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.

 

Find What is Lost: Introducing found.kindex.org

Find What is Lost: Introducing found.kindex.org

A few weeks ago I was browsing in an antique shop when a stack of old photos caught my eye. As I examined these portraits and family poses one by one, I discovered names written on the back:  David A. Page. Teddy O. Keefer. Ester Olson. How did they get lost?

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Photo 0020 on found.kindex.org is David Alonzo Page with wife Gilheld “Nellie” Qualseth and children Gladys and Elmer, c1900.

As a self-proclaimed hoarder of my own family records, I couldn’t imagine letting go photos like these. And yet it happens every day. Parents pass away, downsize, or move, and family records are lost or thrown away. Records that do remain are often sold in estate sales, eventually finding their way to antique stores or flea markets where they sold as mere commodities.

Kindex wants to change that. While we are doing all we can to rescue records before they are lost, we created the Kindex Lost & Found Archive as a home for records without families to claim them. Found.kindex.org is a destination where collectors, volunteers, researchers, and family members can work together to rescue our histories by preserving, indexing, and discovering lost family records. There are many ways you can be a rescuer—and you don’t have to own any records to get started.

Rescue by Indexing

Rescue history by transcribing photos, postcards, and other records rich with information. Indexing on found.kindex.org creates a new repository of names, dates, and locations that make thousands of records searchable for the first time. All you need to get started is a free Kindex account and a generous heart.

How to index records Kindex Lost & Found Archive.

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Postcard 0016 on found.kindex.org

Rescue by Collaborating

Become a collaborator on found.kindex.org and you can add your own collections of “lost” records to be crowdsource indexed. To become a collaborator, contact us for an invite or go to found.kindex.org and click Add a Record.

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Rescue by Partnering

If you are an antique collector or dealer you can help rescue history by partnering with Kindex and sharing your records on found.kindex.org. We have partnered with some great local antique shops, including Longwood Antiques and Cobwebs Antiques & Collectibles, who have agreed to allow Kindex to scan photos, postcards, scrapbooks, and other indexable records. We, in turn, have agreed to host them in a crowdsourced indexing archive where the records can be searched for and found by their names, descriptions, keywords, and other metadata—all at no cost to them. Records are attributed to the store they came from, so when they are found, researchers can contact the store owner to inquire about the records.

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Who is the cute & mysterious gas station attendant my mother met on the road to Las Vegas in 1959? We’ll learn soon on found.kindex.org.

What’s the Catch?

There’s no catch—just do have a few guidelines:

  • Records added to this archive must have some sort of indexable text that would identify the record to an individual or group.
  • Collaborators who add records to Kindex archives retain copyright ownership. By adding records to Kindex, you are grant Kindex a license to host and create a derivative (i.e., an index) of your records.
  • Record owners may watermark their images so much as the watermark does not detract from or obscure any part of the record.
  • You must follow all Kindex Terms & Conditions. You have an opportunity to review them when you create a free Kindex account.
  • To index records as a guest, or to add records as an archive collaborator, you must have a Kindex account.

Please contact us with an questions you may have, and happy finding!

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“Male-Help-Only”: Breaking the Glass Ceiling in 1929

“Male-Help-Only”: Breaking the Glass Ceiling in 1929

As we celebrate Women’s History Month, we are sharing the stories of women who are examples of strength and courage. 

It was December 1929, just a few weeks after the stock market crash, and many families were feeling the pinch. As a teenager growing up in the 1920’s Dorothy Smith developed an interest in art, and enjoyed sketching the faces of her friends and family. Her parents invested in a few art lessons, and the hobby blossomed into an opportunity for Dorothy to answer an ad in the local paper. The problem was, the ad was for “male-help-only”. Dorothy was not deterred, at at the encouragement of her mother, put some trousers on and answered the ad.

