E-News April 1, 2020

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E-News – 1 April 2020
Death on the Trail
Navajo Springs
Ilene Gorzitze
Phil Brigandi
Download Speaker Videos From Santa Fe Convention
Upgrade Your Membership Now For a Wonderful Gift!

Death on the Trail: Using Modern Tech 
to Learn Idaho’s Tragic Details of 
Historic Oregon-California Trails
It’s a hunt for dead bodies.

Cadaver dogs will be out combing and sniffing Idaho’s sagebrush land at the City of Rocks National Preserve for the scent of decomposing humans. They aren’t employed to solve a recent crime, but to add clues to part of Idaho’s tragic past when emigrants passed through the area in wagon trains and succumbed to a number of ever-present woes: bad water, hostile attacks, sickness, starvation or accidents.

Emigrants had two main destinations in mind when they passed through Idaho in the mid 19th century: the free land in Oregon territory or gold in California.

Self-professed diary reader and president of the Idaho chapter of the Oregon-California Trails Association, Jerry Eichhorst, said members of his group will join the assistant City of Rocks manager Tara McClure-Cannon in May to investigate suspected graves along the California Trail where it heads south into Nevada.

“We will be doing some cadaver dog work on some suspected graves that we found last year working with the park archaeologist,” Eichhorst said. “Then we’ll do a little metal detection checking some of the camping areas on the California Trail.”

Read the rest of the story at the Post Register’s website.

Navajo Springs: Where the Governor’s 
Party Reached Arizona in 1863
Last year, members of the Southern Trails Chapter of OCTA restored the monument at Navajo Springs that tells the story of the 1863 Governor’s Party that made its way from Fort Leavenworth to Prescott. Navajo Springs was the site of the party’s campsite on their first night in Arizona Territory. On Sunday, the Prescott Courier ran a story about it. You can also read this story on their website, but it’s behind a firewall and you’ll need to pay for a digital subscription in order to read it.

Ilene Steenblik Gorzitze – Mrs. “G”
Our loving wife, mother, grandmother, great-grandmother, and sister, Ilene Gorzitze, peacefully passed March 30, 2020. She was born to Gerrit (Jerry) Steenblik and Florence Hansen Steenblik. She married OCTA Past President Vern Gorzitze in the Salt Lake Temple.

She grew up in Rose Park attending Onequa, Jackson, and West High schools. She graduated from The University of Utah with a degree in Education and was a member of the Alpha Phi Soro rity. During her life, Ilene had many jobs including cherry picker, store clerk, and proof operator, but loved teaching Physical Education. Ilene taught Physical Education for 36 years at Highland High, Southeast, Jordan, and Lincoln Junior Highs.

She taught over 5,000 students, mostly girls, and hoped that they learned to love fitness and lifetime sports activities. Above all, she hoped that they knew they were loved and important in her life. She loved seeing them as adults and remembering the days they spent together, and was proud to see that so many of them grew up to be lovely and successful women. Receiving a letter or note from them made her feel as if she did an okay job.

After retiring, she was a volunteer at Upland Terrace Elementary School for over 16 years. She loved working with the elementary school age kids, made sure that they had plenty of equipment for PE activities (often at her own expense) and was actively participating in some of their activities (Class room store and Rendevous Days) until shortly before her death. Ilene was awarded Best of State, Points of Light and Huntsman Educators (volunteer) Awards.

Ilene was a faithful member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, served in many capacities, but enjoyed being a docent at the Church History museum the most. Ilene is survived by her husband of 65 years, her three children: Michelle (Bill) Winger, Greg (Karen) Gorzitze, and M. Todd (Janene) Gorzitze, seven grandchildren, ten great-grandchildren, sister Donna Rogers and many loved nieces and nephews. Preceded in death by her brother Gerrit Steenblik. Due to her wishes a private family graveside service was held. In lieu of flowers, please donate to the LDS Church Perpetual Education Fund.

To view the full obituary and leave condolences for the family, please visit the Holbrook Mortuary website.

Phil Brigandi

Phil Brigandi, an archivist and historian who for more than 40 years recorded Orange County’s stories in books and articles, has died.  Brigandi died December 12 at St. Joseph Hospital – where he was born – from complications of a heart attack he had suffered days earlier, said Chris Jepsen, a longtime friend and president of the Orange County Historical Society. He was 60. You can read about his life achievements in his Los Angeles Times’  obituary.

Phil published “Emigrants on the Southern Trail” in Overland Journal 28-3 (Autumn 2010) and gave a speech with the same title at the California-Nevada Chapter of OCTA’s March 2014 Temecula Symposium.

If you’re a member of OCTA, you can download Overland Journal for free at  www.octa-journals.org. Email tboley@indepmo.org if you do not have the password.

You can also order a hard copy of that issue by visiting  https://octa-trails.org/product/overland-journal-28-3/.

Download Speaker Videos
From Santa Fe Convention

If you weren’t able to attend the convention in Santa Fe last September, we recorded all of the speakers. If you attended the convention, you can view all of the videos for free by emailing kconway@indepmo.org  for the access code. If you didn’t attend the convention, you can purchase access for $10 per speaker or $60 for all 14 speakers. The  link for purchase  can be found  on our website . Many of us are locked away for weeks due to Coronavirus shut downs, so enjoy some time learning about Southwestern trails!

Speakers and topics include:
  • Doug Dinwiddie – Military Protection Along the Southern Trail
  • François-Marie Patorni – The French Presence in New Mexico
  • Kevin Henson – Cooke’s Wagon Road and Mormon Battalion Routes in New Mexico
  • David Miller – Randolph Marcy: Explorer, Road Builder, and Guide
  • Mark Howe – Archaelogy on New Mexico’s Southern Trail
  • Jim Hardee – Bartolomé Baca and the Trappers
  • Frank Norris – Railroad in Northern New Mexico
  • Larry Francell – J.B.D. Stillman, Civilian Post Surgeon at Fort Lancaster, Texas
  • Peter Leman – Mangas Coloradas
  • Prince McKenzie – Railroads Along the Southern Route
  • Tom Sutak – Traveling to the Gold Fields Along the Southern Route
  • Laura Anderson – Women, the Sick and Others Left Behind
  • Tom Jonas – Kearney’s Trail from Santa Fe to Arizona
  • Richard Melzer – Children on the Santa Fe Trail

Upgrade Your Membership or Purchase a Gift Membership Now For a Wonderful Present!
For a limited time, OCTA is encouraging our existing members to “upgrade” their membership. This also makes an excellent gift and we’ll send those gifts to your recipient as a present from you. These free gifts include:

Simply call us at (816) 252-2276 and we will renew your membership at a higher level or simply extend your existing membership for another year past your next renewal date and ship out our “thank yous” immediately. Or, send it as a gift to a friend or family member. Don’t miss out on this unique opportunity; it’s only while supplies last.


Finally, if you’re not already a member, join now at the Emigrant level ($50) and we will send you a copy of your choice of items listed above. Not only that, but as a new member you will get immediate access to every single issue of the Overland Journal dating back to 1982 as well as access to Paper Trail, our incredible genealogy tool that helps you search original trail diaries.
No where else will you find such a comprehensive archive of information related to 19th century western emigration trails. Join now and get immediate access to the nearly 40 years worth of the entertaining and informative Overland Journal! Seventy-eight people have upgraded their membership since we began this program. Won’t you become #79?