Monday, April 27, 2015

“It is good to look to the past...”

It is good to look to the past to gain appreciation for the present and perspective for the future. It is good to look on the virtues of those who have gone before, to gain strength for whatever lies ahead. It is good to reflect on the work of those who labored so hard and gained so little in this world, but out of whose dreams and early plans, so well nurtured, has come a great harvest of which we are the beneficiaries. —Gordon B. Hinckley

Friday, April 24, 2015

Rachel Ivins Grant: “...the kind of religion I was looking for...”

Rachel Ridgeway Ivins Grant was from Hornerstown, New Jersey, a small community in Monmouth County. She was born in 1821. This is the story of her conversion to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. 

My parents died when I was quite young. My grandparents on both sides were Quakers, consequently I was brought up under that influence. But the silent worship of the Friends did not satisfy the cravings of my soul. I longed to hear the beautiful hymns that my mother taught to her little children even in our tender years, and the spirit often moved me to burst out in songs of praise, and it was with difficulty that I could refrain from doing so. 

At the age of sixteen years, with the consent of my relatives, I joined the Baptist church. The singing pleased me and the prayers were somewhat inspiring, but the sermons were not much more satisfactory than the none-at-all of the Quakers. I was religiously inclined but not of the long-faced variety. I thought religion ought to make people happier, and that was the kind of religion I was looking for.

About this time we heard of some strange preachers called Mormons who had come to our neighborhood. I concluded they were some of the false prophets that the Bible speaks of and I had no desire to see or hear them. Soon after I left my home in New Jersey for a visit to relatives in Philadelphia, little thinking what would transpire in my absence. The elders held meetings near our home and soon after my sister Anna and some of my cousins accepted the truth and were baptized. She was filled with the spirit of the Gospel, and when I returned she urged me to attend the meetings with her. I went to the meeting on Saturday, but when she asked me to go on Sunday I did not know whether I ought to break the Sabbath day by going to hear them or not, but through her persuasion and that of a schoolmate, who had come some distance on purpose to hear them, I finally went, but upon returning home I went to my room, knelt down and asked the Lord to forgive me for thus breaking the Sabbath day.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Philadelphia Genealogy: Getting Started

The statement may seem too trite to be true, but true it is: the place to start genealogy is with yourself. Who are you? Where are you? How did you get to where you are? Can you prove your own existence? Do you have a birth certificate, family photos, and biography, however brief?

Once you've started to collect information, find a way to keep and organize your materials. You can use a genealogy program or app (FamilySearch compatible programs) or use an online tree such as FamilySearch Family Tree, Ancestry, findmypast, or MyHeritage. Memberships to all of those are free to members of the Church

Decide how you will convert paper files to digital. Either scan or photograph documents and pictures and add them to your family tree. Many Family History Centers have digital scanners that will scan images directly into FamilySearch Family Tree.

Once you have a system, start working back generation by generation on the line you're investigating, gathering documents about entire families: parents and all children. If you trace a single line back, grandparent to grandparent, and ignore siblings and in-laws, you're going to miss the information that will help you discover the history of your family.

When you're doing genealogy, what information do you include? All of it.

Here is the Linton family. I have done the preliminary work and situated the family in Philadelphia in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, and it's time to start looking at the Philadelphia area sources. 

I will be working on the Linton family in FamilySearch Family Tree and Ancestry, and will show how to use both programs in future posts. 

If you're following the series and working on your own genealogy here's an assignment:

Choose a genealogical program or online family tree or trees. Collect information about yourself and your parents and grandparents and add it to the family tree and choose which ancestors you want to investigate.

Philadelphia Genealogy: index to all articles in this series

Monday, April 20, 2015

“The past is a force that is alive…”

The past is a force that is alive, and, like all living things, growing and maturing, yet preserving a pattern that can be recognized and defined. From the past, we inherit not only patterns and standards, but we inherit vision, insight, strength and courage. The past has passed on to us, as part of our heritage, its unfulfilled dreams and desires, and it bides us keep faith with it in these, as well as in other things, for these, too, are a part of the contribution to advancement and progress.

