If You Scan It, They Will Come

If You Scan It, They Will Come

It’s December, and the records are piling up like snowdrifts in my office. As one who digitizes records for me, my family, and for Kindex, I’ve experienced the cyclical nature of scanning. Like laundry, scanning is never really done. With new records being created or found every day, it the waves of scanning will continue. But if scanning comes in waves, December is a tsunami—the photo above revealing just a few of my ongoing scanning projects.

November and December are times of gratitude and gift-giving. Such times generate a need for both a remembrance of our past and view toward a future where nothing will be lost. It is with these emotions that records find a way to my door. How it happens is a phenomenon worthy of another post on the interplay of dumb luck and divine intervention. Like the cars that stretch for miles in the closing scene of the movie Field of Dreams, the records find their way here.

 

The other day I was musing about all the records I’ve scanned, and while I’m determined to learn exactly how many records I’ve digitized, my top-of-the-head estimate is at least 60,000. I say this not to boast, but rather as a consolation for the times I wonder if all my efforts will make a difference—to Kindex, to my family, and to history. Surely on one of those 60,000 pages is the face of one otherwise doomed to be lost, the words of an ancestor that will be read for the first time. Surely this hope is enough to get me through this next batch, and then the next one. 

Maybe when I die my children can create a baseball card of sorts, with a nod to my final numbers. I know, they are just papers. But to me, they have life. The rustlings are the breath of my ancestors; the ink and paper were in their hands. They bent over them, writing by lamplight. They laughed and wept, holding them. They carried them in their pockets, and hid them in their secret places. Like Norman McLean in A River Runs Through It, I am likewise haunted by the words of the past:

“Eventually, all things merge into one, and a river runs through it. The river was cut by the world’s great flood and runs over rocks from the basement of time. On some of the rocks are timeless raindrops. Under the rocks are the words, and some of the words are theirs. I am haunted by waters.” 

 


Indexing Hugs & Kisses

Indexing Hugs & Kisses

How about a few hugs & kisses? One of our favorite letters in our grandmother’s Kindex archive is one she wrote when she was just nine years old. Written while Dorothy’s mother June was out of town for an extended period working on a medical certification, it’s the earliest letter we have. In Dorothy’s letter to her mother, it reveals details about her childhood that are both mundane and fascinating: clothes she crocheted for her doll, fun things she was doing to prepare for Halloween, and good reports on her piano lessons and school quizzes. She closes her letter with an endearing chart of hugs and kisses to be applied to specific recipients.

While the hugs and kisses were a little tricky to index, we are treated to a wonderful snapshot of who Dorothy was as a child: smart, affectionate, and playful. We count the hugs and kisses and see that Dorothy esteemed Aunt Mary high enough to send her the same amounts of hugs and kisses that she sent her mother. Reading this now is like receiving a virtual hug and kiss from the past: a gift of affection and greater understanding.

Dorothy dressed as a fairy at about the same age she wrote this letter.

This letter plays an important role in not just Dorothy’s life narrative, but the narratives of her parents, Louis, and Aunt Mary. Stepping back even further, Dorothy’s papers as a whole—if transcribe and tagged—will have an expansive influence, reaching hundreds of additional people, adding citable sources for hundreds of places and events, and marking time with thousands of dates.

The influence of primary source records is key to providing rich details to our family history. Trees can’t stand alone in our body of research. We must digitize and share our historical records through indexing and create content-based resources. Through the ability to connect with our primary sources through transcriptions, markup and tagging, we create accessible, searchable sources for our families.

Indexing shouldn’t be a tool reserved for official records or the so-called historically important. Building narrative genealogies through indexing the letters, journals and papers of everyday people is a key step to adding the depth and dimension we yearn for in our ancestors.

See the original letter and transcript on smith-clark.kindex.org

Do you have family letters to index? Start your own searchable family archive on Kindex for just $5/month.

Our Hill Cumorah

Our Hill Cumorah Beginnings

Examining Cumorah connections from our family archive

Note: this article was orginally published December 9 2015. It has been subsequently edited and updated with new photos. -Cathy Gilmore

A recent article on lds.org, Reclaiming Hill Cumorah1, prompted us to share some sources related to Hill Cumorah, its monument, and pageant beginnings. Our grandmother Dorothy Smith Clark’s papers reveal her connections to Cumorah  through her parents Hyrum and June Bushman Smith, who were missionaries at the Cumorah Farm from 1935 to 1939, and her friend Torleif Knaphus, who sculpted the Hill Cumorah  monument. In searching Dorothy’s diaries and letters on her Kindex archive, we are able to provide insight to our family’s connection to this historic sight.

