Tuesday, November 14, 2017

My Mom and Dad - Miracles and Conspiracies that Brought Them Together

Jim and Linda's engagement photo
This month and year, November 2017, marks the 40th wedding anniversary for my parents! I love their marriage story and how incredible it is. Their dedication to each other over all these years is also inspiring to me. They are such great examples. In light of their 40th wedding anniversary, I solicited both my parents, Jim and Linda Hartley, to write their marriage story so it can be preserved. I hope this can serve as a great example and inspiration to others as well! Below are my parent's own words:

Linda Frye and Jim Hartley:
The Miracles and Conspiracies that Brought Them Together

Linda Beth Frye is the daughter of Kenneth L. Frye, Sr., a career Naval officer, and Elizabeth Annie West, a Wyoming country girl, who moved to the big city, Washington, D.C., where she met her husband. Linda is the youngest of 5 children. Although born in Bethesda, Maryland, Linda grew up in San Leandro, California.

James E. Hartley is the son of Charles A. Hartley, Jr., a career executive with the Southern Pacific Railroad, and Norma Miner, a Utah country girl, who moved to the big city, Salt Lake City, where she met her husband. Jim is the youngest of 7 children. Although born in Butte, Montana, Jim grew up in San Lorenzo, California, about 7 miles south of the Frye family.

It’s true that Linda and Jim were both raised in the same general area, but their lives would never have connected without a series of divine miracles…assisted by a little conspiracy on the part of their two families.

Linda’s Pact with God

At age 7, Linda contracted a fever that burned within her little body at a very dangerous 105 degrees Fahrenheit. Her parents rushed her to the hospital, where she was immediately immersed in a tub of near-freezing ice water. The extreme treatment saved her life, but it was so traumatic for Linda, it left her with a speech impairment: she stammered and stuttered. The problem was not considered severe, but it was enough that classmates would laugh at her when she tried to speak in class. One of the things that she feared most, was introducing herself; she had great difficulty simply trying to say her own name.

By age 12, Linda had deep worries that no one would love and marry her because of her speech problem. So, she made a pact with God: If God would help her to eventually find someone who would love her and become her husband, she would do everything in her power to overcome her stuttering and stammering.

Linda took her part of the agreement very seriously. She was determined to overcome the impediment. She actively participated in class discussions at school and church, even when she could do no more than blurt out her comments, knowing that the effort would lead to embarrassment and emotional pain. Linda even participated in school and church stage productions and speech contests. Soon, little miracles began happening. When on stage or at the podium, her stuttering would completely disappear. At those times, it was as though she had transformed into a different person.

The 1966 Speech Contest

During Linda’s teen years, her LDS Church emphasized annual speech contests for youth. Competition was by age groups. The first level of competition was within the person’s congregation (in LDS jargon, the “ward”). The winners at the ward level would advance to compete against the winners from 5 other wards. This was called the “stake” level. For three years in a row, from age 12 to 14, Linda won her ward’s speech contests for her age group, and she went on to win or place highly at the stake and even multi-stake levels.

In Linda’s 4th stake speech contest, May 15, 1966, a newcomer, Jim Hartley, was among her competitors. At age 13, Jim was 1-1/2 years younger than Linda and from a neighboring ward and rival high school. This was the first time either of the two became aware of the other. After all the speeches were delivered, Jim was completely “wowed” by the beautiful 15-year-old from San Leandro. His vote for the winner was unquestionably Linda Frye—not just because she was gorgeous, but because of the excellent content and presentation of her speech. So, no one was more shocked and surprised than Jim when he was judged the winner and Linda took 2nd place. But, the most important result of that speech contest—God’s little miracle—was that a serious interest in Linda Frye germinated within Jim.

Unfortunately, Jim’s interest had to remain a secret. As with most teenage girls, Linda was absolutely not interested in a younger boy from some other high school. Linda made that very clear during her remaining teen years. She wasn’t rude, but she hardly ever acknowledged Jim’s greetings at dances, church pageants, and other activities; and if she did, she would often mistakenly call him by his older brother’s name, Richard. Nevertheless, for Jim, the seed of interest in Linda was firmly planted.

The Revelation of Normal Non-Fluency

Linda’s quest for perfect fluency continued well after the 1966 speech contest. It continued into her college years. While at the University of Utah, Linda majored in speech pathology, thinking that she might like to work with children and adults with speech challenges. While studying for a test from a textbook on stuttering, she came across an unusual term called “normal non-fluencies.” What she read changed her life. She learned that it is natural and normal for everyone to trip over their own words. Even actors, newscasters, politicians, and teachers experience normal non-fluencies. Linda felt a peace come over her. She realized that she didn’t need to be a flawless speaker. She gave herself permission to be imperfect in her speech. And because she was now fluent enough, a sweet confidence entered her soul that she would, indeed, find a good man who would love and marry her.

“Chosen for thee by the Lord”

In December 1967, when Jim was 15 years old, he received a special, personal blessing from God through a Church leader called the stake patriarch. All faithful youth in the LDS Church are encouraged to receive a patriarchal blessing in their mid- to later-teen years. Such blessings are highly cherished. They can foretell the person’s future, and they can serve as a guide and comfort throughout the person’s life.

Jim’s blessing was quite remarkable. Among the extraordinary things promised him was a wife, who was described as “a handmaiden chosen for thee by the Lord.” Those highly unusual words, “chosen for thee by the Lord,” resonated strongly within Jim’s soul. It changed his attitude and approach to dating. With any girl he became seriously interested in, he would prayerfully ask Heavenly Father, “Is she the one?” From Jim’s point of view, God’s replies weren’t always timely. But, in every case, a clear answer would eventually come. Sometimes the answers were in the form of a changed circumstance, a voice speaking distinctly to his mind, a dream, or a vision.

Yes, If….

