Life Sketch of Elizabeth Bennett Siler
Contributor: Reed Whitlock Created: 2 months ago Updated: 2 months ago
A SKETCH OF THE LIFE OF ELIZABETH BENNETT SILER
As told by her son John Leland Siler. Compiled by Athelia M. Siler.
My Mother, Elizabeth Bennett Siler, was born in Newton, Lancashire, England on February 15, 1875. Her parents were John Bennett and Sara Glover. She was baptized by James Glover Sr. on February 20, 1883 and confirmed by him on the same day. She married Hinton Siler by Joel H. Johnson at Johnson, Utah on January 18, 1901. She was endowed and sealed to her husband and had the children sealed to them on September 27, 1922 at the Manti Temple. Her height was 5 feet 2 inches; weight around 100 pounds. As a girl and young woman she was quite heavy but lost weight after her back injury and never gained it back again. Her eyes were gray, hair brown. Her health was good until after her injury.
Until she was 14 years old the family lived in England. Her father and older brothers were coal miners. They would come home pretty dirty and wash up in the kitchen sink or in the “mug” the first thing upon arriving home. They were paid each Saturday. Every penny was counted out and budgeted for rent, food, clothing etc. before any of it was spent. One time mother was given her allotment which was 75 cents. She went to the store and bought her brother Jim a pocket handkerchief. When she returned home and her parents saw what she used her money for she was sent back with the handkerchief and was given to understand that money could not be spent that way for such things. They lived in a rented unit in a fourplex, tenement style on a long street. They had inside water and a fireplace in the front room with grate and hobs on each side. Teakettles of water and other kettles were kept on them. Each Sunday one of the children was favored with the privilege of taking a special walk through the Poolstock Gardens with the father to bring home some extra vegetable or fruit for the family. She went to school until she graduated from the sixth grade. Besides the regular lessons and strict discipline the girls were taught the rudiments of handicraft. She excelled especially in knitting. She tells of another girl, a classmate, who was jealous of her ability and so kept jogging her elbow to make her drop stitches. Her penmanship was beautiful with a neat strictly English twist to some of her letters. Through out her young married life it was a party sport to have spelling matches in which no one could out do her, even the school teachers. She learned many poems and enjoyed reciting them. Among them were: THE WRECK OF THE HESPERAS, LUELLAN AND HIS DOG, KING BRUCE OF SCOTLAND. She never forgot them even after 70 years. Home chores were a regular part of life; her principle job was cleaning the kitchen floor. When she left school she went to work at the textile mills. Her work was to work at the spinning wheels. She would take the yarn as it came off of the rollers and tie the ends together. After she went to work at the mill she was not required to help with the household chores as before. Shuttlecock with balls and paddles and hopscotch were the principle games that she remembers of playing. The paddles were made like a drum and sounded like a drum when the shuttlecock hit.
The missionaries often stopped at their home. There were only beds enough for the family so the children slept on the floor. Those who she remembers were Brother Bunting from Kanab, Brother Goebel from Mona, Utah. He was jovial and a very good story teller and kept them laughing all the while he was there. Isaac J. Riddle was also a missionary. Brother Bunting received word from his family that his home had burned down. It was a hard decision to make but he wrote and told them to try to build another home, he wanted to stay and finish his mission which he did.
Mother’s best girl friend was Elizabeth Cooper, a crippled girl who lived on the same street. The missionaries administered to her at the request of the family and she was healed. Her mother, a brother besides herself joined the church. They later came to America and settled in Ogden. Mother met her again when she came to Utah.
Mother’s sister Louise married her cousin James Glover and were the first of the family to come to America, along with her father John Bennett. They worked for A. D. Findley on the Ranch at Upper Kanab and earned the money to send for the rest of the family. When Mother was 14 years old she came to America with her mother and the three youngest children Ruth, Moses and James. They sailed from Liverpool and were three weeks in crossing the ocean. Words from a favorite poem still ran through her mind when she recalled the long voyage across the Atlantic shortly before her death:
A good ship was sailing over the deep,
The stars brightly shining above us
The water beneath was asleep------
John and Annie, the two oldest children next to Louise never did come to America. From New York they came by train to Lehi. That would have been a about 1889. Mother worked in a Peterson home for a time in Ogden and renewed her friendship with her old friend Elizabeth Cooper. They moved south to Richfield and were there for some time. One Sunday night her father and the family went to Sacrament Meeting. It looked like rain so they took their umbrellas with them. When they were on their way home it started to snow very hard. Their Umbrellas became so heavy that the ribs broke. Upon examining the snow to see why it was heavy the found that it had snowed pure salt. Jim went to the store and asked for “atupense of monkey nuts,” much to the amusement of the store keeper. He finally realized that it was peanuts that Jim wanted. Eventually they went south to Johnson in Kane County where they made their home. Upon arriving there it seemed that Zion as they had pictured it in their minds was pretty woebegone. When they saw the small log house grandmother exclaimed, “Is this where I’ve got to live?” Mother asked, “Is there a church here? Do they have meeting?” Such a long hard trip surely should have ended in something more inviting. Mother’s first question as to whether or not there was a church was typical of her. The Church meant a great deal to her and she always wanted to be in a town where she and her children could go to meetings.
