Wednesday, October 18, 2017

My Mormon ancestors - Part 2 - Tales from the Tree

In Part 1, I wrote about the early years of my near, dear 9th cousin  (4 times removed) William Shanks Berry and the family's tragic encounter with Indians. Alas, this was just the beginning of William's troubles.

When the Indian troubles subsided, William and the remaining brother, John, moved to Iron County, Utah where they prospered in the livestock business.They built fine homes in Kanarra, married multiple wives and became became outstanding businessmen in Iron County as well as leaders in the Mormon community. It was because of his status in the Mormon Church that he was sent back to Tennessee in 1884 on a mission.  More about that from William's unknown biographer:

"He traveled considerable over the state renewing acquaintances and making friends for the church among the state and city officials and prominent businessmen. He did this as part of his missionary assignment to break down the prejudices that existed against the Mormon Church. In this he had a large measure of success. He had not been gone long when he had a dream that bothered him. He felt that something bad would happen back home, so he wrote [his wife] Lovinia and told her to tell the girls to keep off the horses. The letter seemed sad."

William had been gone just over 4 months when he was killed, along with 5 other men, by a mob in Cain Creek, Tennessee  in an act that came to be known as the "Tennessee's Mormon Massacre."
The  Tennessee’s Mormon Massacre, also known as the "Cane Creek Massacre," happened on August 10, 1884 in Lewis County, Tennessee, at the home of Jim and Malinda Conder.  Five people were killed and at least one wounded in this culmination of a conflict between Mormons and the non LDS community. The attack was precipitated by rumors of "salacious behavior" on the part of unspecified missionaries. The rumors were accepted as credible because of the highly publicized practice of polygamy and the recent emigration of two teenage girls from Lewis County Tennessee to Utah.

According to an LDS website account, "On Sunday morning of August 10, 1884, a group of 14 to 18 men wearing disguises attacked the home where LDS church services were being held. Several shots were fired by the attackers. Two missionaries, John H. Gibbs and William S. Berry, and twenty year old Church member, W. Martin Conder, were killed. As the attackers left, the dead young man’s half-brother, J. Riley Hutson, shot and killed the apparent leader of the gunmen, David Hinson. The attackers returned fire and killed their assailant and severely wounded the two young men’s mother."

"The attackers then left, taking the mortally wounded David Hinson with them. David died within the hour. Riley also lingered for about an hour. He refused treatment, insisting that his friends do what they could for his mother. A doctor was sent for, who turned out to have been among the attackers. The doctor came anyway and treated Malinda, although he set the bone incorrectly consigning her to walk with a cane for the rest of her life."

"The two surviving missionaries eventually made it to the nearest branch of the Church at Shady Grove (aka Duck River, Tenn.) where they...sent a telegram to B. H. Roberts, the acting president of the Southern States Mission.  Roberts, who was well known in Lewis County, disguised himself, and secured the bodies of the two missionaries to be shipped home to Utah."

Monday, October 16, 2017

Monday Meanderings - 10.16.2017

If it is not decidedly cooler this morning, I am going to be seriously miffed at the weatherman. The temperatures have crept back into the 90s, as has the humidity, but the weatherman has for several days promised a "cold" front that was to arrive on Sunday. I'm writing this late Sunday and the A/C is still churning and the humidity is still too high. I'll give him until in the morning, and if it's not cool, I'll.... I'll... well, I'll be miffed, that's what.

Editor's Note: It's 55 degrees at 7:30 am, so I am officially un-miffed.That is all.

The home recording studio is progressing nicely. Barb refers to as my "cave" because of all the soundproofing I have on the walls and over the windows. A friend gave me two huge boxes of foam pieces that are about 2 feet by 3 feet and 2 inches thick and I have deployed them strategically to block sound coming in through the window from the outside, and to soak up anything in the room itself.

I've done such a good job, that when I listen to my recordings I mostly hear only myself. A lot of myself. Of course, I want to hear the narration I record, but I also hear, pops and clicks and a wide variety of mouth noises. Noises you normally never hear in an ordinary environment. I've discovered it's a common problem - there are lots of postings in voice-over forums about proper hydration and vocal exercises to deal with mouth noises.

