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Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Ancestors at My Kitchen Table

I just found two pairs of fourth-great grandparents and I’m pretty excited about it.

I didn’t know I was going to be able to do a lot of German research sitting right here in my kitchen at my laptop.

When we visited Germany in 2005, we took a side trip out of Regensburg to a village called Ensdorf, because my grandmother had always reported that her grandmother said she came from Ensdorf, Bavaria. The onion-shaped dome on the church among the hills was wonderful to see, but we found nothing there about my ancestors. There was nothing to find; it was the wrong place altogether.*

I couldn’t have foreseen when I gathered all the papers about this family line that so much would come to be available online. I thought, barring more trips to Germany, that I would have to spend long days sitting in the Salt Lake City Family History Library, poring over their vast microfilm collection at one of those towering machines, my head practically inside it to make out what the sometimes less-than-optimal film exposure was showing of old and faded pages of church registers and civil registers, land records and histories of towns. It’s hard to sit there, but when you pay for travel and parking to get there, you want to stay as long as possible to get as much out of the trip as you can. You develop a splitting headache and just keep going until the library closes and the staff comes around to check all around the furniture to be sure nobody’s hiding (I know they do, because I worked a few years at a branch of this library, and we had to be police as well as helpers!) to try to stay overnight and keep working. Genealogists can be a nutty bunch.

Yesterday I found out the microfilm reels for the town records I need to see are now digitized images and available online. Yay!

26 December 1817 document
In the records of the Catholic Church of St. Peter in Sankt Ingbert, Bayern, I found the marriage of my 3rd-great grandparents, Jacob Selgrad and Gertrude Schmelzer—in fact, I found two records, one dated 26 December 1817, and the other dated 13 January 1818. Since I can’t read the first one very well, I have to guess that it is a statement of intent, sort of like English banns. Nobody came forward and objected to the marriage, so it was formalized on the 13 January 1818 date.

The records combined gave me new information about Jacob and Gertrude, including their birth dates and birthplaces. The second record has the couple’s parents’ names clearly written; they are also in the first record, but the mothers’ names both disappear off the edge of the page due to fading ink, page decay, and camera lighting.
13 Jan 1818 marriage entry

Voila! A new generation found. Their parents are Peter Selgrad and Eva Bauer, and Ludwig Schmelzer and Elisabetha Kiefer. The fathers both signed the marriage document as witnesses or sponsors or something. (I should translate that Latin soon.)

I love that “armchair genealogy” is getting to be so relatively easy to do. (Pun intended.)


* It turns out that the great-great-grandmother was not the one from Ensdorf; it was the great-great grandfather instead, and his village was Endorf in Westfalen, not Bayern.

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Mary Ann Hogan: Found

The Hogans

You all have known for many years that I wanted to find Solomon Whittenton’s wife, Mary (I wrote about them here), and discover her heritage. Finally!! With the help of a cousin who discovered me last June, I have got some of the information we were waiting for.

Who They Are
Mary belongs to the Hogan family that in 1850 lived very close to Solomon and his sister Agatha near Jackson, Madison County, Tennessee. You can see on this image that Solomon and Agatha are the second household on the page. Then next door are their father and stepmother and their other siblings. Next are the Kendricks, rich old Jane and her family who owned quite a lot of slaves. Next to them are the Hogans. The father is Marmaduke, born about 1792 in North Carolina, and his wife, Nancy McGregor Hogan, born about 1798 also in North Carolina. They came from Montgomery County, southwest of the places where the Whittingtons were from.

Mary is reported to be 25 years old on this census. This is probably close to the truth; but I think she was actually 24. Her sister Elizabeth is said to be 17; she was probably 15 in reality. The youngest brother, Sandy (Sanders) is reported to be 14; he was probably 12. There were three older brothers, Jonah Calvin (born about 1820), Caswell (born about 1823-4), and Isaiah (born 1825).

Hogan is an Irish surname. As derived from the Irish Gaelic, Ó hÓgáin, it is a diminutive of Og meaning “young.” The Cornish version of the name means “mortal.” The Welsh name Hogyn means “stripling.”