Four times Jim had serious relationships with outstanding young women whom he thought might be “the one.” In the first three relationships, Heavenly Father ultimately indicated in one way or another, “She’s not the one,” and their relationships never reached the engagement stage. But, the fourth relationship did. Jim and the fourth young woman met through a blind date during Jim’s junior year at BYU-Provo. Their relationship quickly blossomed. As the relationship matured, Heaven’s curious answer was consistently, “Yes, if she’ll say yes.” So, Jim put his whole soul into the relationship. But, the young woman did not. Her commitment to Jim was on-again-off-again for two frustrating years. When Jim graduated and left BYU, the two were engaged to be married. He had a solid job in San Francisco, California and looked forward to “tying the knot.” She remained in Utah. Even though they stayed in very close contact, after only a few months of separation, the young woman once again expressed her uncertainty. Jim was again deeply wounded. He couldn’t keep riding an emotional rollercoaster with her. So, he told her, “If you can’t say ‘yes,’ the answer is ‘no’.” She replied, “I can’t say ‘yes.’” At that point, Jim said goodbye and ended their relationship. To say that Jim was devastated is an enormous understatement. He felt like his heart had been ripped out and stomped on. He was broken and crushed, both emotionally and spiritually.

Heaven’s Unbelievable Reply

Anguished and confused, Jim knelt in private prayer to his Heavenly Father and poured out the sadness of his heart. As his soul mourned, the Lord’s spirit filled his mind with sacred, calming knowledge, including a glimpse into the future. Nevertheless, at the end of the experience, Jim was still confused and frustrated about identifying “the one.” Weary of searching for the chosen “handmaiden,” and feeling like a failure, Jim desperately pleaded, “Father, who is she?” In an unexpected direct answer, a voice clearly spoke two simple words to his mind: “Linda Frye.”

But, Jim didn’t receive that heaven-sent answer very well. He knew that marrying Linda Frye was impossible—she was already married! Jim was stunned and upset with himself and with God. Completely demoralized, Jim began to seriously doubt his ability to receive answers to his prayers and his capacity to understand God’s intentions for him. For the next year, Jim’s life was socially and spiritually empty and dark.

The Frye’s Basement

Jim’s employer assigned him to a major project for an extended period on the east coast of the U.S. About mid-way through the project, Jim’s father unexpectedly died. At his passing, Jim’s mother chose to sell their San Lorenzo home and move to Utah. With permission from his employer, Jim took a short leave of absence to return home, help with his father’s probate, and assist in preparing the family home for sale. Jim knew that he would eventually be reassigned to his firm’s home office in San Francisco. So, with his mother moving, he needed to find a place to store his personal belongings until his return.

Obedient to a flash of inspiration, Jim’s mom urged him to contact her good friends, Elizabeth and Ken Frye. They had a basement—which was highly unusual in that area because of the high water table. Since Jim didn’t have very many things to store, the Frye’s welcomed his boxes. When he and his older brother, Bryan, began moving Jim’s belongings into the basement, Jim’s jaw dropped open in astonishment. There was Linda and her 2-1/2-year-old son, Jason! Unbeknownst to Jim, Linda had already been divorced for 1 year and was living with her parents. He and Linda talked for about an hour. Jim was dumbfounded to learn that Linda was actually single at the time the Lord’s Spirit identified her as “the one.”

After returning to the east coast, Jim tried to stay in contact with Linda by regular U.S. Mail. However, soon after they began corresponding, he wrote something that Linda misinterpreted, and she stopped writing to him. Jim concluded that if Linda was chosen for him by the Lord, the Lord would have to intervene somehow. And He did. After a year on the east coast, Jim was unexpectedly transferred back to San Francisco without any place to live. And that’s when the family conspiracy began in earnest.

An Offer Jim Couldn’t Refuse

Jim’s mom again came to his rescue—likely with an inspired ulterior motive—by suggesting that he stay with the Frye’s until he could find an apartment. Their basement included a separate entry, a bedroom, ¾ bath, and laundry. Linda’s parents readily opened their home to him, but Linda was not happy about it.

Within two weeks, Jim had found a suitable apartment and was on his way to sign the lease. But, Linda’s dad stopped him and made him an offer he couldn’t refuse. Her dad explained that, in a few months, he and his wife planned to spend 2 weeks in Utah to do genealogy research. While they were gone, Linda’s dad wanted someone he trusted to take care of the yards, look after the house, and be around to help Linda and her son, Jason, if needed. So, if Jim was willing, he could continue to stay in their basement rent-free and share in their daily family meals at no cost. Jim readily agreed, but on two conditions: first, he insisted on at least contributing an appropriate amount to the food budget; and second, Linda, who clearly didn’t want him there, had to agree with the arrangement. Her dad immediately summoned Linda and explained his plan…with Jim standing in front of her. In that circumstance, what choice did she realistically have? Despite her true feelings, she shrugged her shoulders, reluctantly said okay, and coolly walked away.

“D*** It, Linda, Pray About It!”

It soon became painfully obvious that the Frye and Hartley families were conspiring to get Linda and Jim together. Jim was willing, but Linda made it clear that she was not interested. She felt enormous pressure from her family and she deeply resented their matchmaking efforts. The harder they tried, the more she resisted. She thought Jim was arrogant and he somehow reminded her of one of her annoying brothers. In response, Jim no longer pursued any kind of a relationship with her. He sincerely prayed, "Father in Heaven, it's yours. I can't do this. She's not interested. If you want us to get together, if that spiritual experience I had a year ago is true, you're going to have to make it happen."

One day Linda’s older sister, Cheryl, confronted her. They discussed Linda’s resentment over the pressure her family was putting on her to learn to like Jim. Cheryl exclaimed in deep disbelief, “Linda, you have a real gem downstairs (referring to Jim). And you can’t see it!”

