Thursday, January 11, 2018

My Brother Jason - Honesty and Courage at a Young Age

Me (1 yr.) & Jason (11 yrs.)
At a family celebration in 1985
I want to share a good little family story about my brother Jason when he exhibited great honesty and courage at a young age. This is taken from an interview I did of my parents, Jim and Linda Hartley, in January 2016. Below is the actual clip taken from the interview and the transcript:

[Begin Transcript]

Dad: I'd like to mention one more, though, about Jason. A time when I was extremely proud of him. He showed some great courage and character as a boy. When he was 11 years old coming up on 12, he'd been involved with some friends and some things at the Fun Dome.

Tom: What was the Fun Dome at the time?

Dad: The 49th Street Galleria at the time, and later became the Fun Dome.

Mom: And that was in Murray [, Utah].

Tom: What kind of place was it, I guess?

Dad: Oh, it was an indoor, kind of a amusement park, if you will.

Mom: Like computer games... with big...

Tom: Like, arcades? And games?

Mom: Arcade games. Arcade games.

Jason (11 yrs.) feeding  me (1 yr.)
At home in 1985
Dad: You had miniature golf, and you had arcade games, and you had bowling, and all kinds of stuff. It was just a fun center.

And he [Jason] had learned from one of his friends how to cheat the machines in the arcade games. And he learned how to get a whole lot of tickets and get a lot of points without really earning them.

But when he was approaching the age of 12, and realized that he could become a holder of the Aaronic priesthood, he decided he needed to shape up. And for someone who is 11 years old that takes a lot of maturity, and a lot of courage.

And he came to me and said, "Before I become a deacon, I need to fix something here." And he told me about what he'd been doing over at the 49th Street Galleria.

And, so, he willingly went with me over to the Galleria and talked with management and told them what he had done. And they worked out a way for him to kind of pay it back. And I just thought...and to this day... I'm so proud of him...for his honesty.

[End Transcript]

Saturday, December 30, 2017

My Father-in-Law Edmundo and the Car Crash

Edmundo Leite, July 2017
Telling the story at the FamilySearch Library
Riverton, Utah
Curiosity killed the cat it is said. For my father-in-law Edmundo Leite, his curiosity in a car accident almost got him killed, but not in the way you would expect. With aid from a subtle divine warning, Edmundo was able to escape a likely death.

As a dentist in Brazil, Edmundo occasionally needs to travel to other cities for his job. Some time ago, he traveled to Santa Helena, Maranhão to work, which is roughly 290 miles (~420 kilometers) from his home city of Belém, Pará. On one of the days he finished working in Santa Helena, he was the last passenger in a taxi when an interesting situation arose.

While conversing with the taxi driver, a car at a very high speed from the opposite direction passed them and nearly hit them. Less than two minutes later, another car whizzed by at a high speed, but this time it was also firing gunshots! Soon thereafter, a loud noise was heard, and it appeared the car that had just passed them likely crashed and flipped over. Nearby, a large group of people gathered in the middle of the road to check out what looked like a possible car chase and a subsequent accident.

The taxi driver stopped the car and spoke with one of the people he knew in the crowd. The person told the taxi driver to go back because certainly there had to have been an accident and a flipped-over car. The taxi driver looked to Edmundo and said, “Let's go?” Feeling hesitant, Edmundo replied, “No, let's not go back. Those guys aren't good. There's something else wrong so let's keep going.”

However, the taxi driver was curious to see the accident and insisted to go back. Also somewhat curious, but also with some fear, Edmundo agreed so long as they were really quick just to see what happened.

The taxi driver turned around and arrived at the scene. Sure enough, there was a crash and the car had flipped over and was now upside-down. Three individuals from the car, wounded and bleeding, were sitting or laying down close by. Some other young people were also at the accident scene, but they were actually going through the car and taking things. Edmundo spoke with one of the young people and asked what he was doing. The young man said he was looking for money. Edmundo replied and said the money didn't belong to him. “But I'm needing money” was the justification given for the blatant theft. Edmundo didn't press the young man any further.

Another person at the accident scene, who started helping the wounded individuals, asked Edmundo if he could take them to a nearby hospital. Edmundo declined and said no. The person asked, “Why not?” Edmundo gave an excuse that the car wasn't big enough (although it really was big enough), and he told the person they were in a hurry so other cars at the scene should take the three men. Edmundo and the taxi driver then left and went on their way.

