Mojo Monday ~ Tragedy Strikes

Nevada ship log showing Lizzie and family.
Photo of Lizzie and her daughters.

When we last left off with the story of Lizzie an accident had just occurred.

On the family’s return trip from Billings, Montana the older children were walking along the roadside picking flowers.  Five year old Electra who was riding in the wagon decided she wanted to pick flowers too and while climbing down, slipped and fell.  Her dress caught in the brake block and threw her under the wagon.  The heavy wagon rolled over her body and her back was broken.  The family went back to Billings for a doctor, but he said he could do nothing for her.  Her father, Rollins Don Carlos, wanted to get back to the ranch, so they made a bed for her in the wagon and started out.  Their travels took them through the Crow Reservation at Pryor, Montana.  The Crow tribe did what they could to ease her suffering, but after a few days she died on June 27, 1894.  She was laid to rest there on the reservation with a service spoken by a Catholic priest.  Lizzie did not feel good about the rosary beads and the cross he put into her little coffin and she removed those before she was buried.

The family finally returned to Burlington in the month of July.  Young Earnest, who at twelve years old, had been left behind to mind the ranch, had almost given up hope of ever seeing them again.  The sad events of the trip and the poor conditions of the family made it hard for them to accomplish much that summer.  Lizzie’s husband, Rollins Don Carlos, continued to work for other others.  They moved onto the Thorn Ranch and lived in a small cabin.  It was another hard winter for them.  In the Spring of 1895, Rollins Don Carlos chose his land and began to clear some of the sagebrush.  While they were still living at Thorn’s Place another daughter was born.  Valie Shepherd joined the family on June 5, 1895. (Valie in later years would share how her father wanted to name her Roxalana Ray after his mother, but what of the neighbors had a dog named Roxie, and that is why she was not given that name.)

In 1895 Mormon settlers located in the region permanently and named the place Burlington.  They decided to build another ditch to cover the land lying along the river valley and it could be down for much less than the Bench Canal.  Things were looking blue, but the settlers came together and elected Richard L. Proctor as Superintendent and through his untiring effort rallied the people.  That land had to be homesteaded so that every man had to build on the place he had selected for a home.  The ditch was sufficiently finished and some crops were raised the same season that the work began.  The group of families that were among those who built homesteads included the Shepherds, Packards, Bakers, Rigtrup, Corns and Dobson families. 

Young Earnest and Carl hauled logs from the Narby mountains and a one room cabin was built.  A story by Claude states that they moved to the homestead in the Fall of 1895.  They hauled logs to build a fence so cattle could be kept out.  The first year they put in five acres of hay and grain.  They continued to clear more land each season.  The following years they had a good crop of wheat and Lizzie had a large bin built in one corner of the cabin.  She filled it with wheat and a bed was made over it.  She traded three bushels of wheat for a small pig.  The pig had the scurvy and she put it into a wash tub and gave it a good lye soap bath and then fed it well.  She was rewarded with a nice littler of pigs the following spring.  Claude’s story tells of pulling salt grass during the winter to feed the pigs.  

The family continued to clear the land.  The earliest memory that Valie recounted was of sitting on a blanket of sagebrush while the older boys, Earnest and Carl, hauled more logs from the mountains.  Times were still very hard for the settlers, but romance entered the picture too when eldest daughter Florence Wiggett, at age seventeen married Burton Jackson Prettyman on August 3, 1896.

The young couple went to live with his family at their place across the Greybull River.  They built a small house on his parents property and lived there for about ten years.  Burton Prettyman had been married before and had one son, Charles Prettyman.  

The Shepherd family was able to get a cow and some chickens the next year.  This added milk, butter and eggs to their diet.  The children picked berries down along the Greybull River in the summer for fruit. Sometime during the year of 1897 Lizzie suffered a late term miscarriage.  That same year she also became a grandmother.  Lizzie was thirty-six years old the year her daughter, Florence Wigget Prettyman had her first child on May 12, 1897, a son named Josephus Prettyman.

To be continued….

Mojo Monday ~ Hardships for Lizzie and Family

Nevada ship log showing Lizzie and family.
Lizzie is featured in the center of this photo.

The continuing story of Elizabeth “Lizzie” Talmer Roberts Shepherd.   The first installment began here.