A bowl of Hawaiian Poi
Linda confessed her lack of romantic interest—“heartthrobs”—for Jim. Cheryl then described the experience of an LDS missionary who was serving in the Hawaiian Islands. The missionary could not stomach one of the islanders’ favorite foods, poi. So, he prayed about it. Soon, with the Lord’s help, the missionary not only learned to tolerate the fermented taro mash, but he genuinely learned to like it. “If a missionary can pray about poi,” Cheryl concluded, “you can pray about heartthrobs.” Linda countered, “You don’t pray for heartthrobs. You either have them or you don’t.” Cheryl looked Linda straight in the eyes and demanded, “D*** it, Linda, pray about it!”

After that, Linda began observing Jim more closely. She started to realize that maybe she had formed a wrong impression of him. She especially liked the way he played with and treated her 3-year-old son, Jason. Eventually, she acknowledged that Jim seemed to indeed meet her “checklist” for a husband—except that she still had no romantic feelings for him.

Despite a lack of heartthrobs, her heart softened. She found a private place in a nearby public park—a stall in the women’s restroom—where she followed her sister’s advice and silently poured out her feelings to God. She then felt prompted to talk openly with Jim.


Jim knew nothing of Linda’s change of heart. He had carefully avoided her. So, he was taken by complete surprise one day when walking home from the bus stop after a long day of work. There was Linda, about a half of a block from her house. Without any small talk or explanation, Linda simply announced, “Jim, we need to talk. Can we go up to the Oakland Temple tonight?” Jim felt like he had been ambushed by a lightning bolt! He wasn’t sure what to think. He was shocked, pleased, confused, and suspicious all at the same time.

That evening, Linda directed them to a hillside area that offered a commanding view of the beautiful Oakland LDS Temple and the San Francisco Bay. With great courage, Linda explained to Jim that she really liked him; that he met all of her “checklist” requirements for a husband; but, she had no romantic feelings for him; but, she wanted to have romantic feelings; and would he be willing to spend more time with her and actually date her a little to see if those feelings would come? The seed that had been planted in 1966 had suddenly sprouted!

The Ball’s in Your Court

To the delight of the Frye’s and the Hartley’s, Jim and Linda began to spend more and more time together. But, Linda’s heartthrobs still weren’t developing…that is, not until she went with Jim to what she expected to be a boring Sunday evening presentation by an elderly couple, who had just completed missionary service in India. The presentation included slides. The lights in the LDS chapel were lowered. In the semi-darkness, Jim slipped his arm around Linda’s shoulders. Then, kaboom! For Linda, romantic fireworks went off, and she melted in his closeness. Heavenly Father had answered her prayers.

Not long after that, Linda decided that Jim was the one for her. One Sunday afternoon after church services, Jim retreated to his basement bedroom for a quick nap before dinner. As he was drifting off, Linda knocked at his door. “Come in.” Linda took a few steps into the room, stopped, and then declared, “I’ve been fasting and praying. I know it’s not a woman’s place to propose, but I’ve made up my mind and the ball’s in your court!” She then softly exited. Any idea of napping immediately evaporated! Jim was suddenly wide awake with nervousness and fear!

Why Not?

About a week later, Linda’s parents left for their 2 weeks in Utah. Jim was still in shock over Linda and hadn’t responded to her. After another week, Jim was preparing to teach a Church lesson about the role of the priesthood in the family. His father was not a member of the LDS Church and, therefore, Jim grew up in a home without any strong priesthood influence. But, Linda did, so he asked her what it was like. The discussion turned to what kind of priesthood influence she expected in her own family someday. After a few minutes of discussion, Linda got upset. With a twinge of anger in her voice, she declared emphatically, “We’re not discussing this anymore! You’re talking as if we were married and you haven’t even proposed to me yet.” She abruptly got up and began leaving the room. Jim, looked heavenward and prayed, “Why not?” He quickly stopped Linda and, with two goldfish as the only witnesses, he uttered the miraculous words, “You’re right. Will you marry me?” (An engagement ring would have to come later.)

I Knew It! I Knew It!

Linda was extremely excited and wanted to immediately telephone her parents and announce it to the ward members the next day at church. Jim panicked. Considering the agony and grief he had experienced during his previous unsuccessful engagement, he wanted more time to let the decision distill on both of them. He persuaded Linda to wait until her parents returned home the following week—after all, she didn’t want to interfere with their Utah trip. And, her parents should be the first to know, so they shouldn’t tell anyone else, even Jim’s family, until then. Very reluctantly, Linda agreed, and Jim went to bed that night somewhat relieved, but extremely nervous.

The next morning an unexpected miracle occurred and Jim’s nervousness escalated 1000-fold! Linda’s dad had come home a week early, leaving his wife in Utah! Linda was giddy with excitement and literally pushed Jim into the living room to have his obligatory talk with her dad. Her dad was sitting in his favorite overstuffed chair reading the Sunday newspaper. Struggling to act calm, Jim politely interrupted his reading and asked, “Brother Frye, what would you think if Linda and I wanted to get married?”

He looked at Jim with a huge grin and said, "I think it would be wonderful!" He giggled in his distinctive way and immediately went for the telephone. "I've got to call Beth!"

After calling his wife with the news, Brother Frye declared, "I knew it! I knew it! I knew that if we left you two alone, you would either be engaged when we returned or you would hate each other!"

A November Wedding, No Matter What

Linda and Jim chose to be married in the LDS temple in Oakland, California, on November 23, 1977. Linda was ecstatic! Her parents and family were thrilled! Jim's mom and brothers were delighted! Jim was petrified!

Jim had been engaged before, and he needed another miracle to convince him that Linda would remain constant in her desire to marry him. The miracle came when Jim accepted new employment in Provo, Utah, which required them to be apart for two months. During that time of separation, Linda never wavered, and neither did Jim.

Another test came when Jim and Linda found out that Linda needed a cancellation of her previous temple marriage (in LDS jargon, a “sealing”) before they could marry in the temple. That meant Linda's ex-husband had to write a letter explaining his feelings about the cancellation. The Church’s First Presidency at Church headquarters would also need to approve the cancellation, all of which normally required six or more months.

