Hay view from Castle

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

Friday, December 5, 2014

Llanfoist and the End of the World

This was just to good to pass up. From the Monmouthshire Merlin, 9 September 1843:


I will have to add this to my "History of LDS Church in Llanfoist" page.

Monday, December 1, 2014

Llanfoist Tithes, Page 9: Now Indexed for John Vaughan

Let's hope the Centerville South Stake meets its Family Search Indexing Goals without me. I did my few hundred (Brazilians, off the Rio de Janeiro Registro Civil). Now I'm obsessed with the tithing maps from Archives Wales, that is Archifau Cymraeg, y Prosiect Cynefin. I love fixing the data points to link the old maps to the modern. I did one from Llanieu, close by Talgarth and Glasbury and really difficult because it was up the side of the Black Mountain.

Here's what the indexing part looks like from Llanfoist:

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Chapel House, Likely Vaughan Home in Llanfoist

Thanks to Twitter at: Archives Wales retweeted
New tithe maps website
I just did the coolest thing!

The Welsh National Archives are asking for our help to index and orient the tithe maps of Wales from the 1840s! I was able to locate several data points that matched a modern Ordnance Survey map with the 1843 Tithe map for Llanfoist, Monmouthshire! (By the way, I also learned that Welsh spelling for Llanfoist is Llanffwyst. It makes a difference.) You can see my work here. Click on "visualize" and you will see the overlay based on my data points.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

A Probable (and Positive) Elinor Sighting

First, I need to lay out why I am convinced that Elinor Jenkins Vaughan, Jane Vaughan Lewis, and her son John Samuel Lewis ended up in Jacks Valley, Nevada. It was by following at least three of the "Five Jolly Welshman" to the gold and silver fields of the Sierras. John James, appearing to be one of the five, ended up in Genoa near modern-day Carson City, Nevada (back then it was still Utah).

So, naturally I looked at the 1860 Census for the area:


Please note that this is still Utah Territory, but more importantly, the date of the census was supposed to be "as of June 1" (see column no. 3), but this census was not taken until September 28th. This evidences the general governmental disarray in the area as we have previously discussed.

Now, look at the entries for the "Johns" Family:

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Another Beautiful and Possible Grave Site for Elinor


Free use courtesy of Jim Herman - Many thanks!
Elinor Jenkins Vaughan could be here! We know that her daughter died and was buried in Jacks Valley - also in an unmarked grave. It is very likely that Elinor was too. The earliest grave identified in this beautiful cemetery is from 1860. There is plenty of space and apparent mounds for lost grave sites.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

John Lewis & the Gold Country

We still do not understand the "why" of John's and Jane Vaughan Lewis's separation. We know that he was interested in mining because of his letter to Brigham Young and he may have been discouraged by the response. And it seems pretty clear that John did go to the gold fields in California, was drafted into the Union Army, and returned to the gold fields and the saloon business after the Civil War. Then, his death seems well-documented and a match with the right person in the right place.

The geography helps along with the National Park Service map for the California National Historic Trail. Remember that John first reappeared in Bridgeport, Nevada County, California. (And that's a different place than Bridgeport in Mono County, California.)

There were several trails over the Sierras as there were through the Great Basin. There were many bad choices because there was no good one. Yet please note that there is a direct route from Mormon Station (Genoa), Nevada to the Sacramento Valley. Follow No. 7, the Georgetown/Daggett Pass Trail to No. 5, the Georgetown Trail, and you end up in . . . Georgetown, just a few miles south of Bridgeport.

California Trail, GPO 2008-339-126/80149 Reprint 2006

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

The Lost Mormons of Carson Valley

Genoa (Mormon Station), Nevada, Pioneer Cemetery
There is another tempting title for this, "Journey to Genoa" that has already been used for a highly fictionalized novel of some of the pioneer people of this area, including my family. It isn't very well written in a literary sense. Most of the entertainment value comes from the whoppers of wrong information such as the Cavalry riding in to rescue disaffected Mormons (in 1853) and a questionably historical visit to a San Francisco bordello and opium den. Sigh.

