Gary Gillen

Gary Edward Gillen Obituary

Lovingly written by Gary’s beloved companion, Barbara Gillen

He was born to his parents, Edward Francis Gillen and Berneda Elene Cox, in Powell, Wyoming. He spent his childhood years with his older sister, Bobbi (Barbara) and his younger brother (Larry) Dean Gillen.

They were quite a team.

Gary Gillen

They had lost their father early on when Gary was 13, so he knew to be the protector for his mother and siblings.
He attended school through college in Powell and graduated Powell High School in 1960. After some college he enlisted in the U.S. Air Force in 1963 in Denver, Colorado. He was transferred to Travis Air Force Base in Fairfield, California, where he first met his sweetheart, Barbara Malone, on a blind date. They instantly fell in love and shortly thereafter he proposed to her and they were married.

Gary Gillen

Gary then went to Aircraft Loadmaster School at Sheppard Air Force Base in Texas. After graduating from loadmaster school he returned to Suisun, California where they lived.

Sometime later Gary and Barbara were blessed with twin daughters, Cynthia and Sandra. A few years later their son, Greg, arrived and four years later a third daughter, Terri, was born.

Gary Gillen

In 1964, with his honorable discharge from the Air Force, Gary and his family moved to Modesto, where he immediately began working as a construction laborer. He worked for several different companies, digging and paving roads nearly 32 years, many of those years as a foreman.

During the growing up years of his children, the protector in him decided to introduce his family to his church, as he invited the missionaries from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to come into our home and teach us the blessings of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. He then was able to baptize his family in 1977 and one year later Gary and Barbara were sealed as a couple and family for time and all eternity in the Oakland Temple.

When finally retiring from the construction union he began driving a charter bus for Storer Transportation, where he worked for 18 years. Then it was time for him to retire due to the beginning problems with dementia.

While he was still capable of driving, Gary and Barbara began to do some traveling to visit all the children and their families more often – 16 grandchildren, 11 great-grandchildren and another on the way.

In 2016 he became unable to drive at all. So most of the time was spent at home visiting with family and friends and having game nights with lots of laughter and singing songs accompanied by Pops on his harmonica.

Gary Gillen

He was a wonderfully devoted provider and an amazingly loving husband and father to us all.

He was preceded in death by his parents, his sister, his aunts and uncles, and many cousins. He is survived by his wife, Barbara, daughter Cindy (Bud), daughter Sandy (Jeff), son Greg (Stacy) and Terri (Adam), and by his brother, Dean Gillen.

We are grateful to Community Hospice in Hughson, California for their many kindnesses. In lieu of flowers it was Gary’s desire that donations be made to the missionary fund of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Funeral services for Pops will be on Wednesday, September 21st, at 10am Pacific time in Modesto, California. Those wishing to join in online via Zoom please use the following link:

https://carta.zoom.us/j/95839029153?pwd=UEppOFJOTDVoREl4S2lQeVVhc3VrQT09

Manti

The Place Manti Has in Our Family History

The Deseret News this week featured an article about the Manti Temple, telling this famous story of Brigham Young and Warren S. Snow from 1877:

Standing on the southeast corner of the Manti Utah Temple site, Brigham Young told Warren S. Snow, “Here is the spot where the Prophet Moroni stood and dedicated this piece of land for a temple site, and that is the reason why the location is made here, and we can’t move it from this spot.”

This story in recent years has been cast into doubt by bloggers and historians alike who claim there is no official record of this ever happening.

Yet the story is told and retold, as it was in the Deseret News this week. It has been archived in Church publications for decades.

In fact, of all the records kept of the dedication of the Manti temple there is nothing to suggest that anything was “dedicated” before the temple was constructed.

Yet the story persists. Why?

Because it was put forward by Warren S. Snow, not the Church.

Historians have a bone or two to pick with Bishop Snow, Mayor Snow and General Snow, as he was known during his lifetime.

And yes – he is family.

He is one of the many illustrious sons of Gardner Snow, that grand patriarch of the Snow family.

The Snow family started joining the Church in the very early 1830s, and their experiences in Vermont, Kirtland, Far West and later, Nauvoo, led to pioneering the West.

Warren S. Snow is just one part of multiple Snow family members who founded, lived, and played a part in establishing Manti, Utah. Manti, and the temple built there, would over the generations come to play a big part for the Westovers, the Smiths, the Snows, the Riggs and the Quilter families.

Manti has always been and likely will always be a very small and remote place. But it looms large as a home, a gathering place and a sacred ground for many we call family.

To fully understand how this came to be we need to tell some stories of those early Manti pioneers who helped to make that temple possible.

~ A Little Manti History ~

Chief Walkara, also known as Walker, was born about 1808, along the Spanish Fork River in what is now Utah, one of five sons of a chief of the Timpanogos band.

Chief Wakara

Described as being over six feet tall and extremely strong, he was a successful warrior from a young age. His piercing eyes earned him the nickname “Hawk of the Mountains.”

While there are plenty of stories about his life it must be noted that Wakara was known for both good and bad things. Some historians have called him the most prolific horse stealer in history. Others call him a great peacemaker.

What there is to know about historians, whether the speak of a man like Chief Wakara or a man like Warren Stone, is that historians usually have some point they are trying to make.

I personally believe that history is best told through those who passed through it. In the case of both Wakara and Snow, they left us plenty on their own to think about.

Around the year 1845, before white settlers came to Utah, Chief Wakara had a dream.

This is an account he told that was recorded by a Mormon settler later:

“He died and his spirit went to heaven. He saw the lord s sitting upon a throne dressed in white. The Lord told him he could not stay, he had to return. Walker desired to stay but the Lord told him that he had to return to earth that there would come to him a race of white people that would be his friends and he must treat them kindly.”

When the Mormons did come Chief Walker met in council, along with 12 of his warriors, with Brigham Young and church leaders in the Salt Lake Valley.