Against the odds, acting on faith, and praying for a miracle, Jim and Linda moved ahead with their plans for the November wedding. If the cancellation of sealing didn't come through in time, they were prepared to marry civilly, and then wait a year until they were approved to be sealed in the temple.

Then the miracle happened. Linda’s ex-husband agreed to the cancellation and later approved of Jim adopting Jason! The persistence of Linda and her bishop with the First Presidency's office paid off; they processed the official sealing cancellation within two weeks of the scheduled marriage!

A Marriage of Miracles and Conspiracy

Linda and Jim on their wedding day
Oakland California Temple, November 23, 1977
The day arrived. Jim and Linda were married and sealed for time and for all eternity in the Oakland California Temple as planned. They can honestly say that their marriage was a result of a string of divine miracles…aided by their conspiring families.

Another photo of Linda and Jim on their wedding day
Oakland California Temple, November 23, 1977
For Linda: From stuttering to a pact with God; to a church speech contest giving Linda her first peek at her future husband; to Jim’s unwanted arrival at her family home; to a lecture by her sister on divine help for a missionary to love poi; to a conscious decision to consider Jim; to a prayer in a public bathroom stall; to a courageous hillside discussion with Jim; to a boring missionary presentation where romantic fireworks first went off; to a speedy cancellation of her previous marriage sealing; and, finally, to kneeling at a sacred alter in the Oakland California Temple making eternal covenants with Jim.

For Jim: From being “wowed” by a gorgeous 15-year-old at a Church speech contest; to a highly unusual promise in his patriarchal blessing; to a sacred experience and a direct revelation after breaking off a heart-wrenching engagement; to the unexpected death of his father, the selling of his family home, and his mother’s inspired suggestion to store his belongings at the Frye’s home; to living in the Frye basement; and to Linda’s change of heart. A divine promise and prophecy were wonderfully fulfilled.

Now, nearly 40 years later, Jim and Linda are still married, and the heartthrobs are still there!

July 2017

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

My Extraordinary Mayflower Ancestors

This year, 2017, marks the 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation. Thanksgiving holiday in the United States is also approaching. With these things in mind, I want to share what my father, Jim Hartley, put together about our ancestors involved with the Mayflower and their journey to America seeking religious liberty. All of my Mayflower ancestors are on my dad's side through Nancy Elizabeth Chase Miner -- my 2nd great-grandmother. Below are my father's own words:

Nancy Elizabeth Chase Miner:
A Link to Our Extraordinary Mayflower Ancestors
by James E. Hartley (April 23, 2017)
11th Great-grandson of Mr. and Mrs. James Chilton and of William and Alice Mullins
10th Great-grandson of John and Priscilla Alden and of Richard and Elizabeth Warren

Some people value their faith in God so much that they are willing to risk everything to preserve His guiding influence in their lives. Such was the case with an extraordinary group known in American history as the Pilgrims. With enormous sacrifice and determination, they undertook a perilous voyage on a small wooden merchant ship called the Mayflower and survived to help carve out an English colony in what is now Massachusetts. That colony eventually gave birth to a marvelous new nation that would be unlike any other nation in the history of the world—The United States of America—a nation conceived in a democracy that also protects religious rights. How grateful Americans should be for those stalwart Pilgrims. What a privilege it is if you are numbered among their descendants.

Moroni Miner & Nancy Elizabeth Chase Miner
Moroni (1835-1935), Nancy (1845-1928)
In fact, if you are a descendant of Moroni Miner and his wife, Nancy Elizabeth Chase Miner, then you have a pedigree that runs through Nancy directly back to four of the Mayflower’s original Pilgrim families: Chilton’s, Mullins’, Alden’s, and Warren’s.

In the early 1600’s, James Chilton and his family were persecuted by British authorities and the Church of England because they were religious Separatists.

Separatists believed that many of the doctrines, rituals, holidays, and practices of the Church of England and the Roman Catholic Church were not in harmony with the Bible. Furthermore, unlike the Puritans, who wanted to work within the faith to purify it, Separatists were convinced the Church could not be reformed. So, they separated themselves in order to live according to their understanding of the Bible and without a central religious authority to dictate their personal faith and devotions.

Under King James 1st and the Archbishop of York, Tobias Matthew, those who refused to support the Church of England were fined. Many had their property confiscated. Numerous individuals were imprisoned, and some were executed for sedition and heresy. Consequently, tens of thousands fled England during the 1600’s to find religious harbor in other countries. James Chilton and his family were among the Separatists who sought refuge in the Netherlands.

James and his wife had 10 children, but only 3 daughters are known to have lived to maturity. (Note: We are not certain of the name of James Chilton’s wife. For many years, people thought that Mrs. Chilton was Susanna Furner. But, recent research suggests that may not be true.) By profession, James was a tailor. In 1609, James’s wife was excommunicated from the Church of England simply because she secretly attended the burial of a dead child—an interment that was not done according to the mandatory authority and burial rites of the Church of England. Not long afterwards, James Chilton and his family left England and joined a Separatist congregation in Leiden, Netherlands. The Leiden congregation referred to themselves using the Biblical term, “Saints.”

Sadly, even in the Netherlands the Saints faced a degree of religious intolerance. In 1619, James and his daughter, Isabella, were caught in the middle of rioters who violently protested against those who did not profess Calvinist beliefs. James reportedly confronted the mob. They began throwing cobble stones and rocks, and James was severely wounded on the head, requiring a surgeon’s care.

Over time, the Saints grew uneasy about Leiden. They were troubled that they did not fit in well with the Dutch. Trade guilds would not accept immigrants, relegating the Saints to menial and lesser paying jobs. Their children were losing their cherished English language and identities. Worse still, Dutch influences were corrupting the morals and faith of their followers. Furthermore, there were political rumblings that Spain might again declare war on Leiden.

