Rootstech 2016 Giveaway (3-Day Pass)

Yes, I’m about to offer a free pass to the 2016 Rootstech 3-day conference. But first I’d like to tell a little story about my last experience with Rootstech.

I’ve been working on genealogy since I was a teenager. It was right after Personal Ancestral File went from low-tech black screen and white (or green, in some cases) words to “high-tech” blue screen with white words. I was just getting my feet wet when I came across some fascinating tidbits.

First, Benjamin Franklin was my great-great-g-g-g-g-g-whatever grandpa (found out later he was actually a g-g-g-g uncle, but still…), and second, that I had royalty in my family line–namely, Prince Hathaway. It was only after much searching that Prince Hathaway wasn’t a prince at all. Prince was his name, and after further misleadings, I learned that Prince was down a different line than mine–that we’d been following the wrong line.

Anyhow, I’ve learned a lot since then, and have come to discover that every person in my family line is fascinating. They were pioneers, shop owners, parents of a dozen kids, farmers, miners, toothbrush makers, people of faith, people of music, people of industry, people of creativity, people of passion, people of faith. Whatever they made of their life, every tidbit of information has become like gold to me.

My first time attending Rootstech a few years ago, I was doing a presentation on self-publishing your family history. The class went well, but the moment things got really interesting was when a man approached me after class and introduced himself to me. He shared my last name, and as I thought about it, I realized we’d conversed online. Kent and I are something like 3rd cousins twice removed–I haven’t figured it out exactly, but Kent was a gold-mine of information about the branch of my family that includes Prince Hathaway (which, I might add, turns out I probably AM related to–it just keeps getting more exciting as we go along!).

Kent had even done DNA testing, visited the birthplaces of our shared ancestors, and spent literally decades in research on the individuals that leave the most mysterious shadows on my family tree. Never could I have expected that.

We actually spoke several times throughout the conference, and both he and his wife Jaelynne were both fascinating and informative to speak with.

I was also interested in the booths representing the plethora of websites, companies, organizations, guilds, and technologies available to family historians and amatuer genealogists.

The beauty of the whole experience for me was the discovery of how many allies we have to our family history efforts. Sometimes the hours behind screens, old books, and endless wanderings up and down aisles and websites can feel quite lonely, but that’s only an illusion. There are so  many people and resources ready to help. There are even people researching branches of your family history already, and never in history has it been easier to team up with them.

Okay, so you heard my story, now you get the goods. I’m excited to announce that I am a 2016 Rootstech Ambassador, which basically means that in exchange for my helping to get the word out about the conference, I get to offer someone a free 3-day pass to Rootstech 2016. So here are the rules:

  • Share this link on your favorite social media (Facebook, Twitter, blog, whatever)
  • Comment here, sharing something about an ancestor of yours.

I’m going to trust you on the first rule, so by commenting about an ancestor of yours, I’ll be assuming that you have shared a link to this contest. The commenters will be entered into a drawing to win. That way you can know how good your chances are by counting the number of comments. If you’re the only commenter, you’ll win by default. Seriously, folks, you’ve got nothing to lose–other than three days of your otherwise boring life to an exciting, fulfilling, fun, and incredible family history experience.

Here’s the real clincher. You have ONE week. The comments will be tallied one week from today (September 21), so get sharing and typing!

Praying for Lindbergh

One of the projects I’m working on is compiling the autobiography of my grandma, Leola Jex Freshwater Curtis, who died when I was 13. She’s a hero of mine, and I’m touched by her writings. She wrote enough stories and letters about her life to fill a book, but never compiled it into one work. I’ve already hit 50,000 words, and there’s a lot more to compile. Anyhow, here’s a sample she shares about the night Charles Lindbergh made his historic flight in a one-man plane. She was a young girl at the time, and was staying with her Grandma, Louisa Watling Jex.


I was at Grandma’s house the night Lindbergh flew across the ocean. I still remember her prayer that night. As she asked a blessing on the food, she also talked to the Lord about watching over this brave boy, alone over the great ocean. “Please help the young flier Lindbergh to get across the ocean in his plane,” she said, “and help him to return safely.”

I can still see the tears rolling down her cheeks. I marveled that she could care so much about someone she didn’t even know.

I felt so sure Heavenly Father would watch over that plane, even if he had to reach down from heaven to hold the plane up in case the pilot got sleepy.

That night Grandma made me a little nest on my side of the feather bed. She always made a little round place just for me, so I wouldn’t fall off the bed and so I would not roll onto her side. Then she explained to me how big the ocean was and told me it had taken three weeks for them to cross it in a boat, and here was this boy all alone with no one to keep him awake. We talked awhile about how hard it would be to guide a plane when it was dark, with no lights, and all that water under him. If he went to sleep the plane would fall in the water, and there would be no one to get him out. He had to stay awake many hours and there was no one there to help him, or to wake him if he got sleepy.
“He’s such a boy,” Grandma said.

Nobody could have been happier than we were when we got the news that Lindy had landed safely. I brought in the paper that showed him getting out of his plane. All the people were crowded around so glad to see him. That night when it was my turn to say the prayer, Grandma said, “Remember dear, to thank Heavenly Father for taking that boy safely across the ocean.”

I remembered. I knew Grandma’s prayer helped him, and the prayers of many others.

Getting Past Genealogist’s Block

Most of you have probably heard of writer’s block: it’s the point where a writer suddenly doesn’t want to write, and would rather use a pen to initiate the gag reflex than write. Well, family historians sometimes get genealogist’s block. So what do you do if this is you?

Jenni and I (and Lunch Bucket, Tootles, and Squeaker) attended a family history fair this last week. I also just finished the 12 week family history course in church. I am therefore… an expert.

