Friday, January 27, 2012

The Winter Quarters Project

This is an intriguing little site:

Some of it is a bit buggy and incomplete, but it has lots of interactive information about Winter Quarters and the surrounding areas as well as lists of the pioneers by ward

Here is a picture of one of the screens. The marker for each settlement is linked to data about the settlement in the site. (Don't click on this picture! Go to the website.)

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Wikipedia Blackout

Although I don't understand the ins and outs of the proposed laws and although I am definitely opposed to piracy, I will stand in solidarity with Wikipedia and other sites of that sort by not blogging today. Of course, I hadn't planned on blogging anyway, due to orthodontist appointments, doctors appointments, gymnastics, church activities, other historical projects, etc., etc., which tend to get in the way of regular blogging. : )

But here's a vote of support for the amazing theories behind Wikipedia and other Creative Commons sites.

Picture of the burned out light bulb used under a Creative Commons license from

Monday, January 16, 2012

MLK Day Post: The Tanner Family Crosses the Plains

While doing research on another project, I saw that the Tanner family (John, Sidney, Seth, Amasa and Maria Tanner Lyman, and many others) crossed the plains in 1848 with several converts to the church from Mississippi. These faithful converts took their slaves with them to Utah. In fact, three of the Mississippi families sent slaves ahead the previous year with Brigham Young's first pioneer company. The names of the slaves in the first pioneer company were Green Flake, Hark Lay [Wales], and Oscar Crosby, and when Brigham Young entered the Valley, he was probably driven by Green Flake.

There were 19 slaves along in the 1848 Willard Richards/Amasa Lyman Wagon Company: Ann, Betty, Biddy, Edy, Ellen, Grief, Hannah, Harriet, Harrit, Henderson, Jane, Lawrence, Lucy, Mary, Nat, Nelson, Rande, Rose, and Vilet. Their ages ranged from newborn to 50.

(Also in this wagon train were Joseph Heywood and his wife Serepta Blodgett Heywood, who plays an important part in our family history on the Morgan line.)

Mingling with these Southerners and their slaves would have been quite an eye-opening experience for the New England Tanner family.

The Tanners, Lymans, and the Mississippi Saints settled in the South Cottonwood area of the Salt Lake Valley (now Murray), and then in 1851 moved to settle San Bernardino, California. Since California was a free state, the slaves were freed when they crossed into the state, and many of them remained in San Bernardino and Los Angeles, although a few returned to Utah.

For more information on this topic, see the article "Blacks in Utah History: An Unknown Legacy." Here is the story of another black pioneer who traveled to Utah in 1853 with his family and later served several missions for the church: Elijah Abel: Black Mormon Pioneer.

[Edited July 20, 2012.]

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Margaret Jarvis Overson's Funeral

Cousin Randy sent a copy of Margaret Overson's funeral program.

After Margaret's husband, Henry Overson, died in 1947, Margaret moved to Mesa and built a home on the lot that Henry had purchased for her several decades before. She lived at 155 E. 1st Avenue, in the Mesa Second Ward, within walking distance of the Mesa Arizona Temple, and would often take her grandchildren there to do baptisms for the dead. She spent many years working on her genealogy of the Jarvis, DeFriez, and Overson families.

Margaret's son Peter provided much of her care in her last years.

Bishop Max Cox who conducted the service is probably the same Max Cox who started Cox Printing, a well-known local business in Mesa. 

Here is a link to Wallace's funeral address: "Tribute to a Pioneer Mother."

The pallbearers were sons Victor, Harry, Ross, and Peter, grandson Kay Ross, and son-in-law Eugene.

There were four musical numbers, two of them performed by the local Singing Mothers. Here is a post about the Singing Mothers. Here is a version of the last musical number that was performed at the funeral:

The text to "O My Father" has been set to many tunes, but this was the favorite arrangement for funerals, so this is probably the version that was played as Margaret Jarvis Overson's family and friends made their farewells to this amazing, tough, busy, faithful woman.