The Leiden Saints decided to move to the New World, where they could worship according to their consciences, govern themselves, and be insulated from moral corruptions. In June 1619, the congregation obtained a land patent (deed) from the London Virginia Company that allowed them to settle at the mouth of the Hudson River near Jamestown, an established British colony in Virginia. They then negotiated financing through the Merchant Adventurers, a group of wealthy, entrepreneurial businessmen. In return, the colonists would repay their trip expenses with interest over a seven-year period, and establish trade with the group.

The "Mayflower"
The Leiden Saints bought provisions and passage on two ships: the Mayflower and the Speedwell. The Merchant Adventurers repeatedly altered the conditions of their agreement, causing numerous delays. Then, after two attempts to begin the voyage, the Speedwell proved to be unseaworthy and had to turn back. Some of the Speedwell’s provisions, crew, and passengers were consolidated onto the small, 106-foot-long Mayflower. The Mayflower’s passenger count jumped from 65 to 102—73 males and 29 females—plus a total of about 30 crew members.

The Mayflower finally departed Plymouth, England on September 6, 1620, very late in the season. During their second month at sea, strong North Atlantic storms battered the ship and blew it off course. The ship began to leak and one of its main beams cracked. The passengers and crew suffered from widespread seasickness and wet, squalid living conditions.

Sixty-five days after leaving England, the ship finally reached the New World. On November 9, 1620, they sighted Cape Cod Hook in New England, far north of their intended destination. They attempted to sail south to the Virginia Colony, but strong winter seas and dangerous shoals forced them to abandon the effort. They returned to the bay at Cape Cod and determined to establish the colony there.

Signing of the Mayflower Compact (1620)
On November 11, they anchored near what is now Provincetown. Although New England had been previously claimed by the Merchant Adventurers, the colonists were uneasy about the fact that they didn’t have authorization to settle there. They decided to create a simple, but profound constitution that they called the “Mayflower Compact.” It created a “civil Body Politick” governed by elected officials and “just and equal laws” that would allow them freedom to practice their faith. It also affirmed allegiance to England. Forty-one adult male passengers signed that historic Mayflower Compact, including James Chilton.

For several weeks, they explored various areas. They soon encountered a few Native American settlements and their funeral grounds. In two of them, they found and took life-saving corn and beans—which they intended to repay once their colony was established. In one location, the Pilgrims had a brief armed skirmish with some of Native American warriors. Wanting to avoid further hostilities, they decided to focus on a location identified on earlier British maps as New Plymouth. On December 16, 1620, the Mayflower dropped anchor at Plymouth Harbor. After three days of searching, they chose to build on the hilltop site of an abandoned Native American settlement called Pawtuxet. They called their settlement Plymouth (or “Plimoth”) Plantation.

The harsh winter made construction on the site difficult. The colonists remained on board the Mayflower for at least another month as buildings were slowly completed. Soon, malnutrition led to fatal cases of scurvy. The extremely cold, wet conditions also caused a devastating epidemic of a contagious disease, probably pneumonia or tuberculosis. The first building was completed toward the end of January. It immediately became a hospital for the ailing Pilgrims. Thirty-one of the company were dead by the end of February. By March of 1621, only 51 of the 102 passengers and about half of the ship’s crew had survived. During the worst of the sickness, only six or seven of the group were able to feed and care for the rest.

At 64 years of age, James Chilton was the oldest person on the Mayflower. Neither he nor his wife survived that terrible first winter. But, their youngest daughter, Mary, about age 13, survived and was likely cared for by the Alden family. Sometime between 1623 and 1627, Mary married John Winslow, who arrived in Plymouth in late 1621 aboard the Fortune, the second ship sent by the Merchant Adventurers to provide additional colonists. In about 1629, Mary’s oldest sister, Isabella, and her husband, Roger Chandler, arrived in Plymouth along with the remainder of the Separatist Saints from the Netherlands.

Nancy Elizabeth Chase is a descendant of James Chilton and his wife through their daughter, Isabella. Other descendants of James Chilton include Nicholas Gilman, a signer of the U.S. Constitution; Lucretia Randolph Garfield, the first lady of U.S. President James Garfield; LDS Church President George Albert Smith; and movie actors Vincent Price and Christopher Lloyd.

William Mullins, his wife, Alice, their daughter, Priscilla (age 18), and their son, Joseph (age 15), also made the perilous voyage on the Mayflower. Nancy Elizabeth Chase descended from William and Alice through their daughter, Priscilla.

William was a prosperous shoemaker and property owner in Dorking, Surrey, England, about 20 miles south-southwest of London. He owned shares in the Merchant Adventurers group that financed the Mayflower’s journey. But, he was also known as a religious “dissenter,” who could have been either a Puritan or a Separatist. Thus, it is likely that William had both financial and religious reasons for boarding the Mayflower with his family. He also brought a servant named Robert Carter, as well as more than 250 shoes and 13 pairs of boots.

Upon their arrival in Cape Cod, William Alden joined James Chilton and 39 others in signing the Mayflower Compact. Sadly, William only lived an additional three months. On February 21, 1621, the deplorable health conditions took William’s life. He was about age 50. He was soon followed in death by his wife, son, and servant. Only his daughter, Priscilla, survived that first, dreadful winter.

At the time, Priscilla Mullins was the only single woman of marriageable age in the colony. Long-standing Alden family tradition tells of a rivalry between Captain Myles Standish, the colony’s military leader, and John Alden, the Mayflower’s cooper (barrel maker), to win Priscilla’s love.

John Alden and Priscilla Mullins
Captain Standish brought his wife, Rose, with him. But, she was one of the many who perished during the first winter in Plymouth. According to the Alden family tradition, the widowed captain cast his eye upon Priscilla and sent his roommate and best friend, John Alden, to court her in his behalf while he was building defenses and protecting the settlement from hostile Native American tribes. Faithful John did his best to woo Priscilla for the Captain. But, she fell in love with John instead. When John proposed marriage in behalf of Captain Standish, Priscilla allegedly countered with, “Why don’t you speak for yourself, John.” Secretly in love with Priscilla himself, John ultimately did propose, and sometime before 1623, Priscilla Mullins and John Alden were wed, perhaps the third couple in Plymouth Colony to be married.