Yeah, whatever.

But there was one thing that stuck out to me from both that I think is a good lesson, especially to those who want to do family history work but get terribly confused, frustrated, or just keep hitting brick walls. It’s simply this: find a niche.

Find one aspect of doing family history that really excites you. If you love writing the names on pedigree charts, do that, and do it well. If you love researching the places, focus on that. If you love doing the temple work, focus on that. Chances are, if you really work hard on your niche, it will get you working hard enough at it that you will find the other aspects of family history creeping in anyway.

My niche is the stories. I LOVE finding the stories. That may seem like a cop-out, like I’m neglecting the important stuff, but here’s how my nichefication came about. I’ve loved family history and have been doing research for about fifteen years now. I took the Family History on Computers Institute course shortly before my mission, and became familiar with the big chunk of IGI disks and other databases that were being used at the time. I became proficient in PAF and explored my ancestral lines up and down often.

Up until about two years ago, I would always, without fail, run into every brick wall imaginable. It was as though there was some invisible barrier that made every ounce of effort I put into family history completely futile. It was about two years ago that I reached a crossroads. I was terrible frustrated with all my efforts, and having nothing – NOTHING to show for all the work I had ever done. I was close to throwing in the towel and resolving to wait until retirement. But as a last desperate attempt to save my interest in family history (which by then was waning, of course), I decided to bag all the dates, charts, and “boring” stuff and focus entirely on the one thing about family history that I absolutely loved: the stories.

That opened a new universe for me. Suddenly I was bombarded with story after story, journal after journal, history after history, of the lives of my ancestors. Already I have a 300 page document of stories I’ve collected from Internet sources, library books, and various sources all over. In studying the stories, I found people I never knew existed, and have even found entire lines of family history that go many generations beyond what’s on the new familysearch site or even my own PAF files.

I’m not suggesting everyone change your work to searching for the stories. What I’m saying is find a niche that works for you. Jenni loves organizing. Some people love finding photos. Find the aspect of family history that works for you – that really gets you excited, and work hard at it. In doing it, you’ll find things that you wouldn’t have found otherwise.

Writing to Make People Happy

Probably my biggest role model as a writer is my Grandma Curtis. She never wrote a full-length book that I know of, but she did publish a few articles in local magazines and newspapers. I think the thing that influences me the most about her writing was her passion for doing it. The only thing that surpassed her passion for reading and writing was her family. I suppose it was her family that kept her from becoming a professional writer. Some today would have said that her family was a distraction from her writing – and maybe it was. But there are things greater than writing, and things greater than the fulfillment of dreams, and family is one of them.

Anyway, here’s a little snippet from her life history:

On May 7, 1920 my brother David Irvin was born. The Lady that came to help mom, a Mrs. Sorensen, wrote a poem and read it in Sunday School. It went something like this, “The father’s eyes did light with joy… when first he learned it was a boy.” She game Mom a copy of the poem, and Mom read it to everyone who came to see us. She loved poetry. Maybe it was way back then that I first decided I’d like to read and write magic kind of words to make people happy… to be a writer.

At first I didn’t take much note to this, except that it was one of the first times she felt like she wanted to write. Then I re-read the last part. She wanted to write the “kind of words to make people happy.”

That got me thinking about the rest of her writings. Throughout, there is always an element of innocence, of an almost naïve optimism that some today would criticize as amateur and childish. But I’m not sure her intent was to impress the writing community. I think she was living by her motto of writing to make people happy.

What a powerful motivation! What a great approach to writing! I wish more authors wrote to try to make people happy.

Think about it. Why do you write? What is your motivation?

Hannah Knight Libby (Carter)

Hannah Knight Libby is my great, great, great, great great grandmother. Here’s everything I have so far on her life. If you know of any other biographical, genealogical, or historical info about her, I’d LOVE to get it!

Mother Hannah Knight Libby Carter

(A Memorial prepared in 1941 by a group of her descendants)

Biography of

Hannah Knight Libby Carter

Hannah Knight Libby Carter was born October 9, 1786, at Scarborough on the coast of Maine. She was the daughter of Captain Zebulon Libby and Lydia Andrews. Her father, born about 1757, as a young man served three years in the Revolution and was afterwords a captain in the militia. He married Lydia Andrews, daughter of Deacon Amos and Ann (Seavey) Andrews on 19 of October, 1780. He died 6 December, 1836, and his widow on 9 December, 1838. They had 11 children, Hannah being the fourth child. Her brother, Amos, married, but his wife died a few years later. He then enlisted in the American army for one year and lost his life at the Battle of Plattsburgh in Canada, 26 October, 1831, during the war then being waged between Canada and the United States.

Practically all the ancestors of Hannah Knight Libby on both her father’s and mother’s lines have been traced back to the immigrant ancestor in America. The Libby genealogy was traced many years ago by a young man of 18 naturally inclined to genealogy who conceived the idea of tracing all his ancestors back to the immigrant to America. The first of the Libby family in Maine he found was John Libby who came from Sraodataire, near Canterbury, Kent, England. He, with others, settled at an early day in what later became known as Scarborough. There they suffered many attacks from the Indians, had many stirring adventures, and a number of their families were killed or carried into captivity.

Lydia Andrews, her mother, was a granddaughter of Hannah Knight, and for her she named her daughter, the subject of this sketch. Another maternal ancestor was May Ingersol who was also the progenitor of Laura (Ingersol) Sabord, the famous Canadian heroine of the War of 1812.