From Dorothy Smith’s own life sketch:

“In December of my 18th year came an answer to a prayer for financial help as well as an unexpected opportunity to “cash-in” on my parent’s monetary investments in my future. At Mother’s suggestion, I bravely answered a “male-help-only” ad that had appeared for a week in the local newspaper. I got the job and was promptly put to work. I learned a lesson in preparedness when I was retained to work the rest of the day and was afraid to remove my coat because I hadn’t bothered to wear my belt. I thoroughly enjoyed my (one-man?) job as a sign-writer and copy-checker in the advertising department of the city’s largest store, T. Eaton, Co., and was glad to be able to help in the support of my elder brother Marv.”

-From the Dorothy Smith Archive, A Brief Life Sketch, written 31 January 1975.

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Dorothy Smith with her parents Hyrum and June, in the late 1920’s, in front of their home in Lethbridge, Alberta.

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Dorothy Smith sketching a face.

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A window Dorothy Smith decorated at T. Eaton Co. in Lethbridge, Alberta.

 

 

A Gold Star Mother’s Letter: “I am not converted to wars”

A Gold Star Mother’s Letter: “I am not converted to wars”

Lehi Larson Smith1, son of Emma Larson and Jesse N. Smith, died in the Argonne Forest in France on October 28, 1918, while fighting as a soldier in World War I. His mother Emma later said that she knew she had lost her son from the moment it happened, and that there was no surprise when the official word came.

 

While transcribing a letter Emma wrote to her granddaughter Dorothy 23 years later, I received additional insight into Emma’s feelings about losing a son to war. Written in 1941, against the backdrop of an escalating war in Europe and North Africa, the letter reveals the loss Emma still felt about her son Lehi, and her admission that her desire to protect her family was greater than any loyalty she felt toward her country.

…our children are our most precious jewels, the more we have the richer we are. I am not willing to raise boys for cannon fodder. I have furnished one but not any more. I am not looking for war in this country should it come to us I have grand children but am not willing for any of them to go. I may not be very loyal to my country. I am not converted to wars.

While we may have the names and dates that history provides, nothing compares to one’s own words to reveal what we cannot ascertain by mere historical facts. These small insights give me greater understanding of Emma, who is my 2nd great grandmother. History must not be names and dates alone, but must be enhanced with the truths and stories that only these sources can give.

Here is a full transcription of the letter. Original spelling intact. Punctuation added for clarity. 2

Mesa Arizona
Feb 26 1941

Dearest Dorothy,

How much I have appreciated the Christmas card and the  photos of the three lovely children. I hop you will pardon my for neglecting to write to you and thank you for remembering me. I have felt like I wasn’t worth remembering. Your mother sent me one of your letters you had writen to her in Heber. It was very interesting to me you seem to be a very busy woman. I think you must have a wonderful good man to help. You couldn’t do so many things and care for your little flock too. Cleona is like you & good helper in the Joseph City ward. But our children are our most precious jewels, the more we have the richer we are. I am not willing to raise boys for cannon fodder I have furnished one but not any more. I am not looking for war in this country. Should it come to us I have grand children but am not willing for any of them to go. I may not be very loyal to my country. I am not converted to wars. Hitler may think he is an angel, I think headquarters is in Germany for the devil.

I can’t help but that Ellsworth could get a school down here in Arizona they pay more here and then I could see more of you. I thot this winter in Price I wouldn’t be here very long myself I cannot brag much myself yet but I am gaining any some I am not loafing quite as much as I did. Your mother done a good part by me in Snowflake which I have appreciated very much. We have been rained on so much down here that it is getting tiresome today it is trying to quit I hope it will, the citris show is on this week they are having a great time some of the men is growing beards they all expect the prize. If I was to be judge not any of them would get it that I have seen the fruit is nice and cheap too. I would like to send you a sackfull but they may hold it up on the line.

We have all kinds of flowers here so it isn’t very cold. I have geraniums blooming all winter growing outdoors on the north side of the house. I hope you young folks can keep well when you are well you can work. I would love to run in and see you all.

