Friday, July 28, 2017

Where the tracks met

After our visit to Malad and Samaria we decided to take a different way home.  We went west a bit and then south into Utah to the north side of the Great Salt Lake to see the Golden Spike, where the rails from the east met up with the rails from the west in 1869.  For the first time there was now a transcontinental railroad.

This monument had recently been renovated.

We walked through the visitor center to the north side after watching an informational film and viewing displays about this great event.  This is the spot where those rails first met.  I was impressed that the memorial rail was made from laurel wood.

Once they had their big celebration, this laurel wood rail was moved to a safe spot during the years of being an active railroad line.  The mile and a half section of track is now a part of history and the reenactment of the meeting is held each year on the date when the train engines first met face to face.

This is a barren place.  These are the tracks going east.  Not too far east of this point is a space rocket plant, Thiokol (ATK).  Read more about here.

And this side stretches west.   That is a viewing stand on the right.  The railroad was eventually moved south where a straight wooden trestle railroad line was laid across the Great Salt Lake.

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Samaria, a new family history spot

 After our visit to Malad for the Welsh Festival, we traveled 8 miles southwest of Malad to Samaria which was also settled by pioneers from Wales.  Brigham Young Mansfield lived here with his second wife and family for many years.  This is a picture of him taken in England when he returned as a missionary to his birth place in 1903 leaving his family in Samaria while gone.  He is my newly discovered great great grandfather and his oldest son, Gervis named after his grandfather, was my great grandfather and father to my grandpa, George Ostler who did not discover this lineage until a father himself in about 1935.  His birth parents had separated when he was just a toddler and he was then adopted by his mother's second husband, Milo Ostler.  It has been fascinating to learn more about this family.  Learn more here.

We found the cemetery on a hill on the west side of town.

And thankfully, almost immediately found Brigham Young Mansfield's grave marker.  His first wife died after child birth leaving behind two older living children.  Not long after, Brigham married a young woman from Wales and joined with the Williams family in Samaria where 13 more children were born.

I had hoped to find the home he had built.  We drove around town but found nothing.  After arriving home and doing a bit more research I found pictures of his home.  This is a picture as it was while the original log cabin.

Many years later the logs had been covered and chimneys and entrance changed.

This last picture was taken in 1987 and it easy to see that it had not been inhabited for many years.

Located on this same site was a picture of his second wife, Elizabeth Ann Williams, with her daughters and daughter in law.

I found the log cabin as well but not in its original form.  The logs had been re purposed as the lower wall of this "new" home.

We found a "new" old cabin open for visitors on the way out of town.  This cabin had been taken apart and moved to this new location where other cabins are also being rebuilt.

This cabin has a bit of a history.

It was the first home of the Osmonds' mother Olive.  This is a brief history of this home's builders and owners.  It listed a Williams family.  I don't know if it is a connection as the surnames of Wales are used over and over.

The whole Osmond Family was present for the dedication of this family place.

I always feel like these homes, while small, are also so welcoming and cozy.

Books related to the family and this home.

Olive in a picture as a child.

Water pump out back.

Picture taken from the small front parking lot.  This was a great addition to our little trip and gave me a feel for the home of Brigham Young Mansfield.

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Welsh Festival in Malad, Idaho

One thing on my list for summer was to visit the Welsh Festival in Malad, Idaho.  You may not realize it but the Malad Valley has more residents of Welsh descent per capita than any other place in the United States.  One of the early Welsh settlers of Malad was my third great grandmother and her family.  This was on my list for several years.  The last time I had exited Interstate 15 at Malad was over forty years ago when I went with my mother to a Roberts Family Reunion.  I was more than ready for another visit.

That first reunion was held in a new park just barely off the freeway.  We never ventured on into town.  I was pleasantly surprised at the size and beautiful buildings in Malad.  It first began to be settled in the late 1860's with my grandmother arriving in 1871.  This lovely church was built in 1915 and stands next to the city park.

It has beautiful details and I wondered if one somewhat like it could be found in Wales.