The different title might have distracted web searchers from the book which is decidedly anti-Mormon. And putting the title in here might have the same positive effect.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Likely Johns Home, Jacks Valley, Nevada

I'm pretty sure after comparing Google Maps with the 1862 federal survey with BLM's amazing GeoCommunicator and the 1870 Grant Assignment (also from BLM online) that this is the house that Abednego Johns lived in with his second wife, Jane (Jeanette) Vaughn Lewis Johns. I have seen a historical building in Reno from the 1890's with similar stone, door, and window layout.
Best evidence says this is the Abednego Johns House, Jacks Valley Road, Genoa, Nevada, from Google Maps

Monday, October 13, 2014

Jane Vaughan 1827, Found!

Jane (Jeanette) Vaughan Lewis Johns, Jacks Valley, Nevada
In a rapidly developing and miraculous story, we just received confirmation today that the woman who married Abednego Johns in Jack's Valley (Genoa or Mormon Station), Nevada, was named Jane Vaughan Lewis at the time of her marriage in 1860. Her own records establish that she was born in Breconshire, Wales, in 1827.

Monday, September 29, 2014

A Sad Death on the S. Curling

The John Thain Biography at Welsh Mormon History provides more, tragic detail about the 1856 death of poor little Parley Lewis, son of John and Jane Vaughan Lewis aboard the S. Curling heading for America on the North Atlantic:

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Did John and Jane Vaughan Lewis Apostatize?

Some may be wondering with John Lewis lying dead on the floor of a gold-rush saloon. And we are not fully convinced yet, but are pursuing some pretty good leads that Jane (1827) remarried Abednego Johns in Jacks Valley, Nevada and joined the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. And there is some indication that Elinor Jenkins Vaughan Hulet may have been with her, died between 1860-62, and was buried there. But the RLDS baptisms did not occur until at least 1865, after the Civil War.

1862 US Survey of Jacks Valley, Nevada. Courtesy of the Bureau of Land Managment, US Dept. of the Interior.
Abednego John's patent was for the S 1/2 of the NE 1/4 of Sec. 22, and the S 1/2 of the NW 1/4 of Sec. 23.
The surveyor, while getting all the land features pretty well (doncha just love these old surveys?) marked A. Johns as "A. Johnson."

There were a lot worse things than the RLDS Church (now "The Community of Christ). They had the Book of Mormon, a good part of the Doctrine & Covenants, the Holy Bible and a commitment to the Prophet Joseph Smith (w/o plural marriage). If you had landed in Utah in the midst of the Mormon Reformation, a very bad winter, and the upcoming Utah War, Springville was about the second worse place to be. I don't blame anyone for leaving. It's not my responsibility to judge. And it's not like we've not ever had anyone else in the family choose less activity in the church.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

A Not So Jolly Ending for John Lewis 1822

The good news is that California, along with Utah, has a great digital newspaper archive. You can find Utah's at http://digitalnewspapers.org/ and California's at the less obvious url: http://cdnc.ucr.edu/cgi-bin/cdnc. They are a wonderful resource even when they bring bad news.

So, here it is:
BY STATE TELEGRAPH. Murder In Sierra County: Forrest City, Sierra County, October 15th.— A saloon-keeper, named John Lewis, at Alleghany, was stabbed in the right side, on the 13th inst. by a man named Frank Taylor, and died immediately. The assassin was arrested this morning, and after an examination was committed for trial.
That's from the Daily Alta California, 16 October 1867.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Nevada & the Jolly Welshmen

Maybe Brigham knew the folk song. The Five Welshmen knew it even if it might have been self-deprecating to reference the humorous exploits of the bumbling Sons of Gomer. And the original number is three for the "Jolly Welshmen." So it's interesting that two of our five appear to have stayed in Utah and three seem to have gone to bumble their exploits in the Sierras.

The tune of "The Five Jolly Welshmen" is unknown to me and I don't seem to find it on "YouTube." There is another tune I can't get out of my head that I will now curse you with. I was always fascinated by the opening theme of the TV show "Bonanza" with the map of the Ponderosa Ranch straddling the California/Nevada line bursting into flames for some reason.


It was the Old West at its finest or at least for a boy who had been on family vacation to Virginia City, Reno, and Lake Tahoe. And I have always loved maps. Here's a version of the fictional Ponderosa map that is at least somewhat properly oriented:

Friday, August 29, 2014

Brigham Young Replies to the Five Jolly Welshmen

Yes! My good buddy at Keepapitchinin.org sent me a copy of Bro. Brigham's letter back to John Lewis and his jolly friends! It's in the public research files (I hadn't found it in the indices yet) so she didn't need to sneak it out of confidential files or anything.


