Mary Willes Farnsworth (Griffiths)

May 1831 - 27 Feb 1914

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Mary Willes Farnsworth (Griffiths)

May 1831 - 27 Feb 1914
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Biography of Mary Priscilla Griffiths Willes Farnsworth By Mildred Gaye Whitney Nelson Wife of Jack William Nelson, Great, Great, Grandson Note: Because information about Mary Priscilla Griffiths is very limited, this history also includes information taken from Church historians, journals and other

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Mary Willes Farnsworth (Griffiths)


Joseph Cemetery

332 W 100 S
Joseph, Sevier, Utah
United States


July 30, 2012


July 29, 2012

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Biography of Mary Priscilla Griffiths

Contributor: TreeClimber Created: 3 years ago Updated: 3 years ago

Biography of Mary Priscilla Griffiths Willes Farnsworth By Mildred Gaye Whitney Nelson Wife of Jack William Nelson, Great, Great, Grandson Note: Because information about Mary Priscilla Griffiths is very limited, this history also includes information taken from Church historians, journals and other histories regarding the events and times that she was a part of. In this way I feel we, her descendants can gain a better understanding of her circumstances, thus gaining a greater understanding and appreciation of her. She must have been a woman of great courage and faith. ~Gaye Nelson All italicized type is taken directly from the “Biography of Mary Priscilla Griffiths Farnsworth” written by Mary Priscilla F. Petersen, Granddaughter. PART I Mary Priscilla Griffiths Willes Farnsworth was born 7 May 1831 in Sherborne, Dorset, England. Sherborne was a market town and parish in the hundred of Sherborne, 120 miles from London. Her mother, Matilda Langdon was from Henstridge, Dorset, England, and her father, Evan Griffiths, was born in Cardiff, Wales and later moved to Sherborne. Mary was one of seven children born to Evan and Matilda. There was William (abt 1829), Mary Priscilla (7 May 1831), Lewis (20 Feb 1833), James (23 June 1835), Ann (2 Nov 1836), Essie (1842), and Elizabeth (10 Mar 1844). All children were born in Sherborne, Dorset, England. They lived in a small house on a modest income. Mary was given a good education and became a milliner and dressmaker, working with a girlfriend who sewed for Queen Victoria. Mary was converted to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in November of 1851. She was baptized at the age of 20. Mary was the only member of her family to join the LDS Church. During the early years in church history, converts to the church were encouraged to gather in Zion –or what became to be known as the state of Utah. Mary Priscilla was one of approximately 10,000 who sailed from Liverpool during 1852 and 1856. The Church had established the Perpetual Emigrating Fund to help the poorer Saints emigrate to the Salt Lake Valley. The church leaders helped to book passages and make necessary arrangements. Because of crop failures in Utah and tight money, the people would come by handcarts instead of wagon trains. Mary sailed on the ship Thornton, which was bound for New York harbor. There were about 761 emigrants aboard. Each company maintained strict discipline during the lengthy voyages. They were divided into groups and met together often for meetings, gatherings, prayers and singing. They were presided over by a returning missionary, Elder James G. Willie. Four hundred and eighty-four were PEF emigrants and expected to cross the plains in handcarts. All in all, there was a general feeling of joy and rejoicing for the length of the voyage, despite the many hardships. The voyage was especially difficult for those who were old and sickly. Everyone’s desire to gather to Zion was so great that they underwent many hardships, and desired to go even if they knew they would not be able to make it to the Salt Lake Valley. There were many difficulties that they encountered. Nearly everyone suffered with seasickness for many weeks. Once the ship was in ‘a calm.’ The Saints fasted and prayed and the Lord showed forth his power in their behalf. They called on Him for their preservation when the ship caught fire and he also came to their deliverance in a terrible storm. One week was so stormy, the ship was driven back 500 miles. This was a big setback. On board ship they made what preparations they could for when they reached America. President Richards had purchased a large quantity of a heavy cotton fabric called “drill” or “drilling” from the cotton mills in Lancashire. From this we were able to start making the tents and covers for the wagons and the handcarts that we would need in America. Work crews were assigned-the men cutting up the heavy cloth and the women stitching it together. Doubtless Mary’s experience in sewing helped in this effort. It must have been quite different from the fabrics she was used to working with. “The sea voyage took 6 weeks. This was a long time to live aboard ship in cramped quarters. Food was at a premium. Their Captain didn’t treat them ill, but he was a very cruel man and many times they witnessed his abuse to his crew. In a way, this experience strengthened them for more severe trials ahead. In all there were seven deaths at sea, three marriages, one birth, and four babies blessed. Note: The history written by her granddaughter says: “Mary must have had tremendous faith and courage to start out for Zion alone. However, many English and Scandinavian saints traveled with her across the Atlantic. She crossed the ocean on the ship Horizon. They landed at Castle Garden and then journeyed on to Iowa City where they joined a handcart company.” I believe she came on the ship Thornton for several reasons. Captain Willie was the leader on the ship Thornton when it set sail in England. So it is likely that she stayed with the same group all the way. There was a short period of time that both the Willie and Martin Companies were in Iowa City, so it is possible that she switched companies. However, further investigation shows that the ship Horizon