Friday, September 30, 2011

Heber Valley Ancestors

Today Grandma wanted to go on an adventure to Heber so that she could show the girls the graves of their ancestors. I've been doing quite a bit of family history work on my mom's mom's side of the family—I'm now in charge of the family newsletter—and have been finding out all kinds of interesting things. I was excited to get to tag along and learn interesting things about the ancestors on Andrew's side of the family.

On our way up to Heber we stopped by Sundance to go for a little walk and enjoy the beautiful autumn leaves.

Andrew took me up this ski lift on our first date ten years ago—there was no snow then, either. We just went up the lift, hiked to Stewart Falls, and then hiked back down to Sundance.

Today, Grandma, the girls, and I just walked around the grounds of the Sundance resort. It was very beautiful and would have been peaceful except for the fact that we had to endure Rachel's screaming any time we ventured too near to the water.

They have a series of waterfalls at Sundance that is actually quite lovely.

Miriam was much less timid when it came to the water, which means that I actually got some pictures of Miriam and water in the same shot.

Her little scrunched-up smile is hilarious, and she was a little nervous to be sitting so close to the rushing water all by herself but she managed to feel the fear and do it anyway.

Rachel preferred to stick closer to the trees. Much closer.

Near the end of our time near the river she decided that sitting on a rock several tens of feet away from the river was probably safe. But only probably.

Miriam got right up to the river and even touched it. It was very, very cold.

Sometimes you'd think I'd have twenty cameras pointing at my girls instead of just one—they never seem to know quite where to look. It would probably help if they'd open their eyes.

Though both of them managed to look in directions that were at once polar opposites and completely wrong even when their eyes were open. Seriously...what are they looking at? Not me, that's for sure.

Near the restaurant and gift shop were some barrels with beautiful flower arrangements in them that Rachel was quite fond of.

She would have had me take a picture of her in front of every single one, if I'd have been willing.

She also tried to get me to take her picture in front of a light post and a few other random objects. She's so silly sometimes.

There's nothing quite like a trip into the canyon to get you in the mood for autumn!

After Sundance we headed to Heber and found the cemetery. Getting my girls to observe any sense of etiquette or respect was pretty futile. They were so interested in all the headstones—they wanted me to read every one and to tell them if it was a grown up or a baby, whether they lived a long time ago or not, whether they ever got married, whether they had children, and so forth. 

They were especially interested in finding baby headstones.

When we packed back up in the car to go home, Rachel asked, "When is Miriam going to die?"

"Mimi's not gonna die!" Miriam shouted at her.

"Yes, you are, Miriam—so we can get you one of those cool stones!"

"Yeah, you know, I kind of hope she doesn't die for a long time," I said.

Though she almost did—she was perched on an itty-bitty headstone and I was right in the middle of asking her to get off (and, you know, snapping a quick picture of her being naughty) when the headstone fell over, toppling Miriam with it!

She was a little freaked out by it. As was I. 

When I set it upright again I noticed that the front was all muddy and there was an imprint of the headstone in the mucky grass (really, you can check the first picture if you don't believe me) so I'm pretty sure that is not the first time it has fallen over. I was rather glad of that because I was feeling a little guilty about my vandalous toddler wreaking havoc in the cemetery. I just cannot keep that child from climbing things!

I can understand their fascination with cemeteries, though. I love visiting graveyards, myself, and looking at the grave markers—new and old. 

Our first stop was the grave of Tom Tabby, the son of Chief Tabby. Interestingly enough, Tom Tabby's grave is facing south, whereas the other graves in the cemetery are facing east. Christians prefer to be buried facing east, though apparently Native Americans aren't partial to east-facing burials. It reminded me about ancient Egyptian graves—and how they face west...I think—and then how the bodies buried on top face east because they were buried after Christianity was introduced. Very interesting, though I'm not convinced it really matters which direction you face when you're buried. Does it really make that much of a difference when you're six feet under ground? How hard is turning around, anyway?