The Alden family’s long-standing tradition regarding the Mullins-Standish-Alden love triangle was romanticized in an epic nine-part poem by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. Longfellow himself was a direct descendent of the Alden-Mullins union. His famous poem is called “The Courtship of Miles Standish.”

John Alden was a 21-year-old, adventurous seafarer from Harwich, Essex, England, a seaport on the North Sea about 70 miles northeast of London. John hired on with the Mayflower as the ship's cooper (barrel maker). Besides normal crew duties, John had the vital task of maintaining the ship's barrels, in which the Mayflower’s food and drink were stored.

When the Mayflower Compact was drawn up, John Alden was among the 41 who signed it.

John was also among those who survived the decimating first winter in Plymouth. On April 5, 1621, when the Mayflower returned to England, John chose instead to remain with the colony. He and Priscilla Mullins were married sometime before 1623. They lived in Plymouth until the late 1630s, when they moved north with Myles Standish, William Brewster, and others to found the neighboring town of Duxbury. John and Priscilla had 10 living children, and possibly an 11th who may have died in infancy.

Nancy Elizabeth Chase is a direct descendent of John and Priscilla Alden through their first child, Elizabeth, who was born at Plymouth Plantation.

Other descendants of William and Alice Mullins and John and Priscilla Alden include three U.S. presidents, John Adams, John Quincy Adams, and Calvin Coolidge; poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow; Richard Warren Sears, the co-founder of Sears & Roebuck Company; and movie actors Marilyn Monroe, Orson Wells, Dick Van Dyke, and Jodie Foster.

The fourth Mayflower family from whom Nancy Elizabeth Chase descended is the Richard Warren family. Little is known about the origins and ancestry of Richard Warren. He may have been born about 1585 in the county of Hertfordshire, England, which is immediately north of London. At the time of the Mayflower voyage, Richard was a prosperous merchant in London with his wife, Elizabeth, and their five daughters: Mary, Ann, Sarah, Elizabeth, and Abigail. He may have chosen to go to the New World for religious reasons; he signed on as a member of the group of Separatists from Leiden, Netherlands. Richard sailed alone on the Mayflower, wanting to be sure that conditions in the New World were satisfactory before bringing over his family. Like Chilton, Mullins, and Alden, Richard Warren was one of the signers of the Mayflower Compact.

Richard participated in some of the early explorations of Cape Cod seeking a suitable location for the colony. On one of those excursions, they had their first skirmish—the “First Encounter”—with native inhabitants, exchanging musket fire and arrows.
Richard was one of the fortunate Pilgrims who survived the horrible winter months of 1620 to 1621. Two years later, his wife and daughters came to him on the ship, Anne. Two sons, Nathaniel and Joseph, were later born to Richard and Elizabeth at Plymouth. Richard died in 1628. One historian eulogized that he was a “useful instrument,” and during his life he “bore a deep share in the difficulties and troubles of the first settlement of the Plantation of New Plymouth.”

All of Richard’s and Elizabeth’s children survived to adulthood, married, and had large families. Nancy Elizabeth Chase descended from their fourth daughter, Elizabeth.

Other descendants of Richard and Elizabeth Warren include the Civil War general and U.S. President Ulysses S. Grant; U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt; Alan B. Shepard, Jr., the first American in space and the fifth person to walk on the moon; author and poet, Henry David Thoreau; aviation pioneer, Amelia Earhart; and Sir Charles Tupper, the sixth Prime Minister of Canada.

In America, the Pilgrims of Plymouth Plantation initiated a new system of democracy and religious rights that was later followed by the Massachusetts Bay Colony (1628), Connecticut (1636), Rhode Island (1636), New Jersey (1660), and Pennsylvania (1681). These territories became safe havens for persecuted religious minorities seeking to worship God according to their own consciences.

Thus, began one of the most significant chapters in American history, accomplished by extraordinary people, such as the Chilton’s, Mullins’, Alden’s, and Warren’s, who, because of their love for and trust in God, helped shape America’s history, values, and government.


Thursday, October 19, 2017

Thomas Durfee -- Spawning a Noble Family from Trouble and Scandal

This is great account put together by my father, Jim Hartley, primarily about one of our ancestors, Thomas Durfee. Thomas Durfee is my 9th great-grandfather. To me, this is a good reminder that good things can eventually come out of bad or questionable situations. Below are my father's words:

Thomas Durfee—Spawning a Noble Family from Trouble and Scandal

In 1660, 17-year-old Thomas Durfee left Exeter, Devonshire, England and emigrated to Rhode Island, a new British colony that was established 24 years earlier by the religious reformer, Roger Williams. Thomas settled in Portsmouth. If family records are correct, during the first five years after his arrival, Thomas Durfee was quite a troublemaker.

Portsmouth Compact
From town meeting records of Portsmouth, on October 13, 1663, Thomas was charged with selling gunpowder to the Indians and was fined five pounds. At the same court session, he was charged with "... speaking and uttering words of great contempt against the Government of this Colony ...." He was required to post a twenty-pound bond and was forbidden to leave the colony without the court's permission.

In early 1664, he was convicted of a breach of contract with his employer, Peter Tallman, and, later that year, of participating in a scandalous relationship with Ann Hill Tallman, a woman 10 years his senior and the wife of his employer.

Evidence suggests that Peter Tallman paid for Thomas’s passage to emigrate to Rhode Island, for which Thomas was to remain in the Tallman household and in Tallman’s employ until the cost of his passage was repaid. But, in June of 1664, Tallman initiated legal proceedings against Thomas for “breach of his bond.” This suggests that Thomas broke his agreement with Tallman. Four months later in October, the courts cleared Thomas of his “breach” after he paid Tallman ten pounds. But, that same month, Tallman entered a new complaint against Thomas—inappropriate attention toward his wife, Ann Hill Tallman.