Marmaduke Hogan’s parents are Zachariah Hogan and Celia Bannister. His line goes back four more generations in North Carolina and Virginia before you reach the Irish ancestor, Patrick. The Baxters and Griffins whom they married were also originally from Ireland, all in the Dublin area. The Bannister line isn’t developed yet.

Nancy McGregor’s grandfather came from Perth, Scotland. I don’t know much yet about her mother, Ann Harris, but Harris is a name that occurs frequently in Scotland, as it does in England.

The Evidence
Once I saw on Valerie Whitenton Hart’s death record that her son thought his grandmother’s maiden name was “Hogins” (Valerie is our Mary Jane’s older sister), I started looking for any surnames that had H, G or K, and N with any vowels at all, since pronunciation can vary so much you never know which vowel was originally the right one. I landed on this Hogan family, but I couldn’t see any proof beyond circumstantial evidence that they might be the right family. I didn’t research them particularly, beyond looking to see how many of these families were in Madison County, Tennessee. Then I dropped it as there was so much to do elsewhere.

Like I said, last June I got connected with a descendant of Lillie Read’s half-brother Sam. She gave me a lot of stuff, which I have since been sorting through now and then. Not until this week did I realize that she had this line on Ancestry, and I asked her what the evidence was. She pointed me to where everything was and also gave me information about various DNA tests.

All of the recorded historical evidence is circumstantial, which is why I didn’t trust it alone. The Hogans came from North Carolina, as did the Whittingtons. To be sure, the Hogans were in Montgomery County, southwest of the Whittingtons in Johnston and Wake counties. Before that, the Hogans were in Anson County, next door, which is where they arrived from the area that is now Cumberland County, Virginia, to the north, around 1700 (at the time, that area was contained in Charles City and Henrico counties). Anyway, the same general migration pattern applies to both families. And in fact, the McGregors were first to go to Tennessee from North Carolina, arriving there before 1820.

When the families settled near Jackson in Madison County, Tennessee, there would have been plenty of opportunity for Mary and Solomon to meet and become well acquainted. But here is where things get a little weird.

You all remember that Solomon didn’t behave himself well with the ladies and had an illegitimate child around 1840. It sets a precedent for the next thing that is outside the accepted order of things. I have found that Mary Ann Hogan got married on 19 November 1848 in Montgomery County, Tennessee, probably in Clarksville at the County Courthouse. Frustratingly, the index search engine online requires exact spelling, and I have tried every form for “Whittington” I can think of and haven’t gotten a hit that shows Solomon in the index. So I don’t know the name of Mary’s groom. The index is separated as to brides and grooms. I’ve sent for the full record and will know more once it arrives, but it opens up some big questions.

Is this marriage record the missing proof we need for Solomon’s wife’s true identity?

If Mary Ann Hogan got married to Solomon then, why was she living in her father’s house two years later when the 1850 Census was taken? Was she just visiting when the census taker came and they all confused him as to who lived there?

Why Clarksville when they were all living in Madison County?

Was Valerie Whittenton right in 1900 to say that she was born in March 1849? Or was she born in 1850? She still should have appeared somewhere on the census, whether in her grandfather’s house or her father’s—because she was born in March and the census taker came in November.

If this isn’t the right Mary Ann Hogan, who is this? If it is the right Mary Ann Hogan and she married someone else before Solomon, whoa, that’s going to open up another big can of worms, and then where and when did Solomon and Mary get married?

Stay tuned. I’ll update this with the information I find out on that marriage record when I get it.

In all, the circumstantial evidence is that of Mary Ann Hogan having the right name, being the right age, living in the right place, and of her family following the same migration patterns as did the Whittingtons. Sounds thin, doesn’t it?

Meanwhile, my distant cousin told me that she has been able to create DNA connections with a very high confidence rating that include descendants of Solomon and Mary Whittenton and also descendants of various siblings in the family of Marmaduke Hogan and Nancy McGregor. This was using two different DNA processing companies, and that means almost certainly we have the right Mary Ann Hogan, because DNA is that accurate! Now that I’ve linked the Hogans on my own online tree, I expect I’ll soon be getting the same information from the company I used for my own DNA test.