But Springville! Why did it have to be Springville! At least Brigham didn't put "at present" in air quotes or anything.

So far we've determined that the Jolly Welshman did not stay together. At least two of them, Henry Moore and John James went to the Carson Valley. It also appears that our John Lewis may have gone but kept on going over the Sierra for the gold fields. And, there is a possibility that Jane was still alive and may have remarried in Jacks Valley (south of Carson). More research is needed to firm up these hints.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

John Lewis in Springville, Utah: December, 1856

Just discovered, a treasure trove of letters to Brigham Young on-line from the LDS Church History Library. Including this:


John Lewis arrived in the Salt Lake Valley on September 26, 1856, along with his wife, Jane Vaughan Lewis, their son, John Samuel Lewis (age 9), and mother-in-law Eleanor Jenkins Vaughan (widow). As we had believed, they went to Springville although we still have no information on Jane after arrival.

Monday, August 18, 2014

John and Jane Vaughan Lewis's Home in Wales

Every once in a while, history just pops. According to the 1851 Census for Wales and 2011 Google world mapping, [Correction: Bedwellty Parish was very large in those days. It included the town of Tredegar. A careful review of the census page, the tithe maps of Wales from the 1840s, and a history of Tredegar, indicates that they lived on Church Street in Tredegar, not Church Street in Bedwellty which I believe is more modern. Fortunately, we can still plot the approximate location and find it on Gooogle maps.] One of these houses is where John, Jane, and little John Samuel Lewis lived in Tredegar, Bedwellty Parish, when they were members of the LDS church and John the father worked as an iron miner. Elinor Vaughan, Jane's mother, certainly would have visited here and maybe even lived here after her John 1789 passed away that very year.


Saturday, August 9, 2014

Crime and Preachment

This is such a great newspaper find with Mormon Missionaries and possible family both referenced even if not directly connected.
Monmouthshire Merlin & Silurian, 21 June 1856
First the missionaries. There wasn't much information easily to find about Abednego Spencer Williams (1827-1896) born in Blaenau, Monmouthshire, except that he came to Utah in the 1880s, and is buried in Ogden City Cemetery.

There's a bit more for Israel Evans (1828-1896). His story reads like an overview of westward expansion. Born in Ohio, his parents joined the LDS Church and moved to Missouri when he was only five. They relocated to Nauvoo, Illinois after the expulsion from Missouri and then left Nauvoo ahead of the mobs to follow Brigham Young. Israel marched with the Mormon Battalion in the War with Mexico and was present for the discovery of gold at Sutter's Mill. Instead of becoming a rich Californian, he went to Utah. He served a four and a half year mission to Wales and led a successful handcart company (only two deaths) to the Valley in the turbulent year of 1857.

The year before, 1856, when Elinor, Jane, John and family left for Utah, Israel helped the Welsh Saints who took the train from Abergavenny and provided a moving account in his journal. He helped the Saints load onto the S. Curling at Liverpool. Elinor had gone a few weeks earlier and sailed on the Enoch Train. John and Jane Vaughan Lewis were likely on that train heading out from Abergavenny and who knows which Vaughans left behind were there to bid farewell:

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Eleanor's Grandson Stuck Around Utah County -- Pretty Sure. . .

The important thing here is to look at the names of the children of John and Martha Lewis found in Spanish Fork, next to Springville, in 1880. That should be the clincher here. There are still many gaps to be filled in, but this popped up and is a fit. As Dorothy said in the Wizard of Oz:
"My! People come and go so quickly here!"

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

A Possible, Ambiguous Glimpse of Eleanor in Springville 1858

Captain Albert Tracy came to Utah with Johnston's Army as part of the Utah War. He kept a diary that included some great sketches of Utah Territory in 1858-60. He is an obvious Utah "outsider" and not at all kindly disposed towards the Mormons holding every prejudice about them common at the time among the US government and American society at large (hence, the Utah "War").

