Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Tracing Mormon Pioneer Ancestors: Location, Devon

Rather than simply noting the locations of your ancestors' origins in your genealogy program, spend some time looking up where they came from. It will help you in your genealogical research.

Here is an example.

Richard Litson was from Devon, England, before he moved to Cardiff, and as far back as I can see, his ancestors were from Devon. [1]

What and where is Devon? Devon is a large county in southwestern England. Its largest cities are Plymouth, important in the history of the settlement of America, and Exeter. Here is a map from Wikipedia showing Devon's location:

More specifically, Richard Litson and his ancestors were from (A) North Molton, (B) Brendon, (C) Countisbury, (D) Lynton, and (E) Parracombe: [2]

And what does it mean to be from Devon? I had to look it up, but once I did, what a literary place! Devon is the setting for The Hound of the Baskervilles and the location of Sabine Baring-Gould's beloved Lew Trenchard and the subject of his Book of the West. It's the setting of Lorna Doone: A Romance of Exmoor. It's the setting for the Laurie King novel The Moor. Devon is part of Thomas Hardy's Wessex.

Devon has two large moorlands, Dartmoor in the south, and Exmoor in the north, both now National Parks. Historically the Litsons lived on the edges of Exmoor in North Devon. 

The Welsh coastline viewed from Countisbury Hill. And that answers the question about how and why Richard Litson could have ended up working in Cardiff. There must have been extensive boat traffic between the two coasts.

A travel author described Exmoor thus:
It is a very beautiful and romantic coast, this of Somerset and North Devon, with the Bristol Channel flowing between it and the vapory hills and shores of South Wales. From desolate moorlands it drops into the sea by crags and precipices of red and yellow rock, sandstone, and granite, with here and there a narrow sandy or shingly beach, which appears or disappears as the tide comes in or ebbs. Seen from the sea, without a closer acquaintance, it seems to fall inland in softly rolling valleys, high enough for the clouds to rest upon them, but easy of passage, billowed in tranquillizing curves, peaceful and arable.
There is no wilder country in England, however, than this. It is all moorland, wild, uncultivated, solitary; open to all the winds that blow; clothed with only gorse and heather and bracken, or clumps of scrub oaks and dwarf pines, in which the wild deer still finds shelter and multiplies. A good part of it is Exmoor, and what is not Exmoor is like Exmoor. Pitiful the plight of the wayfarer who thinks it is as easy to cross afoot as it looks! He sees from the coast nothing between him and the horizon but one shallow basin after another, with barely a ridge between them; no steep hills to climb, or gullies to descend; a comfortable farmhouse, or a cluster of cottages, appears, perhaps, in the lap of one of the valleys. He is spent before he is undeceived. The wild moorland falls away everywhere into dark and difficult ravines; and the cottages, instead of lying in a vale, are on a cliff with a long descent to the opposite slope. There are few levels on Exmoor, few grades that do not drag the breath out of us. It is uphill and downhill, all the way to Lynmouth...
And the wonderful thing is — something unanticipated when one sees the blackness and desolation of the moorland— that while the uplands are so austere, all the valleys, or most of them, especially where they are narrowest, support a vegetation of a richness unsurpassed even in England. Here you will find the hydrangeas growing in colors never seen before; roses climbing up porch and lattice; the fuchsia as high as the chimneys, and raining like the thorns of Calvary; myrtle and laurel, and hedgerows that are nothing but solid banks of flower and leaf. [3]
Exmoor is famous for the Exmoor pony.

The people living in the Exmoor region mostly would have been farmers and miners.


There are at least two historical books online about Devon. Each has specific information about the five locations listed above, North Molton, Brendon, Countisbury, Lynton, and Parracombe:
Great Western Railway (Great Britain). 1906. Devon. The shire of the sea kings. London: Great Western Railway Co. 
Baring-Gould, Sabine. 1907. Devon. London: Methuen & Co. [On the frontspiece: "'Is there a land of such supreme and perfect beauty anywhere?' Longfellow."]

[1] The names "Devon" and "Devonshire" have been used interchangeably throughout history, but "Devon" is the correct modern usage. See an explanation here.