… On March 2, 1805, Hannah Knight Libby was married to John Carter. He was born in Scarborough, Maine, the son of Richard Carter and Jane McKenney the 17th of May, 1782. To them 11 children were born, the first three in Scarborough, and the rest in Newry, and as recorded by Phillip L. Carter, one of the children:

Dominicus born 21 June 1806

Almira born 3 January 1808

Hannah born 28 June 1809

William Furlsbury born 1 May 1811

Phillip Libby born 17 January 1813

John Harrison born 13 January 1815, died 11 April 1815

John Harrison born 6 October 1816

Eliza Ann born 28 September 1818

Richard born 8 August 1820

Mary Jane born 13 March 1823

Rufus born 9 October 1825

Nine of these children grew to maturity and had large families whose descendants now are numbered by thousands and may be found through the West and in practically all parts of the nation.

Hannah Carter was a refined, cultured woman. The family belonged to the Methodist Church. In 1834, Mormon elders brought to them in their home in Maine the gospel. The following account is written by Eliza Ann Carter Snow, daughter of Hannah.

I first embraced Mormonism in 1834 in the town of Newry, Oxford County, state of Maine. The first Mormon elders I ever heard preach were John F. Boynton and Daniel Bean. They came to my father’s house and my mother lay very sick. The doctors had given her up. The elders told her they were preaching a new doctrine and they told her that she could be healed if she could have faith, that they would hold hands on her. They did lay hands on her and said, “In the name of the Lord Jesus, be thou made whole.” And she was made whole and arose and called for her clothes and said, “I must go to the water. She walked one-half mile and was baptized in the river called Bear River and was confirmed. And there was a large branch raised up in that place.

John Carter did not join the Church. When his wife was healed he said, “That beats Doctor Bills,” but he never joined the Church.

Of the nine children, Dominicus, Hannah (who had married Aaron York), William F., John, Eliza Ann, and Richard were all baptized, most of them in 1834. Two daughters and one son never became members.

Responding to the spirit of gathering which rested upon them, those who had embraced Mormonism left Maine in 1836 and traveled all the way to Kirtland, Ohio, then to [the] headquarters of the Church. They attended the temple, took part in the wonderful meetings, and joined the Saints in singing the songs of Zion.

The next year an apostate movement arose and John F. Boynton, the missionary who had brought the gospel to them in Maine and had since became one of the First Quorum of Apostles, became one of the bitterest and most violent leaders against the Prophet. So intense was the persecution that those who remained staunch and faithful were forced to leave for Far West, Missouri.

Early in 1838 William F. Carter and Eliza Ann, who had recently married James C. Snow, set out together for Missouri driving an ox team. The graphic story of that trying journey is told by Eliza Ann.

It was cold weather and we suffered much with the cold, but we traveled until we came to Terre Haute, Indiana, and one of our oxen died, leaving us with one ox, so we were obliged to stop. We had no money, no house to go in, and we got the privilege of going into a horse stable and I cleaned it out and was glad to get into a place out of the storms. After stopping in Indiana a few weeks, Hyrum Smith’s company came along and he being acquainted with me, said to me, “If you will ride in my baggage wagon, I will take you along and you can drive the team and the men can walk.” I said I will do so.

We traveled until we came to Jacksonville, Illinois. There one of Hyrum’s horses died and he had to leave us. There was a branch of the Church nearby, but he did not leave us penniless among strangers, without home or friends, but he called for the president of the branch and told him to let Brother Snow preside over the branch as a missionary and to feed and cloth us until the Kirtland Camp company came along in the fall, and he did so. The president’s name was __errick, the brother that was killed at the Hann’s [Haun’s] Mill Massacre in Missouri. While we were there in the branch I looked out and, behold, there came my brother, William, with the one ox that we had left behind. He had made a harness and tackled him up, and the one ox carried his wife and three children to Missouri, and when I saw him I rejoiced to see him have so much faith, but the Gentiles made all manner of fun of him. “There goes a d___ Mormon with his ox.” But he got there just the same; and Father Joseph Smith said it should be in the annals of his history.

After that the Kirtland camp came along and we went to Missouri with them. We went into an old log house that we could poke a cat out between the logs and there my first child was born; it was the 30th day of October in the year 1838, Sarah Jane (her child), who became the wife of Marshall Kingman and afterward wife of President Joseph Young. It was cold and snowed every day and the mob came into Far West the very day of her birth, and we were much excited. I could not keep the midwife long enough to dress my child. Sister Diantha Billings was her name, well known among our people. The mob was blowing horns and firing guns all night long. We were without bread or anything to make bread of, but by the help of the Lord we were preserved by the brethren giving up their arms and promising to leave Far West. We left for Illinois in the month of February of the following year [1839]. There were three families to one wagon and one span of old horses, we took turns in walking. There was Brother Winslow Farr and wife, Garner Snow and wife, and James Snow and wife. We traveled all day and at night lay down at a campfire, as we had no tent.

In the famous Kirtland Camp which traveled from Kirtland to Far West were Dominicus Carter with six in his family, Aaron York with four in his family, and John Carter with two. Dominicus, on July 18, [1838], was appointed commissary of the camp. Once when three of the camp members were unjustly thrown into prison, Dominicus Carter voluntarily returned and stayed with them in prison until their release was obtained.

On August 11, [1838] in the fore part of the night, Sarah Emily, daughter of Dominicus Carter aged about two years and three months, died. Hers was the fourth death of the journey. Her funeral was held at two o’clock the next day.

But still further sorrows awaited him as the camp neared Far West. Every day they saw numerous men of the community take up arms and go to join the mob militia to drive the Mormons from the state of Missouri or exterminate them.

Someone suggested that a member of the camp turn back and not run into certain danger, but this proposal was unanimously rejected. The camp arrived at their destination July 4th, [1838]. Persecution and massacres were a frequent occurrence and mobs preyed upon the community.

