Saturday, March 28, 2015

Living Close To City Creek, Temple Square, and the Family History Libraries

Canyon Road Towers
When Kathleen and I came to Salt Lake to serve in the Family and Church History Headquarters mission we weren't sure if we wanted to plant our roots here. We first rented in the Brigham Apartments and then had the chance for more living space in Canyon Road Towers. We decided after my serving two missions and after a lengthy discussion about what was going on in real estate to activate my license in Utah.

This has been such a fun ride. It's been a great decision. I'd say it has been the most successful part of our real estate and mortgage career outside of the fabulous success we had owning our own mortgage company. To top it off I get to stay heavily involved in genealogy and family history.

The benefits of living close to City Creek, Temple Square, and The Family History Library are better than what I anticipated. We love it here. To break up my busy yesterday I walked to the Apple Store to figure something out regarding my new iPhone 6, stopped for a treat at Kneaders, and sat around to enjoy watching folks busy going from one store to another. The day before that Kathleen and I had lunch at our favorite local restaurant, The Blue Lemon. It's a great life style close in and downtown.

We recently took the Christensen family from Missouri on a typical tour of homes for sale in downtown Salt Lake City. We started at Canyon Road Towers and then toured: Garden Towers, Terrace Falls, 838 Condos, One and Nine, Trolley Regent, American Towers, Trevi Towers, and what was available in Zion Summit. Whew, a tiring day for all, but educational. I will let you guess which building was their favorite. Can't guess, call and ask. 801-923-4735.

I have a website where you can see my latest listings, other favorites, and do your own search. Usually I have the search box on  this website but just in case here is the link to it:

Many are like us, come and decide to stay. Others are like the folks from Missouri who have family here and want a second home or like recent buyers from Idaho Falls who think they will retire here. In Canyon Road Towers several started with this as their second home and now their homes in Pocatello are the second homes. Many are downsizing which is a challenge.

I certainly feel energized with the success we are experiencing, grateful too. The market was sort of slow for most agents and sellers last year. That changed in early January. All indicators confirm that the market is going strong now. It's an important time to take action if you are considering downtown Salt Lake City.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Why I Am Getting A DNA test from Family Tree DNA

The reason for   using DNA for genealogical purposes has taken its time to sink into my fuzzy brain. Then it hit me, it could be huge, so I have ordered my DNA Kit from Family Tree DNA.

I have concluded I will eventually take all three types of DNA tests from all three major companies in this business. They aren't real cheap to take but I am excited for the possibilities. It finally hit me at Rootstech 2015 why I need to take the test.

The Y DNA test proves male descendancy. Literally the genes of males are passed down from generation to generation to the male children. How cool is that? We Craguns are all blocked with Patrick Cragun genealogy research. We know of his time in America, there are sources documenting parts of his life. But Patrick is a legend. Stories are passed down from great grandchildren of his running away from somewhere in Ireland at the age of 15. Supposedly he jumped ship in Boston Harbor to lead a fabulous life as an early American Patriot.

Some of we Cragun's that descend from Patrick spell our name Cragan, (not our Craguns). Our problem is that neither spelling is found in Ireland records. Oh goodie, there are Craigs, McCreaghan, Cregen, Creghan and 100 other different spellings. We are in deep doo doo trying to research by last name.

We also have no clue which county Patrick ran away from. Knowing what County they lived in would be a big help. Someone said Dublin so I spent weeks looking through microfilm looking or some sort of Caleb Creaghan or similar in Dublin. I struck out. I tried a couple of other counties, strike three. I quit.

I did find a couple of cool castles with some version of our last name. Maybe I have a rich inheritance in hiding. Maybe I should take possession of one of those castles. Maybe we are Scottish or Scotch-Irish. Maye we are really Craig's not Craguns. The Craig's were hearty people named because they lived in the Craggy mountains of Scotland. A hearty bunch and a fierce bunch were they. I'm guessing I don't have their genes. But wait, I was a good scout and loved to hike and camp. Could I be Scottish not Irish after all?

And what about the so called Caleb Cra or Cre something? Is that his real name? Did he have a wife? of course he did, if that's his name, I exist so there was a mother to Patrick with some sort of name. How can I ever find her, or her parents or her in-laws? Heck, they all could be outlaws, we just can't find them as we don't know how to research for them.