Mother was very consciences about everything she did; dependable and trustworthy in any capacity. She was excessively timid and cautious. Neatness was her big characteristic; everything about her person and surroundings was as clean as circumstances could make it. Dad often said that she was never seen without a cleaning rag in her hand. As a housekeeper she was unsurpassed and it was real job in Alton to keep a home spotless as the dirt was black sticky clay and tracked in horribly. She was afraid and suspicious of any strangers. I remember many times when Indians, Gypsies and tramps almost caused her nightmares. In Johnson she spent her time as all early pioneer girls did in handwork, especially knitting, crocheting and embroidering. Though it was only a small community there were plenty of Ward activities and get-to-gathers with friends. She was a help to both of her parents in the house and outside. Often a neighbor needed her help in their homes.
Jim had inflammatory rheumatism when he was young. It crippled his feet for life. Each year he would be confined to be bed from about November until spring. It was after the moved to Alton that he had his last bad attack. His kidneys were so affected that his entire body was twice it natural size. He practically stopped breathing. At that point Art Glover suggested that the elders administer to him. It was everybody’s opinion that it was of no use. However, they did administer to him and immediately his breath started to get more normal. He slept through the night. He sweat all night and by morning his bed was soaked and dripping through the mattress and thus the swelling was reduced. It was only a week or so until he was lifted onto his horse for a ride. He continued to ride a longer distance each day. It was the middle of the winter but the stormy weather cleared and for a month it was warm and Jim recuperated. It was the first time that he had gotten well during the winter months. That was his last attack.
It was a real diversion when Mother could go to Upper Kanab to visit with her sister Louise. It was while there helping her at the time of the birth of one of her children that she met Dad. I tell of their movements in my story about Dad.
Tramps: Living so much in lonely and faraway places made her more and more afraid of strangers. While living near the Mc Donald Sawmill in the hear of Black Rock Canyon she was terrified of tramps who frequently stopped to ask for food or for the privilege of sleeping in the yard. One day, before she had a lock on the door, a fellow knocked and asked for food, then for money and finally insisted on entering the house. She had told him in desperation that her husband was in the other room but he soon saw that she was frightened and stepped in. He became more and more arrogant and at the first opportunity she sent me to the mill to tell Dad. It was about 300 yards and how I did run! I saw that Mother was afraid. At every step I could feel that tramp grabbing me by the back of my neck. When I arrived I was so out of breath and frightened and tired that all I could say was, “Mama, tramp.” Dad did not need to be told twice. He stopped the saw right in the middle of a log. That tramp left—and in hurry! Dad put a lock on the door that very day and Mother never left her door unlocked for a minute when she was alone from that time on. Her screen door was always latched regardless of where she lived. She was not going to have any one else enter her house unless she said so.
Indians: After we moved to Alton about 1907 it was the Indians who drove Mother to distraction. There does not seem to have been any actual incident when she was really frightened by an Indian but feared them on general principles. And since they made a habit of going to that vicinity several times a year to glean grain, to hunt and fish and were especially friendly with Dad she was in constant terror while they were around. It was a tremendous relief to her when they were put on the reservation and could not go and come as they pleased. As soon as the Indians appeared and set up their camp on the lot Mother would start shaking and would not stay alone in the house for a minute. The Indians never failed to go to the house the morning after they arrived to ask for bread. Mother would stay up all night and bake about 25 loaves to have ready for them. That satisfied them and they did not bother her for more nor for anything else no matter how long they stayed, but there was always the terrifying possibility of something happening as long as they were near.Gypsies: As soon as that part of the country was pretty well settled bands of Gypsies often went through town and of course had to camp somewhere near for at least one night. The first year we lived in the house in Alton four of the Gypsies came to the door. First they asked for bread which she gave them. Then they demanded more but she did not have more than the one loaf. Next they demanded money and threatened to force their way into the house. She was desperate but an idea struck her like an inspiration. She left the Gypsies at the front door as if to go to get some money. Instead she hurried out of the back and set our dog Bob on them. I’ll never forget how those Gypsies scattered!