I have felt so proud over the way you made the letters on the envelope. I put it where it could be seen & callers pick it up & ask who done that. My granddaughter. And too I could show the great grands.

Love to all
Grandmother Smith

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Rear: Lorana, Lehi, Caroline, George. Seated: Don, Emma, Hyrum. Front: Myrtle, Aikens

  1. While serving a Mormon mission in the Northwester States, Lehi received a call from Montana Draft Board to serve in World War I as a soldier in the United States Army. Before departing for his military duties he asked Drucilla McKay, a young lady acquaintance in the mission field, to marry him. She accepted and the pair were married in the Salt Lake Temple on March 20, 1918. They had only a few days to share their marital bliss before he reported to Camp Funston for military training. Lehi Smith was soon shipped overseas where he served with the 89th Division for several months in the St. Mihiel Campaign. On Oct. 28, 1918 he suffered a direct hit from an artillery shell. He was not yet 28 years of age when he was killed in the Argonne Forest in France.
    From “Life Sketch” written by Lehi T. Smith, a nephew to Lehi Larson Smith. Material obtained from sketches by Hyrum Smith, Lorana Smith Broadbent, and Seraphine Smith Frost in The Kinsman, Vol. XVIII No.2, March 1964.
  2. Letter from the Dorothy Smith Clark Archive.
Banana Bread: A Recipe for Healing

Banana Bread: A Recipe for Healing

I can’t throw away old bananas. Sometimes I’ll toss them, unpeeled, in my freezer. But throwing away old bananas is like stomping on this little voice inside of me saying, “someone needs banana bread”. So today, despite a number of pressing tasks, I start pulling stuff out of the pantry to make banana bread.

Sometimes I fancy myself a baker, and over the years I’ve experimented with many recipes. Too eager to cast off my mother’s recipe as dated or simplistic, I’ve tried banana breads with made with butter, sour cream, nuts, or spices, but they have all fallen short. Perhaps it isn’t just the recipe, but what banana bread has come to represent.

I don’t know when my mom started taking banana bread to people. We accepted that banana bread was made in quadruple batches. She would sour some milk in quart bottles, grease and flour what seemed like all the loaf pans we owned, and stir up the creamy batter in a big yellow bowl. I loved to sneak a taste of that tangy and sweet batter. I remember seeing the foil-wrapped loaves lined up like little train cars along the countertop.

Then she’d drive around the neighborhood, without celebration, and place these loaves in peoples hands. Over the years, my mom had built a reputation. Neighbors brought bags of mottled bananas to encourage her generosity. Whom she chose to receive was a mystery, at least to us. But my mom has a gift for knowing when people need bread. My mother knows if I cried three days ago by looking at my face today. She shows a keen sensitivity to others, paired with a disregard for her own self. My mother, even on her most difficult days, took banana bread. Answering the quizzical looks, my mother just said, “I just thought I’d bring you some bread.”

Of all the cakes I could perfect, of all the pies I could master, of all cookies I could dream up, the highest honor I could achieve would be to perfect the baking—and spirit— of my mother’s banana bread. So thanks to her for teaching me that someone, somewhere, needs some banana bread. Someone needs to heft the warm loaf, lay it on their countertop, peel back the creased foil wrapping and plunge their knife into the moist, warm bread and eat half the loaf, still standing. Someone, somewhere needs this bread: soft and sweet, with a nice dark edge, unadorned, unpretentious, perfect—just like my mother.

BANANA BREAD
Dorothy Chamberlain

½ c. shortening
1 c. sugar
1 ½ ripe bananas, mashed
1 egg
1 c. sour milk (the milk w/lemon juice or vinegar variety)
2 c. flour
1 t. baking powder
½ t. salt
1 t. baking soda

Cream shortening and sugar. Mix in egg. Stir in mashed bananas. Stir in sour milk and dry ingredients. Pour into greased and floured pans. Bake at 350 for one hour. If bread seems to be browning too quickly, cover loosely with foil.

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.

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

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Bosham homes on Shore Road.

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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.