Biographical sketch written for the American Academy of Engineers
Contributor: dvdmovieking Created: 2 years ago Updated: 2 years ago
William Richard Gould (“Bill”) was born on Halloween -- the 31st of October 1919 in Provo, Utah. He was born at home, in an adobe house, to William John Gilbert Gould (“Gilbert”) and Pauline Eva Feser. His father was a steam locomotive engineer for the Utah Railway.
In his youth, Bill developed a severe speech impediment – he stuttered badly. To avoid becoming the target of youthful pranks and ostracism he became a loner -- independent and determined to succeed. Sensing his loneliness, his father began taking him to work on the railroad. Bill often rode on his father’s lap in his big steam locomotive and some time in his youth fell in love with his father’s world of fuel and steel, fire and steam, motion and power.
When he came of age, he enrolled at the University of Utah as an engineering student. On one of his first days, a counselor noticing his speech impediment stated that he could never be successful as an engineer, and suggested he should drop out of school and go back to the family farm. Bill resolutely told the counselor that there wasn’t a family farm to go back to, so he “guessed” he would stay and give it a try.
While at the University he met his future wife, Erlyn Arvilla Johnson.
A childhood illness had left Erlyn with the fragile physical body of a “China Doll.” But this China Doll had the heart of a lion and a fierce independent determination, bred of poverty, to live life to its fullest and not ask for any favors. Together they were an equal pair – two tough kids from poor backgrounds out to set the world on fire.
They were married on March 20th 1942 in the Salt Lake City Temple of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Together, they would face moments of adventure, excitement, and hardship. They lived successfully and they lived well. Their marriage clearly demonstrated that the sum of the whole far exceeded the sum of the parts.
As an Ensign in the U.S. Naval Reserve, the Navy sent him to Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Dartmouth University for graduate courses in engineering. After this advanced training, he was stationed at the Long Beach Naval Shipyards where he served throughout World War II as a trials officer in charge of testing the propulsion machinery of ships prior to their departure for the war zones.
This wartime experience qualified him for post war employment with the Southern California Edison Company (“Edison”). In 1948 Edison was a hydro-electric utility that was just beginning to transition to thermal generation and they needed someone who knew something about fuel and steel; fire and steam; motion and power.
Bill worked for Edison for 44 years. Its prosperity was his prosperity and the prosperity of his family. Together they grew into a world-class utility renowned for energy innovation and the application of cutting edge technologies. As the Company grew, Bill rose in positions of increasing responsibility and authority until he ultimately became its Chairman and Chief Executive Officer. The two were inextricably connected and many suggested that he provided the heart and soul of the enterprise.
Ultimately, Bill would receive worldwide recognition for excellence as both an Engineer and as a Captain of Industry. Together, he and the Company captured many of the prestigious awards that an engineer and/or a utility were eligible to receive. Though incomplete, some of the honorary positions, awards, and recognitions he received included:
•Chairman of the Atomic Industrial Forum
•Chairman of the Electric Power Research Institute
•Chairman of the National Energy Foundation,
•Chairman of the institute for the Advancement of Engineering
•The George Westinghouse Gold Medal
•The IEEE Centennial Medial
•The Oliver Townsend Medal
•The Tyler Ecology-Energy Prize
•USC’s Distinguished Engineering Management Award
•Distinguished University of Utah Alumnus
•California Industrialist of the Year Award
•Trustee of Caltech
•Member of the National Academy of Engineering,
•Honorary PhD from the University of Utah
Perhaps he is best remembered for his pioneering work in the development, sponsorship, and acceptance of alternate and renewable energy. Using his position he opened Edison’s doors to these new and innovative sources of power and to the acceptance of 3rd Party, independent power producers. This effort would change the utility industry forever.
In addition to pursuing his profession and participating in the community, Bill and Erlyn were devout and served in many positions of increasing responsibility within the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
But, closer to home, Bill and Erlyn raised four children: Erlyn Sharon, William Richard Jr., Gilbert John, and Wayne Raymond. As parents they were fully invested in the individual and collective success of the family. They constantly encouraged their children to overcome challenge and to achieve aggressively.
After witnessing the graduation and marriages of their four children, and after celebrating their 50th Wedding Anniversary, Erlyn’s China Doll body broke and despite her lion-like heart, she died.
