Legend of Earl Durand

I wonder what I can say about Earl Durand that won’t throw me back into the family storm. Again.

Supposably, Earl Durand was my grandfather. But I don’t believe it. On good days I think of him as a sort of ancestral godfather. On my bad days I think of him as just a PR piece for my dad’s very romantic life.

I found a letter a few days ago from my dad. He wanted me to change my name back to Durand. I don’t think I’m going to do that, but it looks like I’m going to have some angsty guilt for awhile.


Mental Maps

Mental Maps, not mind maps. Mind maps are something different.

Peter Moskowitz, author of How to Kill a City, says, “A mental map is just your own personal geography of the city and all of its personal and emotional attachments.”

In other words, we carry a picture of the city in our heads. It’s our own map, one we create as we live in it. It includes, not just places and their relationships to one another, but also memories and stories attached to those places. My mental map will be similar to the mental maps of other people, but none of us has exactly the same map.

I see occasional human-interest pieces about mental maps, but not very often and nothing very extensive. This is the stuff of oral history. Has to be. Shouldn’t we be seeing it all around?

I think about the places I’ve lived: Farson, Logan, Mantua, Las Vegas, on and on. There’s a whole list. I have zillions of memories and hundreds, maybe thousands, of little stories. I love to reminisce. I remember “things”. When I’m dead, most of those stories will die with me.

How cool would it be if there was a regular structure to exploration. Not so much documenting history, although as an historian, I’m all in favor. More like personal growth.

I predict someone in the New Age community or Self Help Community, maybe someone on YouTube, will come up with a program for personal and spiritual growth by exploring personal journeys through local places, past, present, and future. Maybe it will be something like creating a vision board. And it will go viral.

So obvious, it’s gotta happen.

Settler Colonialism Among the Mormons

I count on High Country News for compelling stories about my Western homeland but I don’t always get to the articles right away. I had this one marked to come back later but somehow it’s been over a year — Nick Bowlin, “How Mormon history helps explain today’s public-land fights” (Apr. 13, 2020).

It’s got Mormon history, which would usually put it at the top of my reading list, but it’s also got the Bundy’s, and that would put it near the bottom. There’s only so many times I can read about a bunch of wackos.

The article is an interview with Betsy Gaines Quammen, author of American Zion: Cliven Bundy, God & Public Lands in the West (2020).

By way of background, Quammen explains, “But it starts with the fact that the early church history begins with Mormon settlement. There’s no acknowledgment of history beyond when the first Mormon settler arrived. Settlers drank out of a Paiute river; all of a sudden it became a Mormon river. Ownership was established when they settled there. And along with this came the fact that they were persecuted by the federal government, and they came West, and this was a place that had been overlooked by other white settlers. . . . Their acts of settlement and development were forms of sacralizing the landscape.”

Now I’m hooked. I’m ordering the book.  

Joseph Bates Noble

I’m reading Joseph Bates Noble: Polygamy and the Temple Lot Case (2009). Goodreads says:

“In 1892, a deposition was taken in a Salt Lake City courtroom to gather evidence in a land ownership battle between two offshoot branches of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS) The dispute centered on ownership of land purchased to build a temple, known as the Temple Lot property, in Independence, Missouri. Although a key witness at the deposition, Joseph Bates Noble had little knowledge of land purchases dating back to 1832, yet his testimony was critical for validation of standing for the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (RLDS) or for the Church of Christ (Temple Lot). In fact, at the age of 82, Noble had been thrust into the limelight of LDS Church history because of his claim to have presided over the first polygamous marriage of Mormon prophet Joseph Smith.

“Noble officiated at the marriage in 1841 that united his sister-in-law with Smith, an event now cited as the beginning of the practice of polygamy in the church. His testimony would either validate Joseph Smith’s polygamist background for the Temple Lot Church or expose his recollections as falsehoods for the RLDS Church.”

Fun book, but marred for me by the tiniest of flaws — author David L. Clark doesn’t know who Anna Noble was. He mentions her as “an enigmatic child” when discussing the organization of the pioneer company that included the Noble family (p. 117). He says her Noble was a captain of the 1st Fifty in Jedidiah Grant’s company. His wife Mary Adeline (Beaman) Noble and other relatives, including Anna, travelled with Josiah Miller, captain of the 5th Ten. The company left Winter Quarters on June 12, 1847 and arrived in the Great Salt Lake Valley on October 2 and 10, 1847.

In a footnote, the author gives a bit of additional information” (p. 189n4). Anna “appears as a member of the family in the list of those traveling from Winter Quarters to Salt Lake City (‘Journal History’, June 11, 1847).” She is said to have been born at Montrose, Iowa. That entry shows her “brother” Edward Noble, the same age, was also born at Montrose. “Her name also appears on Noble’s list of his family in Salt Lake City in 1848 as well as in the 1850 Utah census, where she is eight years old and identified as a member of the Noble family.”

But then Clark goes off the rails. He identifies Anna with Susanna Ann Noble, daughter of Enoch Barker Noble and Margaret McGrew. He says Enoch and Joseph Noble were “distant cousins”. I’ve provided links here to this other branch of the Noble family on FamilySearch.org, although the information there is not as complete as that given by Clark. For example, Clark says Susanna was born in 1842 in Montrose, Iowa but FamilySearch has her born 1844 in New Brunswick, Canada. Clark seems to be using information for Anna Noble and attributing it to Susanna Noble. There is no indication at FamilySearch that Enoch Noble and his wife were at Montrose, Iowa. Clark says Susanna married James Emerson Hall in 1861 when she was nineteen. He doesn’t know, he says, what took her from Salt Lake City back to Iowa. In FamilySearch, the two women are different (unmerged). “Sue Anna”, the wife of James Hall, gives birth to three of her four children before her supposed 1861 marriage.