went to New Orleans, where as the Thornton made harbor in New York at Castle Gardens. Therefore I will conclude that she sailed on the ship ‘Thornton’. If anyone has any other evidence, one way or the other, please let me know. ~Mildred Gaye Nelson PART II The ship Thornton entered New York harbor June 14 (15), 1856 at 8:00 am. A doctor came aboard just off Staten Island and pronounced the passengers fit and healthy with no need of quarantine. This was a fortunate circumstance, for some ships were held up for days while they awaited their health inspection. Some doctors would often quarantine anyone who didn’t look perfectly fit for a week or more. If there were any signs of real illnesses, such as small pox or cholera, a whole shipload of passengers might spend a month or more in a quarantine center. Already being very late in the traveling season, that would have been disastrous for these emigrants going to Utah. Equally remarkable, the official from the New York Customs House came on board and passed off all of their luggage with out an inspection of any kind. And so by sundown, after forty-two days at sea, they docked at Castle Garden. This was a large building set aside specifically for incoming emigrants. Names were called out individually and each had to state where they were going, what money they had, and other particulars. This information was entered into a book, then they were allowed to pass into the house. Elder John Taylor greeted them at Castle Garden and spent a good part of the day giving them instruction and counsel. Next they prepared for a thousand mile journey by railway car and steamboat from New York to Iowa. Railway cars had to be secured, luggage arranged for, tickets purchased and people assigned. Food enough for the first day or two was brought in, but after that they would have to secure food at the various stops along the way. Luggage and items were sorted and the heavier items were sorted out and left behind to be shipped by the Church agents in freight cars, then carried under contract by independent Church wagon companies that were also going to Salt Lake that season. That evening, when all were finally ready, they loaded on board the harbor boat and sailed up the Hudson River a few miles to Piermont. They arrived there about 11:00 pm., unloaded and made their way to the railway station, which was just a short distance from the dock. Their journey across America by rail was about to begin. There were not funds to purchase first-class coach tickets for the groups of emigrating Saints so they had to ride in what the railroad called ‘emigrant cars.’ They were the last six cars of the train which were nothing more that freight cars. They had been outfitted with tiers of benches around all four sides (like seats in a circus tent). The cars were no more than 30 to 40 feet long and 10 to 15 feet wide. Each car would house 80 passengers. They rode for 2 days till they arrived at Dunkirk, which is a port on Lake Erie. On June 19 1856 they boarded the Jersey City steamship at Dunkirk, which is on Lake Erie. They departed the following morning, with about 700 people in their company. Brother Willie and his counselors had booked all of the steerage space and put the women and children there. The men had no place to sleep but on the open decks. After two night of trying to sleep on the narrow benches of the ‘emigrant cars’ with soot and cinders pouring through the windows and the violent rocking, at least they had a place to lie down and sleep. The ship moved along at about 10 miles an hour. The boat stopped at Cleveland, Ohio for a short time to buy more supplies for the passengers. Purchasing food sufficient for their numbers was an ever-present challenge for the leaders. Coming across New York was not so difficult. Each place where the train stopped, a whole growing market designed to provide food for the rail travelers was springing up. But coping with 700 passengers at once often tested the local resources. In several places the agents bought up all the bread the village had to offer. Twice they had been favored by the “butcher boys,’ or food vendors who worked on the trains themselves. They sold bread, cheeses, and various smoked and dried meats, but most of the emigrants could not afford to purchase much at those prices and had to be content with what the agents provided. The steamship took them to Toledo, Ohio. There they boarded another train and went to Chicago, Illinois and then on to Rock Island. In Chicago they were treated very badly by the rail conductor. He insisted on putting them off in the street, baggage and all, and then he refused to direct them to any shelter, even though a heavy thunderstorm was threatening. Brother Willie finally found the railroad superintendent and prevailed on him to let them take shelter in an empty warehouse for the night. It was difficult to face these persecutions when one of the reasons they had left their homelands to come to America was to escape this very thing. On the 23rd, the company left Chicago by rail in two divisions, one leaving a few hours after the other. So far they had traveled forty-two days at sea, another 9 or 10 days from New York. At Pond Creek the emigrants learned that the bridge at Rock Island had collapsed while a train was passing over it. Apostle Erastus Snow and other elders from Utah were on the train when the accident happened, but escaped unhurt. This is where they crossed the Mississippi River. However, due to this circumstance, it was necessary for them to ferry across the river. The ferry ran constantly all through the night in order to get everyone across. On the other side of the river they boarded the train again. It took them all the way to Iowa City, almost 60 miles away. This is where the rail line ended. It had just been completed that spring, so they were saved an additional week or two over what others had to do in previously. All together it is about a thousand miles from New York to Iowa City. From the Willie Company journal, Thursday, June 26, 1856, Iowa City, Iowa, we read, “The group had traveled by railroad from New York City, by