These Indians had come to ask Brigham Young to send colonists into the Sanpitch Valley to teach the Indians how to build homes and till the soil.

During the proceedings of this council which convened on June 14, 1849, at Salt Lake City, Walker remarked “I was always friendly with the Mormons. I hear what they say and remember it. It is good to live like the Mormons and their children. I do not care about the land, but I want the Mormons to go and settle it.”

A scout team was sent in August and by fall fifty families were called to go to the valley to settle it. It would be the first settlement south of Provo.

They were led by experienced men who names mark the pages of early Church history. Men like Isaac Morley, Charles Shumway, and our own great-grandfathers, Gardner Snow and Albert Smith, were sent.

Upon arriving many felt that the Sanpitch Valley was indeed a blessed place.

Father Morley, as most of the settlers referred to him, pointed a prophetic finger to a hill rising in the distance and said, “There is the termination of our journey; in close proximity to that hill, God willing, we will build our city there.”

That hill would come to be known as Temple Hill, in time. It was recognized as early as 1850 as a special place and some claimed visions while arriving there.

A woman named Betsy Bradley, and her three-year-old son, Hyrum, saw a personage in white on a white horse mysteriously appear on the hill and then, just as mysteriously, he disappeared.

Bradley told about this mysterious appearance to everyone who desired to listen and through it one of the Sagas of the Sanpitch was born: Everyone said, “This personage dressed in white on the white horse is the same personage that constrained Father Morley to proclaim it a special place and that person is the Prophet Moroni!”

Orson F. Whitney, in his book Life of Heber C. Kimball, relates this story:

“In an early day when President Young and party were making the location of the settlement here, President Heber C. Kimball, prophesied that the day would come when a temple would be built on this hill. Some disbelieved and doubted the possibility of even making a settlement here. Brother Kimball said, “Well, it will be so, and more than that the rock will be quarried from that hill to build it with, and some of the stone from that quarry will be taken to help complete the Salt Lake Temple.”

All of this was widely known long before Warren Snow and Brigham Young climbed that hill in April of 1877.

By that time, the history of Manti, of Warren Snow, of Brigham Young, of the Ute Indians, and of the temple had already covered a lot of ground.

~ Gardner Snow, A Patriarch ~

Gardner Snow moved to Manti in 1850, a little after the original parties led by his good friend Isaac Morley had selected Manti’s hill as the base for the community.

He was, at this point in his life, 57 years of age, an experienced veteran of the early LDS Church experience. He was seasoned. He had served as a missionary, Bishop, and a member of the Quorum of the Seventy.

He experienced the temple for the first time in Kirtland and later lived in Far West. He was chased, with many others, by mobs out of Missouri, and later had his home and possessions burned to the ground while living at Morley’s Settlement in Illinois.

In Nauvoo he received his temple endowments and later moved to Council Bluffs, where he resumed his work as Bishop.

When he was finally allowed to come to Utah he was assigned to Sanpete County, where he worked as a councilman and then later as a probate judge for many years.

By avocation, Gardner Snow was a sheepherder in Manti. He was in Manti less than a year when his partner, Sarah Sawyer Hastings Snow, passed away at the age of 60.

Gardner Snow

During their life together Gardner and Sarah had 9 children – six of them sons. Of those six sons only three survived into extended maturity.

James Chauncey Snow (our great grandfather), like his father, had experience in early Church history and came around the same time as his father to Utah. He would be a Stake President in Provo and live a long life of family and church service.

Warren Stone Snow, who you will read more about below, would become a Presiding Bishop in Utah and a controversial figure in the history of Manti.

George Washington Snow came with his brothers to Utah in the early 1850s, settling near their father in Manti. He would work for some years as a cooper in Manti, where he also studied the law and later served as a lawyer, the prosecutor of Sanpete County and in various elected public roles for years.

All of these Snow men were deeply embedded in Church and public service in Central Utah.

Their histories are all public record. In their various fields of service they touched the lives and many and were known by generations of Manti citizens.

Gardner Snow was especially well thought of, much like his friend Isaac Morley, because they were early church members who knew the Prophet and had experienced the persecutions of the early Church experience.

All of these men would die before connections with the Westover, Smith, Riggs and Quilter families were made.

It is curious to contemplate how their passions for the temple and getting it completed in Manti during their lifetimes would come to be meaningful for their later descendants.

~ Albert Smith in Manti ~

Albert Smith’s connection to the Westover family comes through is granddaughter, Mary Ann Smith, who married my great-grandfather, Arnold Westover.

If there is any individual representative of the 19th century Mormon experience, it is Albert Smith.

He joined the Church in 1835, lived in Missouri and Western Illinois, suffering from the persecution and loss of those places before the Nauvoo period.

Like many others, he relocated to Nauvoo and was in the same ward as Joseph Smith – in fact, he knew the Prophet well.

Albert was friends with several individuals known in Church history, notably Wilford Woodruff, and he would, in time, become acquainted with others who played important roles in pioneering Manti.

While living in Nauvoo, Albert served a mission, returned home to find his family in crisis due to the scandals of John C. Bennett, and he helped to construct the Nauvoo temple.

Albert and his family were among the first company to leave Nauvoo and was at Mt. Pisgah when Brigham Young called for service in the Mormon Battalion.

Albert served, along with his 17-year-old son, Azariah, the entire year. They backtracked to Utah from California, arriving just after the Saints first got there in the summer of 1847.

He farmed his allotted acreage in the Salt Lake Valley, and it was on his land that the miracle of the seagulls took place, an event he recorded in detail in his journal.

With many others Albert and family were called to move to Sanpete County.

Albert and his wife established a farm and used their home for the first several years to host the first dramatic productions held in Manti. They were very involved in the community and Albert dutifully recorded it all in his journals.

For all his Mormon experience and his faithfulness, Albert never held high position in the LDS Church. In time he would embrace plural marriage, albeit reluctantly.

