classmates after a victorious game. Thomas William fulfilled a mission to California. He attended B.Y.U. for two to three seasons. Peter B. and his brother, Hans, would take the young people in a covered wagon from Ogden to Provo and with them supplies to care for them the greater part of the school season. The daughters, too, were not left out. Margaret Elizabeth attended the B.Y.U. for two years prior to her marriage. While attending this school she roomed with some of President Joseph Fielding Smith’s daughters. The youngest daughter, Mary Ann, attended Weber Stake Academy.”

“Both Peter B. and his wife, Ann, suffered strokes. His legs were involved so that he was confined to a wheel chair for three years. Ann’s left side was paralyzed and she, too, was confined to a wheel chair for eight years before her death. But, sweethearts to the end, he would sit and hold her hand as they sat in their wheel chairs side by side.”

Outline of Peter “B” Peterson’s life:

  • Born – 11 January 1842 in Bjørup, Systofte, Falsters Sønderherred, Maribo, Denmark.
  • Baptized – 1858 into the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the first in his family.
  • Departed for America – 20 March 1859, alone.
  • Reunited with his parents and two of his brothers in 1862.
  • Married – 12 December 1870, in Salt Lake, Salt Lake, Utah, USA  to Ann Powell, together they had 8 children.
  • Died – 3 December 1916 in Kanesville, Weber, Utah, USA.

A few details about Peter:

  • It is said that he added the “B” to his name to help distinguish him from the many other Peter Petersons.
  • He was 6 feet tall, had brown hair, very blue eyes and wore a beard.
  • He served as a Bishop in his church for 22 years.
  • He play an instrumental part in getting a Post Office in Kanesville, Utah.
  • He helped petition the county court for a school district.  The school was built just east of his home and the first teacher roomed with his family.
  • He believed in water conservation and water rights and chose to serve on the board of the Wilson Canal Company.
  • He served two terms as a Justice of the Peace.
The entire text of the history of Peter B. Peterson can be found here.


Ancestor Story – Louise Maria Austin Cheney – 52 Ancestors

Louise Maria AustinLouise Maria Austin – about 1858 – age 20

Louise Maria Austin is my 3rd great grandmother.  Let me tell you about her.

Louise Maria Austin

  • Born – 21 June 1838, Suffield, Hartford, Connecticut.
  • Sailed – 1846, on the Ship Brooklyn from New York City around Cape Horn to Yerba Buena (San Fransisco).
  • Wagon Train – 1848, traveled from California to the Salt Lake Valley with the Ebenezer Brown Company.
  • Baptized – about 1849, into The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  (I am suspicious of the accuracy of this date.)
  • Married – 12 April 1860, to Joseph Thompson Cheney in Farmington, Davis, Utah.
  • Mother of 8 children.
  • Widowed – 30 September 1897.
  • Died – 26 April 1927, Laketown, Rich, Utah.

Things I wonder about Grandma Louise and her life:

  • Did she find her great ocean voyage exciting, frightening, adventurous, boring, all of those?
  • What challenges did the wagon company face?  She was so young for both of these journeys.
  • She made several moves after she was married.  A few of them are only briefly mentioned.  I wonder what prompted them to move and then ultimately move back to the Bear Lake Valley.
  • Has any of her handwork survived?  I would love to see anything she made.
  • How did she get by for the last 30 years of her life as a widow in a harsh mountain town?

Louise’s oldest daughter Delina wrote a history about her mother.  Within the text are these gems:

“Mother had a vivid recollection of their home in the East (Connecticut) and it’s surroundings of the patches of cranberries she went with her mother to pick, and of the school that she attended two winters before leaving there. The school was only of three months duration each year, but she acquired the rudiments of reading and writing there in the little school that was quite a distance from her home. She said she had to walk and the winters were cold with snow on the ground.”

Of the voyage on the Ship Brooklyn, “Mother remembered very distinctly the voyage on the ocean of five months and twenty seven days duration, the terrific storms they encountered, once they were hatched below the storm was so terrific, the women and children were lashed to their berths at night for in no other way could they keep them in.”

“After arriving at San Francisco-then Yerba Buena-the family were in sore straits for means of subsistence as were nearly all of the Saints who were passengers on the Brooklyn. Mother with her parents and two brothers went to live in the old Mexican barracks to work and do whatever they could for a livelihood. The Mexicans and soldiers were good to them, mother said if it had not been for the kindness of these people they surely would have gone hungry many times. It was while there that the Spanish girls taught mother to speak their language, which she spoke quite fluently, they also taught her to dance to their sweet music, she said she could waltz for several minutes with a glass of water on her head without spilling a drop of it.”

After she was married to Joseph Thompson Cheney, they first made their home in Centerville, Utah.  “In the summer of 1865 mother with her husband and children moved to Paris Idaho, where father built a two room log house. One room had shingle roof and a rough board floor. The other room had a dirt roof and dirt floor, here the family lived for over two years.”

“In Paris, Idaho-then Utah-their third daughter Hattie Margaret was born. In the spring of 1867 they moved to Swan Creek where they remained for six months coming back to Laketown in May 1868. In Nov 1869, Father and Mother and three daughters went to San Jose California where father worked on a farm until May 1870.  They returned to Laketown and their first son, Joseph Austin was born. In 1872 their fourth daughter, Della Maude was born in the old log building that was later used for a store, at present it is used for a granary. A two room frame building was built to provide more room for the family, here their second son Clarence E. was born. The last house father built was an adobe one. The home now stands on the old place here their two youngest children Claude Leroy and Blanche Lenore were born.”

“Mother made butter and cheese to sell to increase the family income she also made gloves from buckskins she bought from the Indinas that were tanned and smoked by them, some of them she colored with green tea and other dyes then she cut and made gloves for men from the heavier skins, and made gauntlets of real beaver fur, those gloves she could sell for $5 per pair. Some she made with leands of buckskin at the top that she sold for less. Some of the finer and softer skins she made into gloves for women, these she ornamented with stitching and flowers on the backs of the gloves with bright colored silk floss, usually she could sell them for a fair price. Besides she spun many poinds of fine yarn that she knit into socks and stockings for her family, she also spun yarn for cloth to make our clothing, and wool sheeting for our beds in winter. Then she washed considerable wool which she carded and made into bats for quilts and comforters. Later in life she made a number of pretty pieced quilts, some of them for her children and grandchildren. She also did quite a lot of fine needle work and embroidery on pillow slips, towels and sofa cushion covers also other articles.”

“Mother lived a long and eventful life in which there were many changes. Many inventions were perfected in her day and many conveniences were brought into the homes by electric power, but the one she deeply appreciated was electric lights; she had made tallow candles for light, and had used the better lights made by kerosene lamps but was thrilled when she could have electric lights in her home.”

“Mother was stricken with erysipelas in the left arm five weeks before her death from which she suffered terribly. She died April 26, 1927 and was buried in Laketown, Rich Co. Utah. She was 88 years, 10 months and 14 days old. At the time of her death, she was survived by a half brother, Philo Austin, and seven children; Delina, Hattie, Joseph, Dalla, Clarence, Claude and Blanche. Also 25 grand-children and 6 great grand-children.”

Louise Maria Austin, older

The full text of the history of Louise Maria Austin Cheney written by her daughter can be found here.

Do you have any Mormon Pioneers in your tree?  How did they travel?