An Example of Capt. Tracy's Excellent Sketch Work
At one point supposedly to keep peace between the Mormons and the Utes in Utah County (and to keep watch on Bishop Aaron Johnson), Capt. Tracy was ordered to maintain a post at Springville. He gave a grudgingly good description of the city even if he had little respect for its citizens:

Saturday, July 5, 2014

One More Possible "Rice" Price Clue

Not satisfied with our Welsh Researcher shooting down our latest possible link to Reese Price, putative father of John Vaughan 1789, I went back again to the the Family History Library. Last time I stopped once I had found the shot-down reference in Breconshire Quarter Sessions. The nagging continued in my head, so I went back to check Radnorshire and Herefordshire. There was nothing in Radnorshire with its clerk's fine penmanship. Fortunately, Herefordshire had an index and I found this:
See what I mean about penmanship?

Friday, June 20, 2014

Rees Price is [Still] Right!

We're ready to call it. Rees Price, tailor of Glasbury, is the father of John the B born 1789. We have broken through the brick wall of illegitimate birth.

[Even thought we heard back from our researcher in Wales that the 5th piece is inoperable as a strange coincidence of names (it was a different village, different mother, and apparently a different "Rees Price"), we still think the first four are enough. We'll keep looking, but we may never find anything more solid.]

It's still only a circumstantial case, but all the pieces fit. Here are the parts. You can tell me if you think we got it wrong.
1.  6 March 1789, John, bastard son of Hannah Vaughan, christened in Hay, Breconshire.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Bastardy In Britain

It was tempting to title this "British Bastards," which, as a son of the American Revolution could have its relevance. And as this is principally about my Welsh Ancestry, it could also be "Saxon Bastards" as an attention generator expressing the millennial frustrations of my Cymraeg heritage.

The real purpose, however, is to explain what I have learned about the laws pertaining to illegitimate children in England and Wales because of the circumstances of our paternal surname beginning with John Vaughan, bastard child of Hannah Vaughan, christened 6 March 1789 in Hay, Breconshire, Wales. We could also use my cousins' endearing name for him, "John the B." (Well, he also was a butcher.)

Saturday, May 31, 2014

Hannah an Actual Spinster? (better than some things she could have been called...)

On the Family History records, you may notice that we have collected up Hannah, Joanna, and Johanna Vaughan as the same person. Those are common variations of the same name. She appears in several different places at different times: Cusop, Herefordshire; Hay, Breconshire; and Glasbury, Breconshire or Radnorshire (Glasbury was in both counties as the Wye River was the dividing line and kept changing course over the centuries). You will also see on a map that all three places are very close to each other, Cusop practically a suburb of the market town of Hay - even if across the national border of England/Wales. And Glasbury is just around the bend of the Wye with possible shortcuts over the hills of the northern tip of the Black Mountains that would avoid Hay.

I doesn't help that we're dealing with three counties and two countries in this little neighborhood
There is a significant issue with those connections in that Hannah/Joanna appears as the mother of illegitimate children in all three places. John 1789 christened in Hay, is the origin of our surname on the male line. She had a child previously, Thomas 1787, who was christened and buried in Cusop, Herefordshire. And she may have had a daughter Sarah, Christened 1796 in Glasbury - a year before Hannah/Joanna's father Roger Vaughan died in Glasbury.

Friday, May 30, 2014

What If Elinor's Son-in-Law Was in the American Civil War?

He doesn't show up anywhere else and this seems to fit:


Third line down. It could very well be the John Lewis (1822) who was married to Jane Vaughan (1827) and came with Elinor and the handcarts. He showed up for rebaptism in Springville, March 1857 and then disappears from Utah records. It looks like he may have gone to California for work in the gold fields up over the Sierra passes.

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Finding Maranah

By Judy Vaughn Atwood:


I still recall my parents coming home from a visit to the Genealogy Library in Salt Lake City. I was a young teen and remember the smiles as they came in the door.  The first words were “We found our great-grandmother, Maranah!” They discovered her christening in the town of Penrhos, Monmouthshire, Wales, Maranah Watkins, the daughter of William Watkins and wife Hester, christened 17 June 1827. At that time I knew very little about our Family History, but I had a curiosity about those that came before me. I love the name, Maranah.

When I had a chance to research on my own, I went in search of Maranah. She did not read or write so her name was not always spelled the same. I found her listed as Maranna Watkins, on the 1841 Census in Llantilio Crossenney, Monmouthshire, Wales; she was a 15 year old servant on a farm, a short distance from Penrhos. Our relatives found the marriage certificate showing when John Vaughan (1825) married Maranah Watkins (1827) in Llanfoist, Monmouthshire, Wales; on 10 September, 1846.

