Friday, July 24, 2009

What is a Pioneer?

I had no idea there were pioneers in my family until my college years when I started to gather my genealogy. The dates and places in my early ancestors’ history were my first indication that they had come from somewhere else to the Utah territory when it was settled by the pioneers. Fleeing persecution for their religious beliefs in Nauvoo, Illinois, my ancestors traveled overland in wagons and handcarts. What a fun discovery. Now the Utah history books I studied took on new meaning for me as they were talking about my family members.

In the first grade at Eureka Elementary, my mom made me a long pioneer dress out of her kitchen curtains complete with a bonnet, I was so excited! Now, wearing my authentic costume and pulling a small red wagon with a covered cloth top, I was in my first July 24th parade. Celebrating my first Pioneer Day, it took years before I would gathered their stories of immigrating to Utah.

Pioneers are found in all families. Defined as someone who goes into previously uncharted or unclaimed territory with the purpose of exploring it and possible colonizing or settling it. Even our Native Americans had ancestors who pioneered this great land of America immigrating over the Bering Strait or sailing across the oceans to this continent. People from throughout the world have traveled to America to start new lives and raise their families.

Another definition of a pioneer is a person or group that is the first to do something or that is a forerunner in creating or developing something new. Many of us are pioneers in terms of starting new projects, organizations, trades or moving to a new area. My aunt and uncle were the first in our Utah family to move to Southern California during WWII times. After they initially settled there and found employment, other relatives followed their example and moved to new jobs in that promising land of sunshine and sea.

Our modern day children seem to be more adventurous in their quest for new areas to move to and raise their families. Nowadays, I find my own immediate family members not residing in Utah where I live, but in such far flung places as Seattle, Sacramento, Santa Fe and Silver City, New Mexico––continuing the family tradition of being pioneers.

Do you know who in your family came to America first? (The photo above is my great grandfather Joseph Vernon who came to Utah in 1867 at age four with his family from England as converts to Mormonism.)

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

My book is published!

This book is a collection of my column articles published in St. George, Utah’s “Senior Sampler.” It's entitled LOOK-ING BACK...At the “Good Old Days.” Being a retired educator and an empty nester, I have more free time now for pursuing my lifelong passion for genealogy through publishing my ancestor’s stories and writing articles for columns, blogs, and magazines based on my life’s experiences in a family.

Finding a passion or interest you enjoy can add richness and interest to your days at any age, whether you are able to make it into a livelihood or just a leisure activity. Spare time to pursue hobbies or talents was a rare commodity for our parents and grandparents as they used all their time just to put food on the table and take care of their family. Recreational activities were few and far between for them. Holidays and family celebrations were opportunities to gather and enjoy each other’s company. They would have loved to have had more breaks from every day work activities to pursue their individual talents, and hobbies.

Hopefully I have cap-tured some of the experiences from their lives that show the passion and legacy they left for their descendents. We all have grandparents and parents who loved, nurtured and molded us as we grew up under their influence. May my stories bring to mind your recollections of your earlier days and perhaps light a fire under you to write down some of your experiences so they won’t be lost to your descendents.

Self published, 80 pages with photos, bound paperback and available for purchase NOW for $10 plus postage ($2 in USA). Just email me: lin at sunrivertoday dot com for my mailing address so you can send payment for your purchase. Thanks for your support. All money earned goes to my youngest son's college fund.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

History and Me

If you're like most kids, HISTORY of any kind is/was your most boring subject in school. I remember memorizing facts in elementary school on up to college just to pass tests while having no interest at all in the subject.

It wasn't until I matured (read aged a bit) that I began to see the interaction between HISTORY and ME. My awareness may have started when I became aware that I had Mormon pioneers who immigrated from Europe to America after their conversion. I was curious about their homelands and lives there. Also traveling in Europe and other places in the world made me aware of the great differences between countries and cultures. Which led me to say...How come?

Well, being a curious person, I started reading history books for my own personal satisfaction and not to fulfill requirements for a class or to study for a test. Now I was motivated to learn. Perhaps if I'd had a really good HISTORY teacher sometime in my school days, I would have had more interest in this subject earlier.

Nowadays, I'm amazed by what I don't know. Reading the newspaper or watching TV I keep finding subjects that I know nothing about. Lately, we've taken to watching documentary DVDs about the HISTORY of America and I have learned so much more about my own country's development and struggles. I never really understood much about the War of 1812 until I studied it more. Of course watching a well organized DVD is so much easier than reading a dry boring HISTORY book with few illustrations.

