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Where The Stork Drops You

My youngest sister Lonna, although she loves us and our huge extended family, likes to joke that the stork made a mistake when he delivered her to our home in Idaho.  She says he left her in Southeast Idaho with the Mormons when she was destined to be in Southeast Iowa with Methodists. After visiting Iowa and Illinois from her home in Keosauqua, Iowa to research the history of our ancestors, we discovered just how close we all came to that destination.  Keosauqua is just an hour’s drive from the old Mormon city of Nauvoo, Illinois.

Mormon settlers moving west from Utah in the late 1800s established the small Idaho community we grew up in.  Our grandparents had been early settlers to the area, with our grandmother arriving as a child and our grandfather at the age of 18.  Along with most of their siblings they spent the rest of their lives there, so the little town and the farm area around it were full of our relatives.  We grew up hearing the stories of our ancestors joining the Mormon church and facing the hardships they endured to stay with the church. If I thought about it at all I assumed everyone in our family were long-standing members.  There were just too many of us for it to have been any other way and the church was so intertwined with every part of our lives that nothing else was even considered.

The research trips my sisters and I took to Illinois proved otherwise.  We were totally surprised to learn that most of the members of our Tyler family left the church  after the troubles in Missouri.

We knew that our ancestor Elizabeth Tyler, along with her husband Andrews and their 10 children had joined the church started by Joseph Smith, in Erie County, Pennsylvania in 1832.  (At the time it was called the Church of Christ, but within a few years the name had been changed to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints). Elizabeth and her family followed the church and its leaders to Kirtland, Ohio and then two years later to Far West, Missouri.  When the Mormons were expelled from the state of Missouri they travelled about 200 miles eastward to cross the Mississippi River into Illinois.  

Elizabeth’s husband Andrews and her 18 year-old son Comfort died along the wagon trail between Kirtland, Ohio and Far West Missouri.  Of the remaining nine children in her family only my great-great-grandfather Daniel Tyler and his sister Almina Tyler Behunin stayed with the LDS church and moved west to Utah and Idaho.  Elizabeth’s other children all stayed in Illinois, with the four youngest settling in the town of Richfield. Records of the Richfield Methodist Church show Elizabeth’s family as founding members.  Her daughter-in-law Clarissa, widow of Nathaniel, and Clarissa’s brother Alvin Hartshorn, donated the land on which the church, which is still in service today, was built. 

Had Daniel Tyler chosen to stay in Illinois with the rest of his family or had we descended from any of the other seven sons of Elizabeth and Andrews Tyler we could indeed have been dropped by the stork with Methodists, either in Iowa or an hour away in Illinois.

Excerpt from Long Journeys:

This excerpt contains a portion of a letter Daniel Tyler received from his niece Polly Tyler Young in 1874 telling him of the death and funeral of his brother Hyram.  It also tells about another of our small miracles as Lonna and I met with Carolyn Oitger in Richfield, Illinois. 

Richfield Ills. March 28 

Dear Uncle

I have to write to you the sad news that Hyram is no more in this world.  He died Wednesday morning (26th) just sun rising.  We buried him yesterday after noon – We had his funeral preached in the M E Chapel here by a Duncard minister – an old friend of Hyrams  — I did not realize before the friends he had – the largest funeral that has been in this place for years. . . . . While we feel sad and cannot help but mourn we know he is better now in the hands of a merciful father.  We know our heavenly father has a home for him – that he is no longer a wanderer and homeless.

November 2017

Marcia [owner and publisher of the Liberty Bee Times, Liberty, Illinois] phoned the woman’s sister, told her who we were and that we were looking for information on the Tyler family.  Amazingly, Carolyn Oitger agreed to meet us an hour later at the Richfield Methodist church.

