What's In This Blog

I created this blog for my journal. I am a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. In this blog I keep many of the things I come across as a member of the church. I also share my experiences on the ACE Train and getting to work, my experiences in Manteca where we have lived for three years, and other things I think are noticeable.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Historical reenactment

This is the presentation I am working on.

Lecture: Explain routes, including sea routes. Map of trails to California and map of sea routes. Explain how overland routes follow the rivers. (pioneer trail and sea routes to CA.)

John Sutter:
Hello! Let me introduce myself. I am Johan Augustus Sutter. You may know me as John Sutter of Sutter’s Mill and Sutter’s Fort. I was born in the country of Germany, where my family was visiting. I am actually of Swiss decent. It was for that reason I called my farming kingdom on the Sacramento River New Helvetia, New Switzerland.
I did not leave Switzerland until I was an adult. I served in the Swiss army as a Captain of Artillery. I guess that is why I enjoyed giving a salute by canon for dignitaries who visited the fort. After the military, I tried my hand at business. Some of my business dealings turned bad; so as to avoid creditors, I determined it would be best for me to leave my country and travel to America. I left behind my beautiful wife and our four children.
I worked in St. Louis, Missouri for a couple of years, but always had a dream of going west and creating a farming empire. In 1838 I finally had my chance, joining with a group of Mountain Men headed for Oregon. From there I was able to take the ship Columbia to the Sandwich Islands (Hawaii.) I then boarded the brig Clementine which took me to the Russian colony New Archangel (now Sitka, Alaska.) The Clementine eventually carried me to Yerba Buena, (now San Francisco.)
Within a year of landing in Yerba Buena, I established myself at the fork of the Sacramento and the American rivers. I became a Mexican Citizen, as only citizens of Mexico were entitled to hold lands, and was granted by Governor Alvarado, almost 50,000 acres.
I hired many Native Americans to work at my estate. They were good workers, but generally not very permanent. Over time more and more Europeans came to the area, and they would also work for me.
My fort became the common point for most emigrants coming overland into California. I welcomed the Grigsby Ide Company, the Rhoades Company and many others. It was from Sutters Fort that rescue parties were sent to bring in the survivors of the Donner Party.
My Fort held a place in Bear Flag Revolt. Colonel John Fremont established a presence here, and for a time the Fort was under military rule. General Vallejo was sent here as a prisoner.
Thomas Rhoades first brought to my attention the presence of gold upon my lands. I had allowed he and his family to take up farming on my lands. I asked him to please keep the presence of gold a secret, but allowed him to extract gold for myself and his family.
I had plans for some time to build a saw mill as well as a flour mill. However the labor was not available. When over 100 Mormon Battalion men came to the area looking for work, I decided to proceed with these plans. James Marshall oversaw the construction of a sawmill at Colusa. Eight men worked with him. While building a trestle for the mill, they noticed a shiny substance in the water. This became the official discovery of gold, January 1848. Mr. Marshall brought me the news of this find, and I again asked him to keep it a secret. However Sam Brannon of the California Star newspaper got word of the find, and published it in his newspaper. He felt the cry of gold would bring people to our state, and economic prosperity. He sent 2000 copies of his newspaper to the East. It was also he who went through the streets of San Francisco yelling, “There is gold on the American River.”
I curse the discovery of gold. I knew that it would be the end of my farming empire. After the cry of “gold” I could scarcely get anyone to work for me. Everyone was looking for gold.
As the 49ers, as they came to be called, came to California, they trampled over my land with no regard for my propriety. They went so far as to file suit, saying as how they now lived on the land, they had squatter’s rights and the land was theirs. My title to these lands was deemed invalid. I was granted a monthly stipend for taxes I had paid on the land, which now were not mine. I was never reimbursed for the loss of my lands. So let me sing a little song in commemoration of the gold miners. I enjoy this song, as the ship Clementine brought me to California. “Oh my Darling”
I was able to bring my family to California. It was good to see my beautiful wife again. I gave my remaining property to my son, John Sutter and moved East with the hopes of convincing the government to reimburse me for my loss. The final insult was when the community I had established was named Sacramento for the river. I was hoping it would be known as Sutterville.