steamboat on Lake Erie, and by railroad to the Mississippi River in Illinois. This morning at 7 a.m., we left and crossed the Mississippi by the steam ferry boat, and at 9 a.m. we left by rail for Iowa City. We arrived there at 1:30 p.m., and camped on the green, but in consequence of a thunderstorm approaching, we obtained possession of a large engine shed and remained there during the night, it raining in torrents all night. Many of the brethren from the camp visited and cordially welcomed us, and on their return, took a large number of the sisters to the camp with them.” As the long line of weary immigrants passed through town, many of the townspeople taunted and laughed at them as they walked by. They walked to what the Iowa City resident called the ‘Mormon Campground,’ located two miles south of town. This was considered the edge of the frontier. Four brethren with the Perpetual Emigrating Fund were there to help them prepare for the next part of journey. However, they were not expecting such a large group of people so late in the season. They had already outfitted and sent off three handcart companies in the last six weeks, the last one had just left a few days prior. They thought that was the last and were in fact packing up their things and getting ready to start west themselves. To have that many people show up unexpected that late in the season really taxed their abilities. Their resources and funds were nearly gone. Brother Richards had written to tell them that this group was coming but mail from Europe to the American frontier was not very reliable and the letter hadn’t arrived. In addition to this they found out that Elder Edward Martin was bringing another shipload and would be arriving in a few weeks. President Young had counseled that they were to send no groups west if they could not leave from Florence by June first. It was now June twenty-sixth and they had just arrived and there were many preparations yet to be made. To be on schedule they should have already left Florence, which was yet another three hundred miles farther on from Iowa City. However, President Richards had done the only thing he could do under the circumstances. These Saints had quit their jobs or were let go for being Latter-day Saints. Most had sold everything. When they came to Liverpool expecting passage, they had nowhere to stay, no way to make a living in England. England’s laws were very strict and many of them would have been thrown into the poorhouse. A few in the group had sufficient means to travel by wagon. They would be forming one or two independent wagon companies–independent meaning that they could travel on their own without having to go with the handcarts. However, those in that category were asked to delay their departure in case the weather turned cold. The wagons were able to carry more food and supplies than a handcart. They would follow after the handcart companies to give them aid if needed. However, even with this distressing news, the Saints put their faith and trust in the Lord and began preparations for their journey. The leaders went to work to secure the supplies that were needed, to find lumber, secure funds and locate flour. For three weeks they built handcarts, sewed tents and gathered supplies. The women were taught such things as building a fire and cooking a meal over it, yoking up a team of oxen, pitching a tent, and tips for doing laundry in the middle of the wilderness. Also about half the women were taught how to take care of a butchered animal. The men would kill, clean, skin, and butcher a beef cow then it would be up to the women to tan the hide and smoke the beef so that it wouldn’t spoil on the trail. Construction of the carts was kept simple. However, they were not only short on lumber but much of what they had to use was ‘green,’ which meant it had not been dried and cured properly. This would be problem out on the trail where it would begin to dry, causing it to shrink and warp. The hub is the most critical part of the handcart. On the trail ahead there would be a lot of sand and sand is very hard on a handcart. It can grind an axle or the hubs away in a matter of days. Usually they lined the wheel boxes–the place where the axles are connected to the wheels–with tin to prevent that from happening. Unfortunately, due to the short supply of tin, many of the boxes had to be lined with leather. Normally they used axle grease to lubricate the boxes, but that was also in short supply so lard, bacon grease or soap would be used as an alternative. When done the cart itself weighed about sixty pounds but it would easily hold three or four-hundred pound loads, which could be pulled by one or two people without a great deal of effort. They generally planned for five people to be assigned to each handcart. Between the Willie Company and the Martin Company that was following they needed about two hundred and fifty carts. Each handcart cost under ten dollars, where a wagon cost about fifty or sixty dollars. Oxen sold for about seventy dollars a yoke and each wagon required at least two yoke. Supplies were estimated at about fifteen dollars per adult and half that for children. Some people who had planned on coming with the immigrant wagon trains chose to come by handcart and give their extra resources to a common fund so more people could be taken this season. Church agents were able to obtain flour from a mill in Iowa City. The normal allowance for an adult was one pound of flour per day. Children got about two-thirds that amount. Their company consisted of about 500 people so that would be just under 500 pounds of flour per day. It would take just under a month to travel to Florence, where they could resupply. So just to get to Florence they needed about fifteen thousand pounds, or around eight tons of flour. Since they only had five wagons and they could not carry that much, they planned to purchase some flour as they crossed Iowa. From Florence to Salt Lake would take about seventy days, so the whole company would need about thirty-five thousand pounds, or seventeen or eighteen tons for that portion of the