Trips to Johnson to visit her parents were limited to late fall when we would go down for a stay of a week or so. It had to be after harvesting was over so we often went there to spend Thanksgiving.
Culinary water was a big problem in Alton. For a long time everybody hauled it in barrels from the creek in the summer and melted snow in the winter. After irrigation water was brought into town we had a hole dug under the clump of oak trees near the house. Every time we had our turn of water we would fill the hole, let it settle then dip it into the barrels to last until the next turn. It was a great day for celebration when the cistern was finished and water ran into the house out of a tap!
Mother always enjoyed going to Relief Society. The quilting and Rag bees were times when the women could really get acquainted and enjoy each other in about the only type of recreation open to them. Relief Society Teaching was also a loved outlet for social contacts. She taught Primary classes, which was a real joy. Even before our home was finished Mother looked foreword to having a rag rug on her living room floor. All of us children enjoyed the rag bees as much as anybody. It was fun to sit on the floor behind the sewing machine and snip the threads and wind the rags into balls. Our finished rug was the family pride and joy. Rugs were woven in the valley.
When the town of Alton was laid out the road from Panguitch to Kanab went through Alton, right past our house. Mother started up a small store. She kept groceries, notions, candies and other small items. Freighters bought more local people as they passed through town. Having the candy in the store was a source of trouble to me. The bigger boys constantly bothered me because I would not take candy to them. Mother was very strict and never let Erma or I have access to things in the store. After two or three years the road down Black Rock Canyon was build and travel and freighters went that way, cutting Alton off entirely. It was three miles to the highway. Soon the fields south of town were fenced and the road to Johnson went at a right angle, thus bypassing our place. Heaton's started a store in the center of town so Mother discontinued hers.
Mother did all of her sewing by hand until I was quite a big boy. It was quite a job to do for two children in that way. I will never forget the day when the new Singer Sewing Machine was brought into the house and placed under the window in the front room. I think that she got it from George Beebe because I remember of him adjusting it a number of times. It was a good machine and she was justly proud. It was a great possession. She knitted all of our stockings until I was about grown. They were scratchy and Erma hated them but the wool was no problem to me. And how they would wear! New heals and toes were knitted in when the new was wearing off. Dad got a stove when they were first married. It went with them wherever they went and was the only cook stove they ever had. It stood on tall legs and had a hearth and baked perfectly. Even the grate lasted for a lifetime. When the front room was finished a hearth rock was installed—that was the way to do it in those days. It was meant to protect the floor from fire. But it was rough and hard to keep looking nice so eventually the rock was replaced by cement and the rock became a front step, and is still there. The heater was friendly and we always banked up the coals at night to keep the room warm in the winter.
Mother washed on a board until I was in school Dad got a hand-powered wooden washing machine. It turned out to be a man-sized job to operate of Dad remodel it with a wheel and handle in place of the stick. I was glad of the change, as it had been my job to turn the washer. Later she got a metal tub type that was much better.
She was justly proud of her butter. Most of the townspeople would buy her butter in preference to anyone’s else. She made cheese when we had milk to spare just for home use. Chickens were always a necessity and she enjoyed having a nice looking flock. Her garden was weed-free and supplied all kinds of vegetables that would grow in that high altitude. When Dad was at the herd in the winter Mother had all of the chores to do including milking the cows until I was old enough to do it. Snow was deep and it was all that she could do to keep things going. Apples were the only fruit we had until trucks brought other kinds from Dixie. We got apples from Glendale.
Alton was very much like a large family in their social affairs. Besides Church Activities, dances and parties the annual Thanksgiving Community Dinner was a grand affair.
While they were living in Johnson, when Erma was a baby Mother had a terrible tragedy. They had driven to Kanab to the store stopping in front of it. Dad went into the store and Mother was holding the lines. Something startled the horses and they ran away. As they crossed a ditch she was thrown out, landing on her back. The hipbone was broken into next her back. It did not knit together but instead each side of the break healed over. She suffered terribly for about eight years before Dad took her to Panguitch to have it operated on. I was born while she was in that condition and she surely suffered through it all. They went to Panguitch in a wagon. Dr. Garn Clark cut both sides off and pinned them together. She was always lame on that leg. I remember the trip. Erma and I went along. I made real fuss when I learned that we were to return home and leave Mother there. When we were ready to return home the nurse gave me a train and Erma a doll to console us.
She had another dreadful fall when I was about 22. She had seen me bringing the cows up from the field and went down to the corral to put the calves into the barn so that I could just drive the cows into the corral. She fell and broke and wrenched her shoulder and jolted her up in general. I borrowed Dan Heaton’s car to take her to Panguitch to Dr. Biglow. That arm always gave her a lot of trouble.
