Sunday, May 29, 2011

Daniel Blodgett Revolutionary War Hero

Sergeant Daniel Blodgett (1739-1776)

Of the 20 or more of our ancestors who served in the Revolutionary War during the years 1775-1783, there were four who gave their lives in the conflict. This is the story of one of them.

Lexington Common 19th of April, 1775

Sergeant Daniel Blodgett of Stafford, Connecticut, responded to the Lexington Alarm, April 19, 1775. His service as a Soldier in this initial engagement of the Revolutionary War was 10 days. His company marched to Cambridge on the Lexington Call under Captain Zephaniah Allen. The following year, he enlisted in the Continental Army and served under Lieutenant-Colonel Stephen Moulton. He held the rank of Sergeant in the battle for New York. In this first major battle of the War, the British captured New York, and Daniel was taken prisoner, and died in captivity in a British Prison camp in New York City, Nov. 12, 1776. He left 9 children for his wife Lydia (Robinson) Blodgett to raise, and a tenth who was born in 1777 after his death. Over 6,500 of their descendants have been identified.

Sgt. Daniel was the son of Lt. Daniel Blodgett, also a Revolutionary Soldier, and his mother was Deborah Ellsworth. His wife Lydia Robinson was a great-grand-daughter of the John Robinson, pastor of the Pilgrim's Leiden Church in Holland who planned the Mayflower voyage to America. She was also a great-grand-daughter of William Bradford who came on the Mayflower to the new World, served as Governor of Plymouth colony, and wrote the history "Of Plymouth Plantation".

The Battle of New York, by Pelham

One of Daniel and Lydia's nine children was Benjamin Blodgett our 4th great-grandfather, who was father of Neuman Greenleaf Blodgett who joined the Church in 1832 in New Hampshire.

Strategic Battle Plan of New York

Battle Scene from New York, by John Quidor

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Grandpa Gygi’s Mission to Switzerland and Germany

On June 3, 1888 at the age of twenty-one, Rudolph Gygi, Jr. left Switzerland for America. He traveled down the Rhine river to Rotterdam, Holland where he boarded a ship bound for Liverpool, England. At Liverpool he changed ships, boarded the ship Nevada departing for New York. It so happened that on the same ship were Margaret Riedelbauch and her six children, converts like himself to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Saints. They were going from Germany to Zion. He learned that the eldest daughter Liesetta was already in Salt Lake City, Utah. After arriving in America, Rudolph saved his money and helped pay for the rest of his family to follow two years later. His father, Rudolph Gygi, Sr. and family arrived in Salt Lake City September 24, 1890.

Rudolph Gygi and Liesetta Riedelbauch Wedding Pictures 1892

In those days young married men were sometimes asked to serve missions. Rudolph and Liesetta were married the 9th of March, 1892 the Logan Temple. A year later, the 9th of March, 1893 their first child, Mary Liesetta was born. When Rudolph received a call to serve in the Swiss-German Mission, it was only six years after he had emigrated from the same mission. He accepted the call and with a group of Elders sailed on his birthday, February 1, 1894 from New York on the steamship Dubbiedam, bound for missions on the continent in Europe.

Elders Christian Kasteler, Rudolph Gygi Jr., Rudolph Gygi Sr., & Missionaries 1886

Missionaries, 1895, Rudolph Gygi Jr. 3rd from right, 2nd row

One of the group, Abraham Woodruff, sent a telegram to his father President Wilford Woodruff on Feb. 13, 1894, indicating that the Elders had safely arrived at Rotterdam. The Elders on board were William McEwan, Abraham Woodruff, C. D. Schetter, J. M. Weller and R. Gygi, all of Salt Lake City, and George G. Naegle and wife from the Mormon colonies in Mexico.

The Swiss-German Mission had been in existence for many years, and included Switzerland and western Germany. Rudolph Gygi, Jr. first served in the area of his homeland in and around Bern, Switzerland. His first baptisms were recorded there on the 12th of April, 1894 when he baptized Marie Emilie Frankhauser, age 32 of Biel, and Margaretha Finschin, age 63 of Waldenburg. By September, 1895 he and his companions had baptized ten new converts in the communities of Schüss, Liss, Weiher, Jura, Biel, Kappelen, Neuchatel.and in the Bielersee (Lake Biel).

Bern Mainstreet Gate

Bern Hinterland

Bern Switzerland Temple

Swiss Chalet, Jungfrau

In October, 1895 he was transferred north to Hannover, Germany. There he taught and baptized Ludwig Rückert, age 24, August Julius Tadje, age 17, and Lina Wieter, age 23. After that he was transferred to Hamburg, where his last baptism was recorded. Maria Prahl, age 43 was baptized May 14, 1896 in Hamburg. Soon after, he was released and made his way home to Utah.