journey. However, once they left Florence there would not be any more places to purchase more. From the Iowa Campgrounds to Florence the wagons would carry the flour, allowing the people to toughen up a bit. However, after that each handcart would be expected to carry a hundred-pound sack. With that amount they would still be seven or eight tons short, however the First Presidency knew from the beginning that handcarts could not carry enough food for the whole distance, so they sent out resupply wagons from Salt Lake. They would expect to meet the supply wagons somewhere between Fort Laramie and the last crossing of the North Platte. Generally this was at Deer Creek, west of Fort Laramie, which was about five hundred miles from the Iowa campgrounds. From here they would be loaded up again with enough to get them to Fort Bridger, where another group of wagons would be waiting. Each company was sent with about fifty beef cattle that could be butchered along the way for meat. Hopefully they would be able to kill a few buffalo along the way and possibly some deer and antelope here and there. Also, each group of a hundred would have a milk cow. That would give them a little butter and some milk for the smaller children. Although no one would grow fat along the trail, they were expected to survive. The church leaders assigned to help, Brother Kimball and others, helped the company be on their way. Then they raced ahead to Florence in light wagons and carriages to buy supplies and make arrangements for their arrival there. Elder Franklin D. Richards was returning from England and would meet them in Florence, then they would all go ahead to Salt Lake to make sure they knew that others were still coming. So far this plan had worked well and was a marvelous organization to help other Saints to gather in Salt Lake. 8 July 1856 the second group of emigrants under the direction of Brother Edward Martin had arrived at the Mormon campground. There were now more than a thousand people in camp. It was like a small town, with more than fifty tents set up. Those with Brother Willie had been at the Mormon Campground just over two weeks now. There were now enough tents and handcarts completed for this company, with a few extra that could be used by Brother Martin’s group. The Willie Handcart Company, with five hundred people, was the fourth company of the season. Brother James G. Willie was greatly respected and well-liked, he would serve as their captain. The people were assigned to five groups of hundreds. Within each group there would be about five people per handcart, which meant twenty handcarts per hundred on the average. There would be four handcarts per tent, five tents per hundred. Each handcart group would also be their ‘mess group,’ or the group you cook and eat with. As much as possible, they kept families together. Each hundred in the company had a small number of people—mostly those without other family members—who were not assigned to a handcart. In some cases it was because they weren’t bringing much more than what they wore and didn’t need a cart to carry it. Others felt that they were not physically able to pull a handcart but could walk. A few were the odd-numbered ones who couldn’t be placed easily with any other family group and its cart. They had a tent group and a mess group but not a handcart. The rest of the company had quickly dubbed them the “footmen,” or the “walkers.” Sub-captains were asked to serve over each group of a hundred. Brother Millen Atwood was assigned to be over the first hundred. Brother Levi Savage, a missionary who had been sent to Siam and was now finally on his way home, was over the second hundred. Brother Atwood and Brother Savage, along with Brother Willie had been over the trail several times and were experienced and confident captains. Brother William Woodward was over the third hundred, made up mostly of the families from Scotland, with a few from England. Brother John Chislett was captain was over the fourth hundred and John or Johan Ahmanson led the fifth hundred, a group of Scandinavians. The handcarts were limited in how much they could carry. Each adult was allowed seventeen pounds, ten pounds for children and seven pounds for infants. For now they would only have to carry their own personal belongings. The tents, flour, tools, and other foodstuffs would be carried in the five wagons that would accompany them.. At Florence, Nebraska, that would change, but for now the lighter loads gave them a chance to toughen up, to get into physical shape before they started across the wilderness. When they arrived at Florence they would each have to carry an additional hundred pounds of flour in the cart, or they would not have enough to see them through to the point where they would meet the supply wagons from the Valley. PART III Tuesday, 15 July 1856 At last it was time to leave the Mormon Campground. After almost three weeks of nonstop effort they were ready to move on. The handcarts were built, tents completed and supplies packed. Each wagon was filled to capacity. The Martin group bid them farewell. They would follow in a few weeks when their preparations were complete. Captain Willie was at the head of the column, mounted on his horse. Teamsters climbed onto their wagons. Drovers prepared to herd the cattle. The walkers hoisted their packs and bags. Men and women stepped into the shafts of their handcarts and raised them up to chest level. They began the trek to the Salt Lake Valley, almost 1,400 miles away. Once they were on the trail, the groups of hundreds would rotate their position in the train so that one group did not have to be last all the time. But for the first day of the march the companies of hundreds had been asked to line up in order On the trail each morning the camp bugle woke them at 4:00 am. At first the going was very slow, sometimes they only traveled two or three miles a day. The teamsters on the wagons were inexperienced and the oxen were young and unbroken. For those pulling the carts muscles were sore, arms ached, feet and hands had huge blisters. After about ten days the emigrants began to toughen