A childhood memory from back in the 1960’s has resurfaced to the front of my mind today.  At the time, I had just learned about the Lewis and Clark Expedition in my grade school class.  Partly because of the continuous responsibility we had with our egg farm, it wasn’t often that we as a family would travel very far from home.  So even an over night trip from our home in Rexburg down the six or seven hours it took back then to travel to Salt Lake City or Provo, where my Uncle Ed lived, was memorable to me. 

            This particular visit was made in the cold of winter.  I can remember that because we traveled in what we later called our old blue van.  It was cold in  the back of that van.  An animal cracker box looked very close to its actual shape, and the motor was under metal lid literally between the driver’s seat and front passengers seat.  At the time, this was our best home delivery egg van.  We could bolt in bench seats (which more resembled benches than seats) to accommodate all us kids. To a nine year old, a 6 or 7 hour car ride seems more like days long.  I remember lying on the cold floor of that van, the only place where I could stretch out, and stare out the windows at the mountain range as we slowly made our way back home. 

As I lay there, I remembered the story of Sacagawea, who as a small Indian girl who lived in the Pacific Northwest, was stolen by another warring Indian tribe and was taken by them to their homeland back to the east.  As she traveled with her captors, Sacagawea looked for and memorized landmarks so she could eventually find her way back home.  Of course that is why she was so valuable to Lewis and Clark as their Indian guide into the Pacific Northwest.

So while thinking about this story, my nine year old mind wondered if I would be able to find my way back home.  As I stared at the Wasatch Mountain Range, I studied the shapes and tried to memorize landmarks so I could find my way back home too. 

Today, we traveled along this same place to attend a family reunion for my Beautiful Wife’s family being held North of Salt Lake.  As I drove, I looked at those same landmarks of the mountain range and remembered my childhood thoughts when I had first studied them.  Those landmarks have become some what of a symbol to me showing me the way back to my childhood home.  Tomorrow morning I’ll travel that same path, only this time all the way to my hometown of Rexburg.  As I ride along, I’ll be looking at those mountains and I be wondering about other landmarks which can lead me back home.  I’m looking forward to a great visit with my parents and other family who still live there. 

But besides the contour of those mountain ranges which I memorized years ago, I wonder what other landmarks are leading me back home.  Certainly, number 1 on my addenda is to get lots of quality visiting in with my parents and other family.  But something else draws me.  I’m not sure what.  Memories… reminiscing… walking the streets and traveling the roads I grew up around.  Maybe I be visiting the remnants of our old egg farm.  Maybe I need to secure more landmarks back to my past… to my memories… so I will never forget… so I can accurately write about the wonderful family I descend from.     

A Moving Story

A Moving Story


            These past several months have sapped all my extra time and strength, energy and interest, in what it takes to move.  Of course prior to even listing our old house for sale, an inordinate amount of energy went into the spruce it up preparations.  Then came the keep it up routine needed for showing it to potential buyers.  After we made a deal and our old house went under contract, our lives revolved around the pack’em up, move’em out responsibility.  Incidentally, finding our new home, the perfect one for us in the perfect place for us, was absolutely the easiest part of the whole move. 

            Well, now that I am mostly unpacked and organized with the things that I have sole responsibility for (my Beautiful Wife was unpacked and fully organized with EVERYTHING ELSE within hours of unloading the moving truck.) my thinking time has been spent marveling at what a big job this moving thing really is.  You’d think I’d already know what I’m in for.  We’ve moved ten times just since my Beautiful Wife and I were married.  But somehow each move is it’s own experience and has it’s own personality.  Now that I can stand back , sigh, and wipe the sweat from my eye brow, I have taken time to wonder and ponder about some other moving stories.

            Oh, the tales that could be told, if they were still here.  For example, my two greats grandpa, Jock Smith.  Generations of Smiths had lived in the same Scottish village of Dumfermline, in the parish of Perth.  It had been the law for generations, no one who lived there could move away from the mines.  Back then, the continent of Europe didn’t have a monopoly on the use of serfs.  But the law was finally changed.  Jock first moved about twenty miles, further up the Forth of Firth, to Alloa.  After marrying and beginning his own family, in 1849 they brought what little they had and came to America.  It took three years of work in St Louis before he could outfit for the trek west.  Once in the untamed west of what is now Utah, Jock moved his family four more times that I know of, maybe more.  Some of these moves were hundreds of miles apart.

            My two greats grand father, Samuel Webster, did something similar.  Only difference was, he left his wife and children back in England while he went ahead and earned enough to bring them to join him.  Later, Samuel decided that new opportunities awaited up in Canada, and my great grandma, Sarah, told of walking along side the narrow rail train, which moved them up north, because the train moved so slow that she could just walk along side it.

            As far as a life time of moving goes, I think the grand champion of all my progenitors were my two greats grandparents, Johann and Mary Sophia Tillack.  Both were born in what is now Germany.  Johann’s family had farmed for generations in Prussia.  But Johann and his family wanted no part of Otto Bismark’s ambitious plan to conquer Europe, so their only other option was to leave.  In 1855, the Australian Gold Rush was in full swing, and Johann caught the fever.  It was in the region of Melbourne that Johann met Mary Sophia and they had their large family.  Life was good as the family fruit farm prospered, but the itch to migrate once again came this time from their new found religious faith.  Life in Utah was good in the 1890’s.  It would have been a nice place to settle for Johann’s declining years, but because their children had mostly moved on again, Johann and Mary Sophia made the additional trek up north to live their final years in Canada with their children.  Back in the 1800’s, not many simple farmers traveled the world, but Johann not only traveled but established himself and lived on three continents and in four different countries.    

            We are now happily settled in our new home in our new community.  My Beautiful Wife is happy, and I am happy.  So as I reestablish some of my normal routines, including telling my ancestor’s life stories in the novel I’m working on, I have a renewed appreciation for what they went through to make life better for themselves and for their children, and ultimately for me.