During this time, Lydia, the wife of Dominicus Carter, was confined. When the baby was but five days old she was ordered by a mob with blackened faces to vacate her home by midnight, as they were going to burn it. She went into a nearby woods with her children and remained there through the night. There was a cold heavy rainfall, and as a result of this exposure so soon after the birth of her baby, she took cold and passed away shortly afterward, October 23, [1838]. Her surviving children were scattered among the relatives.

In February, 1839, the Saints were driven from Missouri. The leader of one group was Isaac Morley. He found a suitable spot for settlement near Lima, Illinois, where four walls of a log cabin had been set up. He moved it while it had neither roof, floor, or windows. Other families joined him, and soon a prosperous community had arisen, known as Morley’s Settlement. It was also called _____.

In the space of five years fertile farms had been developed and the community was a vertible hive of industry. On June 15, 1844, a mob of 2,000 men headed by bitter anti-Mormon Levi Williams, came upon the Saints at Morley’s Settlement and ordered them to make a choice of one of three alternatives. First they were to take up arms, join the mob and go with them to Nauvoo and help them to arrest the Prophet Joseph Smith and 17 other leaders. [Second], they must abandon their homes and go to Nauvoo, or third, give up their arms and remain neutral. They were given until eight o’clock to decide and told that if they did not join the mob they would “smell thunder.”

These brave and devoted Church members did not join the mob nor remain neutral, so they were compelled to leave their homes and flee to Nauvoo for safety. The Prophet heard their story and sent messengers to report this outrage to Governor Ford. Before any action was taken, however, the martyrdom of the Prophet and Hyrum occurred on the 27th [June, 1844], at Carthage Jail.

In the months that followed, the situation became more peaceful and the group returned to their homes in Morley’s Settlement, and peace reigned until September 10th, 1845, when another mob bent on destruction came upon the settlement and for eight days and nights fired upon the settlers, burned between 70 or 80 homes, all their stacks of grain, shops, and other buildings. The inhabitants were ordered out into the cold night during a drenching rain, and the aged, sick, and little ones suffered intensely, and many deaths occurred.

Edmund Durfee, one of the leaders of the community, was shot by the mob.

Brigham Young and the leaders advised them to abandon their homes and possessions to the mob, but to save as many of their families as they could and come to Nauvoo. Teams were sent from Nauvoo to assist in bringing them in.

In February, 1846, the exodus from Nauvoo began. Hannah Libby and her husband, John [Carter], had moved to Nauvoo as early as 1842 when they signed a deed in Hancock County purchasing land at Morley’s Settlement. She had received a patriarchal blessing from Isaac Morley in 1844.

At last the day of separation came. John Carter persistently refused to join the Church. Hannah, his wife, elected to come west with her people and her children who had embraced Mormonism. Before leaving Nauvoo, she was sealed for time and eternity to Isaac Morley.

They traveled westward with the body of the Saints as far as Council Bluffs. When the call for the Mormon Battalion came, Richard Carter, her youngest son, enrolled and was mustered into service July 16, 1846, at Council Bluffs. He served as a private in company “E” of the Mormon Battalion, commanded by Captain Higgins. On November 19, 1846, he died in service on the march to California, and was buried by his comrades at Puertelo, four miles south of Socow, New Mexico, on the Rio Grande, leaving a wife and two children. On April 12, 1852, at Council Bluffs, Iowa, his wife died of smallpox, and the children were brought across the plains by their aunt, Eliza Ann Carter Snow.

It is said that Dominicus Carter would have been one of first company of 1847 pioneers, but being an expert blacksmith, he was requested by the leaders to remain at Council Bluffs and help prepare the immigrant trains for the long journey.

He crossed the plains in 1851 accompanied by his aged mother, and they arrived in Salt Lake City 20 June, 1851. Shortly afterward he went to Provo, and in 1852 was selected as counselor to George A. Smith who was called to preside over the settlement. This position he occupied for years. The first president of Utah Stake was James C. Snow, son-in-law of Hannah Carter. In 1852, William F. Carter, another son, was appointed to a mission in India. He bore a letter of recommendation signed by the First Presidency, which read:

This certifies that the bearer, William F. Carter, is in full faith and fellowship with the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and by the very authorities of said Church, has been duly appointed a mission to Hindoostan to preach the gospel and administer in all the ordinances thereof pertaining to his office. And we invite all men to give heed to his teachings and counselings as a man of God sent to open to them the door of life and salvation; and assist him in his travels in whatsoever things he may have need. And we pray God, the Eternal Father, to bless Elder W. F. Carter and all who receive him and administer to his comfort, with the blessings of heaven and earth for time and all eternity. In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.




He was also given the following letter of introduction.

To whom it may concern. Know ye that I, Brigham Young, governor of said territory in the United States of America, and I am personally acquainted with the bearer, William F. Carter, and know him be a respectable, high-minded, and honorable man.

And as Mr. Carter proposes visiting Asia on a mission, I cheerfully recommend him to the protection and the respect of all sovereigns, ministers of state, magistrates, and police authorities, and to the esteem of all honorable men among whom he may sojourn.

In token of which I have hereunto subscribed my name and caused the seal of said territory to be affixed at Great Salt Lake City, the first day of October, 1852, and of the independence of the United States of America the twenty-seventh by the governor.



Appointed by the Governor secretary protem.

During this mission he traveled completely around the world. He returned in 1853, visiting on his way back relatives in Maine and Illinois.