Friendship with Torleif Knaphus, sculptor of the Moroni Monument

Partly as an effort to expand Dorothy’s educational and artistic opportunity, Dorothy’s family moved to Salt Lake City from Lethbridge, Alberta in 1930. In 1931, the recently widowed Torleif Knaphus took an interest in Dorothy. As her artistic mentor—and for a time—her suitor, Torleif escorted her on artistic excursions, instructed her in sculpting, and employed her in making handmade Christmas cards and sketches. Dorothy must have been flattered, as my grandfather Ellsworth was also competing for her attention. In her diary she wrote:

Sunday April 23, 1933

Went by Orem Electric to annual Springville Art Exhibit with T.S. Knaphus, sculptor. Spent 3 hours in Provo, sight-seeing on our way back to S.L.C. Took kodak snaps on B.Y.U. campus.

This was a very interesting day for me and rather an outstanding one I suppose, inasmuch as I was so kindly favored and well treated by one so prominent in his sphere.

En route he gave me valuable instructions and criticisms on art. Urges strongly that I begin to busy myself with “oils” and harness the talent he believes lies dormant. (I hope to do this soon, as I have been so inspired today). Left Knaphus at 8 P.M. to finish the day with Ellsworth. Youth does have its preferences.2

Indeed it does, as Dorothy settled on Ellsworth and became engaged that summer. Still, Dorothy maintained her friendship with Torleif and continued their mentoring relationship. In September of 1933 she wrote:

Was invited to Knaphus studio this evening where be showed me a newly-designed model of the shaft for the Hill Cumorah Monument. We ate some ice-cream there and talked of my doing some more painting there and maybe helping him with some new panels. Thrilled about getting into that work again.

Grateful for his attention and interest in her art, Dorothy later wrote:

Saturday, November 12, 1933

I have Christmas card orders to fill for Torleif S. Knaphus in return for clay which he gave me for modeling.

He certainly has inspired me and been a great help in pushing me, as it were, along the road to accomplishment. I don’t know many other grown people who have so influenced me to good and been as companionable.

During their engagement, Dorothy encouraged Ellsworth to serve a mission. After he departed in December 1933 to a Western States mission, there is some hint that Torleif was keen to maintain a close relationship with Dorothy as he repeatedly sought out her company. Dorothy wrote:

Wednesday, January 24, 1934

Attended night class tonite and made my first water color scene (copy of Moser’s) in new style (from my former teachings.) Mr. Knaphus met me after work – asked me to go to Beaux Arts Ball this Saturday but I declined.

Although she didn’t attend the dance with Torleif, their close friendship often proved difficult for Ellsworth during his absence while serving as a missionary. On a temple trip to Manti that included the Knaphus family, Dorothy played an April Fool’s joke on Ellsworth and wrote to him that she and Torleif decided on a whim to be sealed there. Practical jokes notwithstanding, Dorothy and Ellsworth married in August 1934.  

Dorothy with her parents Hyrum and June Smith, c1928

Dorothy in Professor Wildhaber’s studio, 1932

Cumorah Farm Mission and Moroni Monument Dedication

That same summer, Dorothy’s parents Hyrum and June Bushman Smith were called to be missionaries at the Cumorah Farm. After their marriage, Dorothy and Ellsworth moved to Idaho, but Torleif’s connection to the family remained as he completed the monument and attended its dedication in July 1935. Over the next year, Dorothy regularly wrote to her family in Palmyra, discussing plans for the Moroni monument dedication and future pageant. In her letters, Dorothy sketched out ideas for local advertisements for the pageant.

On May 26, 1935, Dorothy’s brother Oliver—a missionary in the Eastern States Mission—wrote about local missionary efforts and preparations for the monument’s dedication:

Along with 37 other missionaries of the Easter States mission I am engaged in a special drive in the area within a 20-mile radius of Palmyra, which will continue until the dedication of the Cumorah Monument on July 21. We hope to do some good work by this concentration of effort, which has significance with the connection of the monument. We are visiting every home—rural and urban—in the section. Eleven of us stay together at the LDS hall in Palmyra and drive out 5 or 10 miles every morning to a rural section in which we go tracting until late afternoon, when we return. Our week-ends I have visited Rochester and Buffalo for publicity work. At Buffalo I stayed at Mary Payne Chamber’s place. She has three children. Girl 11, girl 9, and boy 7….

