Hay view from Castle

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

Monday, November 16, 2015

Crossing the Carson River, 1859

The National Archives come through again!

I just discovered this wonderful pic in the public domain of Capt. Simpson's crossing of the Carson on his successful exploration of a new route across Nevada (that was almost immediately put to use by the Pony Express!) This is just on the northeast edge of what is now Carson City heading up river towards Genoa, then still Utah Territory. Elinor, Jane Vaughan, John and John S. Lewis would have known this site and perhaps crossed here.

John J. Young, Artist, from contemporaneous sketch by von Beckh (June 10, 1859)  (This sketch shows covered wagons being pulled on a raft the river and horses swimming. This sketch is Plate VII in Lt. J.H. Simpson's 1859 Journal of Explorations in Utah), National Archives Identifier: 305640 Local Identifier: 77-CWMF-MISC120(6), Creator: War Department. Office of the Chief of Engineers. 1818-9/18/1947.

Sunday, October 25, 2015

A Possible Uncle Willie Sighting

Cyfarthfa Ironworks by Night (1825) by Penry Williams
This isn't by any means certain, but the age, profession, temperament, and location of this lad's story are a pretty good fit. The major problem is that William Vaughan (1855-1922), son of John (1825) and Maranah (1827) Vaughan had a sister born in 1864 in Durham and this report is from 1865 in Merthyr Tydfil. Considering how the family moved around all over the valleys of South Wales and then to Durham as set out in our chronology, it is possible that young Willie was left in Merthyr for a time with relatives or friends, particularly as he apparently had a position in the Cyfarthfa Ironworks.

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Vaughn with Two Syllables

Elsewhere I've tried to explain how the original form of Vaughn/Vaughan in Welsh was "Fychan" pronounced with two syllables, something like "VAH[CH]-uhn."

There is an even odder spelling of the name that appears on rare occasion, "Vaughham." We find it on Eleanor's Patriarchal Blessing given in 1856 by Patriarch John Young, Jr., brother to Brigham Young. It was Cousin Judy Vaughan Atwood who found it because my first attempt to request the blessing from the Church History Library failed as the spelling was so far off. Judy got it and then I just confirmed with my own request using the odd spelling.

It's clearly her because everything else is a match. It was given in November 1856 a few days after she received her own Temple ordinances in the Endowment House. Her birth date is given as 25 December, 1880 [1889] with birthplace as Whitney, Herefordshire, England, and parents, William and Jane Jenkins.

Monday, September 7, 2015

Elinor's History

Judy and I want to get this well disseminated before the DUP attempts to lay sole claim. Not that we're willing to share and work with them too, but ya know:

Elinor's possible birthplace, Stowe, Whitney-on-Wye, Herefordshire, England - just a stone's throw from Wales.
Elinor Jenkins Vaughan
Mormon Handcart Pioneer of 1856
 Born 25 December 1789, Died about 1861
©by Grant L. Vaughn, 4th Great Grandson, based on Collaborative
Research with Judy Vaughn Atwood, 3rd Great Granddaughter

December 25th is Christmas. No one ever forgets their birthday if it falls on that sacred celebration. Elinor[1] was a Christmas baby. The problem is that the year is not completely certain. At various times in her life, Elinor gave her age indicating birth as early as 1777. However, we have the record of her Christening as 7 February 1790[2] and it is most likely that she was born in 1789.

Her parents were William Jenkins and Jane Apperley. The place was Stowe [also “Stow”], Whitney, Herefordshire just across the border from Radnorshire, Wales, on the north side of the Wye River as it flows from the green Welsh hills onto the rich, broad, and green farmlands of Herefordshire.

Jenkins is a solid Welsh name while Apperley is not. Her mother Jane’s family name originated in Gloucestershire and Herefordshire and is of Anglo-Saxon origin.[3] The Jenkins name is very common on the Welsh border. We do not have much information on Elinor’s parents. However, she gave their names and her birthplace herself when she received her own LDS Temple Endowment in 1856 in Salt Lake City, Utah.[4]

Saturday, August 8, 2015

More Historical Welsh Fiction with Utah Ties

While still a gratuitous polygamy joke, it is one of the best I've heard regarding the fictional Granfer Ben:
Handsome devil, apparently, handy with the mountain fighters and spare-time on the females. . . .
And when Brigham Young's people came to the Top Towns on speculation, he was off to Salt Lake City and the Latter Day Saints. No sight nor sound of him since--must have died of women, I reckon.
'There are worse ways of dying,' said Dewi, and I saw my father give him a queer old look and a sigh.
This is from Song of the Earth, by Alexander Cordell, the conclusion to the historical fiction trilogy of the Mortymer and Evans Families in the southern valleys of Wales during the harsh Industrial Revolution. Revolution? Should be "Revolutions," plural.

