Tuesday, February 14, 2012

A Romantic Tragedy

I Love You Truly
written by Carrie Jacobs-Bond
during the era of our story

This tragic story was recorded in the journal of a father, my ancestor John Moon Clements. One has to read between the lines to actually find the love story--but it is there. Imagine your father writing in some part your story of romance.

The first we hear of the love story of Charlotte Clements is around Valentine's Day in 1887--actually 18 February 1887 from the journal of her father John Moon Clements a resident of Springville, Utah.

John recorded that he was summoned at 2:00 a.m. to the home of his neighbors William and Sarah Jane Harward where his daughters Charlotte and Sarah were staying. He was asked to hurry to give a priesthood blessing to his daughter Sarah who suffered from severe abdominal pain. When he arrived he found not only the Harward family but Charlotte and Sarah's beaus William Messinger [a son of Sarah Jane Harward] and Alonzo Dalton.

With help he gives a priesthood blessing, but stays to give the young people some council and warning. He asks them to keep the commandments of God and says other things he received from the Spirit. He recorded, "I believe it will tend to much good if the councils given are adhered to and put into practise [sic].

Charlotte was twenty years old and her younger sister, Sarah was 17. It probably was not the first time they were embarrassed by the "preaching" of their loving father. 

We next understand that William Messinger was moving to Colorado to work in a mine. Charlotte told him at the time that she feared if he left, she would never see him again. But apparently John and his wife Elizabeth gave permission for Charlotte and Sarah to also travel to Colorado and work as cooks at the mine.

On 18 August 1887, John is asked to pick up Sarah and Charlotte at the railroad station--Charlotte has contracted Typhoid Fever. The weather is extremely hot and uncomfortable for Charlotte as she gets sicker and sicker.

In a few days, Charlotte experienced all of the symptoms of the disease:  a slowly progressive fever as high as 104 °F, profuse sweating, severe weight loss and gastroenteritis. Typhoid fever is divided into four stages, each lasting approximately one week. Typhoid fever may be spread through poor hygiene habits and public sanitation conditions, and sometimes also by flying insects. Hygiene was probably not a high priority at a mining camp during this time. 

Charlotte asked her father to administer to her several times in the following weeks.

On 2 September 1887, John's journal states,  

John and his family witness a heart-wrenching scene as Charlotte calls for them to circle her bed. She asks her mother, "Ma, you love me?" Then Charlotte dies.

John felt great sorrow but still acknowledged the hand of God and praised His Holy name and stated, "[I] know that he doeth all things well."

He goes on to tell of the many visits of young people to his home to view Charlotte's body--but no William. The funeral is held two days after her death and still William is not seen.

On 5 September 1887, John records that William Messinger came to their home from Colorado. He noted of him, "the young man who kept company with Charlotte, but missed seeing her." Apparently, it took days for him to receive word of her death and return to Springville.

William visits the Clements' home again on 6 September and again on the 8th, John records, "William Messinger came and conversed with me about my daughter, Charlotte, and asked me if he could have her sealed to him. I told him he had better leave that alone for the present as he was not prepared to go through the House of the Lord. I then asked him if there had ever been any decided promises made between them that they would be united." 

William recalled a conversation with Charlotte before he left for Colorado. John goes on, "I then asked him if he remembered the evening that I came home last winter and talked to him and Lon Dalton and Charlotte and Sarah and what I said to you?" William told John that he did and had thought of it.

It seems there was no more spoken of the matter between John and William. John's youngest daughter, Sarah married Alonzo [Lon] Dalton two years later in 1889 and William Messinger married in 1890.

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