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 ~ Getting to Know Your Ancestors

As I have come across written stories and biographies of some of my ancestors I have found them to be fascinating. It becomes so much more real and I gain this sense that people are people, no matter the era. Reading about them takes them from being just names or photographs to real living individuals who experienced joys, love, hardships, loss, and adventures.  The historian and story lover in me wishes I had more time to devote to genealogy research. I have been doing most of my research using Ancestry.com and thanks to other participants who are taking the time to upload photos and stories, my own ancestral background has been enriched immensely.

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

Let me share with you a little of the beginning story of Elizabeth Talmer Roberts, also know as Lizzie, sister of my great-great-grandfather.  Lizzie was born on June 10, 1861 in Headless Cross, Worchestershire, England.  Her father Abel was a blacksmith.  Her mother Ellen Ross Roberts had been a school teacher before her marriage.  Child education was not required in England at this time so Lizzie benefitted with her siblings from some education from her mother.

Children were expected to begin working very young.  When Lizzie was about 5 years old, one of her jobs was to sit on the fence stiles and chase the birds from the growing crops.  When she was about 7 years old she was hired out by a distant cousin.  She ran away and came home crossing a pasture where a very mean bull was kept.  She managed to get through the pasture safely, but this bull later gored her brother Thomas very badly.

At one time the family lived near a large needle factory and for some years she worked with her mother by bringing home needles to inspect and to package.  They would return the finishes work to the factory once a week.  When she was a young lady she worked on a darm and spent spent several hours a day working in the hay fields. According to a story written by her daughter Edna Shepherd Hanna, she later worked as a maid in a home on one of the large estates.  It was here that Lizzie met and fell in love with a young man named John Wiggett.

Neither her mother nor her employer were very happy about this, so they tried to keep them separated.  This only made them more anxious to be together.  They did their courting through a small window and during walks to church.  One day her mistress told here to go home until she could forget this young man.  When she returned home her mother was very cross because of her behavior, and because her wages were needed to help support the large family.

One night soon after this incident her father wanted her to go to the public well for water.  It had grown dark and the path led through a very narrow alley, which was a hangout for a group of very rough boys.  Lizzie refused to go unless her brother would accompany her.  Her father may have been drinking, for her refusal angered him very much, and he refused to let her brother William go.  When she told her father again that she would not go alone he took a heavy blacksmith belt and gave Lizzie a severe beating.  Then he made a bed for her on the floor by the side of his bed.  In the night, after she was sure he was asleep, she ran away and went to the home of John Wiggett’s mother.  She did not return home and instead her and John appeared in church for three Sundays before they could be married, a custom posting the bans.  Their marriage was solemnized at the Parrish Church in the rectory of Headless Cross, County of Warwick on August 5, 1878.

John and Lizzie began their married life and were happy for awhile.  They both worked stamping needles at the factory.  In 1879 Lizzie quit work to prepare for the birth of their first child.  Their daughter Florence Wiggett was born December 7, 1879.

In the early spring of 1880, Lizzie’s brothers William Roberts (my great-great-grandfather) age 17 and Benjamin age 16, were baptized into the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.  They began making plans to emigrate to Utah and departed England on June 4, 1880.  Lizzie and John, still together, had their second child, a son, on May 1, 1881.  They named him Benjamin Earnest Wiggett.

About this time her husband John began staying away nights and was spending more time and money in the ale houses.  Lizzie’s brothers had written urging the family to join them in America and offered to pay the passage for those that wished to join them.  Abel and Ellen Roberts (Lizzie’s parents), with their younger children Thomas, Harry, Sadie and Alfred, left England in 1882. Lizzie had wanted to join them and held hopes that a change might improve John’s habits.  John did not seem to want to go and since Lizzie was expecting their third child they both stayed in England.  Their third child, Lizzie Wiggett, was born October 17, 1882, but died a few days later.

