There are so many beloved characters in Fitzgerald's works. Uncle Mark, Uncle Will, Queenie, Papa, Mamma, even Aunt Cathy - but one of the most beloved to me was Bishop Ephriam Aden.
When I first was deciding to research I often hid away from anyone. My family included. I would work late at night after everyone was asleep, sneak my letters to the mail box, hide the print offs from the internet, anything to keep this secret. I know there needs to be an explanation and there is but I'll get to it later.
Bishop Aden was one of the hidden ones. I'd figured out on my first hunts that Bishop Aden must have been a created character. Price has a huge GENWEB site with nearly every pioneers name, photos and many have histories. No Aden's existed.
I also knew that Price was named after William Price, who was a mormon bishop, but never a bishop over Price. This knowledge should have quelled my interest in Bishop Aden. If it was clear he didn't exist in either form, why should I be so bent on finding him. Trouble was - his name kept nagging me. It would take me a while before I could get the answer to settle the nag.
While I waited for the miracle of Bishop Aden I continued to collect copies of the Advocate newspaper. The Bishop at the time of Papa and Mamma's marriage was a man name Bishop Horsely. Like Papa and Mamma's little notations, there would be some small comment on something Bishop Horsely was doing. It seemed like a very dedicated and generous citizen.
A year or so, after I let my research project work out of the bag, my parents took a detour while on vacation and went to Price. I believe I've mentioned this before, they brought me back my first photgraphs of Papa and Mamma's headstones. Slipped inside the envelope were also pictures of various Horsely headstones. My dad said he'd noticed them while he was walking through the cemetery and that he had known Horsely's in his childhood town of Paragonah, Utah and wanted to see if they were related. (The funny thing was I'd never told him about Bishop Horsely). At the time my dad mentioned it my research radar screen was off - I didn't put the possibility of 2 and 2 together. I just collected the photos and put them with my files.
One night as I was hunting around, I stumbled over the name of Bishop Horsely's first wife - Mercy Jane Topham. My maiden name is Topham. My dad's comment finally connected with my brain. I ran and got the pictures, I started typing names and dates into the internet as fast as I could. What I'd suddenly assumed - was correct. My great-great aunt was Mercy Jane Topham. She didn't live long, she died of cancer at a very young age. Bishop Earnest Samuel Horsely would remarry. But my family brushed up against the Fitzgerald family. I couldn't believe it.
Once I got over the shock and elation, I sat down and pieced together the lives that had been side by side.
Ernest Samuel Horsely and his family lived in Paragonah, Utah in 1878. Their family were brick masons, and built quite a few "excellent brick buildings in Iron county." In 1884, Ernest S. Horsley married Mercy Jane Topham. In August of 1896, Ernest Horsely was "set apart as Bishop over Price LDS ward." He would hold that position for 9 years. On October 6, 1896 - Thomas Fitzgerald married Minnie Fitzgerald in Salt Lake City. Shortly after their wedding they returned to Price, Utah where they lived out the rest of their lives.
During the tenure of Bishop Horsley's service to the church - all four elder Fitzgerald children were born - Isabelle, William, Tom and John.
On January 19, 1900, Mercy Jane Topham Horsely passed away from cancer. Just a few months later her father would pass away also.
Over the next few days I downloaded biographies of Bishop Horsley, I retraced my news clippings as well as Price history documents. A picture of similarities began to form. From them I could see where John created his Bishop. In my next post I will try to share those similarities with you.