The information I have on him came from the research of the late Norma Blanchard Powell, from some of what Aunt Melva told me, and from some of my own on Walter. I’m giving the information from memory because I’ve been filing and now can’t lay my hands on everything as I used to be able to. If anyone has anything to correct or add, please do so.
Alma Moroni Blanchard was born 5 Apr 1842 in Troy, Oakland, Michigan. (The nearby Royal Oak seems to have been named for a splendid large oak tree.) Alma Moroni, called ‘Rone’ was the son of Asaph Blanchard and Eunice Elizabeth Thompson.
The family — which consisted of Asaph, Eunice Elizabeth, and her parents, Thomas A. and Charlotte Rice Thompson — moved from Michigan to LaHarpe, Hancock, Illinois when he was a baby. Most of the Mormon settlers in the areas outside Nauvoo either squatted or worked communally on land that belonged to more prosperous members of the community.
Asaph’s brother Walter M. Blanchard probably joined them by the spring of 1845. He came from Andover, Ashtabula, Ohio to work as a carpenter on the Nauvoo Temple at least for the summer of 1845 (only one of the time books for temple construction has survived).
Asaph’s sister, Lodema, her husband Frederick David Winegar, and their children had even earlier settled in Bear Creek, Hanock County after having been driven from Caldwell County, Missouri. Thomas A. Thompson died 11 Sept 1845, the day of the anti-Mormon attack on the outlying Mormon settlements. (No record of his burial that I’ve been able to find.)
When the Blanchards left Nauvoo with the widowed Charlotte Thompson, probably in the spring of 1846, they went to Garden Grove, Decatur, Iowa, one of several Mormon way stations. Walter M. went back to Andover where he served as the presiding elder for the Strangite Church. They lived there — probably in a dugout or perhaps a cabin — until the spring of 1852 when they were finally able to cross the plains. This means that Grandpa Blanchard walked from Iowa to when he was only 10 years old. But what is even more remarkable is that his grandmother Charlotte also crossed the plains in her mid-70s. (She joined the Church in February 1832 when there were just about 1000 members, and she lived to be 90 years old.) They settled in Springville the year after it was first settled. Of the Blanchard siblings who joined the Church — Asaph, Walter M., Clarissa Arvilla, Lodema, Cynthia — Asaph was the only one who came to Utah. Sometimes just being there is at least half of the battle, isn’t it.
Grandpa Blanchard married 13 May 1864 Emma Bocock Law, who had been a plural wife of Charles Law, along with her two sisters. She brought her son Francis to the marriage. She died — probably from toxemia — before her 30th birthday, following the birth of her last child, who also died. He was left with five small children, aged 1 to 8. Even though Medora took a lot of responsibility for an 8-year-old and Eunice Elizabeth was nearby, he seems to have been inconsolable. He married Emily Pierce when Medora was about 12. The mix of his children and the new stepmother was not a success.
When Aunt Jane Ellis came down from North Ogden for her father’s funeral (Asaph Blanchard died 23 Sep 1879), she could see the situation. She took the now teen-aged Medora back to North Ogden with her. Aunt Jane was a midwife and she needed someone to carry on when she was called to a delivery. Medora’s older brother, Frank Law, helped out with her school expenses. Eunice Elizabeth had been a schoolteacher and was a constant reader so Medora had an advantage there. Soon she was the assistant schoolteacher in North Ogden. About that time, Ann Ham Hickenlooper moved to the North Ogden area. Uncle John Hickenlooper and Aunt Belinda Wade were already living there, and our Grandmother thought Salt Lake City was getting a little too wild for her boys. So when Charles A. Hickenlooper was able to take advantage of a little schooling, he had a teacher about his own age. Another connection between the Blanchard and Hickenlooper families came a little later when Medora’s youngest brother Byron married the lovely Annie McLane, daughter of Duncan McLane and Rachel Ann Hickenlooper, Charles’ sister.
In the meantime, things were not going well between Grandpa Blanchard and Emily. In fact, Grandpa Blanchard was not doing well himself in spite of his talents. He ended up going to prison and there was a bitter divorce when he got out. He refused to accept Lucile, Emily’s last child, as his own. There is an oral history of Lucile at the Utah State Historical Society. The story is that Emily had no means of support while he was in prison. She thought she was going to get a ham but along with the ham ended up pregnant with Lucile.
After that, Grandpa Blanchard sort of drifted around and became the family embarrassment. He had a certain flair with words, wrote a good deal of verse, and he called himself the “bard of Bonneville.” He probably had hopes of publishing, but his manuscript was a casualty of a fire. Some of his verses are floating around.
He took sick while visiting family and died 18 May 1913 in Chester, Fremont, Idaho and was buried in the Farnum Cemetery in Chester.
Emma (Blk. 46 Lot 4 Pos. 4), Asaph (Blk. 41 Lot 4 Pos. 3) and Eunice Elizabeth (Blk. 41 Lot 4 Pos. 2) are buried in the old Springville cemetery at 200 West 400 South (an immediate right when you pass over the viaduct coming East into Springville from Exit 263, the middle of the three I-15 Springville exits).