What Do We Know about Mary’s Siblings and Their Families?
I’ve been researching Mary’s five siblings and have come up with some information about each of them. They are Calvin, Caswell, Isaiah, Elizabeth, and Sanders. We’ll start with the eldest and get to the youngest last.

Jonah Calvin Hogan has a birth record in Montgomery County, North Carolina, but all that is available online is the index that doesn’t give the date. Still, other records support us in thinking he was born about 1820. No other record uses the “Jonah” given name; he apparently went by Calvin exclusively. The U.S. 1820 Census for Montgomery county was burned up in a fire in 1835, so we can’t see the family composition then. In 1830 Calvin appears as a checkmark in the age 10–14 column. In 1840 he appears in the age 15–19 column, although we expect him to be 20. In 1850 he has his own household and is age 30.

While still in North Carolina, Calvin married a woman named Mary who was born about 1822. Their children are Atlas (1842), James (1844), Sarah E (1846), and Zachariah (March 1850). Atlas was born in North Carolina; the rest of the children in Tennessee, probably in District 17 of Madison County where they were living when the census was taken. Two more daughters were added to the family: Mary Lou in 1852 and Frances in 1857.

I can’t find any record about Calvin after that census. There are other Calvin Hogans, but none matches him. His eldest son Atlas served in the Civil War, and interestingly, changed sides. He started out in the 13th Regiment Arkansas Infantry, Company I when he was 18 years old, entering as a private and being captured when he was a sergeant and sent to prison in Indiana. There he apparently made a deal and entered the Union Army on 10 September 1864 in the 21st Regiment Indiana, Company F, 1st Heavy Artillery Unit. He served with them until they got to Florida in 1865 and was mustered out 27 July 1865. Back in Madison County, Tennessee, he soon got married to a Miss Sarah J.E. Stephenson.

Next comes Mary Ann’s brother Caswell Hogan. He was born in Montgomery County, North Carolina, in about 1824. The 1830 census shows he is age 5–9. In 1840 he is age 15–19. In 1850 he appears with his wife and two children and is reported to be 27 years old. In 1860 he appears with his family on the census and is 36 years old.

Caswell married Jane Johnson in 1845 in Madison County, Tennessee. Jane was about the same age as Caswell, born in North Carolina, and went by the nickname Jennie. They had the following children in Tennessee: Amanda (1846), William (1849), Thomas A (1852), Christopher Columbus “Lum” (1855), Elizabeth (1856), and Robert Merida (1858). Right after Robert Merida was born, the family moved to Craighead county, Arkansas. Cas was a farmer, and both he and Jennie were illiterate according to the 1860 Census. Cas died in 1863 in Conway, Arkansas. Jennie lived until 1896.

The next sibling for Mary Ann is her brother Isaiah, who is next to her in age. He was reportedly born 27 August 1825 in Montgomery County, North Carolina. The 1830 Census has him in the “Under 5” age group. In 1840 he was put in the 5–9 age group, and in 1850 he’s 25 years old, living in Madison County, Tennessee with his wife, Sally, who is the same age. Then Sally must have changed her name, because in 1860 he’s married to Lucy, and they have three children: James (1852), Susan (1855), and Hiram (1858). They live in Ripley County, Missouri, but little Hiram was born in Arkansas, so they must have tried living there between Susan’s and Hiram’s births. When the Civil War started, Isaiah chose to join the Union side in the 24th Regiment Missouri Infantry, Company G. He was either captured and sent to Andersonville, Georgia, and then sent home to die, or he was killed in a battle; it is not clear which record belongs to him. At any rate he died 28 January 1863 in Van Buren, Carter county, Missouri, and his widow, Sarah, applied for a military pension the next month, which was granted.