Every day or so there are visitors here from somewhere we have been. Today Bro & Sis Douglas Anderson visited us and went to the Peter Whitmer farm with us in the afternoon. The church was organized there. Next Sunday we are having a session of the Cumorah District Conference here.3

Dorothy’s Visit to the Cumorah Farm

In the spring of 1936, Dorothy and Ellsworth made plans to visit Dorothy’s parents in Palmyra that summer with their young son Norman. In her life sketch she recalls:

The summer of 1936 we vacationed at Cumorah Farm, near Palmyra, N.Y. with my parents. Lois, who had been with us for her senior high school year, returned with us. It was thrilling to see the first pageant presented at the Hill, which was co-authored by my brother Oliver, an Eastern States missionary. I was able to help with publicity posters. Our 15 mos Norman was used in a covered wagon sequence of a pioneer panorama presented one evening at the Hill.4

The 1936 pageant was a family affair. Her parents Hyrum and June and brother Oliver had key roles developing the pageant, and sisters June and Lois Smith participated in the pageant. Even her one-year-old son Norman rode in a wagon as part of the festivities. The images below reveal pages from Dorothy’s Book of Remembrance that chronicled their trip.5

Hyrum Smith (center) standing at the base of the monument. He is a first cousin once removed to Joseph Smith, and served as Torleif’s model for Joseph Smith in this panel. Note Hyrum Smith is a first cousin once removed to Joseph Smith Jr., not a second cousin as the caption indicates.

Additional pages from Book of Remembrance of June Adele Smith, Dorothy’s younger sister. 6

 

 

 

1. Ashton, Curtis, “Reclaiming Hill Cumorah,” April 18, 2014, https://history.lds.org/article/historic-sites/new-york/manchester/reclaiming-hill-cumorah

2. Smith, Dorothy, Diary 1932-1934, in the author’s possession

3. Smith, Oliver, to Dorothy Smith Clark, May 26 1935,Dorothy Smith and Ellsworth Clark Archive, https://smith-clark.kindex.org/share/1702339dd4b1d708c6ff76822484b96f

4. Smith, Dorothy, Life Sketch, Dorothy Smith and Ellsworth Clark Archive, Jan 31 1975, https://smith-clark.kindex.org/share/16f43a4946cdb126afdfc57b42c44472

5. Smith, Dorothy, Book of Remembrance, Dorothy Smith and Ellsworth Clark Archive, https://smith-clark.kindex.org/gather

6. Smith, June A., Book of Remembrance, in the author’s possession

Planting Pansies: A Remembrance

Planting Pansies: A Remembrance

Recently I visited the coastal village of Bosham, Sussex, where my Chamberlain ancestors lived out their days fishing, gathering oysters, mending nets, and laundering clothes. I walked around the marshy harbor, past the quay on to Shore Road, where high tides brush the steps of the sea-facing homes. I passed the Millhouse where my Second Great Grandmother Ida Gardner lived with her husband and children. And I stepped quietly on the worn floors of the 1000-year-old Holy Trinity church where my Great Grandfather Archie was baptized in an ancient stone font. As I wandered through the churchyard, brushing my hands against sea-pocked headstones, I noticed something that took my breath away: bunches of pansies dotted the yard, planted seemingly at random. To understand why these pansies meant anything to me requires the telling of another story: how through loss, pansies became a flower of remembrance for my ancestors.