There's also the problem of borborygmus. Okay, I'm going to give you a couple of minutes to google that. Got it?

borborygmus; plural noun: borborygmi

A rumbling or gurgling noise made by the movement of fluid and gas in the intestines. 

Yep. The old stomach going after it. Problem is, it happens all the time and you seldom are aware of it. Sure, occasionally there is the serious bout of gas, but it's the little gurgles that get you. Only when you are listening critically, at a high volume level, do you hear them - right in the middle of your narration. And even then, you are not sure if it's real or if it's Memorex, so you have to stop and replay that section to see if it repeats. And if it's on the recording you have to re-do that section.

Who knew the voice-over business was so... well, personal.

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

My Mormon ancestors - Part 1 - Tales from the Tree

It surprises me somewhat to find that there is quite a large group of Mormons, or LDS adherents  hanging out in the family tree. The large part is not surprising; when you have a half dozen wives (or in the case of one over-achieving relative, an even dozen), large families are the norm. I guess it's the choice of religion that surprises me. Most of the family tends to be in the conservative evangelical tribes, or maybe that just reflects my own bias.

At any rate, there's a bunch of Mormons in the mix, and some of them have interesting stories. Like the Berry family, whose roots stretch back to the American Revolution. They took up residence in Tennessee when it was necessary to build the cattle and pig pens adjacent to the house because of marauding bears. Jesse Woods Berry and his wife Armelia Shanks appear to be the first Mormons in the family, and left Tennessee to join a multitude of Joseph Smith followers in building Nauvoo, Illinois - a Mormon stronghold.

Jesse died in Navoo, and Armelia, with four sons and six daughters, joined the Brigham Young-led exodus to Utah. It's there that we pick up the story. In the fall of 1865, Armelia and sons Joseph, who was single, and Robert and his wife, went to spend the winter with relatives in Spanish Fork and also to purchase seed grain. Late in March, 1866, Joseph, Robert and Robert's wife started home leaving mother Berry still visiting with her married daughters.

Because of the illness and death of Robert's child, they were delayed in departing with the company with whom they had intended to travel; consequently, they made the trip alone. On April 2, they reached Short Creek and were attacked by Indians. The battle was brief and deadly, and all were tortured and killed.

Another of Armelia's sons, William Berry, was at home in Berryville, and knowing that the brothers were on the road, grew anxious about them. An unknown biographer of William described his actions thusly:

 "He saddled his horse and rode out to meet them. Stopping at a grassy spot to let the horse feed, he knelt in prayer for their safety. As he did so, a vision was opened to him of their mutilated bodies laying in their ransacked wagon. Horrified, he quickly mounted and rode his horse for help. He soon met a friendly Indian who was coming to tell him about the tragedy. He sent the Indian on to Berryville to tell his brother, John, while he hurried on to Grafton for help."

"A posse was quickly organized to recover the bodies to bring them to Grafton where they were buried. Word was dispatched to settlers who were scattered throughout Southern Utah to gather into larger centers for protection. The Black Hawk War had reached the south and the Indians were on a rampage."

"William tried to find the Indians who killed his family and he thought he knew who they were. The story is told that William found 2 Indians in a log cabin and was sure that they were among those who had killed his family. With one Indian backed against the wall and the point of a butcher knife pricking his bare abdomen, William tried to make him tell what he knew."

"When the Indian said that he was one of the guilty party, William could hardly restrain himself, and he felt that if he killed the Indian it would settle the score. Then the Indian did a brave thing that brought William to his senses, he calmly folded his arms, looked William straight in the eye and stood solid. He spoke no word and for a moment the two stood staring at each other. At this time it was made known to William that vengeance was the Lord's and that he wouldn't want the blood of any man on his hands. So he told the Indian to get out. The incident taught William a lesson in self-control which he would never forget."

But we are not done with William Shanks Berry, my 9th cousin 4 times removed (try and diagram that relationship chart).  In Part 2, we pick up the story of the Tennessee Mormon Massacre.

Monday, October 9, 2017

Monday Meandering - 10.09.2017

Happy Indigenous Peoples Day! You may know it as Columbus Day, but here in wacky, weird Austin it is officially, per the City Council, Indigenous Peoples Day. I get the day off, regardless. Oh, wait...

