Gift Idea #24 – Walk in Their Shoes

idea numbers24I had the opportunity this past summer to “walk in the shoes” of my great-great-grandmother, Mary Taylor. She was member of one of the handcart companies that got caught unprepared for early winter storms in 1856. At Martin’s Cove they have everything all set up to experience a little of what it was like for Mary Taylor and learn more about her experiences.

A great gift for a family would be to plan a trip to one of the many historic places that are set up to help us experience and understand a bit about the history of the past. Several year ago we had the chance to visit Plimoth Plantation, which has a pilgrim village set up along with an Indian village. It was very interesting but if I had gone with a specific ancestor in mind it would have been more meaningful.

So do a little research and find a place that can teach you about what life was like for one or more of your ancestors. Then plan a family trip. Before you go take the opportunity to learn more about that person. A trip like this can be a wonderful opportunity. Here are a few links to get you started. I think you will find more information with a more focused search.

List of Historical Reenactment Groups

Living History

Living History Sites

 

 

This Week in 1856 – Martin’s Cove – Mary Taylor

From John Jacques:

The great object now was, to save as many of the people as possible, to which everything else must give way, and the lives of the people depended in great degree, on the lives of the teams so it was essential to spare the animals all unnecessary labor.

Under this arrangement, the company started from Devil’s Gate, westward, and about three miles away, crossed the Sweetwater to the north side, and camped at a place, since known as Martin’s Ravine.

It is not exactly a ravine, but a recess, or opening in the mountains, which here ran along near the river. The passage of the Sweetwater at this point, was a severe operation to many of the company. It was the worst river crossing of the expedition. It was the last ford that the emigrants waded over. The water was not less than two feet deep, perhaps a little more in the deepest parts, but it was intensely cold. The ice was three or four inches thick, and the bottom of the river, muddy or sandy. I forget exactly how wide the stream was there, but I think thirty or forty yards. It seemed a good deal wider than that to those who pulled their handcarts through it. Before the crossing was completed, the shades of evening were closing around, and, as everybody knows, that is the coldest hour of the twenty-four, or at least it seems to be so, in a frosty time, and it seemed so then, for cold enough it was.

From Samuel Openshaw:

We traveled about two miles, crossed over the Sweetwater,  some on the ice and others waded through, which was about 3 1/2 feet deep. James Lord and myself pulled the handcart across the creek. The women and children were all carried across by some of the brethren who had come from the valley.

From John Jacques:

The teams, wagons, handcarts, and some of the men forded the river. A son of Heber C. Kimball, and a son of George D. Grant, and I believe several others of the relief party, waded the river, helping the handcarts through, and carrying the women and children, and some of the weaker of the men over. If I were certain of the names of all those brave waders, I would insert them here.

The handcart company rested in Martin’s ravine two or three or more days, though under the shelter of the northern mountains, it was a cold place. One night, the gusty wind blew over a number of the tents, and it was with difficulty some of the emigrants kept from freezing.

At length, preparations having been completed for a final start from Devil’s Gate and vicinity, the handcart company left the ravine. The precise date I cannot give, but I think it must have been about the 19th of November.  I cannot remember the handcarts after leaving the ravine, and my impression is that none were taken from there, but some persons of the company think that a few carts were taken along several days longer.

Be that as it may, by this time, there was a sufficiency of wagons to take in most, if not all, of the baggage of the company, and to carry some of the people.

It was a trying time, that day in leaving the ravine. One perplexing difficulty was to determine who should ride, for many must still walk, though, so far as I recollect, and certainly for most of the company, the cart pulling occupation was gone. There was considerable crying of women and children, and perhaps a few of the men, whom the wagons could not accommodate with a ride. One of the relief party remarked that in all the mobbings and drivings of the “Mormons” he had seen nothing like it. Cyrus H. Wheelock could scarcely refrain from shedding tears, and he declared that he would willingly give his own life if that would save the lives of the emigrants.

After a time, a start was effected and the march was recommenced along the valley of the Sweetwater, toward the setting sun.

From Samuel Openshaw:

Having to leave all the flour that it was thought we could do without [to supply the 20 men staying behind with the freight etc.] until we should meet a fresh supply from the valley, we now realized that such low rations and our bodily strength having been so much reduced by our former privations, and being such cold and inclement weather, a great many died. However, we made another start, some with bundles on their backs, a number of others would join together and put them on a handcart. Some would be crying, others singing, and thus went trudging along as best we could.

According to family tradition Mary’s mother, Harriet Taylor, died and was buried in Martin’s Cove on November 10th with just brush and snow as a covering because the ground was frozen too hard to dig a decent grave. Now it was Mary was alone with Cousin Eliza having lost her first her father, than her husband and now her mother.