John and Maranah Vaughan were found on the 1851 Census in Llanfoist with their first two sons George John and Thomas. Together, family members found parish records of the birth of their children, but not much more. Of course, one of the biggest finds was when they found her on L.D.S. Church records. She was baptized in the Stockton Branch, Durham, England in 1883. Other Vaughan family members also joined the Church in the early 1880’s. All of John’s and Maranah’s sons left England with their families and settled in Ogden, Utah from 1884-1888. Maranah stayed in England.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Ellsworth & Handcarts: Success before Disaster

Andrew Galloway's story of Ellsworth's divine inspiration for the handcart companies was recorded late in his life. It matches surprisingly well with Ellsworth's nearly contemporaneous remarks recorded in the Deseret News of October 8, 1856. There was only brief few weeks between the success of the first two companies of handcarts and the disasters of Willie Martin. Some of that tragedy was even anticipated by Ellsworth. I encourage the reading of the full account which can also be found on the Mormon Overland Trail Database.

My particular interest was what he said about those in his company. Grandma Elinor was among them:

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Finding Our Cousins WITH Our Cousins

Happy Mothers Day, Elinor!

Her card was carefully placed on top so I could tell the Sealer at the Bountiful Temple that she was the Matriarch of the whole group of family names we took to be sealed.

It was a lot of fun with typical family confusion to meet up with three of my dad's cousins and one spouse at the Temple yesterday morning. We thought it would be good to get some sealings done together for our shared family. Several of us have been working on this even before the Church put out this great video with Elder Anderson:


Saturday, March 29, 2014

Claiming the Legendary Teapot and Colander

There's a story circulating for some time now picked up by Stake Pioneer Trek websites about an elderly woman who walked all the way to Salt Lake City in 1856 with a teapot and colander tied to her apron strings. There was a strict weight limit for personal items in the handcarts. This woman found a way around that. Another woman in the first company carried a hat box, but she died along the way. These stories were recounted in the Ensign of July 2000. However, in the Ensign, the teapot is covered by ellipses.

With some pretty good circumstantial evidence, I am prepared to claim the woman with the teapot and colander as our ancestress, Elinor Jenkins Vaughan. I think I know who the lady with the hat box was too.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Picture of Elder Edmund Ellsworth from 1855

Maybe other history seekers have seen this, but I'm still an amateur and find it AMAZING! I've seen a lot of mission conference pictures. There are some from Brazil that have me in them. This has historical significance as this 1855 photo of British Missionaries includes the captains of four of the five experimental handcart companies of 1856. Three of the experiments came out pretty well. The last two, not so much. And those last two captains are all the more famous for that.

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Our Visit to Elinor's Birthplace


This is from my other blog about our visit to Elinor Jenkins Vaughan's birthplace in 2010. Written before we discovered that she was our first Vaughan in Utah, it should be shared here:

Back this morning from the Bountiful Temple having done Initiatory work for family names I found last week, I was regretting not visiting all the villages connected to our ancestors on our trip two years ago. Then I remembered to be grateful for the amazing experiences we did have, truly led by the Lord not knowing beforehand.

We had intended to visit Stowe Farm where our Jenkins Ancestress Elinor originated, wife of John Vaughan married 1810 in Hay, Breconshire, Wales. We knew from the 1851 Census she had been born in "Stow" a fairly common place name throughout England also spelled as "Stowe." Some on ancestral file had placed her birth in a "Stowe" in Shropshire, but we thought that a bit far off. On old maps of Herefordshire, we found Stow as a part of Whitney Parish within walking distance of Hay across the Welsh border. And we found a matching Jenkins Family with a daughter Elinor in Whitney Parish records.

So we were off to visit Stowe. Knowing it was a private farm, I was hoping to find someone who could give us permission to take some pictures. From my trip journal:

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Unbroken Chain of Vaughan Sealing 1789-2014


Just back from the Mt. Timpanogos Temple where I was privileged to be proxy for my grandfather as his four children were sealed to him and my grandmother. The Doctrine of the Temple is that we seek priesthood power and authority to perform ordinances that bind and seal so that the Atonement of Jesus Christ can heal all wounds and make us one.