In the spring of 1893 Lizzie’s husband Rollins Don Carlos Shepherd decided to move the family into the Big Horn Basin area of Wyoming.  The Church of Latter Day Saints had encourage the settlement of this area and Rollins Don Carlos has heard that there were good opportunities to be found in the area. The family, which included 7 small children, loaded their belongings and supplies into a covered wagon and set out on a journey of about 550 miles to the north.

One of the family stories mentions that a small pony was purchased for Earnest Wiggett, who at twelve years old, helped to drive their cattle.  The family started off with 75 head of white face cattle, which would have given them a good start on a herd, but due to feuds between cattle and sheep men of the west, a significant number of their cattle were killed during the journey.

Lizzie, expecting again during the trip, cared for the small children, including six month old Edna, who was ill almost the whole trip.  Their son Laffe (Marcus de Lafayette) had trouble with an injured eye all the way and for years following.

The area that the settlers moved into was a large fertile valley about 25 miles east from either Basin or Greybull, Wyoming.  Earlier settlers had been trying to establish an irrigation system, but the undertaking had proven too great for their small numbers.  Many of those settlers grew discouraged and sold their interests to a man by the name of Wiley.  He enlarged the irrigation ditch and settled the area with German settlers and in turn became know as Germania Bench.

Lizzie and Rollins Don Carlos located their wagons, when they arrived, along a bend in the Greybull River and it became known as Mormon Bend.  Others in the group were the Bill Clark family, Tom Jones and William Packard.  The Shepherd family had arrived too late into the summer of 1893 to begin clearing land.  That year Rollins Don Carlos worked for other farmers in the area.  They moved their wagon from Mormon Bend on to the small ranch owned by Jim Goodrich.  It was here that their third daughter, Adeline Shepherd was born on September 7, 1893.

It was a very hard winter for Lizzie.  She had a newborn baby and little Edna, who was not yet a year old, was ill a great deal of the time.  After the new baby was born both of the babies were breastfed.  The entire family lived in, around and under the covered wagon.  It provided little shelter and food was very scarce.  Rabbits and other wild game was used as meat when they were available.  Wheat was ground in a small hand coffee mill.  The wheat was used as cereal, toasted and brewed as a warming drink, and twice ground for bread.  An old man living alone in a wagon down near the river starved to death that winter.

In the spring someone sent word that they had one of the whiteface cows with the family brand. Rollins Don Carlos went to get it, but the man insisted that he could not take it home alive, so the cow was killed and taken home as much needed beef.

It was a very hard and discouraging year.  By spring all the supplies had been exhausted.  Rollins Don Carlos decided to make a trip to Billings, Montana, a journey of about 200 miles.  Young Earnest Wiggett (12 years old) was left to take care of the camp.  Many years later daughter Edna Hanna wrote a story about this journey titled “Never Marry An Old Man”  It was on the return trip from Billings that an accident occurred.

To be continued….

What are your thoughts about the challenges and hardship this family faced? 

I know it gives me pause and perspective regarding what I might consider challenging and difficult in my own life today.

Have you come across any daunting stories in your own family history?

Mojo Monday ~ Lizzie’s Adventure Continues

ELizabeth "Lizzie" Talmer Roberts
Elizabeth “Lizzie” Talmer Roberts

The story of Elizabeth “Lizzie” Talmer Roberts continues from the previous Mojo Monday

When they reached New York on April 23, 1883 Lizzie’s son was still very ill and she began to fear that they would be quarantined by the immigration and custom service.  She had him wrapped up in a blanket and as the line moved slowly forward they didn’t stop her and instead barked at her “Pass on lady, pass on.”

first-train-from-Ogden_Jan-1870_p279_5-web

Lizzie, her two children Florence (age 4) and Benjamin Earnest (age 2), sister Lucy and brother-in-law Fred Fields, after arriving in New York, continued their journey west via train.  They rode in boxcars on rough wooden benches with other immigrants to the Salt Lake Valley.  Later they took another train to Milford where they were met by members of the Roberts family from Beaver, Utah.  A small house was found for Lizzie and her children and it was here, on October 22, 1883 that she gave birth to another son that she name John Wiggett after his father. Lizzie delivered the child herself and the child lived only a few days.

During the fall and winter Lizzie received several letters from her husband John Wiggett, who had remained in England.  She kept the letters in a coffee can for many years.  Copies of the letters were preserved by her family.  Below is the first page of a letter John Wiggett wrote to Lizzie in October 1883.  It was four pages long.  This is followed by a typed version a family member prepared.

