About Me

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Lake Mathews (Perris), CA, United States
I am a native of Illinois and grew up in Wilmette, a northern suburb of Chicago. I have one sibling, an older brother. After dropping out of college, I moved to California in 1973 with my first husband. I married my present husband, Butch, in 1977 and got 4 children in the deal. They have gone on to make me a grandmother 25 times over and a great-grandmother of 19. Three years after I married Butch I returned to school. I got my bachelors and masters degrees in speech communication and was a professor in that field for 13 years. I retired in 2001 to return to school and get my doctorate in folklore. Now I meld my two interests - folklore and genealogy - and add my teaching background, resulting in my current profession: speaker/entertainer of genealogically-related topics. I play a number of folk instruments, but my preference is guitar, which I have been playing since 1963. I work in partnership with Gena Philibert-Ortega with Genealogy Journeys where we focus on educating folks about Social History. More about that can be found at http://genaandjean.blogspot.com and more about my own business projects is on my Circlemending website.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Countdown to Salt Lake Family History Expo!

A week from today we will be setting up our booth - #621 - at the Family History Expo outside of Salt Lake City, Utah. We are looking forward to seeing lots of old friends while also making the acquaintance of many new ones. We will be doing short demonstrations of the music of our ancestors and will have 8 CDs available for purchase (7 of mine and one of my husband's featuring his most unusual saw and spoon playing). We also are planning something new this year: downloads of MP3 files onto a CD (or your own flash drive) so you can purchase just the songs you are most interested in. Of course that means there is no written information on the songs, but for someone wanting only a very few, it can be a pretty good deal at $1/song and $2 for the CD (though people who download them to their own flash drives will save that $2 cost). We will have a list of all the available songs and also have them on a player so the prospective buyer can listen to them first. So if you think that this is something that would be of interest to you, stop by the booth and check it out! (Of course, this option is not a "show only" deal and we will have this available after the Expo is over, too.)

As I've mentioned before, we will also be presenting "To Zion in Song" at the Expo. We will document the Mormon trek from Nauvoo to Salt Lake with the songs that the early Saints sung. We even get folks singing along, if we're lucky. One of the most interesting songs we present is one that was written in 1946 by Myron Crandell. Crandell titled his song "This is the Place," after the prophetic statement Brigham Young made when he viewed the Salt Lake Valley for the first time. In its original form, this song consists of 7 verses which detail just about every major event from the departure from Iowa to the settling of Salt Lake City. Included are Pres. Young's bet with Jim Bridger, his admonition to the Saints to settle in Utah and not continue to the gold fields in California, the continuous missionary efforts of the Church, the formation of the Mormon Battalion, the Mormon fight with crickets and grasshoppers, the building of the first Utah temples, the role of the Mormons in creating the well-irrigated valley as well the as roads (and, eventually, the railroad) leading into their Zion in the mountiains, and the threat of Johnston's Army (discussed last week). (None of the verse subjects is in the order of occurrence, however.) It is said that this song was used to teach Utah history to the school children, in spite of the lack of dates or chronological order of the verses.

While we sing only one and a half verses of this song in our program, the song, in its entirety (or close to it), can be found sung by Ed McCurdy, Rosalie Sorrels, and others on their various recordings. I have not been able to locate the complete lyrics on line but they are printed in the wonderful book by Richard E. Lingenfelter - Songs of the American West - that I mentioned in an earlier blog.

Come to Expo and at least hear part of the song! And all or parts of many more.

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