In the aftermath of Erlyn’s death, Bill renewed an acquaintanceship with Mildred Nielsen Johnson (“Millie”). Millie was an elementary school classmate who, in the third grade had reached out a supporting hand while Bill stuttered through a class recitation. Like Bill, Millie had lost her spouse and after a short courtship, they married. They lived happily together until Bill’s death on March 11, 2006.
To define Bill’s life in terms of his professional successes or by the positions that he held in his industry, faith, or community would be to do a great injustice to his memory. His greatest accomplishments were at home with his wife and his family.
At a final retirement luncheon, held to honor him and his professional accomplishments, he was asked to share some observations as to what he had learned over an illustrious career. Without hesitation he stood and thanked everyone for the honor that they had bestowed upon him.
“Haven’t we all had fun,” he said. Then looking at Erlyn, who had stood faithfully by his side, he answered their question, with a surprising and unexpected statement.
“Paraphrasing Emily Dickinson,” he continued, “All I know about love, is that love is all there is!”
Bill Gould was an incredible man, known for his professional ability, integrity, and most of all for his humanity.
Contributor: dvdmovieking Created: 2 years ago Updated: 2 years ago
There is a long history going with this.
My great-grandfather William Richard Gould, Sr. began a correspondence with a distant cousin, (name), in Ireland about where our people, our ancestors come from. The first one to come over to the United States from Germany was named Valentin Faser (Feser) and his wife, Eva Schuler, and their children. The cousin in Ireland believed Valentin had not joined the church, but had remained Catholic his whole life. Contrary to his belief, Valentin had joined the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and thus had moved his family to Utah.
My grandpa, William Richard Gould, Jr. (whom we call Boompah), served his mission in the Central German Mission. At the end of his mission, his parents, William R. Gould, Sr. and Erlyn Arvilla Johnson came to pick him up and for two weeks visited the small towns where Valentin and Eva and their ancestors had come from. They took pictures of the parish registers and when they came back to the United States, tried to develop the films; however, they could not be read. My grandpa and his parents ended up sending the films to the granite vaults in Salt Lake City.
Then time passed. My grandpa met and married my grandma, Carol Anne Howell (whom we call Lita), and they moved to California and raised a family. My mom (their daughter) met my dad at BYU; they got married and stayed in Utah.
I am the oldest of five children and the oldest of the Gould grandchildren. About six months before I turned 12, my grandparents moved from Walnut Creek, California to Utah Valley, and Lita began serving in the Mount Timpanogos temple. She met a woman there who reads microfilm, so my grandparents recalled the film from the vaults and gave it to her. After trying a number of different microfilm readers, she found one which was able to read the film. Some time later, she came back to Boompah and handed him a stack of around 500 names. The conversation went something like this:
Boompah: "Are they all related?"
Sister: "Yes---they intermarried within the tiny towns, so yes, they are all related."
Boompah: "And how much is this?"
Sister: "About 5-10%."
Which was crazy! If 500 names is only 5% of all of the work we have to do.
As I was turning twelve, I began going to the temple and doing proxy baptisms and confirmations for the dead---and specifically for those German ancestors. For the next four years, we went to the temple about 11 out of 12 months of the year, once a month, to do baptisms and confirmations for these deceased Germans. We would take around 120 names each visit, which allowed me to do about 20 names each time.
When I was 14, I was in ninth grade. I did Spanish Immersion, which was offered at my elementary school, from first grade through ninth grade at my junior high. At the end of my ninth grade year, I took the AP Spanish Language exam. I was trying to qualify for a state scholarship which required students to take two consecutive years of the same foreign language, among other advanced classes. However, a higher-level Spanish was not offered until the college level.
At this time, I was helping my grandparents organize the temple cards alphabetically in order as we completed them. I loved trying to pronounce the German names, even though I'm sure I butchered them. I thought more than once, "One could learn German just from reading these." So when the end of ninth grade came and I wanted and needed to learn another language, I chose to learn German.
I had an incredible German teacher in high school. He drilled the grammar into us until we could not forget it. I was able to pick up German relatively quickly and it became my favorite class. I was obsessed with all things German. I ended up attending BYU and took two German classes--one second- and one third-year class.
