Saturday, July 22, 2017
Remembering Our Heritage - July 24th, 1847-2017~
On the 24th of July, the State of Utah celebrates the arrival of the Mormon Pioneers into the Salt Lake Valley. These sturdy pioneers went through tremendous tribulation. As a people they were expelled from Nauvoo, Illinois following the Martyrdom of their beloved Prophet, Joseph Smith and his brother Hyrum. They had just finished building a beautiful temple thus preparing for Eternal Temple Covenants. They gathered together and made plans to travel west. Many hearts were broken and tears shed as they left their beautiful Nauvoo.
Brigham Young became their Prophet leader and had seen in a vision the place they were to settle in the west.
There are countless stories of their faith, spiritual experiences and hardships traveling per wagon and by handcart to this desert valley. We are blessed to have ancestors that paved the way for this marvelous Gospel to thrive. Their stories are poignant and show their deep faith and commitment to the Gospel of Jesus Christ. When reading of their experiences our faith grows and we revere these stalwart pioneers.
You can read more about their exodus here. and here.
Here is a brief history of my husband's Great Grandfather, George Williams. He left a powerful legacy of faith and commitment to his beliefs.
George Williams was born June 25, 1937, in Birmingham, Warwickshire, England to Enoch and Elizabeth Pride Williams. His parents accepted the Gospel and were baptized in 1843 when George was six years of age. Two years later, when he was eight years old, George was baptized in 1845.
When George was 18 years old, he booked passage on the ship the "Enoch Train" to come to America. On March 22, 1856, under the command of Cpt. Henry P. Rich, the shipload of Saints cleared from Liverpool and sailed on the 23rd, bound for Boston with 534 Saints on board under the Presidency of Elders James Fergeson, Edmund Ellsworth and Daniel D. McArthur. On Thursday, May 1st, at eight a.m. the ship arrived at Constitution Wharf in Boston. At four o'clock p.m. the following day George and the other passengers disembarked and went by nine omnibuses to the railway station. They started by train at 5 p.m. for New York City where they arrived on the 3rd of May. After a short stay in New York, the company continued the journey by rail to Iowa City, where they arrived on the 10th of June, 1856.
George crossed the plains in the first handcart company that took the Saints to Zion. He went in the Edmund Ellsworth Company which left Iowa City June 9th, 1856. They suffered the hardships and privations which all handcart companies suffered, with storms, death and hunger, and tired and weary feet. But this company arrived ahead of the winter storms, arriving in the Valley on Friday, Sept. 26th. About eight miles from the City, the Company was met by Governor Brigham Young and his counselors, the Nauvoo Brass Band, the Lancers and many others. Provisions of all kinds came rolling in to them which caused them much joy.
George eventually settled in Springville, Utah County, Utah, where he met Emma Jane Stevenson who had crossed the plains with her father and mother, James and Martha Stevenson, when she was eight years of age. Emma Jane and George were married in the Endowment House in Salt Lake City on December 28, 1862. In Springville they built their first home, dug in the side of the hill. In it was one window and a heavy door with a heavier log to fasten it as a protection against the Indians.
During those times the Indians were very troublesome. More so in Southern Utah where more of the Black Hawk Indians roamed. They had grown desperate and treacherous, preying on the LDS people's thrift, often plundering their property, driving off their livestock and at times killing entire families or maybe carrying off the women and girls, which led to the Black Hawk War which started in 1865 and continued for several years. This was principally with the Indians under Chief Black Hawk. Some of the scattered colonists were compelled to give up their land claims and move where they were closer together and could better defend themselves from the roving marauders. The Williams family were among those courageous homesteaders.
In 1866 George was called to help fight those Indians. The men left behind their wives and children who were always afraid that Indians would com to their homes. Many nights Emma Jane sat in the dark, fearing to make a light as it might attract some roaming savages. During this trying time two sons were born: George Enoch, Jr. and Joseph Charles. Later came Elizabeth Ann and Esther. Indian agents came into power about this time and they, in a measure, restored some peace and understanding with the Indians. Because of this it was felt that the crisis was over and Cpt. Conover's company along with others was allowed to return home. George had served as teamster of this same company until it was
returned and honorably discharged. Because of his meritorious work, George received a medal of honor for this work.
Because the trouble with the Indians was over and because there was good homesteading further south, the President of the Church called a few dependable families in the summer of 1869 to go and colonize that part of the country. Tiny baby Esther was less than a year and just learning to walk. George and Emma Jane were among the number called to leave their homes and help make another section of the country a pleasant place to live. The family settled in an area that became known as Goshen, Utah. The Saints had to be resourceful if they were to live and thrive. Though there were only logs to build a house, they could make it a nice home. Their cows provided milk and butter which was churned in a wooden churn with a wooden dasher. Pigs grew fat and from the pork rinds they could make soap. To make soap they didn't have lye, so they made their lye from aspen ashes. They made their own candles and baking soda. Of potatoes they made their starch. They refined salt from the Great Salt Lake and of onion skins and rabbit brush they made their dye.
They were very careful that not a thing was wasted. They even followed the shepherds and gathered bits of wool from the brush and fences that caught the sheep's wool as they passed by. Of the wool the entire family was clothed and it also provided their bedding, yard for stockings, mittens, coats and woven into cloth made into suits for men and boys and dresses for the women and underthings for all.
They could raise wheat for their flour and potatoes and other vegetables for food. They dried beans, corn and peas, also pumpkins and apples for winter.
Goshen was hot in the summer and cold in the winter. Crops were not always successful and water was sometimes scarce. Reports came of good prospects for homesteads up north. Arriving in Provo they got work and there they decided to remain for a time. Emma Jane was in poor health for awhile and later in the summer, July 20, 1884, baby number ten arrived. They named her Lucy Christina. In the spring of 1886, on April 20, the family started for Idaho. The family of John James was on the same road so they traveled together. In all there was 18 in the party. They had four wagons. It was a pleasant trip of two weeks. When they reached '18 miles mark in Idaho there were dear friends waiting with a warm welcome to greet them. The Higginson family had taken up a homestead so there they lived with their friends. The area was called Mink Creek and also called Chesterfield.
Always George and Emma Jane were faithful supporters of the LDS Church. George was Superintendent of Sunday School there for 19 years and at different times Emma Jane served in the Presidency of the Relief Society and as a Visiting Teacher. They were the parents of ten children: 5 sons and 5 daughters.
George passed away Dec. 29, 1902 and was buried in Chesterfield, but his body was later moved to the Blackfoot Cemetery when Emma Jane and her family moved to Blackfoot. In 1910 Emma Jane remarried. W.W. Priestley and Emma Jane were married about one year before her death on Nov. 19, 1911. At the time of her death she was teacher of the Advanced Senior Class in the Blackfoot Sunday School. She was laid to rest at the side of her beloved George and her son Hubert (Bertie) who had died at age 14 in the Blackfoot Cemetery. She lived to see all adult children married in the Logan Temple, which is the best tribute any mother could have.
Contributed By: sheryloutcelt1 · 8 September 2015 ·
Enjoy this faith promoting video by Elder Rasband of the Quorum of Twelve Apostles.
I am so grateful for my own pioneer heritage. I love the 24th of July celebrations here in Utah. I love to read the histories of my ancestors. Their steadfast faith helps mine to be firm and true.
Take a moment and find one of your ancestors histories on familysearch.org Family History records are being added to this site daily from all over the world.
If you celebrate this holiday have a wonderful 24th of July!