Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Family History finds...

Here's the Scoop on John Burton Pears

As is my habit lately, I like to work on Family History and indexing on Sundays. I have been gathering a flood of information about my Italian ancestors who came from Calitri, Italy, as there has been an active group of descendants of people from Calitri and they have made many records available on the internet. Let me tell you, that group is immensely helpful and it is ten times easier to check those resources than to go slogging through miles of microfilm at the downtown library after waiting over a day for them to retrieve the obscure microfilms (in Italian, mind you) from the Granite Mountain vault!
Historical Site: Martin's Cove, Wyoming
This past Sunday, I decided to take a break from Italian records and I randomly put in a search for some of my husband's relatives on the Family Search website. It was completely random, as I just scrolled through the name list on my Ancestral Quest program and picked a name out to search. Bingo! I found more information about a person whose name has been in my data base, almost from the beginning, and I had no idea what I would find. In our records we had this: "John Burton Pears, son of John Pears and Margaret Burton, born in York, England 1798, and died crossing the plains in 1856". Don't ask my why, with my curious nature, or with any one of several other relatives hunting about for clues or taking Genealogy classes at BYU, we never put two and two together about how this man died crossing the plains.
Well, for your information John Burton Pears is the (4th) Great Uncle to my husband, (and all his brothers and sisters). John was the younger brother of direct line ancestor Mary Pears (1795). (For those who are trying to figure it out in their heads, start with Sara Cecilia Smith, mother of Grandma Alice, and go back from there.)
As I have tried to find out more about this man and his life, I have discovered there is little information that exists about him personally, I guess he wasn't a journal keeper. So, if you want to learn about him and his family, try to read other information about the Martin Handcart Company, and about converts crossing the ocean from Liverpool to New Orleans in 1849. He traveled from England to New Orleans, from 2 Sept 1849 to 22 Oct 1849 on the ship James Pennell. Maybe you could even take a side trip to Devil's Gate, Wyoming, because that is where he was buried.
A Tragic Pioneer Story
Most of you reading may already know about the tragic story of these pioneers. They left Missouri in late August of 1856. They were in a hurry to start their trip west, so they hastily constructed handcarts to take with them. Many of these people were poor immigrants, (they could not afford a wagon and team), and they were converts to the LDS Church. They had left their homes in England to settle in the USA with the other saints. Leaving in late August was not the best idea, Rocky Mountain winter weather got the better of them and they were not well prepared as their handcarts only allowed limited food, supplies, and belongings to be brought with them. Their handcarts were also quickly made with green wood that did not hold up well to the rigors of the journey. They suffered physically and mentally; deprivation, starvation, freezing cold, and those horrible Wyoming winter winds that are famous for overturning semi-trucks on Route 80. About one quarter of the Martin Handcart Company paid with their lives. They were prepared to give their lives for their faith and many of them ultimately did just that. As soon as the people in SLC heard of their plight, from some other travelers, rescue parties were sent out to aid and retrieve these unlucky pioneers. If they survived, many of the party suffered from frost bite and had to have feet and toes amputated, as well as losing many of their family members and friends to exposure and sickness.
Devil's Gate, Wyoming
Recap: John Burton Pears born 10 Sept 1798, Bishop Hill, York, England- Son of John Pears and Margaret Burton (one of 8 children, the oldest son and second oldest child). Brother of Mary Pears (1795), direct line ancestor. He married Rosehannah Whitehead in England (1822). Five children are recorded for John Burton and Rosehannah in Family Tree at the Family Search website, the couples first three children died in infancy, the last two, both daughters, made it to Utah. John Burton, his wife Rosehannah, and youngest daughter, Eliza, were all part of the Martin Handcart Company. Eliza, married Nicholas Summers and lived in Uintah, Weber, Utah. Margaret (the other daughter not listed as a member of the Martin Handcart Company, married George Denton and lived in Toole, Utah.

More resources for those who are interested:

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