In January 2013, I began my mission application. In the section where I could list where my family members had served or were serving missions at the time, I included two other pieces of information: 1) I had been extensively involved in a family history work with my ancestors from southern Germany since I was 12; 2) I had three cousins (all siblings) who were called to speak Mandarin-speaking missions. I made it clear, however, that I would serve wherever I was called.
I dearly wanted to serve in the Alpine German-Speaking Mission, which covers parts of southern Germany, all of Austria, the German-speaking part of Switzerland, and northern Italy. People would tell me that I wouldn't go where I wanted to go. However, to my surprise, I was called to that very mission.
One other special part was that right before I was set apart as a full-time missionary, my dad gave me a father's blessing. As part of the blessing, he promised me that I would serve among my ancestors. Even though the towns that they came from are actually outside my mission, I felt that that blessing was fulfilled.
Recollections of her son, William Richard Gould, recorded by her grandson, William Richard Gould, Jr., June 2005
Contributor: dvdmovieking Created: 2 years ago Updated: 2 years ago
Pauline was a flirty little12 years old when she met a 16 or 17-year-old Welshman named William John Gilbert Gould. William John Gilbert (who went by the name of Gilbert) was the oldest son of Richard John Gould late of Her Majesties Infantry of India and Afghanistan on the road of Kabul. Richard John was known to his family as Dick the Devil because he deserted the family when Gilbert was a teenager. As the oldest son, Gilbert had to leave school and go to work to help support his mother, brothers and sisters. For a brief time, Gilbert was a technician at a cement plant in Salt Lake City near the corners of Ninth South and about Fourth West. Pauline would sometimes wander into the testing shed where Gilbert was testing batches of the concrete to talk with him.
Gilbert’s job at the concrete plant was right next to the Rio Grande main line. He saw the huge railroad locomotives thunder by and thought that someday he would like to be a train engineer, just as today, little boys passing an airport might dream about flying a 747.
The hot date in those days was to take your girl to Saltair, a dance hall about 20 miles west of Salt Lake City on the shore of Great Salt Lake. The young people would take an independent steam railroad named the “Salt Lake, Garfield and Western” from the Salt Lake Station out to Saltair. The Salt Palace’s crumbling shell is still standing in about the same place as in those days. One afternoon as Pauline was flirting in the doorway of the testing shack, Gilbert told her that he was going to the Salt Palace to dance. Pauline begged him to take her along. He told her no, that she would never be able to get dressed up in time. But when he arrived at the Salt Palace she was standing outside the entrance waiting for him, “all dolled out.” So he took her into the dance. Gilbert told his son that she was awfully good looking. Pauline was a little less than five feet tall with an olive complexion, jet black hair and bright blue eyes, her eyebrows met in the middle like William’s. She looked like pictures the family has of Eva, her mother. In later years, like many of us, she was pleasingly plump. William remembers that until he met Erlyn, the girls that appealed to him were all small, dark and vivacious.
Pauline and Gilbert dated for 4 or 5 years since Pauline was just a little girl when they first met. They were married at the city clerk’s office when John Gilbert was about 23 and Pauline was 18. By this time Gilbert had gotten a job in the railroad roundhouse in Salt Lake City at 3rd South and 7th West over the viaduct. He worked up from laborer to being a fireman and eventually the engineer on his own assigned locomotive.
Pauline and Gilbert had a stormy marriage. They had one or two times of brief separations. It was during one such separation, when Pauline had left Gilbert and was living in Salt Lake City with her first two children, Pauline and John, that she learned she was expecting a child they would later name William. Hearing of her pregnancy, Gilbert convinced her to return to him so that he could care for her.
Pauline bore two sons and two daughters. The first two, Pauline and John, were born in a hospital in Salt Lake City; William was born in the family home in Provo. The youngest child, Elaine, was born in a hospital in Provo. Why was William born at home? In 1918-19, after WWI there was a terrible flu pandemic. Probably for fear of infection, the family avoided the hospital when William was born. In spite of these precautions, the family caught the bug anyway. For a time, the flu affected Pauline’s hearing so that she couldn’t hear baby William cry. John, who was about four years old at the time, also had a temporary impairment of his vision.