When Carolyn got out of her car to take us inside the church her hands were full of papers and books.  She had copied several pages of information for us before leaving her home. We learned that Clarissa Tyler, Elizabeth’s daughter-in-law, and her brother Alvin Hartshorn had donated the land this little white Methodist church had been built on in 1859 and were among the founding members of the congregation.  Across the road from the church is a house that was originally the store her husband Nathaniel Tyler established in 1845 and which Clarissa ran for many years after his death. It had also served as the Richfield Post Office with Clarissa the Postmistress for the community. 

We had been in the church with Carolyn for at least an hour looking at pictures, newspaper articles and church scrapbooks when she took us on a tour of the building.  As we walked into the chapel (sanctuary), I realized this was where Uncle Hyram’s funeral had been held. Less than a mile away, Carolyn had grown up in a house built by Ira Tyler.

Notes: Polly Tyler Young was the daughter of Nathaniel and Clarissa Tyler and the granddaughter of Elizabeth Tyler. Hyram Tyler was Elizabeth’s son; there is no record indicating he was ever married.  M E Chapel is Methodist Episcopal. The Dunkards were early German Baptists. They were called Dunkards because of their belief in baptism by immersion. Ira Tyler was another of Elizabeth’s sons. He was a state senator and for many years served as chairman of the Adams County Board of Supervisors.  He married Martha Ann Cook. I find all of this particularly fascinating as Lonna attends a Methodist Church in Iowa and many of my Arkansas friends are members of that denomination.

HOW TO GET RICH or MAKE YOUR OWN YEAST

Attached to the back cover of the old book written by John Comins, Jr. is a page that appears to have been cut from another book or magazine.  It includes a table of interest at 7 per cent, a table for calculating expenses, some advice on growing rich and a recipe for yeast. Because the interest and expense charts were computed in guineas, pounds, shillings and pence rather than dollars and cents it would appear John glued this to the book soon after he started using it in 1778.  Whether he gave the recipe for yeast to his bride Elizabeth Whiten is a matter for speculation. 

At the top of the expense chart is the heading: Table of Expenses, &c.  Highly important to every individual and family; and so easy to be understood as to need no explaining.  This advice appears at the bottom of the chart: The way to grow rich, and to enjoy health and reputation – is to stick close to business, and not to let your expenses exceed your income.

Receipt for making Yeast
The useful article of yeast, of which there is frequently a scarcity in this country is thus prepared on the coast of Persia – Take a small teacup or wineglass full of split or broiled peas, pour on it a pint of boiling water, and set the whole in a vessel on the hearth all night, or any other warm place; the  water will have froth on its top the next morning, which will be good yeast. Mr. Eaton, when in Persia, had his Bread made with this Yeast, and in the English manner, of good Wheat flour.  In our cold climate, especially in a cold season, it should stand longer to ferment, perhaps four and twenty hours – –  Of all methods of making Yeast, hitherto known, this is by far the most simple and commodious.

For being 240 years old this page is quite clear and the perfect lesson for anyone who might like to tackle transcribing. 

My first attempt at the yeast recipe read like this: The ufeful article of Yeaft of which there is frequently a fearcity in this Country is thus prepared on the craft of Perfia. I hadn’t yet learned that if you see a letter that looks like an F it is probably an s.

Next I spent a long time studying the symbols for English currency shown on the charts.  Is that a g or a q before the pound symbol?  S makes sense for shillings but why would Pence be shortened to a D?  These questions had to be researched.  I think I got the answers right, but feel free to correct me if not.

£ is the symbol for Pound.  Derived from the Latin word Libra

s is the symbol for shillings.  Derived from the Latin word Solidus

d is the symbol for pence.  Derived from the Latin word Denarius

g or gn is the symbol for guinea.  Named for the Guinea Coast which was famed for its gold.  A Guinea was equal to 1 pound and 1 shilling and was made of gold.

I tried to find a Mr. Eaton who had lived on the Coast of Persia and possibly wrote magazine or newspaper articles, but was not successful.

