Thursday, February 26, 2015

I first beheld the light of day...

Many years ago my family and I heard a story from a regional representative at a Stake Conference. I unfortunately can't remember his name but he was originally from Joseph City and met my dad before the conference and found out he was a great-grandson of Henry Tanner, so he told a story about him in the conference. About 25 years later I wrote down the story as I remembered it, and then did some looking around on the internet and found that the story is included in a published book, much as I remembered it.

It is a personal and sacred family story, so I will not include it here, but will point any descendants to Henry Tanner's entry on FamilySearch Family Tree, and note that I heard at least one additional similar story about Eliza Parkinson Tanner from her granddaughter Pearl Jacobson.

Instead of including the stories here, here's an autobiography written by Henry and recently added to Family Tree by Janice Salazar. I have added paragraphs for readability, although I preserved his spelling and punctuation. As a word of explanation, in the era when he was baptized and ordained, ordinances were normally performed by ward leadership, rather than the father, as is commonly done now.

I Henry Martin Tanner first beheld the light of day, in the old fort in Sanbernardino California, in the year of our Lord 1852. While my parents were filling a mission in this goodly land. My parents being released from the mission in 1858, returned to Utah, & resided in Cedar City for one year or there abouts. From thence to Beaver. 
At the age of eight years or in 1860 June 11, I was Baptized by Samuel White and Confirmed by John Robinson. My father followed freighting for a livelyhood and I remained on the farm at home. In the year 1867, I was Ordained a Deacon under the hands of John Robinson of Beaver. In the month of Janurary ^25^ 1877, in the St George Temple, I was promoted to the office of an Elder under the hands of Lorenzo Roundy & at the same time & place married my wife Eliza Ellen Parkinson. 
In the following Feb. 21st, I took all of my Earthly belongings & started upon a colonizing mission on the little Colorado River in the North Eastern part of Arizona traveling by the way of St. George, Lynx Springs, Pierce’s Ferry, Wallapai Valley, & Hackberry. [See the account of the journey here.] Then to the Sanfrancisco mountain & the Settlements on the little Colorado River and Settled in what was then known as William C. Allens Camp. Twenty-five miles South of East of Sunset.
We passed through all the trials incident to traveling & colonizing in a new country. Breadstuff was very high at that time we payed as high as eighteen dollars a hundred for flour, then were very fortunate if we got a first class article which we hauled with ox teams from New Mexico or Utah.
At that time the Navajo Indian’s were wild & would some times drive off some of our horses, but we followed the Counsel of President Young and fed them instead of fighting them.
I have followed the occupation of mixed farming. In the year 1878 I was called as second counselor to BP Joseph Richards of St. Joseph Arizona. I think in 1886 it was when our ward was reorganized Bp John Bushman BP. I was selected also as counselor to him and have remained in the Bishoprick until the present time. In 1886 I married my wife Emma Stapley in the St George Temple. In 1888 I was called to fill a mission in Great Britain returning in 1889 on account of Ill health. Have served as Superintendant of Sunay Schools twenty years in the St Joseph ward. My wife Eliza Ellen has born me eleven children all healthy and strong        of whom are married and have home and families of their own all in good standing in the church at present time.
Emma Ellen has born six children four of whom are living, one married. Two of my Sons have performed missions in the Southern States on under the Presidence of Ben E. Rich and the other under the Presidence of Charles A. Callous [Callis] one son is the Stake Clerk in the Snowflake Stake of Zion

Bushman, Edith Smith. Climbing Life's Mountains: Arizona Pioneer Stories and Faith-Promoting Experiences. A.E. Bishman Family Organization, 1993, 97-98.

Tanner, Henry Martin. "Autobiography of Henry Martin Tanner." Genealogical Surveys of LDS Members: Autobiographies and Ancestors. 34 Volumes. Salt Lake City, Utah: Genealogical Society of Utah, 1924–1929. (Family History Library book 289.3 G286g; films 1059454–63).

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Ann Prior Jarvis Diary — November 15–27, 1884

Returning to the diary of Ann Prior Jarvis, Ann continues with her daily routines and her sufferings with chronic illness. She muses, "Oh what I suffered but it may be for my good bringing the change nearer to me."

I don't recall if I've discussed her regular notes about the weather. In those days before news services and professional weather organizations, having reports on the weather like those in her journal could be valuable for planning agriculture, building projects, travel, and so forth.

Thanksgiving Day was Thursday, November 27, proclaimed by Utah Territorial Governor Eli H. Murray, as follows:

Neither Ann nor Charles Walker mentions a celebration, but Ann does mention taking someone home, so she may have been at a public meeting.