For more than 40 years Albert steadfastly built the Kingdom of his faith, commenting here and there in his journal of both his experiences and his opinions of the pioneer experience.

The Manti temple, for him, represented many things.

What he would do over the forty years it took to build that temple in Manti should be an inspiration for all of us who call ourselves his grandchildren.

His quiet, in-the-background life of service stands in contrast to a man he would share family with in the generations to come.

That man’s name is Warren Stone Snow.

~ Warren S. Snow – A Complicated Man ~

The Snow family of Manti has a long history in the LDS faith.

In fact, they were one of the most unique families in early church history with the likes of Lorenzo Snow, Eliza R. Snow, Erastus Snow, Gardner Snow, James Chauncey Snow and Warren S. Snow among their famous numbers.

Their history and exploits as a family during the rise of the Church in the 19th century was so great that one Congressman, Charles B. Landis, in a speech made in 1900, declared the Snow family “the most consistent Mormons in the whole bunch”.

But Warren S. Snow was different from his famous father, brothers and cousins.

Warren S. Snow

His foundation of faith was indeed built in his youth while attending early church gatherings in the Mormon Barn, as it was called, of his grandfather, Levi Snow, in Chesterfield, Vermont.

But his experiences as a young man serving in security capacities for the Church seeded a conflict within him that colored nearly all of his later experiences as a church leader.

He was there – and close to the Prophet Joseph Smith and his family – when the Prophet was murdered in 1844.

In fact, in recorded talks given in church conferences not long after the Martyrdom, Warren referred to the bodies as “mangled”. It was an event that traumatized him so greatly that he often spoke strongly, if not violently, against the enemies of the Church.

Warren’s long service in the conflicts that arose during the post-Nauvoo period later left him described as a chosen defender of the Church and its prophets. He would, in time, enter into the circle of Brigham Young and become his close friend.

Brigham at one time considered Warren S. Snow as a potential member of the Quorum of the Twelve, saying that he was a “good man” when his name was brought up in counsels.

As it was, Warren S. Snow was assigned to Manti and made the presiding Bishop there, as well as a leading representative in the territorial legislature. In these capacities Warren had vast responsibilities related to church and civic governance.

He was consulted on how and where new settlements would be established and he placed men in important positions in Church leadership all over central Utah. He reported directly to Brigham and the Quorum of the Twelve and met with them frequently.

But there were troubled episodes during the early church leadership service of Warren Snow.

During a brief period after the Utah War, an examination of tithing funds in Manti resulted in a scandal made public from the pulpit by a visiting apostle, Orson Hyde, who declared Warren’s leadership suspect.

After a long and humiliating public investigation, it was determined that the bishopric led by Warren Snow was “careless” instead of dishonest.

Warren Snow publicly repented of his part in the scandal and that repentance was accepted by his superiors who had stood critical of him. But the event did great damage to his reputation and Warren struggled to regain the respect of the people of Manti.

His reputation as a hard man had proceeded him, and many questioned his judgment given the rumors they had heard about him over the years.

During the passionate period known as the Mormon Reformation, a time when “hellfire and damnation” was preached from the pulpit as leaders browbeat the Saints for not living their religion, Warren Snow was among the most vociferous.

His sermons from the time accused Church members of the need to repent and do better against all kinds of weaknesses and shortcomings.

During this period Warren was viewed as a particularly harsh leader. Some of his actions in his callings did little to dissuade the skeptical nature of how others viewed him.

In one famous episode the case of a man who was guilty of serious sexual transgression was brought before a Church court led by Bishop Snow. Excommunicating the man was not strong enough for members of the council – or for Bishop Snow.

In a clandestine midnight mugging of the man he was castrated, evidently at the hands of the Bishop and those members of the council who had excommunicated him.

Word of this reached Brigham Young and other Church leaders and another investigation ensued, casting a cloud of suspicion over Warren Snow that he never fully recovered from.

Part of the suspicion of Bishop Snow came from his reputation as a Church defender.

During the Utah War Warren Snow was a commanding general in the Nauvoo Legion, the holdover militia organized in Utah to defend against invading forces.

Snow was specifically charged by Brigham Young not to kill the troops on the way. He could steal cattle and supplies, set fires, and do anything possible to disrupt their march to Utah but he was not to engage in the use of deadly force.

Surviving records of the campaign indicate this was a difficult charge for Warren Snow, who wanted revenge on the enemies of the Church.

In Church talks Warren Snow often spoke of defending the faith.

A patriarchal blessing given to him sharpened his self-view in this role. It told him he was called to the protective service to the Church and promised that he could not be killed by enemies of the faith.

But for all of Warren’s passion about defending the faith there was another side to him that was markedly compassionate and spiritual.

He was blessed with a number of spiritual experiences that profoundly influenced him, including hearing the voice of God during the dedication of the Kirkland temple and witnessing the transfiguration of Brigham Young.

In the early 1860s, perhaps in a move to rescue Warren Snow from his reputation, Brigham Young sent the Bishop to England on a mission.

He served for several years with distinction and surviving letters between Warren and Brigham show that Warren did all he could to re-establish good feeling between them.
When Warren returned Brigham did welcome him with open arms and he sent the same apostle, Orson Hyde, who had led the investigation against him years before, to address the people to proclaim Warren’s innocence and to re-establish him in local church leadership in Manti once again.

Warren S. Snow Letter

A letter from Warren Snow to Brigham Young. Source: Church History Library

It did not go well for a time. But before long Indian uprisings created a need for Warren Snow, Defender of the Faith.

For years the residents in Central Utah had endured constant badgering by roving bands of Indians who would steal cattle and occasionally kill settlers.

Brigham’s strategy statewide for the longest time was to appease the Native Americans who lived there, clinging to the idea that he would “rather feed them then fight them”.

But not all settlers had Brigham’s patience.

When property was destroyed and especially when lives were taken many felt to impose an equal loss upon the Indians.