PUBLISHING

When I started transcribing the pages of my ancestor’s old handwritten book and then decided to write the stories of the people in my family who have cared for it, I considered the project to be something only my family and a few friends would be interested in. I come from a large family and I have a lot of friends so that’s no small matter, but let’s face it, we’re probably not talking about a world-wide best seller.  So it seemed obvious that this book of family and church history would need to be self-published. Like every other part of this long journey, publishing was more complicated than I anticipated.

I had to decide whether to include the pictures and transcriptions of the old ledger itself with the book of stories or in a separate volume.  I would need someone to design the cover. I thought from the recommendation of a writer I met in Nauvoo, Illinois that I knew which online publisher I would use, but with the help of my assistant (and niece) Michelle, started comparing it with other sites before making a definite decision.  I attended a writers conference in Boise to gain some knowledge about this final step in writing. Although I “pitched” my book to an agent at the conference we both knew that was not the right approach for this book.

Each avenue I approached taught me a little more about publishing, but left me more confused about what I should do.  As had happened so many other times through this long journey, another small miracle came along to push me in the right direction.  My sister Lonna came from Iowa to Idaho to visit and help finish the final details of the book: a timeline, the bibliography, foot and end notes, etc.  While she was here a friend of hers came to visit and the conversation turned to publishing the book. The friend had worked for a local publisher for many years.  Although publishing books has not been a part of the business, Lonna’s friend knew that the owner of the company has published several books of his own and asked him to meet with me.  As soon as we started talking I knew this company would provide the solution I was looking for. I have someone local to work with but still have complete control throughout the process.  The publisher will design the cover based on my preferences. They have the expertise and equipment to produce beautiful pictures. We will have a paperback version available both locally and through Amazon and a beautiful hardback produced here in Idaho.  A second book containing the Revolutionary War records and Herkimer County Court Cases will be published later. I am working with people I like! What more could you ask?

More information to come but I anticipate the paperbacks to be available in about 30 days and the hardbacks within 60.  

Today’s Excerpt from Long Journeys was chosen to show the size of my extended family and the close relationships we shared.  My grandparents, Alfred and Emily Cramer, had eight children and 32 grandchildren. I would guess that 100 is a low estimate of great-grandchildren and I won’t even speculate on the number of great-greats.

Emily and Rozilla [her daughter] had always enjoyed handwork, crocheting, sewing, knitting and quilting.  Now they were off the farm they had more time for these activities. They started making quilts to sell, getting orders from people all over the United States; others sent their pieced tops to be quilted and the edges finished.  While Emily and Rozilla quilted, Alf cut new blocks and kept extra needles threaded. Like her father Rozilla kept excellent records. Her diaries show they made 1,505 quilts over a period of twenty years, averaging 75 per year and three or four each week.  Emily once said she figured they made about 5 cents per hour for their nine- to fifteen-hour days of quilting. 

Those numbers did not include quilts for the family.  They had started making a quilt for each granddaughter’s sixteenth birthday, with Emily worrying they wouldn’t be able to finish all of them.  In fact, they not only finished quilts for the granddaughters but for the grandsons as well, all 32 of us. When at the end of her life Grandma couldn’t see well enough to quilt there were still two to be finished and one to be replaced as one granddaughter had lost hers in a house fire.  The daughters got together to make these final quilts, completing the last one for the youngest grandson on the day before Emily’s funeral.

INTERPRETING DREAMS & MORE SMALL MIRACLES

In my last post I told you my sisters look askance at my self-proclaimed ability to interpret dreams.  We laugh about it – Lonna reads palms and Myrna interprets dreams – but each of these pursuits has a certain amount of credibility.

