Friday, December 24, 2010

A sad end to a colorful life

As I was browsing around for something to add to the Henderson Reunion website yesterday, I came across the newspaper obituary of my Great-Great-Grandfather Soren Peter Guhl. I've written about him before (click here), noting his ... um, eccentricities. But for some reason I was not quite prepared for the story of his death, told by a newspaper writer in Council Bluffs, Iowa, where Soren had returned after his divorce from our Great-Great-Grandmother Mariane Madsen Christensen Guhl and his association with the Morrisite sect in Utah (and, perhaps, Soda Springs, Idaho).

Soren, of course, was the father of Nancy Lena Guhl, who was the mother of Mary Anne McIntosh, who married David Monroe Henderson.

I've added the text of the obituary to the Soren page on the family website, but will reprint it here. In order to place it into context, though, it would do you well to read the story from start to finish on the Soren page.

Death of Dr. Guhl

Dr. S.P. Guhl, an eclectic physician who had been living in Council Bluffs for some years past, died at his room, in the house at the corner of Broadway and Sixth Street, about 12 o’clock on Thursday night. The deceased, who had been a hard drinker for years, was taken quite sick a few days ago, and repaired to his room where he died, as stated, on Thursday night, friendless and alone.

Dr. Guhl came to Council Bluffs from Utah, where his wife and two daughters still reside. Not living happily with his wife he separated from her several years ago and came to Council Bluffs, residing with his aged mother until her death a year or two ago. During his residence here, the doctor was more or less interested in the labor movement, and in his sober moments was a man of considerable ability and force, but he was the victim of man’s greatest enemy, and during the last few years was bordering on imbecility. He was a man of about 50 years of age at the time of his death.

Among his effects was found a letter from his two daughters, which was dated at Clover Creek, Utah, January 16, 1881. This joint letter was well written and contained many terms of endearment. The photographs of the daughters, Mary and Lena, were enclosed in the letter. They are the pictures of two quite prepossessing young women, of intelligent countenances, and evidently bright girls.

The remains were taken charge of by Undertaker Morgan and were yesterday afternoon buried in the pottersfield by the county.

This may be a bit of a downer for Christmas Eve -- not "may be," it "is most definitely" -- but I wanted to share it anyway. And I will try to track down some more information on Mariane, as well, for a future posting and a page dedicated to her.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Progress update, and more on Caroline Elizabeth Caldwell McIntosh

I've made progress in restoring the information -- text and photos -- to the family website, with only a few things still lacking. So if any of you have been visiting the site and were frustrated at the broken links and lack of photos, it should be much better now, with the rest to be restored this week.

Then it will be on to providing more information that came our way from the Caldwell-McIntosh coalition of family members who have shared a wealth of additional histories and photos. I'm also designing -- a fancy word for it, to be sure -- a new landing page for the website that I hope will be more logical and useful than the one I've been using for the past decade.

Since I hate to post here without offering something new, I've added another short life sketch on the Caroline Elizabeth Caldwell McIntosh page. It varies only slightly from the informative history already there, but adds a few details I hope you'll find interesting. She was a remarkable woman; if you haven't read through the history already, I know you'll be surprised.

Along with that, I've added two photos, also derived from the Caldwell-McIntosh information: One of the apparently still-standing home where she lived in St. John, Utah (near Tooele), and another of her headstone.

I hope you find all this as interesting as I do. And, as always, please offer criticisms and ideas for improvement -- I need all the help I can get.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Back in Business

Well, I have a computer again, which means I'm in the process of rebuilding/updating The Henderson Reunion website. It's a slower process than I anticipated, but I'll get there -- I promise.

The most frustrating part is that I expected by now to be creating new content; instead, I'm only piecing back together what was already in place. Unfortunately, I over-estimated my computer skills and am paying the price. But with cold weather setting in, I should be indoors more and have more time to devote to this blog and the actual website.

Over time, I'd like to create individual pages for all families who would like to be included -- mostly as a way for all of us to become more acquainted with each other. The pages can be as superficial or detailed as you want them. (Let me know if you think this is even a good idea, or maybe it's superfluous given that most of us are into various avenues of social media and perhaps that's enough.)

I have abandoned the tentative effort to move this blog to Wordpress, since twice now I've created content there only to have it mysteriously vanish. I actually prefer that blogging software -- it's what I use at work, writing a daily blog for our executives -- but for some reason at home I've had bad luck with it. So, I guess we'll just stick with Blogger. I see this as an efficient way to keep you updated on the website, and as a way for us to be more interactive than the website can be ... so far, anyway.

Take care, all, and give me your feedback as I get rolling again.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

A very special old tintype

So, I've told you about how I've done a little traveling this summer, and unearthed/been handed some gems about our family's history along the way. In an earlier post, I included a photo of Grandpa Dave when he was a young man -- probably sitting around a fire in a Wyoming sheep camp, or some such.

But more exciti
ng, I think, is today's photo -- an old tintype in cousin Marsha's possession. If you click that link, it's a Wikipedia explanation about tintypes, which, its author claims, were popular at fairs and and other gatherings, and offered almost instant photos. My guess is that this photo -- of Hyrum and Julia Ann Lindsay Henderson, Hyrum's mother Elizabeth Harris Henderson, and their children -- was taken shortly before a diphtheria epidemic in July 1880 that claimed six of those children pictured within a month's time.