This inflamed situations over and over, and after a particularly gruesome killing of white settlers up a nearby canyon, things quickly got out of hand with a young Indian leader known as Black Hawk (a nephew to Chief Walker and a son of Chief Sanpitch).

The more the back-and-forth of killing between the Indians and the whites happened the bigger it seemed that Black Hawk’s band grew. In short time, greater damage and increased numbers of people were killed on both sides.

When the appointed leader of the local militia abandoned his post in the middle of a conflict it was Warren Snow who assumed command.

Working as closely with Brigham Young as he could Warren saw this new opportunity to prove to the community of Manti that he was a changed man.

For more than a year the Black Hawk War, as it came to be called, raged as Warren and Brigham tried to bring peace through restraint.

While Warren Snow was plain spoken with Brigham Young and other Church leaders about what he thought should be done he always sided publicly with what Young both advised and publicly said.

But Black Hawk persisted, and the event escalated after Warren Snow had promised safety for Indian warriors only to have more of them killed by restless settlers bent on revenge.

Everyone was aware of how tenuous the situation was – even Albert Smith.

From his journal we hear of an uprising that started in Gunnison, where a Mormon family was brutally murdered by marauding Indians.

The retaliation event took place right in front of the Smith home in Manti, as local settlers there captured two Indians completely unconnected with the Gunnison affair and tried to kill them.

Albert intervened and pled for their lives, stating to his fellow citizens of Manti that killing the wandering pair would only lead to more bloodshed on their own properties and to their own families.

He echoed, perhaps unknowingly, the same sentiments advanced by Brigham Young and Warren Snow.

As had happened so many times before, Albert’s admonition was ignored. For months the people in Manti went into hiding for fear of Indian retaliation.

In time, both Brigham and Warren came to see that something needed to be done to get Black Hawk to back down. Over the course of 9 months Warren led large groups of men in attacking and capturing leaders of the Indian band.

The Indians stepped up their part by using women and children to help captured prisoners to escape and on one careless night at the jail in Manti, Utah they caused the escape of about 8 Indian warriors.

Warren and his men gave chase and during a very close exchange of gunfire on the streets of Manti, Warren killed two Indian chiefs while sustaining a bullet wound to his arm and shoulder.

He wrote to Brigham to report on the affair, expressing regret at having to take a life to save his own.

Knowing that the event would inflame things even further, Brigham sent Warren on a relentless chase into the Fish Lake forest in search of Black Hawk and his closest men. It took months, and Warren ended up with greater wounds and became exhausted from the chase.

His exploits were reported in the news and in time the campaign began to wear down Black Hawk and his men. Black Hawk went on record to say that as long as Warren Snow lived in Manti he would never know peace.

Brigham felt that maybe Warren Snow, for as valiant as his efforts had been, could have been making things worse with Black Hawk. Seeing that Warren was injured, exhausted, and leaving the care of his family to others for long stretches of time, Brigham relieved him of command and sent him home to heal.

The change in leadership did help in ending the conflict with Black Hawk. In months, hostilities ended.

But the whole affair had a restorative effect on Warren Snow’s reputation. He returned to cheers in the streets of Manti and in time became Mayor of the city.

His service as a church leader in the years that followed were markedly different this time around.

For the next 30-years Warren Snow enjoyed a reputation as a man of prudence, a man of compassion and a man who defended the faith with softer tones and greater testimony.

So, when Warren Snow stood on Temple Hill in Manti with Brigham Young and later declared that President Young had said Moroni had dedicated that spot for a temple in the Latter-days, people took him seriously.

In fact, his funeral in 1896 was attended by thousands of people. His impact on the community and the whole of central Utah would go down in local history in glowing terms.

The Manti Temple, which was announced in 1875, featured a variety of events that involved the entirety of the community.

A parade was held when the ground was dedicated (or, rededicated, if you will). The Mormon hierarchy present included the First Presidency, members of the Quorum of the Twelve, and prominent local citizens such as Patriarch Garner Snow, and, of course, General Snow.

The Monday following the dedication of the site, on April 30th, 1877, the citizens of Manti gathered for a groundbreaking ceremony so that work could commence that day.

The 100-people gathered knelt in prayer led by Bishop John B. Maiben, then Partriarch Gardner Snow prayed over the labors.

One by one the prominent individuals of Manti took their turn with the shovels in the following order: Bishop Maiben, Patriarch Snow, James Wareham, Hans Jensen, Frederick Cox, Albert Smith, Jezreel Showemaker, George Peacock, Luther Tuttle, and George Billings.

After these ceremonial few, more than 80 men with their horses and oxen began the broad work of excavating with plows, scrapers, picks, and shovels. It would be the first day of more than 11 years of temple construction.

For Albert Smith, who attended these events and noted them in his journal, the coming of the temple spurred an effort to do his family history.

He wrote letters and sent money to genealogists in New York and Massachusetts. This happened before the temple was first announced in 1875.

Along with his third wife, Grandmother Sophia Smith, the anticipation of the temple was something recorded with each passing season. Albert and Sophie would visit the unfinished temple frequently and record what they saw.

By the time the temple was completed in 1888 Albert had possession of nearly 2000 names of his ancestors. He was proud of his Mayflower connections and was anxious to get into the temple to do work for them.

The temple dedication was an event so anticipated it is believed that was when this notable image of Albert and Sophie was taken:

Albert & Sophie Smith

When it finally came time to dedicate the temple more than 5000 people came to the remote location of Manti to participate.

Going to these events required tickets or invitations. In fact, nearly everything associated with the Temple over the years of it’s construction featured some sort of documentation. Here is a donation slip showing a contribution made by Gardner Snow:

Gardner Snow donation

Albert himself did not get tickets to the first day of dedication events. He watched the assembled masses at the temple from his front porch and attended for himself on the 2nd day.