Thursday, July 30, 2015

"The Rape of the Fair Country" - Historical Fiction as Background for our Welsh Puddlers

Above is a memorial to men killed in the Chartist Uprising of 1839. Many Survivors were convicted of crimes and sent to Van Diemen's Land - Tasmania, Australia.

The historical novel by Alexander Cordell hits close to the home of my ancestors at the forges on the other side of the Blorenge from Llanfoist where they lived. The forges are where they worked as puddlers. 

It's still not known how they became puddlers in the midst of industrial turmoil and desperate poverty. It may have been that they were hired to replace striking workers like those demanding voting rights and parliamentary reform in the tragic assault on Newport - the characters in Cordell's historical novel. No sign yet that the Vaughans were involved in Chartism as they remained, alive, and not shipped to Australia - (except we're trying to track down one son-in-law, William Delahay, who disappears from the records in Wales and may have ended up there or in New South, (very south) Wales. His wife, Catherine Vaughan, may have been baptized a Mormon. Elder Needham's journal is not clear on this point.) 

I do recommend the book as a good historical novel especially if you have family from the area. Here's a taste as the family is leaving their home in Blaenavon to Nantyglo for work in another of the satanic iron mills. Outside the house, the neighbors began to sing in farewell:
Give me a hymn to a good Welsh tune to bring out the pride of race and love of country. The key is minor and the very breath of Wales. I thought of the mountains and valleys; of the great names of the north filled with magic; of Plynlymon, Snowdon, and Cader Idris, the mountain chair of the clouds, and the great flat tracts where the Roman legions formed; of ancient Brecon that still echoes the clash of alien swords; of Senny, and the Little England beyond Wales. I saw a vision of ancients long dead whose bones have kindled the fire of greatness; of Howell Harris and William Williams, great with the Word. I thought of my river, the Afon-Lwydd, that my father had fished in youth, with rod and line for the leaping salmon under the drooping alders. The alders, he said, that fringed the banks ten deep, planted by the wind of the mountains. But no salmon leap in the river now, for it is black with furnace washings and slag, and the great silver fish have been beaten back to the sea or gasped out their lives on sands of coal. No alders stand now for they have been chopped as fuel for the cold blast. Even the mountains are shells, groaning in their hollows of emptiness, trembling to the arrows of the pit-props in their sides, bellowing down the old workings that collapse in unseen dust five hundred feet below.
Plundered is my country, violated, raped.
On goes the hymn. The wind was playing tricks with hair and bonnet streamers, sniffing at the dew-drop on Willie Gwalter's nose, picking up the hem of Polly Morgan's skirt, bringing Owen's eyes down. From the window I saw it all and could have wept. 
I knew then that I loved my town, my people, my country.
No spoilers here, but you ought to know about the strike-breakers and the poorly organized union enforcers - dressed in strange disguises as Scottish Cattle . . . .

Oh yeah, there's some weird stuff that went on in Wales.

Saturday, July 4, 2015

The Cost of Freedom - Our Nevada Cousin

The Carson Valley Historical Society will preserve the photos of the second generation of Vaughan descendants in Nevada as part of their collection of Ranch Families. Jane Vaughan's photo will go to the LDS Church History Library now that we have our scans as she was a handcart pioneer that no one knew about until Judy linked her up to Elinor in the Ellsworth Handcart Company of '56.

Before I send the pics, I want to have an accurate descendancy chart from Jane Vaughan Lewis Johns to send with them. I've been working down that tree and was so pleased last night to find someone working back up. It may be a relation by marriage, but somebody is doing Temple work in the Reno and Sacramento Temples. Yes! The right place for Western Nevada.

Then, just in time for the Fourth of July, I found a Cousin Hero. He survived the Bataan Death March and just before transport as a POW from the Philippines to Japan, he managed to have a letter delivered home to his mother, Edythe Jeanette Johns (McKinley Wagner), in Reno.

Monday, June 8, 2015

Yes, We Do Have Some Welsh In Us

Found it.