There is a sign posted near the grave that explains the story of how Tom Tabby came to be buried in the Heber Cemetery. It says:
One day in 1867, Chief Tabby came into Provo River Valley after the Indian Peace Treaty with his dead son in his arms. As he rode up on his horse, Joseph Stacy Murdock, the Mormon Presiding Bishop, recognized Chief Tabby. After a brief greeting, Chief Tabby said that he was holding his own dead son, who was killed in an accident while hunting. The chief knew that Joseph was the religious leader among his people so he asked that Joseph bury his son in the custom of the Mormons. With a feeling of great sorrow for his friend, Joseph conducted a Christian funeral service and buried Tom Tabby under a beautiful pine tree, which had been planted several years before by John H. Murdock in the Heber Cemetery.
When the final prayer was said, Chief Tabby said, "My son has been buried in the White Man's custom, now he will be honored in the Indian fashion." A rick of cedar logs was then laid upon the new grave and the boy's favourite pony was lead up to it, where it's [sic] throat was cut and the animal was laid upon the pier and the logs were set afire. 
As the embers slowly died, Chief Tabby got on his horse and rode into the mountains east of Heber with his braves.
Joseph Stacy Murdock (26 June 1822–14 February 1899) is the great-great-great-great-grandfather of Rachel and Miriam. This is his grave marker:

 There are a lot of Murdocks buried in the Heber Cemetery. We're related to some of them.

There are also a lot of Lindsays buried in Heber and we're related to some of them, too. This is the grave of Sarah A. (Murdock) Lindsay, who Andrew's sister Sarah is named after. Sarah Murdock Lindsay was the daughter of Joseph Stacy Murdock.

Sarah Murdock and her husband Robert Lindsay had several children who died very young and are buried in Heber. This tombstone below, though juxtaposed to Sarah and Robert Lindsay's headstone, is for the children of Andrew Lindsay—Robert Lindsay's brother:

The graves of several Andersons that we're related to can also be found in Heber. Esther and Lawrence Anderson are Rachel and Miriam's great-great-grandparents. Lawrence passed away 50 days before his wife, Esther, gave birth to their last child, George Albert Anderson, who was Grandma's father. Lawrence got kicked by a horse and never recovered. I can't imagine having to have a baby without my husband there to help me, but Esther did just that. Esther died 46 years after Lawrence—she did remarry six years after he died, but that husband, Thomas Raymond Boltun died in 1949, leaving Esther a widow once more for sixteen years.

In the middle of our tombstone search, Miriam informed me that she needed to go potty. Not only did she need to go potty but she needed to go potty right then! There are no bathrooms in graveyards, so I ran her back to the van, pulled out a grocery bag, set it on the ground, held her over it and helped her do her business into the grocery bag. Rachel was green with envy.

"I need to go potty, too!" she said.

"We just went not too long ago," I said, "And we'll be leaving soon so you can hold it."

"But Miriam got to go in a grocery bag!" she whined. "I want to go in a grocery bag, too!"

"Sorry, but no. I already threw the grocery bag away and I don't have another one to use so you are just out of luck."

"But it's not fair!" Rachel wailed.

I think this will be added to my running list of "awkward places I take my children potty."

Anyway, I love getting to know our ancestors! It's funny how addicting family history research gets once you begin but it's so fun to hear a name and know who it is and be able to recall a little bit about their life. I can certainly feel my heart begin to turn to my fathers, as it were.

Our last stop on our field trip was at Dairy Keen—home of the train! The girls enjoyed sitting on the train out front before we went inside to get milk shakes.


  1. So interesting to read this...growing up every memorial day we would go to that same cemetary and visit some of those same grave. I come through John Murray Murdock and Ann Steele. Small world!

  2. How funny—I can't even find John Murray Murdock on our family tree; but I'm sure he's in there're probably like 5th cousins with my kids or something. :)