I have several friends in Arkansas, where I lived for a few years, who study dream interpretation.  Hearing about things they learned through dreams made me more conscious of my own nocturnal meanderings and messages.  I have come to believe that vivid dreams, the ones that don’t float away unremembered the moment I open my eyes, may contain a message my subconscious is trying to tell me.  Books and web sites about dream interpretation explain a kind of universal meaning behind many of the symbols in people’s dreams. When I mentioned to one of my Arkansas friends that I was tired of working all night doing endless loads of laundry and cleaning dirty, cluttered houses she told me a house or home in your dreams may represent your own self and to think of things in my life that I need to be working on.  I discovered that each time I dreamed of cleaning all night there was some project in my real life that I was neglecting and needed to finish. As I completed a neglected piece of writing, home or craft project, or whatever else I was in the middle of, the dreams of cleaning went away. After one episode of cleaning for several nights in a row I dreamed I had a huge building to work on, starting on the top floor and working my way down.  To my relief every room was immaculate from top to bottom. Apparently, whatever real life project I had neglected was now under control.

The dream about lost packages in Illinois cornfields was so obvious it required no study at all.  We had missed something in that day of searching old records in Quincy. We had to go back and look again.

We started our second day in Quincy, at the Adams County Historical Society where archivist and historian Jean Kay met us at the door.  Jean was our next miracle. Through her guidance and vast knowledge of the history of that area we learned more about our ancestor Elizabeth’s family (those who had not followed the Latter-day Saint church to Utah) than we had been able to find in two years of computer research.  After several hours of work she sent us on our way with pages of photocopied documents and a detailed map to the Franks Cemetery where many of the Tyler family are buried.

Excerpt from Long Journeys:
Through Jean’s guidance we learned that Elizabeth’s children had been a prominent family in the area of Richfield, Illinois, a small community southeast of Quincy.  They were farmers, soldiers, a legislator, storekeepers, and for many years the town postmaster or postmistress, depending on who was running the Tyler store at the time.  One granddaughter, Nathaniel’s daughter Polly Young, was reportedly so “lucky” in her business dealings that others copied her, hoping her luck would rub off on them. Elizabeth’s sons Ira, Urial and Henry served in the Union army during the Civil War.  Ira spent 18 months as a prisoner of the Confederacy.

Reta and Myrna at Franks Cemetery, Richfield Illinois
Reta and Myrna at Franks Cemetery, Richfield Illinois

Small Miracles

My sisters and I were a bit naïve when we headed off to Nauvoo, Illinois expecting to find easily accessible information about our ancestors, and more specifically our third-great-grandmother Elizabeth Tyler. Surely a few hours perusing records at the Family History Center and the Land Record Office would unravel some of her secrets. We might find her name on old census or tax records. We could find a deed for land she had purchased or discover her name on a headstone in the pioneer cemetery. After a full day of searching we had no new information about Elizabeth or anyone else in the family. To make matters worse, we had missed the Nauvoo tourist season and there wasn’t a restaurant in the entire town that was open for dinner. We ate convenience store pizza in our room at an old pioneer home that has been converted to an Inn.


The next morning we headed out early for Missouri hoping our luck would be better in Far West, another Mormon settlement area and one we knew Elizabeth had lived in. It took almost no time at all for us to discover we were lost in an Illinois cornfield.


It seemed we were off to another bad start but sometimes you just have to maintain a little faith. Faith in our GPS Marvin, faith that we would eventually emerge from corn into civilization and faith that some trace of Elizabeth would be found. And then our first tiny miracle appeared – a crossroads in the middle of the corn fields with a sign pointing east toward Lima, the town near which Elizabeth’s son Daniel had purchased a small farm in 1842. A consultation with SIRI confirmed that Marvin did indeed know where we were headed, cornfield or not. His chiding, “I could tell you but you wouldn’t listen” was spot on. We followed his directions to Quincy, Illinois.


The County Clerk’s office at the Adams County Courthouse in Quincy is filled with old handwritten record books and a competent staff happy to help you find the information you need. We didn’t find Elizabeth herself but we did find deeds of property purchased by her sons Nathaniel and Ira and two marriage certificates of her youngest son Henry, one when he was 22 and the other at 53 years of age. We found it interesting that a man by the name of John Quincy had helped Ira buy land in Adams County and had also officiated at Henry’s second wedding many years later. A visit to the Quincy Public Library gave us information about a cemetery with several Tyler headstones.

