Indian depredations: Levi’s description of what he lost

800px-Josie_Morris_Cabin

800px-George_Wood_House

Levi, along with some witnesses, came to the court house in St. George Utah on Jan 14, 1896 and responded to multiple questions in front of a notary. I don’t know what his property looked like, but I wonder if it looked like any of the pictures above.

He said that he lived in Kanab Utah during the fall of 1865 and until 1866 (when depredations were claimed to have occurred) and his occupations were farming and stock raising.

“I lost thirteen cows, they were excellent good cows, worth thirty dollars a piece, one calf, worth ten dollars, six yarling cattle woth eleven dollars a head and nine two year olds worth eighteen dollars a piece, one yoke of oxen worth fifty dollars a piece, nineteen young steers worth twenty eight dollars a head, also three head of horses, two horses at seventy five dollars each and one fine carriage and saddle horse worth two hundred dollars, also the possession of twenty acres of land with the improvements on it, a dwelling house, fencing, water right and the making of dams and ditches on it, and corrals, these were the improvements. they were worth six hundred dollars. I also lost thirty acres of land, the possession of it, with its improvements, worth seven hundred and twenty five dollars.”

He also mentions “the building of a fort with a house with two rooms in” which we valued at six hundred dollars, along with a “strong serviceable corral” valued at one hundred dollars.

After feeling threatened in their remote location and “to make ourselves more secure, we vacated the fort and joined the settlement in Long Valley, twenty miles distant; here I made other improvements, I lost the possession of land, five acres, the tilling of it, planting the crop corn and other grain, building material gathered and then left that part of the country and moved out to Toquerville, Washing County, under a strong guard, because of the danger of Indian depredations.”

There follows a series of questions about who was doing the depredating and the details of why he left, which will be covered next time.

Finishing up this post, I wonder about the building of a fort and other structures in what seems like such a short time. I re-read his son’s autobiography and he said they moved to Kanab in the fall of 1863 and his father purchased much of the land and improvements in July 1864 from other settlers. It turns out it wasn’t such a short amount of time after all, and many of the improvements had probably already been started, if not finished, when he bought the property in the summer of 1864 for $1000.

I do wonder where he obtained the $1000 needed to purchase the land and improvements from the other settlers. He was a day laborer, farmer, and dairyman throughout various parts of his life–none are occupations that give easy access to cash or allow accumulation of wealth. It is possible he owned land in Salt Lake and made enough money when he sold that land.

Fort_Utah_c1850

I also wonder how big the fort was. Above is a picture of Fort Utah (what would eventually become Utah) in 1850. I think the fort in Kanab was probably much smaller, but would love to find a picture or a description of what it would look like.

As usual, reading through this document has raised as many questions as it has answered.

What do you know about the land and buildings that were owned and/or built by your ancestors in the mid 1800s? Do you have an idea of what they looked like?

 

Information from the Indian depredations claims are from: Record Group123, Records of the United States Court of Claims, Indian Depredation Case File #9173, Levi Savage (this is how NARA referred to it when asking if I wanted a copy).

 

Asking Questions of your Documents

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I recently attended a weeklong workshop on analyzing historic cookbooks. We studied a variety of cookbooks from England and America from the 1400s to the early 1900s. Barbara Wheaton, a noted cookbook historian, designed the workshop as an independent study workshop. Each day we had a theme (ingredients, workspace and tools, etc.) and were to carefully study the cookbook assigned for that day to ask questions such as: where did the ingredients come from: the local marketplace, the garden or other domestic setting, or hunting? Where they imported? What role did seasonality play in when ingredients would be available (and how did this change from the 1400s to the 1900s)? How long would it take to prepare the ingredients? Did the chicken come ready to drop into the pot or did it need to be killed, defeathered (I’m not a farmer–I’m sure there is an appropriate term for this!) and then put into the pot? I was surprised at how much I learned from listening to my fellow workshop members report on their assigned cookbook and how they asked questions of the cookbook and the interpretations and conclusions they arrived at after careful study.

The same applies to genealogy. As an example, let’s take a closer look at the newspaper article that started me asking more questions about Levi Savage. The article was pulled from the Library of Congress Historical Newspapers section (a wonderful resource) and was published on February 14, 1899 in the Salt Lake Herald (pg 6).

