Thursday, April 03, 2008

Don't believe everything you read.

It turns out the blog world does intersect with reality. Occasionally.

Y'see, last Pioneer Day I posted about my ancestors, and my great-great Grandpa Hezekiah Thatcher in particular. I told a little about his life of heroism and rebellion as an early convert to the Mormon church, driven west for his faith and then further west for his crankiness. I got a good response from my readers, particularly on the running-off-to-California-against-orders bit. We Thatchers have always sorta prided ourselves on that rebellious streak; we like to be faithful to our creed, but not TOO faithful. You hear the word "maverick" a lot when you sit in a gaggle of reminiscing Thatchers -- you could call it our family myth. We've always assumed that this telling of the Hezekiah Thatcher story was true because 1) we knew that Brigham Young had specifically forbidden his followers to go to the Gold Rush or into mining in general and 2) we assumed that our ancestor must have fallen in the rebellion camp, because otherwise we'd have a family legend explaining his purer motives. Usually family traditions tend to put a positive spin on reality, rather than the opposite. So a negative family tradition is probably true, right?

Then a few months after writing that Pioneer Day blog entry, I was reading about Mormons and the Gold Rush and learned that it was now known that Brigham Young, after telling the general membership of the Church NOT to go to the Gold Rush, took aside a few individual members and asked them to do the opposite: go make as much money as possible in the Gold Rush and bring it back to build up the Mormon communities in the Great Basin.

Oh no, I thought.

I wasn't all that upset to discover that I might have fed my faithful blog readers falsehoods about my family. I was upset to discover that I might come from OBEDIENT stock.

Oh NO.

And not just obedient stock -- super-duper obedient stock. I didn't tell anyone in my family: I feared being stoned for the crime of entertaining heretical historical thoughts. I briefly considered heading up to USU to dig through the Thatcher family papers collection, but when it came right down to it...

I didn't want to know.

Then a few weeks back I'm contacted by a stranger who came upon my Pioneer Day posting from a Google search. He's filming a genealogy show for BYU-TV about great-great Grandpa Thatcher and guess what? It's about this very question. Was Hezekiah Thatcher a rebel or the goodiest of do-gooders?

It would appear that the universe is determined to enlighten me on this point.

They want me to be part of the show: a descendant of Hezekiah to add human interest to their investigation (I'm imagining that History Detectives show, but for the Mormon crowd). So I need everyone to pray for me. Pray like you've never prayed. Pray that at least one of the following will happen:

1) They find nothing new and we Thatchers continue on in blissful crankiness

2) They find an entry in his journal that says, "President Young told me to stick around, and I told him where to stick it"

3) They find out he was acting under orders on the Gold Rush thing but at the same time discover that he was selling national secrets to the Commies (or something equally fabulous but non-anachronistic)

4) They find out that he was nothing but good and obedient and I somehow manage not to burst into tears on camera and/or get banned from all future family reunions

Wishing you and yours safety from the tides of inconvenient history. Over and out.

8 comments:

AzĂșcar said...

As a B.Y. descendant, let me tell you, it would behoove you and your predecessors to have obeyed and right fast.

sharonsfriendjen said...

This blog is great!! Those options were wicked funny!! #2 would be a great story to pass on for generations but #4, would be funnier especially if you broke down on camera because he was a do-gooder!! haha!! Maybe Mr. Thatcher is a rebel, maybe he caught wind that Mr. Young was sending a few to get some gold for the church and Mr. Thatcher couldn't resist going along for personal gain.
On a side note, fun and amazing things always happen your way. I am excited for you to be a part of this project, and I would like to see it when it is done.

Gawain said...

What an interesting turn of events for you. I would be slightly proud of my rebellious ancestors as well. If Hezekiah turns out to be one of the always and amazingly faithful, at least you have the "antics" of Moses the Opium using, polygamy loving, released apostle.

Princess Jess said...

poor you - good luck with this disaster! =)

D'Arcy said...

Marie, you truly are an entertainer! I haven't heard such interesting family history in a long time.I usually get bored when people tell me about their pioneer heritage. I have, though, never been jealous.

I come from a family of very recent converts, grandpa was a bootlegger who used to race his Model T down main, and great grandpa was an orphan raised in a convent (as far as we can tell, it is evident that one of the nuns gave birth to him) grew up to be in the Sicilian mafia...he was later murdered (as children we liked to imagine that he was shot in the kneecaps while they tried to get the information out of him of where he sent is wife and sons...(he sent them to Iowa)).

Man, if I found out those stories were false I would lose all my street cred!

D'Arcy said...

Once when my sister had to plan FHE she rented Godfather 1, 2, 3 and told the family that we were having family history night! I am not kidding! Italians are just that smug, I guess.

Marie said...

Azucar -- So now that B.Y. is no longer with us, I suppose it behooves me to obey you?

Jen -- If I fall apart, I'll be sure to make it nice and dramatic for your entertainment :)

Gawain -- Yeah, except that I'm not directly related to Moses, so it's not the same. We used Hezekiah to explain uncle Moses, but if the family lore falls apart, Moses will have some explaining to do. For the record, the Political Manifesto that he opposed is different than the Manifesto (which he supported). However, he wasn't an opponent of polygamy any more than any of the other church leaders. He helped start the LDS colonies in Mexico.

Jess -- Thanks!

D'Arcy -- Ooooh...I want me some gangster blood. It's fun having someone to blame your naughtiness on, isn't it? Just don't go offing people in alleyways -- the "genetics" plea is not a sufficient excuse for such stuff.

Anonymous said...

There is a very well done piece about Hezekiah done by BYU on the topic of his going to California, but I'm not sure how to get a hold of it. I saw it at a family reunion a few years ago.