50 for 50 – #28 Martin’s Cove

 

Mark, Daedre, Eric, Noreen, Raelyn & Bill

This week I got to do something I’ve wanted to for a long time, go to Martin’s Cove. It seemed the perfect way to celebrate my 50th year by honoring my great-great grandmother. There was just a small group of my family there with me, my sister and one cousin plus our spouses from my generation. My nephew was the only participant from the next generation. We had the best participation from my mom’s generation with her and one sister and one brother, plus their spouses. It seemed especially important to get my mom there to see the Cove. At 89 it is hard to think that she has many years left to do outing like this. I was very proud of my mom for coming even though she didn’t know how she would be able to take part.

My Mom in a hat from one of her ancestors

At first we were planning to get one of the rickshaws to take her to the Cove, but they were all out. But there was an even better solution. They have a couple of rovers that they can take people out to the Cove and either drop them off or bring them back. So my parents and my Uncle Sid and his wife Katherine took the rover to the cove overlook.

Treking to Martin’s Cove

My Aunt Lucy and her husband Jack were the only ones of the older generation to brave camping out and walking with the handcart. Lucy even helped push it from behind. It was rather hot and by the time we got to handcart parking, the heat was taking its toll on Lucy. But soon after we got there the rover came up with the rest of the older folks. So they unloaded and Lucy and Jack to the rover up to the Cove Overlook.

Sid, Katherine, Ray and Iris in the rover

Another cool thing that happened was the missionary who ended up driving the rover for our family was also from Rexburg, Idaho and my parents and Aunt Lucy knew him. Jacob, my nephew was also done with treking so we left him at handcart parking with my parents, while those of my generation started the walk up into Martin’s Cove. No handcarts are allowed in the Cove and we learned that the man who owned the land for many, many years never farmed or developed the land in the cove in any way.

In Martin’s Cove

The Cove has a peaceful, reverent feeling and as we walked we reflected on Mary Taylor and her family and the hardships they experienced here. It wasn’t hard to imagine the pioneers camped out along the Cove. It is shaped like a horseshoe with a high area in the middle. The 500 or so people would have been spread out along the Cove. We saw many antelope in the general area of Martin’s Cove but only one deer. That was well up into the Cove. Daedre got the impression that that was where Mary Taylor was camped. I was struck by a spot a little further up the Cove where several patches of purple wild flowers made the spot especially beautiful and peaceful. I’m so glad I got to go to Martin’s Cove and to experience this historical place with some of my family.

 

 

 

 

Martin’s Cove Journal – Finished

Here are my finished journals for our family reunion in Martin’s Cove. On my prototype I used some scraps of mat board. But to keep the project on a tight budget mat board wasn’t practical for the real thing. I thought about chipboard but when I stopped at Hobby Lobby to see what they had I didn’t find any sheets of chipboard. What I did find was a package of 80# cardstock on clearance in neutral colors. It has some texture with coordinating core designed for sanding to make it look more rustic.

I cut the 12″x12″ sheet to 6″x8.5″ – two for each journal. Then using my wire binder punched holes in the journals and the covers. I didn’t want to use the usual wire to bind it together because I was looking for a more rustic, old-fashioned look. So I dug into my yard scraps and using a darning needle put the yarn through the punched holes is a criss-cross pattern and then tied a bow. I also tore the edge of the right edge of the front cover. I will have coordinating colored pencils at the reunion so that family members can personalize the cover of their journal if they would like.

I’m happy with how this project turned out. I kept it from getting too complicated (one of my challenges) and I kept it from getting too expensive to execute (another challenge). I hope that my family enjoys their journals and that the journals help them to connect with Mary Taylor in a new and more meaningful way.

My Current Projects: goals and progress

Is it Monday already? Where did last week go? Oh, I know the new puppy (Zodiac) took all of it.

Mother’s Day Project: Infographic inspired sheet about the mother’s in my life.

Due Date: May 13th

I got one done for my mom. I’ll post about it this week, probably tomorrow.

  • 8 x 10 frames
  • info on Bill’s mom
  • print
  • frame
  • wrap

If I don’t get the info I need for Bill’s mom before Mother’s Day I think I could show her what I’m doing and she could help me figure out what she would like on her sheet.

In the Navy – Key West Chapter: project about my dad’s 20 years in the U.S. Navy. The priority is the chapter on Key West so he can pass it on to the Under Water Swimmer School website to include in their history page.

Due Date: asap but no hurry either

  • Listen to audio tape & transcribe

No progress here. Procrastination and Zodiac are my only excuses

Mary: a small (7×7) book about Mary Taylor’s childhood and her journey to the Salt Lake Valley with the Martin Handcart Company for children under 12 to learn about their pioneer ancestor.

Due Date: flexible – would love to have at least a draft for July Reunion

  • write text
  • get illustrations from Kim

I took a thumb drive to Kim but she was sick so I haven’t gotten the first illustration yet, but I did leave her a check. I figure it is good to pay her as she completes each illustration.

