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.

Dorothy Smith & Ellsworth Clark Archive

Dorothy Smith & Ellsworth Clark Archive

For our inaugural Featured Archive it is only fitting that we start with the archive of the woman who inspired us to build Kindex: our Grandma Dorothy Smith Clark.  She is, and will always be our inspiration for building Kindex and rescuing family records.

Scope and Content

The archive contains letters, photos, documents, diaries, personal writings, verse, and art created by Dorothy Smith and Ellsworth Clark between 1916 and 2008. It also includes additional photos and documents created by associated family and friends related to Dorothy and Ellsworth, including letters, documents and photos dating from the late 19th-century.

Notable content

  • Diaries and letters containing LDS Church History in Lethbridge, Alberta from 1915-1930
  • Close associations with LDS artist Torlief Knaphus and Mormon leaders including Hugh B. Brown
  • Caretaking of the Cumorah Farm in Palmyra from 1934 to 1939
  • Religious and social history in Salt Lake City from 1929 to 1940

See categories below for additional details about each archive Collection.

Accessibility and Permissions

  • Title: Dorothy Smith and Ellsworth Clark Archive
  • URLhttps://smith-clark.kindex.org
  • Archive Owner: Cathy Gilmore
  • Total Records: 1573
  • % Indexed: 24%
  • Accessibility: Public
  • Permissions:
    • Public: Search, view indexed records (no account required)
    • Guest: Search, index records, view all records (Free Kindexer account required)
    • Collaborator: Search, index records, view all records, contribute records, access archive from Archives list. Collaborator status is invite-only and must be requested from the archive owner. Kindex account reqired (Kindexer, Cloud, Closet)
  • Source: Records gathered, scanned, and added to archive collaboratively by descendants of Dorothy Smith and Ellsworth Clark.

Art

Dorothy was a prolific amateur artist who used many mediums to express her creativity. Collection includes 83 pieces, including watercolors, oils, sketches, calligraphy, and handmade cards.

Poetry

While most of the poetry in this collection consists of love poems exchanged between Dorothy and Ellsworth, there are a handful of poems she wrote later in life that she gifted to her children and grandchildren. Collection includes 22 poems.

Photos

With 461 images, Dorothy and Ellsworth's photo collection is the largest collection in the archive. Dates span from late 19th century to the 2008. Locations: Lethbridge, Alberta; Snowflake, Arizona; Salt Lake City, Utah; Southern Idaho, Pacific Northwest, and sites related to early LDS Church history.

Letters

With a total of 343 letters, the Letters collection includes courtship letters and correspondence written both to and from Dorothy and Ellsworth. This collection is rich with social, church, and family history. Letters span from 1915 to 2000 over 100 years of family history. 

Diaries

Dorothy's collection of eight, notebook-style diaries are primarily from her young adult years dating from 1927 to 1932. Early diaries were written in Lethbridge, Alberta and Salt Lake City, Utah, and contain an abundance of church and social. Later diaries purposed as note-keeping and verse books. These are a treasure to have, as Dorothy was not a prolific journal-keeper. Diaries include editorial notes Dorothy to the pages later in life. 

Book of Remembrance

Quite possibly the highlight of the archive, Dorothy's Book of Remembrance is a study in multiple disciplines, including photography, art, family history, genealogy, and design. Dorothy began her Book of Remembrance in the early 1930s, and added to it throughout her life. At 154 pages, this is the first of many books she began for herself and her siblings, children, and grandchildren.

Biographical Sketch of Dorothy Smith Clark

Born in the pioneer community of Snowflake, Arizona to Hyrum and June A. Bushman Smith and raised in Lethbridge, Alberta, Dorothy Smith had a creative and kind nature which found expression playing the good fairy and leaving secret gifts to delight her family. Dorothy’s talent in art became a serious pursuit when the Smith family relocated to Salt Lake City, Utah in 1929. There she continued her studies at the University of Utah, met future husband Ellsworth M. Clark, and gained employment as a decorator at H.R. Kress.

While still a young mother, Dorothy completed her Book of Remembrance. A work of art in its own right, its pages reveal her deep sense of ancestral belonging, records of her parents’ and grandparents’ spiritual gifts, and a recognition of her own divine purpose and talents. As Dorothy developed her own spiritual gifts, her ability to discern the needs of others and act in faith became a catalyst for ministering to others, notwithstanding the fear and shyness she often felt. To the question posed to the Savior, “Who is my neighbor?” Dorothy could answer: the plumber, the piano tuner, the refugee, or the outcast—anyone in her path in need of help.

Dorothy’s 1964 poster sketch titled “We Believe in Sharing” affirmed the scope of her desires: to give all she had—her talents, testimony, labor, food, and possessions, bringing “more happiness, enrich[ing] the world, sharing all that has come to us as a church and as individual members.” Often overcome with social anxiety or limited by poor heath, Dorothy preferred personal visits to projects, created art to share the gospel, and wrote hundreds of inspired letters that today stand as a testimony of her covenant to “bear one another’s burdens, that they may be light” (Mosiah 18:8-9). Without prejudice or judgment, her nurturing influence reached beyond her own nine children when she became foster mother to two Navajo children and a personal advocate for many Southeast Asian refugees who affectionately called her “Mother Clark”.