up and began to make better progress. Now they could travel twelve miles a day or more. The days were difficult and hard. In the first few days there were several people that gave up and didn’t continue on. Some promised to come later when they were better prepared, others just dropped out. Sister Mary Williams from England, who was about fifty, died of a severe stomach ailment. They carried her body to one of the nearby small towns and buried her in a cemetery there. At times local residents would come out and harass them as they passed by. By 25 July they had come seventy-five miles. Now when there were no delays they often went sixteen miles or more. Some days they were slowed because of needed repairs to the handcarts. Rough roads and the green lumber of the handcarts caused many problems and repairs were needed often. The green lumber was drying and cracking in the heat. Time and again they had to stop and put them back together. The effects of long hot days in the sun were felt by all. An entry from the company journal on 25 July 1856 reads as follows: “Traveled as far as Muddy Creek, 13 miles. Stopped twice by the way to rest. The weather being very warm. Just before we camped, we were overtaken by the Sheriff with a warrant to search the wagons, under the idea that the women were detained contrary to their wishes, with ropes. After showing their authority, they had permission to examine any part of the company, and were fully satisfied that the report was without foundation, and they left us.” On Friday, 1 August they camped at a place called Timber Point, Iowa, one hundred and sixty miles and sixteen days out of Iowa City. There were trees to offer shade and fresh water from a creek. They were not always this fortunate. At times they had to be content to camp near a buffalo wallow, which was nothing more than a low spot. During the spring rains these places would fill with water and mud. The buffalo would come and roll in them to help keep the bugs away. Usually they could dig a hole and eventually water would seep into it. This was known as a ‘prairie spring.’ Also they often had to use ‘prairie firewood,’ which was of course buffalo chips. It actually burned hot and clean and made a good fire. They arrived at Kanesville, or what was first known as Council Bluffs, and ferried across the Missouri River to Winter Quarters or Florence, Nebraska. They had to go on reduced rations several days prior to this because their food supply was getting low. Here they were able to restock their food supplies, repair their carts, mend clothes and make other necessary preparations. Winter Quarters was the place where the Saints had lived when they had to flee Nauvoo. There were still hundreds of abandoned shelters that they were able to stay in. There was a sense of urgency to move on so they all worked quickly and hard. This was the last town they would see, there was nothing ahead but wilderness. Brigham Young had built a grist mill at Winter Quarters almost ten years earlier so they were able to get all the flour they needed. The challenge was how to take enough to last them until they could reach the first place where the supply wagons from Salt Lake would be waiting. To aid in this, each handcart was given additional sacks of flour to carry. On Wednesday, 13 August, the third day at Winter Quarters a ‘monster’ meeting was held. There had been talk of staying at Winter Quarters or Elkhorn River, which was not far off, for the winter and then continuing on in the Spring. The issue was openly discussed along with the possible hardships and tribulations but Florence was not equipped to take care of a group this size, especially with the Martin Company still behind them. Adequate food would be difficult no matter where they were, but they would not have the supply wagons from Salt Lake all the way out in Florence to resupply them. Ahead were the high plains, being so late in the season it was almost certain they would see some severe weather. Knowing what lay ahead, even with the possibility of death, they voted to “go forward regardless of consequences, to continue on to Zion, as commanded.” Brother Levi Savage who had petitioned for the group to remain in Florence for the winter gave this heart felt message after the vote was taken. “Brothers and sisters, I, like you, have seen the vote of the congregation. I just want to say this much more. What I have said I know to be true. But seeing you are to go forward, I will go with you. I will help all I can. I will work with you. I will rest with you. I will suffer with you, and if necessary....................I will die with you. May God in his mercy bless and preserve us.” Brother Savage was true to his word; no man worked harder than he to alleviate the suffering which he had foreseen, when it came upon them. Such was the faith and commitment of these Saints. One of the most difficult portions of the trail was still ahead. Seven days and one hundred and thirty-five miles west of Florence, they came to the crossing of the Loup Fork of the Platte River. They ferried across the river. On the other side the river bottoms were too marshy or choked with underbrush to allow travel so they had to take the higher ground where there was hill after rolling hill of sand dunes. The additional sacks of flour they had gotten in Florence added to their burden, making the carts that much harder to pull. Sand was death to a handcart. They needed more grease for the hubs, but what little axle grease they had been able to obtain in Florence was gone by the fourth day, neither was there anymore bacon left. Now when they needed lubricants more desperately than at any time since leaving Iowa City, there were none to be had. Soap, made of animal fat and lye and as solid as a rock, had to be used for a lubricant for the axles. Life on the trail was quite monotonous. Everyday was the same as the one before. Rise at dawn. Get breakfast (often cold), strike the tents, pack the carts, roll out at eight or nine o’clock, later if the stock had strayed. At midday they would stop or “noon,” to rest and eat, roll out again, stop