Esther “Elizabeth” Yardley Thurman Milner

Last month I found myself hunting down family history about my great great grandfather, John Brewitt Milner (1830-1912), and learned a great deal about his life and especially his life changing decision to join the newly formed Mormon religion — the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (though it wasn’t called that back then) — and come to America to be with other Mormons in Zion.

What occured to me this morning was that it’s a distinctly patriarchal way to think of my ancestery only in terms of grandfathers and so after some quick web searching, what I discovered is the life history of John Brewitt’s first wife, my great great grandmother, Esther “Elizabeth” Yardley Thurman Milner (1825-1911). Pasted here for posterity:

Life History of Esther Elizabeth Yardley Thurman Milner

Esther Elizabeth Yardley was born January 24, 1825 at Tanworth, Warwickshire County, England. Her parents were Thomas Yardley and Mary Rose of Tanworth. She was the oldest of 12 children. The youngest were twins. They lived and died the same day.

Tanworth stands high midway between the two main roads which run to Birmingham from Strutfar on Avon on the east, and Alcester on the west. The church is a conspicuous landmark seen for many miles by the traveler on either of these routes. Tanworth was originally a clearing in the Forest of Arden. There is still to be seen an old oak at Beaumonts in the parish, said to be one of the old oaks of the Forest.

The Yardley family is an old Tanworth family living there as far back as 1557 and many descendants are scattered all over the world. A number of the family of Yardley have become distinguished people, such as George Yardley, First Governor of Virginia in America.

Elizabeth Yardley was born and educated in Tanworth and had much the same girlhood experiences as other girls at that time. Most everyone in the community belonged to the same church. When a young woman she went to take charge of her bachelor uncle’s household and servants in Birmingham England. She became acquainted with and married Thomas Edward Thurman in 1848.

Soon after marriage she and her husband heard the Mormon Elders preach the gospel. They were converted and joined the new church. She was baptized in March, 1850. Her people were very much against this new religion and did everything they could to persuade her against joining the Mormon Chruch, but she was steadfast in her belief. When they found out they couldn’t change her viewpoint, they disinherited her and from then on had nothing to do with her. Later, I am told, a sister joined the church and came to Utah. (Mary Ann Yardley)

Esther’s husband, Thomas E. Thurman, was born December 21, 1821 and baptized in the church in May, 1849 by Elder Godsal. He had a confectionary store, and also worked as a sadler. Three years after their marriage he was stricken with smallpox. When he knew he couldn’t get better he called her to him and his dying request was to take their son, Thomas Edward Thurman and go to Zion. She was pregnant at the time of his death and a child named Victoria was born soon after.

She prepared for her journey to America. Her oldest uncle was sympathetic with her and assisted her in getting ready for the trip. She sold all her household articles and only took what necessities she had to have. This was a great trial for these noble pioneers to leave their families and friends and embark for a strange new country. She secured passage on one of the sailboats of that day. They sailed from Liverpool April 19, 1853. they were seven weeks on the water and while out to sea the baby, Victoria, died and was buried at sea.

I also found another version of her life events from this source by Jeff Von Ward. (Again copy/pasted for record keeping purposes):

ESTHER “ELIZABETH” YARDLEY THURMAN MILNER
24 Jan 1825 – 29 Sept 1911

Esther is my third great grandmother on my mother’s mother’s side. She was born in Tanworth-in-Arden, Warwick, England. She was the oldest of thirteen children born to Thomas and Mary Rose Yardley and learned early on how to help her mother with the duties of raising a large family, becoming a good cook and pitching in with the housekeeping. While still a teenager, Esther moved to Birmingham to run her uncle’s household.

In Birmingham, she met Thomas Edward Thurman. The young couple married on 6 Nov 1848. The two had heard of the Mormons through visiting missionaries and agreed to attend their services. Legend has it that when Esther heard the hymn “O My Father”, she immediately formed a testimony for the truthfulness of the Mormon church. Esther and Thomas were both baptized on 7 Mar 1849.

The couple had two children, a boy and a girl, but their daughter died just a few weeks after she was born. Shortly after, Thomas himself died of tuberculosis. Esther, forced to make her own way, opened a pastry shop and ran a boarding house. One of her customers was Charles Dickens, who was said to have later portrayed her as a pleasant and plump matron of an inn in one of his novels.

A few years later, on 5 Feb 1853, Esther and her son left England aboard The Jersey and, six weeks later, they arrived in New Orleans, before making their way north to Keokuk, Iowa, a staging ground for immigrant Mormon pioneers. Here, Esther outfitted herself with a riding horse and a cow for milking. It is said she walked the whole way across the plains so her son and others could ride the horse.

While on the journey toward the Utah Valley, she met John Brewitt Milner. The couple married the following spring and settled in Provo, Utah.

They had seven children, including one daughter who died in infancy. Their fourth daughter, Sarah Ann Milner, my second great grandmother, was born on 29 May 1862 in Provo, Utah.

I couldn’t find much anything about Esther Elizabeth’s later life. Many years ago my dad went to John Brewitt’s gravesite and was shocked to discover her grave was not beside our grandfathers, instead, it was explained by a cousin, “oh no she divorced John Brewitt Milner and is buried some other place”. The story about why they divorced was at least partially about her feelings on polygamy and not being too happy about/with the other wives.