In June, 1852, Hannah Carter dictated the following message to her son, Dominicus, showing her deep interest in temple work for her kindred dead:

By request of your mother I am writing to you. She wishes to communicate to you some of her wishes with regard to her deceased relatives. She is well at present as common, but as life is uncertain, if it is not her privilege to live in this world to do the work for her parents and relatives that have gone the way of all the earth, she wants to leave this work so that it may be done and done right. She wishes to be ready to go when she is called. This is the way we all should leave.

Then followed a detailed list of relatives she remembered for whom temple work was to be done.

She remained at Provo during the time of the Echo Canyon War, and when the body of the saints moved south to Provo and adjoining towns. She lived in her later years at the home of Dominicus Carter. Those who remember her describe her as short in stature with a round face, impressive blue eyes, and refined and dignified bearing. She frequently wore a lace cap and was very prim and neat. She was well educated and always very industrious, keeping her knitting close by and working even in her advanced years.

Almost the last glimpse we have of her was obtained from a letter written on March 5, 1867, by her son, Dominicus, to his brother, Phillip Carter, living on the site of Morley’s Settlement in Illinois. Said he,

“Mother is still alive but very feeble. I don’t think she can live long. She is getting old– rising eighty. If you should want to see her before she should die you better come this spring and not wait till the railroad is finished. Mother wants me to say to you that she does not expect to live long on this earth and she wants that you should prepare to meet her in the world to come. She says the path she has pursued for the last 30 years is the only path by which you can enjoy her society in the world to come and be accepted of the Lord.

“Myself, John, Hannah, and Eliza Ann live in Provo City. William and Aaron live 25 miles from here at a place called Santaquin. Aaron did live in the Cotton County but has moved back. It was too hot a country for him. Aaron’s health is very poor, he is afflicted with rheumatism.

“I have quit smithing and gone to farming, my eyes are so weak. I have a large shop rented. Blacksmithing is a very good business here. Brother John works at the business about half the time.

“Now Phillip, the world is in a bad situation and they don’t know what the matter is. Therefore, I will honestly wish to give a little advise to my blood kin, whether kindly received or not to come out of Babylon or confusion and be with us from the trash of the nations. Yours respectfully, Dominicus Carter.”

Her death had occurred shortly before November 2, 1867, for on this day a letter written by Mary E. Whiting from Springville to a relative in Manti states “Mother Carter is dead.” Her funeral was held at the grave side in the Provo Cemetery. The day was very cold. Dominicus Carter spoke at the funeral of his mother and told how faithful she had always been. And he said she should come forth in the first resurrection.

The true spirit of her life mission is summarized in the inspired words of the Patriarch who pronounced upon her and her posterity this marvelous blessing:

“The heavens and the earth are stored with blessings for thee and thy posterity after thee. Thou hast been faithful in the day of trial. The principles of virtue are planted within thy bosom. The last day shall be thy best days. As the desires of thy heart shall be. Thy day shall be lengthened even until thou are an lawful heir and by proxy thou shalt adimmster and be blessed in thy administration in behalf of thine progenitors.”

By Patriarchal Blessing–May 5, 1844 Book 14.

On Memorial Day, May 30, 1941, 155 years after her birth, 90 years after she crossed the plains, and 74 years after her death 90 members of her posterity held a memorial service in her honor, sang again the songs that were sung at her funeral and listened to a sketch of her rich life story. Then once again they gathered at her grave side and dedicated a bronze marker as a Iasting memorial to her name and noble character. It bore this inscription beside the motif of a covered wagon.


OCTOBER 9,1786 – NOVEMBER 1867


Hannah Knight Libby Carter Biography
Photocopy of typescript. Grammar has been standardized.

Almost the last glimpse we have of her was obtained from letter written on March 5, 1867, by her son, Dominicus, to his brother, Phillip Carter, living on the site of Morley’s Settlement in Illinois. Said he:

Mother is still alive, but very feeble. I don’t think she can live long. She is getting old, rising nightly. If you should want to see her before she should die, you better come this spring and not wait till the railroad is finished. Mother wants me to say to you that she does not expect to live long on this earth and she wants that you should prepare to meet her in the world to come. She says the path she has pursued for the last 30 years is the only path by which you can enjoy her society in the world to come and be accepted of the Lord.

Myself, John, Hannah, and Eliza Ann live in Provo City. William and Aaron live 25 miles from here at a place called Santaquin. Aaron did live in the cotton county but has moved back. It was too hot in the country for him. Aaron’s health is very poor, he is afflicted with rheumatism.

I have quit smithing and gone to farming. My eyes are so weak. I have a large shop rented. Blacksmithing is a very good business here. Brother John works at the business about half the time.

Now, Phillip, the world is in a bad situation and though I don’t know what the matter is, therefore, I will honestly wish to give a little advice to my blood kin, whether kindly received or not, to come out of Babylon or confusion and come with us from the crash of the nations.

Yours respectfully,


Her death had occurred shortly before November 2, 1867, for on this day a letter written by Mary E. Whiting from Springville to a relative in Manti states, “Mother Carter is dead.” Her funeral was held at the graveside in the Provo cemetery. The day was very cold.

Dominicus Carter spoke at the funeral of his mother and told how faithful she had always been. She had always been a true wife, had always held the priesthood, and he said she should come forth in the first resurrection.

The true spirit of her life mission is summarized by the inspired words of the patriarch who pronounced upon her and her posterity this marvelous blessing:

The heavens and earth are stored with blessings for thee and thy posterity after thee. Thou hast been faithful in the day of trial. The principles of virtue are planted within thy bosom. The last day shall be thy best days, as the desires of thy heart shall be. Thy day shall be lengthened even until thou are in lawful heir and by proxy thou shalt administer and be blessed in thy administration in behalf of thine progenitors.