While Rudolph was away for two years, Liesetta found domestic work washing, sewing, cleaning and doing housework of all kinds to provide a living for herself and the baby. Friends and relatives helped care for the baby while she worked by day. When Rudolph left they had saved a total of $26, which they then carefully divided. Rudolph took $13 for his mission, and Liesetta had $13 for herself and the baby.

Occasionally she was able to send money to her missionary husband. For a while she lived with the Christian Kasteler family, her husband's brother. While she was there an epidemic of Scarlet fever swept the area. Immediately, baby Mary became afflicted with the disease and would have died, except for the quick and efficient work of a mid wife, who saved her life. The Kasteler baby, Sarah, however, died of scarlet fever in the epidemic.

One day while Liesetta was walking up to the East bench to visit her mother, she noticed a small house for rent at 625 South, 10th East. She particularly noticed the roses climbing up the side of the house. She inquired of the owner the rental charge. He asked her what her husband did for a living. She informed him that her husband was on a mission and that she was working to support herself and baby. After thinking a little while, he asked: "How would $1 a month be?" This good landlord was James H. Moyle, the father of President Henry D. Moyle.

On one occasion Liesetta was particularly short of funds, and she told the milkman, Joshua B. Stewart, Sr., that she would have to discontinue his services. This kind man said he would deliver a quart of milk to her free each day while her husband was away. Mr. Stewart's son, Adiel F. Stewart, would later serve as Mayor of Salt Lake City. In this unobtrusive way, many kind friends were raised up to help in time of need.

Rudolph and Liesetta and children, 1910

Rudolph and Liesetta raised their children in Salt Lake City and Midvale. Eleven of their twelve children reached adulthood and all were married in the temple. Many of them, and their children and grandchildren like Grandpa served missions in Germany and Switzerland. Current count of missions served is 205 in 92 countries throughout the world. Descendants number 683, of which 643 are still living. A large number of these are under the age of 8.

Compiled for the 2010 Gygi family reunion -- Steven Blodgett

Gygi Family Reunion, 1948

Friday, May 6, 2011

William Durell Blodgett, 1909-1995

William and Ona Blodgett Sr. and children, 1919

His Story of Faith and Healing

My Dad was a man of faith. He would always say, “The Lord is the Great Physician – He rules in the Heavens, and is Master of the Universe – He knows each of his children intimately – He knows our needs and blesses us continually – Not a hair falls from our head without his knowledge – We have but to ask and he will grant us our desires in righteousness – He loves us and knows what is best for us – He has a great plan for each of us – The earth is His and all things are given to us for our learning, our edification, and to help us through this challenging existence - Earth life is the great laboratory of our souls – Nothing can hold us back if we rely in faith and trust the Lord in all our doings.”

He was celebrated as a “healer” when he visited relatives in Montana. Because of their faith he healed a little nephew who had been crippled from birth. When this child was 5 he could crawl, but not walk or talk, and was nearly blind. After Dad blessed him, he was healed, and he became the terror of the neighborhood. His mother regretted some days that he had been made whole. Dad was the eldest of five brothers. He lamented that they wouldn’t follow his example. They all were inactive in the Church, except his youngest brother Jack. They smoked and drank, divorced their wives, and had sad lives.

When Dad was 16, the starter crank to his Father’s new truck kicked back and injured him. He was strong and worked with his Dad delivering tons of coal it to customers in the Salt Lake Valley. He could shovel a whole truck load in two hours. All that summer he recovered from a sore back and broken right arm. He learned to write with his left hand, and pitched horseshoes left handed, and was ambidextrous in many other things after that.

At 18 Dad reported to the draft board. There a medical exam showed that there was something wrong with his back. He had recovered nicely from his injury, and felt as strong as ever. The Doctor offered to fix the problem for free, paid for by the army. He went along with the plan, which turned out to be a grave mistake, as he would find out. It fostered a distrust of the medical community my dad carried throughout his life. He went to doctors and listened to what they said, but reserved judgment in favor of the “master physician who dwells in the heavens.”

The military doctors performed surgery on his back by breaking some of the vertebrae which they said had fused crookedly on their own. The operation didn’t work, and the vertebrae slipped often to the previously healed position. One of the things the doctors failed to consider, was the ability of a young body to adapt and heal itself rapidly, but with a mature body, repairs are more difficult and less effective. The continual slipping damaged nerves, and he developed a stomach ulcer. He could no longer lift anything heavy and had to quit the coal business. He learned the grocery business working in his brother-in-law Ralph Gygi’s grocery store. Later he bought his own store in Cottonwood, which he named Cottonwood Food Center. He always cautioned us – his sons - to take care of our backs, and we did the heavy lifting for him. He went to a chiropractor each week to get his back into position. He could go a week between visits, but sometimes had to go more often.

