Preserving Gems of the Past

March 14, 2014

The story goes that Butch Cassidy and his outlaw companions ate a couple of meals with Grandma’s family, and bedded down in their barn. By all accounts the men were polite and actually reimbursed my Grandma’s parents for their room and board.

Who remembers the stuff that happened back in the day, I mean waaaaay back in the day? I’m getting on in years, but recently my, still beautiful, still sweet, 2nd Grade teacher, Mrs. Tranter reminded me of something I did back in the day that had completely escaped my memory. Once upon a time when I went to elementary school, all the little girls wore dresses…

When you were in my class you sometimes wore blue jeans underneath your dress. Do you remember why I eventually went to your mom and had to ask her not to let you wear blue jeans underneath your dress? Margie, on the days you wore blue jeans under your dress you would beat up the boys on the playground and get in trouble.

To be honest, I was not surprised by the story. Mrs. Tranter was, and still is, above reproach. It makes sense that I could run faster and jump higher and farther if I didn’t have to worry about exposing my underpants, so the temptation to chase the boys who teased me and beat the tar out of them may have been great. And it’s true, I beat up the boys who were unkind–I took care of bullies my own way. But then again…I simply had forgotten that little window into my girlhood so many decades ago.


My mom used to tell me the story of how, when her mother, my Grandma, Thurza Artemisha Adams, was a little girl, the Hole-in-the-Wall Gang lead by Butch Cassidy, stayed over for the night at their little farm in Hanksville, Utah, a tiny town settled by my great-great Grandfather, Ebenezer Hanks. Back in the late 1800s it was not uncommon for travelers to take shelter and food at the remote farmhouses they encountered on their travels. The story goes that Butch Cassidy and his outlaw companions ate a couple of meals with Grandma’s family, and bedded down in their barn. By all accounts the men were polite and actually reimbursed my Grandma’s parents for their room and board.  Myths, legends, and documented facts about Butch Cassidy and his Hole in the Wall abound in the little towns of Southern Utah. But their travels were extensive, and their activities not always nefarious. While looking at this colorized photograph of Butch’s gang at the peak of their fame–or infamy–I can’t help but believe that my Grandma, and perhaps her mom and sisters, were quite taken by the roguishly good-looking, mysterious outlaws who touched their lives for a day. 

Recently I dug up an old c. 1950s photograph of my paternal grandparents at their farm in Paradox, Colorado. My Grandma Nina (Farley) looks so worn in the picture. Her life on that farm was one of endless toil. My Grandad Fred Snyder, whose face is hidden in the shade of his hat brim, looks a little stubborn, maybe a little arrogant. But in the curve of his face and angle of his neck I see…me.


In the doctrine of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS or Mormon Church) families can be united on Earth and throughout the Eternities in unbreakable and unending bonds; all generations tied together forever. Genealogical research is a key part of the Mormon practice of sealing families, because our families stretch beyond those immediate loved ones with whom we associate on Earth. I never met my Grandad Fred Snyder, but I see in him, myself; the looks, the single-mindedness. Understanding who we are, were we came from and where we’re going, spiritually, physically, and intellectually, are key to human happiness. Religion teaches us about God, but we can also learn about our Heavenly Family and Heavenly Home, by becoming acquainted, intimately so, with our earthly families in our earthly homes.

I love the following video; a narrative slideshow of colorized vintage photographs from our recent past. The colorization adds an immediacy, a humanness, and a deep pathos to these pictures; pictures of somebody’s families, perhaps our own.

Genealogy, thanks to myriad ancestral Internet research sites provided by the Mormon Church and hundreds of other databases, is one of the fastest growing hobbies in modern times. The only other Internet use that comes close is pornography. Ironic isn’t it, that one application of technology, Genealogy, bonds families together through generations, while pornography blows families apart with insidious and lasting effects.

The final words of the final book of the Old Testament read:

Malachi 4


  1 For, behold, the day cometh, that shall burn as an oven; and all the proud, yea, and all that do wickedly, shall be stubble: and the day that cometh shall burn them up, saith the Lord of hosts, that it shall leave them neither root nor branch.

2 ¶But unto you that fear my name shall the Sun of righteousness arise with healing in his wings; and ye shall go forth, and grow up as calves of the stall.

3 And ye shall tread down the wicked; for they shall be ashes under the soles of your feet in the day that I shall do this, saith the Lord of hosts.

4 ¶Remember ye the law of Moses my servant, which I commanded unto him in Horeb for all Israel, with the statutes and judgments.

5 ¶Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord:

6 And he shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers, lest I come and smite the earth with acurse.

Our world is cursed with evil of all forms, but the goodness, love, and light of God penetrate and dispel the darkness when we allow our hearts to receive Him. As pornography rules the dark side of technology, so does Genealogy, the study of our Ancestors–the study of ourselves, rule the light. Remember and share. Don’t let the most precious gems of eternity be forgotten.

by Marjorie Haun  3/14/14

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