The loss of her daughter, together with John’s drinking, saddened Lizzie very much.  Lizzie had been receiving letters from her mother telling of their new life in America.  A letter took somewhere between a month and six weeks to arrive.  Lizzie always had a neighbor read these letters to her.  One day a letter arrived and Lizzie was so anxious to read it she attempted to read it herself.  Later when she had the neighbor read it she confirmed that she could read well enough for herself.  Lizzie make up her mind that was going to emigrate to Utah and believed that her husband John would follow her.  She had hopes of creating a new life together.  It was a difficult decision as she was also expecting again.

The necessary arrangements were made for her and her husband, along with her sister Lucy and her husband Fred Fields.  Stories say that John Wiggett went to the ship with them, but that his sister clung to him and begged him not to go.  Whatever the reason John did not board the ship, yet Lizzie and their two children Florence age 3 and Ernest age 2, along with her sister Lucy and brother-in-law Alfred, departed on April 11, 1883 from Liverpool on the ship Nevada.

Nevada
Nevada

Screen Shot 2015-02-02 at 8.26.04 PM

During the voyage her young son Earnest was very ill.  The stories are that the captain of the ship told Lizzie that if the child died he would have to be thrown overboard.  Lizzie prayed fervently that he would live.  When they reached New York on April 23, 1883 Lizzie 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.”
To be continued….

In my next Mojo Monday on February 16th I’ll share more about Lizzie’s adventures.  Just in writing this post I also discovered a web site called Mormon Migration and there are multiple written accounts of the ship voyage. In a future post I also plan to share how a family mystery that dates back to 1946 was solved.

* I have truly been fortunate to discover that stories and photos have been uploaded to Ancestry.com by distant relatives.  I have also branched out at times and have found that opening up a search based on an emigration date, birth date, marriage date, or death date can sometimes lead to new discoveries.

Do you have any genealogical research tips to share?  

Have you come across any great family stories or photos? 

Have you spoken to any grandparents, great aunts or uncles about their lives or the lives of their parents?

Mojo Monday ~ Furry Family

Once upon a time (around September of 1996) a stray can showed up on my front porch.  He was adorable with a little round head, bright green eyes and the softest short coat of fur ever.  The little guy adopted me and basically took up residence at the house.  Here is a photo of adorable Oscar with those bright green eyes joining in the pumpkin carving fun at Halloween.

Bandito Mommy - Oscar
Matriarch Oscarina

Next spring I suddenly noticed some behavioral changes in Oscar and quickly realized that Oscar was a female cat and was indeed pregnant.  Now being called Oscarina I took good care of the expectant mama.  One day while at work I received a call from a roommate stating she thought Oscarina was going into labor.  I left work early and arrived to find her in labor.  From what I had heard most cats tend to seek out private and hidden areas when it came time to deliver.  Not Oscarina.  She was in the bed I had prepared for her but she didn’t want to be left alone.  She even rolled on her back and I rubbed her belly a little.  She had me right there by her side as she delivered four kittens into this world on April 8, 1997.  It was amazing to watch as she birthed all four and then went into mama mode, cleaning and caring for them.

Oscar and kittens
Mama kitty with her 4 kittens.

Each of the kittens had a unique appearance.  One kitten looked like he had the Phantom of the Opera mask across its face and was named Phantom.  A little black and white kitten had a cute little white goatee type look and we named it Foo Man Chu.  The third looked a bit like a racoon with a mask around the eyes and we named it Bandito.  The fourth didn’t really get a name that stuck and as it would happen she was the one adopted by a friend of a friend.  If I remember right after all these years I think the plan was to name her Daisy.

As it worked out only one of the kittens was a boy, that being Phantom.  Foo Man Chu a little girl kitten, ended up being nicknamed Fooey.  Bandito, also a girl , continued to be called Bandito.  About 6 weeks or so after the kittens were born a friend found an abandoned kitten and brought it to me to add to the family.  This new kitten dubbed Cracker came with some issues but mama kitty and the other kittens took her in.  Mama would turn on her once or twice when Cracker would become aggressive about food with her other kittens.  Sadly one day mama kitty came limping into the house and proceeded to die.  All we could think is that she had been side swiped by a car and had sustained internal injuries.  We gave her a proper burial and mourned her passing.