For other installments of the diary, click on the link at the end of the post.

Sat 15    Went to the store bought several things for the house spent Eighty five cents for Josey Bread pan; plates etc. Went to see Em she was sick took Anne to get her carpet took Abbe for a ride

Sun 16    Weather pleasant Went to Meeting Br Snow preached a good sermon went to see Emma took Amelia for a ride

Mon 17     Weather warm went to Annes fetched Josey from school took Em for a ride

Thus 18     made a hat for Susie went to relief society meeting

Wed 19     had a bad spell but went for Josey called at Ems

Thu 20    Weather dull and dark washed a few pairs of Garments

Fri 21

Sat 22     Worked on Joseys coat

Sun 23     Went to meeting went to Ems and spent the evening   was bad all night was compelled to wake Josey Oh what I suffered but it may be for my good bringing the change nearer to me

Mon 24     Weather dull I feel very weak to day

Thus 25      Weather pleasant    Health improved

Wed 26      Weather fine

Thur 27      Weather took S Farnsworth home took S Barnes riding

William and Jane Barnes.

From Charles Lowell Walker's Diary
Sunday [November] 30th  Went to Meeting at the Tabernacle. Rob Gardner spoke in a clear manner on the importance of having the testimony of the truth of the Gospel abiding with us that it may always be fresh and vivid in our hearts. Jos. Judd spoke favorably of the work on the Manti Temple. The nights seemed long and lonesome since the death of my Darling. [See explanation and link in note about Abby Walker below.]

Abbe — Probably Abby Walker, her friend and a recently bereaved mother.

Br Snow — Probably Erastus Snow.

S Farnsworth — "S" would be an abbreviation for "Sister." Probably Elizabeth Stewart Farnsworth (1834-1897). Less likely to be Lovina Johnson Farnsworth.

S Barnes — Jane Howard Barnes (1815-1902), an English convert, married first to George Barnes (1815-1856). Jane's family was part of the Martin Handcart Company and got caught in early severe weather on the high plains. George died from exposure. After arriving in Salt Lake City, Jane remarried George's brother William, and he helped raise his brother's six children.

Eli H. Murray and Arthur L. Thomas. Thanksgiving Proclamation, 1884. Digital image, Utah State Archives,

Phyllis Lewin, "William Barnes and Jane Howard Barnes," digital copy of photographic image, FamilySearch Family Tree, (link).

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Sidney's Little White Cur Dog Saves a Life

Homer Duncan was in the same wagon train as Sidney Tanner and his family. He told this story. It is found on the Mormon Overland Travel Database and is carefully transcribed there, so rather challenging to read, but is still a great story, so I have removed strikethroughs, done some editing, and added paragraphs for readability. Please see the original for any serious use of the source material. (Link.) The two men with the guns were probably Crosby family slaves, most likely Toby and Grief.

We stopped at Florence about ten days, when, we left for the Elkhorn, and remained there until the 7th of July, 1848, when we started for the Valley, with Barney Adams captain of fifty, and Chapman Duncan Captain of ten.... nothing of intrest occured until we reached Deer Creek. ... Camping one night on the Platte River we drove our cattle over the bluffs Eastward into [to] Deer Creek to feed. 

The next morning, we went for our cattle, and Sidney Tanner’s little white cur dog went with me which he never done before nor afterwards. when we got to the timber, some one cried out ‘Bear.’ I was alone, except for the dog. I soon saw the bear, and the grizzly saw me He started for me. and I ran as fast as I could, but  the dog stayed where he was. …When I had run a few rods, I had to bend down to  get under a leaning tree, and as I bent down I looked back to see where the bear was. and When I looked back  I saw the little dog catching the grizzly by the ham, and run  in the opposite direction,  from me with the bear following after it

This was the last I knew for that I knew for  a long time  as  when I attempted to pass under the leaning tree, I struck my head  against it with great force and fell When I came too, I got up and went out of the timber, and met two negroes, who belonged to the Company. and they had their guns well loaded I borrowed a gun from them, took one and went back and when I reached  the place where I first saw the bear, the little dog, was there and as I looked I saw  the bear standing about ten rods from me.

I raised the gun, an old …flint Lock, waist high, leveled it at the grizzly and pressed the trigger, intending to run if I did not hit the animal The instant I shot the bear she jumped into the air, I think all of six feet, then ran around in a circle about ten or fifteen rods, fell dead. I have always considered this an act of Providence, the bear certainly would have killed me if the dog which never went with me before or since had not turned her in another direction.