Journal for Martin’s Cove Reunion: a half sheet size journal to help make the trek experience at Martin’s Cove more meaningful. Have time line of handcart company with info about Mary Taylor and her family along with space for journaling and possible adding photos or sketches.

Due Date: July 2012

  • Decide on Binding – in process
  • Logo for Reunion
  • edits – waiting for mom to proof read

Still on hold. My mom is coming down this week so I’ll check with her on proof reading.

Goals for this week:

  1. Finish Mother’s Day Project
  2. Continue transcribing “Key West”
  3. Improvements to my Blog site

The big challenge I have this week is figuring out how to get things done with a new puppy on board. How do you deal with new changes to your life and still get things done? This is an ongoing struggle for me and I have to find better ways to tackle the goals and projects of my life.

My Generations Project – Mary Taylor

Mary Taylor

I’m in the middle of my first Generation Project. I am focusing on my great-great-grandmother, Mary Taylor.The first step of a Generation Project is to find your why. Here are the questions that the producers of The Generations Project have:

  • What do you spend a lot of time thinking about?
  • What do you hope will happen to you in the next year or two?
  • Tell us a story about a life changing experience.
  • What is the biggest challenge you’re facing in your life now?

As I’ve worked thought these question and pondered I’ve decided that the challenge I want/need the most help with now is with the Telling Family Tales web site. I really want this blog to be meaningful. I have a vision of it being a place where all or at least most of the resources that someone wanting to record and keep family stories can come to learn what they need to complete their project. This feels like an overwhelming tasks and I don’t know if I can do it. But I want to. I’ve wanted to do something to help others be more effective in telling their family stories for many years. Then a few months ago the idea of a gathering place of not just what I have done but others information too developed in my mind and that seemed to make so much sense.This idea will take a long time to really develop and I worry if I have what it takes to make it a reality. I’ve taken a few small steps, but for me starting is the easy part. I have much more trouble with staying on task and completing a project.

My great-great-grandmother survived through some really tough stuff and found ways to thrive. I want to find that same kind of strength in me. So there is my why. I’ll post about step two – populate your tree next week.

In the meantime as part of my upcoming Martin’s Cove experience I started sending out emails to those in my family who coming about important dates along Mary’s journey from England to Salt Lake City. I’m going to a series of short posts called 156 years ago today to go along with those emails. I hope you enjoy them.

What are your biggest challenges? Are you thinking about doing a Generations Project too?

My Current Projects: goals and progress

Another Monday and time to account for my work last week.

In the Navy – Key West Chapter: project about my dad’s 20 years in the U.S. Navy. The priority is the chapter on Key West so he can pass it on to the Under Water Swimmer School website to include in their history page.

Due Date: asap

  • Listen to audio tape & transcribe

I didn’t progress like I hoped I would but at least I got something done. I put all the photos I have from Key West on my parents Kindle. Now my dad can look at the photos and record information about them. I think I’m a bit intimidated by the thought of transcribing an audio tape. I haven’t had to tackle this before. I just need to get started on it and over come my procrastination.

Journal for Martin’s Cove Reunion: a half sheet size journal to help make the trek experience at Martin’s Cove more meaningful. Have time line of handcart company with info about Mary Taylor and her family along with space for journaling and possible adding photos or sketches.

Due Date: July 2012

  • Decide on Binding – in process
  • Logo for Reunion
  • edits – waiting for mom to proof read

As I reported in another post I gave the proof copy to my mom to check over for mistakes. I’ll probably let this project rest until I hear back from her.

Mary: a small (7×7) book about Mary Taylor’s childhood and her journey to the Salt Lake Valley with the Martin Handcart Company for children under 12 to learn about their pioneer ancestor.

Due Date: flexible – would love to have at least a draft for July Reunion

  • write text
  • get illustrations from Kim

Nothing done on this last week other than giving my mom a copy of the outline. I feel like I should do some more reading about the Martin Handcart company before I try to tackle the narrative. Also until Kim gets a few of the illustrations done there is no pressing need.

Goals for this week:

So this week I’m going to dig into the Key West project and give it my focus.

  1. Start transcribing “Key West”
  2. Explore more binding options for “Martin’s Cove Journal”
  3. Check with Kim on “Mary”

Although I didn’t get to the Key West transcribing last week I did do another task that has been on my  list for a long, long time, cleaning up my hard drives. Even though it isn’t directly working on family stories it will help as I look for things and save new projects. Over the last few years I ended up with 4 different hard drives with info. My main computer was in good order but the other three drives were a mess, with stuff scattered everywhere. It could still use some more organizing with in some of the folders but at least now all the history stuff is in one place as well as all the photos. Plus I have a plan for where everything needs to go.

What tactics do you use to keep all the info in you life in order? I work hard at being organized but with varying success so I’m always open to new ideas.