Ann Hill had married Peter Tallman when she was about 16 years old. They moved from Barbados to Rhode Island in 1650. Between the years 1651 and 1664, she bore Tallman seven children. However, the eighth child born was not Tallman’s. In 1665 the General Court of Portsmouth convicted Ann Hill Tallman and Thomas Durfee of adultery and each was sentenced to be whipped with 15 lashes and pay a fine.

The court asked Ann to return to her husband. Peter Tallman was known to be a disagreeable and volatile man. When Ann told the court that she would rather die than return to her husband, the court granted Peter Tallman a bill of divorce.

Even though Ann was legally divorced, Thomas and Ann were not allowed to marry in Rhode Island because of their previous conviction for adultery. Nevertheless, they remained together in a common law marriage until Ann died in 1683. Since they were not able to legally marry, when their second child was born, Thomas and Ann were convicted of fornication and were sentenced to either lashes with a whip or a monetary fine. Thomas paid the fines. Portsmouth must have eventually accepted their relationship, because Thomas and Ann remained in the area and had five more children. Thomas even became a town constable! And thus the Durfee clan in America was started.

It developed into a noble clan. Those early Durfees became highly respected in Rhode Island and Massachusetts. Numerous of Thomas’s and Ann’s descendants fought in the Revolutionary War, one of whom, Col. Joseph Durfee, was an officer in the Continental Army. Joseph served under General George Washington in battles against British General William Howe. Over the years, Durfees served on various town councils and in the state legislature. Two were prominent judges, including one who served on the Rhode Island State Supreme Court.

Edmund Durfee (1788-1845)
Five generations after Thomas and Ann, their descendant Edmund Durfee, Sr., a native of Rhode Island, became a martyr for his faith. In 1831, Edmund and his family were among the earliest adherents to a new Christian denomination in America, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, nicknamed “the Mormons.” But, the Mormons were hated by many. Along with hundreds of other Mormons, the Durfees were severely persecuted. They moved from Ohio to Missouri, and then to Illinois in unsuccessful attempts to find a place where they could live peacefully with others of their faith and practice their religion.

In Illinois, Edmund established residence in a community called Morley’s Settlement. In September 1845, mobs ransacked and burned his home, barn, and grain, forcing him to escape with his family to nearby Nauvoo. A month later, Edmund joined other displaced Mormons to recover their crops in Morley’s Settlement. The property of Solomon Hancock became the central location for that effort. Sometime near midnight on November 15, 1845, a mob set fire to one of Hancock’s haystacks. Edmund and others rushed out to fight the fire and save a nearby barn from burning. A whistle was heard and the ambush began. The mobsters emerged from the darkness and began firing. Edmund was shot and immediately died. Apparently the ambush was a form of sport for the mobsters; a gallon of whiskey was awarded to the first one who could kill a Mormon. After Edmund fell, the attackers retreated back into the darkness of the night.

Edmund’s family and their descendants remained devout followers of their Mormon faith. They worked their way to the Utah Territory along with thousands of others, and helped establish various settlements in the Rocky Mountain region.

Although the union of Thomas and Ann started in trouble and scandal, today the Durfee family ranks among the noble families that took root in early colonial America.


Compiled by James E. Hartley, a Thomas Durfee descendant, from records and notes posted on for Thomas Durfee, Ann Hill, Edmund Durfee, and Tamma Durfee; from“Revised Story of Ann Hill Tallman & Thomas Durfee” by Rick Durfey Balmer, June 26, 2008; and from History of the Church, 7:524.

Sunday, September 24, 2017

From My Father - Dread Does Not Need to Be the Victor

This is a great and inspiring account written by my father, Jim Hartley, about challenges he faced pursuing higher education in his 40s. I remember I was in 5th grade when my dad earned his Master's degree. I had no idea one of the greatest challenges he faced was actually from within -- battling himself! My dad's experience has helped strengthen my personal resolve to "conquer the natural man." Below are my father's own words:

James E. Hartley: Dread Does Not Need to Be the Victor

LDS Church Office Building
When I retired from employment in 2014, I had worked 34 years for the LDS Church. But, that tenure only happened because I followed the counsel of one of my managing directors. Twenty-two years earlier, managing director, Ronald L. Knighton, called me into his office to offer some startling advice. “Jim, you’re doing well, but if you want a career here, you’ll need a master’s degree. Without it, you won’t have much of a future.”

Now there was a punch in the gut! I was astonished that 12 years of excellent annual performance appraisals would not mean much in the future. Worse, that advice came when I was 40 years old. I had a wife and six children to provide for. With a family of eight, a mortgage, and two car payments, our finances were already stretched thinner than pizza dough. I was working full-time and periodically needed to travel for two to three weeks at a time. Also, I was highly involved in my local church assignments. How could I find the means and the time for a master’s program?

But, truthfully, my greatest fear was that I didn’t believe in myself. Although I normally did well in school, I never felt like the academic type. I had never pictured myself going on for an advanced degree. In my mind, that was for people far smarter than I was. But, it was apparent that my future—and, frankly, my family’s future—depended on it. Where could I find the self-confidence to go back to school? The best word to describe my feelings at that time is “dread.”

Showdown with a Hooligan
Dread means to anticipate something with great anxiety or fear. On a smaller scale, dread is what I felt when I had a showdown with a burly 13-year old named Russ.

Picture of Jim, 1977
It was 1977. Our family had purchased a home in Spanish Fork, Utah. A short time after moving there, I was asked by our LDS ward bishopric to be the advisor to the deacons quorum and the chairman of their Boy Scout committee. So, I helped teach 12- and 13-year-old boys on Sundays and worked with them in scouting on Wednesdays and some weekends.

Among my boys was an overgrown hooligan named Russ. At age 13, he was as big as an adult man and stronger than most. Interestingly, it became Russ’s tool of intimidation to publicly humiliate all his male adult leaders by arm-wrestling them in front of the other boys and adults. I was told that no adult had beaten Russ, and I was counseled to avoid him or he’d make me look like a fool the same way he did his other victims. That explained why Russ swaggered around like a mob boss, frequently bullying other kids and acting belligerent to adults.

