Friday, September 18, 2009

September 18, 1859, cont'd

I have found a description that suits, I believe our interest. It is in The City of The Saints and Across the Rocky Mountains to California by Richard F. Burton, edited with an introduction and notes by Fawn M Brodie, pub 1963 by AA Knopf, NY. This recount of entering the GSL valley begins p209. I believe it is written in 1859, dated August 25 and so is not with our pioneers.

"Hoorah!" Burton writes, "today we are to pass over the Wasatch."
They press themselves against the rougher and steeper road on Big Mountain, four miles from the previous night's camp at Bauchmin's Fork. There are springs that had the gratitude of parched travelers, and slopes grandly wooded with hemlocks, firs, balsam-pines and other varieties of abies. The varied hues of quaking asp, beech, dwarf oak, elders and wild roses. Colors of autumn were mixed with the green of summer.
Big Mountain lies 18 miles from the city, the top is a narrow crest from which the weary pilgrim first sights the object of his long wanderings, hardships and perils.
After a few minutes delay we resumed our travels with wheels rough locked descended what appeared to be an impractible slope.
The pass was cleared of lumber and so was exposed to heat of summer as well as the pests: swarms of devastating crickets, grasshoppers and blueworms. 12 miles from morning camp they came into Big Canyon creek where they drank welcome droughts of cool but rather hard water. their thermometer reading was 103 degrees! The day's travel had taken close 4 hours. From Big Canyon station to the city was "reckoned" to be seventeen miles. We waited till the bright and glaring day had somewhat burned itself out. At noon heavy clouds came up from the south and southwest, casting a grateful shade and shedding a few drops of rain.
After two miles we came to Little Mountain, the near slope shorter but steeper far than Big Mountain. The counterslope easier but by no means pleasant to contemplate with the chance of an accident...ten miles distant from our destination we were miserably bumped and jolted over the broken ground at the head of Big horrid must have been it appearance when the stout-hearted Mormon pioneers first ventured to thread the defile, breaking their way through the dense bush, creeping and clinging like flies to the sides of the hills.
Even then there were evidence of accidents- broken axles, yoke bows. In time the company entered the lower level, now called Emigration canyon which bulges out and its steep slopes fall imperceptibly into the plain. The hour about 6 pm.
The atmosphere, Burton says is touched with a dreamy haze- the mellow radiance of an American autumn, the bright interlude between the extremes of heat and cold diffused its mild soft lustre over the face of earth.
One hundred fifty years ago today, I would not have my ancestors have any other sight as they entered these valleys of the mountains!

Thursday, September 17, 2009

September 18, 1859

September 18, 1859. George Kirkham and his wife Mary Ann Astington Kirkham with their four sons as part of the Robert F. Neslen company arrive in the valley of the Great Salt Lake. We have spoken of them often recently; beautifully at the George (Wm) Kirkham reunion a few weeks ago. What was it like for them? I was in the Provo River canyon today with an activity group, I did not walk more than a mile total and I was parched, dusty, sunburned. Each morning Sunday through Thursday I take a bus/train commute onto the east bench of the Salt Lake valley, up to the university area and very near the place where Emigration Canyon enters the valley- and now stands the This Is The Place monument; on many morning I look out and ask, "what was their view?" Did they see smoke rising opposite beneath the Oqirrhs? I know they did not have such foliage and buildings to block the view, but did they have the scrub oak, dust, grass fire smoke? Had it rained the day before so that the air was rinsed and clean, or had there been no rain so that all the dust from clearing fields and smoke from countless home fires obscured the view across the basin. Was the city by the Great Salt Lake visible, as it is nowadays?
What can I find out?
I have taken down the book MORMON PIONEER COMPANIES 1847-1868 (us/can ref table 289.3016 B29lm 1990) These records are cited for this company:
Kirkham, James [autobiography] in Kirkham, E. Kay, George (Wm) Kirkham: His Ancestors and Descendants to the Third Generation (Provo, J Grant Stevenson, 1973) pp66-67
Miles, Johanne Kristine (Jane), [reminiscences] in Jones, Carrie Mouritsen and Seelos, Jerald Olean, comps and eds, The Mourits Mouritsen Family, 1982, p432
Pedersen, Lars Christian [autobiography] Account of emigration experiences, ms 10770, pp3-4
Tietjen, Eda Fredraca Kruger [autobiography] Our Pioneer Heritage, comp by Kate B Carter vol 3 (SLC, Daughters of the Utah Pioneers, 1960) p52; vol 19 (SLC Daughters of the Utah Pioneers, 1976) p371

We have four sources to start with. I was amazed to see the number of copies of E Kay Kirkham's book at the reunion. And I am pleased that it is in demand again. I have been using the FHL copy. I hope to begin a study of the James Kirkham journal on microfilm and look forward to Alan Kirkham's production/publication of that. While I am here I will see if I cannot find these other citations. Will these questions be answered?