The baby in Julia's lap must be Laura Louise, who was born Aug. 13, 1879. She looks to be less than 1 year old. (She lived to age 8, dying in Basin, Cassia County, Idaho.) So my assumption is that this photo was taken in early 1880.

Here's a ghastly timeline:

On July 10, 1880, Elizabeth Celestine passes. (Since she's one of four identical twins in the family, I'm guessing which of the two oldest she is.)

On July 18, 1880, Rosilla passes. (Again, since she's one of four identical twins in the family, I'm guessing which of the two younger twins she is.)

July 21, 1880, Priscilla and Samuel pass.

The next day, July 22, 1880, Hazel Hazeltine passes.

finally, on July 28, 1880, Hannah Abigail passes.

Sort of hard to get your head around, isn't it? Six of their beloved children died in 18 days.

This story has always haunted and fascinated me, especially when I discovered that all six childre
n were buried in Vernal, Utah -- three hours southeast of Salt Lake City (and where my Grandfather Porter, who died in 1974, is buried). Why so odd? Here's where the family was living according to when their children were born:

  • 1866-1879 -- Oxford, Franklin County, Idaho.
  • 1880 -- Vernal, Uintah County, Utah.
  • 1881 -- Liberty, Bear Lake County, Idaho
  • 1883 -- Basin, Cassia County, Idaho
Why so much moving? And these weren't short distances. Does anyone out there know?

My curiosity, then, coincided with a business trip to Vernal a couple of weeks ago. I visited the cemetery to photograph my grandfather's gravemarker -- Fotomat ruined the two rolls of film I took at his funeral 36 years ago -- and to visit the six graves of my long-lost great aunts and uncle.

Their graves were on the map, and I verified them with the sexton in the cemetery office. Here's what I found for our six ancestors:

I don't know what I expected, but it was more than this. Two sandstone markers, weathered smooth by 130 years. I wondered if anyone had ever visited them. And I was sad that this was all that marked the existence of those six souls that even our Grandpa Dave didn't know, since he was born three years later.

I haven't even looked into it yet, but I wonder if it would be terribly expensive to have a marker -- maybe just a simple metal one -- made to list their names. Anyone else think this might be a good idea? Either way, let me know.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Great news about our family history

Just a quick note tonight, with more to come -- hopefully this weekend.

First and foremost, I've been accepted into the Caldwell-McIntosh Coalition. It's a group of our relatives -- some distant, some not-so-distant -- who possess a treasure trove of family info. Our distant cousin Dave Hull has sent me two DVDs chock full of photos, histories, genealogy, etc., which I will begin sorting through and posting on this blog and my Henderson Reunion website as soon as I can get a handle on the technical problems that have prevented any recent updates.

Yes, that's right: Two DVDs. It's the motherlode, people.

When I got a look at what was on those discs, the wealth of information, well, it's a good thing I was alone.

Also when I get more time, I will post some information about a couple of cemetery visits made to the graves of Elizabeth Harris Henderson (mother of Hyrum and grandmother of Grandpa Dave), as well as the six siblings of Grandpa Dave's who died -- within the space of about a month -- during an 1880 diphtheria epidemic in Utah's Uintah Basin. Great-great-grandmother Elizabeth was living in Spring City, Utah, when she passed. I think it will probably be fairly easy to figure out which child she was living with when she passed, but I am really curious about what Hyrum and his family were doing in the Vernal, Utah, area when those children died. That's a head-scratcher.

Anyway, be looking forward to this info as I get time and tone the photos for better Web viewing.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Been a long time since I blogged and rolled ...

Has it really been since December that I posted anything on the Henderson Blog? I mean, I knew it had been a while, but December?

I apologize to one and all, but I've been distracted by life and haven't made time to do this -- one of my favorite things. But I feel invigorated, having recently spent the weekend in Cody, Wyo., with cousin Marsha Jones. We spent a night going through old family photos and histories and genealogy -- I'll soon be posting some of this at the Henderson Family Reunion website, and focusing on some specifics here on the blog.

Not only did Marsha put me onto some things I hadn't seen before, but when we attended the Burlington, Wyo., July 24th celebration I met up with Margaret Lafallotte, who is pointing me in the direction of a McIntosh/Caldwell coalition of family members who apparently have a treasure trove of family history, gedcom files and photos. So, we're on our way to more knowledge about our ancestors.

One of the curiosities Marsha and I pondered was the "discovery" that our great-grandparents Hyrum and Julia Henderson moved around a lot in the late 1870s and early 1880s. Theirs was the family unit that lost six children to a diphtheria epidemic in 1880 within three or four weeks -- this was before Grandpa Dave was born in 1883. The family was in Idaho in 1879, then Vernal, Utah, in 1880, then the Bear Lake, Idaho, region in 1881 and back to south central Idaho in 1883. We're hoping to come across some history that tells us why they moved so much during that short span of time.

In the meantime, I'll be visiting Vernal for work later this month, and plan to visit the cemetery where those six great-aunts and -uncles are buried to photograph headstones. Unfortunately, I have not been able to find a local newspaper that was published in that area during 1880 that might help tell us the story of the deaths and/or possible wider epidemic. I'll keep looking.

Now, you're probably wondering who's in the photo. It's a young Grandpa Dave Henderson. I've cropped his image out of a larger one taken at what appears to be a campsite. It's just one of the little gems I brought home from Wyoming.