Yes, you can download and upload the raw DNA data from ancestry and use on other sites. The easiest appears to be gedmatch.com, a "crowd-sourcing" site that needs our financial along with DNA contributions. It's all still very confusing and I still haven't figured out how to look at my Y Chromosome which I seriously need for Welsh connections.

But I found my American Indian percentage! Or at least one of the versions. There are several ways to look at DNA on the Gedwatch site. It scares me to begin to understand them cuz of a little knowledge and stranger-danger, etc. One of the analyses gave me:


Monday, May 25, 2015

Why I Wear a Flat Cap

[From August 5, 2012]

Undated photo of Workers at Blaenavon Ironworks, Wales
Besides the immediate, practical need of protecting my balding head from sunburn, there must be some ancestral urge in me to place the hat on my head. I think I first noticed it on the heads of the Gaúchos in southern Brazil. It is also used by sports car enthusiasts and many others. Yet it appears to have its origins as a common workman's hat from many parts of the world. My paternal grandfather occasionally wore a hat like this and his family origins were among the Welsh like those pictured above.

The family history work goes on. My Welsh people come from small towns and green mountains literally on the edge of the southern industrial areas of Wales - right on the edge. While my family from the lower end of the class system attempted to maintain a tradesman status as butchers, they were not always successful. When the censuses began in 1841, we find them in a Llanfoist, Monmouthshire, just over the hill from the Blaenavon Ironworks - an important location for the development of industrial processes that spread throughout the industrialized world. And there are several birth records as well that identify the fathers as puddlers.

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Sleeping with the Ancestors

[From my other blog, February 10, 2010]:
Arthur's Stone, above Dorstone, Herefordshire, August 15, 2010
Merbach Hill and the Black Mountains (Wales) in the far distance
Last night I went to bed late and I got up this morning way too early so this evening I'm still in an other-worldly daze. I went to sleep last night ruminating on the Roger Vaughan problem in my family history work. My researcher consultant thought that the Roger Vaughan who showed up as "the grandfather" in the Hay Vestry records in our critical year of 1789 would be a fairly unique name. Maybe in most parts of Wales, but not in the valleys along the Wye and over to the Usk. This is probably due to the famous forebearer, Roger Vaughan, defender of the King at Agincourt, whose effigy lies just down the hill from this 5,000 year old burial site. If one ancestor lies in close proximity, is it possible more ancient ones were buried in this tomb?

Saturday, May 2, 2015

Let's See How Much Welsh Is In Me: The Ancestry DNA Test

An expert genealogist friend asked me about the DNA test through Ancestry.com, so I thought I would explain here for one and all (Ancestry owes me for this advertisement).

First, the regular cost is $99 US but they have sales every couple of months when the price drops to $79. There is also a shipping fee of $8 bucks something, so figure that in either way.

The kit arrives by US Mail, and opens to to reveal this:

Monday, April 20, 2015

George E. Vaughn Worked for the Union Pacific

We knew that. It shows on the 1930 Census that his dad, George Robert Vaughn, worked as a Machinist for the U.P. and son George was a Machinist Helper. Technically, he was an intermittent laborer at the start of the Great Depression. Fifty cents an hour was pretty darn lucky. And I was thrilled to see some Union Pacific employment records pop-up to show all that on Ancestry.com.

Monday, April 13, 2015

Not Guilty on Better than a Knock-out Punch

Found Uncle Samuel, one of Elinor's boys, in trouble with the law. He was up on Manslaughter and the criminal record had him not guilty. The full story is in the newspaper (thank you, National Library of Wales!):

Friday, April 3, 2015

Abednego Jones First Settled in Box Elder [Brigham City]

Nearing the completion of my audit of Welsh 102, I'm starting to get it. Learning a new language is an incremental process. I can now read some text and figure out the context even if I can't translate all the words. Once I realize the context, more of the words make more sense. It's a process of steady growth in understanding. We don't remember the process with our first language as children. And learning one second language helps with any others.