...we reached the mouth of Emigration Canyon...October <16> 1848.

The picture of the grizzly bears, native to Wyoming, is from: "Grizzlybears ChrisServheenUSFWS" by Chris Servheen/USFWS - This image originates from the National Digital Library of the United States Fish and Wildlife Service. Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons -

Monday, February 16, 2015

Sidney Tanner: A Life of Remarkable Industry

Here's a biography I just wrote for Sidney Tanner's FamilySearch Family Tree entries (LZXK-Y57) and (KWJ6-DZX). I'll include the story about his "little white cur dog" tomorrow.

Sidney Tanner, Family Tree, courtesy of Janice Salazar.

Sidney Tanner was born on April 1, 1809, in Greenwich, Washington County, New York. His mother, Lydia Stewart Tanner, seems to have been a native New Yorker; his father John Tanner was originally from Washington County, Rhode Island.

Sidney spent his young years in the busy Tanner household. He had an older half-brother, Elisha, who spent part of his time with his Bently relatives, an older brother William, a sister Mathilda, and a deceased brother, Willard.

Sidney saw five younger siblings born and three of them buried, before the Tanner family moved from Washington County to Warren County, on the other side of Lake George. There the family invested in timber land, farmed, owned stock and dairy herds, ran a hotel for occasional travelers, and provided for many of their needs, before Sidney’s mother Lydia died in 1825 after the birth of her son Albert.

Sidney was 16 years old when his father remarried young Elizabeth Beswick. She stepped into care for the large families and take over the many household and economic duties of a woman in rural 1820s America.

Five years later Sidney married Louisa Conlee. They had a young family with just two children when the missionaries of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints visited the community. Church records note that Sidney and Louisa were baptized January 3, 1833. Even in a mild winter, that would have been a cold event.

The family began to gather with the Church. Sidney’s brothers John Joshua and Nathan joined Zion’s Camp. The rest of the Tanners went to Kirtland where Sidney and Louisa helped finance the building of the Kirtland Temple. The Kirtland High Council Minutes tell that “a Meeting of the Church of Latter Day Saints was called in this place, for the purpose of blessing in the  name of the Lord, those who have heretofore assisted  in building, by their labor & other means, the house of  the Lord.” Included in the company were John Tanner and Sidney Tanner. The leaders of the Church gave each man present an individual blessing.

When Sidney and Louisa moved to Missouri, they found rich farmland and timberland and began building up their resources again. They were joined not long afterwards by the other Tanner families. Sidney and his father and brother and brother-in-law Amasa Lyman left their wives and younger children and went to work at Fort Leavenworth for 2-1/2 months to earn money, since cash was in short supply on the frontier.

It was not long before mobs drove the families off their new land. The Tanners fought the mobs as they could—Sidney was said to have fought at the Battle of Crooked River, in which case there’s a chance he may have been one of the fabled “Danites”—but the family was driven north, eventually to Montrose County, Iowa, across the Mississippi River from Nauvoo, Illinois. (Sidney also owned land in Nauvoo.)

By this time Sidney and Louisa had five children. They had two children born in Montrose County before they were again driven from their home, but before they left, they participated in the temple ordinances in the new Nauvoo Temple. Just a few days outside Nauvoo at the temporary settlement of Richardson’s Point, their twenty-month-old son James Monroe Tanner died.

Louisa gave birth to a son, Mason Lyman Tanner, while they were living in the Indian lands. She survived the childbirth but came down with what was probably scarlet fever and malaria and died at Winter Quarters, followed not long afterward by her infant son.

Sidney Tanner had to send the sad news to his in-laws, James and Elsie Cole Conley in New York. He told them that she “requested me to write to you and tell you that she died in the full triumph of the faith of Jesus Christ and her most desire for living was for the benefit of her family and friends…that they might arrive to a glorious salvation in the kingdom of God where she expects to meet them and enjoy their society.”

In those busy days with much work to do, Sidney needed someone to care for his children, so two months after Louisa’s death, the grieving widower married young Julia Ann Shepherd. She had been born in Ohio to Vermont natives Samuel and Roxalana Ray Shepherd.

Julia Ann Shepherd Tanner, Family Tree, courtesy of LarkinDixonFerrin1.

In 1848 the Tanner and Shepherd families headed west with all their provisions and animals including Sidney’s “little white cur dog” that saved Homer Duncan’s life. (See Duncan’s account in the Mormon Overland Travel database.)