As I've studied the lives of my early ancestors, I realized their histories needed to be written so my family members would know more of our heritage and background. That's how my interest in HISTORY really developed when I began the search for my genealogical ROOTS 49 years ago while a college student. I think if I were to start over in college, I'd be apt to major in HISTORY and/or writing. I love HISTORY of any kind.

Tell us how you feel about this topic.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Dads are Different

Father’s Day might be a good day to consider starting to compile your dad’s life story, if it’s not written. Some men are journal keepers, most aren’t. When you finally decide to record his history, it can be a challenge. Remember to ask open-ended questions you want answered before you interview him. It does takes time for that special man in your life to feel comfortable enough to openly discuss his life.

Years ago, I compiled a history of my step dad who was a stoic WWII veteran. He didn’t say much unless you got him talking about the war or politics. No one had ever written his life story down. When he was in his late 80s and having health problems, I decided it was time to interview him and compile his life story for his posterity––many who lived in other states and didn’t see him often. I took notes which I transferred to the computer later for him to check for accuracy. At first I got just the facts ma’am. Later after he was more comfortable talking to me and enjoying telling his story, I started to ask more probing questions like…How did you feel about the war and the Japanese soldiers you were fighting?

His completed story was only twenty pages long and focused mainly on his war years, but I added some background information about his parents. His father was from Sweden and had served in the Swedish army. His mom was from Kansas and met his dad after he’d immigrated to America to work on the railroad. With family and military photos, my stepfather’s history started to come alive. From this project to preserve his legacy for future generations, I learned to understand and appreciate him more.

To be successful in writing a dad’s history, you need the cooperation of your subject. Finding a topic he likes to talk about is the beginning, whether it’s his military experiences, hobbies like hunting or fishing or his work. Listening carefully with genuine interest will build a relationship of trust. If your dad is deceased, it’s still possible to write a story of his life, but it will take more effort and research into his life and background. Interviewing your oldest remaining family members and others that knew him is important. Do it today, as none of us are getting any younger. It’s time to preserve your dad’s legacy.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Check out FACEBOOK

Oh no, you say I'm already BLOGGING and TWITTERING how could I possibly add Facebook? Well, let me tell you some of the benefits I've found. It's less demanding than blogging-you don't need to write as much each time or put any photos or clipart or backgrounds on your posts. Just make short remarks to other's comments or questions. It's part of GOOGLE and social networking. What it does make possible is finding long lost friends, roommates and high school buddies. Everyone uses their real name and maiden names so you can search for them and make contact again. No one can access your page without your permission to make or read comments. There's also a more private email function if you don't want the whole wide world to read what you are writing to someone.

What I've seen happen is more interaction between individuals in my OWN FAMILY. Individuals who normally wouldn't write an email to each other are now having mini exchanges and getting to know each other better. All ages can join-kids to retirees. And there is a fun area called FAMILY LINKS where you can upload your genealogy and ancestral photos into MY TREE then make it available to others. Check it out under We're Related-Tree. Here's four generations of my family.
There are also lots of little cutesy things like games and things to send to each other if you really want to get more involved and have the time. I just make comments and check on activities of family and friends. Posts can be as simple as nite nite. Guess that does it for this blog too.

Sunday, May 24, 2009


Silence and peace prevail
Where once they fought
On far off battlefields
Giving their last breath
To preserve our freedoms

Now a simple headstone
Testifies to their bravery
WWII, Vietnam war and others
Called to them to service

Challenges and horrors
Too difficult to recall
Plagued the survivor’s
Thoughts and dreams

Many never returned
Gone to a higher place
Of rest as we remember
Their sacrifices for us

Saturday, May 16, 2009

New website to me...

Just tried and put in an ancestor's name from my Vernon genealogy "Ephraim Green" and found several books where my ancestor is mentioned. Now I'm going to try to get one book by inter-library loan that I haven't seen before: Over the Rim: the Parley P. Pratt's Exploring Expedition to Southern Utah, 1849-1850 written by Wm. B. Smith, published by Utah State University in 1999. It's available at a local University library in Cedar City, Utah nearby.

When you put in a name or word to search in all its books, it brings up the actual sentence where that word/s are found on a page from different books they have digitized in the google collection. In some cases out of print books not copyrighted, they will have the actual book there for you to read or where to buy it or get it from a library. It's an amazing world we live in. Try it, it's an exciting site.