Watching Russ and observing how other adults tip-toed around him, I too began to fear him, and I dreaded the idea of ever arm-wrestling him. He challenged me a few times, but I was able to dodge each proposed faceoff. Then, one evening when all the young men and young women were having a combined activity in the meetinghouse, I walked into the kitchen to find it crowded with youth and adults. They surrounded a small table with two opposing chairs. It was the showdown, and this time I couldn’t weasel my way out! I’m certain my face didn’t hide the sudden dread that crawled down my back like a spider with icy feet. This match wasn’t an innocent sporting event either. Strangely, there was a lot at stake. This was to decide who was the top alpha male between Russ and me. And, for the other boys, my acceptance as their priesthood and scout leader was on the line. I tried my best to smile and hide it, but inwardly, I was filled with dread—pure and petrifying.

The above is not Jim, but is an
illustration of how he felt when
arm wrestling Russ
I sat down across from Russ. With feet firmly planted and elbows positioned on the table, we locked hands and eyes. I offered a light-speed prayer for help. The scoutmaster shouted “Go!” and the match began. Arm muscles bulged and strained. Teeth were gritted and nostrils flared. Faces turned red. Two sets of eyes exchanged daggers. All the youth cheered wildly for Russ, their undefeated titleholder. Then, after what felt like an eternity, it was over. The astonished crowd was suddenly stone silent. Their champion gladiator had been soundly defeated. Even I was astonished! I had succeeded when I fully expected an embarrassing failure. My brain launched a quick “thank you” heavenward. My dread evaporated, and I didn’t have problems with Russ or the other boys after that.

The EMPA and the GMAT
For me, earning a master’s degree was far more difficult than confronting Russ, but it was still an issue of deep dread with a lot at stake. I counseled with my wife, Linda, and she was very supportive and reassuring. So, despite my anxiety and fear of failure, I decided to try. I investigated several available executive programs—programs that offered evening and weekend classes for working adults. I chose the Executive Master of Public Administration (EMPA) program at Brigham Young University’s Salt Lake Center.

BYU’s Salt Lake Center, 1992
BYU’s EMPA program was nationally recognized. To be admitted, I had to complete the Graduate Management Admissions Test (GMAT) with a very high score. I knew meeting that standard would be difficult, especially for someone who been at school recess for nearly two decades. So, I borrowed a 2”-thick GMAT preparation book from the public library. I studied, analyzed, and crammed all of its sections, and took nine of its practice exams. But, the results were always discouraging. With each exam, I got a lower and lower score. Even my best practice score was not high enough for admission to BYU’s program. So, when it came time for the real thing, I figured I was a goose ready for the oven. Before the exam, I pleaded for divine help. I had done everything I knew how to do. My future, and my family’s future depended on me scoring well.

After taking the GMAT, I left the examination center confident that I deserved a dunce cap. I was extremely discouraged. However, a few weeks later when I received my scores, I was stunned and dumbfounded. My composite GMAT score was high enough to qualify me, not only for BYU, but for any MPA program in the nation! I honestly wondered if the testing organization had made a scoring mistake. That experience taught me an invaluable lesson: do your very best, seek God’s help, and, if it’s his will, everything will work out okay.

With acceptance into BYU’s program came the need to pay for it. My employer was willing to reimburse up to 50% of the costs. But, the program was expensive, and I didn’t know how we could find the money for our portion. Linda and I discussed it, pondered numerous options, and prayed earnestly about it. Our prayers were mercifully answered in the form of an initial loan from my mother and the successful refinancing of our home’s mortgage, which provided enough extra money to pay off my mother’s loan and fund my entire EMPA program.

Learning by Study and Faith
The GMAT and financing aside, I still doubted my academic abilities. On my first evening at BYU’s Salt Lake Center, I felt like I was back at the arm wrestling table with Russ the Intimidator. I looked around at my classmates and realized I was probably the oldest one in the group. How could I keep up with those brilliant, younger students, many of whom had only been out of college for about two years? Even more dreadful to me was my first class: economics, with its brain-bruising jargon, formulas, and graphs. Economics had been my least favorite and worst class in my undergraduate program some 20 years earlier! I knew I was doomed.

Sometime during the following weeks while wallowing in self-doubt, I read a scripture passage in the Doctrine and Covenants, section 88, verse 118. A portion of it struck deep into my soul: “…Seek learning, even by study and also by faith.” After pondering that passage, I decided to follow the Lord’s counsel and add faith to my efforts. I promised to make every course and every class a matter of prayer, pleading for God’s help.

BYU’s EMPA program required 33 months to complete 16 prescribed courses. I was true to my promise for 14 of those 16 classes. In the first 14 classes, I did far better than I had ever expected. I had done so well, in fact, that I felt like I could handle my last two classes on my own, and I neglected to seek divine help. At the end of the semester, I was stunned when I got the worst grades of my program. The grades weren’t horrible, but the lesson to me was obvious. I can learn adequately with diligent study and faith in myself. But, add faith in God, and I learn far better.

Jim on graduation day, 1995
In the end, I surprisingly graduated summa cum laude and fourth in my class. I remained in a management-level position with my employer for another 19 years. Anchored by my master’s degree, I survived three major department reorganizations and two corporate downsizings.

I and my family will be forever grateful for the advice and encouragement from my managing director, Ronald L. Knighton, when he counseled me to earn a master’s degree.

I am particularly grateful for the Lord’s scriptural advice to “seek learning, even by study and also by faith.” By following that counsel, I mustered the needed academic courage, and it taught me an important principle of intelligence: when study is combined with faith, together they become very powerful educators, far more powerful than diligent study alone.

Most importantly, I learned that when dread weighs heavily on me causing fear and anxiety, with divine help, I can work through it. Dread does not need to be the victor.


Written by James E. Hartley, September 2017