By Patriarchal Blessing—May 5, 1844, Book 14

On Memorial Day, May 30, 1941. 155 years after her birth, 90 years after she crossed the plains, and 74 years after her death, 90 members of her posterity held a memorial service in her honor, sang again the songs that were sung at her funeral, and listened to a sketch of her rich life story. Then once again they gathered at her graveside and dedicated a bronze marker as a lasting memorial to her name and noble character. It bore this inscription (beside the motif of a covered wagon):

Hannah Knight Libby Carter

October 9, 1786-November, 1867.

“Faithful in the day of Trial.”


  1. Carter Pioneers of Provo, Utah compiled by Arthur C. Coleman; pgs 137 – 145
  2. Writings of Early Latter-day Saints by Various authors
  4. Hannah Knight Libby Carter, biography. Photocopy of Transcript

The Diary of William H. Freshwater

Here’s the diary of William H. Freshwater that I mentioned in my last post.

. . . May 8, 1862: I, in company with my father, William Freshwater; mother, Martha Freshwater and sister, Valora L. Freshwater, and Hertford, England, my native city and country with several other Latter-day Saints, all en route for Utah, U.S. A. We arrived Watford at 1:30 p.m., went to W. Kaffal and stayed all night. We went in a cart from Hertford to Watford. I am not quite ten years old.

10th. We left Watford at 8 a.m. by railroad. We passed through several tunnels, in one of them Mother fainted. We had a good trip to Liverpool where we arrived at 6 p.m. We took a berth on a sailing ship named William Tapscott which was bound for New York, America. This ship was chartered to carry the Mormon emigration this year.

13th. The ship raised anchor and left the dock with seven hundred and eighty five Mormons on board and went into the River [p.248] Mersey. There were thirty more Saints came on board while we lay there. Two accidents occurred today; one, a boy fell from the main deck to the lower and broke his leg very bad; the other, a woman in coming down the hatchway, slipped and spilled some boiling water on the face of a child. There were twelve more came aboard this morning. The vessel was towed out of the river by steam tug into the Irish Sea. The weather is beautiful and warm.

15th. A few of the passengers are a little seasick. There were two boys found in the hold and Captain Preston is going to make them work their passage across the sea.

June 8th. (Witson Sunday) In the morning, wind very fair but during the day it increased until the sailors had to tie ropes about the ship to hold themselves on. They spiked all the hatchways down and would not let any of the passengers go on deck at all. The captain told us it was the worst storm he had ever witnessed although he had made many trips across the ocean.

9th. A child of three years died on board this morning of consumption.

10th. Wind favorable but foggy. If there had not been any fog we could have seen Newfoundland as it lies but a short distance off.

11th. Very cold and foggy, still on the banks but going all right. We are now 1012 miles from New York. There have been a few grampus seen ― they are a species of the whale about five feet long.

16th. Head winds till noon. We have made, since yesterday noon, 126 miles, being the best run since starting form Liverpool.

17th. Wind good, at noon log shows 176 miles in 24 hours.

18th. Wind dead against us. We are now going through the gulf, a place where three currents meet; the sea is very rough. By the log we have traveled 200 miles since noon yesterday but only twenty-four towards New York.

21st. Wind dead against us. We saw a great many whales today.

22nd. A pilot came aboard. A man died on board today.

23rd. We saw a lot of blackish, the sailors claimed a sure sign of a bad storm. Weather pleasant and had been a dead calm all day. Saw a great many porpoises in the evening. They are a very ugly looking fish, three to five feet long and about as thick.

24th. Fair wind all morning. Only fifty more miles to New York. For the first time since we left Liverpool we heard thunder. At three o’clock the wind sprang up in the right direction and we soon left the fog behind us. We arrived in the mouth of the Hudson River at four o’clock and dropped anchor at five. This is a very beautiful port. Far excels Liverpool.

25th. We were all up at the first peep of day and anxiously awaiting the arrival of the examining doctor who came at 8 a.m. and pronounced us all well except two who remained on board the ship, the last we heard of them. The steam tug took us to Castle [p.249] Garden, the New York emigrant landing where one can stay for ten days only.

26th. Today is Father’s birthday; he started in the new world in a new year to him. Uncle George, Father’s brother, came to Castle Garden early and we were glad to see him. He came to this country last year. We hired a dray and took our trunks, etc., through New York and over the East River on a ferry boat to Brooklyn where George lived. We did not have much time with George for he left today on the 6 p.m. train to go west. We had to stay in New York because we didn’t have sufficient means to come on to Utah this year. Father hired the same house that George left.

28th. We moved to 136 North 2nd Street, Williamsburg. We stayed there about a month then we moved to Conselea Street, Williamsburg, where we stayed eleven months until we left for Utah during which time Father worked for a plumber by the name of William Cozer of Williamsburg.

June 26, 1863. In company with my father, mother and sister, Valora, I left Williamsburg, New York with a company of Mormon emigrants for Great Salt Lake City, Utah. Just before we arrived in St. Joseph, Missouri, the rebels, or bushwhackers, fired two cannon balls through our train, one shot went through the passenger car exactly eight inches above the peoples’ heads and the other through a baggage car destroying a great amount of baggage. We stayed in St. Joseph three or four days, afraid to go on because of the rebel soldiers being all throughout the country. While we were there, some fifteen rebel soldiers were taken prisoner, right from among our company, by the northern soldiers. Two companies of Union soldiers surrounded the depot and made the rebels surrender or they would have killed them. I can truly say I saw a little of the war between the North and the South. We went from St. Joseph to Florence (Nebraska) by steamboat up the Missouri River. We stayed at Florence (which was three miles above Omaha). Omaha had six houses and Florence, seven, all of which were trading posts.