The morning that William was born, Gilbert was assigned a regular engine of his own, and was so proud of his own engine. While oiling the locomotive, including the bell on top, he lost his balance and fell or leapt from the locomotive catwalk spraining both ankles. He had to literally crawl into the house that afternoon. By later that evening he had recovered enough to limp along and took Pauline and John “Halloween-ing.”
Gilbert was often gone for a day or two with his work. A typical run for a locomotive engineer like Gilbert was to drive a helper engine up to Soldier Summit and then turn out. Gilbert would often leave home at 8:00 pm and return the next morning at 6:00 am. If he was assigned to drive to Martin near Helper, the trip would be two days and a night.
In those days there was a law called a Hog Law that limited the maximum time an engineer could work to 16 hours. It then required them to sleep for 8 hours before returning to service. It was called a Hog Law because railroad slang for locomotives was “hogs.” A longer run was a “flop” to Martin. The Hog Law required them to sleep in Martin, so the trip was two days and a night. Gilbert never engineered on cross-country trips. Aside from one trip to Denver to see his younger brother fight in a boxing match, his locomotive remained in Utah.
Pauline loved to dance. She and Gilbert would go to dances when they could. She was a good dancer; she taught William (age 18) how to dance in the kitchen before he took Erlyn out for their first dance.
She sang a lot and preferred old-fashioned gospel songs.
Pauline had a big coal burning stove in the kitchen and a coal shed out back. In order to wash her laundry she would put a big steel wash tub on the top of the stove. William would lay a fire the night before, (so he wouldn’t have to get up early in the cold the next morning.) The coal would burn all night long. In the morning, William’s jobs were to slice up slivers of hard bar soap for the wash, carry the wash water to the stove, and ensure that the coal bucket by the side of the stove was always full. In later years, when they could afford it, Gilbert bought her an electric washer with a hand ringer. They had a clothesline that ran from the utility pole in the back yard to the inside of the screened-in summer porch. After washing and hand wringing the clothes, Pauline would pin each garment on the line and pull the rope over the pulley to draw the laundry out into the fresh air to dry.
From boyhood on, William had a severe speech impediment. He stuttered terribly. As an adult, a psychologist tried to teach him how to speak clearly using a metaphor from his youth. He was told to speak the way his mother used to hang out the laundry. When he wanted to say something, he should first take a large breath. He was then to say each word individually and separately as if he were hanging each word on a clothes line and then reeling it over the pulleys into the fresh air before picking up the next word. In later years as additional stuttering therapy, William’s wife, Erlyn would help him practice speaking by reading the Book of Mormon out-loud for 15 minutes a night. He and Erlyn went through the Book of Mormon that way in about a year. That was the first time he had read the whole book.
Now back to Pauline.
William remembers that his mother was a good cook. He loved it when she made orange-peel cake and sour milk hotcakes. She always had something good smelling on the great coal stove. Typical meals included sliced fried potatoes, or in lieu thereof, mashed potatoes and meat of some kind. There was usually beef or pork which she often served with sauerkraut. Frankfurters or spareribs with kraut were also common fare.
William loved raisins and felt anything would be improved with a couple of handfuls of the dried grapes. When Pauline wasn’t looking, William would sneak into the pantry, grab a large handful of raisins and throw them into what ever was bubbling on the stove. One day, what was bubbling in the pot was newspaper, wheat glue and water. Pauline was making some papier-mâché. Well, this recipe wasn’t improved by the raisins.
The family always had food on the table, but there was not a lot to spare for luxuries, so Pauline would brew up some papier-mâché to mould into book ends and lamp bases and even little sculptures. After the mold dried, she would paint the art and they would have home decoration. I remember a few adornments in their home. Pauline had a large glass-fronted cabinet in her parlor that held her collection of salt and pepper shakers.
One of Gilbert’s cars was a Studebaker automobile with a grill design that included a nose cone. Gilbert mounted a chromed propeller on the nose cone. After a ride, the propeller would spin for several minutes. I (Bill Jr.) thought it was the coolest thing I had ever seen.