After Mary Ann comes her sister, Elizabeth, born in the 1830s. Her age varies so much in the records that it’s hard to know exactly when she was born. In 1840 she was reported as under 5; but in 1850 she was supposedly 17. Then in 1860 she was 25. She married Thomas Smith (a native of Ireland who was born about 1821 and who had immigrated to Arkansas) soon after 1860 and had four children: William Burns Smith (1862), Allice (1864), Thomas (1865), and Edward (1868). Elizabeth was said to be 36 in 1870, so perhaps her birth year was 1834 or 1835. Nothing further is known yet of her life; she is said to have died in Faulkner county, Arkansas, in 1880.

The youngest of the siblings is Sanders Hogan, born between 1836 and 1838. The 1840 Census shows him in the Under 5 group; in 1850 he is said to be 14 years old, but ten years later he is said to be 22. Of course he moved with his parents from North Carolina to Tennessee and then to Arkansas. Nothing further is known of him. His actual name may have been Alexander, since Sanders is a common nickname or short form of that name. There are many Alexander Hogans, but again, I don’t know what happened to our Sander, or “Sandy” as he is called on the 1860 Census.

The Hogan family was not a particularly long-lived family. The father, Marmaduke, lived over 75 years, but his wife, Nancy, was only around 56 or 57 when she died. Calvin was about 40 when he disappeared from all records. Caswell died at the age of about 40. Isaiah died at the age of 37. Elizabeth was around 44 when she died. Sanders could have lived a long time, but he disappeared from records at the age of 22. Mary Ann lived the longest that we know of; she was around 60 when she died.

What’s Next
I’m going to explore Mary Ann’s ancestors and try to discover when each family arrived in America. I’ll update you with what I find.

Thursday, April 5, 2018

Nora Quackenbush Could’ve Been My Grandma

But she wasn’t.

Technically speaking, she was married to my great-grandfather for maybe a year, more or less. All I know for certain is that she married him in the spring of 1918, and by December 1919 things were as if the marriage never happened. It might be as well to trace the meanderings of Nora Quackenbush to make an effort to pin this thing down.

Nora was born to Reuben and Mary Quackenbush in Wisconsin in June 1865. The family later moved to South Dakota, and then to Nebraska, to Thayer County. Nora married a man named Boston Armstrong when she was 19 years old and bore him three children: Lillian, Lester, and William.

Sometime after William’s birth the marriage broke up, and she apparently next had a relationship with someone surnamed Hunt, because in the next census she reports a son named Johnnie Hunt, born in June 1897. Four months later, in October 1897 she married Samuel Levy Werring (or Waring), so the Hunt connection was over with. Johnnie took Samuel’s surname as his own, combined with Hunt, so his records show his full name as John David Hunt Werring.

Nora and Samuel had a son named Reuben, born in the spring of 1900, the same month as the census was taken. They didn’t have any more children together, and I wonder if Samuel died while they were married, because when any subsequent marriages ended, she went back to using the surname Werring and listed herself as “widowed.” Samuel was an elusive subject to research; he appears in exactly one record: his marriage to Nora. That marriage record says he was born about 1862 in Wisconsin. Nothing tells us where he lived, what he did for a living, or where he died and was buried.

Nora appeared on some census records as a child in Wisconsin. Samuel appears nowhere as a child or adult except at his wedding.

Samuel wasn’t even living with Nora and the children when that census was taken in 1900, although his own son had just been born that month. Instead, Nora and Lillie, Willie, Johnnie, and baby Reuben (Lester was with his Quackenbush grandmother in South Dakota) live with a Mr. Willis Marshall, for whom she works as a “servant.” It’s odd.

(Nora’s Samuel might be the Samuel Waring living in Kansas in 1895, a bachelor with a family boarding with him. Other than that possibility, it looks as if he was successful in avoiding a single record being created about him—except his marriage to Nora. Did he even exist? Hm.)

Next thing that shows up is in 1910, Nora is in her third marriage to a man named William Purdy, living in the central part of Washington state near the Canadian border. This is quite a drastic move from Nebraska. There is nothing to suggest why Nora moved there. William Purdy is a baker from Canada, five years older than Nora. Nora’s children Lillian, Lester, William, and John live with them, but not young Reuben Werring. Where did he go?

