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.

The Kyoto Misconception

The feature image above shows me in front of the Kinkaku-ji, The Golden Temple in Kyoto Japan, 1993. Kyoto’s beauty and rich history stuck with me all these years since. I can easily see how visiting such a place dramatically changes your opinion.

On August 6 and 9, 1945 the United States bombed Hiroshima and Nagasaki with the most powerful weapon the world had ever seen. It turns out, Kyoto was almost sealed to the same fate but was saved (at least partially) by someone’s personal experience.

Kyoto was spared because of a personal intervention: the US Secretary of War, Henry L. Stimson, did not think it should be bombed. This story has been told many times, often as an example of how thin a line there is between life and death, mercy and destruction. But there’s an angle to this story that I think has gone overlooked: how the debate about targeting Kyoto led President Truman to a crucial misunderstanding about the nature of the atomic bomb.

Fascinating and thought-provoking read: The Kyoto Misconception.

Osama Bin Laden’s Hideout Compound Reviews

osama bin ladens hideout compound

Here are some reviews of Osama Bin Laden’s Hideout Compound from Google Maps.

Surprisingly large DVD collection, but overall just average. I was visiting my buddy at the Pakistan Military Academy and he recommended bin Laden’s after the compound I had booked on AirBnB fell through. It was only a few blocks away, which was great. Bed was only a twin, but watching Teen Wolf Too made up for it. Not good for more than three nights.
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Well, It is nicer than a cave.
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My wife and I spent our honeymoon in Abbottabad and stayed at ObLC. The fact that they honor Starwood Hotels points really swayed our decision, not to mention the only other hotel in town is a Holiday Inn Express and I wouldn’t bury a dead terrorist in one of their hotels. Booked online, quite simple thanks to their real-time reservation system. I don’t speak Urdu, so the English language translations were very helpful. Upon check-in the staff was very friendly. The hotel manager-I’ve forgotten his name-was kind, and spoke English well. My room was not available at check-in, evidently some billionaire’s son and his entourage were taking up a lot of space, but they graciously upgraded me to a suite. One downside was the loud construction noise at night. I don’t know what sort of demolition or jackhammering they’re doing there but why at night? Very strange, but the manager was apologetic and paid for our breakfast. And they make you sign a “non-disclosure agreement” upon check-out, I guess maybe it’s a very exclusive resort for that area? A++++++++ would stay again!!

Kurt Vonnegut’s Letter Home

As a private with the 106th Infantry Division, Kurt Vonnegut, along with five other battalion scouts, wandered behind enemy lines for several days during the Rhineland Campaign and became cut off from their battalion. They were captured by Wehrmacht troops on December 14, 1944 and imprisoned in Dresden, Germany.

While a prisoner, he witnessed the controversial fire bombing of Dresden in February 1945 which destroyed most of the city. The Germans held Vonnegut in an an ad hoc detention facility that had originally been an underground slaughterhouse meat locker. This experience was the inspiration for his famous novel, Slaughterhouse-Five.

A month later he wrote his family from a repatriation camp informing them of his capture and survival:

Kurt Vonnegut Letter home

See the rest of the letter at Letters of Note – Slaughterhouse Five.

Jimmy Page in 1957

Jimmy Page on BBC1 in 1957.

When asked by host Huw Wheldon what he wanted to do after schooling, Page says, “I want to do biological research [to find a cure for] cancer, if it isn’t discovered by then”.

Instead he went on to form one of the world’s greatest rock bands, Led Zeppelin.

Led Zeppelin

Led Zeppelin in 1969. From left to right: John Bonham, Robert Plant, Jimmy Page, John Paul Jones.

(via)

Backmasking Text File

Here’s an interesting little text file from 1983 that Jason Scott has in this vast archive of BBS files, backmask.txt, that delves into the history, technology, and social aspects of backmasking.

From the text file by William Poundstone:

TV programs such as PRAISE THE LORD and THE 700 CLUB have propagated rumors of a satanic plot in the recording industry, no less, in which various albums conceal “backward-masked” demonic murmurings. If THAT sounds too spacey to be taken seriously, consider that it was the fundamentalist groups who were behind House Resolution 6363, a bill introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives by Robert K. Dornan (R., Calif.) in 1982 to label all suspect records: “WARNING: THIS RECORD CONTAINS BACKWARD MASKING THAT MAKES A VERBAL STATEMENT WHICH IS AUDIBLE WHEN THIS RECORD IS PLAYED BACKWARD AND WHICH MAY BE PERCEPTIBLE AT A SUBLIMINAL LEVEL WHEN THIS RECORD IS PLAYED FORWARD.”

Many of the original rumours I heard about backmasking when I was a kid are in this file. It’s interesting to note that the claims of what exactly each songs says when played backwards has continued to evolve over the years.