Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Better than Iowa in 1846

I am descended from Mormon Pioneers.  In 1846 my ancestors were among those who fled their home in Nauvoo, Illinois and started out on the great American Exodus that was the Mormon Migration to the Rocky Mountains.

They crossed the Mississippi River in the middle of winter.  They traveled the first 300 miles at a painfully slow pace through the spring mud of the Iowa plains.  My great grandmother watched her husband march away with the Mormon Battalion, leaving her to cross the remainder of the plains alone.  They suffered through a winter at Winter Quarters, Iowa, where sickness and death were rampant.  All the while, the Saints built houses, sturdy bridges, and roads, not for their own short term use, but for the many travelers who would come after them.  They planted gardens that they would never harvest, intended only for those who would follow.

They arrived in the Salt Lake Vally in 1847.  My ancestors first settled in Salt Lake City but were dispatched to Grantsville, UT about 1850, only three years later.  Even then, they were not to remain for long, as they were soon asked to move to Paradise, UT to establish a community there.

Uncertainty was a way of life for them.  Home was where ever they were at the time.  They left each place knowing they would never return.

Why, on a blog about renovating a log house, would I write about the travels and trials of my ancestors?  In answer to my recent silence.

* Moving to an apple orchard in North Central Washington was never at the top of my adventure list.  I left a home I love, a community I love, dear friends, and the city I consider home.

* Over the course of the last month we have come to realize that the renovations the Apple House need are not simply cosmetic, but more drastic and necessary for continued habitation.

* In addition, the entire purpose for our drastic move, a job that would repay student loans and help us recover from adoption and medical expenses, has stalled and every incentive we had to come here is suddenly in question. 

I have been throwing myself a pretty little pity party.  In my anger over the uncertainty of our situation I have not wanted to work on the Apple House.  I have wondered, WHY SHOULD I strip wall paper, stain curtain rods, and hang shelves in a home that I may never get to enjoy?

I have gratefully found the quiet answer in the example of my ancestors.

Because someone will enjoy it, and they will be thankful.  Because the simple act of hard work will keep you mind occupied and push away anxious thoughts.  Because it isn't a covered wagon and this isn't that bad.

Mormon Pioneers also did a few other things that I have found to worthy of emulation.  They sang as they walked and worked along the trail.  Every evening, (despite what must have seemed like a never ending trek) they circled their wagons, lit a fire, played music and danced.  How long could depression linger when cheerful music and dancing was a part of your daily routine?  

Today I painted my front door bright red.  I feel a lot better.  Tomorrow I will sew curtains as I listen to cheerful pioneer songs.


  1. So sorry things are hard right now, but so proud of your resilience! Thank you for sharing your ancestral inspiration, and for helping all of us put our hardships into perspective. xoxo

  2. You are an amazing woman. I am so impressed that you have found such inspiration from uncertain times. The door is beautiful!

  3. So sorry to hear that you are struggling. If you need to chill out or just talk, gimme a call and we can come tear your house up again!!!

  4. Wow is all I can say. I'm impressed and in awe of your dedication to this huge upheaval and change in your life. I also have to say I must have been channeling your pioneer day songs earlier because I suddenly found myself singing, "bring me little water Silvy, bring me little water now..." Know that one? Anyways, walk, march, run on my friend. ~melanie

  5. I hear ya, Megan. I can relate, even though we're not as far away from friends as you guys are now. I wholeheartedly agree with everything you said. You still have your family with you, and you can do anything you set your mind to because you're a strong, smart woman and a great mom.

  6. What a great post! Life can be very frustrating, overwhelming & hard to understand, but it sounds like you've gotten yourself in a positive, healthy mindset. Thanks for sharing your enlightenment & experience!

  7. Omgosh! I felt like your words were straight outta my husband will start a job in a few wks over an hour from where we live..and we are trying to figure out what is best for our 2 school.. house...and strangers..a new adventure??? Drive it with the cost of gas???? home isnt one I love! Its the people in it....strength and love your way!!!!


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