(Belle Spafford, Relief Society Annual Conference Proceedings, General Session of the Relief Society Conference, Thursday afternoon, October 4, 1945, CHL CR 11 3/60, by way of the Facebook group I Love Mormon Women's History. The picture is the Relief Society building in Salt Lake City in 2014.)

Friday, April 17, 2015

A Quaker Garden on the Old Brandywine

Just a short-short story this time:
J.E. Malan...made five trips back to Florence and each time he brought back, securely wrapped, a variety of seeds for the flower garden. His pride was the hollyhock. They were one bit that reminded him of the Quaker garden his people left behind on the old Brandywine in Pennsylvania. Many times my grandmother has been called from her busy round of household tasks to answer the door and have someone with eyes filled with tears ask to be allowed to sit among [the] hollyhocks...

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Philadelphia Genealogy: An Introduction

With the explosion in online digital resources, genealogy is a different experience than it was just ten or twenty years ago. This is not your great-aunt Bertha's genealogy.

The process is the same:
  1. start with yourself and identify what you know about your family,
  2. decide what you want to learn about your family,
  3. select records to search,
  4. obtain and search the record, and
  5. use the information.
But steps three and four are dramatically different than in previous generations. Many resources are now available in just seconds at FamilySearch, Ancestry, FindMyPast, MyHeritage, and AmericanAncestors. (These are the five programs available free to members of the Church. If you are a member of the Church and haven't signed up for the services, visit Partner Access.) 

The collections at these websites are expanding almost daily. FamilySearch is currently working with the Historical Society of Pennsylvania to digitize parts omyherf its collection. (I hope to have more about the project later.)

How do you use all the genealogical resources? What steps do you need to take?

In the coming months, the weekly series Philadelphia Genealogy will walk through the research process step by step, using the example of the Linton family. The Lintons immigrated to Philadelphia in the mid-nineteenth century. One of the family members, Samuel Linton, whose story was featured here last week, joined the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and moved to Utah, but the rest of the family remained in Philadelphia.

We will use online resources, highlight local collections, visit cemeteries, find historical maps, and see what the story of this family can tell us about life for immigrants, religion in the city, peripatetic Philadelphia cemeteries, local histories, and the feeling of connection to people and places.

Whether or not you have Philadelphia ancestry, this series will be useful for anyone interested in genealogy or family history, since the process of research is the same for most types of genealogy.

In the meantime, here are a few guides and wikis for Pennsylvania and the Philadelphia area:
Here are guides for researching some of the ethnic groups in the Philadelphia area: 
The beautiful 1847 Philadelphia map used here and as the background for this blog was found at David Rumsey Maps, one of the websites I will feature in this series. The map is a good example of early lithography and was considered the most successful of all the Robert P. Smith maps. The pictures in the lower corners are Girard College and Laurel Hill Cemetery.

All Installments in This Series
Getting Started
Family Records
Online Trees
Using search engines

Monday, April 13, 2015

William Appleby: New Jersey's Pioneer Poet

William Ivins Appleby (1811 Egypt, Monmouth, New Jersey - 1870 Salt Lake City, Salt Lake, Utah Territory) lived in Recklesstown (now Chesterfield), Burlington, New Jersey, when he joined the Church.

Don't miss the post Kent Larsen wrote about Appleby:
Lines suggested by reflections on Joseph Smith
Besides his occasional literary series at Times & Seasons, Kent Larsen wrote a blog called "Mormons in New York City," which has been an inspiration. Here's his brief biography of Appleby: 
This poem, written 3 years after Joseph Smith’s martyrdom, is by William I. Appleby, a New Jersey native born in 1811. When he joined the Church in 1840 he was already a Justice of the Peace and Town Clerk in Recklesstown, New Jersey. Appleby jumped into the Church with both feet. He travelled to Nauvoo in 1841, met Joseph Smith, and returned home anxious to serve. He built up branches in central New Jersey, and was eventually named president of the Eastern States Mission, first temporarily in 1847, before he took his family to Utah in 1849, and then later returning to the East as the permanent mission president and immigration agent from 1865-1868.

Thursday, April 9, 2015

William Penn's Prayer for Philadelphia

The 27-ton bronze statue of William Penn atop City Hall is one of the distinctive landmarks in the city of Philadelphia.

The son of an English father and Dutch mother, William Penn joined the Religious Society of Friends (Quaker) in his 20s. After several tumultuous years for the faith, Penn told King Charles II that the Quakers would leave England in return for a large land grant in America. Influential Quakers purchased West Jersey and East Jersey—New Jersey was not always divided into north and south as it is now—and then Charles II granted Penn 45,000 square miles of land with all powers to govern, except the power to engage in war, and named the territory after Penn's father, with sylvania being the Latin for "forest" or "woods."

The rest of William's Penn's life was complicated; politics and land grants can prove difficult bedfellows in any time; but he is rightly honored as one of the influential founders of the United States, not just the city of Philadelphia and Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. His legacy survives in our ideas of religious liberty, education, an amendable constitution, and, not least, the city he founded on the Delaware River. 

As he left Pennsylvania for England in 1684, he wrote a moving letter to the friends and associates he was leaving behind. An excerpt from the letter is engraved on a plaque at City Hall and is known as William Penn's Prayer for Philadelphia.
And Thou, Philadelphia, the virgin settlement of this province—named before thou wert born—what love, what care, what service and what travail there have been to bring thee forth and to preserve thee from such as would abuse and defile thee. 
Oh that thou mayest be kept from the evil that would overwhelm thee; that faithful to the God of thy Mercies, in the life of righteousness, thou mayest be preserved to the end. 
My soul prays to God for thee that thou mayest stand in the day of trial, that thy children may be blest and thy people saved by His power.

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Stephen Fleming on the Church in the Delaware Valley

Stephen Fleming is a talented young academic, and one of the few who has done significant work on the history of the Church in the Philadelphia area.

He wrote an article for the Mormon Historic Sites Foundation, available here:
Discord in the City of Brotherly Love: The Story of Early Mormonism in Philadelphia
Another article is not available online, but may be purchased.
The Delaware Valley and the Success of Early Mormonism

Monday, April 6, 2015

An Irish Immigrant Joins the Church, 1854

Linton family reunion, Utah, c. 1908. Samuel Linton is sitting in the center.
Samuel Linton was born in Ireland in 1828. His family moved to St. Johns, New Brunswick, Canada when Samuel was a child. Here he tells the story of his conversion to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. He left Philadelphia directly for Utah, where he helped rescue the Martin and Willie Handcart Companies in 1856.

I remained with my father until I was twenty (20), when I went to Philadelphia, with the approbation of my parents. I took passage on a Brigantine loaded with spare timber for New York which I helped to unload. It took us four days. I then took a train for Philadelphia where there was a job waiting for me. I was among strangers, but my friends were very kind to me.

Thursday, April 2, 2015

An Unsigned Letter to Edward Hunter

Here's a brief post from Stephen Fleming on Juvenile Instructor about Edward Hunter (1793-1883) the third Presiding Bishop of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, born in Newtown Square, Delaware, Pennsylvania, and a noted citizen of Chester County:
An Unsigned Letter to Edward Hunter: Any Guesses Who and When?
The topic mentioned in the blog post, dissension in the Church upon Joseph Smith's death, was an important issue for the Church in Philadelphia. More about that later. More later as well about Edward Hunter and his family.

Stephen Fleming is probably the foremost expert of the history of the Church in this region, and I'll review some of his other work in the future.

The picture of Edward Hunter, a C. R. Savage photograph, is from Wikipedia, as originally found in the L. Tom Perry Special Collections, Harold B. Lee Library, Brigham Young University, MSS P 24, item 225.