Saturday, August 13, 2016

Back to Adam

This is a presentation I did last year.

The folks at the Ancient Historical Research Foundation asked me to fill in for a speaker who cancelled unexpectedly. I said, "Sure!"

There were only six days to get my presentation ready.

Not quite enough time to put on finishing touches.

So, here is a recording of my talk, warts and all:

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

The Story

It is part of the fabric of my family history:

Revolutionary War Rolls, 1775-1783 NY
Willett´s Regiment of Levies, 1781-1783
Lieutenant James Albert Guinall was born probably about 1744. He served as 2nd Lieutenant in the 7th Company of the Tryon County Militia and. He was among the heroes, who under the brave Brigadier General Nicholas Herkimer, fell during the Battle at Oriskany. He died August 6, 1777.

Our family tradition is that after he was wounded he made a great effort to get to his knees and prayed for God to bless his unborn child and prosper the American cause.

That last sentence, describing his efforts to pray before he died, has been recorded and published, with varying degrees of accuracy, in papers, books and on the web for generations.

I always accepted it as part of my history.

Many years ago I began to wonder how the story was relayed to James' family, his widow and children, especially to that unborn daughter, My great great great great grandmother, Cornelia Guinal Robison. Was Matilda Collier Guinal told the story by her husband's commanding officer? Perhaps. Would he have known of his Lieutenant's final struggles. Again, perhaps.

The first version of this story that I remember came from Lucretia Lyman Ranney, a Robison cousin. That account included this information:
Frothingham's "History of Tryon Co.," page 85 states, "No perfect roster of patriots of Tryon County, who fought in the battle of Oriskany has been preserved. They came from various parts of the county and the slaughter filled Old Tryon with such grief that history was neglected in the general horror. They were patriots of the highest rank."
Over the years I learned that while there is no "perfect roster", there are records proving that my Grandfather Guinal was in the battle and died there. Still, I wondered about the transmission of the story about Lieutenant Guinal's prayer. How did that story persist through the years?

Any time I looked for information about Grandfather Guinal on the internet, the story would show up. I even found it in a book called: Charts and Chronicles of Matthew Grenelle's Descendants. It included the story, even though they could not link James Albert Guinal into their family. They stated:
Lt. James Albert Grinnell (occasionally found as Gueenall) of Canajoharie, Tryon County, New York, was killed at the battle of Oriskany (NY), on the 6 August 1777. He was appointed 2nd Lt. on the 26 August 1775 in Captain Rynier Ven Evera's 7th Company. He was under Col. Ebenezer Cox on the 4 August 1777 with 800 men marching to relieve Fort Schuyler (Stanwix) when the company was ambushed at Oriskany and James was killed. Family history reports that before he died on the battlefield, James prayed for the American cause and the unborn child who became Cornelia.
His father's name appears to have also been James. Stories conflict on the exact spelling of the surname and the possibility the family was of Dutch origin. Inter marriages with the Dutch lines from the Mohawk valley area may contribute to the confusion. In spite of the Queenall/Gueenell background, descendants insist the name has always been Grinnell.
 This mention of Lieutenant Guinal's father started a train of thought. It wasn't a very fast train, but eventually it did arrive at the station.

Along the way, I stumbled across a set of books called New York in the Revolution, published in Albany, New York in 1887. It included an index and I found this listing for Lieutenant Guinal on page 294:
Tryon County Militia, 1st Battalion (Canajoharie), 7th Company, 2nd Lt. James Guinall
Since there are so many variant spellings of Guinall, I looked for other records, thinking perhaps that James might have other relatives who served during the war. This entry on page 186 came to my attention:
Tryon County Militia - Capt. John Winn - Rangers
               Enlisted men:
               Gueenall James
Could this be an earlier entry for Lieutenant James Albert Guinal? I looked closer at that record. I found that the Rangers were a unique group of soldiers. In MacWethy's Book of Names it states:
In the battle of Oriskany all were called and it was not uncommon for father and son to fight side by side. In several cases three generations were represented. Rangers were the scouts of that day. They were selected from the militia.
Later I heard that many of the Rangers had served earlier in the French and Indian War, but I don't have any documents to back up that assertion.