somewhere before sundown and make camp. Occasionally a new baby was born, and sometimes a death. One day that stood out was the day of the Indians. Thursday, 4 September 1856, they were near North Bluff Creek in Nebraska Territory. Some Indians approached the company. They were friendly, but carried a letter from an army captain stating that a small wagon train he was escorting had been attacked by a marauding band of Cheyenne. Two soldiers and a small child were killed, and a woman was carried off captive. This caused some worry and concern, but the captains assured them that even warring Indians would not attack a company as large as theirs. None the less, children were kept close, the stock was watched with greater care, and those few men with weapons kept them close at hand. Later that day, as the company moved on, the Indians rode along with the train, fascinated by the carts. One old chief who spoke a few words of English kept pointing and laughing as he said over and over, “little wagons, little wagons.” The day of the Indians ended that evening when sub-captains Millen Atwood and Levi Savage rode to the Indians’ camp. There they bartered for a supply of buffalo meat. That night the company had their first taste of the sweet meat, which they had all heard so much about. But even that experience quickly lost its novelty, before long seeing buffalo was almost as common as seeing the ever-present prairie dogs. The great shaggy beasts came close to camp often enough that buffalo meat became a regular supplement to their diet. Once again life on the trail grew quite monotonous. However, about the time they reached Wood River, a few miles above Grand Island, Nebraska a significant incident occurred. Here they encountered a large herd of buffalo. The whole country seemed to be alive with them. One evening as they were preparing to stop for the night, a large herd stampeded, heading straight for their carts. At first it sounded like thunder as the big black animals came towards them. They were so scared it was as if they were rooted to the ground. One of the Captains, seeing what was going on, ran for the carts which were still coming into camp. He jerked some of them out of the line to make a path for the steady stream of animals to go through. They roared past them like a train. If it weren’t for the quick thinking of those men, surely many of them would have been trampled to death. The cattle also ran off with the buffalo herd. The men started out on foot to look for them but they soon lost sight of the herd. Those left behind began to set up camp. That night a terrible storm came up. A strong wind tore the tents out of their hands and sent everything flying. There was thunder and lightning like they had never seen before. The noise terrified the children and it was all they could do to keep track of each other. Everyone ran for any shelter they could find. Soon the rain came pouring down and in a matter of minutes everyone was soaked to the skin. The men came back from searching for the cattle empty handed. All went to bed that night wet and cold. They spent several days looking for the cattle but they were never found. This proved to be a serious situation for the company. Their supply of meat was now gone. With no oxen or mules to pull the wagons, it was necessary to hitch the milk cows to the wagons. The stock was wild and could not pull the load that the oxen could so it was necessary each handcart to take on an additional hundred pound sack of flour. They again began their trek. Every man, woman and child worked to their utmost ability to push forward but their progress was once again slowed because of these circumstances. George Cunningham commented about this time. “The children who were not able to walk were put on the handcarts also, and we who were able had to haul them. Here we plodded along through the mud with all the courage that we could muster. Our bright young sisters helped us by doing all they could to encourage us in every shape, and whenever an opportunity afforded, they would try to cheer us along with their beautiful strains of vocal music. They seemed to have songs very appropriate for every occasion. This was much help to us under stiff circumstances. Some of their words I can well remember yet such as: Some will push and some will pull, As we go marching up the hill, So merrily on the way we go Until we reach the valley-o.” On Friday, 12 September, Franklin D. Richards and his party of two wagons and three carriages met up with the Willie handcart company just before dusk. They were traveling lightly and could move along quite rapidly. He congratulated them on their progress, even though they had suffered serious setbacks. He gave them words of encouragement and promised them that though they may encounter hardships, if they would press forward and be obedient and hearken to the counsel of their leaders to the very letter, God would be their helper. Through their united faith and diligent works, they would be enabled to go through. They may have some trials to endure as proof to God and the brethren that they have the ‘true grit’ it takes to come through. He promised that though it might storm on their right hand and on their left, the Lord would open the way before them and they should get to Zion in safety. Because of the recent concerns about Indian trouble at this time the leaders decided to cross the river and travel in the main part of the Oregon Trail. The military reported that all of the incidents of trouble were on the north side of the river, because it was the lesser-traveled route, so it was decided that crossing to the south would be the safer way. Because word had not reached Iowa City of the coming of additional emigrant companies, Brother Richards was concerned that word had not reached Salt Lake either. If that was so, it was likely the First Presidency would have called in the resupply wagons. Brother Richards and his group with their light carriages and wagons were able to move quite fast so they went on ahead. He left with a promise that once President Young learned of their presence, supply wagons