Gilbert smoked big black cigars. There was usually an open cigar box in the house. William had every opportunity to take one but it never appealed to him. Gilbert hoped his son wouldn’t develop the smoking habit. One day the two of them were riding a freight to Martin, just outside of Helper where the big steam locomotives that had pushed the trains up the hills to the coal mines were turned around and returned to Utah county. William had a cold that day and started coughing. Gilbert put a hand on his shoulder and said – as fathers sometimes will - “Bill, was that a cigarette cough?” He was glad that it wasn’t.
Gilbert always had an income but it wasn’t constant. During the winters of the Great Depression in the 30s he would draw a check of 250 dollars for two weeks work. But in the summers when the demand for coal dropped off, the family income would too. Still, Gilbert could carry a bucket up to the Cherry Hill dairy on 4th West and Center street and for a nickel they would fill it with skim milk. They lived just west of 4th West on 2nd South in Provo.
Still the family didn’t have many luxuries. When William went to high school he complained to his mother that he had to go to school with a patch on his pants. Pauline gently said, “Billy, there are some boys who go to high school with two patches on their pants.”
The family would sometimes sit around eating popcorn and playing few games like Rummy.
Vacations were typically local picnics but once they drove a brand new Jewett touring car to southern California to see the ocean. They would go picnicking at Vivian Park in the Provo Canyon or at Saratoga Springs, a resort on the North west side of Utah Lake. They were picnicking at Saratoga when Gilbert suffered his heart attack.
Pauline was gregarious. She liked to be with people and had lots of friends. One friend William remembers was a Mrs. Martin who was a native of England and who told fortunes with cards. One day she told William that that some day he’d be a very old man and live very well. Another friend was a Mrs. Yeager whose husband was in train service on the UP. And there was a Mrs. Gillis whose husband was an engineer like Gilbert.
Pauline didn’t speak the German language of her parents but she always talking about a mislaid million dollar fortune from the Frankish Knights. She had a hope for aristocracy.
She was good at sewing and sewed many of her own clothes, as well as clothes for her girls and even for her sons. She loved to crochet.
The family had a few animals. Gilbert built a coop in the backyard for chickens William cried when they killed his rooster for dinner. They also had rabbits sometimes. For a while they had a billy goat. One day Gilbert found this little goat kid a little bit west of Soldier Summit with it’s foot caught in the frog a track switch. He came home at about 6 AM when the family was asleep and dumped the lamb on William in bed. Three or four years later when the kid was grown, they persuaded William to give the goat to their uncle who had sheep in Ferron.
The family didn’t have a lot of reunions with extended family. On Pauline’s side of the family, they would occasionally see the children of her sisters Margaret and Rose in SLC. But after William turned 15, they didn’t seem to visit them much more. They occasionally saw George Gould, the son of Uncle Pat, but there were no regular family gatherings.
William remembers that his grandfather, Valentin, attended church. He remembers seeing Valentin sitting at the Sacrament table to bless the sacrament. However Gilbert and Pauline weren’t active members. They generally didn’t attend any Sunday meetings. Pauline was baptized as a child, but never in her life really attended Sunday services. Something had apparently turned her away earlier, but that story is lost to antiquity. She never came back. She and Gilbert seemed to come apart over the issue of church.
In his old age Gilbert became active in the Church, alone, perhaps because he saw the effect it had had on William’s family. Gilbert was the secretary to the high priest’s group when he died at age 71.
Of the children, the two younger kids, William and Elaine usually attended Primary and Sunday School to be with their friends, but William, at least, wasn’t baptized until he was 10 years old when a Primary teacher said he really ought to be baptized. At the Primary teacher’s encouragement, William walked alone to the bishop’s storehouse on First North and First West in Provo with a clean white shirt under his arm to be baptized. But his parents did come out to an evening sacrament meeting where he was confirmed a member of the church and received the gift of the Holy Ghost.
Pauline enjoyed good health until late in her life. Gilbert too had excellent health. Beer was a big problem for Pauline and for her son, John. There was always a six-pack of beer in the refrigerator and a can of coffee in the pantry, but she didn’t like tobacco.
In her old age Pauline fell, broke her hip and could not get up. She lay on the floor in terrible pain until several hours later, her son William found her there and summoned help. William had coincidentally stopped in to visit her en route from California to the East Coast, on a business trip
When she died on December 19, 1967, at age 74, her death certificate listed the cause of death as starvation. This euphemism was often used in those days to represent the effects of alcoholism.