It had been a long and exciting day. We found a hotel, a nice restaurant for dinner and put off visiting the Franks Cemetery and then Far West, Missouri for another day.

Excerpt from Long Journeys
A vivid dream became our next small miracle. In the dream I had a contract to deliver bundles of mail and packages along the same cornfield-lined gravel roads we had traveled earlier that day. I had been delivering the packages all day and was tired and relieved to be finished when I found a stack of them on top of my car. Not knowing how many packages might have fallen off the car as I was driving I would have to go back and retrace the entire route. I woke up thinking, “We missed something. We have to go back and look again..” My sisters agreed that we could spend another day in Quincy even though they generally look askance at my self- proclaimed talent for interpreting dreams. We looked in the phone directory for museums and historical groups and continued our search.

THE JOURNEY BEGINS – A ROAD TRIP

There is a notation in the front of the old book John Comins used to record his Revolutionary War and New York Justice Court records that was written by his grandson Daniel Tyler.  This inscription, along with family stories I later found, led me to the realization that this 240 year old book I have been working on could not have reached my hands without travelling the entire route of the Mormon trail, from Kirtland, Ohio and Far West Missouri to Nauvoo, Illinois and on to Utah.

In one of my earliest online searches for John’s daughter Elizabeth Comins and her husband Andrews Tyler I discovered that they joined the Mormon church in 1832 while living in Erie County, Pennsylvania.  They were very early converts to the church started by Joseph Smith.  They followed the church to Kirtland, Ohio and then two years later to Far West, Missouri, always keeping the book with them among their other possessions.

I learned from histories written by Elizabeth’s son Daniel and his wife Ruth that Andrews died along the trail between Kirtland and Far West, leaving Elizabeth responsible for her family in a mostly hostile area of the country, with limited funds remaining.  Three weeks later her 18 year-old son Comfort also died.

I wanted to know more but there was little additional information available.  When my sister Lonna suggested we visit the area to see what we could find I agreed without hesitation; we quickly convinced Reta, the other sister in our family, to go along.  I flew from Idaho Falls and Reta from Phoenix; Lonna picked us up at the DesMoines, Iowa airport.  Nauvoo, Illinois is just an hour’s drive from her home in Keosauqua, Iowa.  Reta and Lonna have been my steadfast supporters in this quest to research and write the stories of the old book.  They have listened, critiqued, and edited my work each step of the way.  We were all excited about taking this trip together.

Our first day and night, spent in Nauvoo, were interesting but provided little new information about Elizabeth or her family.  The next morning we had planned a quick tour of Hannibal, Missouri before going on to Far West to find the small farm we knew she had purchased there.

Like many good plans this one disintegrated soon after it began.

Excerpt from Long Journeys: Three women, sisters who will barely admit their ages, yet sport hairstyles in colors from the earliest stages of gray to pure white, are forced to admit they may be lost in an Illinois corn field.  Their road is unpaved, surfaced with coarse white gravel; tall fields of corn crowd the narrow one-lane thoroughfare on either side.  Rather than turn around and backtrack the road they decide to continue a while longer.  They come to an intersection with road signs and sigh in unison to discover they are still in civilization. 

One of the signs points east to Lima.  They find a wide spot in the road and pull over to consult Marvin, the GPS they have named for the manically depressed android of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.  “I could tell you, but you wouldn’t listen.” Earlier that morning they had programmed Marvin to guide them from Nauvoo, Illinois to Hannibal, Missouri, a seemingly simple task.  Yet here they are between huge fields of corn on the wrong side of the Mississippi with no other vehicle in sight.

RESEARCH AND OLD STORIES

My grandmother Emily Cramer was gathering stories and filling out genealogy sheets long before family history was the popular pursuit it is today.  It would be decades before Ancestry.com or DNA testing were even ideas in someone’s mind.  She obtained information through old family records and correspondence with distant relatives.  Replies to letters took weeks or longer to return to her.