filled with flour, food, and warm clothing would be on their way to meet them. He left with a reminder that in the meantime they must go forward in all haste and in faith and obedience. He told them to listen to the counsel of their leaders, follow that counsel and press forward with all diligence so that they may claim the promises of the Lord. In the next weeks they passed other markers along the trail such as Ash Hallow, a famous stopping place with plentiful wood and water; Chimney Rock, rising majestically some four hundred feet above the plains and Scott’s Bluff, which marked the end of the Great Plains and the beginning of the Rocky Mountains. Their progress was slow but they continued forward. On September 30, after six weeks and more than five hundred miles since leaving Florence, they arrived at Fort Laramie. Their provisions were nearly gone. They were able to buy a few provisions at the Fort but not as much as needed. The price of goods was extremely high, for flour they had to pay $20.00 per hundred pounds. After leaving Fort Laramie they met a company of missionaries going to the States. Elder Parley P. Pratt was among them. He came and talked to them a while and tried to encourage them. Though the emigrants were not yet into any kind of severe weather and were back on full rations, the rigors of the trail began taking a toll on the weak and the elderly. Note the following excerpts from the Willie Company journal and other journals: 14 Sept 1856, Sunday: William Haley was buried this morning on our yesterday’s campground. 21 Sept 1856, Sunday: ….W. N. Leason….died at 11:30 p.m., of canker in the stomach. He was born 7 Nov 1854. 22 Sept 1856, Monday: W. N. Leason was buried this morning at 7 o’clock….Brother Jesse Empy….died from Scrofula {tuberculosis of the lymph glands}, aged 31. 26 Sept 1856, Friday: ….Sister Ann Bryant, aged 69…, died this afternoon of general decay of constitution. [Levi Savage’s entry for this same day read: “Sister Ann Briant, 70, found dead in the wagon. She was sitting up, appearing asleep.”] 1 Oct 1856, Wednesday: ….Brother David Reeder died, aged 54.…William Read died coming into camp in a wagon. He was.…aged 63. 3 Oct 1856, Friday: ….Peter Larson, aged 43…. died during the day. 4 Oct 1856, Saturday: ….Benjamin Culley, aged 61.…died; also, George Ingra, aged 68….died; Daniel Gadd, aged 2….died. On 8 October, Elder Willie ordered another one of the cattle butchered and the meat distributed through the camp. Since they had been forced to use the milk cows to pull the wagons they had not produced very much milk. With such a poor diet many were getting sick. They camped at Deer Creek, a beautiful grassy spot with plenty of fresh water and fire wood. Here is where the first supply wagons were usually found, but none were here this late in the season. Levi Savage made this journal entry in October. “Deer Creek. This morning when we arose, we found the best ox on our train dead. In the weak state of our teams, the loss impaired us much........Our old people are nearly all failing fast.” Brother Chislet, captain of the fourth company also comments, “Our seventeen pounds of clothing and bedding was now altogether insufficient for our comfort. Nearly all suffered more or less at night from cold. Instead of getting up in the morning strong, refreshed, vigorous and prepared for the hardships of another day of toil, the poor Saints were to be seen crawling out from their tents looking haggard, benumbed, and showing an utter lack of that vitality so necessary to our success. “Cold weather, scarcity of food, lassitude and fatigue from over exertion, soon produced their effects. Our old and infirm began to droop, and they no sooner lost spirit and courage than death’s stamp could be traced upon their features. Life went out as smoothly as a lamp ceases to burn when the oil is gone. At first the deaths occurred slowly and irregularly, but in a few days at more frequent intervals, until we soon thought it unusual to leave a campground without burying one or more persons.” About one hundred and thirty miles from Fort Laramie the trail left the North Platte River and made a sixty mile run to the Sweetwater River. This had become known as the ‘Last Crossing. The Willie Company arrived here 10 October. On 14 October, while they were camped between Independence Rock and Devil’s Gate, in what is now central Wyoming, they received a letter from Elder Franklin D. Richards saying that they could not expect to see supply wagons before they arrived at South Pass. With the condition of the people and the animals, this was a terrible blow. In their weakened state, it would take them at least ten days to make it to South Pass. The company voted unanimously to reduce their rations even more. It would have been about this time when some members of the company reported such stories as using every particle of the cattle to make some type of food, even scorching the hair off the hide and cutting it into small pieces. One even tried cooking the tatters of her shoes. Elder Franklin D. Richards had arrived in Salt Lake Saturday, 4 October 1856. The next day in conference President Brigham Young announced that there were still two more handcart companies and two independent wagon trains out on the plains, with twelve to thirteen hundred people. With this announcement came a call for the people to prepare immediately to save these people. Conference was dismissed and preparations began. By Tuesday morning the first wagons were headed east with supplies. They estimated that the handcart companies would be 130 miles east of Salt Lake, when actually they were still at least 500 miles away on the Mormon Trail. As this rescue party traveled along, the weather became increasingly colder with still no sign of the handcart companies. This caused great concern so they decided to send an express party ahead in a light wagon that could travel faster, find the companies and let them know that help was on the way. On the 19 th of October, a storm with wind, cold and snow was settling in. The storm’s intensity increased throughout the day. Monday, 20 October