Monday, November 11, 2013

Rhoda Byrne Jared Young's Genealogy Mission

In his 1976 masters thesis "A History of Female Missionary Activity..."  Calvin S. Kunz identified [1] two women who were "set apart for genealogical missions to Tennessee": Rhonda B. Young and her unmarried [2] daughter Francis G. Young.

Rhonda was the archtypical family genealogist for the Young family (no relation to Brigham Young). They had joined the Church in Tennessee during the Nauvoo period. She grew up as a neighbor to the Young family and had married two of the Young cousins, first to Dop (Adolphia) Young and then after his death she married Dops' cousin Alfred Douglas Young. [3]

After the death of Joseph Smith the family returned to Tennessee to earn money for the trip west. After saving and preparing the trip they took a boat to go as far west as they could get. Outside of Independence Missouri...
Rhoda recalls that the boat was creeping so slowly that the captain gave the order to fire her up . The wheel turned about three times and then a terrible explosion occurred. The captain and the fireman were killed and 150 other people killed.[4]
The family lost everything in the explosion except the cash Dol had on his person. Miraculously, none of the family were killed, although one child was blown off the boat and landed on shore, and two others fell into the hole created by the explosion.

One journal entry describes her a raising the walls of a log home herself while the men were out collecting logs for another home. Her first husband and her oldest son died before they arrived in Utah, so she and Frances (age 14) drove the wagon themselves. In Provo she stood before three threatening Utes that were demanding food and she refused them entry to her home. In the heat of the argument, one of the Utes accidentally shot another. Thereafter the Utes terrorized her home with yelling and gunfire at night.[5]

Shortly afterwards, realizing she could not support her family by herself on sewing alone she proposed marriage to Alfred, her husbands cousin. Alfred and his existing wife agreed. In 1863 the family was called on a cotton mission to the Muddy River in modern day Nevada. When the colony was abandoned, they resettled in Kanab.

In 1887, Rhoda and her daughter Frances were set apart by church leaders just prior to her returning to Tennessee to gather genealogical information about her and her husbands' ancestors. Exactly how long she stayed, whether she did any other work, or just about anything else about her visit remains a mystery.

According to family sources, she wrote a very complete record based on her primary research. Sadly the original, and only complete version, was destroyed by a fire. Two of her daughters had fortunately been copying their mothers work and were able to preserve some of the record.

[1] Kunz cites Missionary Records General, III 1887:207-208 quoted in "A History of Female Missionary Activity..." by Calvin S. Kunz.
[2] Frances was married to Brigham Hamilton Young, making Kunz assumption that she was unmarried an understandable error.
[3] One record says Dop and Alfred were brother, not cousins. I do not intend to solve that debate here.
[4] Sketch of life of Rhoda Byrne Jared Young by Jeniene Young Hamelwright
[5] History of Provo, FHL book 979.224/P1/H2j quoted in "Life and Times of William (Billy) Young" by Gary Dean Young

2 comments:

Amy said...

What a story! So sad about the genealogical records, but it's good it wasn't a complete loss.

BruceCrow said...

Thanks, Amy. My Aunt had a similar loss when her house burned to the ground about 15 years ago. She was probably thinking that was not how she wanted to go paperless.