This is where many of the events and displays were located.  I loved wandering around inside.

First up was music being performed inside the chapel.  Instruments included a harp, pipes, and bag pipes.  The music and stories shared were wonderful.

It all sounded lovely in this cove at the front.

Stained glass windows at the back.

Beautiful vaulted ceilings and original light fixtures.  The Welsh love to sing and play music.  It is part of their very soul.  Following the music presentation, a poet explained Welsh poetry and the importance of a Bard.  More about that later.

In a large room in the back, early settlers where honored with displays.  This is the one I had been looking for, Winnifred "Gwen" Lloyd Roberts Evans.

I tried to take photos of the informational papers as well.

You can read more about Gwen and her life here. You may need a tissue or two.

It was a joy to learn more about Wales and the heritage that is mine as well.  I must admit that I didn't know much but it has been a delight to research more the last couple of weeks.  This is the costume that was worn by the women on special occasions.

I loved this story of how this particular way of dressing may have saved Wales from totally being taken over by Britain.

Isn't that hat so distinctive?  I kind of wish that I had one.

A bit of a write up about Gwen in the Wales exhibit.

A great colorful map.  My ancestors came from the northeast corner of Wales.  When it became time to leave for America they traveled a relatively short distance north to Liverpool, England to reach their ship, the John Badger.


To have some perspective of the size of Wales, it is 1/8th of the size of the state of Utah.  It was difficult for the English to enter Wales as there were high mountain ranges between England and the Irish Sea.

After arriving in America and then in the West, the Welsh tended to settle small towns as a group as they did not understand English.  Even their church services were held in Welsh.

Thankfully, Welsh has reemerged as a language of choice in Wales.

I think I would have a very difficult time learning this language.

Captain Dan Jones was born in 1810 also in the north of Wales.  He worked as a miner in a lead mine before going to sea at about 16.  He traveled the world by ship but eventually ended up being part owner of a paddle boat, the Maid of Iowa, on the Mississippi.  Dropping passengers off in Nauvoo led to his introduction to the Mormon Church.  When he returned to Wales as a missionary in the 1840's he convinced many others of the truth of this new faith including my ancestors.  You can read more of his story as a Missionary in Wales here.  It is a fascinating story.  A friend recommended a historical fiction book, "Here Be Dragons" by Sharon Kay Penman based, on Wales in the late 1100's and early 1200's.  I came upon this fascinating story from the 12th century with regards to Dan Jones.  You can read more about the  Welsh Indians.

The singing song loving Welsh members formed the beginnings of The Mormon Tabernacle Choir.

I enjoyed looking at this early map of Malad City.  I do know that my ancestors homesteaded land in the north of Malad and that Gwen's sons built her a log home on North Main Street where she lived until her death.

The city park was beautiful with blue skies, green grass, and great people.  If you look closely you will see the singer on stage who also entertained us earlier in the chapel.

We enjoyed a great meal and enjoyed looking at the booths.

"M" on the mountain for Malad.  At one time, Malad was the biggest city in Idaho and had the largest department store.  Part of the growth in Malad came about because it was chosen to be on the railroad line.

We drove north of Malad wondering if any of this land was settled by the Roberts or Evans families. I always love a good barn picture.

Now, this custom was new to us.  For miles the wire fences had fence posts holding old foot wear, mostly boots. 

How and when this started, I do not know.

The last stop was the Oneida Pioneer Museum located in an old store in downtown Malad.  I walked into the museum and immediately saw my great, great, great grandma looking down on me.  Welsh surnames are used over and over.  Therefore, it is most unlikely that a Welsh name on your family tree would also be related to another family with that same surname.

Of course I had to take a picture of the donated antique quilts.

And I found a photo of another fancy church building known as the "Church of the Seven Gables." It is no longer standing.

But there was a model of this church.  There was a bit of the Provo Tabernacle in this building, too.

After leaving Malad, we drove southwest for 8 miles to Samaria.  More about that later.

To discover more about those immigrating from Wales go here.