We knew Dad was faithful and worthy, and we wondered if he would have to live with this affliction all his life.

From 1927 to 1963, a period of 36 years, Dad suffered from a bad back. He had a good attitude about life and was faithful in his Church callings, to his wife and family. He paid his tithing, obeyed the Word of Wisdom, and lived and taught his family the principles of the gospel.

He regretted that he, like President Monson, had not served a full time mission when he was a young man. In part, it was due to his back problems, but he admitted that it was also his lack of faith in knowing how to finance it, and his stubborn insistence that mission calls ought to come directly from the Lord. He figured if the call came from the Lord, then the bishop would call him in. It didn’t happen. Later, under a new bishop he was asked as a young man of 23 to organize the ward teaching program in the ward. He visited every member, assigned teachers, obtained reports, and saw that every member was visited each month for two years. Later the bishop said that the work he had done was the equivalent of a full time mission.

We three sons heard these stories and regrets, and each of us resolved to serve a mission faithfully when the time came. Mo older brother Terry was the first to serve and received his call in December, 1962. As he was serving in the mission field, he realized he was fulfilling Dad’s dream, to have his sons serve missions. He wrote about it in a letter home, and began to pray fervently about it to the Lord. Terry argued that Dad had lived faithfully all these years, as evidenced by his family, and the service of his oldest son in the mission field.

Dad had lived through an age of “miracle cures”. Everyone was promoting the latest great advances in science, medicine, and health, abandoning to a degree, the tried and proven methods of the past. He knew that true miracles were from the Lord, and any knowledge gained by man was in compliance with truths from on high. He had learned that some doctors promote their own skills, and was wary of offers that are made without due thought and confirmation from the Spirit.

“That night,” Dad related later, “he and Mom had retired to bed.” [Their room was in the hall next to ours in our new home on Fairbrook Lane in Holladay next to the cemetery where Grandpa Blodgett was buried. It was built to our specifications by uncle Alma Gygi, Mom’s brother. We boys had our own large room at the end of the hall. Mom and Dad had a master bedroom in the rear corner of the home, but they had vacated it so Grandma Gygi could have her own space, somewhat detached from the rest of us, and the room was large enough for her to keep a few of her things. Their room was intended for Joan, but she was at BYU, and would be married that summer. Grandma would pass away that fall, and with Terry on his mission, Richard and I were “alone” in our big bedroom.]

“As I was resting,” Dad continued, “I awoke as if in a dream, and realized I was floating in the air about three feet above the bed. Although I remained in a reclined position, I was aware that Mother was still sleeping in the bed below. I felt a presence in the room. It was peaceful and my mind was opened and aware of many things. I was filled with light. Then I felt the hand of the Lord pass along the length of my spine. I realized what was happening and lay there musing on the singularity of the moment until morning when I got up and went about my regular duties.”

He didn’t say anything to anyone about it all day, but that evening when he returned home from work, broached the subject to Mom and told her he had been healed. Of course, she wanted to know the whole story. She pestered him to go to the doctor to confirm what had happened. Dad said, “No. Why should I go to a doctor to have him tell me what I already know.” He said he also wouldn’t need to go to the chiropractor any more.

We boys found out a few days later as Mom dropped details to us. Dad told us more of the story over the next few weeks. They wrote a letter to Terry who then related his end of the experience. Later that summer, Mom finally persuaded Dad to go to the doctor for a checkup. The doctor who read the x-ray could not believe there was ever anything out of the ordinary with Dad’s back. “It was perfect, as if nothing had ever happened.”

So we all knew that we had experienced a great blessing. We were asked not to talk about it carelessly. We learned that the Lord really can do anything. We learned that the Lord has his own time table, dependent on our faith and preparation. We learned that doctors don’t know everything, and that we can have access to the blessings of the Great Physician. He does know us personally, and all of our wants and needs. We learned that we must be faithful, and that untold blessings are in store for the faithful, and not necessarily those we anticipated.

After that great experience we were to undergo other setbacks, but we knew that we would come out all right. Trials happen because we can get through them, and are a blessing. An evil designing man and his wife managed to swindle Mom and Dad out of their store and adjoining property that they had worked many years to acquire. They lost their store and livelihood, but still had their home. So, putting their trust in the Lord, decided to serve a mission. They sold their home to pay for it. At the conclusion of their mission they learned that the Supreme Court of the State of Utah had restored their property to them, and they used to money to purchase new home in Sandy. Then they served two more missions. We are grateful for the example of Dad and Mom and remember them proudly. - Steven Blodgett

William and Florence, Missionaries, 1986

William and Florence and Family, 1984