But what do we know of Pauline’s cultural heritage, who her people had been and where they came from?
Pauline’s parents, Valentine Feser and Eva Schuler, had been born in little towns named Gernach and Sulzwiesen in Lower Franconia, Bavaria. Their first child, Martha Pauline, was born in Gernach where Eva was from. Perhaps they initially made their home with her parents. The second child, Johann, was born in the big city of Wuerzburg. In those days it was not uncommon for a couple to declare their intention to marry and live together in a form of engagement sometimes called “posting the bands” before marriage. The first two children of this family were born under this arrangement. The couple was married as they worked their way north to the port city of Ludwigshaven on the Rhein River near Mannheim, on September 20, 1890. Their third child, Margaretha, was born just a month later in the same city. Valentine and Eva caught ship passage to America and a train passage to Utah where Pauline, Eva’s fourth and last child was born in Eureka, Juab County, Utah on the 20th of July in 1893. Eureka is a little mining town in the Tintic Mountains just south west of Utah Lake.
Eureka? Why did a young German family settle in Eureka? In the 1890s after the transcontinental railroad was completed, Mormon Church converts from Europe arrived in Salt Lake City in droves. When all the immigrants arrived in Salt Lake City, the Church had a big problem. How would they find work for all of them? An agency of the Church was appointed to survey where jobs or farming was available and then recommend employment for all the immigrants who were arriving. When the Fesers arrived, Valentin had been a glassmaker and glass blower in the old country. His family also farmed small tracts of land in Bavaria. In fact, Feser is a variant of the middle German “Fesse” or “Vese” which meant ‘spelt, husk or chaff’. It was an indirect occupational name for a cereal farmer just as in English, we have trade names like Smith, Cooper and Tanner. In some regions it may also possibly be a trade name for those working with glass. Valentin was a glass blower. There were no jobs for a glass blower in Salt Lake City, but mining for silver and tin was available near Eureka. A job underground as a miner was not good at all, but it was certainly better than no job at all so Valentin and Eva moved to Eureka so Valentin could work in the mine.
Pauline, born on July 20, 1893, was the last child born to Eva. Eva tragically died in December of that same year. Heartbroken and having a hard time caring for all his children alone, and surely not loving work underground, Valentin then returned to Salt Lake where he found a job as a night watchman and as a janitor in a department store. When William Gould knew Valentin, he was a street sweeper. He didn’t drive a big Zamboni-like machine that swept the streets, he had a broom and a push cart. Valentin was a humble man of modest means.
Once in Salt Lake, he met Rosa Stoker from Emery County. When the Europeans arrived in Salt Lake City, the members of the Church from the region of Baden in Germany formed a little club or social unit. We think Valentin met Rosa in such a social setting for German immigrants. They married and Rosa cared for all of Eva’s children and then bore him seven more daughters. Pauline was raised by her stepmother, Rosa.
Bill Gould, Jr. still has an old Bible that once belonged to Valentin. In the center pages between the Old and New Testaments, there is a handwritten record of the births and deaths of the family members. The record starts out in German reading “geboren” and “gestorben” for born and died. Eva’s death was recorded as “Mutti gestorben” (Mother died). But by the time the second family’s children are entered, the record shifted to English.
Pauline had an older sister, Marta Pauline, who had died as an infant. Pauline later resented the fact that she had been named for a dead sister. She felt it was as if she was a replacement for the daughter they really wanted.
When Pauline was a young pre-teen, the family moved out of Salt Lake City, but Pauline and her stepsister Margareta stayed in Salt Lake. And that’s where she met Gilbert.
What was the land like that her parents had come from?
One poetic description of their region is found in the book, “Rimpar im Shatten der Burg.” (Rimpar in the Shadow of the Fortress)
“Like a cameo on a band of mountains, embedded among the meadows and hollows lies Rimpar on the breast of the Frankish plane. There, in the small home country, the heart beats faster and awakens songs of praise.
Sparse wheat fields stretch out on the backs of the Koberrsberg mountains. But here, from the balcony of the landscape we find the wind into memory and perspective. Who looks for the mysterious legends sees to the South the silent and secretive forest and has an unimpeded birds eye view all the way to the edge of the the Steigerwald, the Frankish highlands and the Nikolaus mountains.