The very next year the family was counted in the 1911 Canada census. They had moved several hundred miles north of Vancouver, British Columbia. But now Nora is the head of the household, and where the baker went is anybody’s guess. Nora has her two youngest sons listed with her, but Reuben’s name is listed as “Willis,” which, coincidentally, is the first name of the man for whom Nora was working when that son was born. The boys’ surnames are “Werring.”

(Could “Willis Marshall” have been a pseudonym for Samuel Levy Werring? Or vice versa?)

In addition to her two younger sons, Nora had a 29-year-old lodger named Benjamin Peon living in the house. The Purdy marriage was apparently over, and Nora moved back to the United States, staying in the Pacific Northwest.

In the late 19-teens she met my grandfather, William Lester Munroe. The marriage record gives his home as Camas, Washington, on the southern border of the state near Vancouver. It gives her address as Molson, Washington, almost on the Canadian border (Molson is now a ghost town and was never very well populated). They lived over 400 miles apart. Where and how they met are a mystery, as I do not know what either was doing in those years. I suspect he was going from job to job, doing whatever he could find. He never was very stable in his employment.

They married in Vancouver, Washington, in May 1918. Lester had just turned 60, and Nora was going to be 53 the next month. Lester brought witnesses to the wedding: his daughter Medora and his brother James. If Nora had anyone there, we don’t know about it. The marriage certificate says this was Lester’s third marriage and Nora’s fourth.

Wait. Lester had a second marriage that we don’t know about yet? The family knows about only his marriage to Mary Jane Whittington in 1884. She died in 1899, and we thought he was living as a widower all that time. Well, well, well. Now we know about this marriage to Nora Quackenbush Werring (or to put it more accurately, Nora Quackenbush Armstrong Werring Purdy). I guess I need to do some more digging for another marriage for Lester Munroe!

To continue with Nora’s story, as I said, the marriage was soon over. She married again in Spokane, Washington, on 22 December 1919 to a man named E. Varney. She used her childhood name, Elnora, but she signed “Lenora” and the clerk wrote “L. Nora.” She used the surname Werring. She said this was her second marriage, that she was a widow. It was really her fifth, at least so far as I know—at the rate she was going, she could have been married several more times before Lester met her!

This marriage didn’t last either. She listed herself in the 1930 census as Nora Werring, widow.

I’m sorry to be so judgmental, but I suspect my grandfather was well rid of her. No wonder nobody ever mentioned this in telling us stories about his life. But now that I’m being judgmental, I have to wonder what happened to this woman to produce such a level of instability in her personal relationships. From my studies of genealogy, I have found that usually some sort of trauma precedes this kind of a life, whether the death of a parent, loss of another kind, or related trauma. Whatever it was, poor Nora.

Her son Reuben, whose name had been permanently changed to Willis E., died in September 1924, a private in the U.S. Army. Her son John David, who went by the name Jack, served in the U.S. Navy during World War I, came home and settled in Montana, where he married. He later moved back to Washington. Her son William died in 1928. Her son Lester took the name John, changed the details of his birth, and got himself a ranch in Nevada. He never married. Her daughter Lillie married a number of times, apparently following her mother’s pattern. Nora died in Washington in 1946 and was buried in Walla Walla near Willis. Jack is buried there too.

Wednesday, April 4, 2018

Chester Phillips Wants a Family

Chester Lumbard Phillips, who is a son of one of my Munro great-great-great aunts, may have wanted a family pretty badly.

He was born in Rutland County, Vermont, in late January 1839, the second of four sons, and with an older sister the first child of the family. His brothers who were next to him in age both older and younger died when they were each about two years old. He was 25 years old when he married 20-year-old Hannah Etta Towsley, and I’m sure they expected to have a large family. But they had no children after five years, then a decade, then another, and another passed by. It looked like it was too late.

Chester’s older sister Betsey had an only daughter in 1851. Chester may have been allowed to play with his niece when he was a young teenager. His younger brother Charles married Ida Estelle Paddock and lived to be 90 years old but apparently had no children.