[2] Two of the Litson children married Glades, who were from southeast Devon, specifically (A) Yarcombe, (B) Membury, (C) Whitestaunton, and (D) Churchstanton:

[3] Rideing, William H. 1895. In the land of Lorna Doone and other pleasurable excursions in England. New York: T.Y. Crowell & Co., pp. 1-2.

Historic Devonshire map by Richard Blome from Freepages at RootsWeb. Maps of England and Wessex from Wikipedia. Photo of the Welsh coastline from Countisbury Hill from Photo of the Exmoor ponies from Photo of Parracombe from

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Tracing Mormon Pioneer Ancestors: Library Collections

Family History Library, Salt Lake City

This is one of the largest genealogical libraries in the world. It has immense collections, many of which can be ordered to be sent on microfilm to your local Family History Center. Many of the collections are being digitized and made available online.

Here are the items on our Litson family:
Litson, Richard Jr., author, and Earl H. Ottley, editor, Book of account of voyage and training and overland travels, c. 1863, 8 pp.
Turpin, James F. Pioneer Ancestors of Edward James Turpin, 1997. [Includes Litson family items.]

Church History Library, Salt Lake City

This was formerly known as the Church Archives until it moved to its new location across from the temple and Conference Center in downtown Salt Lake City. It has a huge collection of materials which is largely available to the public. Here are the materials on the Litson family:
Litson, Richard. Richard Litson Correspondence, 1863. [Letters from Eliza Litson Glade, Joan Jenetta Litson, and James Glade to the Litsons in Wales.] Salt Lake City, 1863.
Turpin, James F. Pioneer Ancestors of Edward James Turpin, 1997.

Turpin, Mabel and Leo. The emigration of Richard Litson. 5 pp.

Brigham Young University Harold B. Lee Library, Provo, Utah

When you go to use a Special Collections section of a library, you usually need to sign in, fill in a form, have your driver's license scanned or checked, and take nothing into the special collections area except loose paper, a pencil, and a laptop if you have one. There are lockers available for your personal items, and they usually have pencils and paper available for your use. I had a very nice time recently at the HBLL Special Collections. The employees were very helpful. They do not, however, have anything on the Litsons.

University of Utah J. Willard Marriott Library, Salt Lake City, Utah

This large university library has a major collection related to the history of Utah, the history of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and the history of many pioneer families. This collection contains two photos showing descendants of the Litson family, as also mentioned below in the section about other libraries.

New York Public Library, New York, New York

Nothing here on the Litsons, but it's one of the largest genealogical libraries in the world, so it's worth a try, particularly if you are researching an old American family.

This can be a wonderful source for historic images. They have no images of the Litsons (no surprise) but there are a number of lovely historic images of Cardiff, Devon, and Utah.

The Huntington Library, San Marino, California

Another major source for Mormon collections is the Huntington Library in San Marino, California. I don't see anything here for the Litson family.

University of Arizona Library, Tucson, Arizona

The Special Collections has a large selection relating to the colonization of Arizona, so they have a lot of Mormon-related materials, but nothing on the Litsons.


WorldCat is a comprehensive university library catalog. It is useful for finding books and it is useful for creating citations. I copy many of my citations out of WorldCat's citation feature.

Litson is an unusual enough name that searching for Litson finds 58 entries, and it is possible to look through all of them. (Searching for "Smith" brings up 2.1 million results and you would be hard pressed to look at all of them. As a matter of trivia, the first item that comes up in a search for "Smith" is Adam Smith's Wealth of Nations and the second item The Book of Mormon.) Some of the items listed for the Litsons are the following:
International Society Daughters of Utah Pioneers. 1998. "Eliza Mary Litson Glade". Pioneer Women of Faith and Fortitude. 2: 1097-1098.

———. 1998. "Frances Ann Matthews Litson". Pioneer Women of Faith and Fortitude. 2: 1796. 

———. 1998. "Mary Jane Glade Litson". Pioneer Women of Faith and Fortitude. 2: 1797.  [This is the wife of Joseph Young Litson.]

South Cottonwood Primary, 1908. , n.d.. Internet resource. [This is a picture at the Murray Library as listed below.]

Other Libraries

You may want to check other regional libraries that would be applicable to your particular family. The one I will mention here is the Murray City Library which has two pictures containing Litson descendants, the South Cottonwood Primary, listed above, and James Norman Litson and a group of other ASARCO workers, about 1943. I will not look now for libraries in England or Wales.