Emily’s grandfather Daniel Tyler who died in 1906, also carried on extensive correspondence to gain information about our family.  Replies to his letters took months to return to him in Utah. 

Today I can log into online accounts at Ancestry.com or Family Search.org and instantly find information about family members who died decades ago. Fold3 provides all kinds of military information and Email is infinitely faster than sending letters through the Postal Service or by Pony Express.  That doesn’t mean researching family history is easy but it is easier than it used to be. 

As a child I lived next door to my grandmother and grew up hearing tales about my Mormon ancestors, so when I finished transcribing the Revolutionary War and New York Justice Court records in John Comins book I decided to write some short stories about the seven generations of people who have cared for it.  I told myself that since I had copies of Grandma’s family stories to work from it would only take a short time to complete the seven biographies, one of which would be my own.

The first story was fairly easy to write.  The old book itself provided clues about John Comins Jr.; census and military pension records yielded more.  He is mentioned frequently in a book about Fairfield, New York.  I completed the information I had for him and moved on to his daughter Elizabeth. 

Four years later I am still looking for information about Elizabeth Comins Tyler.  Piecing together the sparse and elusive threads of her life has been a challenge I didn’t anticipate.  Much of the limited information I found was incorrect or contradictory and took hours to validate.  Even trips to places she had lived failed to produce the final details of her life that I am searching for.  I feel like she is a well-known friend who is reluctant to share her secrets with me.  I wrote what I could and moved on to the next generation, but my search for Elizabeth is not over.

Excerpt from Long Journeys: As was typical for women of the time little is recorded about Elizabeth.  The few statistics available are inconsistent from one source to another.  She was born in 1779 or 1789.  She was the fifth child in her parents’ family, or she was the first.  She married in 1806 at either 17 or 27 years of age.  She had 11 children, the first born a year after her marriage in 1807 and the last in 1831 at which time she would have been 42 or 52.  She died in 1840 or 1880 or 1890, in Beaver Township, Pennsylvania, or Beaver, Utah or, in one listing Beaver, Beaver.  Her children mentioned her only briefly as they wrote about their own lives.

HOW TO READ AN OLD BOOK

Unless you have some training in transcribing old documents you should probably take a class or find a tutorial to study before you start.  No one told me that!

The old book which is the basis for Long Journeys was handwritten by my fourth-great-grandfather John Comins Jr. between 1778 and 1812.  It contains records of payments he made to teamsters during the Revolutionary War as well as charts of supplies hauled and horses and wagons consigned to him.  Twenty years later he was Justice of the Peace in Herkimer County, New York and used it to record his court cases. In 1812 he used a few remaining blank pages to record payments to laborers who worked on his farm.

Although the book had been in my care for more than 20 years I had read only a few entries when I decided in 2015 that I would transcribe its contents.  The pages were brittle and water-marked; the handwriting faded.  John Comins had beautiful penmanship that is incredibly hard to read.  I had no idea writing had changed so much in 200 years. 

If a word looks like it has an F followed by a small s somewhere in it, it is more likely ss.  However that rather long letter you thought was an F could just as well be a capital Z or J or maybe even P

Words may be hyphenated at any point, with a dash after the letter that starts the hyphenation and a double dash on the next line.  For example: On August 22, 1800 six plaintiffs filed suit against Luther Winslow for $11.83 – being the pro-

=portionable sum due by the said Luther to the Plaintiffs . . .  And yes, that would be an appropriate place to hyphenate the word today.  Perhaps more interesting is that each plaintiff will receive less than $2.00 if they win their case.

However, on November 25, 1800 in the case of Wiliam Grimes vs. William Fenner:

The Jury after hearing the evidence of the parties went to there room under the care of said Constable and after being absent about Five Hours Returned and the Cort asked said jury if they had agreed on there verdick and was ans-

=wered that the jury had not and could not agree and as it was midnight and the last day of the week was contin-

=uing descent . . .    This is an interesting case for other reasons than the unusual hyphenations.  It appears the jury stayed out until after midnight on a Saturday night and since the Court could not be in session on Sunday the case had to be dismissed.  The plaintiff was charged with all costs.