However, down the road a ways, Edmundo and the taxi driver saw a military police car parked with a number of officers inside. The military police asked them if they had recently seen a “situation.” Edmundo related information about the flipped-over car and that it was firing gunshots before the crash. Edmundo told the military police that they should go back see what happened there. The military police replied that their car wouldn't start and they couldn't go back. Edmundo also learned that one of the military police officers was wounded for being shot in the foot.

Edmundo at his office in Belém, Brazil
April 2016
Edmundo asked, “Why are you shot in the foot?” He learned an officer was shot in the foot from the very same car that was speeding earlier – the same car that crashed! Edmundo and the taxi driver ended up taking the wounded officer to the hospital, and there was no further incident for them that night. Edmundo later went back to his home in Belém.

Edmundo returned to Santa Helena about 15 days after the accident. A colleague asked him if he had heard anything about the disastrous car accident. The colleague then stated he was actually there and saw practically everything that transpired. The colleague recounted that the three men from the car accident were later taken to the hospital by some other driver. However, at the hospital, there were other military police officers in wait. When the car arrived at the front of the hospital, the military police soldiers opened fire on the car and killed everyone inside – the three men from the crash and the driver.

Edmundo realized that if he and the taxi driver had given a ride to those three men – the bandits – it was very likely he and the driver would have been killed for having an appearance of being associated with criminals. Edmundo credits his life being spared to a divine warning for his personal protection. The real reason he declined to help the three men is because he felt prompted by the Spirit of God to not give them ride and to get away from the situation. Little did Edmundo know the situation would be a bit more complicated than simply trying to take some injured people to the hospital from a car accident – the men were criminals that had also attacked military police officers.

Edmundo has said, “I've always trusted in God. I've always trusted in the companionship of the Holy Spirit. When you are worthy, the spirit will follow you.”

In this case, having the Spirit of God as a companion helped protect Edmundo from likely death – even if it meant appearing to be indifferent to others who were injured and in need of help. But of course, the situation was not that simple.


Adaption by Tom Hartley, son-in-law to Edmundo Leite. Based on a video interview with Edmundo completed on July 12, 2017 by his daughter Juliana Hartley. The original interview with Edmundo, in Portuguese, is located here:

Saturday, December 2, 2017

My Sister-in-Law Jamie Gibson Hartley - "1-in-a-Million"

Jamie Diane Gibson Hartley
August 1977 – July 2014
If my sister-in-law Jamie Diane Gibson Hartley were alive today, her wedding anniversary would be fast approaching. She married my brother Taylor Hartley on December 9, 2005 and later passed away in 2014 due to complications and effects of a rare genetic skin disease. In remembrance of Jamie and Taylor's wedding anniversary, I want to share a great letter she wrote to my parents before Jamie and Taylor were married. There are so many things we can learn from it. Some background about her skin disease and life is in order so the letter can be more appreciated.

Recessive Dystrophic Epidermolysis Bullosa (RDEB) is one of the most severe forms of Epidermolysis Bullosa (EB) and also among the rarest. It is an inherited skin disease affecting fewer than 1 per million newborns in the United States. Jamie was born with such. She was certainly "1-in-a-million," both literally and figuratively.

Jamie and her friend Lorien (also with EB)
Severe forms of EB cause individuals to live with constant pain and scarring. The genetic skin disease destroys the skin, mouth, throat, and esophagus. It can cause disfigurement, disability and early death. Most people with EB are not expected to live past age 30, as the sores and scar tissue often lead to infection, malnutrition, and skin cancer. People with Jamie's form of EB typically live around to the age of early 20s or so. Jamie’s brother, Ben, was also affected with the same form of EB and died at age 19. Jamie was quite an anomaly and passed away at the age of 36, a month and a half shy of turning 37.

There is currently no cure for EB.

Jamie's disease greatly affected the daily activities of her life. Before dressing every day, she would wrap her arms and body with gauze to protect her skin and prevent sores. She would avoid crowds where physical contact with other people could open new sores. She would blend foods into liquids because solid foods could damage her esophagus. In fact, when Jamie was six years old, her esophagus scarred shut, and she underwent a surgery to rebuild it.

She played percussion in the 7th grade and played drums in a school band. EB, however, caused her hands to become too crippled so she could no longer hold the drumsticks. She switched to playing the xylophone, but when that became impossible she switched to singing and choir. Jamie's singing voice ended up being one of things that attracted Taylor to her.