Friday, September 11, 2009

The Reunion 2009

On Friday September 4 two small activities were held in Salt Lake City. One group met at the FamilySearch classrooms in the Joseph Smith Memorial Building for a short tutorial on the electronic based programs the LDS Church has for family history research, this group then walked up to the new Church History Library on North Temple and Main Streets. A second group had a tour of the LDS Conference Center.

Saturday, September 5 was the main activity of the reunion at Wines Park in Lehi. Ked Kirkham moved tables and put up signs, Jim Kirkham swept away puddles left from city crews power-washing the pavilions. Registration was set up for attendees with name badges for the families of James and Martha Mercer, James and Emma Wootton, George and Mary Russon, George and Sara Russon, Joseph and Tyresha Cragun and Hyrum and Lizzie Ann Wanlass Kirkham. Giving the correct name tag was a challenge for Joan Kirkham, as we all seemed to arrive on cue! By the number of registration packets that were used it appears there were about 58 families attending. An exact number was not taken.
Early steps were taken to set up for ease of reports and visits in one of our pavilions as there was morning rain. When the Kirkhams began to arrive it brightened quickly. Prayerful thoughts were offered by cousin Connie Kirkham Nielsen which included a comment on the rain and it remained at a distance from that point on so that we had most pleasant weather the whole day.
After a few comments and announcements Marjorie Russell Mower of Arizona suggested we introduce ourselves, and give a little lineage to be better acquainted. Marjorie, at 92 was the eldest until it got to the opposite side of the group and Mark Mercer Kirkham at 94 claimed that place.

The story of Mary Ann Astington's inheritance that provided funds for the Kirkham family to gather with the Saints was recounted by Connie Nielsen, who also gave historical background for George Kirkham, pioneer son, and Kirkham homes in Lehi. Connie and assistant Linda Kirkham Mecham had set out flags to corespond with name tags at the Lehi cemetery the previous night.
Many samples of family history were on display as well as books and articles written by Kirkhams. Ked Kirkham has his 'old yellow worksheet' books of remembrance as well as his most recent computer print-out family records which welcomed corrections and additions throughout the day. Janette Kirkham of Lehi had a remembrance/story sharing table for the 4 pioneer lines. Rock J Kirkham and brothers talked shortly of their efforts to learn more of Ann Jeatt, which remains the challenge it has been for past generations of Kirkham researchers. Alan Kirkham spoke of the project to transcribe the journals of James Kirkham. Rich Kirkham and Jason Kirkham will look at moving the George Kirkham website into a wider format to include the other three brothers' families.

The group was warm and sharing and during the pic-nic lunch plates and cups crisscrossed the park assuring no one would be hungry. Annie Pinegar Jones provided entertainment during lunch with a touching rendition of Danny Boy on the trumpet. In the afternoon Margie Kirkham Stevens with her husband and daughter gave an equally enjoyable song The Impossible Dream with violin and keyboard. It must be noted that the keyboard was not what they expected to find when they arrived- and their skills in music were then demonstrated in how they were able to make do- the proverbial sweetest lemonade from small dull lemons.

The afternoon was much specific sharing around the reunion tables. Later afternoon included walking tours of the Kirkham homestead areas in Lehi. For some the last point of the day was a trip to Lehi Cemetery,an especially beautiful place that day for pause and reflection on being Kirkhams in 2009, with the roots we have in 1859.

Kirkham kin came from Arizona, Colorado, California, Idaho as well as Utah. Rainbow Bright ponies and water balloons won the day for children (which pioneer children probably had counterparts for in their day!).

Sunday, September 6, 2009

We have made it, but we are not finished: Reunion as a Beginnig

It is Sunday, September 7. In eleven days 150 years ago the Kirkham Family of our heritage arrived in the Valley of the Great Salt Lake, welcomed as we heard again by cheering crowds and a flower bedecked calf.
I know there were many who were unable to be in Lehi this weekend. You were thought of- and missed. It was suggested that we do this every year so that we can get everyone. Think on that for a week or so!
Also think about this: I would like to maintain this blog as a running history blog of the
George (William) Kirkham Families. I will do my best to not allow it to become a Ked Kirkham blog; hopefully my skills at blogging will allow me to add visual portions, sidebars etc.
After a few days rest I will come back and look at what commitment I can make, as I believe it will require that. I do not want to let the reunion go just yet; those who were in Lehi on Saturday perhaps are enjoying the same feelings.
I was SO SO very happy to see and meet you. And thank you to those who took the time to jot corrections and additions to my records.