Photo of the Church History Library from Photo of the Family History Library from Picture of the HBLL from Photo of the Marriott Library from Photo of the New York Public Library (interior) from Picture of the Huntington Library from Photo of the historical University of Arizona Library (now the Douglass Building) from

Monday, August 29, 2011

Tracing Mormon Pioneer Ancestors: Organizing Your Findings

Computer Organization

As you do your research, you will need some way keep all your photos and documents organized in your filing cabinet and on your computer. Here is my system for the computer. First, I have four folders named after each of my grandparents. This is my current family line:

Opening up the next level of folder shows this:

Opening up the next level of folder shows this:

This is a file of newspaper articles, and I have named each article with the date of publication, the contents, and the source. For example, the first one is titled, "1866.08.16LitsonsArriveinUTDesNewsFullP1.pdf." That information will allow me to quickly write a formal citation or find the article again.

You certainly don't need to use my system, but you need to figure out a logical system for your own projects.


Always record sources for information. If a cousin sends photographs or histories, make sure you note this. Sometimes I do this by placing the items in a separate folder with the name of the donor. Sometimes I add the donor's name to the end of the file name. Sometimes I add the source for the information into the file information box.

Also, keep thorough notes on sources for every piece of information entered into a genealogy program. Each genealogy program will allow you to enter source information. This is the citation in RootsMagic for the 1841 Welsh Census showing Richard Litson:

It does take time, but it makes your work authoritative and prevents unnecessary duplication of effort by yourself or others.

Get Permission as Needed

I have usually found that people are more than willing to share information and happy to have me put it on the blog so that all the descendants of the family can access the information. But make sure you ask! And if you will want to publish the picture or history, you may need to get the permission in writing.

If information has been created by an institution, or is under copyright, things may be a little more complicated. Here is a good, brief discussion of copyright.

Creative Commons

Creative Commons licenses allow people to grant others permission to use their works, sometimes with particular conditions including attribution and whether or not the work may be altered. The large photography site Flickr allows users to search for photos available to use under a Creative Commons license. I have regularly used the photographs provided by generous people worldwide for illustrating the stories on this blog.

Assignment #5

Make sure you have folders on your computer set up for your genealogical information.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Starting School

Since the children should be returning to school tomorrow, assuming the schools open on time after Hurricane Irene swept through the region, here are some family memories of school days.

Henry Green
Harry and his brothers and sisters were well-educated. After attending Brampton Boarding School and passing government examinations, on December 4, 1883, age sixteen, Henry became a pupil teacher. The headmaster wrote of him, “Henry Green is honest and industrious. I’m sorry to lose.” [He was leaving for America.] An excellent penman and a good writer, he expressed himself very fluently.

Annie Hamilton Glade
Annie cherished the memory of the association she had with “Aunt Em.” [Emmeline B. Wells] To Annie, Aunt Em embodied kindness, sympathy and love. She was ever diligent in the work for the betterment of her people. Because of [her] work [in the offices of the Relief Society publication, Woman's Exponent,], Annie was able to attend a private school conducted by Miss Cook. This was located on South Temple Street where now stands Z.C.M.I. After John Hamilton’s death in 1887, Annie, like the other children, had to work and earn as much as possible. It was because of this that Annie left Aunt Em’s office.

[After she was married and had children of her own,] Annie would get up in the morning and fix breakfast for her family. She would cook cereal of some kind every day, and no child would leave for school without a bowl of cereal. There was toast and milk, and sometimes bacon and eggs, but the cereal was the thing that kept the children going until lunch. Thirteen loaves of bread were baked every other day to keep the family going....

William and Annie always set the example in the home for refined living. There was never any swearing or loud talk. The children were taught to be honest and respect the rights of others. They were disciplined when it was necessary, and when the children brought something home that didn’t belong to them, they were promptly sent back and returned to the owner. Annie and William stressed the importance of all the children being home after school and Annie was always home to greet the children.

Eva Overson Tanner
[In a letter to her father from Northern Arizona Normal School, now Northern Arizona University.] There are about two hundred enrolled in school about seventeen boys, only. [Three months after the United States declared war on Germany.] The rest old maids and girls, just enough to show there is such a thing they say over ninety have gone from here to the border.