Some of the people who filed suit or had suits filed against them were listed on multiple occasions.  One of those people, a man whose name I originally transcribed as Ezra Griffin, filed 54 lawsuits.  I assumed he was the richest man in town, lent money freely and then sued those who didn’t repay him.  I learned from census records that his name was actually Ezra Crippen.  In 1802 he was granted a license by the Fairfield Board of Commissioners to sell liquor in his home.  Now I wonder if those 54 lawsuits were filed to collect on overdue bar tabs.

Later I learned that both John Comins’ and Ezra Crippen’s headstones read that they were patriots of the Revolutionary War.

I spent about 4 months photographing the pages of the old book and then transcribing them.  It was a slow, frustrating and thoroughly enjoyable project.

Excerpt from Long Journeys: Transcribing was an arduous process that evolved with each page.  I began copying by hand what I saw in the book, then going back later to type what I had written.  Then I learned old documents and books should never be touched.  It is recommended that tweezers be used to turn the pages and white gloves worn throughout the process.  The pages should also be protected from excessive light.  I mounted a digital camera on a tripod beside my kitchen table and photographed each page, then downloaded the pictures to my computer, numbering them as I went.  Eventually I learned to use a split screen so I could transcribe from the photos and at the same time type what I was reading.  It was captivating and addictive work that took several months to complete.

Pic 594, Willard, Goodrich, Doty, Colburn, Doty vs Luther Winslow, August 1800

Nathaniel Willard, Thomas Goodrich, Leonard Doty, Amos Colburn, James Thomson and Dorus Doty Vs. Luther Winslow – Note-this is one of the more legible entries in the book. Most are far more faded.

The Evolution of Writing

After winning a new Schwinn bicycle for my entry in an essay contest – why I should ride my bicycle safely – and seeing my name in the local newspaper, I decided to be a writer.  I was 12 years old.  While my friends were choosing to be nurses or teachers when we grew up I dreamed of writing books. I didn’t intend it to be a career. Girls in my family and peer group were not encouraged to have careers.  We would be homemakers first.  If we worked at all it would be no more than a temporary pastime until marriage and babies came along. 

Many years passed. The marriage and babies came as did full time jobs (never careers no matter how many years they lasted).  My children grew up and had babies of their own; the grandchildren grew up and made me a great-grandmother.

Through those years I did write but the many other chapters in the story of my own life took precedence over my dream of writing about others. 

In my twenties I entered a magazine short-story contest and was so embarrassed when the manuscript was returned that I tore it to shreds and never told a soul.  Many years later I learned that most of the famous writers whose work I read received numerous rejections before finally publishing their first story.  I wish I had saved my tale to see just how bad (or good) it was.

Occasionally I took a class and renewed my dream of writing, though it was always short lived.  I wrote scripts for fashion shows, eulogies for family funerals, a motivational seminar which I presented numerous times, a bi-monthly newsletter for a local support group and too many business letters to count..  Still I would not have been comfortable telling anyone I was a writer.

Excerpt From Long Journeys: Finally I have taken the liberty to call myself a writer and committed to spend whatever time is necessary to complete these stories about the guardians of an old book and the search for my ancestor Elizabeth.  Some days I get several pages written; others I spend researching, scanning through records I already have or looking for new ones online, sending emails to strangers who may have the answers I need, or just looking out my back window remembering childhood stories.

The Old Book

LONG JOURNEYS  tells the story of the travels of an old handwritten book through the lives of the people who have cared for it since 1778.  Its journey began in the East – Connecticut, New York and Pennsylvania – then followed the Mormon Trail from Kirtland, Ohio, Far West, Missouri and Nauvoo, Illinois to Utah and many years later came under my guardianship in eastern Idaho.   That it survived at all is remarkable.  In addition to the tale of the book itself and the people who cared for it, my personal trek through research and writing is yet another facet of LONG JOURNEYS.