faith, Family, Family History, inspiration, LDS, ldsmom, miracles, Wednesday Stories

Learning from the Past

Today’s story doesn’t come from someone who is alive anymore.  I was thinking that because of Memorial Day, I would share about one of my ancestors.  This story was written by Chloe Welch-Monk, a great grand daughter of John Coulam.  John Coulam is my third great-grandfather.

“John Coulam, son of John and Joanna Ward Coulam, was born 2 August 1802, in Louth, Lincolnshire, England. About 1825 he married Sarah Cordon, daughter of John Cordon. She was born 14 February 1803 at Raithley, Lincolnshire, England.

They became the parents of six children, all born at Louth, Lincolnshire, England as follows:
John, born 1 September 1826
Charles, born 23 October 1835 – died 14 July 1858
Fannie, born 26 December 1838
Henry, born 13 March 1842
Sarah Jane, born 19 January 1845
George, born 26 May 1848

They embraced the gospel(The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints) in 1842 and were baptized 19 March 1843. They left England in the Orson Spencer Company the 29 January 1849. They and their six children were among, the 358 saints who sailed on the ship Zetland and arrived in New Orleans.

They sailed up the river in a steamboat destined for Council Bluffs, Iowa. On the way, shortly after leaving St. Louis, Missouri, Sarah, the mother, died on 22 April 1849. They felt very badly at the thought of having to throw her body into the river, so John, 22 years of age, and his father, went to the Captain to see if the boat could be stopped, but to their dismay and sorrow the answer was, “No,” as it cost too much to make a landing.

They prayed diligently that they might not have to throw her overboard. Something broke on the steamboat and they had to pull ashore and wait two days to send back to St. Louis to get parts for it. Their prayers were answered and they buried her on the bank of the river in Jackson County, Missouri. She had been sick most of the way since leaving England. It must have been an awful trial to the father and mother considering the fact that she had a baby as young as 11 months and five other children.

The father continued his journey with his six children ranging in age from 22 years to 11 months. A woman by the name of Ann Atlass Robinson took care of George, the baby, for him and he later married her.

They came to Utah in the first company of the Church Emigration. It was made up of 100 wagons, and left Council Bluffs, Iowa, under the direction of Captain Orson Spencer and Captain Samuel Gully.

They arrived in Salt Lake City 22 September 1849.

John worked as a carpenter on the Salt Lake City temple, the tabernacle and many other buildings. He taught his boys the carpenter trade.

Father Coulam will live in memory of his friends for his many virtues; he was a kind husband, an affectionate father and a sincere friend, honored for his uprightness and integrity; firm and unshrinking in the cause of God; a true Latter-day Saint, unostentatious and quiet in his demeanor; constantly and industriously engaged in the business pursuits of life in the building up of the Kingdom of God. Having finished his work and kept the faith, there remains for him a glorious resurrection and exaltation with the Saints in light.”

As with many of our ancestors, there doesn’t seem to be enough information left behind for the descendants.  I can’t even imagine how hard it was to travel on a ship across the ocean with six children when you don’t feel well and one of them was just an infant.  I am amazed at the strength that John Coulam must have possessed to get through such a trial.

In reading the book that I shared yesterday( see post Anxiety), Emotional Intelligence, the author talks about optimism and hope.  He said “Optimism, like hope, means having a strong expectation that, in general things will turn out all right in life, despite setbacks and frustrations.  From the standpoint of emotional intelligence, optimism is an attitude that buffers people against falling into apathy, hopelessness, or depression in the face of tough going.  And, as with hope, its near cousin, optimism, pays dividends in life.”

I feel like John must have had a tremendous amount of hope and optimism paired with an great deal of faith in God that all would be well.  I am grateful for the few stories that I have from my ancestors.  I love to read about their strength.  When we read about the strength of others, I believe it kindles a hope and optimism inside ourselves.  Sometimes just as you are building a fire when camping, it just needs a bit more kindling to really get it going.  Learning from others can give us that little bit of kindling to get the fire of hope burning brighter.

I hope today that you will set a goal to find a story from an ancestor and learn about them and their life.  If you aren’t familiar with Family Search , it is a free website that allows you to connect and search for your ancestors.  There is also Ancestry that is similar.  I believe our ancestors are closer to our hearts than we know.  I believe on many occasions I have been buoyed up by those who have gone before me.

May you be blessed in all you do.

Life is Good.  Share the Good.

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