Harold Morgan
I will not reproduce it here, but don't miss this post about a practical joke Harold played while a schoolboy: Harold Morgan at School.

Harold said about his school days:
When we started high school in St. Johns Jesse Udall and I would go to school one year and stay out the next to look after the ranch chores and freight alfalfa to St. Johns and Holbrook.
It was in my first year at the St. Johns Stake Academy that I met The One and Only. She was of medium size, fair of face and figure, brunette with a quick wit....
Robert H. Sainsbury was the Academy principal. In my second year I was elected president of the studentbody and my favorite girl friend was elected vice president. We were also cast as principals in several school plays.

Garrard Morgan III
Garrard was a school teacher in Indiana and here are some notes about the Indiana schools where he taught: Garrard Morgan III and Eliza Ann Hamilton Morgan.
The usual school term in Decatur county during the early days was three months, and the school day began early in the morning and lasted until sundown. The teacher would be at his desk at sunrise and the first pupil to arrive at the school house would be the first to recite. This privilege of reciting first was much sought by those more eager for knowledge and there was usually keen competition among the star pupils, and consequent early rising. There were a few drones, however, who cared little whether school kept or not, and therefore, as if to show their contempt for learning, would come straggling in about ten o'clock, or in plenty of time for the noon recess. 

Jessie Christensen Morgan
I remember that I just hated school because of the teachers I had. I couldn’t understand a map and I thought north was straight up in the air. I didn’t know it was on the paper. I couldn’t get it in my head. I’d raise my hand up (I didn’t have sense enough not to raise my hand anymore) and I’d raise my hand and go up and ask the teacher if north was straight up in the air. My teacher would say to hold out my hand and he’d hit it with a ruler.

Elizabeth Pugsley Hayward
She was always interested in the welfare of her children and followed them closely in their schoolwork. About her first public position was president of the Mother’s Club of the Washington School. The mothers of the children in the school organized in order to do what they could to improve conditions which then existed in the school.

Henry Richard Emanuel Wessman
Henry learned to spell and punctuate by reading the western novels that he used to sell. He was self-taught. He went to school but did not get very far with only three years of formal education. As soon as he learned the English language, he got a job as soon as he could find one. He learned the language pretty well and did not have too hard of a time. He could not stand it when anyone would murder the English language by saying such things such as "I done it” or "I ain't got none." He thought it was important to speak correctly.

Lucile Green Glade
Fifth grade through ninth grade was at Jefferson School on West Temple. In the ninth grade she hurried home to teach religion class on Thursdays at Salt Lake 30th Ward. Aunt May Green (Hinckley) held a special class once a month for her teenage nieces. She wanted them to excel and use their time wisely. She instructed them in etiquette and manners and how to set a table properly.

Margaret Jarvis Overson
Here [in Nutrioso, Arizona,] I hunted cows in the hills, gleaned wheat in the field, helped mother in the house, sewed quilt blocks and carpet rags, and when school opened, walked three miles each way, morning and night, to school, often in the snow and bitter cold....

Our next move was to St. Johns, Arizona, where our home was for the next sixty years. I attended district school two winters, then the St. Johns Stake Academy was opened, and I attended part of three seasons, when father took me as his assistant in the Court House, where he was County Recorder. I was taught to record the different documents that came into the office in the proper books, was taught filing, record keeping, accounting, letter writing, etc. Thus ended my school days, and association with schoolmates.

Thanks to Lois Salisbury and my father for providing the picture of Margaret Jarvis Overson.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Tracing Mormon Pioneer Ancestors: Using Google

It's probably a rare person who has not used an internet search engine. Even my four-year-old will type his favorite web site into the search box (supervised, of course).

When I type "Richard Litson" into Google, it starts by showing two people of that name, one in England, one in the United States. It also shows records for several different men of that name in, including our Richard Litson. The next entry is for this blog. After that, Google lists Richard's Mormon Migration and Mormon Pioneer Overland Travel entries, which I'll get to in a future post.

There are also a number of entries which I am skipping over since they are not relevant: a soldier in the Civil War named Richard Litson, for example. But at this point, we come to an interesting result. Richard Litson and his family show up on a website called "Welsh Mormon History." 

This website includes entries for everyone in the Litson family (the mother is listed under the name "Mathews") and includes a copy of "The Emigration of Richard Litson," which is, however, not usable due to the text format.