The Frankish watch towers loom like fingers between heaven and earth and dot the horizon like the fortresses of Galgenberg. Like guardians from the past, the ancient towers and walls loom over the land grant of Rossberg, once a faithful forester and manager of the Gramschatz forest. Here, where the Main flows defining the city boundaries is where Wuerzburg is placed.”
The family meant something different in the medieval times when our ancestors lived in Bavaria.
In the 1600s when our ancestors tilled the soil in Bavaria, the family was not only father, mother, and children, but it also included grandparents, uncles and aunts and cousins. The family was a clan. Their place in society was defined by their place in the clan and the clan's stature in the village. Wealth was defined by the size and quality of farmland that was passed from generation to generation. There was an economic incentive to have more children to help with the work. Grandparents were valued. They tended and taught the children, cooked and performed light hand work that freed up older children and both parents for the heavy labor.
It was during December and very cold, wet, and deeply overcast with 18 inches of snow covering the fields in 1967 when Bill Jr. visited the villages where our ancestors came from. He, his brother Wayne and mother, Erlyn drove to the hamlet of Rimpar in Bavaria where they walked around the grounds of the Catholic Church where my ancestors worshipped for hundreds of years. He records that:
“We sat in the hard wood pews and imagined what their thoughts must have been like during the late Middle Ages. In the small cemetery outside were tombstones with a cap of snow that still bore names common to my ancestry. Schuler, Feser, Reitzenstein, Goebel, Heller ..... The stones held little detail--only names and dates. Yet the obvious care that the monuments had received testified that someone in this village knew these people better than I ... and still honored them.
Our ancestors were not kings. The people of this village were simple folk in the 17th and perhaps preceding centuries. They lived at a time when the fullness of the gospel was not found upon the earth. We know that they were religious and faithful in the staunchly Catholic community, for a few sons became priests, and at least two daughters’ names are found in the registers of the convent near Birnfeld which means pear field, not far to the west. Most were wheat and barley farmers, simple people who turned to cabinet making and working with glass when the snow covered their barley and cabbage fields.
The next day, we met the priest of the village church who told us about our people and let us photograph his parish register.
One family tugged at my heart strings.
The husband, Peter, farmed a small acreage in good weather and built wagons and cabinets for sale to his neighbors when the winter snows idled his plow. In those days it was typical for a small farmer to raise cabbage, possibly some wheat or rye, and they may have had a hog or two. A cow would be expected for them, but maybe not as newlyweds. Since the family remained in the records of the hamlet church for generations, Peter, may have received the acreage from his father, who probably had received a share in turn from his.
Peter was 38 when he married 26-year-old Barbara. I noticed that quite frequently the men in that era married in their middle thirties while brides came to the altar in their late twenties. Barbara bore him 13 children in all. Four lived to maturity. Twice they gave the name of one of their deceased infants to a subsequent baby, as if death ended the existence of the first child and the name were available for the next one.
(Recollections of William Richard Gould, Jr.) I had expected to find a high rate of infant mortality, but was surprised that the little ones usually didn't pass away in their first month of life but typically were stricken down by an illness as toddlers maybe two or three years old. These were humble people of modest means, living out their lives subject to the caprice of the weather and infections of which they had no understanding.
Those who yearn for simpler times past in rustic settings find little empathy in me. For all its problems I far prefer our present to the ages past with the plagues Peter had to deal with in faith, but terrible ignorance. Yet in some ways, I don't suppose it matters much whether one lives in the information age or in medieval times, whether we provide for our children with a scythe or a keyboard. Both Peter and I are judged on whether we treat our wives with gentleness and kindness. We share the same worry about training our sons and daughters in as many of the principles of the gospel of Jesus Christ as we understand. He was, and I still am, subject to the weakness of the flesh -- that is a principle lesson of earth life.
Someday I will meet Peter. He will thank me for seeing that his ordinances have been performed; I'll thank him for bridging my ancestry to the present day in the fullness of times. We'll each share stories of faith from our life's experiences. I am looking forward to that day. There's much I would like to ask him. In the meantime, it's fascinating to learn where he came from. Now I will see if I can find his mother and father.
I think he would want that.