Crowds at the Manti Temple dedication

Crowds at the Manti Temple dedication

~ What Temples Meant to the Pioneers ~

The pioneer era temples – which include both Kirtland and Nauvoo, by the way – were built during seasons of duress. They were built despite the poverty of Church members. Each was a tremendous act of faith.

As such, the completion of each temple was a celebration of faith. Within the temples the Saints could worship in the most sacred ways.

Simply put, a temple dedication was a big deal.

When Saint George was completed in 1877 as the first temple in the West, nearly all of those living in Manti, including the Snow and the Smith families, traveled to participate.

For years prior to its completion the Saints in Sanpete sent money and materials to St. George to help with the temple. After the St. George Temple was completed the members of the Church there returned the favor to assist in building the Manti temple.

For these pioneer temple builders the Temples provided a place for their children to make covenants and to be “sealed” together.

Perhaps the first of the next generation of the family to take advantage of the new Manti Temple was Joseph Homer Snow, son of James C. Snow. On July 19, 1888, just a few months after the dedication of the Manti Temple, he was sealed to Mary Nielsen, who went to the temple for herself for the first time on that date that they were married.

Joseph and Mary Snow would go on to have ten children. Their fourth, a girl they named Muriel, was born in 1891. In 1913, Muriel Snow would go to the Manti Temple and marry William Reeves Riggs, Jr.

They had a large family too. Their 2nd child, a daughter named Maurine, went to the Manti Temple in 1940 – and there married Leon Westover.

Maurine was following in the steps of her sister, Milda. Who only months before, in June 1940, went to the Manti Temple and married Charles Gerald Quilter.

Of course, there were other marriages and other temples in different places. That is not the point.

The point is that generations after the pioneer era temples were built the children and grandchildren of those pioneers who built them took advantage of them, fulfilling prophecy, fulfilling dreams and bringing forth new generations “born under the covenant”.

Was this what Moroni, the last of his ancient people, was thinking if he was indeed seen in vision in Manti?

Who exactly was Moroni and what could be his connection to Manti?

For members of the Church, we know that Moroni appeared to Joseph Smith in 1823 to extend to him his calling. During that event, the Prophet Joseph recorded that Moroni quoted from the Biblical book of Malachi, stating, in part:

“…And he shall plant in the hearts of the children the promises made to the father, and the hearts of the children shall turn to the fathers. If it were not so, the whole earth would be wasted at his coming…”

This, and other things given to Joseph Smith as Moroni taught him over the next several years, laid the foundation for modern temples as part of the “restoration of all things”.

Joseph Smith spoke of Moroni several times during his lifetime and offered information not contained within the Book of Mormon about him. Associates of the Prophet recorded such conversations and from those memories came this map outlining the travels of Moroni in North America:

Map of Moroni's Travels

Researchers now conclude that Moroni may have not only dedicated the land where the Manti temple now stands but that he could well have done similarly in St. George, Nauvoo, Independence, Kirtland and “others we know not of yet”.

This research was not conducted before the time of the pioneer era in Manti. It was not information that was widely shared or known.

Is it merely coincidental then that Warren Snow and other such as Betsy Bradley shared what they knew of Moroni in Manti?

That is speculation of a spiritual scope left for greater minds than my own.

All I can say, as one living in the 21st century, attending a temple and reflecting on my pioneer temple heritage, and as one now anticipating a new temple dedication in the years ahead where I live in my stake in Smithfield, Utah, is that I have no doubt of Moroni’s connection.

Smithfield Utah Temple

No, like Albert Smith, I lay no claim to visions.

I take on faith that the gift of such given to others is theirs.

The gift given to me to know is that God is in command and we know that best through work done in temples, where my heart is indeed knit with theirs and the covenants they made with God.

Norse King

Grandpa Was a Viking Raider and a Norse King

Whenever King Harald “Bluetooth” Gormsson makes the news I take notice. Old Bluetooth was a Norse King who lived more than 1,000 years ago. He is my 34th great-grandfather.

~ How We Are Related ~

Our connection to King Harald comes via the Rowe line. I’ve outlined my direct descendancy in this post from more than 3 years ago.

His nickname, Bluetooth, comes from a distinguishing feature – likely a dead tooth – that he most famously displayed in battle. Both his friends and enemies referred to King Harald as “Bluetooth”.

Norse King Harald Bluetooth

In our day, “Bluetooth” has a different meaning. It is the signature technology that allows devices to connect wirelessly. For example, many people use their phones to pair to wireless speakers to listen to music. The technology that allows this is called Bluetooth.

This technology is named after our King Harald because he is credited with bringing Christianity to the Northern European countries of Denmark and Norway – thus uniting them in faith (so, you could say wirelessly). He was one very talented Norse King.

As a direct descendant, I jokingly tell people that every time they use Bluetooth for anything they owe me a nickel. If I can’t inherit the King’s castle, or even his Viking ship, at least allow me to collect, um, royalties.

All joking aside, the story of King Harald is one we haven’t told completely. It’s time we rectify that somewhat. After all, he was never supposed to be the King.

~ How Harald Become the King ~

Harald was born the 2nd son of Gorm the Old, who was a Norse King that ruled from 936 until around the year 958.

Gorm the Old, and his wife, the queen, Thrya, had three sons – our Harald being the middle of the three.

(This history is a hyper-condensed version of the common story told about King Harald on the Internet. There are many variations of this story and, being 1000+ years old, who knows what the absolute truth is. Regardless, it’s a good story and one we welcome arguments about and discussion of it).

The oldest of the three boys was named Canute, a literal fair-haired boy, quite beloved by King Gorm. From early on it was widely known that Canute would inherit the Kingdom.

Harald, then, was destined to a life of living in his brother’s shadow – close to the throne but never intended for it. His inheritance was given to him before his father died – a fleet of Viking ships that Harald used to raid and pillage.

Raiding and pillaging was what Danish princes did while they awaited their ascendency to the throne and evidently Canute and his brother Harald were good at it – competitive even.

