Hay view from Castle

Hay view from Castle
Hay-on-Wye, Powys (formerly Breconshire), Wales. The "Town of Books" (and Vaughans!)

Sunday, September 2, 2018

A Visit to the Vaughan Home in Cusop, Church Cottage

Skipping dinner was no sacrifice for me. I had a car hire for just a few days. There was no gap in the tour schedule, so I just took off when I could. We were already in Merthyr, so I just headed over the Beacons past Brecon and on to the Wye, up the backside of Hay, and into Cusop Village.

The Cusop History Group had already provided some good evidence of the location of Cusop Green and the only house there in the 1830s is the only house there now, Church Cottage, across from the lower corner of St. Mary's churchyard. This is very likely where John and Elinor Vaughan lived in the 1810s-1820s. Several of their children were likely born there. Possibly, that included John Vaughan (1825) in my direct line of fathers' fathers.

Church Cottage, Cusop Green, Cusop, Herefordshire

Wednesday, August 1, 2018

Isabella Bowman and Thomas Vaughan Connections in County Durham, England

Please note "5-mile" scale in key. This area is not large.
So I've been researching a bunch of ancestral sites for people going on our tour in a couple of weeks. I realized there is still a lot more work to be done for our own people.

Still kicking myself for not going north with my Aunt and Dad's Cousin in 2010, I will try to get there next summer. In the meanwhile, I am tracing Thomas and Isabella Vaughan who joined with the LDS Church in Stockton, County Durham in the early 1880s leaving for America in 1886 and 1887 respectively.

The 1871 Census finds Thomas still in South Wales working in his father's profession as a puddler in the ironworks of Abersychan. His first appearance is his marriage to Isabella Bowman in the Register Office, not a church, in Bishop Auckland, County Durham, England on the Third of August, 1875. They both gave their residence as Blue Row, which I assume was their first home. Sadly, Blue Row no longer exists. I did find an old picture of what it looked like:

Blue Row, South of Bishop Auckland, 1950s (from Facebook page on Bishop Auckland History)

Friday, June 1, 2018

An Apostle's Family Forged in Welsh Iron

Albert Ernest Bowen (1875-1953). LDS Apostle 1937.
Albert E. Bowen is not one of the big names in LDS Church leadership. He was a serious-minded, hard-working man. He appears to be best remembered and quoted in LDS General Conference for his teachings on Self-Reliance and the Church Welfare Program. He wrote a booklet entitled "Constancy Amid Change" that was updated in the 1980s as well as authoring a Sunday School course of study, "The Church Welfare Plan."

One of the more recent General Conference quotes attributed to Elder Bowen was in an address by Elder J. Thomas Fyans in 1982:
The only way the Church can stand independent is for its members to stand independent, for the Church IS its members. It is not possible to conceive of an independent Church made up of dependent members—members who are under the inescapable obligation of dependency. The Lord must want and intend that His people shall be free of constraint whether enforceable or only arising out of the bindings of conscience. It is not believed that any person or people can live from gratuities—rely upon them for means of subsistence and remain wholly free in thought, motive and action. History seems to record no such instance. That is why the Church is concerned that its members, who have physical and mental capacity to do so, shall render service commensurate with their capacities for aid extended. That is why the Church is not satisfied with any system which leaves able people permanently dependent, and insists, on the contrary, that the true function and office of giving is to help people into a position where they can help themselves and thus be free.
Elder Bowen knew a lot about self-reliance. Born on a farm near Samaria, Idaho, he worked hard in his youth. He spent a harsh winter with a brother homesteading a parcel of land in Star Valley, Wyoming. His mother, Annie Shackelton Bowen (1840-1929) shared her love of books and learning and Albert did well in school, served a mission in Switzerland and Germany, and studied law at the University of Chicago. He excelled in the practice of law and business in Cache Valley and Salt Lake City, Utah. He was called to be an Apostle by President Heber J. Grant in 1937.