Lecture: Review the route John Sutter had taken to get to California. What was his dream? What is the official date of the gold discovery? Briefly explain changes in the government in California—from Spanish rule and the missions to Mexican rule and secularization of the Missions. Talk of the annexation of Texas. Explain how this changed the attitude of Mexico. Talk of John Freemont. Introduce the Grigsby-Ide party and focus on Fort Hall route. Tell of visiting Fort Hall as a boy. (picture of Fort Hall, Bear flag.)

William B. Ide

I always had a hankering for moving West. I was born in Vermont, but soon after becoming an adult I headed west, for the state of Kentucky. From there I moved to Ohio and then to Illinois. I married Susan Haskell and together we had 9 children.
I lived close to Springfield, Illinois, and while living there I helped nominate Joseph Smith, the Mormon prophet, for president of the United States. I also worked on writing his presidential platform. However when he was assassinated in June of 1844, I knew it was time for me to leave Illinois. I sold my farm and many possessions, and was able to outfit three wagons for my family. We also had a small herd of cattle to sustain us on the route. We initially traveled to Independence, Missouri, where we joined a company of other settlers headed for Oregon Territory.
It wasn’t until arriving at Fort Hall, that I met the mountain man, Old Caleb Greenwood. He convinced me, and a small group of settlers, to change our destination to California. We formed the Grigsby-Ide party, and headed to Fort Sutter, arriving in the Fall of 1845. Coming up the face of the Sierra was the most difficult part of our trek. Old Greenwood had determined we would have to take every wagon apart, and lift them by pulleys, one at a time. He had traveled the route the previous year and this is what they had done. I surveyed the route, and determined we could still use the oxen, but only on the more level parts of the mountain. We moved oxen to each of the areas with less incline. We used pulleys for the steepest areas, but where able to move our wagons up more quickly with the assistance of the oxen.
I had taken up residence North of Fort Sutter, living on the farm of _______. We were allowed to settle under special arrangements with the Mexican government, and under the jurisdiction of General Vallejo.
During the spring of the following year men came to our door, telling how the Mexican government was going to force new emigrants out of California. The day I heard this, I took up my musket and joined a force of men who where going to intervene in this situation.
We visited the camp of John Fremont, a United States Captain in the area doing survey work with a group of about 50 men. Captain Fremont presented the plan of “Neutral Conquest.” Captain Fremont did not want to be directly involved in any confrontation with the Mexican government, but he was willing to protect those who might be involved in such a plan. He suggested that if some of the leading Californios were taken prisoner, then General Don Castro, the Mexican governor, and his men might be drawn into battle trying to rescue them. This would result in general hostilities between the United States and Mexico. We determined to go to Sonoma, and there capture the Mexican government officials.
Our group of 33 men arrived in Sonoma early morning of June 14, 1846. We went to the home of General Vallejo and demanded his surrender. Three men went into his home to work out the arrangements. General Vallejo took his time, dressing in his finest military uniform. You can imagine the contrast between his dress, and that of our group. Our clothing was well worn, and some of our group were mountain men who wore buckskins. General Vallejo also wanted change in the government of California, and said we did not need to take him prisoner. However it was felt best that he be returned, along with other leaders, to Captain Fremont.
At this time, our lack of official standing became an issue. No one had written orders from Captain Fremont (he did not want to leave any trace which would lead to him) and it was felt best that we disband and seek the protection of Captain Fremont. I had a sense our work was more than “Neutral Conquest” but one of independence, and so addressed the men: “Saddle no horse for me… I will lay my bones here, before I will take upon myself the ignominy of commencing an honorable work, and then flee like cowards, like thieves, when no enemy is in sight. In vain will you say you had honorable motives! Who will believe it? Flee this day, and the longest life cannot wear off your disgrace! Choose ye! Choose ye this day what will ye be! We are robbers, or, or we must be conquerors!”