This was not a duplicate entry for one James Guinal. These were separate entries for Lieutenant James Albert Guinal and his father, Sergeant James Guinal.

Learning that multiple generations participated in the Battle of Oriskany, the picture became clear in my mind. When I realized that James Albert Guinal's father, Sergeant James Guinal, Ranger in the Militia, was also on the battlefield that day, the train pulled into the station.

Of course the father would have kept an eye out for his son and namesake. The father would have rushed to his side when conditions allowed. I'm sure it was the father who witnessed his son's final agonizing moments and the heartfelt final prayer and testimony by James Albert Guinal.

It then became his solemn duty to convey the story of his son's heroism to his bereaved daughter-in-law and her step-children. I'm pretty sure that a few years later he would tell that then unborn daughter, Cornelia, of her father's dying prayer, as well. I'm sure that Cornelia told her children about her father and included the things she learned from her grandfather.

Saturday, October 04, 2014

Plain and Precious

Along with most kids who grew up as members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, I memorized the Articles of Faith as a child. Do I still remember them all? Not completely.

Oh, with a little prompting I can recite several.

Do them in order? Not without a cheat sheet.

Still, the principles Joseph enumerated when he originally wrote them in that letter stick with me. Particularly the idea that we believe the Bible to be the word of God, as far it is translated correctly. That concept is always there. Always hovering in the back of my mind.

When I read, especially historical or religious records, the words "translated correctly" hover as a question as I go through everything.

Along with that question, another principle, probably picked-up while watching old episodes of Perry Mason with my Mom, comes to mind: "The truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth".

Honest translators and transcribers of documents should abide by that principle, including the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth as they do their work.

Over the years I have transcribed dozens of documents, converting old handwritten documents from various ages to word-processed text. I've also transcribed audio and video recordings. There is always the stress of getting it right: understanding a muttered word, deciphering a smudged sentence or letter, interpreting a word or comment added between the lines or in a margin.

In the old days a scribe would add a codicil to the end of his copy, stating something along the lines that "I, so and so, have made a faithful copy of the original of this work" or words to that effect. When procuring copies of birth, marriage and death records from County Clerks, they will always add their seal, stating that the copied document is a true and accurate copy of their record.

This all swims in my head as I ponder the ways that the Bible might not be translated correctly.

As I've read the Book of Mormon, which I also believe to be the word of God, early on Nephi lets us know that he "delights in plainness" and that "plain and precious truths" have been removed from the record of the Jews, the Bible as we know it.

Over the years I've wondered just what those plain and precious truths might have been. The thought has been a continuous itch.

Interestingly, it was a Methodist scholar, Margaret Barker, who started to provide relief to my itches. Her focus of study is the Old Testament. In her researches she has thrown light onto those whom she calls "Deuteronomists", those Jewish leaders who compiled the Torah under and during King Josiah's reforms.

Dr. Barker helped me to begin compiling the list of plain and precious truths that have been removed from the Bible:
  • First, Enoch, his writings and life were drastically abridged in our Bible.
  • Second, all mention of our Heavenly Mother has been quite effectively erased, most specifically from the temple worship - deleting her there has had long-term effects in solidifying patriarchy as the dominant form of worship, world-wide.
Recently I decided to re-read a set of books that I'd purchased and read in 1993 and 1994: Teachings of the Book of Mormon, by Hugh Nibley.

Perhaps the desire to revisit those strange books was the unconscious passing of the twenty year anniversary since I first went through them. I read them in a hurry: finishing the first volume November 9, 1993 and the fourth volume on February 3, 1994.

They are odd books: transcriptions of lectures that had been taped from 1988 to '90; hurriedly produced by transcribing the videos, slapping the transcriptions together, then printing and binding them.