Thus the DNA test. Will there be a miracle in the works now or in the future? Perhaps there will be because DNA testing is becoming more common. Family Tree DNA has the largest database, although the others are growing. Is there a Scot or an Irish, even a British male Creaghan (Cragun, even Kraghan) cousin who I will be matched to as a descendant of brave old  Patrick's fathers?  Will just a different spelling open the doors to finding Patrick's parents? Will we find what County in Ireland  he ran away from in the mid 1700's?

What an amazing find it would be to connect to a cousin from across the sea. Here's hoping. It will take several weeks to get the results but for sure I will share the findings.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Nathan Porter and Henry Mower Converted Elisha Cragun

Copies of pages from a Journal of Nathan T Porter, brother of two of my great great grandfathers: John President Porter and Lyman Wight Porter
Lyman Wight Porter

In his journal he spells Mower differently than the family spelled it.

This Journal can be viewed on microfilm at the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints Church History Library/

Elisha Cragun lived in Indiana for most of his life.

I was able to view and copy to a thumb drive this information. It is on microfilm at the Salt Lake City Church History Library.

There is another of Nathans Journal, currently restricted and being reviewed for approval for me to read that I am told directly mentions Nathan and Henry Mower teaching Elisha and his family. Henry's daughter, Susanna, married Simeon Cragun Sr. Simeon is my great grandfather.

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Simeon Wilbert (Wilby) Cragun

Simeon Wilbert Cragun is my grandfather. I never knew him, he died 10 years before I was born. It's a fact I often regretted, that I never knew any of my grandfathers. Step Grandfather Kent Smith I vagely remember, he died when I was five.

Simeon was born in Pleasant View Utah, and died in Ogden.

Simeon married my grandmother Blanche Smith, his second wife, when he was 49 years old and when my grandmother was only 21 years old. Photographs of her confirm she was good looking and quite a catch. Simeon died years after the marriage or at age 63. My father was 14 at that time and ended up being the one expected to bring in the bread for the family.

His first wife Mary Ann Clifford died seventeen years after their marriage. They had six children together. She was only 31.

The way we children were brought up to believe is that the marriage to Blanche had it's issues. We were told that she was not a welcome step mother. That the discord among the children of Mary Ann and those of Blanches was great. As of this day the only living child of Simeon and Blanche is Howard. In asking him about the details he refused to discuss them with me. He just didn't want to talk about it.

Why Simeon left his farming in Pleasant View is uncertain. We do know he sold his farm to his youngest son Levi for a promissory note. We do know that he moved to Idaho to start up farming again. This did not go well. They were in American Falls, Idaho. Dad told me the situation there was so bad that they lived the winter in a dug out home, dug into a hillside. I was told by my father that Simeon was very smart on electrical engineering. He told me his father was the head engineer on the construction of the American Falls Dam.

Grandma Blanche seemed bitter over the marriage. Her deathbed words were, "don't anyone seal me to Cragun". Dad said she was angry that he never kept his promise to marry her in the Temple.

Family Search Family Tree currently has 29 sources documenting Simeon's life attached to it.

It will be interesting to have a chat with my grandfather in the next life. It will be interesting to see where grandmother fits into his life, if at all. Someone did seal them in the Temple against her wishes. Will she have recanted her wishes?

Below is Simeon's first family as shown in FamilySearch Family Tree.
Below is Simeon's family with Blanche Bingham. His son Royal is my father.

Reuben was adopted by Simeon, perhaps not officially, but Rube went by Cragun his entire life, as do his children and grandchildren.

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Bertha South? Salinas? Cragun

by Larry Cragun

Bertha is my mother. She was born in Pocatello, Bannock, Idaho on August 24, 1916. Through our childhood years only small pieces of her story came to light. For example, she told us her maiden name was Salinas. Then when I was about  17 years old she said her maiden name was South. That was confusing to me, but what the heck, South it is, I guess.

Curiously, my best friend Calvin McOmber had cousins that were Souths. They were from Salt Lake City and came to spend vacation time with my friends the McOmbers in the summer. We became good friends over the years and this summer, having a South grandpa I told Mary Ann that my grandpa was a South. Mary Ann jumped all over that and insisted we go tell her dad. "Dad, Larry's grandpa is a South". "What's his name he asked?" "I don't know I answered." So with all of us curious by now I called home and asked my mom my grandpas name. (I insert here that only one of my grandparents lived long enough for me to know them, my dads mom.) I said out loud that my mother said my grandpas name was Edward Rich South. Agast, Mary Ann said that's the name of her grandpa. "Dad, he has the same grandpa we do!" Mary Ann's father quickly took over the phone to talk to the half sister he never knew that he had. We only lived a short distance from the McOmbers and he went an met my mother. I don't remember how long he was there but I do remember how good they treated my mother and us from that day forward.