After this speech the men rallied around me, making me their Commander in Chief. I immediately ordered that we should take the barracks. In a moment all was secured. 18 prisoners, nine brass cannon, 250 stands of arms and tons of copper shot, and other public property of the value of 10 or 12 thousand dollars was seized and held in trust for the public benefit.
We raised a flag in the town plaza proclaiming our independence. The flag was made by William Todd, who accompanied us from Illinois. He is the nephew of the wife of the lawyer Abe Lincoln. The flag had a lone star, similar to Texas which won its freedom from Mexico, and became a part of the United States. The grizzly bear was chosen as an emblem of strength and unyielding resistance. So we were known as the “osos” or “Bear Flaggers.” When General Vallejo saw our flag, he said it looked more like a pig than a bear. Upon the flag we wrote California Republic, declaring our independence from Mexican rule.
Our group numbered only numbered only 24 men as a group of men took the prisoners and themselves to the protection of Captain Fremont at Fort Sutter. And so we prepared for our own “Alamo.” We quickly set the barracks to order. I divided the men into two companies. The 1st rifle company went to cleaning the arms and repairing and loading them. The 1st artillery company set the canon to defend the fort, loading them doubly with grape and canister. We also set to obtain supplies for the manning of the fort.
But what is independence, without a declaration. I took it upon myself to write our declaration. I had some experience from my days in Illinois. So between one and three a.m. on the morning of June 15 I wrote: “TO ALL PERSONS, INHABITANTS OF THE COUNTY OF SONOMA AND COUNTRY AROUND; REQUESTING THEM TO REMAIN AT PEACE; TO PURSUE THEIR RIGHTFUL OCCUPATIONS WITHOUT FEAR OF MOLESTATION.” I wrote that we meant no harm to those who did not take arms against us. I then put forward our case: First to protect our women and children. We had been invited to come to California with the hopes of a republican government, but upon arriving found a military despotism, which threatened us with removal by force, and demanded we leave our property, and thus be despoiled of our means of defense or flight. Next to overthrow a government which had robbed the missions, appropriated their properties, and which had shamefully oppressed and ruined the laboring inhabitants of California with tariffs. And finally to establish and perpetuate a liberal, just and honorable Government, religious and personal liberty; which shall insure the security of life and property; which shall detect and punish crime and injustice; which shall encourage industry, virtue and literature; and which shall foster agriculture, manufacture and mechanism, by guaranteeing freedom of commerce. I proclaimed that we relied on the justice of our cause, the favor of heaven, the good sense of the people of California, and our own bravery and love of Liberty for our hope of success. I further premised that a government to be prosperous “…must originate among its people: its officers should be its servants, and its glory its common reward.”
This proclamation we caused to be translated and sent among the people. We were quickly reinforced by 30-40 locals. Over time our numbers continued to swell with those who wanted freedom. I understand when the men of General Castro, our enemy, read this proclamation, half of them, over 300 men, deserted.
For a time we thought we might have our own “Alamo.” Two of our men, who were conducting reconnaissance were taken prisoner by a group of local citizens and murdered. William Todd was also taken prisoner, but we managed to rescue him. Captain Fremont took revenge upon the local population, executing three Californios, who had nothing to do with the aforementioned murders. Those responsible for the murders actually went free.
One day it was reported that General Castro’s troops were marching upon us. I was in front of the fort, waiting to give the order for the canon to fire. As the troops approached, I recognized the voice of Kit Carson, on of Captain Freemont’s scouts. I quickly gave the order for our forces to stand down. In this manner General Freemont was saved.
Our government effectively was the presiding body over Northern California for almost a month. Our greatest criticism came from Captain Fremont who said I was trying to take California for the Mormons. Nothing could be further from the truth. When Captain Fremont came to Sonoma, we turned the government over to him, and he was assigned by Commodore Stockton to pursue General Castro’s forces south. I received no commission of him, but perceived my duty and continued on as a private. I marched with Fremont’s forces to Monterey, where I was discharged, broke and looking more like a beggar than President of a Republic. I was able to get passage on a boat, and return to my family. There I farmed, but later became involved in the government of Colusa County, serving as judge.

