For my grandma's recent 100th birthday, we celebrated her life and legacy at a family reunion in California.
Since she had two great-grandfathers who served in the Mormon Battalion, we visited that fabulous and interactive visitor's center (so fun for kids--talking portraits that come to life, costumes, and gold panning).
Beyond the 100 candle cake, we also performed the following generations script, which I'm posting for future reunion reference here (or if you couldn't hear the kids read their lines the first time).
Cramer Generations Script
Anna & Wally Cramer
Frank & Lottie Hatch
William Ira & Maggie Muir, John Cottam Jr & Anna Gustava
Orin Hatch & Maria Thompson, William & Jane Muir, John & Catherine Cottam
Ira Hatch & Wealthy Bradford, William G & Elizabeth Thompson, Steven & Elizabeth Muir
[7 Pilgrims, John & Catherine Cottam, John Cottam in England; William & Betsy Thompson, Elizabeth & Stephen Muir, William & Jane Muir in Scotland; Anna Gustava in Sweden, Ira & Wealthy Hatch in America]
Hundreds of years ago, there were several families living far away in England, Scotland, Sweden, and America. We are their descendants standing here today. How did all of these ancestors unite? Well, first the Pilgrims came to America, followed by other intrepid voyagers from England to Puritan America. Many generations later, their descendants Ira Hatch and Wealthy Bradford married [Pilgrims move to America, Pilgrims sit down, Ira and Wealthy join].
Ira and Wealthy had a son named Orin [Orin join], and the family converted to the gospel when they heard it in 1831. In fact, Wealthy was the first woman to be baptized in the area. Ira wasn’t sure about that, but traveled to Kirtland to meet the prophet and secretly brought some money with him to donate if he felt the cause was true. As Ira approached, Joseph Smith stopped his work and said, “Brother Hatch, I’ve been expecting you for three days. The Lord needs the money you’ve brought to help build the temple here in Kirtland.” Ira donated two hundred dollars to build the pulpit and was baptized. The Hatch family soon joined the Saints in Nauvoo [move to Nauvoo].
Meanwhile, the Thompsons had emigrated from Scotland to Canada as young parents due to the potato famine [William & Elizabeth move]. Missionaries in Canada taught the Thompsons, missionaries in Scotland taught the Muirs, and missionaries in England taught the Cottam family. The Thompsons moved to Missouri to be with the Saints [William and Elizabeth move to America]. There their daughter Maria was born in a wagon bed [Maria join]. William and Jane Muir converted and sailed to America as a young newlywed couple [William and Jane to America]. And the Cottams sent their son John ahead, and followed a few years later [John to America, then John and Catherine join]. All of these families soon congregated in Nauvoo [Thompsons, Hatches, Cottams, Muirs to Nauvoo].
But Nauvoo was a time of joy and trial. In the Hatch family, Wealthy got sick and died. Betsy Thompson also never recovered from childbirth and passed away [Wealthy and Betsy sit down]. Then the Mormon Battalion was mustered. William and Orin left their families for the long march to California [William and Orin march to California]. These families crossed the plains: Ira, William with Maria, Jane, pregnant and walking until delivery, John, John and Catherine [all to Utah].
William and Orin returned from the Mormon Battalion [William and Orin to Utah]. William and Jane settled in Bountiful, where he eventually had four wives and thirty-six children, including Margaret [Maggie join]. His parents, Steven and Elizabeth, never joined the church. But they heard how much William liked Utah, and traveled from Scotland there. However, the Muirs were never happy in Utah and eventually returned to Scotland, where they died [Muirs back and forth].
Orin’s first wife didn’t want to colonize Nevada as Brigham Young commanded, so he married Maria as a plural wife [Orin and Maria join]. Their first of eight children was William Ira Hatch [William join], named after his grandpas. William married Maggie [join], and their first son was Frank [join]. The Hatch family settled in Scipio.
Meanwhile, John and Catherine Cottam settled in Salt Lake. Both Johns, father and son, were woodworkers, and John Junior helped make the banisters in the Salt Lake Temple. In Sweden, Anna Gustava heard the gospel and left her widowed mother behind to emigrate to America [Anna to Utah]. There she found a job as a cook and later became John Cottam’s fourth wife. Their daughter Charlotte married Frank [Charlotte join and join Frank].
Frank and Lottie had nine children, including Anna [join]. Anna married Wally Cramer [Wally join], who was a convert to the church. He was a pioneer too! Wally and Anna had two sons [men and their wives stand], who had children [stand] who had their own children [stand], who came together today to celebrate their heritage.
Ancestors, do you have anything you’d like to share with us?
1. Pilgrims—We are William Bradford, William, Mary, and Love Brewster, Stephen and Elizabeth Hopkins, and Francis Cooke. We were brave souls who left the comforts of home for religious freedom—like many of your other pioneer ancestors. One William was the governor, another the religious leader. Remember us this Thanksgiving!
2. Ira Hatch—When I was eleven years old, a boy the same age as some of you, I chopped wood every day for seven families whose fathers were fighting in the War of 1812. I was friendly with Indians, but later had some drama between my several wives.
3. Wealthy Bradford—I was wealthy in my ancestry, with seven Pilgrims, and in my posterity, with seven children and many descendants, as well as in my faith. I was particularly interested in the Book of Mormon because I was friends with the Indians who lived near us in New York, and when I learned about their origins from the book I shared it with my Indian friends. I was baptized through a hole cut in the ice, just after I’d given birth to my fourth child. Before I died in 1841, I prophesied that my husband and family would be driven with the Saints from Nauvoo and find a home in the Rocky Mountains.
4. Orin Hatch—See how I’m facing sideways? I lost the sight in my left eye when I was ten years old. My brothers were trying to get a skunk out from under the granary, and I looked under just as my brother shot the animal. That was rough, but things were harder when my mom died the next year, and then when I went on the Mormon Battalion march as a teenager! You may be interested to know that I didn’t want to get baptized until I was sure about it, and just after my fourteenth birthday, I was standing on the bank of an Illinois creek watching the elders perform baptisms. A power seized hold of me and shook me so violently I was about to fall to the ground. I felt as though somebody was thoroughly out of patience with me for my obstinacy, so I crossed the creek and asked to be baptized. I dedicated the next 62 years of my life in service to the Lord. I also was near Carthage and heard the shots that killed the Prophet. I’m not the ancestor of the senator who shares my name, but spells Orin with two Rs.
5. William Thompson—I added a G as my middle initial to because of all those other William Thompsons in Bountiful—and I was known for singing hymns in my sleep. Do any of my descendants do that?
6. Elizabeth (Betsy) Thompson—I might not have made it to Utah, but I’m definitely a pioneer woman. I crossed the ocean from Scotland, gave birth to one of my daughters in a wagon bed during the Missouri mob persecutions, and died in Nauvoo when I was only 35.
7. Maria Thompson Hatch—I thought it was a lark to cross the plains as a teenager, and sometimes my older brothers carried me over the streams. One time in Utah we had no food, and our family knelt in prayer and asked Heavenly Father to provide. While we were still kneeling, a man knocked at the door and asked if my father could fix his chimney, and he would pay him in corn. When I was seventeen, my sweetheart Ira Hatch (Orin’s brother) went to serve a mission to the Indians. No one heard from him for a long time—he wasn’t much of a letter writer, I guess—and everyone assumed he’d been killed by the Indians. So when Brigham Young told me I should marry his brother Orin as a plural wife, I did. Imagine my amazement when Ira returned from his mission soon after!Since I liked to play Mrs. Santa for the neighborhood children at Christmastime, I’m happy to see all of these descendants here with their own children.
8. Elizabeth & Stephen Muir—We were disenchanted with Utah. It was lonely, our son was always off doing church work or spending time with his wives and dozens of children instead of us! And we certainly didn’t approve of polygamy. We were glad he went on a mission to England and could escort us back home to Scotland. The children from the Mountain Meadows Massacre were part of our traveling company heading east to Arkansas, from which port we sailed to Liverpool. We died back in our hometown in Scotland, and if you just looked at our birth and death places, would never know that we’d had a pioneer adventure in between!
9. William Muir—My friends called me Uncle Billy, so you probably should too. Once I joined the church, I was a faithful laborer in the kingdom all my days. I served many missions and traveled extensively with Brigham Young. I was a silk weaver by trade, but quite an entrepreneur in Utah as I opened the first molasses mill, planted the first asparagus patch, and created a tomato and pickle canning factory, as well as introducing the Spanish onion. I felt like Jacob of old, with four wives and twelve sons, some even named the same as the tribes of Israel: Levi, Dan, Benjamin, and Joseph. Twelve of my grandsons fought in World War II, and two died. This was the advice I liked to give my kids: Keep your head cool, your feet warm, your ears open, your mouth shut, and you will be okay.
10. Jane Muir—I met my future husband at church, we were both new converts. It was like an old-fashioned singles ward! But the family where I worked as a maid wouldn’t let me out at night to see him, so I would sneak out after they went to bed. One night, William came as usual and waited in the barn for me to let him out. Unfortunately, that night I’d gone straight to bed and he was locked in the barn until morning! My first two children died while William was off with the Mormon Battalion, and I delivered my third only three weeks after crossing the plains. I boiled water from the Great Salt Lake and skimmed it for salt.
11. Maggie Muir Hatch—I loved to read and keep a journal. I was a young girl when the grasshoppers attacked, and remember how I chased them and swung my bonnet at them. Some said I was the sweetest, most gracious woman they’d ever met, but I’m too humble to admit that! As a middle-aged woman, I got really sick and all my hair fell out. When it grew back in I was surprised that it was dark and curly!
12. William Ira Hatch—I often went barefoot as a boy, and remember one day stepping on a piece of red hot metal at the blacksmith shop—I had to run to the creek and dangle my foot in the water all day long until it stopped hurting! I was twelve years old when the railroad was built, and that was exciting. One challenge for me being a farmer was that I sunburned so easily and had very sensitive skin. I was a bishop during the flu epidemic of 1918, and died during that time. I had to be buried without a public funeral due to the epidemic, and so an informal one was held in our yard. An inactive neighbor man stood by my body, and looked into my face for a long time, then said, “There lies the best damn man that ever lived.” It was a high compliment.
13. Frank S Hatch—I was an engineering student at the University of Utah [boo], and helped design the U on the mountain! That’s a fun legacy of mine you can think of every time you see it, even if you’re a BYU fan. I insisted on the serifs in the font. My middle initial S doesn’t stand for anything, just so you know. Having 7 girls and only 2 boys was just a little disappointing, so we named our youngest daughter, who once again wasn’t a son, “Johnette.” I helped with the electrification of rural Utah, and my grandkids remember that I never liked to mix my food together, but kept it separate on my plate. When I was older I was gored by a bull on my farm in Scipio and couldn’t walk upright.
14. John Cottam Senior—I ran a furniture shop in England, but when we lost all our money we had to leave our home and I sold items from a wagon. In Utah I enjoyed watching the new train and its passengers drive by just two blocks from my home.
15. Catherine Cottam—I was a fun-loving woman who liked to entertain, but unfortunately my spending put our family deeply in debt. One day when I was older, I lived with my daughter who brought me a cup of tea when I was sick. I took one sip and left it on the table. She asked what was wrong, and I said it was so weak it needed to rest!
16. John Cottam Junior—After I crossed the plains, I kept fixing that wagon when each part wore out so that I still had the original one more than fifty years later. My second cousin was a famous actress in San Francisco, and I visited her to escape the polygamy raids but eventually spent six months in jail. I was a great sportsman and a champion checkers player. I performed so many baptisms in City Creek, the Jordan River, and the Endowment House that people in Salt Lake called me “John the Baptist.”
17. Anna Gustava—I was brave to come to Utah from Sweden, where I didn’t speak the language and worked as a cook before marrying John! I was known as an herbalist.
18. Lottie Cottam Hatch—My mother Anna died when I was a teenager.I was a schoolteacher in Salt Lake before my marriage, and even though Scipio couldn’t provide the opportunities of Salt Lake, I produced community plays and taught my children all that I could. I loved music and literature, baked eight loaves of bread a day, and sewed new dresses for my seven daughters for the 4th of July and Christmas. Once visiting my grown daughters in Salt Lake in the 1940s, I was so shocked to find my daughter Helen smoking that I locked myself in the bathroom for hours. She was so dismayed by my reaction, though, that she quit smoking! My grandson Lew remembers that I chased him down the street once in Mesa to give him a dollar bill for his date.
19. Anna—some of you remember me as Grandma Cramer! I was named after my grandma, the Swedish Anna Gustava. When I visited my sons, I’d bring boxes of oranges from my Arizona trees, and pecans to crack. I liked to drink hot water and stick a Kleenex up my sleeve to have handy. I was a nurse and a temple worker, and adored my husband, sons, and grandchildren. I went back to school when my boys were older to finally finish my college degree.
20. Wally—I’m the redheaded grandpa you never met, and I loved to eat ice cream on pancakes, write poems and songs, and be patriotic. Did you know I served in the Army during World War II? My first wife Fay was a Mormon, and so I converted to the church before I met Anna. So I’m a pioneer just like many of these other ancestors. And my ancestors have their own interesting stories: one of my grandpas fought in the Civil War, and another went to the Gold Rush as a teenager. Maybe he met Orin and William Muir when they were there!
|all of Wally's redheaded descendants|
Orin, bugle boy
The Hatch family had promised to send two men to join the Battalion, but when the time came to leave, their son Ransom was too sick to go. Ira, the father, was recently widowed and couldn’t leave his children. So he approached his sons Orin and Meltiah.
Ira—Orin, you must take Ransom’s place. I know you’re only 16, so you’ll be just about the youngest one there, but our family’s honor must be preserved and we promised to send two men. Meltiah, you are solemnly charged to take care of Orin.
As they marched, Orin fell deathly ill of scurvy. For three days, Orin was left behind on the trail to die, and at the end of each day’s march, Meltiah retraced his steps to bring his brother back to camp. Finally, an officer allowed Orin to ride on a horse; 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 secure the pole. The Hatch boys stayed in California through the winter and were there when gold was discovered. As they walked back east, Meltiah’s shoes wore out, and Orin let him wear his, walking barefoot into the Salt Lake Valley.
|woodcut courtesy David Cramer|
Keep Calm and Cramer On!