Treating  her good was knew to my mother. Her mother had her out of wedlock it seems. The story is a story attached to Nancy Salinas Porter in family tree. It is different that we as kids assumed, that my grandma was a slut.  Her story is actually very different. Grandma Nancy died at age 44 and of course mother didn't talk about it. We have only bits and  pieces to explain my mothers internal gremlins.

We can get a glimpse by these facts and a story. Grandma Nancy Porter grew up in Porterville, Utah.  Her dad had been Bishop of the Porterville Ward for 17 years. Nancy was the Stake Young Womens President when she got pregnant with my mom. Her dad had passed away prior to the pregnancy. Four stories makes obvious the shame grandma Nancy brought to Porterville. The first is that mother was having fun on a  hay wagon ride with the kids in Porterville. At least it was fun until a parent stopped the wagon and told my mother she couldn't ride with the other kids. This cruel moment left a permanent indelible mark on her self esteem. Second, her Uncle Arch Rich was the Bishop at this time. My father told me that he was so cruel to her that she couldn't stay in Porterville, thus the move to Burley, Idaho where she died a young age. Thirdly, I remember being about ten years old and driving to Porterville with my mom to visit a relative. The picture of the house is clear in my memory. I think it was John President Porters home, as I have returned to Porterville to try and find it. Mom didn't tell me why she went to the house only that I must stay in the car. She was only in the house a short time when she came out sobbing.

Fourth is the story of how she met Thomas Salinas. Mother was about eight years old living in Burley now. She was out in the yard eating a piece of dirty bread. Thomas walked by and asked why she was eating that. "It is all we have she responded". Thomas lived next to her Aunt and asked the Aunt if this could be true. "It  possibly is she responded". The next day Thomas was at grandma's door with a bag of groceries, meat and potatoes. He told her that he was from Mexico, working at the potato processing plant. He said he hadn't had a good home cooked meal since he left Mexico, and if he provided the food would she do the cooking? This began a courtship where over a year later they were married in the Logan LDS temple.

I am sure it is my mother that sent into the LDS church records that Nancy Athena Porter and Edward Rich South were married in Salt Lake City. I find no proof of that. The letter of Nancy's story implies that either she was persuaded to an illegal polygamist marriage or that she was persuaded to a future marriage. I lean towards the later, that they were never married. Mother always called Thomas daddy. Because of these facts I choose to select Thomas as the grandfather I follow in family tree. It his he whom my grandma really loved. It was he who treated her well.

I guess this story is not unique, that many of our trees have things about them our parents or grandparents want kept in secret or not talked about. As for me I want the true story. I am thankful that at least Nancy had the foresight to write part of it down, or have someone type it for her.

I would say that my mother carried her complexes throughout her life. I wished that she had been a  happier person. Perhaps things are better for her now. Perhaps those in Porterville whom have gone on have had a chance to make things better. I hope so.

You might notice in the fan chart above that the Salinas line is sketchy. I am hoping my Spanish speaking children and grandchildren are able to research this line.

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Geeks Gone Wild At FamilySearch; And It's Going To Be Awesome

I am scheduled to view the discover center on Thursday at 4PM. Hooray.

UPDATE: The first discovery center is here at last. I wrote this article about 12 months ago. Now the Discovery Center is taking appointments for tours. Go here: to book a time. The slots are already filling up. I get to see it in two weeks. Go and let  your heart be turned to your ancestors. 

Introducing the FamilySearch Center of Tomorrow, "Discovery Centers". In April and May of next year two pilot versions of the future LDS Family History Centers will be unveiled. One will be a revamp (already underway) of the Family History Center at the bottom of the Joseph Smith Memorial Building. The second will be in the Bellevue, Washington Bellevue South Stake Center. This building sits behind the Seattle Temple.

Pardon the quality of the following photos, they are my iPad snap of a power point presentation I was privileged to enjoy last Saturday.

These centers are going to be experiences. An example of the concept lies in the answer to the question behind these to photos: Which is more interesting, both have the same message?\\

The one with photos is the correct answer.