Phantom and Bandito
Phantom and Bandito

The kittens continued to grow into healthy young cats.  Bandito was the kitten I chose to keep for sure.  One of my nieces ended up adopting handsome Phantom.  Cracker, the step-sister, also found a new home.  Little Fooey stayed with me, but was always a skittish, so unlike her confident and friendly siblings.  I now think Fooey was just waiting to find her human soul mate.  She did finally find him when she met my dad.  That little thing claimed him as her person and my dad fell in love with her in return.

The years passed and it was nice that most had gone to family so I could stay up-to-date on how they were doing.  As these things happen eventually my niece’s Phantom developed a cat illness and passed away.  About two years ago my dad’s precious Fooey showed signs of illness.  He took her into the vet and learned she had some serious mouth issues going on.  They recommended mouth surgery and my dad proceeded with the treatment.  Fooey had a couple of teeth extracted and the vet thought there might be a mouth cancer at play.  Fooey never fully recovered and passed away three months later.

Queen Bandito
Queen Bandito

My matriarch Bandito has been the ruling kitty queen in our home for many years.  When we added our dog Shanti to the family in 2003 she begrudgingly accepted the new addition, but made it clear that she rules.  Shanti to this day will roll over and be submissive to Queen Bandito.  When our twin daughters were born I wasn’t sure how Bandito would respond.  She ignored them for a few years, but when they developed good petting skills she finally gave them stamps of approval.  She used to jump up on the bathroom sink for her food and water.

Bandito chilling with the twins.
Bandito chilling with the twins.

Bandito turned 17 years old in April of 2014.  A few years ago she began to develop a cloudy cataract in her one eye.  We have also made various adjustments in the home over the years and recent months to make accommodations for her.  As a strong cat she used to jump up onto the bathroom counter to eat and drink her water.  This kept the dog from scarfing down the cat food. Eventually she didn’t want to jump high anymore, so we put a kitty door in the bathroom door for her.  In recent months she didn’t want to use her cat box with the lid on, so I removed and then bought a smaller box with a lower lip for her to step over.  We also took off the kitty door flap because it seemed to be bugging her.

Bandito at 16 years old
Bandito at 16 years old

About a month ago she appeared to have an episode of some sort.  Maybe a seizure or min stroke.  Yet after a short pause she was back to normal.  Except for losing some extra fur around the house.  Then this last week things turned suddenly.  She wanted to hide in a closet and I finally noticed a strong disagreeable order coming from her.  I googled a few things and grew concerned it might be renal kidney failure.  Just this past Friday we took her to the vet.  The examination of her mouth revealed a couple bad teeth and a horrible mouth infection.  They took blood and urine to test, gave her an antibiotic shot that would last for two weeks to help with the infection, and suggested having her come back in when she was a little better for surgery to extract some teeth.  We left the vet unsure of the outcome.  When they called with the lab results it was surprising for a cat her age that there wasn’t anything significant to be concerned about.  Yet it also became clear that at her age the infection and tooth issues could be very serious.  When I heard about her sister’s results after mouth surgery I grew more worried.  I was questioning whether to put a cat her age through such an ordeal.  My dad recommended to not do it.

Yesterday and today I have watched my beloved Bandito grow more listless.  She has been refusing food for about 48 hours now.  I have been able to get her to drink some water by bringing it to her bed.  I hold her for stretches of time.  She purrs and cuddles in tight with me.  She lets me pet her all over and brush her.  She doesn’t indicate she is in pain, even if I pet her near her chin and mouth, which is good.  She just looks so tired and listless.  She has tried walking, but is wobbly.  I wonder if the time has arrived for her to pass on.  Every couple of hours I tear up and cry.  Like right now.  In finishing up this posting I just want to go and get her and cuddle her close.  Not knowing if it will be the last time.