After looking through several pages of Google results, I found a wonderful resource listed in the Family History Library Catalog, but I will also get to that in a future post.

Refining Your Google Search Results

If your ancestor has a common name, add another search term. For example, I could type in "Richard Litson Frances Mathews." That search term finds Frances Litson's obituary in the Millennial Star, the publication of the British Mission.

That search term also finds histories of daughter Joan Jenette Litson Turpin, her husband, and son Joseph Young Litson. So now we have biographies of three of the four Litson children.

The search term "Richard Litson Salt Lake City" comes up with pretty much the same selection of information. It also includes a note about a "Litson Circle" in Murray, Utah. Nice to know that the family name is still found in that area. I wonder if it is on the land homesteaded by Frances Litson. (More about that later.)

Other recommended search terms:
  • Richard Litson Mormon pioneer
  • Richard Litson Devon
  • Richard Litson St Andrews
  • Etc.

Google Books

While you're doing a Google search, make sure you click over to Google Books (click on the "more" selection on the top menu bar in Google and scroll down to "Books") and see if there is anything there.

I see a number of results that I should examine later including the following history of part of Devon which mentions a number of Litsons.

Google Search Terms

Here is a Google primer for searching the web in a more intelligent manner.
The tutorial mentions such useful features as how to search a specific website:
site: Richard Litson
how to exclude search terms:
Richard Litson -Indiana - "Civil War"
how to search for phrases:
"Richard Litson"
and other useful ways to increase your efficiency.

Assignment #4

Google your ancestors. Or Google yourself. What can you find online?

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Tracing Mormon Pioneer Ancestors: Using is unfortunately expensive, but it has a huge collection of information. The data-finding and data-sharing capabilities are amazing, but at the same time it can be almost impossibly difficult to find your way through so many of the resources that could be helpful in doing genealogical research. Ancestry is a real mixed blessing.

But thoughts on Ancestry aside, here is a very brief introduction to using it.

I have been working on constructing a family tree since it is a useful way to find vital records about the ancestor. Here is a bit of my family tree:

It is a standard family tree, and allows a picture for each ancestor. The little leaf by a name means that the ancestor has "hints." When you click on the leaf, Ancestry brings up a list of possible leads that it has found from other family trees. Here is the list of hints that Ancestry provided for Richard Litson:

I have connected to family trees from three other people, added entries from the Utah Cemetery Inventory and Salt Lake City Cemetery Records, added an entry from a large database (the Family Data Collection) and added Litson's 1851 Welsh census entry. I chose not to add several unsourced family trees, and that shows up as an "Ignored Hint."

Since the Litson family database in RootsWeb showed his 1841 census entry, I also found that and added it to his Ancestry record.

This census record is very interesting. It shows a 21-year-old Richard Litson working as a manservant at the Rectory in St. Andrew's Parish outside Cardiff, Wales. What brought him to the Cardiff area? It doesn't seem to have been the railroad, as I mentioned in the last post.

And here is the 1851 Welsh record, showing Richard married to Frances Ann Mathews, with two young daughters and a job as a railway laborer. They lived in a place called North Llandaff Yard in Cardiff.

So here is Richard Litson's Ancestry entry so far:

And that was a very brief introduction to using Ancestry.

Assignment #3

If you have access to Ancestry (sometimes it's available at the public library or at Family History Centers) look through the information for your pioneer family.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Tracing Mormon Pioneer Ancestors: RootsWeb

In the last post I mentioned RootsWeb. I realize that there are additional sites for online family trees including,, and others. I prefer RootsWeb since it doesn't require a membership (free or paid) and it shows the contact information for the person who placed the family tree on the site.

Since I wrote the last post, I saw a family tree on RootsWeb called "Litson Family Devon to the World." This family tree has been put online by a Litson cousin in Australia. Her file currently contains 1143 entries, including Richard and Frances Litson. There is some additional information included on this family tree including census entries and occupation.

Additionally, the note that Richard was a railway worker may provide a clue as to why he was born in Devon, but married a woman from 175 miles away in Glamorganshire, Wales.

How lovely to have a collection showing so many Litsons. This could eventually help to put the family together in England and elsewhere. Finds like this are why I keep using RootsWeb as a research source.