John Wiggett's letter to Lizzie pg 1
John Wiggett’s letter to Lizzie pg 1
Typed transcription of John Wiggett's letter to Lizzie.
Typed transcription of John Wiggett’s letter to Lizzie.

It soon became necessary for Lizzie to find work to support herself and her children.  She went to work as a housekeeper for a man named Rollins Don Carlos Shepherd who lived in Beaver, Utah.  He had been born in Cleveland, Ohio on December 8, 1832.  He was thirty years older than Lizzie and already twice a widower, having been married to Sarah Smithson and then to Sarah Harris.  About 1870 he lived in San Bernardino, California where he acquired property which was lost through lawsuits.  He then moved to St. George, Utah where it is believed he worked on the building of the temple.

Elizabeth Roberts and RDC Shepherd Marriage License

Lizzie and Don Carlos were married at Minersville, Utah on February 16, 1884.  He was 53 years old and she was 23 years old.  On January 1, 1885 their son Rollins Don Carlos II was born in Beaver, Utah.  Although it is believed that Rollins Don Carlos Sr. had children from a previous marriage, it is thought this was his first son.  On December 16, 1886 their second son was born. He was named Marcus de Lafayette after his uncle, the brother of Rollins Don Carlos.  His brother Marcus was also a resident of Beaver, Utah during this time and had established a store and mill.  From 1869 Marcus served many years as Bishop of the Beaver First Ward.  Marcus was six years older than Rollins Don Carlos and they were very close.

During these years the church was still colonizing in many areas.  Families were often asked to volunteer to go into new areas and open them up for future expansion.  Early in the spring of 1888 Rollins Don Carlos Shepherd, Lizzie and their children moved to Vernal in the Uintah Basin of Eastern Utah.  The family spent about five years farming in this area and accumulated quite a few cattle.  During this time three more children were born to Lizzie and Rollins Don Carlos, Claude Ashley Shepherd born June 18, 1888, next Electra Shepherd born November 23, 1889, and then Edna Shepherd born December 9, 1892.  They established a good home and had cattle and horses.

To be continued….

 

Mojo Monday ~ Ancestry

Linda Hogan Quote

A number of years ago I got into doing some genealogy.  Maybe it is the history lover in me.  Maybe it is my curious nature.  My last foray into delving into the history records was before I had twins. Plenty of things fell to the wayside after I became a mom.  Recently though as my husband delved back into his genealogical research I too decided to sign up for a month of access on Ancestry.com. It is a fascinating journey to find the connections and the mazes of my family tree.

A week into it, sometimes obsessively tracking and connecting the dots of one generation to another, I found myself asking “Why am I spending my time doing this?  Does it really matter if I find out the names and birth dates of the people who I share my DNA?  Does that have any bearing on the present and my life today?”

What I find myself contemplating is how all of these people who I am related to were once alive and walking on Earth.  They were born, grew up, got married, had children and eventually died.  I am perplexed at times how quickly memories and historical information in a family can fade away.  So many stories and the history of a family can be lost in a generation.  I consider how after I die and my daughters grow old and die that I too could fade away.  I consider that this too is just how things are, and yet at the same time I think about keeping the stories alive and doing my part to preserve some of the family history for future generations.

I wish I had realized

There are moments such as when I discovered the death certificate of my paternal great grandmother Eva Lavendar that she and her life story becomes more real to me.  My paternal side of the family I new the least about.  More of her life story began to unfold as I discover census documents, a marriage certificate, and her death certificate.

Yet let me start at the beginning to give great grandma Eva Lavender a moment in the spotlight. This is a woman who could fade away if descendants, like myself don’t keep her memory alive.  Eva Lavendar was born on July 28, 1880 in Menard Co., Illinois.  She married Thomas Franklin Higginbottham on January 1, 1901 in Weiser, Idaho.  They moved to Missouri and their first child, Howard Higginbottham was born on October 19, 1901.  Their first child Howard sadly died the following July.  Their next child Jesse Ray was born on July 20, 1903. The third child Annie may have died at birth as the records only estimate she was born in 1903, though I am guessing it had to be more like 1904.  Their fourth child, my paternal grandmother Lula, was born on June 9, 1905. Following the birth of my paternal grandmother Lula, my great grandmother Eva would go on to have seven more children.

