23 July 2015

Familiar Friends and the Mormon Pioneer Overland Travel website

Last Saturday I had the opportunity to visit the Ogden FamilySearch Library, formerly known as the Ogden Family History Center. It is unusual that my wife actually wanted to go and take me with her. Usually I want to go and take her. My wife is a reporter for the Ogden Standard-Examiner and she was covering the center's guest speaker, Michael Landon. Landon spoke about Mormon Battalion as well as Mormon Migration, the wagon trains & handcart companies.

I will not write a lot about the presentation except to say I learned many things. I want to purchase his book to learn even more. Once my wife's story is published I will post a link to it here.

As we were leaving after Landon's presentation I ran into one of my scouting friends that I have known for several years. He and I served on Wood badge staff together. He had also served as a member of the Young Men's General Board for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints but had we had lost touch over the last few years. I asked him how he was doing and what he was doing in scouting these days. He told me he was out of scouting for now and had just stepped down from our council's Executive Board. I must have looked surprised when said, "My wife and I are serving a full time mission as the Directors of the Ogden FamilySearch Library.

Elder David and Sister Cindy Erickson

I am excited that such a great man is taking charge at a very important time for Family History and the Ogden FamilySearch Library. He of course immediately hit me up to teach a reoccurring genealogy merit badge class at the center. I could not refuse my friend.

One thing that Michael Landon did mention was the revamped Mormon Pioneer Overland Travel website. The website includes more than 57,000 individuals, 370 companies, and has utilized extensive information collected from thousands of original trail documents including rosters, journals, letters, and other primary sources.

I have been aware of this resource for several years. I have many pioneer ancestors who traveled the plains and mountains to Utah. I have found most of them in this resource.

My personal favorite is the Joseph Outhouse Company of 1852. I have several relatives who traveled in this company.

Bartholomew, George Marston Infant 5 November 1851 12 September 1925
Bartholomew, John 6 11 September 1845 23 September 1914
Bartholomew, Joseph 32 16 January 1820 28 May 1901
Bartholomew, Joseph 2 5 January 1850 9 April 1912
Bartholomew, Mary 5 29 Apr. 1847 8 Nov. 1937
Bartholomew, Polly Benson 36 12 February 1816 19 December 1912

Joseph and Polly Bartholomew are my 3rd great-grandparents.

The new website includes information about the Mormon Trail including sites of interest along the trail. Many of them I had not heard of before like Sugar Creek, Richardson's Point, Locust Creek, Confluence Point, Ash Hollow and Golden Pass Road.

There is a tutorial about how to use the database as well as new keyword search functionality. There are also several clipping from journals called Humor on the Plains. One such entry by John Clark Dowdle follows:

"We then travled on our homeward journey feeling firstrate, from heare we traveled some hundreds of miles without scarcly seeing such a thing as a tree or a stick of wood thus being forced to burn for fuel bufalo chips for to cook our food. this being in the travels of the buffalo known as there excavations, or sometimes caled by the boys, chewed grass. sometimes while geathering these chips one must be very carful in examening the under part or they might find them not so hard as he would wish. There is one little circumstance connected with this part of the program worth mentioning[.] it stands with me as well as some others as a rich joke". There was in our train a very nice young lady who was very fond of assisting here [her] parants in all kinds of camp duties expecly [especially] here [her] mother, expecly in gathering chips." not with standing the abhorance she had in regard to them." On evening while geathering them for there evenings use and not being very far from camp, and watching very clostly to see if anyone was looking in her direction and on beinging convinced that all was right, just at this time turning over one very nice large one, and finding something rather soft and getting some thing on it that did not suit her, she gave her hand a turable [terrible] shake making some of the teamsters think that she was bitten by a rattle snake, she not wishing to let the secret be known. yet it was mistrusted what the alement was" that she had pressed the chip rather hard and the affect being not very plesant, so the reader can well imagen the effect of the joke. However this little affare was a very agreeable one."
Time using this website will be well spent even if you do not have relatives mentioned. The Mormon Trail is apart of the westward migration in United States history.