Lecture: Review the Bear flag Revolt. Talk about local battles of the Mexican American War including The Battle of Santa Clara, Guadalupe Treaty. Tell of the Donner party (1846), and why they were late in the mountains.

Dan Rhoads
I was born in Edgar County (Illinois) December 7th, 1821. I arrived in California, by the overland route, after a journey of five months from the Missouri River on the 5th of October 1846. Let me read from a letter I wrote to my in-laws. Quote:
“JULY 1847 Dear Parents I take my pen in hand to inform you that we are all well and hope that these few lines may find you all enjoying the same blessings We all arrive safe in California except Jonathan Patterson He died and was buried near the plains of California We made our arrival the 1st day of October (1846) through many difficulties and troubles The first part of our journey was pleasant and beautiful traveling and until we got about half way we began to get tired and out of heart The grass was failing and our cattle was weak After we came to the mountains the grass was very scarce Our travel was principally up rivers We traveled up the Plat river to the mountains Up Sweetwater to the South Pass from there on we traveled down the streams The last 300 miles is very near all rocks The nearer California the worse the road. From the bottom of the Cascade to the top is about 4 miles It took us 3 days to take our wagons and cattle up Our old wagon brought us through safe and we then sold it for 30 dollars. The Fannon boys and Thomas Rhoads (jr) enlisted for 3 months and went in the army and all the emigrants that could leave their families went along they was determine to gain the country or die in pursuit of it and without help they could never have gained it.” End quote.
About half the emigration went to oragon. A part of what come to California went a new rout with Hastings through by the Salt Flats about half of them got in before the snows the balance got to the foot of the Cascade and campt over night and the snow fell about 2 feet deep they concluded to lay over a day for the snow to melt of the next night they had 8 feet. It snowed them in and the cattle got away and left them without any provisions.
Previous to this time, Captain Sutter, having heard that there still remained of the emigration of 1846 a party who had not yet come through and knowing from the lateness of the season the danger they were in sent a party composed of three Indians with pack mules loaded with provisions in charge of a white man to meet these emigrants wherever they might be found.
This pack train met with the emigrants, 80 in number, (since known as the Donner party) either at Donner Lake or a day’s journey east of it and was with them the night they encamped at the lake. That night the first snow of the season fell to the depth of four feet and the storm continued until the ground was covered ten feet deep. By this the work oxen and horses on which the emigrants might have subsisted until relief came, were scattered and with the exception of a very few, utterly lost.
The few miserable oxen saved and the provisions sent by Captain Sutter lasted the party but a short time. Then twenty-four of the emigrants, including Mrs. McCutcheon, Mrs. Graves and two other women, and the white man and Indians sent by Sutter, started without any food, in the desperate hope either of reaching the settlements (a hundred miles distant) or of encountering some relief party. Of course, many soon commenced dying from exhaustion and starvation and the survivors were compelled to subsist upon the bodies of those who perished. In about three weeks from the time the party left Donner lake some "wild" Indians living in the foothills brought to Johnson's Ranch on Bear River, 40 miles from Sutter's Fort, one of the emigrants named Eddy, half carried and led him a distance of about 30 miles. Eddy told the people at Johnson's that the four women and William Foster, all that remained alive of the party that left the lake were at an Indian Rancheria about 25 miles East of Johnson's. I may here observe that the Indians of Sutter's relief party were never afterwards heard from. The surviving emigrants stated that one had died and been eaten, but it was generally thought that the Indian had been killed for food and the other Indians became frightened and had left the party. On the arrival of Eddy at Johnson's a letter was dispatched, by Indian runners, to the Fort giving an account of the condition of the emigrants at Donner Lake…
The day after the arrival of Eddy at Johnson's a party started from the latter place to bring in Foster and the four women, which they accomplished in two or three days.
Captain Sutter made a call for volunteers to proceed to the assistance of the emigrants. A party of fourteen of which I was one was made up and at once started for Johnson's Ranch. Here we prepared for our expedition. We killed some beef cattle and dried the meat over fires. We pounded some wheat in Indian stone mortars and ground some in coffee mills. We cut the hides of animals we killed into strips for the future construction of snowshoes.
Although we worked night and day without intermission, except for short intervals for sleep, these preparations occupied us three days. The provisions were then packed on mules and we started on our journey without a guide, and trusting to the judgment of our leaders, John P. Rhoads (my brother) and Resin P. Tucker to find our way. Until we struck the snow we took the emigrant trail.