On an average day 5000 photographs and 500 stories are attached to FamilySearch family tree. This is important. It is important for those who come along to find the contributions of others. It is also important to the Discovery Centers, in a couple of other ways.

The discovery Center is to be a family experience. It will help connect us, young and old,  to our ancestors. It will also pave the way for us to leave our posterity with important parts of our own histories. The family history center of the future is a place where families can discover together. It offers individuals and families simple yet powerful in-person experiences to discover their heritage and have their hearts turned to their ancestors.

The purpose is to create an environment where families can begin their journey of family history. It is a focus on family history in addition to genealogy. It will help others find themselves through their ancestors. It will create a family experience as well as a better experience for the visitors.

These Centers will be inviting

When you walk into a Discovery Center you will be welcomed with  an iPad.
You will take your picture with it.

You will begin by building a story you can leave with, 
send to social media sites, or attach to family tree.
You will login to family search or open an account and login. Anyone can join.
You will then see on a large screen your first 8 generations as connected to FamilyTree
You will pick an ancestor from this fan chart visual of your ancestors.
This person will be your focus during the tour.

You can take as many tours as you want, each studying a different ancestor.

 At your first station you will be in front of screens that are interacting with the iPad.
It will have on screen calculators, showing what happened when you were born: + costs of items, etc.
These screens will be touch screen technology, you will be managing your tour.
You will be building your own story which you can forward to Facebook when you leave.
Children will be creating a story book
A digital popup book

Your screen will show you what it was like in the places your ancestor lived.
It will show the immigration patterns of  your first and second generations families.
The experts and techies at FamilySearch are having a ball providing research in 100 countries.
You will learn about what is was like and where your families came from.
You will see what it was like where they lived.

You will see the areas where your ancestor came from
You will go to the dress up station
You will pose in front of  an 80 inch screen
If your ancestor was Scottish you will be appear in Scottish Clothes
If he was a farmer - dressed like a farmer of that day.
You get to take the photos home
They are part of the book you build

Then there is the Time Machine
This will drive your family wild
You and the iPad and your family enter the Time Machine
It's a room for about 8
In holographic style the room goes back in time
Authenticity is the word here
It takes days just to create a digital copy of an original teapot
You are taken back in time
in the home your ancestor would have lived in
you are recording this for your book
You scroll with your iPad to make changes
It's all in 3D

Take Grandma with you
at the end of the tour
is the Share Your Story room
Do the interview
take a thumb drive with you
upload it to the tree

A lot of what happens here is thanks to family tree
the thousands of photos and stories
they will be integrated into the
Discovery Center Experience

If you live in a far off place such as Kokomo or Tokyo, you may want to make one of these two your family vacation. They will be just that cool.


Salt Lake City Joseph Smith Memorial Building in April
Bellevue South Stake Center, next to the Temple
A New Visitors Center
In the Chapel Building
In May

And portions at RootsTech 2014

Bless those Geeks, They can make life so interesting

Will there be others? Possibly, if they have an impact in expanding the spirit so more get involved. These are so expensive that the Church is considering sponsorships

I have the many opportunities to be around serious researchers. I usually ask who will pick up the legacy you have started? Who will take care and take off from your hard work? The answer is often a shrug, like I have no idea. This changes when someone gets the spirit. My sister and I picked up and went a lot farther than my avid mother. I am sure she had no idea it would happen. Experiences such as will take place in the Discovery Centers plants the seed and desire with those who you bring. So my suggestion - bring em.

Royal Wilby Cragun

Royal is my father. Growing up I was told that as a young man his father died. Royal was sixteen at the time. His older siblings were married leaving Royal with the responsibility to take care of earning money for his mother and younger siblings. He seemed to have missed much of what a  teenage would miss due to these responsibilities.

When I was about sixteen my father, Royal came down with cancer in his testicals. They treated it with radiation treatments, basically killing all the of the cells in the groin area. I know it was painful, causing blistering. This treatment took place for over a year. He was miserable and had a hard time being patient with stressful situations.

Royal was a hard worker all of his life. He moved to Pocatello, Idaho in about 1947. He worked as a refridgerator mechanic. During that employment he studied and became a licensed electrician. Many of his working years were at the Nuclear Plant in Arco, Idaho. He eventually purchased a floral shop in Gig Harbor, Washington, Hedstroms Floral Gardens. Mother had learned to be a florist and he was great with plants. They had greenhouses on their property in Gig Harbor. One of his suppliers of garden soil was ready to retire and Royal purchased his business, Plant Soil Products. He worked in this business up until he was in his seventies. He merged that business with two competitors, working during that merger. He eventually sold his share to one of his partners.