I will get the day off from the Studio, so I can work at home on my audio book. What? You don't know about my audio book? Maybe that's because it has happened rather suddenly.

I mentioned that Learning Ally is moving to a totally "virtual volunteer" environment; all readers and checkers will work from home studios, so in preparation, I have been setting up my recording studio here at the house. However, the Austin Studio will remain open until some time in March, so I'll continue going to the studio on a regular basis.

Meanwhile, I have this nifty studio set-up here, and I'm anxious to try it out, so I started looking around for someone who needs something recorded. Turns out (the Amazon Company) needs a lot of recording and they have a pretty elaborate setup to bring together "Rights Holders" (people who write books) and "Producers" (people who record books).

There's a lot of hoops to jump through, but basically after you get your Producer profile set up, you upload some samples of your reading so Rights Holders can listen to them and beg you to read their book.  Or more likely, you look through the catalog of books (almost all are already on Amazon as print books or Kindle books) and send an "audition" to the Holder, begging to read his/her book.

In my case, I uploaded my samples on Thursday. On Friday morning, I had a message that a "Bestselling Historical Fiction Author Seeking Narrator for my Historical Novel with Magical Realism was impressed with my reading samples, and would I send her an audition (read a few pages of the actual book)? I figured this was probably a mass message to everyone who matched the profile of parameters I checked off (great voice, wonderful intonation, works cheap), but hey?

So Friday afternoon, I recorded and edited about 15 minutes of audition material from the book. I uploaded it Friday night and Saturday afternoon I had a message that I had an offer to produce the book! I'm in the process of reading it now to find out what "Magical Realism" is.

Reality check. This is not a John Grissom or Sue Grafton book. And based on the estimated length of the finished product and how long it took me to produce the 15 minute audition, I'll earn about $2 an hour for my work, but at least I know what ya'll are getting for Christmas this year!

Monday, October 2, 2017

Monday Meanderings - 10.2.2017

The subject of this week's post is senility - or at least advanced forgetfulness. Last Monday Barb remarked, "No Monday Meanderings?" And truth be told, it had completely slipped my mind. I had gone the entire week without giving a single thought to putting anything down.

I have to say it was a hard, and busy week. A lot of activity, and you know how activity wears us Senior Citizens down. Monday and Wednesday are Learning Ally days; Thursday night was a Eucharist service with our next-door neighbors at Saint Matthews; then a sound rehearsal on Friday night with the Central Texas Medical Orchestra; a tough, tough standing-room only funeral Saturday afternoon; and the then the Orchestra performance Saturday night.

I have blogged about the Central Texas Medical Orchestra before. All the musicians are local and are directly or indirectly part of the medical profession, and their 4 concerts a year benefit various health-care organizations, such as the Epilepsy Society, or March of Dimes. Each concert, in addition to an interesting selection of classical and pop music by the orchestra, features a guest instrumentalist and a guest vocalist.

This performance featured Kiki Ebsen, daughter of Buddy Ebsen (of Beverly Hillbilly TV fame). Her program was a brief retrospective of her father's career, with photos, video clips and songs from the films, such as Moon River (Breakfast at Tiffany's) and Over the Rainbow (Wizard of Oz). Since I mostly remember Buddy only from the Hillbillys episodes, so it was interesting to hear about his earlier career, including his three roles in the Wizard of Oz that never came to fruition.

Ebsen was originally cast as the Scarecrow until Ray Bolger's rubber-legged dancing caught the attention of MGM's brass, so they switched Buddy to the Tin Man role. However, he was highly allergic to the aluminum powder they sprayed on his face daily - so much so, he was hospitalized, and while he was undergoing a lengthy recuperation, they replaced him with Jack Haley.

His voice remained on the soundtrack, however, when the quartet of Dorothy, the Scarecrow, the Tin Man, and the Cowardly Lion sings We’re Off To See the Wizard - though he never received screen credit for that until the 50th Anniversary version of Wizard was released.

So this has been a quieter, calmer week, and my antique brain did muster up a notion that I needed to write down some Meanderings. That, and a couple of nudges from Barb.