Friday, May 29, 2009

From Rail to Trail, May 25, 1859

"Upon arrival of this young family at Florence, Nebraska a delay was necessary before they could leave for the west. The journal of James Kirkham states how they played in the area with wild flowers, great rivers and other things of interest to small boys who had spent their childhood in the great city of London."
This from E. Kay Kirkham's book, noting that the Kirkham family arrived in Florence 25 May 1859. Kay writes that it is regrettable that the father George did not keep a personal journal of the trip so that we have it from the 'adult view'. But what a benefit to read of this journey through the eyes of the children! Could buffalo herds be any greater? Thunderstorms or stampedes more fearsome? Would you truly prefer the adult to the child view of snake eyes watching you from between the clay walls of their pioneer home?
All the same, Kirkhams, we hit the ground of America one hundred and fifty years ago. Alvin W Kirkham says of the trek, drawing from journals and biographies of George Kirkham and Mary Astington Kirkham: they hiked some 1300 miles from the Missouri River to the Jordan River. "The twins rode most of the way in a Pioneer Two-High-Wheeled-Kirkham-Cart! All other members of the Kirkham Tribe took turns 'pushing or pulling the Desert Cart."
Remember that this was not a modern move wherein the household was packed and loaded onto a van which would arrive well in advance and have all in ready. Their 'all' was what they were carrying, what was going to fit into the desert cart. This also needed to account for food stuff to last from May 25 to September 18. Three months' provisions and then what there was room for of the most basic needs. An iron pot, a frying pan, a baking kettle. Woolen blankets. A few change of clothing. Does anyone have an exact description of their cart? Could we demonstrate what this transport looked like? We can be aware that they had it better in many ways than the handcart pioneers, but know too that this was not luxury. How would we fare? (I just shuddered even to write the question!)
A catchy phrase used at the FamilySearch Center goes something like this: Genealogy: Where Generations Meet. Consider that thought over the next three months, and the meeting of Kirkhams of 1859 and of 2009. What can you bring reflecting The Heritage and The Legacy- OUR Heritage, OUR Legacy?

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Gathering More of Kirkham History

A few weeks ago I was asked if there were Kirkham histories beyond the ones that I refer to most often: George Wm Kirkham and James Mercer Kirkham, Highlights.
I was making my way homeward from work in Salt Lake today when I thought I would look up other possible histories at the Family History Library. A new book to me, there is one titled "My tale of two new years, or a thumbnail biography" by Alvin Willard Kirkham. Publication date 1970, FHL call # 929.273 A1 no. 308 found on the first floor in the US/Canada family histories. I did not have the time to read it through this trip- but believe I may have to add more names to my third, fourth or fifth generation rolls. I am delighted to do so.
Another, though not about the Kirkhams but a line of Kirkham cousins I have grown to regard highly is "The Life Histories of Karl Alvin Lemon and Bessie Janet Kirkham Lemon: Including information about their ancestors and posterity" Published 2002 by their children. Bessie passed away in 2000. This book is 929.273 L544 and also in the Family History Library main floor. This copy is presently on loan, and not on the shelf. I will continue to look out for others. Won't you let us know if you have one?

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Plans for September 5 and 6 in Lehi

You will have noted my typing skills by now. Perhaps even my math skills: the great grandchildren numbered 191, and not the 91 I reported. I, like this reunion am a work in progress. And progress we have!

The following are scratches in pencil on paper, i.e. they can certainly be refined and improved for our general benefit.

Saturday 9:00 to 10:00 am
  • Set up a registration table to greet and identify participants. This will need 2 or 3 people to help write out names, hand out information and direct to various activities.
  • Set up displays of Kirkham family memorabilia, pioneer era activities for fun and insight. As many as possible- let me know what kind of space you need.
9:00 to 11:00
  • Make new and renew acquaintences with cousins, enjoy activities.
11:00 to 11:30
  • Formal greeting and introductions with background and purpose of this event.

11:30 to 12:30

  • Bring your own pic-nic lunch while listening to music, story telling, other entertainment.

12:30 to 2:30

  • Recounting of the family histories and updates of each of the four Kirkham brothers. 1 or 2 representatives of each family would be good. More would be great! Perhaps recognizing the eldest of the various lines etc.

2:30 to 4:00

  • Ice cream social with home made ice cream, rootbeer etc. We'll need several makers and volunteers.
  • More story telling, music, entertainment.

4:00 to 5:00

  • Information on Family Organizations, future reunions, tutorials on compiling histories, blogs and web-sites.