I read on the death certificate filed in August 1914 that Eva died from childbirth, a postpartum hemorrhage on July 18, 1914.  She was only 34 years old.  The child she gave birth to died too.  I discover this as I look at the birth and death date of her 11th child.  As I contemplate her life I do the math and figure out she married at age 21 and had her first child that same year.  In the course of only 13 years she gave birth to 11 children.

Death Certificate Eva Lavender (Higginbotham)

There are many women in my family who had this many children or more.  My maternal great great grandmother Sarah Roberts (Maiden name Briggs), was born March 17, 1868 in England.  She emigrated to the United States with her parents and siblings and married her husband in Beaver, Utah on April 16, 1884.  Her husband William Roberts had also been born in England and had emigrated to the USA.  Together they had 16 children.  Her first child was born when she was only 17 years old and her last child was born when she was 44 years old.  My great grandma Ida was her 10th child.

Roberts (Briggs) family tree

Roberts (Briggs) family tree page 2

In my research I came across a short written biography about my great great grandmother Sara Briggs parents and family. Her father James was a Methodist Minister in England.  He ended up converting to Mormonism and married his wife Betsy Fielding who converted with him.  They left England on the ship “Idaho” on June 30, 1875 with four of their children Betsy Alice, John, Alma and Sarah.  They arrived in New York City on July 14, 1875.  They then arrived in Utah by rail on July 22, 1875.  They were received in Salt Lake City by Bishop Jacob Wheeler.  Two of their older sons had come to Utah two years before.  In my searching I come across some journal accounts of those two sons.  In with the biography I also discover someone wrote a poem about the Briggs family.

The James Briggs Family

There was Robert, Alma, John and Joe
Finest of men you would ever know.
Bob, a shoe maker, the best they say,
Made many a shoe without any pay.
Joe lived in Frisco, for a long time,
Was superintendent of Horn Silver mine.
Alma and John owned a big her of sheep,
And would tramp o’er the hills, till they got sore feet.
The girls were Sarah, Alice and Nancy,
Lovely and charming as girls could be.
Sarah, blue eyes with blond curly hair,
When she caught the eye t’would make folks stare.
Nancy, brunette and brown hazel eyes.
And a shy little way that took folks by surprise.
Alice was small, dainty, gentle and sweet,
As pretty a lassie as e’re walked down the street.
The Father and Mother were Betsy and James.
They reared this family a credit to their names.
James lived the gospel and knew it by heart,
And in every way tried to do his part.
‘A very good family’, folks would say,
Now may years have gone, since they passed away.

Madeliene L'Engle quote

I am bound to them

 My explorations will continue.   It feels like a treasure hunt and when I find photos and stories posted it feels especially exciting. Getting a glimpse into reading my ancestors life stories is interesting.  There are other people on Ancestry.com who have created their own family trees and they show up as links and hints because we share relatives.  I have yet to reach out to any of these long lost relatives. I came across an article called My Top 7 Tips for Finding Old Photos of Ancestors on a website called Teach Me Genealogy that offered some great ideas too.

Have you done any exploration into your ancestry?

 Do you still have great grandparents, great aunts and uncles, cousins, who you could talk to about your family history?

Are their family photo albums, bibles, or other records that could provide details about your ancestors?

In addition to genealogy sites that require you pay like Ancestry.com which I am using, I came across a list of sites that offer free resources. I haven’t looked into all of these, but feel free to explore for yourself:

  1. Family Search www.familysearch.org (For research, historical records and
    volunteering to help index)
  2. Find a Grave www.findagrave.com (Millions of online memorials, from transcribed headstones)
  3. World GenWeb Project www.worldgenweb.org (Genealogical data per country)
  4. US GenWeb Project www.usgenweb.com (Genealogical data per state)
  5. National Archives www.nationalarchives.gov (Archived Genealogical data from the US Government)
  6. Genealogy Today www.genealogytoday.com (Genealogical Data)
  7. Google www.google.com (Genealogical data, images, maps, and more)
  8. Access Genealogy www.accessgenealogy.com (Online Genealogical Data)
  9. Family Tree Searcher www.familytreesearcher.com (Online family trees)
  10. GeneaBios www.geneabios.com (Genealogy Biography database)
More highly recommended Free sites:

Genealogy- chasing your own tale2