I bought them as they were first produced. The first volume had no over-all page numbering system. Each lecture's pages were numbered separately. Nor did it include a title on the spine. The second volume included the book title on its spine, but still featured separate page numbers for each lecture. The third volume finally included a table of contents and numbered all the pages in the book sequentially. None of the volumes were ever indexed (unless indexing was included in subsequent editions...).

What a breath of fresh air it was to read! How fun to hear Brother Nibley's voice in my head again. I found that the first semester's videos have been posted online. Perhaps I will watch them sometime to see what he drew on the board and pointed out to his students. (Transcriptions can be so limited, at times.)

Of course Brother Nibley started at the very beginning of the Book of Mormon (a very fine place to start) and spoke much about Nephi. Eventually I had to start marking the book up, so that I could have a visual reference to the treasures that I was visiting again after so many years. I found that I had only underlined one sentence in that book the first time around. Hmmm.

In this fine book, Nibley added directly to my list of truths that have been removed from the Bible. I was struck powerfully as he discussed the obliteration of the Atonement from the Old Testament. He also went on to note that any mention of a plan for this earth has been erased as well and how knowing that plan can provide guidance, support and comfort.

So, this is my growing list of plain and precious truths that have been left out of the Bible, most specifically from the Old Testament:
  1. The whole story of Enoch
  2. Our Heavenly Mother
  3. The Atonement (though it is mentioned by name, once, in the New Testament)
  4. The Great Plan of Redemption
More to come?

I hope so.

Monday, March 24, 2014


Moments turn into minutes, minutes into hours and suddenly over a year has passed by. With the passage of time come new relationships. Children having children.

Forgotten challenges.

Reminders of tasks once learned, then abandoned. Unpracticed abilities called on after years of neglect.




Ok. Well, I haven't really forgotten how to tickle my grandkids...

At the same time, pursuits, interests and desires change. Decisions are made. The website is backed up and prepared for mothballs and storage.

Preparations take odd turns. What do I know about electronics? Perhaps some free radio gear could be of use in the coming turmoil. So I got my license. KG7JOO. Sent out my first call to the Herriman Emergency Net last night. Lots of folks willing to be of service.

Still, a familiar sense of imminence. Things are starting to roll.

Is it time, yet? I try not to consider. I've gone through the thought experiment too many times in the past. Only to face the reality that I am still that impatient boy waiting for any hint of dawn on Christmas morning.

Patience is a virtue.

Saturday, February 02, 2013


I haven't felt this way since those first few batches of fudge, caramel and brittles; working through those first million exposures at the North Carolina State Archives; taking that first call from a disgruntled guest.




They've started a new practice in home building. Textured walls. Yeah, I've been aware of the textured ceiling variations for decades. I always figured it was a way to hide difficulties in workmanship. I figure the same with textured walls... At least the joints between wallboard sections aren't apparent.

Still, somehow the textured walls threw me. I forgot the basics of filling holes. And there were LOTS of holes in the walls when we moved in.

Of course, our situation was in the air at the time, not knowing if we would actually be allowed to arrange financing to go in debt for the next thirty years and "buy" this beautiful dwelling place.

My original efforts in patching the holes resulted in spots that had the wrong texture, which, when viewed from just the right angle, stood out in disturbing contrast to the rest of the wall.

We signed the papers in October. In debt again! Woot!

Last month we bought a gallon of paint in the original shade painted by the builder and returned one of the highlight walls to it's former tint. I took the time to scrape the poorly patched spots with a knife blade trying to keep the original texture while removing the extra spackle I'd allowed to dry around each patch.

It worked!

The newly painted wall had no unsightly patches to draw the disdainful eye.

The secret when filling holes is to wipe off the extra spackle with a damp cloth or paper towel before it dries. Or at least before you paint those patches...

Now I know.

Still, I have dozens of holes around the house to redo.

She left me with that task this morning as she left with her sister to visit their Dad.

So I got out my pocket knife.

The spots are scraped. I'm hopeful that my efforts are effective and successful.

We'll see.

I've got some painting to do.