Thursday, July 30, 2009

Trek Across the Plains, July 30, 1849

Saturday, July 28: In the evening we encamped near Capt. Richard's camp where they had a "trip on the light fantastic toe."

[Definition: Verb 1. trip the light fantastic toe - move in a pattern; usually to musical accompaniment; do or perform a dance. ]

Sunday, July 29: Had meeting at 11 a.m. The greater portion of the women were engaged in washing, baking and cooking.

Monday, July 30: It is quite gladdening to the eyes to view the beautiful flowers on these vast prairies with which nature's God had decked this lower world to beautify, gladden and cheer the hearts of men. Although these vast plains were seldom trodden by the foot of the white man, and his habitations are not seen up them, and but few Indians that roam over them, yet here, in solitary silence, blooms the sweet rose and other beautiful flowers of variegated hues and colors, causing their sweet fragrance and odors to the gentile breezes that are wafted over them; where the lark, the linnet and blackbird in merry gambols and gyrations inhale the odoriferous sweets, whose fragrance is mingled with the pure air of the plains, sure.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Trek Across the Plains, July 27, 1849

Friday, July 27: Encamped on the Loupe Fork of the Platte, in the Pawnee country, having forded Cedar Creek; water quite high, running to the wagon beds of some of the camp. Passed a Pawnee village which had nearly been destroyed by the Sioux Indians in the year 1846. There are some fourteen huts, some of considerable size, yet standing, but uninhabited, the Pawnees being forced to leave and cross the river. There are a great many holes dug in the earth about the village, some six or eight feet deep, nearly in the shape of a jug; some of them large enough to contain a hundred bushels of corn to which use they were formerly applied.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Pioneer Day Memories, 2009

We did it! In honor of Pioneer Day, we made our own Pioneer Doughnuts! It was a fair amount of work considering we're the type of family who lives for the conveniences of the local grocery store. Two hours later we have a plate piled high with the mouthful delights. There's no possible way we can eat them all, but we'll start running plates to our neighbors and savor the memories that this treat afforded.

Nothing but the real thing for us, baby! Hubby grating nutmeg by hand for the real pioneer experience!
Notice that there are no electric tools here. Everything done by hand!

This was a "many hands make light work" effort. Every one chips in!
You can never add too much sugar!
Plenty of calories and memories for all!

Trek Across the Plains, July 24, 1849

The continuing saga...

Thursday, July 19: Camp moved forward about eleven miles and encamped at the Liberty Pole on the margin of the Platte River.

Monday, July 23:
Camp moved early; traveled about twelve miles through a wet, muddy, miry and slimy read, and encamped on the banks of the Platte. The plains are hundreds of miles in length and from three to twelve [miles] wide from the Platte River south to the Bluff's north, and are covered with rich, luxuriant pastures and beautiful flowers of different odors, colors and variegated hues. The lands thus far traveled from the Missouri being to the Omaha and Pawnee Tribes of Indians, but we had not seen any since we left Winter Quarters.

Tuesday, July 24: Traveled eleven miles through muddy roads, the weather being exceeding warm, which fatigued and wearied our cattle very much. Stopped to rest often and encamped for the night at the Loupe Fork of the Platte, opposite to where the Pawnee village of several hundred huts were located in the spring of 1847, when Pioneer camp went out. We found a good camping place, plenty of weed and water. It is quite interesting in the evening when the camp stops to witness the activity of all that are able: some watering cattle, some driving others to herd, others carrying wood and water, others making fires and carrying wood for evening and morning, while others are preparing their meals; after supper the driving up of the herd, chaining and tying up cattle. The captains of the guard blows his horn and summons the guard to duty. The camp, after prayers, retires to rest. With their camp lights burning and their lamps lighted up in their wagons, with the lowing of the oxen, the bleating of the sheep and neighing of the horses in the corral, the howling of the wolves in the distant hills and the prairies, with the half hourly cry of the guards from No. 1, as they cry the hour of the night with "all is right," all combined lends enchantment to the scene and a feeling of praise veneration and thanksgiving to the God of the Saints.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Pioneer Doughnuts

Oh Yum! I was perusing our local newspaper yesterday and came across a recipe for pioneer doughnuts. This recipe is said to be a Brigham Young original, handed down through the generations and first published in the church magazine, the Ensign, in 1976. The article also makes mention of a local historian who revived the interest in the recipe earlier this year. You'll want to check it out!

I think that we'll give this a try tomorrow. Of course, we won't be using the original recipe that called for frying these delicacies in lard. These doughnuts are said to have a cake-like texture and instead of the super-sweet treats of today, provide a hint of nutmeg. We'll also use baking soda since I have no idea where to get saleratus.