What interests me is that his father was David Bowen (1837-1910), born in Blaenavon, Monmouthshire, Wales. He traveled to Utah in the Ellsworth Handcart Company in 1856 along with my 4th Great Grandmother, Eleanor Jenkins Vaughan (1789-1861). The Bowens and Vaughans must have known each other.

Sunday, May 27, 2018

Traveling the Seminoe Cutoff on the Overland Trail to South Pass

The Wyoming State Historical Preservation Office (WSHPO, pronounced "Wyoming Shipo") and historians with the LDS Church interpreting the Devil's Gate/Martin's Cove area on the Overland Trail in Wyoming, have established that it was Charles (1812-1865), not his brother Basil LeJeunesse (1814-1846), who was known as "Seminoe" and established the fort at Devil's Gate.

These brothers were amazing as most Mountain Men were. They all knew each other; Basil traveling with Kit Carson and John C. Fremont's mapping expeditions. Basil was killed by Modocs at Klamath Lake. Charles abandoned his post at Devil's Gate in 1855 due to troubles with the Cheyennes. Cheyennes killed Charles in 1865 at Clark's Fork, Yellowstone. His half-Shoshone sons took their vengence by killing Cheyenne Chief, High Backed Wolf.

Generally aware of the Handcart stories, I knew there was a ramshackle trading post at Devil's Gate that served as a shelter in the miserable winter of 1856-57 for those guarding the freight emptied from the wagons to carry some of the handcart pioneers of the Willie and Martin companies to Salt Lake City. In the past couple of years, I also became aware that the earlier and more successful handcart companies of that year took the Seminoe Cutoff. It was only two weeks ago that I managed to put the two together to understand it was this "Seminoe" guy who explored the cutoff that saved some trouble for my handcart ancestors and had established the fort/trading post at Devil's Gate.

A portion of the archeological site with the reconstructed fort right next to it. And Devil's Gate behind.
Looking up the Sweetwater Valley from the original site of Seminoe's Fort. Martin's Cove is to the right.
Split Rock can be seen in the far distance.

Thursday, May 10, 2018

Likely Vaughan House in Cusop

Forget the Thirty Acres!

Church Cottage, across the road and Cusop Green from St. Mary's Church, Cusop, Herefordshire
The Google view from the other direction. St. Mary's Church is on the right. The church car park is right behind this view.

Sunday, April 15, 2018

Cymru, March 2018 XVII, The Final Adventure

This is the last post on my recent trip. I returned with a few good books for me to continue the intellectual adventures. One was a great survey of politics, social life, religion, and war (of course) in Medieval Wales:

A good read!
Reading along, I came across a person named Rhys Gryg. I said to myself, "I know that guy!" Well, at least I discovered his castle. And I'm getting ahead of myself in this story.

My old college professor and again my mentor for new adventures in historical travel sent me an email while I was still in Wales. He wanted help in finding a location of an ancestral farm of one of the individuals signed up for our Wales/Scotland tour coming up in August. It was in Carmarthenshire.

Great! I hadn't yet been to Carmarthen, the city of Merlin ("Caer Merddyn" in Welsh meaning "Merlin's Fort or Castle") It would be easy to swing by the town after I found the farm.

And I did find it way up on the highlands above Carmarthen. 

My question is: How did Mormon Missionaries ever find this place in the 1840s?

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Cymru, March 2018 XVI, We're Still Here!

It rained and I didn't care. There was more to see and do, especially the Good Friday "fireside" at the Merthyr Stake Center. Until that evening, I was off schedule with much to do.

Starting at the Valley of the Rhiangoll, or Cwmdu, just above Tretower, I needed to stop and photograph the standing stone. There is one in the middle of that valley that I could never see because it forms part of a hedgerow and is covered in greenery during the summer. I thought I had seen it as I drove by on the narrow highway up that valley. At Tretower they told me I should just stop at a farm gate and walk along the highway to take photos.

It actually worked. Even on that narrow highway, the fast drivers slow down for pedestrians. There isn't much shoulder to walk on, less to park on, but I did find a farm gate and parked only halfway in a ditch. And I got it!

Well over two meters, it is higher and produces that bump in the hedgerow to look for.