Caroline Barnes Crosby noted on July 27, 1848, “Yesterday a very sad accident occured in the camp[.] one of Sidney Tanners little boys [Sidney Tanner, Jr.] was killed almost instantly by a wagon wheel running over him, he appeared like a very forward smart child for one of his age, was between 6 and 7 was driving team sitting on the tongue and fell backward.”

The Tanners reached the Salt Lake Valley in mid-October 1848, Julia carrying her infant daughter in her arms. They joined their extended family in South Cottonwood, but only lived there a few months after John Tanner’s death before heading to California with the San Bernardino Settlement.

The Tanners lived in San Bernardino until 1857, when Brigham Young called the settlers back to Utah Territory at the time Johnston’s Army was threatening the Saints. Sidney and his family eventually settled in the beautiful valley of Beaver, Utah, after Sidney helped deliver the new Australian pipe organ to the old adobe Tabernacle in Salt Lake City.

Sidney worked as a freighter, taking goods back and forth between the settlements, and was headed down to San Bernardino in September 1857 when he came upon the scene of the Mountain Meadows Massacre. The participants stopped all passers-by including Sidney and his travel companion, William Mathews, and took them past the site of the massacre in the dark of night.

Rachel Neyman Fullmer Tanner, Family Tree, courtesy of Francis Gill.

Except for his brother Nathan, none of the Tanners had cared to participate in plural marriage, but after a few years of life in Reformation-Era Utah, and despite Julia’s opposition to the practice, Sidney took a plural wife, the sturdy widow Rachel Neyman Fullmer, a member of a family deeply involved in plural marriage since the earliest days in Nauvoo. Sidney and Rachel had six children in addition to her three with Almon Fullmer, but only three of their children lived past early childhood, and their son Howard Harper Tanner was killed in a range dispute in 1891.

Sidney also married another widow, Mary Ann Neyman Nickerson Tanner, after she sued his brother John Joshua for divorce. Both marriages were an example of the common use of plural marriage as a social safety network in those days when women had few options outside marriage, and probably only Julia Ann and Rachel would have been considered his actual wives in pioneer-era Beaver.

Sidney was a strong man, a hard worker, a practical person, and dedicated to the gospel. He was, as they used to say, a pillar of his community. He served on the Beaver City Council, as a member of the bishopric of the Beaver First Ward with Bishop Marcus L. Shepherd, Julia’s brother, and as a stake high councilor.

When Sidney died on December 5, 1895, his obituary said:
Elder Tanner was born on the shores of Lake George, in the state of New York…He was a man of marvelous constitutional powers, and endured the hardships common to the early settlement of this Territory as well as that of southern California. He was one of the earliest settlers of Beaver and has done much to build up that place; and he now leaves behind him a large family of his own, as well as a host of kindred…The helpless condition of Elder Sidney Tanner during the last few years of his life was such as to make his departure not wholly unexpected to his family and relatives…the funeral services…will take place next Sunday in Beaver. 
He was known as a man of remarkable industry, temperate habits, generous disposition, and unswerving integrity. (Deseret Evening News, “Sidney Tanner Dead,” December 6, 1895.)

Sources: Sidney Tanner, His Ancestors and Descendants (DeBrouwer, 1982); John Tanner and His Family (Tanner, 1974); FamilySearch Family Tree; 1830-1880 US Census; 1852 California State Census; Joseph Smith Papers Project; Mormon Overland Travel; Diary of Caroline Barnes Crosby; Homer Duncan Autobiographical Sketch; Pioneers and Prominent Men of Utah (Esshom, 1913); More Wives Than One (Daynes, 2008); Deseret News;;; Nauvoo Land and Records.

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Giving Reasons on FamilySearch Family Tree

When you perform an action in FamilySearch Family Tree, the program prompts you for a reason for the action.

It goes without saying that you should not change information unless you have proof; it also goes without saying that you should give a reason for an action instead of leaving the field blank.

If I'm adding sources that clearly belong to an individual, I'll give a brief reason such as "census." That's enough to show that I am consciously making decisions about the sources, but doesn't take me long enough to bog down the fairly repetitive action of adding sources. If the reason for adding a source wasn't so clear, I would discuss it in greater detail.

Here are two other situations and the reasons I gave for the actions.

Deleting Notes

When people uploaded GED files to newFamilySearch, the process often resulted in data fragments that have no use, but have now been moved into the "Notes" section, such as the following:

When I see these, I delete them and write something like the following:
This is a data fragment migrated over from NewFamilySearch and does not contain any pertinent or useful information.
The Notes used to disappear without a trace, but now they are preserved in the history, which is a relief, since every so often they contain useful information.

