Saturday, July 16, 2011

165th Anniversary of the Mormon Battalion

monument near Albuquerque, NM

Two Cramer ancestors served in the 1846 Mormon Battalion, William Muir and Orin Hatch.  These men made the months-long, two-thousand-mile trek from Iowa to California, the longest march in U.S. military history.  William Muir completed the march barefoot, and was a sergeant in company A.  At age sixteen, Orin enlisted in Company C as its next-to-youngest member to take the place of his sick elder brother, Ransom. His other brother Meltiah was solemnly charged by their father to take care of young Orin.  One source said that young Orin was a bugle boy with the Battalion.

As the Battalion marched to California, Orin fell deathly ill with scurvy.  For three days, he was left behind on the trail to die, and at the end of each day’s march, Meltiah retraced his steps at night to bring his brother back to camp.  Finally an officer allowed Orin to ride on a horse, but he was so weak he had to be tied in place.

The Battalion raised the American flag in San Diego and Orin was one of the five men selected to go into the timbers to secure the pole.  The Hatch boys and William Muir stayed in California through the winter and were there when gold was discovered.  Family legend says that as they walked back east, Meltiah’s shoes wore out and Orin let him wear his, walking barefoot into the Salt Lake Valley.  They then walked back east to Missouri and Iowa to help their families move to Utah.

monument at This is the Place, Utah

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Happy 209th Birthday, Jane Thorne Golightly (1802-1867)!

Gawain Wells' second-great-grandmother

Jane has been a bit of a quest for me this year, as I've researched her and put up a headstone in her honor.  I was amused to discover that she made herself three years younger once in America.  And her husband the baker has a fascinating story!

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Happy 207th Birthday, Emma Hale Smith Bidamon (1804-1879)!

No relation

Emma is not an ancestor, but a personal favorite heroine.  I love this song tribute here.  Her dignity and grace inspire me; when my children were younger, I had that painting of her crossing the Mississippi with children clinging to her skirts and manuscripts hidden inside them (above) as a reminder that some live a much more difficult life.  Plus, her remarkable restraint at not peeking at the gold plates has always been hard for me to believe--really, not even pulling up the corner of the dishtowel as you dust?

You can read more about Emma  here and here.  She compiled hymnals, raised children not her own (including her second husband's illegitimate child), mourned a husband and family lost, and has been maligned by history.  Yet above it all, she stands through the ages as the original and exemplary "elect lady" of D&C 25.  

Someone recently shared an idea on her blog to give Emma a birthday gift of bearing testimony of the Book of Mormon today in her honor, which you can read about here.  Let's do it!

So Emma, I want you to know that it was worth it--those golden plates lying on your table under a dishcloth, which changed your life and millions of lives afterwards.  You paid a high price, and I am so grateful.  I love the Book of Mormon and have felt its power and guiding influence in my life for many years.  There are verses in there which feel like they were written just for me.   I have a great love for Mormon and his effort to compile those histories and writings.  I weep when I get to the end of Alma and all my favorite people die off in the 35th-40th years of the reign of the judges. Every December 24 we read the Christmas story in 3 Nephi and my kids love falling to the ground along with the Nephites. Some of my favorite Book of Mormon memories include reading it in two weeks while I was in the Hill Cumorah Pageant as a teenager, and reading it with the whole community a few years ago when President Hinckley challenged us to do so--I loved seeing people waiting at a dance class or soccer game with their scriptures out.  I have read the Book of Mormon many times, at least once a year since I was eight years old.  It's never the same, because it's speaking to a different, older me each time.  I tried to capture some of my feelings for the Book of Mormon in a children's book I wrote a few years ago, Nephi, Nephi, The Scriptures Are True!  And here is your own verse as a birthday tribute:

Emma, Emma, the scriptures are true!
Tell me what they say about you.
I'm Joseph's beloved, elect lady of Nauvoo
Now faithful saints my memory renew