SL Feb 14 1899

Several questions comes immediately to mind. Why are all these claims before the government? Was there a new act put into place by Congress or some other government entity that invited claims? If so, why? What made one eligible to receive a claim? Just what were these “Indian depredations”? When did they occur? I thought that in the late 1800s Toquerville was a pretty safe place to be–could it be from sometime before he moved to Toquerville in the 1860s, or perhaps from the early years living in Toquerville? What other questions would you ask just by reviewing this newspaper article?

The next set of questions are what leads to a research plan.What do I want to know? I want to know the details of the claim, as well as the circumstances that led to the claim, including when the incidents supposedly took place. I would also like to acknowledge that there are at least two sides to this story and I want to learn more about the history and what the Native Americans were doing (and what the whites were doing to them) at this time.

Then I ask what additional sources can I examine? Are there resources, such as records and/or employees at the National Archives that could help me figure this out? What about family records? Maybe using the Serial Set of Congressional Records? In terms of learning about the general history I could start with my local library and see what they have. Since I live in Boston and the events occurred in Utah, they may not have much. I can also turn to local university libraries, or to repositories such as New England Historic Genealogical Society.

As you may know from previous posts I already have some hints. Levi’s son writes in his autobiography about losses due in part to Indian raids in the 1860s in Millard County in Utah. I have found some mentions of Levi’s claims in the Serial Set, and have a contact at NARA who is an expert on anything involving Native Americans and the government that I can email when I pull things together. I have yet to put together a true research plan. That will be my next post.

In the meantime, please let me know what questions you would ask of this document, and which questions you have asked of documents you came across in your research, and where finding the answers to those questions led you.

Adding Social History via Blogs

It used to be that we  couldn’t trust what we found on the internet. There are still certainly many cases where that is true, but there are now some very helpful blogs and websites out there that are well researched and documented. As my current interest is medicine in the early modern period (which was almost exactly the same as medicine in colonial New England), I have found some blogs that tie right in. They are written by experts in the field and are well documented.

Early Modern Medicine is written by Dr. Jennifer Evans, lecturer in history at the University of Hertfordshire. Her research interest is medicine, the body and gender in early modern Europe. Recent blog posts covered topics ranging from treatment and beliefs about the heart and heart maladies, rheumatism and humors, and using unicorn horns to treat poison. Other experts in the field often post as well. On her blogroll page, she has a nice listing of related sites. She is on Twitter at @UniofHerts

The Recipes Project: Food, Magic, Science and Medicine is written by an international group of scholars interested in recipes. Recent posts include medicine as an exact science (using specific measurements so ingredients work in harmony rather than cancelling each other out), examining social networks using maps and documents to examine how recipes are collected for a 17th century manuscript, and a 17th century cure-all recipe. The Recipes Project can also be found on Twitter and Facebook (see the About page) and they had such interesting entries that I was distracted from blog writing for a while.  They also have a further reading page.

Hx: Medical Historia is written by Paul Middleton, a medical historian. Recent posts include early treatments for insomnia, the magic of the mythical unicorn horn that is included in many recipes, and sarsaparilla. He can also be found on twitter: @Paul_Middleton1

What are some of your favorite well-researched blogs to add social history context to your genealogical research?

Asking Questions

I give a talk on social history that uses Levi Savage as a case study. I want participants to think  about one of their ancestors and how to learn about the social history surrounding that person. One of the most important tips that I give is to ask lots of questions about the documents and events that the researcher is studying. I recently learned that I also needed to talk about my research with others and get ideas from them.

One of the documents I use in the case study is the 1862 proposed Constitution of Deseret (what the Mormons wanted to call their state). Levi Savage, Jr.  is a delegate from Millard County. Knowing just that, I ask what we might be able to infer from this document. Some of the standard responses include

  • he lived in Millard County in 1862
  • he was probably involved in politics
  • he was probably literate
  • his father was also named Levi
  • he was an important and/or respected person in the community

At the most recent conference some of the participants taught me there were some other possibilities that I hadn’t thought of

  • no one else would go
  • he was out of town when the delegate was chosen and therefore couldn’t decline
  • he might have been rich enough to go to a convention

Last night I was talking to a family member about another document I use in the case study that shows that Levi was awarded $1100 for Indian depredations. This is a newspaper article in the 1890s and I haven’t yet figured out where to go to find more details. His son’s diary talks about some difficulties with the Indians in Millard County in the 1860s and I wonder if this money was due to losses he suffered in Millard County. I suggested this monetary award may have been due to an act passed in Congress (since the money came from the government).