Tracing Mormon Pioneer Ancestors: The Survey

As you follow along in this tutorial, you could take the opportunity to review the state of your own genealogy and find new information about your own family as we learn about the Litson family.

Family Records

The first step is to look at the genealogical records kept within the family. You may need to contact a relative for a digital (.ged) file. My .ged file shows the family genealogy as traced by my parents and other family members, and for a program, I use both Reunion for Mac and RootsMagic.

The records on my Glade lines are pretty good, although not complete, but I have only done original research on the Pettits so I do not know how much of the following family group record is correct and where the information came from. The information is not documented, which means that no sources are listed.

A family group record can contain a lot of information. This one notes that Richard Litson was born in 1819 in Devonshire, England. Frances Ann Mathews was born in 1819 in Glamorganshire, Wales. They married in 1845 in Glamorganshire, Wales, and had four children: Eliza, Joan, Richard and Joseph. Sometime between 1858 (Joseph's birth date) and 1878 (Richard's death date) they emigrated to Utah. The family group record lists Richard and Frances's parents and the spouses of three of their children and other information including death and burial dates and places. Their LDS ordinance data is also contained in the .ged files, but I will discuss that separately in the Church Records section of this tutorial.

After checking the information you already have, the next step is to see what is available through other sources. Have other relatives put information online? 

But before we start looking at these sources, here is an important warning:


Unless you find the rare online family tree that has been researched and sourced, do not use an online family tree as anything but a starting point and suggestion of where to look for records. As a rule of thumb, people who put their family trees online do not tend to document them, and people who tend to document their family trees do not like to put them online. I am not entirely sure why this is the case, but it proves true time after time. NewFamilySearch has the potential to solve this problem, and, the subject of an upcoming post, also has very good collaborative features.


FamilySearch is the genealogical department of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. It is also a website. (For more information about using FamilySearch, see my father's recent book, The Guide to FamilySearch Online.) 

The relevant part of for our purposes is Ancestral File. To find it, go to, look at the horizontal menu above the search box, click on "Trees," and enter some information about the ancestor. Here is a family tree for Richard Litson:

This tree adds a second marriage for Richard. It looks like it may have been a temple sealing to a deceased sister of Frances Ann Mathews, as was sometimes done back then. I also see that the name "Mathews" is spelled "Matthews" in these records. These discrepancies should be noted on a list for further research.

New Family Search

NewFamilySearch (NFS) is mostly available to members of the Church for the purposes of doing temple work, but if I understand correctly, it will be eventually made public and added to the FamilySearch website. The NFS information on this family is almost identical to the Ancestral File information.


I use RootsWeb's WorldConnect Project less frequently since NewFamilySearch became available, but every now and then it can be a place to find family trees. Try to choose one that includes sources. There are five trees for this family, all almost identical, and if you look at them, you can see a number of errors, including three of the children being listed twice.

Those three websites can all provide information for the genealogical hunt, but as noted, take all the information with a grain of salt.

Assignment #2

Locate a .ged file of your genealogy if one exists. If you're starting from scratch, start a file with yourself as the first entry in the program, and go from there, building your family generation by generation. Check the resources listed above for family trees. The next installment in this series will be posted on Thursday, so you have two days to look at online family trees. Have fun!

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Brigham Jarvis in the Juvenile Instructor

These letters by a life-long resident of Salt Lake City, Lula Greene Richards, were meant for an audience of young children belonging to the Primary (children's) organization of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The heads of the auxiliary organizations of the church regularly toured the outlying areas of the church, and they continue to do so today.

These letters are valuable not only for the mention of Brigham Jarvis, the third child of George and Ann Prior Jarvis, but for the glimpse of life in St. George in the late 1890s.


St. George, Washington Co.,

Utah, June 15, 1896.

Dear Children: Think of being three hundred miles from home. That will seem like a long way to some of you. It seems quite a distance to me, when I think of my own home and children in Salt Lake City.

It was on the fourth of this month that I left home, with Sisters Mary Freeze and C. R. Wells, to visit the Primaries down here, and at some of the settlements between Salt Lake and St. George.

At Parowan, Summit and Cedar the children met with, and sung and recited for us, and listened to us so attentively that we felt well paid for the journey we had taken to see them. Every one seemed so willing to do what the Primary officers requested, and everything was done so well, we enjoyed all the meetings very much; and we felt all the time, whether we were in meeting or not, that everyone was so kind to us; we found with all whom we met the spirit of love and charity, shown in words and actions.

