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Sons of Utah Pioneers hold January meeting

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The January meeting of the Morgan Chapter of the Sons of Utah Pioneers was held at Larry’s Spring Chicken Inn.  Ed Anderson and Richard Wiscombe addressed the group.

Anderson moved to Utah in 1970 and Mountain Green 14 years ago. He was born in California and has lived all over the world because his dad was naval officer for 20 years. Before that, he was a professional golfer. But all that changed on December 7, 1941.  After the war he had an opportunity to stay in the Navy, still playing golf, but not at the level he previously did. He has lived all over the world including Africa, Puerto Rico, Europe, and many places in the United States. In his career he has visited six of the seven continents and lived for a year or more in three of them.  He is a first generation member of the Church of Jesus Chris of Latter-day Saints.

Anderson related to the Sons of Utah Pioneers through his third great-grandfather, who is not LDS. His name is Dick Wootton, who rode with Kit Carson and Jim Bridger early in his life when he came out West. He was born in Mecklenburg County in Virginia, later moving to Kentucky, near Hopkinsville. When he turned 17, he traveled to Independence, Missouri, to sign on as a wagoner to ride the Santa Fe Trail. He soon found out he could make more money working for himself, so he created his own wagon train.

The Santa Fe Trail eventually went down to Fort Dodge, Kansas, and split into two routes.  One was called the Cimarron Trail, which is the shortcut that cut across to Fort Union, New Mexico, and then up the Santa Fe. This route had no water and attacks by Comanche Indians were common. The second route followed the Arkansas River over to what is now Trinidad, Colorado, then up over the mountains and down to Fort Union. He decided to use this route.

Eventually he got out of the wagon train business and signed on with the Bent brothers, who had a fort in La Junta, Colorado.  He ventured into other businesses including building the first two-story building in Denver, with a bar downstairs where he fed the miners and a printing press for the Rocky Mountain News on top. The press only stayed for about a year because, after several drinks, miners would pull out their six guns and began shooting holes in the ceiling. The poor pressman was dodging bullets all the time.

Wootten eventually moved to Huerfano County, where he raised cattle and tried to breed cattle with buffalo, which didn’t work out. He then started running cattle to California for the gold rush. He would come through Salt Lake City, where Brigham Young would invite him for dinner. After running cattle and sheep and making a lot of money, he decided to retire to Trinidad, Colorado.

One of the problems he had while running cattle was getting over the Raton, so he decided to build a road and charge 1 dollar a wagon and 25 cents a person.  Indians and federal agents were free. 

As you leave Trinidad on Interstate 25, there is a monument about Wootten.  If you look towards the hills, the switchback of the road can still be seen.  Nearby is the foundation of the house Wootten lived in.  With the coming of the railroad, Wootten sent a runner to the headquarters of the Santa Fe railroad, who wanted access across his land. He told the railroad that he would grant access if they would begin laying track right away.  He did not charge them, and for that, the railroad granted him and all living relatives free transportation on the railroad.  Wooten died in 1890.

Richard Wiscombe was the guest speaker.  Richard was born in July,1949, in Ogden.  He is a native of Morgan.  An early childhood memory from when he was 4 years old, found him separated from his family in Tijuana, Mexico, for about 20 minutes.  When his parents found him, he was surrounded by a group of locals.  They were calling him Poncho, which became his nickname from then on.  He enjoyed his school days in Morgan, attended Utah State University before serving a mission in the Andes South Mission, where he served in Northern Chile, Southern Peru and also Bolivia. He joined the Air Force ROTC on his return to Utah State University, which helped him financially to complete his education and provided him his lifetime employment. It also put him in a position where it made it possible for him to meet his future wife.  He served in the Air Force for six years, worked for Lockheed in Saudi Arabia for four years, and worked for American Airlines for 24 years. He and his wife, Susan, recently completed a mission in Spain.

