Sunday, July 24, 2011

In rememberance of Pioneer Day.....

Courtesy of

What is this?  It is a photo of a little Idaho town called Montpelier.  As you can see, it was taken some time ago and was on a postcard.  The Little Red Hen has been blessed with significant Pioneer ancestry. However, today I would like to focus on a couple of my ancestors, who lived in this area many, many years ago......along with some of my modern-day commentary.

I am taking this information as excerpts from The History of the Bear Lake Pioneers published by the Daughters of Utah Pioneers.  I was given this book by my Grandmother and Grandfather.  When I was visiting their Montpelier a number of years ago, the subject of ancestors came up.  They quickly retrieved this book and proudly marked specific pages with paperclips and bobby pins. Even though it has been years later, (and both of my Grandparents have now finished their earthly missions), I just haven't had the heart to remove these unique page they still remain in place.

The first individual I would like to mention is Charles Henry Bridges. He was born in Birmingham England in 1835 and was apprenticing to become a cork cutter.  In 1848, he joined the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and  at the young age of 22, he he boarded a ship to American.  He had never been away from home before.  Fast forward a number of years......we had a missionary son fly to England to enter the MTC there. He had never been away from home either.  I gently, but frequently asked my husband to call the MTC in England to make sure he made it.  Well, after the Mission President patiently laughed....he reported that our son was there and sleeping.  There was a time difference you know.....

Charles made his way to Iowa  and was in the company of the  Edman Ellsworth's Handcart company, which was one of the first to cross the plains.  He was also called to guard Salt Lake City when the Army was sent to Utah.

Enter Francis Elizabeth Pearson Jones Bridges.  She was also from England and was born in 1837.  She worked with her mother as a nurse to wealthy families. She joined the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in 1855 at the ripe old age of 18.  She came to America with several family members in 1859.  They left with a handcart company under the leadership of George Howley.  I remember how mature I was at 18,,,,and the thought of me going to another country a few years later would never have crossed my mind!

Charles and Francis met at the home of President John Taylor. They lived in Salt Lake City after they were married until 1866 when they were called to help settle the Bear Lake Valley. They made the trip and settled in Clover Creek, which was later named Montpelier.  I have moved several times in my adult life....but there were always roads, stores, running water, etc. I don't know if I would have been a very good little camper under the rugged circumstances that my ancestors lived in. 

Charles was a man of many talents.  However, he was called to "help wash and lay out the dead".  There reportedly were no disinfectants at that time, so they used onion to disinfect.  It reportedly worked as he never contracted diphtheria or smallpox when they ravaged the area.  I work in a hospital environment...and we have so many procedures and safeguards in place, I sometimes feel my hands have been scrubbed about a much as a human can possibly scrub.

Elizabeth was called to serve as a midwife.  When she was set apart, she was supposedly promised that "in time of need the Lord would give her knowledge and skill to perform her duties successfully". She brought 1118 infants into the world, and she recorded each birth in a journal.  She not only was present at the home birth, but return several times to check up on the mother and baby, What was her fee? A whooping $2.50. Once she was reportedly paid with a live pig.  When my daughter was born, she was delivered by an emergency C-section.  We had to put her on the Credit Card just to get her out of the hospital!

 So, I tip my hat to these and other ancestors who showed the faith and obedience to follow the counsel of their leaders and made tremendous sacrifices.  How much different is it today?  We are asked by our leaders to do many things.  One of which is to be self-sufficient and be prepared. Take a page out of the lives of our Pioneer ancestry....doesn't storing a few items pale in comparison to what they were asked to do?

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