Our road was in very bad condition and at frequent intervals we had to unpack the mules and drag them out of the mire. In about five days traveling on an average five or six miles a day we reached the snow which we found three feet deep. Through this we worried along some five miles when it became too deep for the mules to go any further, it being eight feet deep and falling all the time; a regular storm having set in. Our encountering the snow so deep and so much sooner than we had been led to anticipate utterly disheartened some of the party and six men turned back.
We made a camp and left the mules in charge of one of Sutter's men. Our party now consisted of seven. John P. Rhoads, Reasin P. Tucker (now in Napa Valley), Sept. Moutry (now in Santa Clara), Aquila Glover (dead), a sailor named George Foster, a sailor named Mike, and myself. Each man made a pair of snowshoes. These were constructed by cutting pine boughs, stripping off the bark, heating them over the fire and bending them in the shape of an ox-bow about two feet long and 1 wide, with a lattice work of rawhide for soles. We attached them to our feet by means of the rawhide strips with which we were provided. On these we had to travel continuously except at brief intervals on hillsides and bare spots when we took them off.
Each man also took a single blanket, a tin cup, and a hatchet and as near as the captains could estimate, 7 pounds of dried meat. Thus equipped we started. Foster had told us that we should find the emigrants at or near Truckee Lake (since called Donner Lake) and in the direction of this we journeyed. Of course, there was no trail, we had no guide and most of our journey was through a dense pine forest but the lofty peak which overlooks the lake was in sight at intervals and this and the judgment of our two leaders were our sole means of direction.
For the guidance of those who might follow us and as a signal to any of the emigrants who might be straggling about in the mountains, as well as for our own direction on our return trip, we set fire to every dead pine tree on or near our trail. At the end of every three days journey (10 or 20 miles) we made up a small bundle of dried meat and hung it to the bough of a tree to lighten the burden we carried and for subsistence on our return.
The first day we made 7 or 8 miles. At sunset we "made camp" by felling pine saplings 6 inches in diameter and cutting them off about 12 feet long and placing them in the snow making a platform 6 or 8 feet wide. On this platform we kindled our fire, roasted some meat for supper and then throwing our blankets over our shoulders sat, close together around the fire and dozed through the night the best way we could. If we had made the fire on top of the snow without the intervention of any protecting substance, we should have found our fire, in the morning 8 or 10 feet below the surface on which we encamped. In this manner we passed every night of our journey both to and from the lake on the part of the road covered by snow.
We went on making from four to six miles per day leaving a very sinuous trail by reason of the impossibility of pursuing a straight course through the dense forest and of our having to wind around the sides of hills and mountains instead of going over them. The snow increased as we proceeded until it amounted to a depth of eighteen feet as was afterward discovered by the stumps of the pine trees we burned.
We traveled in Indian file. At each step taken by the man in front he would sink in the snow to his knees and of course had to lift his foot correspondingly high for his next step. Each succeeding man would follow in the tracks of the leader. The latter soon became tired, fell to the rear, and the second man took the head of the file. When he became fatigued by breaking the trail he would fall back and so on each one in his turn.
At sunset of the 16th day we crossed the Truckee Lake on the ice and came to the spot where we had been told we should find the emigrants. We looked all around but no living thing except ourselves was in sight and we thought that all must have perished. We raised a loud halloo and then we saw a woman emerge from a hole in the snow. As we approached her several others made their appearance in like manner, coming out of the snow. They were gaunt with famine and I never can forget the horrible, ghastly sight they presented. The first woman spoke in a hollow voice very much agitated and said "are you men from California or do you come from heaven?
It was the awfulest and most horrible sight that ever was seen to go to their cabins and see the human frames that was there. They had been without food except a few work oxen since the first fall of snow, about 3 weeks. They had gathered up the bones of the slaughtered cattle and boiled them to extract the grease and had roasted some of the hides which formed the roofs of their cabins. We gave them food very sparingly and retired for the night, having someone on guard until morning to keep close watch on our provisions to prevent the starving emigrants from eating them, which they would have done until they died of repletion.
When these emigrants had first been stopped by snow they had built small cabins using the skins of the slaughtered oxen for roofs. Storms nearly continuous had caused the snow to fall to the depth of 18 feet so that the tops of their cabins were far beneath the surface. The bodies of those who had perished were lying on top of the snow covered with quilts. When a person died an inclined plane was dug to the floor of the cabin and the body slid up to the surface, the inmates being too weak to lift the corpse out. So far the survivors had not been compelled to partake of human flesh. I remember seeing but 3 living men. Very few women or children had died up to this time.