There is a wonderful new history and language source online from Signature Books. They have historical Mormon periodicals and newspapers, mostly from the 19th Century, and some in their original foreign languages. I have been collecting Ron Dennis's translations of Udgorn Seion [Zion's Trumpet] and Prophwyd y Jubili [Prophet of the Jubilee] in English, but the online, original versions are searchable PDFs and I found something in Welsh that I hadn't yet discovered in English:
Dinas Ogden, Rhagfyr 18, 1854.
. . . . Yr ydym yma mewn cyflawnder o bob peth ag sydd yn dda ar les ein cyrff a’n hysbrydoedd; dyma’r fan lle yr ydym yn cael clywed oin IJywydd Brigham, y Deuddeg, ac awdurdodau yr Eglwys,—y fan lie y cawn ein dyrchafu yn nheyrnas Dduw os y byddwn yn ftÿddlon. Yr ydym ni fel teulu yn mwynhau iecbyd da, ac mewn amgylchiadau cysurus, ac yn byw yn Ogden Fort, yr hwn svdd oddeutu 50 milltir yn ogleddol o Ddinas y Llyn Halen Fawr. Yr wyf yn gweithio wrth fy nghrefft, yr hon yw y gelfyddyd oreu yn y Dyffryn ; medraf ennill deg swllt yn y dydd. Yr wyf yn byw yn nghanol yr Americaniaid, ac nid oes yr un Çymro arall yn y ddinas hon.
Y mae Henry a’i dad, Capt. Thomas a Martha, William á Thomas Treharn a’i wraig, Abednego Jones, John Thomas o Cwmaman, David Williams, Gorslâs, a ’i wraig, ac amryw Gymry ereill yn byw yn Box Elder, 16 milltir ì’r gogledd o’r lle bwn. Y maent oll yn cofio atoch.
Here's the English translation courtesy of Ron Dennis's work (I'm not nearly that advanced and still hold my old friend in awe):

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Joseph Smith III Visited the Johns Family in Jacks Valley, Nevada

OK. This is not a really bad April Fools joke. And it is all absolutely true.

Just as I don't support modern polygamy (FLDS) and still respect my ancestors for their historical, religious practices, I can respect my relatives who did not stay with the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS) but left and became members of the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (RLDS). Yes, you may need a score card to keep track of this one.

Joseph Smith III
It is still of significant historical interest that Joseph Smith III, the son of the Prophet Joseph Smith, Jr., visited some of my ancestors and apparently stayed in their home in Jacks Valley, Nevada. The year was 1867 and this is from Joseph Smith III, the President and Prophet of the RLDS Church at the time:
"On the first of November we bade Sr. Lincoln and her family, Brn. William Anderson, Job Hall, Thomas J. Andrews, Peter Canavan, A. C. Bryan, and others farewell, and left the city of San Francisco, in company of Bro. Daniel S. Mills, who accompanied us as far as Sacramento, where we bade him good-bye, he bound for Salmon Falls on an errand of mercy; and we en route for Reno and Carson City. We reached the latter place early Thursday morning; and in the afternoon reported to Bro. A. B. Johns, president of the district, and spent a night and a day in Jack's Valley. On Saturday we returned to Carson, and on Sunday morning and evening we addressed those of the citizens of the city who chose to gather at the court-house to hear us; the attendance was good, on both occasions, and the Saints seemed to be pleased with the effort made.

Monday, March 16, 2015

Elinor's Great-Granddaughters Help Make My Case

There is no escaping the location of the Johns's Family ranch on the land that is now Washoe Tribal Land. The Stewart Indian School did not acquire the ranch outright, but rented the ranch well into the 20th Century. A son of Jane Vaughan Lewis Johns, Henry David Johns (1861-1926), lived there through at least 1900. I recently acquired a photograph of his three surviving daughters (one had died as an infant and is buried in Genoa). This is a picture annotated with fading pencil that someone had won a spelling prize. My guess is Edythe because I think she's the one holding flowers with a smile:

Elsie Fern (1892-1987), Edythe Neanette (1884-1955), and Mary Elma Johns (1886-1955)
about 1902, probably at their home in Jacks Valley, Nevada.
Then I noticed the slope of Genoa Peak behind them. Could I have possibly matched the shot when I was taking pictures in front of what appears to be their former home or at least close to the same site? 

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

John Samuel Lewis Died in the Philippines

Americans of the Volunteer 29th Infantry wading ashore at Marinduque, Philippines, 25 April 1900. John?
Son of John Lewis and Jane Vaughan Lewis, born in Llanfoist in July 1847. Died 11 August 1902, Iloilo, Philippine Islands. Upon finding this information, I mourned for him.

The notebook of Johns Family History has arrived. There is much to digest and sort through. There was a passing comment in the notes of Elsie Fern Johns Schneider (1892-1987) that Jane's son John by her first husband, John Lewis, died in the Philippines.