There may be some boys and girls in the Parowan Stake who are not always good and obedient to their parents and teachers; but we did not see them[.] And we asked those whom we did see to act as missionaries to those who might not be so good, and try to get them all to go to Primary meeting and to Sunday school.

The day we came to Parowan we passed through an open place in a mountain, called "The Gap." Bishop Adams of Parowan, with whom we were riding, stopped his team and let us get out of the carriage and look at some curious characters, called hieroglyphics, on the rocks. We were much interested in the figures, or writing, which must have been cut on those rocks a very long time ago. Some of the figures seem to represent men, others look like animals, snakes, walls, suns, balls, chess-boards, and many other shapes. You can find characters which look very much like some we saw on the rocks, in the Book of Abraham, Pearl of Great Price. I know two little Primary boys who like to look at the plates in that book, and get some older person to tell them what the characters mean. You can do the same if you wish.

The day we came to St. George we rode with Brother Brigham Jarvis. I want to tell you about Brother Jarvis' team. He said they belonged to the "Primary Department," and that was their first trip away from home. They were colts, five years old this month, had never been turned out, but raised right at home. We agreed that colts, like children, do better if they are kept at home instead of being allowed to run just as they please, until they are wanted to go to work. Those colts went along as steady as old horses, or more steady than some of the old horses do. Their names are Don and Duke; one is a dark and the other a light brown.

We have had a real nice Primary Conference here. The children have great faith in the gift of healing. One little boy, who was quite sick the day before Conference, through faith and the blessings of the Lord, was enabled to go to meeting and take part in the program. There are very bright and beautiful children here, the same as we find in all the Stakes of Zion, and kind and earnest sisters at work with them.

The Indians who live here are a great help to our people: the Indian women do the washing and scrubbing for their white neighbors. They are strong and work well. Some of them seem very attentive to the meetings. The Temple here, though not so large and grand as the one at Salt Lake, is filled with the same happy, restful spirit. God bless our children everywhere.

Your loving friend,

Lula [Greene Richards].


Dear Children: Last month I wrote to you from St. George, where I had gone to visit the Primaries.

I told you of the well-behaved colts which Brother Brigham Jarvis, who owns the team, said belonged to the Primary Department. When we were ready to leave St. George, and visit other settlements in the south, the same brother kindly accompanied us again; but this time he took a span of mares, which he said belonged to the Relief Society Department. One of them was the mother of one of the colts with which we had traveled before. The names of this team were Janet and Valessa.

Traveling in some parts of Dixie is very hard. Deep sand makes the roads heavy and the horses have to step slowly and pull hard to get the wagon along; sometimes the driver must let the team stop and rest every few yards or the poor horses would give out and could not go at all.

Brother Jarvis is a natural trainer and educator of animals. He treated the kind, faithful team with which we traveled with great tenderness; and yet the pulling was so very hard for them that one of them actually bled at the nose the day we left St. George.

We held meetings in several of the settlements — Sister Wells for the benefit of the Relief Society, Sister Freeze for the Young Ladies' Associations, and myself for the Primaries. Everywhere the humble spirit of love and peace seemed to prevail among the Saints; everywhere the children were so good and bright and beautiful. We were constantly reminded of a saying recorded in the Holy Bible. "Children are a heritage from the Lord; blessed is he that hath his quiver full of them."

One day while we were in St. George President David H. Cannon took us all through the holy Temple there, and told us much about its history that was good to listen to. We felt greatly blest; for although we had worked much in the Salt Lake Temple, it still seemed a choice privilege which we then had of entering the St. George Temple, the first one finished and dedicated to the Lord in Utah, where we now have four. The same heavenly influence which we felt in the temple seemed to be with all the humble, faithful Saints with whom we met, those whose diligence, industry and dauntless courage have made beautiful, happy homes all through the country there, where less determined, energetic people could not have lived.

The children born there seem to inherit the brave hearts and strong faith of their parents. It was indeed gratifying to meet with them, and our visit there will always be gratefully and lovingly remembered.

