Saturday, November 26, 2011

Book "California Saints", as it Pertains to my Family HIstory

California Saints was written for the 150 year anniversary of the Saints in California.  It was written by Richard O. Cowan and William E. Homer and published by Religious Studies Center, Brigham Young University, Provo, Utah 1996.  There are a few parts where the story told in this book, intersects with that of my family history, so wanted to mention these here.

In my family history, the first contact with California that I am aware of is William Ashton who served in the infantry from 1856-1861.  As part of his duties he marched from the Northern part of California to the Southern.  On another occasion he traveled from the Bay area south by steam boat.  He was discharged in 1861 from Benicia; and from there returned to England, from where he immigrated in his old age, and went to live with his one surviving daughter Sara Ashton Beckstead, and is buried in the Whitney Cemetery.  The book does not talk about this.  But it does provide insight into a couple other family history contacts with California.

  In the 1880s the Edmunds Tucker Act intensified persecution against the Saints, particularly those who were practicing polygamy.  Many Saints left their homes and fled to California, some as families and some as individuals.  Among those was Isaac Wardle, my great-great Grandfather.  Often wives and families suffered, being left without any means of support. 

WWII also brought an influx of Mormons to California, some of whom stayed.  My father was stationed on Treasure Island for over six months.  Among other things he said the mutual in Berkeley was like none he had ever seen.  He mentioned something in his writings I did not understand, having mother's day for someone.  I thought perhaps it was a general or admiral's wife, but this book answered the mystery for me.  "The servicemen brought wives, mothers and sweethearts to meet "mom and pop."  For three years the LDS military personnel at nearby Treasure Island honored Sister [Anna] Patton  on Mothers' Day with a special program.  Over the years Anna compiled more than twenty scrapbooks of correspondence from servicemen as they scattered throughout the world."

Of course family members have made California their permanent home.  I have lived here with my family since 1993.  However Uncle Orrin, Leo and Vernal all brought their families long before this.  I know Uncle Vernal lived in the Fresno area, Uncle Leo in the Bay area, working for the railroad during the war, and Uncle Orrin in Southern California.  We have all been part of the growth of the Mormon Church in California, where there are now (as of 1996) more than three quarter million members and 162 stakes.