As a descendant of Anna Noble, this is familiar territory for me. So, how did Clark go so far astray? The Mormon Overland Travel database correctly lists Anna as Anna Noble, “the orphan daughter of John and Elizabeth Quamby who was adopted by Joseph Bates Noble.” She married first, Williams Washington Camp in 1857, divorced him in 1858, and married secondly, Wilford Luce, about 1861.

She received a commemorative pin in 1897 as one of the pioneers of 1847. The Book of the Pioneers shows her as Annie Noble Luce, born in England and living in Big Cottonwood, Utah (1897, Book 1, p. 410). According to her statement, “I was born in England. Am the daughter of John and Elizabeth Quamsby, who died in Nauvoo leaving me an orphan at the age of four years. I was adopted by Joseph B. Noble and emigrated to Utah in his company, Oct. 10th, 1847. (signed) Annie Noble Luce.” Her death certificate and gravestone also show her name as Annie Noble Luce.

Annie’s statement tells us exactly who she was. And, the surviving evidence supports her statement. John Quarmby was apparently an English convert, seemingly a recent immigrant in 1845 when he died at Nauvoo.

I’m not aware of any evidence about Annie’s mother beyond Annie’s own later statement. It seems almost certain Elizabeth Quarmby died sometime before June 1847 when Anna appears in the Noble household. Noble was bishop of Nauvoo 5th Ward from 1842. Mormon bishops had responsibility for the poor in their ward. Probably, Annie’s mother was living in the 5th Ward when she died. The responsibility to care for Annie would have fallen on Joseph Noble. If (perhaps) Annie’s mother died during the exodus from Nauvoo, it might not have been possible in the general confusion to find another family to take in Annie. Mormons began leaving Nauvoo in February 1846. The Noble family left by April. So, we can say Elizabeth Quarmby perhaps, maybe, probably between about February and April 1846.*

I can’t say how or why author David Clark got it so wrong, or why he thought there is any mystery. I made a concerted effort to find him, but no luck. I wish I could have passed along this information privately and now be linking to his blog post instead of writing my own.

* Although Annie’s statement says her parents died at Nauvoo, some descendants believe her mother either died at Winter Quarters or on the way to Winter Quarters. Although the timing would be a bit different, the story remains the same. Noble was bishop of Winter Quarters 13th Ward, then when the settlement was reorganized, bishop of the new 20th Ward. This would change the date but not the basic story.

Gärdserum Church

A few days ago I wrote about the Baptist church in Champaign, Illinois where my great grandparents Wilford Luce and Essie Wilson were married in 1898. Almost immediately I ran across a bookmark where I saved a link to information about the (Lutheran) church in Gärdserum, Sweden where another set of great grandparents Adolf Svanström and Josefina Klasson were married in 1886.

You can see a picture of the Gärdserum church here. and some cool pictures from inside the church here. The Gärdserum church was built 1851-1854, which means the present building is the one where my great grandparents were married. It replaced an older church, going back to the 13th century. Gärdserum was originally a ridkyrka or “riding church” because it was an annex to the church at Ukna and the priest rode over to conduct services.

When I was looking for the church in Champaign, there were the usual issues with American churches. That often involves, as it did for me, trying to figure out the church from a partial record. I had the marriage license and the name of the minister, then I had to work from there to find the church.

In Sweden, as often in Europe, the search is simpler. This marriage was recorded at Gärdserum, so I know it was solemnized in the church at Gärdserum. Gärdserum is an old, historic church so there was a high chance it still exists, and so it does.

Champaign Baptist Church

My great grandmother Essie (Wilson) Luce was raised in the Baptist church. She married Wilford Luce in 1898 in Champaign, Illinois, then moved west to Wyoming to take up life on his ranch.

I was curious about the church where they got married. I was fairly certain it would have been a Baptist church, but Essie later became an Episcopalian and her mother Elizabeth (Mallory) Wilson later became a Methodist, so maybe not.

Tp find out, I checked Essie’s marriage record. I have a copy, but if I didn’t already have one I could have looked for a copy at FamilySearch.org. It’s there, already linked to her profile. The certificate is signed by W. H. Stedman, a minister. A quick Google search tells me he was minister at the 1st Baptist Church in Urbana. With some additional searching, I find the church was organized in 1838 and Rev. Stedman was called in 1875.

Now I see a problem. The Wilsons lived in Champaign. This church was in Urbana. The two cities are close neighbors but it doesn’t seem likely someone would travel from one to the other to go to church, particularly not a common denomination like Baptist. Okay, maybe if the person and the church were both close to the boundary.

I seem to have a problem but it’s easily resolved. A bit more searching and I find Rev. Stedman resigned at Urbana in 1882. He served several other churches, then was called to the 1st Baptist Church at Champaign in 1894. So, yes. Exactly right to have officiated at Essie’s wedding in 1898.

Finally, can I find a picture of the church? Yes, but sadly it was demolished in 1980. If I had asked this question in my early 20s I would have had a chance to travel there, and see it in person.

According to the The Biographical Record of Champaign County Ill. (1900), the new church was Pastor Stedman’s project (p. 196). It took three years; two years of persuading the congregation and a year in building, at a cost of $22,000. That would mean the church was completed about 1897. It would have been relatively new when Essie was married there in 1898.

You can see a picture of the church here, from the digital collection of the University of Illinois. The Gothic Revival style is no surprise. The style was a peripheral effect of the Oxford Movement in England and America; an Anglo-Catholic renewal movement that idealized traditional liturgies, architectures, and theologies in a way that often equated embracing tradition with social standing.

It’s no coincidence that Essie’s mother moved from Baptist to Methodist, and Essie moved from Baptist to Episcopalian. In two words: upward mobility.