Each year at Christmastime the boys and their ships would venture home to celebrate the season with their parents.

It was during one of these Yuletide return-to-home seasons that Canute and Harald’s fleets clashed at sea and, as a result, Canute died in battle.

Harald knew this presented more than the usual holiday family tension. He had heard, as had most in the circle of King Gorm the Old, that the bearer of the bad news of the passing of Canute would himself or herself be put to death.

(King Gorm supposedly converted to Christianity, or so King Harald would have us believe from his history. Perhaps this all happened early on in that process).

Anyway, Harald arrived that Christmas knowing he was now the new heir to the throne but he wasn’t exactly eager to share the news. So he decided to first tell his mother, Queen Thyra, thinking she would be the one to tell the King.

According to Wikipedia, Queen Thyra had a clever plan to share the news that would send the message but spare her life.

She ordered the royal hall hung with black cloth and that no one was to say a single word.

When Gorm entered the hall, he was astonished and asked what the mourning colors meant.

Queen Thyra spoke up: “Lord King, you had two falcons, one white and the other gray. The white one flew far afield and was set upon by other birds which tore off its beautiful feathers and is now useless to you. Meanwhile, the gray falcon continues to catch fowl for the king’s table.”

Gorm understood immediately the Queen’s metaphor and cried out, “My son is surely dead, since all of Denmark mourns!”

“You have said it, your majesty,” Thyra announced.

King Gorm the Old so mourned his son he died the next day, no doubt dampening the festive Christmas spirits of all the family assembled.

So Harald became the King.

He too converted to Christianity, perhaps some time after both his parents had passed away, because he had his parent’s bodies exhumed and given a Christian burial in the church cemetery near the town of his birth.

Jelling Stone

~ Why King Harald is in the News ~

King Harald is known all over Europe. He made it a point when he reburied his parents in Jelling, Demark, to install what is called The Jelling Stones, where the history of his royal parents is carved in runic etchings.

But even after honoring his parents with a Christian burial and doing his family history in stone, the exploits of King Harald are documented all over northern and western Europe.

This story in today’s news (July 31, 2022) tells of competing theories of modern historians tracing artifacts that point to Poland as a possible burial ground for King Harald.

It’s a great story – regardless of which theory you believe – and, as these things go, it likely doesn’t matter if King Harald had a pagan or a Christian burial in Poland.

The simple fact remains that he is dead and has been so for 1000 years. The fact he was king, that his legacy is the spread of Christianity and that he was legendary in his exploits as a bold, opinionated man means he’s definitely one of us. Family, indeed.

I will collect and learn of the many histories written of him. I know we will never arrive at the full truth of who he truly was as a man until we get to the other side and can ask him alone.

Until then, we can enjoy his modern fame. We can tell our children and grandchildren what we know of this ancient grandfather.

And we can all enjoy yet another fascinating individual from our family history.

Curmsun Disc

The Curmsun Disc, found in 2014 mentions King Bluetooth

The Curmsun Disc has a fascinating story – it appeared in Sweden in 2014, but some scholars believe it was originally part of a Viking hoard found by Heinrich Boldt, a young boy from Germany, in 1841 near the island of Wolin, which was a part of Germany at the time.

The disc was found during the construction of a church, which stands to this day. It was built in Wiejkowo, 3 kilometers away from the modern town of Wolin, on the remains of an older medieval chapel.

Swedish archaeologist Sven Rosborn claims the entrance to the crypt was discovered by accident by Boldt, who was playing with other children on the construction site.

Read more at The Viking Herald

Willis Welty Family

The Value in Re-Plowing Old Ground

It has been an interesting time for working on family history.

The part I like least about this work is prospecting for data – finding the names, dates and places necessary to fill out the tree.

That’s ground-floor stuff and I’m much more of a storyteller. I want to know what’s beyond the data with each person.

I got a message a few weeks back from my niece Michaela asking if I had any more female names for baptisms. As it turned out I was fresh out. She will be going for her own endowments next fall so until then she’s limited in what temple work she can do. So, for her sake I decided to see what I could find out there in the part of the work that’s not my favorite.

I’m glad I did. From it I learned more of the story.

~ Going for the Low Hanging Fruit ~

In all the recent work on my step-grandfather’s line – that of Pascal Henry Caldwell – I assumed I would find a lot of work on his family. After all, it now stretches back to the year 1100.

But that Caldwell family must have a lot of people out there working on it that I do not know about.

Not only did I find the data but I found lots of temple work that has been done over the past several years.

The Caldwells were not the low hanging fruit I thought they were.

So I went back to my mother’s line to see what had changed. Due to the pandemic and the situation with my Dad it’s maybe been three years since I’ve been down in the weeds on my mother’s lines. There was enough there – and still is – to keep us pretty busy.

What I noticed right off is that others have really stepped up in the time I’ve been away. In fact, I would wonder what my mother would think today if she saw how things have progressed since the last time she was able to look at it herself.

Of course, what I was about to learn is that she knows it all without being here.

She woke me up one night this week. It was her voice I heard.

~ There’s More to the Story ~

I had a long session on Family Search and Ancestry on Wednesday. I had decided to go back to some familiar names to find out where we stood on completing their temple work and what additional records we could attach to names.

When I attended Roots Tech I listened with interest to hear the numbers from Family Search and Ancestry about records they have added since the last Roots Tech was held. Billions and billions of records are added each year from sources all over the world.

I have noticed the last several years that military records have been added in abundance. And, of course, the 1950 census was just released and I wanted to update information from any family who participated in that event.

It was a long day that resulted in many “new” records being added but nothing that changed the outcome in temple work or new family discoveries.

I had a nagging sense, however, that I was actually doing something useful. That something was going to come of going back and adding records to names that technically didn’t need them.

I hit the pillow at about 1:00 am, exhausted, and slept for about 90 minutes. Then, in a dead sleep, I felt a poke on my shoulder and my mother’s voice said “John Jackson”. And that was all.