Weekend in Waterton

A couple of weeks ago I called my parents and asked if they wanted to spend the day in Waterton — to my delight they immediately took me up on the offer and arrived only a couple hours later.

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Many great memories flooded my mind as we checked off the list of essential Waterton activities and attractions.

Photos by the Prince of Wales Hotel… check.

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Climbing up Bears Hump for photos of the Waterton town-site… check.

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Lunch at Zums followed by photos in front of Cameron Falls… check and check.

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It was a great day for it too, even though the skies threatened a storm, we only got a little drizzle of rain followed by sunshine and ice-cream cones. Ice-cream tastes better in National Parks.

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The take home message really is that it’s well worth it to take advantage of our close proximity to a world class national park — one can basically drop their camera and come away with some great photos.

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We’re Off to See the Hutchinsons

4 boys jumping

Before flying out to sunny California tomorrow, Ange and I will make a couple of stops. The first is to see my sister Jackie and her boys. The trip to Okotoks looks like it might be a little snowy but ironically that makes it all the better — we can’t wait to get out of this frozen desert so that we can have fun in the sun and maybe enjoy a little frozen dessert.

One of the things I noticed studying up for our trip was the Captain EO Tribute show now playing at Disneyland. As a kid visiting Disneyland, I always wanted to go to the original show, however, either it wasn’t playing or the lines were too long and I never got a chance to see it. Looking at the show’s logo I had a flash of nostalgia and made a connection with my childhood that I had forgotten about years ago.

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I was always a bit of a daydreamer, doodler, type and the Captain EO logo was something that I took back from my trip and would draw over and over in elementary school, modifying and warping it as time passed. Eventually we were asked to create a personal logo in that class and what I came up with became a symbol that I have redrawn hundreds if not thousands of times since. Though I had forgotten its origin, I believe it was a direct response to the Captain EO logo. Here is a quick drawing I made of it just now:

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Do you see the resemblance? Maybe it’s just me but it makes me smile. I’m hoping to catch the Captain EO tribute while I’m down there. If you’re unfamiliar with the story, here’s a very quick summary.

“Michael Jackson is Captain EO, who with his rag tag band of alien creatures travels across the galaxy to find and alien queen and deliver a gift. This gift is in the form of a song that will change the world, from a dark, gloomy, evil world to one that sings and dances in a 80’s version Munchkinland.”

Sounds spectacular!

Fast Computer

According to my dad, his new computer is so fast that the slowest part of opening Firefox is double clicking. When he found out how to add the shortcut to the single clicking quicklaunch menu, he exclaimed that the time to get on the Internet just dropped in half!

The highlights of their order includes:

  • Intel Core i7 920 Quad Core Processor
  • 8GB DDR3 RAM
  • Microsoft Windows 7 Home Premium Edition
  • OCZ Vertex 120GB 2.5IN SATA2 Solid State Disk Flash Drive SSD

I’m curious to give it a try and see how Windows 7 performs and if using a solid state drive is really as great as the reviews seem to indicate. The thing that intrigues me the most is the idea that a solid state drive can’t crash because it doesn’t have any moving parts.

My parents said that as fast as the computer is, the boot time could be faster. Their non-scientific time trial indicates that a cold boot takes about 45 seconds.

Nephews

My younger sister, Jackie, recently attended her 10 year high school reunion. I decided to take some time and visit with her and her kids in Medicine Hat and put together a few family clips of her boys putting in some serious effort at having a good time.

Continue reading “Nephews”

Back to the Hat

It’s a civic holiday this Monday, so I’m away for the long weekend visiting family in Medicine Hat. My sister and her kids are going to be there—hopefully I’ll get some nice action shots of the boys jumping off the couch.

Speaking of my sister, check out her new Photography blog.

Posting has been sparse lately so it’s probably not particularly surprising when I say I may not be adding a whole lot while I’m gone.

Milner Family Reunion

Every five years my dad’s side of the family holds a “Milner” family reunion. I’ll be up in the mountains this week to celebrate. Here are some historic Milner photos that were recently scanned by my uncle that I posted for this weekend.

These are interesting as just a collection of old photographs, aside from the obvious groove that I get from the fact that I’m related to these folks.

Milner Family Collage

Drayton Valley Bound

I’m off to Drayton Valley to visit my sister and her family. She’s got three of the cutest kids imaginable:

Ryker, Eric, and Vaughn

In the meantime, posting may be sporadic, but I’ll be back soon.

Family News – The Good and the Bad

Vaughn HutchinsonOn the morning of Monday, May 12th, my sister and her husband Glen added a third baby to the family — another boy. I am very excited for them as are the rest of my family. Jackie and Glen named him Vaughn Patrick Hutchinson. He was a little over 10lbs and his low blood sugar levels meant he needed to be on I.V. for a day or so until things stabilized. They are both healthy and happy to be back at home.

Meanwhile, in some less happy news, on Monday my Mom’s brother Rodger, went into the hospital as well and was put on I.V. because he was unable to eat. It was only a few months ago he was diagnosed with cancer, and though we all realized his time was short, it is still very hard. He died this morning at around 7am in his home.