Brother Thomas Judd, Superintendent of the Washington Cotton Factory, invited us to visit through that building. We did so, and found much there that was very interesting. It is wonderful to see how many changes the cotton is put through before it comes out cloth ready for use. Brother David Morris showed us through the factory, and told us much that was instructive about it. Sometime I hope our people will have many more factories, and make much more of the strong, good cloth such as is made at Washington. We were given a souvenir each, two towels, twelve napkins, and gingham for an apron. This will often remind us of the hard-working, large-hearted people of Dixie.

That evening, June 16th, we held meetings at Toquerville, where we stayed over night. It was the hottest night throughout all the country there, so far as we learned, that had been known for several years.

In my next letter I shall tell you of wonderful Kanab, besides some other places.

Lula [Greene Richards].


Richards, Lula Greene, "Letter to the Primaries," in Deseret Sunday School Union, Juvenile Instructor, Salt Lake City, Volume 31, No. 14 (July 15, 1896), pp 437-38.

———, "Second Letter to the Primaries," in Deseret Sunday School Union, Juvenile Instructor, Salt Lake City, Volume 31, No. 16 (August 15, 1896), pp 499-500.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

A Note About the Picture of a Young Rebecca Hill Pettit

Yesterday the post from Mary Isabell Pettit's diary included a picture sent by Pettit cousin Sharon Wilbur that was identified as Rebecca Hill Pettit and included an unidentified child. 

I had never seen the picture before and it is always a pleasure to see new photographs, especially when the only idea you have of a person is at a certain age, which is particularly the case for Rebecca Pettit, since all the pictures I'd seen show her at a distinguished middle age:

The facial features are very alike on the portraits, so I will assume that the family identification of the younger photo as Rebecca Pettit is correct.

And, for purposes of identification, the person who scanned the photograph was very kind to include the photographer's mark.

Savage & Ottinger was a Utah business run by two notable Utah artists, photographer Charles R. Savage (1832-1909) and artist George M. Ottinger (1833-1917).

This article from the American Phrenological Journal, New York, May 1868, mentions a number of their business concerns but most particularly the line of business we are interested in:
Besides supplying the "Saints" and the "Gentiles" with the best literature of the Old World and the New, they produce good pictures—we may safely say some of the best we have ever seen. Portraits of the "saints" and "sinners"—are not all sinners?—"we reckon"—Indians, pictures of trees, mountains, water-falls—real river waterfalls, not the sort we see in the opera or on Broadway—and some of the most sublime scenery in the world.
The gallery and bookstore, between the post office and Council House in downtown Salt Lake City, opened in December 1863. The partnership lasted until 1872.

It is quite likely, therefore, that the picture of Rebecca was taken between 1863 and 1872, which would put her between the age of 18 and 27.

Rebecca married Edwin Pettit in October 1864, so the picture was probably taken after this date since her only sister, Hannah Hood Hill, was three years older and married to Miles Park Romney by the time the photograph studio opened, and since the child in the photo is not a sister, she is more likely to be a stepdaughter or daughter.

There are two likely possibilities. First, the child in the photo could be Rebecca's stepdaughter Alice Maria Pettit, who was three years old when Rebecca married Edwin, and was eleven years old when Savage and Ottinger ended their partnership.

Mary Pettit Green

Second, the child could be Rebecca's oldest daughter Mary Isabell, the diary writer. She was born in 1866 and would have been six years old when the Savage and Ottinger partnership ended. Edwin and Rebecca had three other children during this time period. Clara Anna Hill Pettit was born in 1868 but died at the age of 16 months in 1869. Emeline was born in 1870 and although she was just barely the right age to show up in the image if it was taken as late as 1872, probably would have been photographed together with her older sister Mary. Edwin Pettit, Jr., was born in 1872.

The photograph could be more closely dated by an expert in Utah photography, but without having that done, the choices are that this is a photograph of Rebecca and Alice, or that this is a photograph of Rebecca and Mary.

My best guess is that this picture was taken after Clara died, and shows Rebecca and Mary. But it could also be taken shortly after her marriage and be a picture of Rebecca with Alice. What's your best guess? Anyone know for sure?

For more information on the photographers, see Peter E. Palmquist and Thomas R. Kailbourn. Pioneer Photographers of the Far West: A Biographical Dictionary, 1840-1865. Stanford, Calif: Stanford University Press, 2000.