Thursday, August 16, 2012

tracing our roots

IMG_8871After the Bardet-Biedl conference Shawni and my mom came back.  Hallelujah!  We spent one glorious Sunday together before they had to head home.  And that Sunday just happened to be my moms birthday.  My mom really is the best and to be with her on her birthday was a real treat.  imageThis was a big year for my mom so we wanted to make it really special.  We had a yummy birthday breakfast before church where we presented my mom with 65 envelopes filled with little memories sent in by all the kids and grandkids that we read through the day (leave it to Shawni to come up and execute such thoughtful gifts.  That girl is amazing).imageHer one birthday wish was that we go and trace our roots through Essex and East England. Our home in England was smack in the middle of where many of my ancestors lived their lives.  I love it that we ended up in a place rich with our roots.   So we spent a beautiful day driving down roads like this one to try to taste a bit of the past.IMG_8834IMG_8827  After church we hoped in the car with the big kids (Jeff stayed home with the little ones and baked my mom a cake, isn’t he the best?)  and headed out to Colchester, a little town east of London close to the sea where Daniel and Elizabeth Clark (our first ancestors to join the LDS church and immigrate to America) met and married and lived. 

Here's the scoop on them from my mom's blog:

Daniel Clark and Elizabeth Gower Clark were our first “right angle” ancestors who joined the Mormon church and then immigrated to the US to join fellow saints in their pilgrimage to Utah.  He was born in 1815 in Colchester Essex, England and she was born in 1819 in a town not far away called Little Baddow and they were married in Colchester. A town which holds special significance to us because that is exactly where Jonah served the last part of his mission.

The Clarks had 11 children. Three died as infants and so they were left with nine children who were persecuted mercilessly for joining the church and not allowed to attend school. Dirt poor and full of the excitement of their new church and a new life, they headed for Liverpool, sailed to America and joined the Overland Company to make the long trip by foot and by covered wagon to join the Saints in Zion.
Daniel who had been a shoemaker did his best to become a cowhand as he nutured his family across the plains. As a night watchman of the cattle by the Platte River in Nebraska, he drank some polluted water and contracted cholera.  Within three weeks he was dead. So sad!  Elizabeth valiantly carried on with the children and settled in Utah. She is buried in Morgan, near where Saren now lives.
Back to England!  Daniel’s father was named William, as was his father and his father. All were born and married in Colchester and many were buried there. The old church where Daniel and his father were married has been demolished but some walls of the really old church where his grandparents and great grandparents were married and/or buried was built by an ancient Roman Wall still stands. We had a fabulous time exploring the haunts of our dearly departed ancestors!

IMG_8835Here we are by the old Roman wall in Colchester.
 IMG_8839This is the church where Daniel and Elizabeth were married.  The very church!IMG_8842IMG_8844We always try to take glamorous pictures of my mom on her birthday.  She is such a good sport. IMG_8846IMG_8849Here Hazel and Charlie are at the door of the church, maybe the very door they walked out of years and years ago.IMG_8851IMG_8853The Lion Walk church where some of our ancestors were supposedly buried.  IMG_8854IMG_8855IMG_8856We had a yummy little lunch before leaving Colchester. IMG_8861WE drove by fields and fields of Rape Seed.  These were flowering for most of our time in England.  They are so bright they almost blind you.IMG_8867Next we went to Little Baddow where more ancestors were from.  I don’t have all there stories straight so I’m going to link to my moms blog so that one day when my kids are browsing through this they can click over and get the whole story.   Since we didn’t have all of the information on where precisely they were married or buried we decided to meet the Schwartz there for a walk through a bluebell wood.  IMG_8874We caught the bluebells at their peak.  The beauty of that wood was captivating.  IMG_8876IMG_8881It was so great to reunite with Amy who is really another sister/daughter.  IMG_8884IMG_8886IMG_8887Hazel, forever creating art out of nature.  Love that girl.IMG_8889IMG_8894IMG_8898IMG_8922IMG_8948Last stop was this great little church in Little Baddow.  Certainly someone we’re connected with was married or buried or christened there.  IMG_8959The day was really pretty close to perfect.  It rained off and on all day, but never when we were out.  And all that rain and sun and clouds gave my mom a beautiful rainbow to close the day.  IMG_8967
We got home to find that Jeff had made this flourless chocolate cake.  I’m just going to call him Martha from now on.  Seriously, how crafty is that?  And it tasted divine.
I loved being with my mom on her big day and I loved it that her one desire was to feel connected with those who went before us.  She filled us with stories all day of the courage and sacrifice of our ancestors.   Seeing those places, even if nothing was very exact or certain, made me feel more rooted and strong it made me hungry to know their lives better than I do and to carry them with me more than I have.


  1. It's a day that I'll never ever forget! Thanks for making it so wonderful and for having those grandkids to share it with besides my beautiful daughter! It was a forever day for sure!

  2. Oh it is so fun to relive this day through this post. What fun we had with our amazing mother. It was SO fun to see you and experience part of the adventure. Love you Sayds.

  3. I came across your blog through Shawni's and I have loved reading about your UK adventures. I have 4 young kids too and we're hoping to move to Europe next year so I've enjoyed seeing all the places you've been and learning about what to expect. Thanks for sharing your stories and beautiful pictures!



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