Richard and Susan’s first area was La Mancha, a very romantic area with windmills, many farms, vineyards, and olive orchards. Richard especially loved farms because they could meet true Spaniards. That’s why they were there.

In Miguel Cervantes’ book The Man of La Mancha, the main character, Don Quixote, was from this area.  Cervantes went to war and was captured in the Mediterranean by pirates, who made money taking people and demanding ransom from families. During his captivity, Cervantes had his hand cut off, and yet he still managed to write this wonderful book. While writing the book, there were those who did not agree with his views, so he was put in prison.

Richard mentioned one way people try to express themselves in countries that have limited freedoms is through writing.  He compared Don Quixote to our pioneers. We read and write about our pioneers and often imagine ourselves in their place. Don Quixote read books about knights and castles and he imagined himself being there. We sometimes think of him as a little ridiculous, but it is a way of portraying how we all sometimes dream and desire to live in the past.

Near where Richard and Susan worked was the Castillo de San Juan, or Castle of St. John. St. John was someone from Jerusalem who owned property in Spain. Near the Castle of St. John is the town of El Toboso.  El Toboso, is mentioned in The Man of La Mancha.  There are several museums in El Toboso. One has a standing statue of Dulcinea, a woman whom Don Quixote fancied, and Don Quixote kneeling begging for her hand. In another is a collection of Don Quixote books contributed by leaders of the world.  Don Quixote wanted to protect his nation, womanhood and be valiant and strong in upholding all good things.

Richard also mentioned the aerial bombing of the civilian Basque town of Guernica during the Spanish Civil war.  It was carried out at the request of the Spanish nationalist government by its allies, the governments of Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy.  One of the works by the famous Spanish painter Pablo Picasso depicts its carnage.

The last few months of their mission, Richard and Susan served in Granada, where the Alhambra is located.  This fortress was the last stronghold of the Muslims in 1492. The Muslims controlled Spain for about 800 years, until most of the descendants of the original Muslims converted to Christianity rather than being exiled.

In history we read of Columbus trying to get funding for his journey from the Catholic king and queen. He approached them three times, and the third time he did require funding. We thought the event took place in Cordoba, but there is a little town just outside of Granada, called Santa Fe, where the king and queen were last approached by Columbus.  There are records of Columbus being there and a statue of him as well.  There is also a church where he may have met with the king and queen.

To the Spanish, this is not very significant. They think of Columbus’s journey as a way to take their religion to these people and bring back gold and riches.  But we think of his journey as much more. 

The Book of Mormon states:  “And I looked and beheld a man among the Gentiles, who was separated from the seed of my brethren by the many waters; and I beheld the Spirit of God, that it came down and wrought upon the man; and he went forth upon the many waters, even unto the seed of my brethren, who were in the promised land.” (1Nephi 13:12).   This is happening in Santa Fe.

Santa Fe got its name when Queen Isabella was at this encampment and her armies were surrounding the fortress of Alhambra. The Fortress of Alhambra was self-sufficient with crops and animals and it could take many years to drive someone from is enclosures. The encampment burned down and in the process of rebuilding a new city, they said they needed “holy faith,” or “Santa Fe.”

Until the passing of the Spanish Religious Liberty Law in 1967, non-Catholic religions were not recognized.  This law allowed the LDS Church to be officially recognized in October of 1968.  Twelve missionaries from South American countries were sent to Barcelona, which was considered to be part of the French mission at the time.  In July of 1974 the first mission, consisting of 17 congregations with a total of 620 members, was organized.  Today there are 54,000 members in three missions. Most of the missionaries come from families who migrated to Spain but have their origins in South America.  The Madrid LDS Temple was dedicated in 1999.

Richard commented on the unique challenges they experienced in serving in areas where the Church is still developing and the miracles they witnessed.  Their role was often to provide encouragement, support and strength to small branches and to help the local leadership understand how to faithfully perform their duties and responsibilities.   

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