Sisters Ida and Ellen Gardner were young — 10 and 13 years old respectively —when their mother died. Following her death, Ida lived with her maternal grandparents while her older sister Ellen stayed with cousins in nearby Fishbourne. In 1878, 17-year-old Ida Gardner gave birth to a son, Archie. The birth record did not reveal a father. Three years later, Ellen married Percy Chamberlain, a fisherman who was orphaned as a boy and was also raised by his grandparents. During this time, younger sister Ida worked as a laundress, living with her grandmother and son Archie.[1] By 1887, Ida was married to George Brown while Ellen, Percy, and their three children lived in Fisher’s Gate, near Brighton. 1887 was a pivotal year for the Chamberlains. In March of that year the family decided to join themselves to the Mormon faith. On a foggy evening missionary George Miller[2]  baptized Percy and Ellen Chamberlain in the sea near Brighton’s West Pier.  From George Miller’s diary:

Wednesday March the 2 1887 […] then we go to the west pier to meet a man and his wife who wished to be Baptized it being a very foggy night so we baptized them close by the pier in the sea though it was so foggy and dark we was not alone for one man came along just as we were going into the water and ask us if we were going to lurn them to swim but we Baptized them all rite we came out on the street, shake hands and Bid them good by they go for Fishers gate we for Albion Hill.[3]

In the ensuing months, Ellen and Percy determined that they would sell their possessions and emigrate to Utah with their children, Albert, Ellen Rose, Mabel, and infant Robert. When they set sail on the S. S. Wyoming in June 1888, there was one extra family member: their ten-year-old nephew Archie. He was thereafter was known as their son Archibald Percy Chamberlain. In my mind’s eye I can see young Archie pacing the ship’s deck, already missing his mother and grandmother, bracing for new adventure with his new family.

The journey took its toll on the Chamberlain family. Ellen struggled with a persistent illness throughout the voyage across the Atlantic. Too weak to care for her infant son Robert on the journey, she allowed a kind stranger to assist her. As they grew closer to Salt Lake City, Robert also fell ill with fever. The night they arrived by train in Salt Lake City, residents took the ailing family to the Tithing Yard [4]—an open-air, temporary accommodation where incoming emigrants could sleep outdoors and receive provisions and rest. Despite these comforts, Robert died that first night on the straw in the Tithing Yard. They buried the him in a pauper’s area of the Salt Lake City Cemetery.

Tragedy also caught up with Ellen. Doctors determined that her illness was tuberculosis, and she died the following January, six months after the family arrived in Utah. She was buried in the same cemetery, not far from her son Robert. With no headstone to mark their burial place, Percy marked their graves with pansies.

Percy never remarried. His family lived in an area of the Salt Lake Avenues called “the crummies”, and  Percy—far removed from his fisherman days—worked as a gardener. He could often be seen walking through avenues with his sack of gardening tools slung over his shoulder. Many times those walks lead to the cemetery where he cared for the pansies that marked the resting place of his wife and son. Perhaps he loved pansies for their delicate hardiness, and how they bloomed despite the cold.  Or perhaps he knew that pansies symbolized humility and remembrance. A remembrance of seaside days, gathering cockles in the shallow marshes of Bosham harbour. A remembrance of Ellen and the love of his youth. A remembrance of home and the flowers that bloomed there.

english-family-copy

A collage of the Percy & Ellen Chamberlain Family designed by Clark Chamberlain.

2015-03-29-15-01-42

Bosham homes on Shore Road.

aac_c1905

Great Grandfather Archibald Percival Chamberlain

[1]  1881 England Census, Class: RG11; Piece: 1135; Folio: 24; Page: 9; GSU roll: 1341277, Ancestry.com and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Online publication – Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2004. 1881 British Isles Census Index provided by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints © Copyright 1999 Intellectual Reserve, Inc. All rights reserved.

[2] Amazingly, George Miller’s great-granddaughter is my neighbor Sydnee Spencer. It was her family that donated his journal to the Church History Library.

[3]  George Miller, 1850-1918. “George Miller papers, 1886-1925”. Church History Library Catalog, Call Number: MS 2816, Image name: MS 2816_f0002_00113.JPG

[4] Fred E. Woods, “The Arrival of Nineteenth-Century Mormon Emigrants in Salt Lake city,” in  Salt Lake City: The Place Which God Prepared, ed. Scott C. Esplin and Kenneth L. Alford (Provo, UT: Religious Studies Center, Brigham Young University; Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, Salt Lake City, 2011), 203–230.

A Day in the Life

A Day in the Life

Despite all the busyness of preparing for RootsTech, this morning I had a few quiet moments this morning thinking of our Grandma Dorothy Smith Clark. I wondered, what was she doing this week, so many years ago? I searched “Feb 27” on her Kindex archive, and found these diary pages from 1928:

Sunday Feb 26th

Stay home from S S with Virgil who has a bad cold. Go to church with Lucille & to Mutual. In our J class we discuss getting or “J” pin. Discuss contest numbers for M.I.A. Day & began plan for  Progressive Supper.