Mother had a great love for flowers. Her house was full of lovely houseplants. The yard was always beautiful. She took great pride in seeing it she could raise prettier flowers than anyone else.
She always loved to sing. She and Father would sing together for programs as well as in the home. She also sang a lot with her sister Louise. Some of the ones we remember of them singing were: I’LL TAKE YOU HOME AGAIN KATHLEEN, AFTER THE BALL, ONLY BEEN DOWN TO THE CLUB AND OVER THE WAVES. Just a few months before her death she was asked what her favorite song was and she said, “Catch The Sunshine.”
Catch the sunshine! Tho’ it flickers
Thro’ a dark and dismal cloud.
Tho’ it falls so faint and feeble
On a heart with sorrow bowed.
Catch it quickly! It is passing,
Passing rapidly away;
It has only come to tell you
There is yet a brighter day.
Catch the sunshine! Tho’ life’s tempest
May unfurl its chilling blast,
Catch the little, hopeful straggler!
Storms will not forever last;
Don’t give up and say “forsaken!”
Don’t begin to say, “I’m sad!”
Look! There comes a gleam of sunshine!
Catch it! Oh, it seems so glad.
Catch the sunshine! Don’t be grieving
O’er that dark some billows there,
We must meet them everywhere.
Pass right thro’ them, do not tarry.
Overcome the heaving tide,
There’s a sparkling gleam of sunshine
Waiting on the other side.
Mother’s favorite scripture, along with others, was the 23rd Psalm; “The Lord Is My Shepherd.” These scriptures she learned while attending school in England and they were always an inspiration to her.
For the last 20 years of her life she suffered with a bad heart, and other ailments. When she was 84 years of age she fell and broke her wrist which compelled her to remain in the Panguitch L. D. S. Hospital for two months, and was partly the cause of her death. She died November 8, 1959 at Erma’s home in Alton. Funeral services were held November 11, 1959 under the direction of Spillsbury Mortuary. She was buried beside her husband in the Alton Cemetery.
Bennett Life Sketch
Contributor: Reed Whitlock Created: 2 months ago Updated: 2 months ago
John Bennett was born on the 14th of June 1839 in Ince in Makerfield, Lancashire, England. The second son and third child of William and Elizabeth.
In 1851 he lived on Broom Street in Ince in Makerfield with his father William, mother Elizabeth and his siblings James, Catherine, William, Richard and Thomas. He was a scholar.
In 1861 he lived in the same street with his parents William and Elizabeth, and siblings Catherine, Richard, Thomas, Matthew, Henry, David and Ellen. John was a coal miner.
I believe that John joined The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints sometime before his marriage. One record shows that he was confirmed on the 1st of Jan 1856 at 16 years old, but I do not have firm proof of this.
On the 21st of May 1861 John married Sarah Glover who was also a member of the church, (She had been baptised when she was ten years old)
In 1868 their daughter Maria who was only 8 months old sadly passed away.
In 1871 John and Sarah lived at 8 Primrose Hill in Scholes, Wigan, Lancashire, England. He was a breaksman and Sarah was a Reeler in factory. They had three children, Louisa, Ann and John living with them.
By 1881 the family had moved to 94 Albert Street, Pemberton, Lancashire, England. John was now working as a Railway breaksman and Sarah was a Cotton mill mulekeeper. They had their 6 children with them. Louisa, Ann, John, Ruth, Elizabeth and Moses.
In 1890 John Bennett and his daughter Ruth, travelled to Liverpool where they boarded the Ship SS Wisconsin as 'Steerage Passengers' heading to New York. John recorded his occupation as a labourer. They arrived in New York on the 10th of July 1890.
Sarah and the rest of the children stayed behind and in the 1891 census she was still living in Pemberton with her children Elizabeth, Moses and James. It must have been difficult being separated from each other. In the same year, 1891, Sarah travelled with her three children Elizabeth, Moses and James to Liverpool and boarded the same Ship S.S Wisconsin as 'Steerage Passengers' heading to New York. They arrived in August 1891.
In 1900 John lived in Johnson, Kane Utah with Sarah and their children Elizabeth Moses and James
In 1910 John lived in Johnson, Kane Utah with Sarah and their son James
In 1920 John lived in Alton, Kane Utah with Sarah and their son James
On the 22 of September 1922 John and Sarah went to the Manti Utah Temple where they were endowed and sealed to each other. John was 83 years old, and Sarah 80 years old. 7 Years later on the 9th of November 1927 John passed away at Alton, Kane Utah at the age of 88. Sarah Passed way on the 28th of August 1928 at the age of 86.