O my Father, thou that dwellest
In the high and glorious place,
When shall I regain thy presence
And again behold thy face?
In thy holy habitation,
Did my spirit once reside?
In my first primeval childhood
Was I nurtured near thy side?

For a wise and glorious purpose
Thou hast placed me here on earth
And withheld the recollection
Of my former friends and birth;
Yet ofttimes a secret something
Whispered, "You're a stranger here,"
And I felt that I had wandered
From a more exalted sphere.

I had learned to call thee Father,
Thru thy Spirit from on high,
But, until the key of knowledge
Was restored, I knew not why.
In the heav'ns are parents single?
No, the thought makes reason stare!
Truth is reason; truth eternal
Tells me I've a mother there.

When I leave this frail existence,
When I lay this mortal by,
Father, Mother, may I meet you
In your royal courts on high?
Then, at length, when I've completed
All you sent me forth to do,
With your mutual approbation
Let me come and dwell with you.

Monday, January 9, 2012

A Family History Mystery: Who is the Man in This Tintype?

My father sent a picture of this image, which was in the Eva Overson Tanner collection:

This appears to be a tintype. My father notes that it is about 2 inches by 1.5 inches. Here is an image of another tintype from the 1860s in a similar frame:


Tintypes were an interesting technology. They were not made with tin, but were created by making a positive image on a sheet of blackened iron. Another name for a tintype is ferrotype.

There is a tintype in the following link that is presented in the same sort of case as our family tintype, and there is also some good information about identifying and caring for a tintype:
If I had to guess the subject of this family tintype, which I do, since there was no identification included with it,  I would say it is probably Jens Christensen, an ancestor in both the Tanner and Morgan lines. His style of dress looks more Danish than English or American.

Here is a picture of Jens' wife, Karen Johannesen. This image also appears to be a tintype, though it could also be a daguerreotype or ambrotype. This is scanned from Margaret Overson's book:

Here is a picture of Jens and Karen's daughter, Mary Christensen Oveson:

The next picture is of a younger Mary and her sister, Christine, and their adopted brother, Marinus, who, according to family legend, was the son of one of the two girls. The style of this picture is similar to the first tintype, and isn't it lovely, with both girls in their native Danish costumes?

Here is a picture of Marinus Christensen as an adult, the blacksmith of St. Johns, Arizona:

And the tintype again:

And Mary Oveson again:

I think there's a pretty clear family resemblance, especially between the tintype and the picture of Mary Christensen Oveson as an adult. Look at the broad forehead, the droopy eyelids, the wide nose, the wide mouth, the deep lines running down from the nose. (Is there an actual term for those lines?)

Here is a picture of Mary's son, Henry Overson:

There are those droopy eyelids again. (For lack of a better way to describe it.)

There are probably just two more options for a memento that was kept in the family for so many years. The first is not really an option: Jens' father, Christen C. Jensen, died in 1862, but during the time that the technology was available, he would have been older than the man in the image. And a tintype of him would have been kept by his wife, who died in 1896 in Brigham City, Utah.

The second alternate option is Mary Oveson's father-in-law Jens Ovesen. Here's his picture:

Although there may be a superficial resemblance between Jens Ovesen and the man in the tintype since the two were from the same rural corner of Denmark, I think they're clearly two different people. ("The noses are different," said my daughter.) (Apart from the droopy Christensen eyes and the nose, there is more of a resemblance between Henry Overson and his grandfather Jens Ovesen than to the Christensen family.)

So here, once again, is the mysterious tintype:

I think we can clearly label this picture "Probably Jens Christensen (1819 Denmark - 1866 Nebraska)." What do you think?

* * *

If this is a tintype of Jens Christensen, it would have been taken in Denmark, Hamburg, or America, slightly after the Christensens arrived there in 1866. It would have been a good thing that these family pictures were taken, because Jens and daughter Christine both died and were buried on the plains.