Monday Night Feb 27 Lucille P. and I went down to Galt Hospital to see Anna Nielson who had her appendix out last Friday. She was feeling pretty good. We took her some flowers in behalf of our Junior class.

Wed. Feb 29th – Leap year

We washed & in P.M. I went to bed as I had a little sore throat.

Thurs. Mar 1st Spring weather

March 2nd

Friday. I’m up & better. Sr. Wallburger sends us some cakes & tarts.

Nothing much: some church activities, a sore throat, a visit to a friend, and a comment on the weather. And yet, it is so much, because with every found page the knowledge of who she was becomes more complete. Getting face-to-face with her history is one the greatest gifts I can think of.

What will you discover when you index your family records? Try it out free on Kindex.org.

 

Solving Mysteries with Searchable Archives

Solving Mysteries with Searchable Archives

I recently accompanied my 5th-Grader on a field trip to the Utah State Capitol and Daughters of the Utah Pioneers (DUP) Museum. As we passed the capitol on the west side, we our school bus drove by the Capitol Hill Ward where my grandparents first met in 1932. At the DUP Museum next door, we had a scavenger hunt with the students. As we were checking items off our list, I walked past these photos.

crich-2

crich-3

They were part of a larger exhibit on pioneer Charles C. Rich and his family.  I was immediately struck by the similarity between the lettering on the photo captions and our grandmother’s lettering. Could it be hers? I asked docents at the DUP if anything could be learned about the donor and date of donation, but unfortunately, there was no additional information.

But what evidence could I discover within our own family archive on Kindex? Even though the archive is only partially transcribed, I was certain I could find some clues. A quick search of “DUP” and “lettering” gave me answers in seconds. Let’s look at the connections.

Connection 1: Employment and Skill

Dorothy Smith did odd jobs hand-lettering for various local businesses. A quick search for “lettering” in her Kindex archive confirms this, revealing a list of lettering jobs she did in the early 1930’s.

dsc-dup-2.jpg

Hobbies  Dot  JOBS Employment

3 Feb ’32 Clerked at “Everybody’s Store’ sale today (1.50) (script)

13 June ’32 – got show card order – Fred Bich[…]

Also job to tint 22 charts for NDA.

Jan 16 / 34 Kress Store clerk & Decorator 14.00 wk

Mar or Apr 33 thru Aug 34 Lettering signs after May 1/34 earn 17. – 20. wk

6 Dec 33 Hand-lettered some charts for Pres. B B Stringham

3 Feb

14-19 Dec 1931 – 7.65 earned from Christmas and orders from friends or kin.

Also 5.00 making 16 show cards for Realsilk Co. thru Chas. Jarman.

1.50 for business cards.

Connection 2: Physical Proximity and Record of Visit

In the same record as above, under the heading of “Church Work”, she mentions a visit the DUP Museum which was situated near her home.

going Wed DUP

dsc-dup-1

Connection 3: Handwriting Comparison

In her archive are many examples of lettering she did for various family history projects.  This connection compares Charles Rich photo captions with examples of Dorothy’s own lettering in her Book of Remembrance, also found in her Kindex archive.

ex-1

ex-2

ex-3

behonest.jpg

Connection 4: Family Connection

A final connection is a family one. My own 2nd Great Grandfather, Charles Rich Clark, was acquainted with Charles C. Rich family, as they both had families in the same towns in Southern Idaho.

Conclusion

While Dorothy has some variance in her lettering style with the use of script and various embellishments, there is a strong similarity between the writing in the Charles C. Rich photos and the writing from her own Book of Remembrance. I see a strong resemblance especially in the numbering. Below is a selection of Dorothy’s writing pasted on to the Charles C. Rich photo image.

While there is not direct evidence to support that she indeed did the lettering, there is strong circumstantial evidence that she did. What do you think?

compare

Dorothy’s lettering in center.

It’s fantastic that this type of research takes just a few minutes when you have a searchable arhchive. With our built-in indexing tools, your family records can be searched in seconds, making solving mysteries like this fast and easy. Haven’t tried Kindex yet? Head on over to kindex.org and start your free archive.