The morning after our arrival John P. Rhoads and Tucker started for another camp distant 8 miles East, where were the Donner family, to distribute what provisions could be shared and to bring along such of the party as had sufficient strength to walk. They returned bringing four girls and two boys of the Donner family and some others.
The next morning we started on our return trip accompanied by 21 emigrants mostly women and children. John Rhoads carried a child in his arms which died the second night. On the third day an emigrant named John Denton, exhausted by starvation and totally snow-blind gave out. He tried to keep up a hopeful and cheerful appearance, but we knew he could not live much longer. We made a platform of saplings, built a fire on it, cut some boughs for him to sit upon and left him. This was imperatively necessary. The party who followed in our trail from California found his dead body a few days after we had left him, partially eaten by wolves.
As we were now guided by the stumps of the pine trees we had burned on our way out as we never had to stop to determine the road and as the ground we traveled over was mostly descending we made much more rapid progress than on our journey East being only five days from the lake to the camp where we had left our mules. Had we not made the journey thus quickly I do not know how we ever could have gotten through as will be seen. The first night after leaving the lake we consumed the last of our dried meat expecting that our next days journey would bring us to one of our "caches" of provisions which we had left hanging to the boughs of trees. When we reached this point we found that some varmint had climbed up and eaten our cache so that we had to make a supper of some strips of raw hide which we still carried and which we cut from our snow-shoes, roasted. We passed the night on our usual platform--there had to be several to accommodate the entire party. This rawhide was our sole subsistence for 3 days until just before we reached our "mule camp" when we met a party going east under the guidance of a half-.breed named Brit Greenwood who acted as pilot. Greenwood told us that when his father, Caleb Greenwood, an old Rocky Mountain hunter and trapper, heard that our party of seven had started over the mountains without a guide, he offered to wager the money he was to receive for piloting a party, that not one of us would ever come back alive; and the bet was not taken.
When we reached the camp where we had left our mules we remained until next day. During the night, the food in camp not being guarded sufficiently the eldest boy of the Donner family managed to eat so much dried meat that he died the next day. We here found a party of sailors from the U.S. Squadron commanded by Lieutenant Selim E. Woodworth U.S.A. and piloted by old man Greenwood before referred to. This was a novel business for the sailors and I heard that they suffered terribly when they reached the deep snow.
Glover and myself were the weakest of the party suffering greatly from exhaustion caused by deprivation of food and want of sleep. We mounted mules and returned to the Fort. It was a long time before I recovered from the effects of the expedition. My brother, John Rhoads, made a second and a third trip with relief parties none of which, however met with the difficulties experienced by our party.
On the discovery of gold I mined at Mormon Island and with the other gold seekers at that point paid Sam Brannon one third of the gross amount taken out. I continued mining until the autumn of 1849. I went East in 1850 but was not contented and returned to California where I have since resided, experiencing the vicissitudes of fortune incident to a life in that country.
Lecture: Review Donner’s party. Tell of the ship Brooklyn and its route. Sam Brannon was its leader who chartered the ship. Read from writings of Mrs. Augusta Joyce Crocheron, (female volunteer)
The day on which we embarked was rainy, cold, and gloomy. Upon the wharf lingered friends, sorrowful in the hour of parting; strangers, cynical and curious… We once long lay becalmed in the tropics, and at another time we were ‘hatched below’ during a terrific storm. Women and children were at night lashed to their berths, for in no other way could they keep in… The waves swept the deck and even reached the staterooms… Children’s voices crying in the darkness, mothers’ voices soothing or scolding, men’s voices rising above the others, all mingled with the distressing groans and cries of the sick for help, and, above all the wind and howling of the tempest made a scene and feeling indescribable.
…Upon one occasion, during a dreadful storm, the good old captain came down with grave countenance. The passengers gathered around him to catch his words amid the confusion of the scene. He said: 'My friends, there is a time in every man's life when it is fitting that he should prepare to die. That time has come to us, and unless God interposes, we shall all go to the bottom; I have done all in my power, but this is the worst gale I have known since I was master of a ship.' One woman, full of confidence and zeal, answered him: 'Captain Richardson, we left for California and we shall get there.' Another looked with a calm smile on her face and said: 'Captain, I have no more fear than though we were on the solid land.' The captain gazed upon them in mute surprise and left them. As he went upstairs he exclaimed, 'These people have a faith that I have not,' and added to a gentleman, 'They are either fools and fear nothing, or they know more than I do.'