While Dorothy’s art was never exhibited, her painting of Paul Wildhaber’s “The Armor of Righteousness” was the centerpiece of her home. Unlike others who traditionally depicted male religious figures in armor, 20-year-old Dorothy changed the painting’s subject from hero to heroine, thus broadening the view of those who are “armed in righteousness and with the power of God in great glory” (1 Nephi 14:14). From her childhood fairy gifts to the ministering of the needful and forgotten, her visionary example of what a faithful woman can do endures through her depiction of this righteous and strong heroine.

Dorothy Smith Clark
26 April 1911 – 3 February 198

Hoarder to Order Part I: Am I My Brother’s (Record) Keeper?

Hoarder to Order Part I: Am I My Brother’s (Record) Keeper?

Kindex Co-founder Cathy Gilmore presented “Hoarder to Order: a Step-by-Step Family Record Rescue” at RootsTech 2018. This presentation examines why records are at risk, discusses obstacles to family record preservation, and gives a step-by-step overview of how record-keepers can rescue their family records. We will be sharing excerpts from her presentation on the Kindex blog. 


Most of you will recognize this young woman as Anne Frank, the young Jewish girl who kept a diary while in hiding from the Nazis during World War II. Her diaries provided a vital, personal voice to the war experience and went on to become literary and historical treasure.

Anne Frank, c1940. Unknown photographer; Collectie Anne Frank Stichting Amsterdam – Website Anne Frank Stichting, Amsterdam

Do you recognize this woman?

By Rob Bogaerts / Anefo (Nationaal Archief) [CC BY-SA 3.0 nl], via Wikimedia Commons

Hermine Santruschitz, also known as Meip, was among those who helped Anne Frank and her family hide in the annex during World War II. Her service to the Frank family continued after the war when she retrieved Anne’s diary from the annex and took the diary to Anne’s father, Otto—the only surviving member of the Frank family. Anne was the record creator, but Meip was the record rescuer. Without Meip, Anne’s story could have been lost to history.

By Heather Cowper [CC BY 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Many of us are the “Meips” of our family: we are the record rescuers. While we do not face the same obstacles as the Frank family, we have a great responsibility to ensure our family records are not lost, damaged, or thrown away. As keepers of family records in an increasingly digital age, we are among the last generations who will create or save written  family records. Stored in boxes or on closet shelves, our records are not just the museum pieces of the future—they are the ultimate key to our family history, the tablula rasa that coming generations will turn to for answers.

Which leads us to the question: Am I my brother’s (or grandmother’s, or uncle’s, or cousin’s) record keeper? We must be. As the gatekeepers of family records, how do we fulfill our responsibility to rescue them and preserve both our family’s legacy and add their voices to history? From boomers to millennials, we must bear the collective responsibility to rescue history through our family records.

How do we begin? From inventory, to scanning, to digital archiving, each step of a record rescue could easily be (and probably is) a class of its own. It can be overwhelming, but there is hope. The purpose of this series make a family record rescue manageable, give tips for success, and inspire each of you to take action.

Next up:  Hoarder to Order Part II: A Family Record Risk Assessment. We will discuss why family records are at risk and review common obstacles families face in record-keeping and preservation.

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 Archival Challenges for the Mormon Battalion Association

Kindex co-founder Kimball Clark and Laura Anderson, Senior Historian at the Church History Library, will present “Crowdsourcing Your History: Collaborative Archives for Families, Groups, and Societies”  at the RootsTech Demo Theater on Thursday, March 1 at 10:20 a.m. We recently asked Laura Anderson, Senior Historian at the Church History Library, to share how she uses Kindex to make Mormon Battalion Association records more accessible and engaging. We thank her for sharing her thoughts with us below.


Two days before volunteers left to serve in the Mormon Battalion, LDS Church President Brigham Young said their “lives should be spared and [their] expedition result in great good, and [their] names be handed down in honorable remembrance to all generations.”1

In order for that to happen, we need to know all about their stories. We needed to tell not only their stories, but the stories of their families. With 500 men and about 2,000 people total, that’s a lot of research. I knew that researching one at a time would not work, so we needed to create a searchable archive from the thousands of records we have related to the Mormon Battalion. I’ve had people transcribe for me in the past, but it was very time-consuming to keep track of it all, and difficult to avoid the duplication of work.  I wanted a way to transcribe and search al the documents on a central platform. 

At Rootstech 2017 I found Kindex, and it was just the solution I needed: a collaborative indexing platform where I could gather and organize the Mormon Battalion records. I began adding records, transcribing, and inviting others to help. As we progressed in transcribing the archive, Kindex listened to my feedback and were even willing to prioritize software features that I needed.  With Kindex I can track our collaborators and the progress we make on indexing. 

In addition to solving the transcription challenges, Kindex also makes it easy for anyone to access and search the archive. Before Kindex, the records scattered in various places so they were difficult for the average person to discover. Now, we have all the records accessible in a central archive that is getting more searchable every day. Through this archive, Kindex is helping me keep that promise to keep their lives in “honorable remembrance”.

To search the Mormon Battalion Archive, or to become a volunteer indexer on this project, go to https://mormonbattalion.kindex.org and click Request Access. 


 

  1. William Hyde, The Private Journal of William Hyde (privately published, 1962), 19; spelling standardized.
  2. Cover art located in the Pioneer Memorial Museum in Salt Lake City, Utah. No additional info available at time of publication.