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Posts tagged ‘traveling’

2019 – The Year With No Summer

Spring didn’t come to Eastern Idaho this year until the end of May. Or maybe it was June? I did notice that my condo got kind of hot toward the middle of July (when my heat and air guy got too busy to install air conditioning), but that only lasted a few weeks. Now it’s the 1 st of September and leaves are falling from the trees in my back yard. It’s fall already! What happened to summer?

 Long Journeys happened. I learned that the publishing process of a book can take almost as long as the writing process.
 A Fall happened. A freak little accident in my driveway required the use of a walker and cane and kept me confined, mostly to the house, for several
weeks. Fortunately, I could work at the computer during most of that time
and my sister came to help, so dishes got washed, groceries purchased and
progress on Long Journeys continued.
 A Celebration happened. After the fall my family debated cancelling the
surprise party they had been planning for my June birthday. Fortunately,
since I was in a largely incapacitated stage of recovery, they saved the
“Surprise!” part of my party until I was sitting down and the hated walker
hidden away.
 Company happened. I have had guests at my home most of the summer. In spite of hobbling around with a bad hip, no air-conditioning, unfinished remodeling projects, and non-existent hostess skills, people came. I wouldn’t have given up a single visitor. From family – kids, grandkids, siblings, nieces and nephews – to an old college roommate I hadn’t seen in years – each and every visit was wonderful!

Although summer seems to have passed without my realizing it, plans for the weeks ahead are exciting. Long Journeys will be printed and available soon. A follow-up book containing the Revolutionary War records and New York court cases contained in the old book written by my ancestor, John Comins, Jr., will be close behind it. This journey of my own through research and writing, although it has a mind of its own,
appears to be nearing its end. Time will tell.

Excerpt from Revolutionary War Records

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.


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.


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.


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.