29 July 2010

2010 BYU Conference on Family History

Is it just me or is this year all about family history writing? It may be that my eyes and ears are filtering in more information about my special interest this year at the BYU 2010 Family History conference, but I am definitely seeing and hearing more about writing family history this year than ever before. There was a whole track specifically on writing yesterday with such luscious titles as "Uncovering your Ancestors' Stories," "How to Write a Page-Turning (But True) Family History," "Illustrate Your Family History Using Unusual Sources," etc., etc. I sat in the same room for 3 hours straight! More about these topics will follow on a day when I'm not watching the clock to avoid being late for the plenary speaker this morning.

Even if I were not on the lookout for such sessions, I could not have avoided the messages of the keynote speaker, Elder Dennis B. Neuenschwander who opened the conference on Tuesday with "It is More Than About Names." Here's a quote from the newspaper article about his talk.

"Knowledge of the historic context in which our ancestors lived, the details of their lives and the experience that shaped their personalities are essential to understanding of ourselves," Elder Neuenschwander said.

More from my notes about his talk: The record-keepers of the world are an uncommon lot with uncommon respect for history. We owe them a great debt of gratitude. ... We become obscure within a generation or two unless we establish family tradition and history that binds generations together. Unless we record experiences of our own lives and of the lives of our family members, we will be isolated and alone. There are treasures of knowledge that could be lost if we do not act to preserve and record them.

I'll post about yesterday's plenary speaker, Curt B. Witcher, later. His topic: "This I Believe: The Urgent Need to Record Living History." Yes, the talk was as good as it sounds. Gotta go now.

19 July 2010

Amanuensis Monday

Amanuensis: A person employed to write what another dictates or to copy what has been written by another.

In surfing a bit this Monday morning I came upon a Monday theme that sparked a memory in me.

My mind immediately went to an amanuensis to whom I am very grateful--the unnamed person who scribed this letter for my great-grandma Thirza (Thirza Angeline Hale Nay Marley). Without it, I would never have gone searching further for the rest of her story and her unknown death date. Not that the story is complete--I still have lots of questions. But you may agree that the letter holds some interest. Thanks "M.H.A." whoever you are.

Monroe, Utah
May 23, 1892
Gov. R. K. Colcord:-
Dear Sir:-

I write to you today in behalf of my son Ormus B. Nay, who is now in State prison. He
comes before the Board of Pardon in July and it is the great desire of his aged
father (88) to see him once more before his dies. The father is growing daily more feeble.

I his mother, am also in poor health, and if you have a son you can, to some extent know how aged parents would long to see their boy once more. He was not a bad boy, but bad company has brought him where he is. I am sure he realizes his wrong now and certainly has had his punishment. I never have before applied or asked for any pardon for him but now I feel a right to ask. He has been punished fully. I am confident he will ever again cause trouble.

I pray for your sympathies.
His aged mother, whose hope is in the God of justice and mercy.
Mrs. T. A. Marley
Per M. H. A.

10 July 2010

Thrashing Out Answers

At the NGS conference this year, I attended a class that encouraged us to use our social network to answer genealogical questions. I posted my question about the machinery on my blog and then referred to it a couple of times on my Facebook account. My sister also emailed the photos to a couple of people we thought might know more than we did. Sure enough, we got some answers from some knowledgeable people.

My friend Nancy answered this way: According to Alan who actually remembers using some of them as a youngster...#1 Thrashing machine #2 A stationary thrasher...Alan's dad had one..the grain was cut in the field & put in shocks using a binder; then a tractor & wagon went between 2 rows with a man on each side throwing the shocks onto the wagon using pitchforks; another man rode in the wagon and stacked the shocks; shocks were taken to the thrasher which separated them into grain which you can see in the bags & straw which was blown in large piles. On the right you can see some steam engines which were used to power the thrasher--they had a 40-50 ft. belt back to the thrasher. #3 I was right...a Mormon board or slip scraper (same thing, different names) #4 Another thrasher. It was essentially a horse drawn, ground driven (the turning of the wheels on the thresher provided the mechanical power) combine which both cut the grain and threshed the wheat from the straw. He remembers hearing that these were more often used on the dry farms where the grain wasn't as thick.

The thing that surprised me was that most of the farm machinery was used for the same thing--threshing or thrashing. Nancy provided me with some insight on this question too: I spent some time with the dictionary.....It seems to me that thrashing or threshing are interchangeable, but it referred to the machine as a threshing machine. So a threshing machine threshes or thrashes the grain.

Hey thanks! Social networking provides us with the means to collaborate on our problems even if we don't have the same family lines. Now to get a few more of us old-timers to sign up.