Talk of the things the Brooklyn brought. Talk of their arrival in Yerba Buena. Talk of farming, first wheat in San Joaquin Valley at New Hope. First school in Yerba Buena. First newspaper in San Francisco. Tell story of John Horner. (Pictures of ship, inside of ship, map)
Lecture: Mormon Battalion. Tell of route and trailblazing from Tucson to San Diego. Tell of items carried. Also talk of women going with Battalion. Call to Salt Lake and blazing of trail later used by 49ers. (picture of Batallion Soldier, list of weight of items carried)
Lecture: Gold Discovery. Review quickly discovery and gold rush in 1849. Talk of changes in California as a result, other ethnic groups who came seeking gold and conflicts. Talk of effects on Native American population. (Sam Brannon Newspaper, pictures of 49ers)
Lecture: William Ashton and the Ashton girls. (picture)

Lecture: The coming of the railroad. Song I’ve been working on the railroad.

Monday, March 30, 2009


We have finally gotten word that court for finalizing Anthony's adoption is April 15. It is a date we have been waiting for for more than 9 months and it is finally here. Sometimes it felt as if we would never have a date, but we do.
Anthony is a miracle baby. His birth mother was only 17 when he was born. He was born 7 weeks early, and only weighed 4 pounds 7 ounces. If he had been born several years ago, he would not have survived. It is only in the past 10 years that the medical profession have developed the technology to keep such tiny babies alive.
What is even more a miracle is that he does not have any permanent effects of his early birth. He had some kidney blockage, but with age that has gone away. He is still small for his age, but he was born almost two months early. He has some weakness in his legs, but he seems to be overcoming this with exercise. He is very strong in his upper body.
Anthony is such a cute boy. He has dark curly hair. He has brown eyes. He has soft lips. He is fun as his whole face shows emotion. He has a contagious laugh. He loves to tease his mom and I and then laughs and laughs. He will put a blanket over your face when you're watching t.v. and then laugh. He will jump just out of Sheri's reach when she is trying to put him into his car seat. He is a fun tease.
He likes dinosaurs. He took some to church this week. Sheri had assumed they would be quiet toys. However Tony provided the sound effects for them. He RAWRed so loud with them that it was almost embarrassing. Almost, but truthfully I thought it was cute. Tony is a good boy.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009


This is my first blog, except for Facebook notes, so I am new to this. I am 51 years old, and overweight, but not as much as I weighed last year at this time. I aspire to someday be a published writer. I currently work for Santa Clara County Mental Health. They are going through budget cuts every ears now.
I am the father of 8--six living birth children, our first was stillborn, and our last we are in the process of adopting. The kids range in age from 23 to 2. I guess if you count Billy Boy (stillborn) he would be 24 now. Natalia, 23, is now married. Mark,22, is a Marine. Jeremy, 20, is on a mission for our church (Mormon) and serving in Colorado. Charity, 18, is a senior at Cupertino High School, and Miranda, 16, a sophomore. Caleb, 13, is in his last year of middle school. Tony is the 2 year old we are adopting. We sign papers tomorrow.
My wife's name is Sheri. She is away at the dentist now, so I am home with the kids (those not in school which would be Tony, and another foster son, Justin. Justin is sleeping in our room to "Nemo" and Tony is watching "101 Dalmatians." You get pretty use to this type of movies with little ones around.
In addition to working for the county, I like to write. I helped my mom write her history last year. The year before, I took my dad's old letters, and put together a history of his services in the Nave during WWII. The letters came to me after he passed away five years ago. He was hit by a car and hit his head.
I also am into history. I like to read books about the Civil war, and read about the history of where I live; particularly Cache Valley and Northern California. Did you know there was a battle in Santa Clara during the Mexican American War. It was news to me, but just after New Years in 1846 the U.S. Marines, and volunteers faced off against the Californios. Pretty incredible. The U.S. forces had a canon operated by the Navy. They shot several volleys at each other. However officially no one was killed. A horse was killed and a Californio injured by the cannon fire. One of the Navy personnel was also injured when the canon backfired. But that was about the extent of it.
I collect stamps, and love it when people give me stamps off of letters.