Me and Bandito
Me and Bandito

Bandito has been in my life for nearly 18 years.
I have been her person since the day she was born.
This fur kid has been such an important part of my life.
She will be forever in my heart.

Do you have fur kids?

Are there fur kids who have passed on
that will remain in your heart forever?
(I had a cat named Holly who lived to be 18 years old too.
She holds a special place in my heart too.  I still have photos of her.)

 

We track the lineage and ancestry of humans.  
What would it look like if we tracked the
lineage of our furry family members?
(I know for me it feels very special to have know Bandito’s mama
and to have been there when she was born.)

Mojo Monday ~ Looking Back & Looking Forward While Staying Present

William Roberts and Sarah Briggs Family
Maternal great great grandparents William Roberts and Sarah Briggs and children.

Looking Back

lin·e·age

ˈlinēij/
noun

  1. 1.
    lineal descent from an ancestor; ancestry or pedigree.
 
My blog writing, besides coming from those stories that inspire me personally and topics that I wish to share with others, is also sometimes informed by my connection with my Cosmic Cowgirls tribe.  My writing appears not only on my personal blogs, but also on Cosmic Cowgirls member web sites.  Over on the Rodeo of the Soul we are going to be exploring the theme of Lineage.  When I began delving into my own personal ancestry research about a month ago I had no idea that this was part of the new year plan.  It is rather serendipitous how things are falling into place.  
In light of this theme there will be more exploration of ancestry in the coming months, yet it won’t be entirely focused on genealogy per se.  When I think of lineage in broader terms, beyond my own family tree, I think of honoring the wisdom of all women (and men) that came before.  I think of a video I recently watched of Bill Moyers interviewing award winning writer Ursula Le Guin who is about 85 years old now and the wisdom she shared.  I think of suffragists, feminists, women historians, activists, artists…..and onto the legendary work and impacts we are leaving in our wakes for the women and girls to follow us.  There is much to explore in the coming months.  

Looking Forward

At the beginning of a new year most of us not only look back at year we just wrapped up.  We also look forward to the new year, perhaps with dreams, goals and resolutions in mind.  Here are brief introductions to several articles that offered some thoughtful ideas for looking forward to the new year ahead. 

Beyond Carb-Cutting: Resolutions After A Trauma — Sleep, Play, Love – I especially love the simplicity of these heal-the-trauma resolutions and wonder how life might flow if these were your most primal goals for the year?  (Click the link for the full article.)

1. A restful sleep
2. Play, Sing, Dance  

3. Love the One Who Is With You 
4. Be In Nature
5. Ban Perfection (though I might tweak this one to Embrace Imperfection)

2 Choices That Can Make This Next Year The Best Year of Your Life – A fan of the wisdom of Dr. Margaret Paul and her Inner Bonding newsletters and program I found her two suggested choices to be sound advice – Gratitude and Intent to Learn.  (Click the link for the full article.)

If 2014 Tried You or Tested You, Do This – If 2014 was a hard year for you I encourage you to click on over for a visit to this article.  It has the ability to shift perspective.  I especially loved the passage below.  (Click the linked title to access the original article.)

“I believe 2014 was not your worst year, but possibly your greatest.

Your Year of Greatest Strength
Your Year of Greatest Faith
Your Year of Greatest Hope
Your Year of Greatest Patience
Your Year of Greatest Risk
Your Year of Greatest Determination
Your Year of Greatest Courage”

10 Ways To Live Simply In 2015 Inspirational and thoughtful descriptions of ways to simplify.

Staying Present

Simple and wise words from Maya Angelou.

If you must look back Maya Angelou

 

Have you read any inspirational articles that you’d like to share about in the comments?

What are your thoughts about looking back, looking forward and staying present?