The family member pointed out that Levi may also have been savvy when it came to lawsuits due to his education. As an example, she pointed out that Levi sued the government for a mule that he owned that was taken by the Army when he was in the Mormon Battalion. He won that suit. She suggested that perhaps the $1100 was perhaps money he received as part of a lawsuit rather than an act of Congress or some other government body.

Both of these examples point out the importance of sharing your research and ideas with others. I learned of potential reasons that Levi was chosen to be a delegate that I had not thought about but are certainly possibilities. I also learned that in addition to newspaper and Congressional record searches, I should also look into the court records to find details of the Indian depredation monetary award.

What research will you share with your family members and friends to come up with new possibilities?

 

Copyright: Do you know the basics?

I was planning on posting about some more of the collections at the Library of Congress. When I was looking through the LOC website deciding what I wanted to write about, one of the first things I came across was their paragraph on who has the rights to their digital images. In most cases, it is not the Library of Congress, and it is the responsibility of the person wanting to use the image (you and me) to assess whether the item is available for public use or is under some sort of copyright or other rights.

This reminded me of several recent conversations on Facebook about copyright for genealogists and how important it is to understand copyright. I am by no means an expert, but I wanted to bring this to your attention. In social history and genealogy, we love documents and photos for blogs, written family histories and other uses. Here are a couple of blogs and a webinar that address copyright for genealogists.

Judy G. Russell is a professional genealogist with a law degree and occasionally writes about copyright on her blog.

The author of this blog is not a genealogist as far as I can tell, but shares her experience about being sued for using a copyrighted picture on her blog. Note that some comments have been made on  Facebook stating that not all of the resources listed in this blog are necessarily free of copyright–you should always check!

Thomas MacEntee will be giving a free, open to the public webinar on Thursday, July 18 at 9 pm EDT on copyright, sponsored by the Utah Genealogical Association. I don’t see this listed on the UGA website,  but you can register for it here.

Google genealogy and copyright for additional resources.

Learning social history from fiction

I was recently introduced to Rhys Bowen’s Molly Murphy mystery series. The series starts with the main character fleeing Ireland and coming through Ellis Island into NY around 1900. The accounts of the landlord system in Ireland, the cramped quarters of steerage, and the confusing passage through Ellis Island is in line with what I have read about those. The second book delves more into life in New York at the turn of the 20th century–again in line with what I have read, although I am not an expert in this time period.

I find reading these mysteries more fun than reading straight history books. I also find that due to the liberties of character development allowed in fiction that are not allowed in non-fiction, that I can get a better feel of the times and the characters come to life.

While I am certainly not recommending that historical fiction replace academic research and primary source research, I do think that well-written and well-research historical fiction can give us a window into the time period that may not be available from primary source or academic research.

What are your favorite historical fiction authors?

Upcoming Social History/Genealogy Events

I gave a talk recently to the Falmouth Genealogical Society and afterwards one of the members came up and told me about her ancestors who were rope makers in the mid 1800s. She is learning all kinds of things about making rope and is attending a talk in Plymouth about the Cordage Company and will go to Mystic Seaport where they have the ropewalk from the Cordage Company. I was thrilled to see her excited about learning about the occupation of her ancestors and how they were literally coming to life for her.

Local genealogy and historical societies are a really great place to learn about social history and place your ancestors in context. The historical societies have relevant historical records and the genealogy societies have members that share your passions. It is a wonderful place to network and share knowledge.

Now that spring is coming and it’s nice to venture outside, I wanted to let you know about some upcoming history events at some of the living history villages in the area. Most offer demonstrations on daily life for the time periods which they cover. Many are informal, meaning that you walk into a house and the living historian will tell you about the house and life in the time period. Others are more formal where you need to register and pay in advance.

Historic Deerfield is offering two sets of cooking demonstrations. April and May were when colonists literally scraped the bottom of the barrel for food as they waited for spring blooms. Also learn what your colonial ancestors would cook in the summer.  Strawbery Banke is hosting a Civil War encampment June 8 and 9. Also see if Plimoth Plantation or Old Sturbridge Village are offering anything of interest to you.

Food history is becoming more popular among genealogists. Historic Deerfield’s annual Dublin Seminar is on foodways this year. The seminar is from June 21-23. Talks will cover foodways during many periods since 1620 and includes some talks about food and politics that sound very interesting.

Let me know if there are any local programs that you are looking forward to. I am really looking forward to the Dublin Seminar.