Thursday, June 18, 2015

Adventures With Dad: Seeing My Ancestors Through My Father's Eyes

I consider myself lucky to have such an
awesome dad. Since his move to Utah in 2013,
I have had almost weekly adventures
with him. Even if they are just to Sam's Club
or out to lunch, I call them adventures
as I listen to Dad's stories about my ancestors. 
This week my 10 year-old daughter and I 
went with Grandpa McCune to
the Salt Lake City Cemetery 
where we saw our ancestors
through his eyes. 

My father, the great family historian,

looked up the locations
of ancestor burial plots, 
and in the summer heat
we went in search of them.
We saw many graves,
so I wanted to share
a little bit about a few of my ancestors.

Above we are next to the grave marker 
of our pioneer ancestor, William Clayton,
a clerk and scribe to the prophet Joseph Smith,
and author of the Mormon hymn
"Come, Come, Ye Saints." 
He was in the first pioneer company
to enter the Salt Lake Valley in 1847.
I see my father in his face
and I have his crooked smile.

As we listened to Grandpa tell stories about
our family, sometimes with tears in his eyes, 
we knew how much he loved them.
He shared their trials and hardships,
some of the mistakes they made,
and also how proud his parents were
of their ancestors.
Above he and my daughter
are by a McCune marker.

Sarah Ann <i>Walters</i> Clayton

This is my Great-great-grandmother, 
Sarah Ann Walters Clayton. 
She was a Mormon handcart pioneer 
and at the age of 17, 
crossed the plains in 1856 
in the Edmund Ellsworth Company. 
The hardships she endured 
were extremely difficult. 
But because of her, I am here.

Augusta <i>Braddock</i> Clayton
This is my Great-great-grandmother, 
Augusta Braddock Clayton. 
She was a Mormon pioneer 
and at the age of 13, 
crossed the plains in 1848 
in the Willard Richards Company. 
While on the trail, 
she survived being run over by a wagon. 
I just love this picture of her. 
She makes me want to bake bread.

I looked up Proverbs 31:10 - 31, and here is part of it:

"Who can find a virtuous woman? 
for her price is far above rubies.
The heart of her husband doth safely trust in her, 

so that he shall have no need of spoil.
She will do him good and not evil 

all the days of her life.
She seeketh wool, and flax, 

and worketh willingly with her hands.
She is like the merchants’ ships; 

she bringeth her food from afar.
She riseth also while it is yet night, 

and giveth meat to her household, 
and a portion to her maidens.
She considereth a field, and buyeth it: 

with the fruit of her hands 
she planteth a vineyard.
She girdeth her loins with strength, 

and strengtheneth her arms.
She perceiveth that her merchandise is good: 

her candle goeth not out by night.
She layeth her hands to the spindle, 

and her hands hold the distaff.
She stretcheth out her hand to the poor; 

yea, she reacheth forth her hands to the needy.
...Strength and honour are her clothing; 
and she shall rejoice in time to come." 

This is my Great-grandfather, 
Matthew Midgley McCune

and my Great-grandmother 
Victoria Helena Clayton McCune. 
He worked on the Salt Lake railroad 
and was a bit wild while young, 
but she softened him. 
His step-brother A. W. McCune
built the McCune Mansion 
in downtown Salt Lake. 
But we didn't inherit any money.
I see a little bit of myself in her face.

Sometimes in cemeteries, you find 
interesting grave markers 
of people you aren't related too,
and learn from them.

This one shares my belief 
that even after death, 
we shall meet again. 
The clasped hands of a wife and husband 
are tender. 
Though Augusta's name is worn off, 
their love lingers on.

This verse about hope in a life after death 
was etched on the back 
of W. W. Phelps marker.
Phelps has written several Mormon hymns 
including "Praise to the Man."
and the verse above
is the 5th verse to the song, 
"If You Could Hie to Kolob."

We ran out of time and we hope to go 
on another adventure with Grandpa 
to the cemetery.
My daughter said she wants to find
more of her ancestors. 
Thanks, Dad, for sharing our family with us.
We love you!
Happy Father's Day!


  1. What a wonderful post! I love family history, especially with pictures and stories.

  2. How lucky to still have one of the "older folks" from your family that remembers and shares your family history! My Gramma was the one that told me many of our family stories but I never wrote them down and I've forgotten so many of them.

    We're not Mormon but she always admired the way Mormons are known for a dedication to genealogy. She always wanted to take a trip out to Utah to research her family's history but never got the chance.

    (I don't know if this is really true of the Church of gram was also pretty great at stereotyping. Your post just made me think of her. I miss her family stories - I'm glad you got to record some of yours!).

    1. Thanks, Jill. If you ever need help with your family history, you can also visit an LDS Family History Center in your area. I'd be happy to look up an address for you.

    2. LDS family history centers will help non-LDS folk with family history as well? Man, ya'll seem so welcoming to everyone. It's really awesome = )

  3. I really loved reading this post. It was fun, informative and sweet. Thanks for sharing your family and ancestors. You have some impressive ancestors, also. Hugs~


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