In all my years of working family history I can claim to have had feelings and promptings to something I needed to do.

But never have I ever felt anything so specific.

So I immediately got out of bed and began a search for John Jackson.

Of course, I assumed that was the entirety of his name.

There are a billion John Jacksons in the world but none that I could find that tied to my mother’s family.

I was momentarily confused as I tried to think through the problem. Then it dawned on me.

I wasn’t looking for a man whose last name was Jackson. I was looking for a man whose first and middle names were John Jackson.

In about 30 seconds I found him – John Jackson Carson, who lived from 1858 to 1924.

He was the son of Erastus Ulysses Carson, who had two families with two separate wives. We knew about John Jackson years ago and did his work, along with all of the other children of Erastus and his two wives.

What we did not know what that John Jackson, like his father, had three wives. He had children with each of them. The reason we didn’t know this before is that the records showing all this were not available the last time any work was done on John Jackson Carson.

In fact, some of the wives and children fell under the 110-year rule, meaning they might have been discoverable in some cases but we could not do their temple work.

Between the combined new record resources of Family Search and Ancestry, we have now a more complete story of John Jackson – and his 8 children from his three wives.

All of John Jackson’s children are now on the other side. Many of their records are now available. He has grandchildren and great grandchildren still living all over the country.

~ More to Every Story ~

John Jackson’s new discoveries made me question everyone on my mother’s lines. So I went back, straight to my grandparents, and began just adding what new records I could find.
Most yielded nothing new.

But, as I got past that great-grandparent level – say from 1850 to 1920 – I started uncovering a lot of new people. Wives added, children born, etc. The make-up of some family units changed dramatically.

For example, Aunt Glenora Welty, my great-grandfather’s sister, has been for years a kind of lost person.

All we had of her was a record of her name from the 1870 census when she was a year old and ten years later from the 1880 census when she was 11. That was enough information to get her baptized and sealed to her parents.

But as is often the case with female records, it ended there.

From years back I can find online inquiries from my mother asking for help in trying to discover whatever happened to Glenora. I spent considerable time about 6 years ago on Glenora and got no further than my Mom did.

But after John Jackson’s discoveries I decided to give it another go and in 20 minutes I was able to finally get somewhere.

Glenora married in 1887 at the age of 18. On the wedding record, which I think may have been available for years, they spelled her last name as Kelty instead of Welty. Her parents were not listed on the marriage record, as was common at the time.

Glenora was an usual name at the time and evidently she never used it after marrying. Every new record I found of her she is listed as Glenna.

In fact, thanks to all these new records I was able to find a brief obituary about her in the local paper:

Glenora Welty Lohman

Of course, discovering this entire family of nine people led to other stories. Glenna had a daughter named Eleanor Beatrice Lohman who never married. She died in France in 1958.

That was a curiosity to me and I wondered what happened.

Turns out, she was in France working as an insurance clerk and while there she died suddenly of a brain hemorrhage. When a foreigner working overseas dies there is a report made to send to the family – and that report is accessible now through Ancestry.

Another good reason to plow over old ground is to discover what other family members (most you likely don’t even know about) have added to either Family Search or Ancestry.

Someone at some time posted this image of my great-grandparents, Kit and Effie Carson (Kit was John Jackson’s half brother):

Kit and Effie Carson

That picture means the world to me. My mother did not get to know her Carson family growing up because her mother did not get to know the Carson family, their stories or traditions. To get anything this intimate is very significant to me.

That wasn’t the only family photo I recently discovered. Below is a picture of the Willis Welty family around the year 1915 or so. Willis is Glenora’s brother. Why is this important? Because when my grandmother – Winifred Calista Welty – was orphaned by the deaths of her parents it was with this family that she lived for a long period of time:

Willis Welty Family

Can you see why continuing to look for people we have found adds to the story? When my Nana died in 1967 my mother was only 24. She had nothing of her family that was known. Since that time we have been able to piece together their stories as every new record, photo or story is added.

I’m not done discovering things as I work through ground that has been plowed before.

In fact, I’m finding that I can get 20 to 30 records I can attach now to people who have lived in past 150 years on average. Not every person – but a great many.

This has me motivated to keep working on names we’ve already worked on before. There are stories to uncover in names we have already known about and perhaps have done the temple-work for.

It is good to learn more of their stories.

My Cousins

My Cousins, My Neighbors

Years ago, when we moved into our present home, we met the nextdoor neighbor over the fence. As we introduced ourselves to each other this new neighbor, Lynn Bates, he excitedly responded to my last name, Westover.

“Do ya know any Westovers in Rexburg?” Lynn asked me.

Over the years we grew fond of Lynn. He was in his golden years, often didn’t feel well and he could be a little gruff.

Lynn Bates

But he was always so very kind to us and he took a shine to my dear wife, who just loved him. As usual, she always saw a bit of her Dad in a guy like Lynn, and because of that they seemed to hit it off. I know he adored her.

Lynn was born in Rexburg and had a few Westover friends there. I wasn’t able to relate to any of the Westover names he shared because all my Westover experience in Rexburg is buried in the past of family history.

Lynn was a very smart man, I believe he worked for a number of years as a project manager or engineer for Space Dynamics. He also owned a local business, a flower shop, I believe.

But when we met him he was very retired. He worked endlessly in his garden, where he and his wife great beautiful things and he had a ride on mower he would use to mow both of our yards.

Having Lynn nextdoor was like having a another parent. He would joke with us, scold us, and give unsolicited advice.

One of the things I do that drove Lynn crazy was to keep my Christmas tree up. He talked about our Christmas tree in the window of our house on Main Street long after Christmas was over.

That was because I had a little rule I never told him about.

I told my wife that every time he complained about our tree I would keep it up another two weeks. One year he brought it up so often the tree was up into the month of June.

Lynn passed away here a few years ago and the house next door was sold.