Royal was an active member of The Church of Jesus Christ of  Latter Day Saints, serving in a bishopric as a counselor and for several years served at the entry desk in the Seattle Temple.

Royal is the son of Simeon Wilbert Cragun and Blanche Rebecca Bingham.

The chart above is from FamilySearch family tree. This free website is a collaborative effort of  hundreds of thousands of people of all faiths building one correct tree of all mankind. I suggest you go to and sign up for an account. Much information can be found there on my Cragun, Osborne, Mower, Amick, Bingham, Freeman, Guthrie, and White as well as probably all of your ancestors lines. I have served as a support volunteer missionary since the time family tree was launched, even before as one of the beta testers. email me at if you want ideas on how to work with family tree and genealogy, or with questions you may have on why Mormons do this awesome effort in helping all do their genealogy.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Please Dont Chat

I am certain the higher ups in FamilySearch won't like this post, but what the heck, I have only two weeks left on this mission.

I serve in the support zone. We handle hundreds of calls a day in chat, email, and phone calls. This is a great service and one that is quite enjoyable. It is extremely rewarding realizing  that by helping someone when they are blocked or stumped helps keep them going with this great work.

I say please don't chat for a couple of reasons. 1- It is so hard to understand the issues. 2- It takes so much time per case.

I can understand not wanting to increase a phone bill, but often we could make the call back to you.

The issues are so much clearer to understand, so much easier and quicker to sort out  when done by phone. I have had chats go over two hours without resolution. It must be trying for a patron to suffer through that much time.

In the cases where I take an email I most often call the person back. I am not saying don't email, but if I get the case, expect me to call you. I want to make sure I understand the problem and that you understand how to solve it.

In all cases  we are not trying to do your solution, but teach you how to solve it yourself. It's the old teach a man how to fish concept.

Currently there are over 500 people answering questions at home, about 10 part time church service missionaries here in Salt Lake City, and about 10 full time missionaries offering this world wide patron support. To top it off there are a few full time employees making it happen.

It is such a joy to have someone thank us for what the Church is doing to support family history. Those thanks come from everywhere and come often.

In the end chat if you must, but I recommend a phone call connection to be better.

Friday, September 19, 2014

Family Search Has Several Partnerships

So much publicity has been given to the partnerships with, FindMyPast, and MyHeritage that people overlook their are several partners with FamilySearch continually looking ofr additional partnerships.

This link will take you to the partners site:

It might be fun to take a look.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Possible The Best Tip I've Ever Given

OK, two best tips, how about that?

# 1 Have a definite target or goal:

Yep, things can be elusive, and frustrating after awhile, just like above. I wonder how long it takes before you get frustrated.

Whatever your goal, it is your goal, and whatever it is it's yours to enjoy.  I have been helping a 94 year old woman who spends much of her day getting what is on her PAF file into family tree. She doesn't see any interest in her kids at the time, so she is driven to get it done and make sure what is up there is accurate. She systematically is going up her lines correcting and documenting the information already in family tree.

Now isn't that a clear objective?

I spent a whole month on the website of Historical Newspapers looking and uploading stories of Cragun grandparents, aunts, and uncles to the tree. Boy that was interesting. I went through about 1600 articles found just by searching Cragun. Many of the articles weren't pretty, but there they are for those stories to be found. For a month I was so focused. is that site.

I recently taught a 10 year old grandson how awesome the descendancy view is in family tree. Now I have to train him when he comes next month not to be a green arrow chaser. (Inside Mormon Joke).

I often refer to bunny trails, the ease and tendency to go astray from your real goal. Tip # 1 have a goal or target. It's ok to move the target to something else, just do so on purpose.

Tip # 2: Set aside a regular schedule.

If it is at 5PM every Sunday evening or whatever, I have found that this is important. How about this for doing great? I recently helped a lady who met every Wednesday with her sister at the Salt Lake City Family History Library to work on their genealogy. They have volumes of books to show for that commitment.
What launched me, was a decision to spend Sunday afternoon on genealogy. I had the work of my mother and the already involved sister to assist my efforts. It was a great decision.
Two tips, your decision, I hope  you too catch the spirit of this fabulous hobby and work.