Here's the modernized version:

Brigham's Doughnuts
5 1/2 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoons grated (or ground) nutmeg
2 cups buttermilk
2 large eggs
1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
1/4 melted butter

Combine flour, baking soda, salt and nutmeg and sift together. Set aside. In large bowl, whisk together buttermilk, eggs, and sugar. Add melted butter to liquid mixture and whisk again. Stir in sifted ingredients until well blended. (No fair using anything electric here! Stir with a wooden spoon!!)

At this point, the dough will be sticky. Let it rest for 5 minutes before rolling for easier handling.

Roll or pat dough on floured board about 1/4 inch thick and cut with 2 1/2 inch doughnut cutter. Fry in hot oil until golden brown on both sides. Drain and sprinkle with powdered or cinnamon sugar.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Swiss Days, 2009 - Find us here!

We now know where we'll be located at Midway, Swiss Days on September 4th and 5th. Bummer that it's not as easy as steering you to the exact same location as last year (see the map B50 for reference).

Commit this to memory - C7! You'll find us in the north/west corner of the lot. One row in from the end.

Haven't experienced Swiss Days? You gotta try it, if only for the fabulous food and wonderful entertainment ...but we'd love for you to stop by and say hi and see what keeps us so insanely busy (or is it just insane :) )!

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Trek Across the Plains, July 18, 1849

My to-do list is a mile long. But here I sit knee deep in family genealogy records, oblivious to the fact that my house is a mess and things are NOT magically getting done in my absence. My family will tell you that I'm in my happy place. I am!

The biggest problem with getting out the family records is that I have a hard time putting them away. Today I simply meant to look up one little fact for that last blog on great-grandpa Christian. Now it is hours later, but check out what I found...

William Appleby was the company clerk for the George A. Smith Company of Immigrants that traveled from Kanesville, Iowa in 1849. Our great-great-grandfather was part of this group. William left a detailed record showing the major events of the trip from start to finish. I thought it might be interesting to include the historical data as they transpire throughout the coming days so you can experience what it might have been like to cross the expansive western plains in mid-1800's.

We'll play a little catch-up since the records started July 4th.

Wednesday, July 4: Left Kanesville to-day with our teams along with several others, traveled about six miles and encamped with Elder Benson's company on the prairies. Tarried until the Sabbath following, when we moved about four miles further towards the Missouri River, to embrace our turn in being ferried over the same, which we accomplished on Wednesday, the 11th, and encamped again in the Indian Territory, Omaha Lands, near Winter Quarters.

Saturday, July 14: Mosquitoes bad indeed.

Wednesday, July 18: Have got all our wagons and cattle safely over the river, (Elk Horn). The camp moved forward about three miles, and encamped for the night where pasture was good and plenty. About twelve o'clock at night a general rush or stampede was made by the cattle, taking some fright. They passed the guards and ran towards the river. Every man in camp was summoned to turn out, and with arms and their hands, assisted in bringing them back. In about an hour or two, the horsemen had headed them, and we got them returned back to camp, oxen, cows, etc. , and placed an additional guard around them. We had the good fortune not to lose any of them.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Picnik Fun

That is not a misspelling. It's Picni-k, as in Picnik Photo Editing. Need an easy way to edit your photographs and Adobe Photoshop isn't handy, or maybe Photoshop just makes you feel less than handy? Check out how simple it is to get your pictures ready for sharing --whether you have a few simple cropping needs or want to jazz up your photograph with an multitude of fun options.

This is an amazing picture of Kevin's great-great Grandfather, Christian. It's amazing because five short years ago we knew almost nothing about this man. We had one photograph and a few scant pages of history on a remarkable individual who made some tremendous sacrifices of which we are the beneficiaries.

We've learned a lot in five years. We've also discovered the previously mentioned photograph at an extended family reunion two years ago. (See why I LOVE family gatherings?!) Several records were left of Christian's life experiences, most penned through children's recollections of their father's stories. Christian's history provided two short sentences of his 1000 mile trek across the plains. "In the spring of '49, I left my father's family in La Selle, Illinois and came to Salt Lake City. We were seven wagons in company... arriving in SLC October 25, 1849."

That's it! Could that be all that happened?I think not! It took some sleuthing, but gratefully, one Canute Peterson left a more detailed record of his adventures on the trail. He thoughtfully included the names of several in his company, including our ancestor, Christian!

"On the 18th of April 1849, a company of 22 Saints left La Salle, Illinois to come to Utah. There were several young people in the company, among whom I may mention Sister Sarah Ann Nelson, Christ[ian] Hayer [Hyer] and myself. We had six wagons in our company.

A journey of about 200 miles brought us to Burlington, Iowa. We found the city deserted with the exception of the ferrymen and a few guards who were left to watch the city. The streets and porches had been strewn with new lime, because of the great Cholera epidemic."