But Lynn’s son, Ryan, and his family literally live behind our back fence, and we have remained friends. Ryan serves in the bishopric in our ward and his kids and our grandsons have played together.

This week at Church, Memorial Day weekend and the fifth Sunday meeting led by the bishopric, saw Ryan give a brief presentation about using Family Search.

During the course of the class he had everyone pull out their phones and give the “Relatives Around Me” feature a spin. I always love when this happens in a Church meeting because there is always a little buzz that goes up as folks discover things they didn’t know before.

Sure enough, the entire energy in that very packed room sparked with this activity.

I was part of that buzz as I discovered that Ryan and I are fourth cousins. He too is a grandson of James Chauncey Snow. Which, of course, means that Lynn was as well.

So, as it turns out, Lynn was asking about the wrong branch of the family. How I wish he was here for me to give him a hard time about that.

Now I ask you, once again, is this just a coincidence?

You move into a new home and next door there is kin you don’t even know you had. What are the odds of that?

James Chauncey Snow was one of the many dynamic sons of Gardner Snow. As was the case with Gardner Snow, who was an early Church convert, James C. is mentioned in various bits of Church history.

He led his own pioneer company west and was assigned to live in Provo, where he was put to work as Stake President. We have written a little before about some of his places in our family history, notable in this feature titled True Love and Plural Marriage.

James C. was also married multiple times. As is the case in many of our LDS ancestors from this generation, we find family descended from a common ancestor like James and one of his wives.

Ryan and Lynn are descended from the union of James C. and his first wife, Eliza Carter. James and Eliza had 10 children together. I am descended – as was my father – from the union of James C. and Jane Cecilia Roberts, who produced 11 children.

These two families of James C. Snow has likely produced thousands of descendants at this point in time.

But here’s a curious fact, to me: Ryan in the third person in my ward who I’ve been able to identify as family through our family history work. James C. Snow lived from 1817 to 1884 – and yet here we are, two of his grandsons – living back to back here in Smithfield Utah some 140 years later.

Another neighbor and ward member we have discovered as family is Judy Fornefeld. Sister Fornefeld is a descendant of Edwin Ruthvin Westover.

Another neighbor and ward member is Merlin Humphreys, who is a grandson of Andrew Franklin Riggs. Brother Humpheys even looks like a Riggs.

I did not have time during class yesterday to explore every connection during the Relatives Around Me activity. At last look there were 21 total connections in that room and most of them were showing as 9th and 10th cousins, which means we shared ancestors from the 1600s.

But isn’t it curious enough to see that right here in Smithfield, in just the few blocks that make up our ward boundaries, we have the Westovers, Snows and Riggs all represented and connected?

Is our placement here on earth such a chance thing? Is there purpose in these, uh, coincidences?

Another thing to consider: all of us here, cousins in very close proximity, can do no more temple work on these lines. These ancestors did all of their own work or others who came before us saw that it was done before we came along.

So what then could be the purpose of us finding each other and sharing our family connections?

The business of “turning hearts” is a complex one.

Joseph taught: “And now, my dearly beloved brethren and sisters, let me assure you that these are principles in relation to the dead and the living that cannot be lightly passed over, as pertaining to our salvation. For their salvation is necessary and essential to our salvation, as Paul says concerning the fathers—that they without us cannot be made perfect—neither can we without our dead be made perfect.”

As I have pondered this over the years it strikes me that the connections I am discovering with family everywhere is essential to my understanding of the doctrine of the family. Our ancestors – those of me, of Ryan, of Judy and of Merlin – are all working on our behalf.

What does that mean? For me, it means my children and grandchildren.

These connections form bonds across the generations. They build testimony, which leads to covenants. Covenants lead to gospel living. Gospel living leads to personal salvation. Covenants lead to family exaltation.

The work of our ancestors, all on the other side, is a sacred thing and they are active indeed.

This Memorial Day weekend, as we celebrated the life of Aunt Evie and as I once again traveled with my grandsons to local cemeteries, I have once again been reminded of really how small the world is in relation to families.

I took the boys to the Logan cemetery, where they have been before. Damon is 9, Jax is 6. It’s a great activity for two very active grandsons and we have loved doing this together.

One of the graves we usually visit is that of Byron Snow, who lived his life here locally in Cache Valley. His grave is always a little tricky to find. He’s buried in his wife’s family plot. Their name is Dunn. And the Snow headstone lies flat on the ground.

Jax, who is a beginning reader, was anxious to be the one to find Uncle Byron’s grave, because “Snow” is easy for him to read. So I pointed us in the right direction and we hiked to that part of the cemetery and Jax went to work trying to find him. Soon, he did.

We placed the flowers and talked about it a few minutes. Then we took a picture.

Jax and Damon

Jax and Damon at Uncle Byron’s grave

As we started to walk back to the car we passed an older lady who was pulling flowers from the trunk of her car. If you know my grandsons you know they don’t need to know a person to talk to them. They are very friendly and quite forward.

In passing this lady Jax said, “Hey, we just found Byron Snow!”. The lady looked up, a little startled. Then, seeing Jax was really just a little guy, she smiled.

“You did?” she asked.

“Yeah,” Jax said. “I found him. He’s right over there.”

Then the lady surprised me.

“Did you know I knew Byron Snow?”

Now it was my turn to talk. “You did?”

“Yes,” she said. “He was my stake president”. Jax, hearing that turned to me and said, “Grandpa, he’s a president TOO?”

We had a delightful visit with this new friend, who seemed to thrill in her memory of President Snow. She was little at the time, and didn’t know him on a personal level, but she knew him. What a thrill it was to meet her, just because of that.

We are all learning through these connections and these coincidences.

Lynn Bates, my old neighbor who I liked to antagonize with my Christmas tree, is now on the other side.

His family is my family, at least in part.

What hand has he played in his short time on the other side in bringing our families together?

I love Lynn Bates. That sour, grumpy, surly, and beloved old neighbor is my cousin.

No wonder I love him.