If this is a picture of Jens, it would have been kept by his wife, Karen, and then passed down to daughter Mary Oveson, and then to her son and daughter-in-law, Henry and Margaret Jarvis Overson (our family historian), and then to their daughter, Eva Overson Tanner, and then it remained, unlabeled, with her photos and family memorabilia.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Henry R. E. Wessman Obituary

As found in the Ogden Standard Examiner, March 16, 1932. Not all of the information is correct.

Death Calls Ogden Printer


Henry R. Wessman Leaves Widow and Fourteen Children


Henry Richard Wessman, aged 47, 3604 Jefferson avenue, died in a local hospital at ten-forty-five o'clock Tuesday evening after an illness of one week. He was born in Sweden on February 7, 1885, a son of John and Amanda Hall Wessman. He came to America with his parents in 1893 and had lived in Salt Lake City and Logan before coming to Ogden eight years ago. He was a member of the L. D. S. church. At time of death, Mr. Wessman was a linotype operator in the composing room of the Odgen Standard-Examiner. He was affiliated with the International Typographical Union.

Surviving are the widow, Jean Hayward Wessman, and fourteen sons and daughters: Merle, Henry, Richard, Paul, Jean, John, Elizabeth, Philip, Ernest, Gammon, Keith, Norinne, Boyd and Marilyn; and one grandchild. The following brothers and sisters also survive: Mrs. Bonnie [Fannie] Johnson, Oakland; Mrs. Bertha Oleson, Salt Lake City; Herbert Wessman, Odgen; Joseph S. Wessman, Salt Lake City.

Larkin and Sons have charge of funeral arrangements.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Tracing Mormon Pioneer Ancestors: An Introduction

Say you have Mormon pioneer ancestors, but they only show up in your genealogy as names and dates. You know that they were pioneers because they were born in the eastern United States or Europe and died in Utah or the other Mormon settlements in the western United States.

How do you go about finding out more about them?

Before starting, I will step back and note that it is rarely a good idea to choose a random ancestor to research. There are several problems associated with this approach. One is that you might end up tracing the wrong person. For example, there were two couples in Utah Territory of similar ages named George and Ann Jarvis, and they are sometimes confused in online family trees.

But to keep things simple for the purposes of this tutorial, I will assume that you have traced your family lines back generation by generation, and have just arrived at the pioneer ancestors. I will also assume some basic genealogy skills, that you know how to record names and dates completely [1] and that you have a program on your computer for keeping track of the data such as Personal Ancestral File (free download, although I would suggest using RootsMagic instead), RootsMagic Essentials (free download), Reunion for Mac, or another similar genealogy program.

I will trace a pioneer family to illustrate how to do Mormon pioneer research. Since I am currently working on the histories of my Glade ancestors, I chose a family I don't know too much about: Richard Litson and Frances Ann Mathews and their children. Richard and Frances Litson are my fourth great grandparents.

This series of posts should cover the following:
As I write the posts, I will create an index here. Happy reading! Send comments, corrections and suggestions to my email listed on the sidebar, or write a comment. (I love comments! It's always great to hear from people!)

Assignment #1

Make sure you have a genealogy program ready to use on your computer.

[1] There are different methods of recording names and dates, but a common one is as follows:
For places: City or Town, County, State, Country with everything spelled out, checked for accuracy (Google is wonderful for this purpose), and correctly punctuated, for example, St. George, Washington, Utah, United States. Names and places should not be written in all caps. It is standard to write dates in the format 6 Jan 1913 or 6 January 1913 in genealogy programs. (I use those, but I use the format January 6, 1913, in writing.)
[2] This is the scripture shown over the door of the Church History Library in Salt Lake City. It is from Doctrine and Covenants 21:1, and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has taken the charge of record keeping very seriously, which can result in some really good sources if you have ancestors who were members of the church. Here is a post about the Church History Library, right before it opened.

The picture of Joseph Young Litson and his sister Eliza Mary Litson Glade is from family collections, courtesy of my mother. The picture of the scripture in the Church History Library in Salt Lake City is from, used under a Creative Commons license.