Chester’s wife Hannah died the day after their 35th wedding anniversary. But Chester did not mourn for Hannah very long. If he wanted a family, he couldn’t afford to wait. Four and a half months later he and Mary L Paddock were married. Mary was Ida’s younger sister, born in Bennington County, Vermont, nearly 30 years younger than Chester. She was just past 33½ when they married, and in that time and place perhaps she had long thought of herself as an old maid, “on the shelf.” But maybe her sister Ida urged her to marry this brother-in-law. Maybe he was kind and personable.

Curiously, Chester’s brother and sister-in-law, Charles and Ida, had no children, but the 1900 Census shows that they have two nieces living with them: a 7-year-old named Millie T. Phillips, and a 27-year-old named Marion B. Wellwood. I can’t find anyone in either family with the surname of Wellwood, and the only way Millie could have the Phillips surname is if she were Chester’s natural daughter. These nieces are a mystery.

One year after their marriage, Chester and Mary had a daughter born, Luella. A little over two years later another daughter, Mary Emily, was born, but sadly she died before she was three. When Luella was six, a baby brother, Charles, was born. Chester was then 70 years old and Mary was 40. Chester died 12½ years later, nearly 83 years old. Mary, despite being so much younger than Chester, did not remarry and followed him in death when she was 64. Their two surviving children grew and married, and both had children.

As they say, it’s never too late.

Monday, April 2, 2018

Spring Flowers

I’ve just finished reading Betty Smith’s wonderful 1943 novel, A Tree Grows in Brooklyn. The title tree (a Tree of Heaven) has umbrella leaves and manages to scrabble itself upright and grow with practically no water or care (like the protagonists), and even, in the end, when Francie sees that it has been cut down to a stump, it refuses to die and strong sprouts grow out of the top of the stump (rather like my old apricot tree), intent on becoming a proper tree again. This puts me in mind of something Francie muses upon in the course of the novel: how time suddenly seems to speed up after she turns 12. She says it’s as if the week has lost some of its days, and suddenly the summers are shorter and there is no longer an eon from one Christmas to the next.

“Tempus fugit,” says Mrs. Shinn to her husband in The Music Man. I have a friend who used to say that to me all the time, because I was always running late when I was younger. I thought time went too quickly twenty years ago. Now its speed has become positively frightening.

As an antidote I thought I would pull out photos of spring flowers I’ve been taking for years. This could remind me of how slowly the years have piled up, or it may make me think Where did all these years go? and go back to feeling that time is getting away from me.

Still, pictures of flowers are always cheering, and ultimately, they seem to slow things down for me. Here are the flowers we get in April and May around here.
The year the tulips had to manage around the tree that had fallen down

Crocus

Daffodils

Snow drops, without the snow

Hyacinths are so cheerful interspersed with pansies

My tulips

Not my tulips!

I usually post Wordsworth's poem, but this year, no

Apple blossoms

Lilacs
Dandelion, of course

We often get spring snow

Grape hyacinth

Flowering quince

Hyacinths

Snow on the lilacs

I love white tulips

These irises come from stock back to 1940

Columbine

More columbines

Indian paintbrush

First peony on a new bush

Peonies and irises

My neighbors grow great tulips

Grape hyacinth

Trees are flowering everywhere

Wild iris

Flowering trees

Mr Lincoln Rose




















Slow down, look closely at the flowers, and enjoy Spring!

Sunday, April 1, 2018

He Is Risen

Today is Easter Sunday. I celebrate the Resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ. I have reread the accounts in the King James version of the New Testament showing what happened on that most significant of all days in the history of the existence of this world:

The Gospel of Matthew, Chapter 28
1 In the end of the sabbath, as it began to dawn toward the first day of the week, came Mary Magdalene and the other Mary to see the sepulchre.

2 And, behold, there was a great earthquake: for the angel of the Lord descended from heaven, and came and rolled back the stone from the door, and sat upon it.