Jamie singing in concert
In adulthood, Jaime started producing her own vocal music and CDs. This is particularly noteworthy because her mouth and throat were always full of sores and blisters. Her tongue was also so badly scarred that she couldn't even touch it to the roof of her mouth. A close friend of Jamie has said, "Jamie has the voice of an angel. The fact she can sing at all, considering all the scar tissue she has to get around, is a total miracle."

Jamie Painting
Jaime also started painting in March 2011 after dealing with the possibility of losing one of her arms to cancer, let alone having hands already severely crippled. She produced more than 60 works of self-taught art, ranging from flowers and birds to fantasy and outer space.

Jamie fought cancer for 13 years and probably died of it invading her lungs. This was occurring together with severe infections that would not go away, even with IV antibiotics.

Taylor and Jamie
Campus Plaza Apartment Complex
About the same time that Jamie’s cancer was diagnosed, she met my brother Taylor. In 2001, Jamie was living at the Campus Plaza apartment complex at Brigham Young University. And then Taylor moved there also. Four years later, in 2005, Taylor and Jamie were married. However, before Taylor and Jamie's marriage, she felt the need to be very clear with my parents about the situation. This is where a portion of the greatness of Jamie's heart and soul are exhibited and from which I look to learn and be humbled by.

With all the details I've described above, below are Jamie's inspiring words to my parents she wrote in a letter some time before their marriage in 2005:

Pre-marriage Letter from Jamie to My Parents

Dear Jim and Linda,

I’m writing in answer to some concerns of yours….As for what to expect…for my care and…life expectancy, I don’t have good news for you.

Chances are, everyday, for the rest of my life, my skin will degenerate….Chances are, that some sort of infection will reach my bloodstream eventually.…

Did Taylor tell you that on top of EB [or Epidermolysis Bullosa], I have dyslexia, chronic anemia, chronic circulatory stress that has caused an enlarged heart, chronic fatigue, arthritis, scoliosis, atopic dermatitis, psoriasis and alopecia? Chances are, I will be a bald, toothless, blind, smelly hunchback in a wheelchair in no time at all if I don’t die first….

Chances are, I should be dead by now and should not be here to tell you how wonderful my life will be with Taylor, but because of him, all my worries are about to melt away into a sweet marital bliss. My point is, I cannot tell you all the ways in which EB will destroy a life,…[b]ut as far as what to expect looking toward our future in a gospel sense, I have very good news.

My life is a miracle. I depend on the Lord to grant seemingly impossible things every day….

Marriage will undoubtedly add responsibilities and challenges….I hope you will not doubt the Lord’s ability and desire to bless us according to not only our needs, but our desires….I anticipate more physical healing than ever before. Love is physically healing. Having someone interested in my comfort and wellbeing at my side is beyond my best expectations for me in this life. Having someone who actually seems to mutually need me and my love and support is something I have not experienced and it is one of life’s choicest blessings and responsibilities—a responsibility which I do not take lightly because of my deep love for Taylor.

I am the first to point out the challenges that can be expected in our future. From the beginning I was a skeptic and did not wish to pursue a relationship with him…because I did not believe it was fair of me to share or inflict my pain on someone else. When Taylor marries me,…I will worry constantly about how to satisfy his needs, but I know that where I fall short, the Lord will help me….

It would mean a lot to us if we could have your trust and confidence that we have received answers and revelations concerning the most important decision of this lifetime. I know you want [these answers] too….

Let me add to this my testimony of our Savior and His Atonement….[T]he prosperity of this marriage looks pretty impossible….Yet I know we can’t [make this work] without the Lord and [I know] His promise that we will not be denied any of the blessings if we are obedient and endure to the end. With Taylor, I can do so much more than just endure. Life will not be drudgery. We will be happy, for the most part. We are looking at the not-so-happy parts with eyes wide open, knowing that it is all part of the journey. We both see each challenge as an adventure, a problem to be solved, a puzzle to be completed….

This life is so short. Soon we will all be in the next room together looking through the veil at our family and posterity and realize that most of our worries here were futile. Then, Taylor and I can turn and face the eternity we can enjoy, with no bounds, no EB, no doubts of our abilities and the love we have for each other.

Thank you for the gift of your son. I accept. I will cherish him. I want the best for him. He seems to think that is me. I’d like to agree. So I will do my best to be a helpmeet for him. He is my dearest friend, my love and soon, my eternal life.

With much love and respect and all my appreciation,


P.S. please don’t take this the wrong way


Taylor and Jamie's Wedding Day
December 9, 2005
Mount Timpanogos Temple
American Fork, Utah


Sources and additional information:

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.