Lynne Cheney's ancestors

Wife of v.p. finds her roots deeply entrenched in the LDS migration

Published: Sunday, Jan. 22 2006 12:00 a.m. MST

Katurah eventually made her way to the Salt Lake Valley in 1852, where she met and married another Welsh farmer, Charles Vincent. They reared six children.

Cheney says she might not have learned about the drama of people refusing to help Katurah except that others in the same company kept notes and diaries. She said Ronald Dennis, a scholar at Brigham Young University, translated many of them from Welsh and wrote about them, which helped her flesh out her own ancestor's story.

"Diaries that were kept of the westward migration, I think, are second only to the diaries that were kept during the Civil War in terms of number and how provocative they are. The people who were going West knew they were part of something bigger than themselves . . . so they recorded their experiences, and there is just a wealth of information to be mined," Cheney said.

Cheney also likes to talk about another great-great grandmother and Mormon pioneer, Fannie Peck, who also crossed the Plains in 1852 as a 7-year-old.

"There is this wonderful passage in one of her letters of biography about her having only one pair of shoes, and she wanted to save them for the Sabbath when the Mormons stopped and worshipped. So, she would walk barefoot during the week.

"But then, of course, what would happen is, when she would try to put on her shoes on the weekend, she couldn't get them on because her feet were so swollen," Cheney said.

Cheney liked the story so much that she included it in her best-selling history book for children, "A is for Abigail, An Almanac of Amazing American Women."

"It seems to me always important to tell children that children were a part of history. And the story of Fannie Peck trying to save her shoes, I thought, would be very appealing to small readers," Cheney said.

Cheney says she has pushed nationally for at least the past 20 years, since she led the National Endowment for the Humanities, for Americans to take more interest in history — and to make it more interesting. She has continued the initiative in the White House, including creating a new $10,000 annual prize for the writing of history. She personally funds the award from sales of her children's books.

But she isn't just encouraging professional historians. She is also urging families to research, write and pass along their histories. As she said at a White House forum on American history, "We have an obligation as parents and grandparents and aunts and uncles to pass along our nation's history."

Of local interest, she notes that the genealogical collections of the LDS Church have been a significant help to her and could be to others. "The resources of the LDS Church are just amazing, and I am very grateful for the help they have given me in learning more about Katurah Vaughan and Fannie Peck" and other ancestors.

Following is information about some other of Cheney's ancestors with Utah ties, with some information coming from her and much coming from biographies in the history department of the Daughters of Utah Pioneers Museum:

• Father, Wayne Edward Vincent. He was born in Salt Lake City in 1915. But his father, Leon Edwin Vincent (born in Provo in 1892), was a clerk for American Express and was transferred with his family to Cheyenne, Wyo. Cheney says her father was LDS when young but later left that church. His daughter, Lynne Vincent Cheney, would be born and reared in Casper, Wyo. Vincent was an engineer.

Of note, Wayne Vincent's mother (and Cheney's grandmother), Anna Albertina Madsen, was born in Manti in 1893. Her parents, Niels Peter Madsen and Sarah Albertine Bolander, both immigrated to Utah from Denmark.

• Great-grandfather David John Vincent. He was born in Provo in 1868. The 1900 Census lists him as a saloon keeper in Provo. His wife, Mary Eleanor Elliott, also was born in Provo in 1870.

• Great-great-grandfather Edwin Elliott. He was the husband of Fannie Peck. Born in England, he went to France at age 7 with his father, George Elliott, who was working for the English government. When he was 10, the family was transferred to Australia, where his father handled gold shipments for the British mint.

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