3 His countenance was like lightning, and his raiment white as snow:

4 And for fear of him the keepers did shake, and became as dead men.

5 And the angel answered and said unto the women, Fear not ye: for I know that ye seek Jesus, which was crucified.

6 He is not here: for he is risen, as he said. Come, see the place where the Lord lay.

7 And go quickly, and tell his disciples that he is risen from the dead; and, behold, he goeth before you into Galilee; there shall ye see him: lo, I have told you.

8 And they departed quickly from the sepulchre with fear and great joy; and did run to bring his disciples word.

9 ¶ And as they went to tell his disciples, behold, Jesus met them, saying, All hail. And they came and held him by the feet, and worshipped him.
Notice in 1–6 that Matthew emphasizes the angel whose power caused an earthquake to roll away the great stone at the door of the tomb; an event that is so amazing that the Roman guards, who traditionally were very hardened men, fainted. The angel makes his startling announcement to the women who came to the tomb. Verse 9 is problematic because it disagrees with two other, more detailed accounts. But since that further story is not the focus here, it is common for seemingly unimportant details to become garbled until you read the accounts where those details assume more importance to the focus of the story.

The Gospel of Mark, Chapter 16
1 And when the sabbath was past, Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James, and Salome, had bought sweet spices, that they might come and anoint him.

2 And very early in the morning the first day of the week, they came unto the sepulchre at the rising of the sun.

3 And they said among themselves, Who shall roll us away the stone from the door of the sepulchre?

4 And when they looked, they saw that the stone was rolled away: for it was very great.

5 And entering into the sepulchre, they saw a young man sitting on the right side, clothed in a long white garment; and they were affrighted.

6 And he saith unto them, Be not affrighted: Ye seek Jesus of Nazareth, which was crucified: he is risen; he is not here: behold the place where they laid him.

7 But go your way, tell his disciples and Peter that he goeth before you into Galilee: there shall ye see him, as he said unto you.

8 And they went out quickly, and fled from the sepulchre; for they trembled and were amazed: neither said they any thing to any man; for they were afraid.

9 ¶ Now when Jesus was risen early the first day of the week, he appeared first to Mary Magdalene, out of whom he had cast seven devils.

Mark’s account takes the point of view of the women, and here we learn the names of three principal women and who they were, what their concern was, how that concern was resolved; how they felt upon seeing the angel, what he said to them and how they reacted to the message. Here we learn that Mary Magdalene was the first person to see the risen Lord, and she is identified not only by name but by a miracle the Lord had performed for her. This is the detail that varies from Matthew’s account, and it is corroborated by John’s account. But meanwhile, Luke repeats a lot of the details we’ve learned from both Matthew and Mark.

The Gospel of Luke, Chapter 24
1 Now upon the first day of the week, very early in the morning, they came unto the sepulchre, bringing the spices which they had prepared, and certain others with them.

2 And they found the stone rolled away from the sepulchre.

3 And they entered in, and found not the body of the Lord Jesus.

4 And it came to pass, as they were much perplexed thereabout, behold, two men stood by them in shining garments:

5 And as they were afraid, and bowed down their faces to the earth, they said unto them, Why seek ye the living among the dead?

6 He is not here, but is risen: remember how he spake unto you when he was yet in Galilee,

7 Saying, The Son of man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, and be crucified, and the third day rise again.

8 And they remembered his words,

9 And returned from the sepulchre, and told all these things unto the eleven, and to all the rest.

10 It was Mary Magdalene, and Joanna, and Mary the mother of James, and other women that were with them, which told these things unto the apostles.

11 And their words seemed to them as idle tales, and they believed them not.

12 Then arose Peter, and ran unto the sepulchre; and stooping down, he beheld the linen clothes laid by themselves, and departed, wondering in himself at that which was come to pass.
Like Mark, Luke emphasizes the point of view of the women who were intent on performing the burial rites common to that culture, which had not been possible right after Jesus’s death because the Sabbath was upon them. They came as early as they could to anoint the body with oil and herbs and spices, ceremonies that traditionally covered the odor of decay and were bound to the body and folded among the windings of the grave cloth or winding sheet. Luke adds another woman’s name but misses Salome, who was named by Mark. Additionally, Luke emphasizes the Lord’s words while in mortality that had told plainly what would happen to Him, and he reveals how the women were converted and then tried to convert the brethren without complete success, although they did cause Peter to run and look at the empty tomb himself.

