Small Bear, Big Story: Part 2
Today’s feature is a guest post by my friend Donna di Natale. She’s a quilter and author with Nebraska roots. After retiring from the medical field, Donna was an editor for Kansas City Star Quilts. She lives in Lenexa, Kansas and enjoys history, antiques and vintage quilt treasures.
Read Part 1 if you need to.
by Donna di Natale
On a recent trip to Hamilton, Missouri, I brought home a red and white signature bear. Wanting to learn more about the bear, it was time to do a little research.
I enjoy research, especially genealogy. As with all research, you start with what you know. In this case, I knew the bear was purchased in Hamilton, Caldwell County, Missouri, and that is where I began.
According to Wikipedia, Caldwell County was formed when a group of Mormon saints was exiled from their homes in Independence, Missouri. They fled to Clay County, where at first they were treated with kindness. However, the citizens of this area only offered a temporary refuge and encouraged the Mormons to move on as soon as possible.
There was a great deal of tension between the Latter-day Saints and the residents, including Alexander Doniphan, one of the county’s leading citizens. Doniphan introduced a legislative bill to form a county specifically for the Mormons, and so, in December of 1836, Caldwell County was born.
By the fall of 1838, the population of Caldwell County reached 10,000, making it the largest county in western Missouri. This rapid influx of Mormon settlers alarmed the non-Mormon residents. Before long, battles ensued and in 1885, these battles led to the Governor issuing an order to exterminate the Mormons. Eventually, the Mormons left peaceably, and today the site of the first Mormon community in Missouri is marked by a temple cornerstone (the temple was never completed) and gravesites (photo above).
So far, my research has revealed this: I have Mormons living in Cadwell County, Missouri, to go with the two “temples” on the bear. It makes sense that the names on the bear were members of two Mormon temples – Harmony and Equality. I have a starting place for the next steps in my research.
Part 3 from Donna di Natale coming soon.
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