Undoing Merges

I got the weekly change list today and saw that someone with the user name "BOFFIN46" had been messing with the children of John Tanner's sister, Esther Tanner Wellwood. I undid the merge and noted:
No reason given for merge; no sources or proof, which combined with the fact that the user has no contact information, makes it look like this is either a malicious or unskilled action. Please add sources and give reasons for changing information in this family. 
I gave a straightforward reason for my action, stated why I did it, and attempted to train a new user not to make changes without sources or reasons.

It's great to have a number of people working on the Tanner family; Karen Bray Keeley and others are doing valuable work in adding information and cleaning up the family, but there's no reason any of us needs to put up with incompetent and unsourced actions, so it's important to use FamilySearch Family Tree's Watch feature and monitor changes weekly.

Monday, February 2, 2015

Guest Post: Peggy McCollester on the Tanners in Colonial America

For those who have been following the slow-motion discussion about the Tanner family genealogy here and on Genealogy's Star, here is a follow-up explanation from Peggy McCollester, who has been working on the genealogy.

I have other things taking my attention right now and cannot devote enough time and effort to this to be able to say much about the records one way or another, but I hope others do turn their attention to the puzzle. When you do, remember the basic standards of genealogical proof, and all the factors mentioned in the summary of the state of the Tanner research:

When doing work on a family with a name like Tanner, remember that it is a professional name. Many communities in England would have had a tanner, a skilled worker who used the products of the oak tree to make leather. Since it began as a profession name, there may be multiple Tanner families in England, all unrelated. A look in an English phone book confirms that Tanner is not an uncommon name.

So connecting the family in America to the family in England won't consist simply of finding a William Tanner of the right age and with similar family names in England but will consist of proof of origin, some kind of documentary connection proving place of origin or names of family members. 

Early immigrants can be tracked across the ocean by ship records, church records, letters and documents preserved at places like university archives, early community histories, etc. Tracing an early immigrant back across the ocean is not always possible, as is evident from the publications of the Mayflower Society: the origin of some of the Mayflower passengers is still unknown, despite the extent of the genealogical and historical research that has been done on all the families over centuries.

In short, remember the important genealogical principle that same name does not equal same person.

For those who are interested in tracing the genealogy themselves, note that many compilations of early Rhode Island records are available on Here are those cataloged under the authorship of the dedicated Rhode Island historian James Newell Arnold (1844-1927):

Also, one more aside before getting to Peggy's notes. Rhode Island, small as it is, has a fascinating history. Born in the fight over religious liberty, it had deeply religious citizens, but its population had a rabble-rousing reputation and deep ties to the trans-Atlantic slave trade.

* * *

So, here are Peggy's notes. I have lightly edited them with her permission and have also added a few comments to her explanation, which will be in brackets, as follows: [added notes]. Many thanks to Peggy for all her work on the genealogy, and for being so willing to share her information. She will be following this discussion, so please ask questions in the comments.

* * *

There is mass confusion out on the internet about William Tanner and Elizabeth Colgrove/Cottrell/Gardiner having children. 

William and Elizabeth had no children together. They did not marry until 1723/24, which is recorded in the Rhode Island Early Marriages. 

This marriage took place shortly after the death of Mary Babcock. George Clinton Tanner made the mistake of saying that Nathan’s mother was Elizabeth Colgrove, because the early Rhode Island records are very confusing. One must study the records so as to not get confused on who is who.

Sunday, February 1, 2015

“ before whose sturdy strokes the forest fell...”

A little church history for a Sunday morning.
While in the history of that church there may be incidents which will cause a smile from their quaintness, or a sigh and a tear from their illiberality, there is one feature of its past that stands out prominent and bold, and entitles it to unqualified respect: [the] church has never shrunk from the performance of disagreeable duties. Mistaken, unjust, cruel, it may sometimes have been; weak and vacillating it has never been. People respect and admire strength of principle and purpose, and this church grew strong in numbers from strong adherence to the rigid morality of the Bible. The men who formed the church, were men before whose sturdy strokes the forest fell; who braved the dangers of pioneer life with steady persistence, and who put into their church relationship the same earnestness that characterized them in their secular affairs...
The Tanner family came from this strong religious heritage and has kept many elements of the culture through many generations.

This passage is from a history of Bottskill Baptist Church in Greenwich, New York, where the Tanner and Stewart families worshipped before the Tanners moved to Warren County and joined the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and moved west.

The picture of Greenwich in eastern New York is from Flickr, used as is under a Creative Commons license.