Sunday, February 6, 2011

William Luther Croff, A Man that Wore many Hats

William Luther Croff wore many hats through out his life. Born on March 25 of 1840 in Northfield, Summit County, Ohio the oldest child of William Cowee and Julia Ann Bougey Croff. His father trained him as a blacksmith, which skills he used throughout his life, but mining became his primary profession. He was said to have known much about mines and mining in the central and southern parts of Utah, his “opinions on the topic held considerable weight”.

During his twenty’s his life read like an adventure movie with drama in every corner, but things settled down when he married Harriett Mariah Higley at age 30. He later went on to become the father of eleven children! John Arthur Croff was the son we decended from. William served in the political arena as a City Councilman in Eureka and a Justice of the Peace in Minersville for 22 years. Church service was a large part of William’s life. He assisted in building the St. George Temple, working there for two years, the Manti Temple, Salt Lake and Logan Temples and five meetinghouses and two tabernacles. In addition to building, he served in his local ward area doing such things as a “home teacher” and president of the YMMIA a number of times and counselor for a Bishop. A highlight was serving a mission to England from 1907 to 1909 keeping a daily journal while there. A quote from his mission journal tells much about this multisided man.

November 26, 1907, “This morning I called my family together before parting from my good home and we all bowed ourselves before God and I dedicated all that is most near and dear to me into His kind care and protection, and took the train for Salt Lake City.”

William often put on the hat of writer and historian. In an old large envelope that has been passed down from one generation to another are sheets of paper that William had copied a number of his family’s patriarchal blessings as well as a timeline of family events and his own biography. Note his beautiful hand. The pages below are pieces from his wife, Harriet's patriarchal blessing. The originals are in Colleen Sperry Smith's possession, a great granddaughter.

Picture: William Croff and Sons

Joel Daniel (UL), William Ellis (UC), John Arthur (UR), Ira Mark (LR), William Luther (LC), and James Adelbert (LL)

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Memories of Sarah Caroline Batty Calder

One year at the annual 4th of July Chuck wagon Breakfast held in Paris, Idaho I asked my Uncle O’Dell Smith (my father’s oldest brother) if he could tell me anything about his grandparents. He hemmed and hawed around a bit and then told me these two stories about his mother’s mother, Sarah Caroline Batty Calder.

He said that it seemed like whenever he would go over to visit her she would tell him to go and find her purse. When he brought it to her, she would “give him a sixpence”. Sarah Caroline was born in Whittington, Derbyshire, England on May 17, 1870 and came to America at the age of 12 when her oldest sister Annie arranged for her to work in “the Bishop’s” house tending children and keeping house because his wife wasn’t in the best of health. Sarah Caroline later married Bishop Robert Calder in polygamy. One of their children was Rosella, my grandmother.

The second story Uncle O’Dell told me sheds light on Sarah Caroline's personality. The details are a bit fuzzy; nonetheless I want to share it in hope that someone out there can set it all straight. Uncle O’Dell couldn’t get through telling it without giggling a number of times while sustaining an enormous grin. It seems that his grandma Sarah Caroline was making a steamed pudding; something she did every year for Thanksgiving or Christmas and it was tied up in a cloth bag. Her husband (second marriage, Robert Calder had passed away) made a rather large fuss about how much he disliked the pudding. When she had taken quite enough she opened up the window and THREW IT OUT!

And I wonder where the women in my family get their edge . . .

The making of steamed pudding did carry on however, regardless of this telling incident. Rosella made a Thanksgiving pudding every year for her family and to date it is one of my father’s, Kent Smith’s fondest memories of that holiday. I don't have any direct information as to where Sarah Caroline got her recipe or know how as to how to make her steamed pudding, but England is the capital for such things. I like to think that she learned it from her mother or older sister Annie and her homeland.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

The Book Of Pioneers & Peggy not Margaret Ann

Every once in a while you are in the right place at the right time. The Daughters of the Utah Pioneers scheduled a lesson in 2010 on the celebration of the 50-year mark or Jubilee of when the pioneers had entered the valley in 1847 and I was randomly assigned to teach the lesson. The stars were already lining up. Knowing that our family had pioneers that came that first year I knew it would be a great opportunity to learn more and once I started digging into extra material I found myself at the Utah State Historical Society looking at the original Book of Pioneers.

This book is made up of forms that were filled out by all original 1847 pioneers that could be located and still living in 1897. Armed with my list of ancestors I was put into a room to view the “book” via microfilm. I’m not certain if it was because of the Rio Grande historical nature or the work I was engaged in alone, but it wasn’t long until I felt the room fill up with others looking at the book with me, others from another dimension. Imagine, I was looking at information that may not have been looked at for over 100 years! It was a gift just to see their handwriting, to see how they worded an answer to a simple question and to search the page for any extra information about the family.

These papers and the feelings I got while looking at them made our ancestors come to life more than ever. One specific example that we can learn from is Margaret Ann Sidwell. I searched for her on the General Immigration list but didn’t find her until I looked a little deeper. She was listed as “Sidwell, Peggy A.”. Well, who would have thought she was known as Peggy?And she had a sister Rebecca who filled out a paper as well who went by . . . Rebecca.

If you click on the image you will be able to read the information about where they were born, when they arrived in the valley, whose company they were in, who their captain of 100, 50 and 10 were. Also at the very bottom of the page there is a place for relics that were donated to the state.

The only reclics donated were by Charles Sperry (hopefully he donated on behalf of the entire Sperry Family). It states "One roleing pinn, and one potato masher. They were turned in the spring of 1848 in the South part."

I only put a few of the images of our family up on this post. I have the others stored up for another time. If you find yourself in downtown Salt Lake with nothing to do, head over to the Rio Grande Depot and look them up yourself. You won't be sorry.