Sunday 11:00 to 1:00

  • Meet at Lehi City Cemetery for reflection and appreciation with some sort of presentation or program.

This is not cast in stone and I would enjoy your coments!

Thursday, May 21, 2009

A Note About Our Mothers

As we begin to make our plans for gathering I thought it pertinent that a note be made of our pioneer mothers.
Mary Ann Astington has been mentioned, I hope with the admiration and appreciation due her. She could as easily have had the attitude that the 'neat sum' would ease her lot right where she was- in London, England. Surely it would have- the lot of the whole family. It was no easy thing to bear and raise children in that time. Nor was it any easier in the new place- as witnessed in the loss of children before and after her emigration. ( We need appreciate that it remains a risk to health and life even today, and if we are reading this we have a mother that probably- but not always- met such a risk!)
The four Kirkham brothers of our purposes grew to adulthood, married and reared families. Both James and George entered into plural marriages and endured much relative to their decission to do so.
The wives of these four- and thus our pioneer mothers were Martha Mercer and Emma Wootton, the wives of James Kirkham; Mary and Sarah Russon, wives of George Kirkham; Lizzie Ann Wanlass, the wife of Hyrum Kirkham and Tyresha Cragun, who died after childbirth and Mary Jane Stoddart, wives of Joseph Kirkham.
Returning to E. Kay Kirkham's book we get a glimpse of the pioneer wife's life:
"Our first home in Lehi was a mud hut with a dirt roof...we put up a mud fence...we worked a good deal of time at night. I used to mix the mud while mother held a candle lantern for us to see by.
"Black Hawk and his band of Indians were at war with our people...with a number of our boys I was given fifteen minutes to be readyto join our regiment or that portion that was called. We bid our mothers, fathers and families good bye and with our life in our hands went off to meet our foe. We left our mothers in tears...
"Monday November 18, 1872. Last night my wife was very sick. My mother stopped with us at 12:25 noon and a son was born to us, the mother suffering very much...
"Friday February 16, 1877. In clear Creek Canyon stayed the night at Cove Creek Fort, built by Brigham Young...we went to bed in our wagon without supper and spent a very miserable night. Today our son Albert was born at 15 minutes to 9:00 p.m..."
related from journal of James Kirkham
E. Kay's book has much on the wives of James, I think because it is his direct line. So we will rely on you- from the familes of Mary and Sarah, Lizzie Ann and Tyresha to tell us about them. Should I make this an assignment? Let us not forget or neglect our pioneer mothers! We could not be meeting but for their place in our heritage.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

UPDATE: We've arrived!

May 13, 1859 the ship William Tapscott arrived at the Port of New York City. The next leg of the trip would be to Florence, Nebraska where the pioneers will supply themselves for the cross country trek.

From the book George (Wm) Kirkham we read:
" One of the remarkable things in the history of the Kirkham family is the emigration of this young father and mother with their four sons... Good fortune was theirs when the uncle Thomas Isom left Mary Ann Astington Kirkham 'a neat sum of money' to permit them to emigrate to Zion in Utah.
" To travel several thousand miles by ship, train and wagon with a family of four sons ages seven, five and twins age three was really a remarkable undertaking on the part of this young couple...The sum of money...permitted them to make the voyage without want or a lack of necessities upon arrival in the valley of the Great Salt lake."

What is in a theme?

A HERITAGE AND A LEGACY grew from a re-reading of the book James Mercer Kirkham, Highlights of His Successful Life (which I have referred to as JMK in earlier posts). This book compiled by his family was published in 1961 (FHL call #921.73 A1). It gave a glimpse into his very rich, involved life. Not having the book in front of me right now I can only sketch it for you: name badges and delegate ribbons, business cards, headlines and news articles, photographs. Photographs. And did I mention photographs? Photographs of his children, his wife, his homes, cars, places business, his mission companions, his committees. I cannot recall the specifics but there is a photograph of the genealogy- family tree- of a prize bull! (Hey! He was head of the Genealogy Society, you recall.) Somewhere in this book the authors comment on the number of photographs James Mercer Kirkham left. It was his record. Not out of some vanity, but the material evidence of a life lived. His record/his legacy/my heritage.
We are meeting to reflect on a heritage we share from our pioneer grand-parents: what we have as evidence of their lives; and to highlight their legacy: the evidence that we live our lives in a manner that they would have us. This would be, I believe in they way they conducted their own: rich, involved, generous with time and abilities, concerned about neighbors and communities. Full citizenship!