This small group of pioneers joined the Benson Company in Kanesville, which was the last group to start for Utah that season. They traveled in "good peace along the Platte River and had a prosperous journey for many weeks. There was an abundance of game, such as buffaloes, antelopes, elk, etc."

When their camp was within eight miles of the last crossing of the Sweetwater, at a place called Willow Creek they were blocked by a tremendous snow storm that lasted 40 hours. Canute, Christian, and several others were asked to leave the relative comforts of their small wagons to search for missing cattle that had wandered off during the storm. They started on foot and found it a tedious journey due to snow that was waist deep. Luckily, the cattle had the good sense to hunker down in a grove a willow trees that served both as food and shelter from the harsh storm. Ten miles down the trail the snow vanished and the company returned to dry ground. Good luck prevailed and they reached the Salt Lake Valley October 25, 1849.

Bless you Canute for taking the time to write in your journal!

That's Kevin's great-grandfather, sitting to the left of his great-great grandfather and grandmother!

Monday, July 13, 2009

Susannah Stone - A Handcart Pioneer

Several years ago we had the privilege of helping a family retell the story of an amazing ancestor. Susannah Stone was born in 1830 in the town of Bristol, England. In 1856 she decided to come to Utah and joined one of the last two handcart companies to cross the plains that year.

Those familiar with the history of the Willie and Martin handcart companies will remember the hardships endured by these brave, but inexperienced travelers. Unfriendly Indians, broken handcarts, missing cattle and reduced rations all played a factor in their inability to move quickly across the harsh terrain. An early winter took its toll and 77 of the 404 members of the Willie Company perished before reaching the Salt Lake Valley.

As you read this beautiful story, you are reminded of the difficult life our pioneer forefathers endured. But Susannah is quick to point out that they didn't consider themselves pioneers. That title was reserved for those hardy individuals who had cut the trails 10 years earlier. Her personal history states "We were almost pioneers for we had to travel thru sunflowers and sage brush for many miles."

Susannah arrived in the Salt Lake Valley November 5, 1856. That same day she met the handsome, young Thomas Lloyd who had immigrated the previous year. Both were favorably impressed at their first meeting and Thomas proposed on the spot. Together they share thirty-eight years and fourteen children.

Fast forward to 2009. Last weekend descendants of Susannah Stone and Thomas Lloyd had a family reunion. Someone brought a copy of the story that we helped to preserve. One of the attendees did a double take when she looked at title page. She recognized the name of one of the authors. They have been friends for many years, but in ALL those years, they had never realized they shared the same Great-Grandmother.

It really is a SMALL world!

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

God Bless America!

Happy belated Fourth of July! I have always loved celebrating the Independence of our nation. My earliest recollections of proper celebrations came during my youthful years. Greendale, Wisconsin knew how to make July 4th special! Every year I would spend the month of June dreaming and then designing the perfect float to be towed by yours truly on the back of her trusty blue Schwinn. I don't remember ever winning a grand prize, but you'd have thought so the way the buttons burst as I proudly wore my contestant ribbon ever year.

The parade route always started at the local high school and after meandering down Main Street, finished on the steps of the town hall with a flag ceremony and inspirational message. We then made our way to the Junior High School parking lot where all the carnival rides and food tents had been set up. Oh my, the smell of German Brats and sauerkraut on the grill defy description!

Fast forward thirty (plus) years! How lucky are we to have found a community that continues the tradition of creating family memories?! Our little town actually starts the holiday party a day early with a July 3rd celebration. Our July 3rd started with a 6:30 am wake up call to get the kids moving and down to the local golf course in time to participate in our first annual Neighborhood Golf Scramble. Our family team didn't fair too well, but that's the beauty of a scramble... it doesn't matter!

For ten years, our neighborhood has proudly held a parade, though I use the term loosely. Come with a big wheel, skateboard or motorized bike...just don't come late. The sirens blare at 6:00 pm sharp and by 6:15 the race, er, parade is over.

The party then moves to our neighbor's, the Edwards. Can you imagine hosting 300+ EVERY year, but that's just what happens. And every year, it somehow gets better!

There is enough delectable food to rival any 5-star cruise ship buffet! Then there's the snow cones, ice cream cones, popcorn and cotton candy; sure to create your own mini explosion!

Of course, this isn't the only party in the neighborhood. We spent the next hour or two, hopping from party to party, all the while checking in on our oldest who had invited a couple dozen friends over for a party of their own.

No Independence celebration is complete without a stunning display of colorful fireworks. This picture doesn't do justice to the amazing show that we enjoyed from our front porch (that's the BEST part - no long lines of traffic to work through to get home!).

Typically, it's then off to bed, but since we were in charge of the July 4th neighborhood breakfast, it was off to the kitchen to scramble 15 dozen eggs and prepare 15 pounds of pancake batter.

2009 was a memorable July (3rd &) 4th. We hope that you had your own memorable traditions that will keep the family talking for years to come!