The Gospel of John, Chapter 20
1 The first day of the week cometh Mary Magdalene early, when it was yet dark, unto the sepulchre, and seeth the stone taken away from the sepulchre.

2 Then she runneth, and cometh to Simon Peter, and to the other disciple, whom Jesus loved, and saith unto them, They have taken away the Lord out of the sepulchre, and we know not where they have laid him.

3 Peter therefore went forth, and that other disciple, and came to the sepulchre.

4 So they ran both together: and the other disciple did outrun Peter, and came first to the sepulchre.

5 And he stooping down, and looking in, saw the linen clothes lying; yet went he not in.

6 Then cometh Simon Peter following him, and went into the sepulchre, and seeth the linen clothes lie,

7 And the napkin, that was about his head, not lying with the linen clothes, but wrapped together in a place by itself.

8 Then went in also that other disciple, which came first to the sepulchre, and he saw, and believed.

9 For as yet they knew not the scripture, that he must rise again from the dead.

10 Then the disciples went away again unto their own home.

11 ¶ But Mary stood without at the sepulchre weeping: and as she wept, she stooped down, and looked into the sepulchre,

12 And seeth two angels in white sitting, the one at the head, and the other at the feet, where the body of Jesus had lain.

13 And they say unto her, Woman, why weepest thou? She saith unto them, Because they have taken away my Lord, and I know not where they have laid him.

14 And when she had thus said, she turned herself back, and saw Jesus standing, and knew not that it was Jesus.

15 Jesus saith unto her, Woman, why weepest thou? whom seekest thou? She, supposing him to be the gardener, saith unto him, Sir, if thou have borne him hence, tell me where thou hast laid him, and I will take him away.

16 Jesus saith unto her, Mary. She turned herself, and saith unto him, Rabboni; which is to say, Master.

17 Jesus saith unto her, Touch me not; for I am not yet ascended to my Father: but go to my brethren, and say unto them, I ascend unto my Father, and your Father; and to my God, and your God.

18 Mary Magdalene came and told the disciples that she had seen the Lord, and that he had spoken these things unto her.
John’s account picks up the story at the point that Mary Magdalene tells the apostles about the empty tomb. Being a first-person witness, John then relates what he and Peter did in response to the unbelievable news: how they ran, John arriving first but waiting to go in until Peter went first. How they had trouble connecting the empty tomb with the Lord’s words that He would rise again. How they went home.
My friend Kathy, moved by our experiences at the Garden Tomb

And then John turns to the story that has massive impact: that Mary Magdalene, of all mortals on the earth, was privileged to be the first mortal person to see and speak to the risen Lord. The extreme level of detail shows that this story, as John says, is closely quoting what Mary must have said herself when she told him and the other disciples. It includes all of her own reactions and feelings, and it has a profound level of doctrinal detail in the words of the Lord that gives it powerful veracity.

Of all on the earth at that time, the Lord chose a woman to be His first witness. I find this a strong endorsement for His extremely dignified treatment of women—the men may have led His church, but this woman was given a privilege beyond any other. What a powerful witness she must have been to everyone around her throughout the rest of her life! The Apostle Paul may have said women should keep silent in church, but I doubt that Paul himself would have silenced the testimony of Mary, the one who first knew the Resurrection was real. Obviously the Church knew her story; otherwise Mark wouldn’t have known to include that detail in his gospel. It was so important to have her voice that John himself, one of the chiefest of the Apostles, included her full story in his sacred gospel writing.

We know that in the Lord’s restored gospel and Church, women are invited to speak in every meeting they attend. Women’s voices and testimonies are equally important to men’s in spreading the knowledge of the Risen Lord. We can rely on His witnesses. We can trust His words. He will give us everything He has. He lives today. He loves us and invites us all to come to Him. Here is true peace. Here is true love. Here is where we rest in divine serenity and joy.