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.