July 9th: We started across the plains with a train of fifty wagons drawn by three to five yoke of cattle, some of them were trail wagons. The captain of this company was W. B. Preston who was from Cache Valley. The Platte River was very high. We had considerable trouble in crossing several streams. We had several heavy storms, one I remember was near Chimney Rock, a lot of lightning and thunder. Our cattle stampeded and started running away. The teamsters unyoked them as best they could ― some of them two and three yoked together. Three of the oxen were dragged to death. That night, herders went after them on horses. Devil’s Gate was quite a scenic place. The train went around and up a canyon but most of the passengers went over the mountain. When we got over and into the valley on the west, the sagebrush was as large as fence poles and eight to ten feet high. [p.250]

We arrived in Great Salt Lake City Thursday, September 15th, 1863, just as the peaches were ripe. We stayed in Salt Lake thee days and visited all the main places. The temple was then about four feet high. We left Salt Lake for Provo with a man by the name of Ira Tiffany who lived in Provo. We traveled in an ox wagon, the same kind we crossed the plains in. We arrived in Provo, Utah County, where George Freshwater lived. Stayed with him a few days when Father hired a house of Joh E. Booth were is now First West and Fifth North. We lived in Provo four years, then moved to Spanish Fork where we stayed about four months. We did not like the place; terrible winds down Spanish Fork Canyon, so we moved back to Provo.

June 19, 1867. The army of grasshoppers lit in Provo this afternoon by the millions. Everything in the way of vegetation was eaten and destroyed before night. We had several large tobacco plants growing and they were covered with hoppers in a few minutes. Father cut them and ran into the house and saved most of his tobacco. We also saved some other of our stuff by taking it in the house and shutting the doors. Our chickens ate so many hoppers they could hardly move. We saved our green corn which was in good roasting ears.

About half the grasshoppers raised in a cloud and went off in the southwest direction. Our garden looks almost as bare as it does in winter. About the only thing the hoppers didn’t clean was rhubarb. They ate part of that. Mother put up quite a lot.

August 24th, Saturday. The Provo meeting house, located at the corner of University Avenue and Center Street was dedicated today. The building is eighty-one feet by forty seven feet with a tower eighty feet high.

May 27, 1870. In the fore part of this summer a few companies of United States troops were sent to Provo to establish a camp. After considerable trouble a site was located immediately north of Provo River and just below Provo bench, being about one and a half miles northwest of Provo City. My father and Thomas Clark had contracts for building chimneys, bake ovens, and so forth, for the soldiers. The first troops cam from Camp Douglas under Colonel Hugh and only a little while when they were replaced by several companies from the East under major Osborn. The soldiers appeared peaceable for some time when the citizens and soldiers had several disputes and trouble appeared in the wind.

September 22nd. The soldiers (or part of them) from Camp Rawlins intended having a big supper and dance in town tonight which ended in a row and can better be described as follows.

Telegram sent to Salt Lake City:

Provo, September 23, 1870 A company of about forty U.S. troops from Camp Rawlins made a raid on our city last night between twelve and one o’clock and before the police could rally and check their progress they broke into the residence of Alderman William Miller, firing several shots into his bedroom, smashed in his doors and windows and took him prisoner and marched him about an hour or so. Thence passing up Center Street (7th) they stove in the doors and windows of the Co-op Boot and Shoe store (the old McKinsey building) and tore down the sign and stoned the doors of the Co-op store. They surrounded the residence of Councilor McDonald, who was away from home, and completely demolished every outside door and window on the first floor and scatted the furniture over the yard and sidewalk.  Alderman E. F. Sheets’ residence shared nearly the same fate. Their progress was here partially interrupted. They, however, proceeded to the meetinghouse, broke in the shutters of one window attempting to fire the building. The raiders were armed with U.S. needle guns with bayonets and revolvers, and during their foray they captured several citizens, parading them through the streets, some of whom were severely beaten and bayoneted before they could get away.  [p.251]

William Henry Freshwater died in Provo, Utah, January 27, 1937. His wife, Sarah Ann, passed away January 11, 1924, in Provo.

– Beulah Freshwater Spencer

Freshwater, William H., Diary, Our Pioneer Heritage, comp. By Kate B. Carter, vol. 7 (Salt Lake City: Daughters of Utah Pioneers, 1964) pp. 248-52. (L)

Most of this excerpt can be found at: Mormon Migration

Google Alerts: A Powerful Family History Tool

I set up Google alerts to tell me when Google finds anything on the web containing the names of my ancestors. It picks up a lot of spam sites, but probably 2-3 times a month it comes up with something good. Last Sunday I checked my alerts and it had a link to a BYU record of LDS immigrants in the pioneer days. To make a long story short, I found excerpts from a diary of my great great grandpa, William Henry Freshwater.  I didn’t even know he kept a diary.

The reference quoted on the site was to a book I knew I’d seen once at the local library, so I checked it out and found an even longer excerpt of his journal. If anyone out there knows where the rest of his journal can be found, PLEASE TELL ME!!! If you know of a site, send me a link. If you have access to actual hand-written books, I’ll bring my digital camera, and in 20 minutes make a full digital copy of it. I’ll even give you a CD of the digitized version so you can share it with others if you want.

Anyway, I’ll post the excerpt of his journal right after this entry and call it, The Diary of William H. Freshwater.

Gotta love modern technology. It is completely reshaping our approach to family history!

By the way, if anyone would like to learn how to set up a similar Google Alert system for your own ancestors, I’ll be glad to post a simple step-by-step tutorial. Just let me know!

You CAN Write Your Personal History!

If you are like me, you’ve spent a lot of time considering writing your life story. And, if you’re like me, you’ve spent a lot of time putting it off because either you don’t have time or you don’t know where to start. Or perhaps you can’t think of anything about your life that Is worth writing about. Maybe you don’t consider yourself a writer and don’t feel confident in your literary skills.