while camped at the Sixth Crossing, on the east side of the Sweetwater, the situation was quite desperate. The rations of flour were gone, all that was left was a barrel of hard bread Captain Willie had purchased in Fort Laramie. Being surrounded by snow a foot deep, out of provisions, many people sick and the cattle dying, the decision was made to remain at this camp site until the supply wagons reached them. Captain Willie and one other man decided to go on in search of the supply train. Unfortunately, the rescue party, didn’t know of their condition and decided they couldn’t go on in the blizzard. From John Oborn we learn of the conditions of the camp at this time. “We passed through Fort Laramie on September 30, where a few supplies were bought. We soon began to realize that we had started our journey too late in the year. There were no more buffalo to be found, and our rations were getting low. We were reaching the foothills near Rock Springs. We had already had some snow and the weather conditions looked unfavorable. Our scant rations had reached the point where the amount ordinarily consumed for one meal now had to suffice for a full day. From here on it is beyond my power of description to write. God only can understand and realize the torture and privation, exposure, and starvation we went through. Now word reached us that we must hasten or winter would soon come upon us. Instead of speeding up, the weakened condition of our older members slowed us down. Each day one or more would die. A few more days and then came the most terrible experience of my life. This was October 20th. Winter had come, snow fell continuously. Movement in any direction was practically stopped. Our scant rations were now gone. Ten or twelve members, faithful to the last were buried in a single grave. Starvation was taking its toll. A day or two later my own father closed his eyes, never to wake again. He, too, had given his life cheerfully for the cause that he espoused. We buried him in a lonely grave, its spot unmarked. This was not far from Green River, Wyoming. During these terrible times it seemed only a matter of days before all would parish. We resorted to eating anything that could be chewed; even bark and leaves of trees. We youngsters ate the rawhide from our boots. This seemed to sustain life. Already 66 of our members dead. Then when it seemed all would be lost, like a thunderbolt out of the clear sky, God answered our prayers.” On the day the rescuers arrived, John Chislett of the Willie Company gives this account. “On the evening of the third day [actually the second day] after Captain Willie’s departure, just as the sun was sinking beautifully behind the distant hills, on an eminence immediately west of our camp several covered wagons, each drawn by four horses, were seen coming towards us. The news ran through the camp like wildfire, and all who were able to leave their beds turned out enmasse to see them. A few minutes brought them sufficiently near to reveal our faithful captain slightly in advance of the train. Shouts of joy rent the air; strong men wept till tears ran freely down their furrowed and sun-burnt cheeks, and little children partook of the joy which some of them hardly understood, and fairly danced around with gladness. Restraint was set aside in the general rejoicing, and as the brethren entered our camp the sisters fell upon them and deluged them with kisses. The brethren were so overcome that they could not for sometime utter a word, but in choking silence repressed all demonstration of those emotions that evidently mastered them. Soon, however, feeling was somewhat abated, and such a shaking of hands, such words of welcome, and such invocation of God’s blessing have seldom been witnessed....That evening, for the first time in quite a period, the songs of Zion were to be heard in the camp, and peals of laughter issued from the little knots of people as they chatted around the fires. The change seemed almost miraculous, so sudden was it from grave to gay, from sorrow to gladness, from mourning to rejoicing. With the cravings of hunger satisfied, and with hearts filled with gratitude to God and our good brethren, we all united in prayer, and then retired to rest.” However, this was not the end of their trials, for the trail that lay ahead proved to be the greatest ordeal that the James G. Willie Handcart Company faced. On the 23rd of October, the day they crossed Rocky Ridge it was snowing a little but the wind was blowing so ‘keenly that it almost pierced them through.’ They had to wrap themselves in blankets, quilts or whatever else they could get to keep from freezing. They came to a place where the snow was knee deep. Here they had to put their collective strength together to make it over the top of the ridge. Those who were able put their strength together on a cart, moved it forward a short distance, then went back and helped others along. The ox-teams also moved along very slowly for they were laden with the sick and helpless. It has been estimated that the temperature was near zero or below that day. Considering the wind chill, it could have possibly been thirty degrees below zero. They were cautioned not to stop and rest for fear of freezing to death. The emigrants suffered from sever frostbite due to these conditions. The effects of Rocky Ridge were great. That night thirteen people died. Two more died while helping to bury their comrades. So 24 October it was decided they would stay in camp and bury their dead. By this time many of the Saints had their feet and hands frozen from the severe weather. Fortunately here they were met by six more wagons from Salt Lake. The last day of October, after leaving their camp on the Green River, they met another ten wagons going east. They were back on full rations and had a varied diet of onions, fattened beef, sugar, rice, dried fruit, and potatoes. They also had more adequate clothing that made a significant difference, but death still took its toll as they rolled along. Many were still sick and weakened. The arrival of wagons meant there was more space for baggage and people. