Sunday, October 26, 2014

Lucy Hannah White Flake: Mormon Pioneer Migration to Utah

Lucy Hannah White Flake’s Reflections of the Mormon Pioneer Migration to Utah

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Both of my parents, Samuel Dennis and Mary Burton White, were born in “York State” as New York was then called, and had moved, with their parents to Illinois, where in Knox
A black and white portrait of Lucy Hannah White Flake.County on the 23rd of August 1842, I was born, the eldest of their children. When I was two years old they joined themselves to a very unpopular religion, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Like their Huguenot, Quaker and Puritan ancestors, they suffered much persecution because of their desire to “worship God according to the dictates of their own conscience,” a privilege granted by the Constitution of the United States, for which many of them fought and died.
My earliest recollection was when my father held me up to see the faces of our beloved prophet, Joseph Smith, and his brother, Hyrum, who had beenSamuel Dennis Whitemartyred in Carthage Jail.
Mobs of armed men burned our homes, confiscated our property, heaped every indignity imaginable upon us. We were driven from county to county, from state to state and finally from the confines of civilization, this too, in the dead of winter.
My grandmother Burton, a gentle little English lady, unused to hardship soon sickened and died. As mother stood by the shallow wayside grave, she brushed away her tears and I heard her say, “Thank God, she won’t ever have to suffer cold, hunger or exposure anymore.”
Mary Hannah Burton WhiteThe exodus toward the west began in 1846, but Father remained behind until the Spring of 1850 assisting other families to leave. The company in which we crossed the plains was not very large. We made good time on the trip. I walked most of the way from the Missouri River to the Great Salt Lake Valley. We all walked who were able to lighten the load of the poor oxen. I was always glad when it came time to camp. The oxen soon learned without much gee-ing and haw-ing how to place the wagons to form a circle, leaving very little space between the front wheel of one and the near hind wheel of the wagon ahead.
In the corral thus formed, the fires were made to cook the meals and the beds were made down near the wagons. If the Indians were troublesome, the cattle were put in this corral for the night and guard kept over the camp by the men.
When suppers were over, all gathered around the campfire, or if it were moonlight we needed no other light, someone would start a song, all would join in, or someone would tell an amusing story. The weary miles trudged that day would be forgotten. Soon the lively tune of a fiddle or accordion, a flute or a fife, or maybe all of them, could be heard playing a quadrille or a reel. Hardship, weariness, separation from loved ones were forgotten and these homeless exiles joined in the dance.
A statue of a Mormon pioneer pulling a handcart. And a quote about life being a test from Sheri Dew.
I would keep my eyes open as long as I could, picturing myself as a grown young lady, Belle of the Ball, with beautiful flowing skirts that would swish and swirl as I danced. Before I knew it my poor tired head would rest on Mother’s lap.

When the dancers were all tired out, or ten o’clock arrived, I would be awakened, to join in the closing hymn and kneel in prayer in a big circle before going to bed. Some of the prayers were so long that I would go to sleep again, then Father would carry me to bed.
Poor grandfather, John Griggs White, was not strong so we had to be careful of him on the trip giving him the best we had to eat. Father, Samuel Dennis White, contracted Mountain fever a week or two before we reached our destination, so Mother had to look after them and had a hard time doing that and all her other things. To me the three months journey was not a hardship.
Provisions were not plentiful any of the way. We had a cow along but she didn’t give much milk after walking all day. We ate the last of our food for breakfast in the morning of August 31, and about the middle of the afternoon we arrived at the home of Mother’s people. They had reached the Valley the year before. That date stands out in my memory as one of the happiest in my childhood. That day happened to be Mother’s thirty-second birthday, and was a joyous occasion.  I couldn’t understand her tears. I said, “Mother your loved ones are here, you wanted to come, so why are you crying?” She squeezed my hand gently, and smiling through her tears answered, “Lucy Hannah, when people are as happy as I am, they can not keep from crying.”
That was the first time I knew that tears could express both joy and sorrow.
Lucy Hannah White Flake, To the Last Frontier: Autobiography

Friday, October 24, 2014

Chapter in Lavona/Grandma's life history: Mormon Pavilion at World's Fair, 1964


Mormon Pavilion at New York World’s Fair in 1964

Jay and I attended the World’s Fair in 1964 in New York City.  This was where “Man’s Search for Happiness” was first shown and was the theme of the pavilion focusing on the plan of salvation. The film begins, “Sometimes in your search for happiness you ponder the meaning of your life. You sift your memory for beginnings.  You send your mind ahead for directions.  But all you really know is now and you are lost in the present.”

 I remember how visible the Mormon Pavilion was and how we enjoyed being there.  The Christus Statue was displayed in the Pavilion for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and later used in Visitor Centers around the world.  The pavilion was beautiful.  I still remember how grateful I was to be a member of the Church that presented itself so attractively at the world’s fair.   The fa├žade inside the Mormon Pavilion at the World’s Fair replicated the three east spires of the Salt Lake Temple.  Full time missionaries were tour guides.  Depicted in art and dioramas was Church Doctrine pertaining to Christ organizing the Church and calling His apostles, the apostasy and latter-day restoration, the events pertaining to the organization of The Church, the martyrdom of the Prophet Joseph Smith, the westward trek of the Mormon pioneers, and the commission to take the gospel to all the world.  The Mormon Tabernacle Choir performed at the pavilion which stood next to the Catholic pavilion.   Interesting the “It’s a Small World” ride that I enjoy at Disneyland was first in traduced at this fair.

I think attendance at this World’s Fair made such an impression on both Jay and I as we went on to serve as Nauvoo Missionaries serving as tour guides at Carthage and the historic homes in Nauvoo.  I am now enjoying serving as a hosting missionary at the Conference Center and having the great opportunity to give tours to those that come from all over the world.   I am grateful for the missionary experiences that I have each week and grateful to be able to share my testimony with those that come.

Sunday, October 5, 2014

William Jordan Flake's Experiences in Jail for Polygamy

William Jordan Flake’s Experiences in Jail for Polygamy
Quoting from William J. Flake:  Pioneer, Colonizer by his son Osmer Flake
(note: William Jordan Flake was imprisoned for 6 months in 1884 in the Yuma Territorial Prison for polygamy. This research and compiling was done by Marlene Richardson Ellingson)

“Flake’s experience at Yuma, if written would fill a book.  We will just put a small part.  Prisoners were all shaved clean and their hair clipped.  The Warden took a pair of shears and clipped just a little off his long beard, and did the same to his hair, and said, ‘That will do.’  When he brought in the first letter he said, ‘We are supposed to open and read all letters either going in or out.’  Father said, ‘Read them, every word, and they will either save you or condemn you.’  Captain Ingalls opened the letter, and handed it to him; he did this with all of the letters that came.
“The prison was in constant turmoil, the snake den had been full for months.  One man was loading and wheeling dirt, and had a big ball and chain on his ankle.  He would haul it in the wheelbarrow when he moved places.  He wanted to either escape or be killed.  Father worked with the man, loading dirt a day or so.  The guards cursed, and the men would not work, but were kept at it all day to get three cars of dirt out.  William soon got the confidence of the men and wanted them to get the dirt out by contract.  They were to agree to put out four cars a day and have the rest of the time to do as they pleased.  He promised them, that if they would back him in four cars a day, he would assure them, they would have no more trouble.  They said, that if they put out four cars, it would be increased to five.  He promised them that it would not be increased.
“He went to the Captain, and asked him to take the guards away, and let them have the time to themselves, if they would put out four cars of dirt a day.  ‘Sure,’ said the Captain.  ‘I would be glad to do it.’  From then on, they had their work finished by ten each morning, and were able to be out of the hot Yuma sun; no more quarreling and cursing the guards.
“The Captain said, ’Flake, we have a Mormon in here from Nevada.  He is our worst problem; he has tried to kill me and has tried to kill some of the other Guards.  If one of us went near him and he had that shovel in his hand, he would try to kill us.  He declares that he will fight us until either we kill him or he get away.  He tries every time we give him the least liberty to get away, and has gotten out two or three times, but there is no chance to get away on this desert.  Can you do anything with him?’  Father went out and tried to talk with him.  He would not stop his work and said, ‘I have to keep going,’ but Father said, ‘Sit down, I assure you, you will not be punished for it. He asked where he was from, and if he had a family.  He said his wife was dead, and that his people were fine people, and he did not want them to know anything about what became of him.  For two hours he could not be touched.  He had said he had two little girls.  When William asked if he would not like to see those little girls, he broke down and said, ‘It would be the greatest joy life could bring me.’  Father said, ‘If you will promise to behave yourself and give no more trouble I will promise you that when I get out I will get you a pardon.’  He asked, ‘Can you do that?’  ‘Yes,’ was the answer, and the promise was soon given. 
“William went back and told the Captain to cut off the chains and he would have no more trouble with Kerby.  The Captain was delighted, and had Kerby come at once to the blacksmith shop and cut off the chain, and told him to take it easy until he got his strength back.  However, he said, ‘I want to work or I will go crazy.’  Father suggested to the Captain that he put him in the bakery.  He did, and Kerby did the best job, they had ever had and stayed with it until he was pardoned, which was done, as soon as Father got out and wrote a letter to the Governor.  The Captain approved it and Kerby went back to the little girls.  Several years later he brought them to our home for a visit.
 “The big complaint with the men was that they were fed spoiled meat.  In that hot country and no refrigeration meat spoiled quickly.  Father said, ‘I don’t eat much meat, but when you get a piece that is spoiled just hold it up on your fork so I will see you and I will see that it is corrected. ‘  They told him if he complained he would be sent to the Snakes, but he did not fear that.  They next day one of the men held up a piece of meat, and Father reached for a cut, smelled it and called a guard, and asked him to call the Captain.  When the Captain came and asked him what was the matter, he said, ‘Captain, this meat is not fit to eat, it is spoiled.’  The Captain said, ‘Eat what is put before you and no complaints.’  William said, ‘Warden I am a citizen of this State and a heavy tax payer, I have broken no law of the State, you can punish me, but you can’t keep me here very long.  I have a lot of friends, and when I get out of here, I will turn this place upside down.  We pay for good fresh meat, and we are going to have it or know why.’  The Captain ordered the meat to be taken off, and other food supplied for the meal.  Then he said to William, “If you ever find spoiled meat on the table again, let me know.’
“About two weeks later he called the Captain again, and he had another meal prepared, and they never had any more spoiled meat or other food. 
“The Captain had two young boys and no other children to look after them; they wanted to go fishing but the Captain was afraid they would be drowned, and he worried about what to do with them.  The prison was on the back of the Colorado River.  He did not want to make they stay home all of the time.  Father told him that Skousen liked boys, and to let them go out with him, and they would be safe as with the Captain himself.  From then on until he was released, Brother Skousen spent every day out with those boys, often taking a lunch and staying away until dark.  He was in charge of the small gate, and the boys would come there and call for Skousen any time they wanted, and he went. 
“There was a tremendous waste of food from the table.  Father asked Captain Ingles, the Warden, if it could not be stopped.  Wheel-barrows full were dumped into the river after each meal.  The Captain said that he had tried every way he knew, but was unable to stop it. President Robinson of Mesa had been sent to the Penitentiary for polygamy, a short time before.  Flake said,’Give President Robinson charge of the kitchen; he has had experience, and he will stop it.  It was done immediately.  A month later the Captain told him the food bill had been cut in half.
“This is just a part of what he did at the prison.  He had been sent to Hell and was turning it into a Heaven for all of them.  The Captain’s work, and the duties of the guards were not half as hard, as they had been.  When he went in, the Snake Den had not been empty for many months, and was usually filled to the brim; soon the den was empty, and not another man in it as long as he was there. 
“Yes, Heaven can be, even in a place like that.  He was called into the Captain’s office one day to meet a visitor.  When he went in, a big broad shouldered man grabbed him in his arms.  It was the friend of his youth, of his young manhood, and of his whole life, Francis M. Lyman.  He, with more of the leaders were in Arizona, visiting the Saints, cheering them up and trying to help them bear their burdens.  He had left the others and come to visit his friend in ‘Prison.’
“The Captain gave them the best room available, and gave them the entire day to themselves.  The brethren gathered in the room, and enjoyed a real feast.  They asked the Warden for a pitcher of water, a plate and a slice of bread, (for they were going to have the Sacrament).  He came with the things asked for, and told them they could have anything at the prison.  A fine meal was prepared especially for them at the conclusion.  The Apostle of the Lord gave each of them a wonderful Blessing, and left with just time to catch his train. 
“The prisoners all loved him; he had made life easier for them.  They gave him some wonderful presents, one lady’s inlaid work box, made of twenty-four hundred pieces of native wood (he gave the box to Sister Lyman, the woman who raised him and his younger Sister and Brother).
“Before leaving, the Warden said to him, ‘I don’t want to keep you from your family, but I hate to see you go.  You have done more for this prison, and the people in it than all the others combined.  It is a better prison and the inmates are better men because of you and their association with you.  I wish you the best of luck, but hope this prison will not be without a Mormon as long as I am in charge.’”   
“His time was up, but because of slow mail service his money to pay the fine had not reached him.  The prisoners had some money on deposit with the Secretary.  They drew this and loaned it to pay the fine, so he would not be delayed.  He started for home on June 5, 1885.  The money came in the next mail.”

Richardson family flag

In 1997, in anticipation of the Ray Richardson family reunion honoring Dad (Jay Richardson) we came up with this family flag to go on our t-shirts.  At the time, it represented lots of things important to us as a family (and still represents).  (sorry if I posted this earlier, I couldn't remember)