Have you ever considered that the biggest thing holding you back is you? I suspect that you really do want to write your life history, but you’ve just procrastinated it so long that you’ve collected a lifetime supply of excuses.

Here are a few thoughts that might help you get the motivation you need to just start writing!

“I’m not a good writer.”

One of the differences between an average writer and a great writer is that the great writer doesn’t try to make their writing great. While you are reading a great book, do you think to yourself, “Wow, what a great paragraph – this wording is amazing, and look how smoothly these sentences flow”? Probably not. Most likely you are mesmerized by the story or situation taking place in the book. How did the writer do that? Of course there are a few rules and tricks, but the main thing they did was this: the first time they wrote the words, they didn’t even think about making their writing great. They just concentrated on the story they were trying to tell.

What I’m really trying to say is don’t worry about your “style” or your grammatical correctness. Just tell your stories. If you really feel that you need to get your wording right, do it after you’ve written the whole thing – that’s what authors do all the time. They write a rough-draft, and then go through and clean it up over and over until they feel semi-comfortable with it. If you are just writing for children and posterity, you probably don’t need to do much redrafting, but just remember that the first time you write, you don’t have to worry about any of that. And if you are successful at ignoring everything in your writing except the story, it will come out pretty great.

“I don’t know where to start.”

The obvious place to start is the beginning, but the moment you try to start at the beginning, you may find yourself struggling to decide which beginning to start with. Your first memory? Your birth? You’re parents’ first date? Your ancestry?

If you don’t struggle with this excuse, don’t worry about it – start at the beginning, or wherever you want. But if you don’t know how to write a beginning, don’t. No, really, don’t bother writing a beginning. Start by writing something that will come later in the history, such as a favorite memory or some thoughts on an incident that you will fill in later. You will find that as you just start writing, the thoughts, ideas, and structure of your history will slowly come together. As soon as you feel comfortable writing the beginning, or start, of your history, do it. But it’s fine to write your whole history without a beginning. You can write that later.

In other words, if you struggle with writing a beginning to your history, just start somewhere in the middle. That way you don’t have to worry about first impressions. Writing is one of the few places where first impressions can be the last thing you work on. Once you have most of your history written, the beginning will come much easier.

“My life is boring. Why should I write about the boring nothing that’s happened to me?”

Writing is an interesting activity. Most people consider nonfiction writing to be simply a laying down of ideas – basically a bunch of facts grouped together into a book or article. But that assumption overlooks all that takes place in the mind of the writer. Writing is an proactive, interactive, self-propelling activity that draws meaning out of nowhere. Just the act of sitting down and penciling down (or typing up) words opens a conduit into the subconscious creative mind. By simply writing down a memory, your mind begins formulating thoughts about that activity, which churn and mix until something unique is formed that wasn’t there before.

Let me put it in a different way: when you bake a cake, you take a bunch of seemingly random foods – none of which taste good alone, mix them together, and put them in the oven. Then, as if by magic, when you take the concoction out of the oven, it has become a delicious treat. All the random ingredients have blended so beautifully and completely that without knowing the process that made the finished product, you would guess that the cake was a single element straight out of nature. And the taste is far better than the combined flavors of all the ingredients.

Writing is the same way, especially with writing your own life history. Your school memories, your dating years, your fears and failures, are ingredients in your history. As you write them, your mind will reflect on the meaning behind each incident. You will find humor in the oddest places, you will find life lessons where they weren’t originally intended, and you will find that your ordinary experiences weave into a heartwarming life story. That process doesn’t take much conscious effort, either. As you write, it will just happen automatically, just like the stirring and baking turns ingredients into cake.

Besides, your boring life is more interesting than you think. Your only context is the society you live in, and all your experiences are common to everyone you meet. Being in that one-dimensional context, it’s easy to forget that your children, grandchildren, and all the posterity after them won’t have that context. Their experiences will be vastly different than yours, because the world will be a completely different place by the time they read your history. Those differences will make your history both unique and fascinating – whether it means anything to you, some in the future will be excited to read the experiences of those who were around during the rise of the Internet and the turn of the century. While they may have access to news and magazines from our era, most people will be more interested in the life of a common person living from this very uncommon period of world history.

The unique things they read will be both fascinating and fun to read. The things you mention that they can relate to (relationships, spirituality, hopes, fears, and dreams) will give them encouragement and strength.

“I don’t have time to write my history.”

Guess what? No one does. I have never known anyone who has time to write their life history. Even authors don’t have time to write their histories – especially if they are writing full-time. Why? Because all their writing time has to be devoted to their profession. Most publishers aren’t interested in life histories – unless you’re Ghandi or Nelson Mandela. But even Nelson Mandela didn’t have time to write his history, and he wrote his twice.

But if no one has time time to write their life history, then how do they do it? Well, basically, they just do it. They just do it! They don’t have time, they make time. Time isn’t something that you can create out of the air, and it’s not something you manage. Time is just… well, it’s just time. It passes. It’s always there, and it goes as fast as it comes.

Every person on earth, be it Barack Obama, Oprah Winfrey, or the homeless man on the street – every person has twenty-four hours in their day, and every person has a choice what they do with their twenty-four hours. You may feel tied to a schedule, but that is because you choose that schedule. You choose! The way to make time to write your history is to choose to use your time to write your history. And fortunately (or unfortunately), you have no deadline – but if you will make time, that is, choose to take the time to write your history, you’ll find that you can use time to your advantage. It doesn’t have to be your enemy. Time can be your friend, because it will help you write your history. You’ve just got to choose to use time for that purpose.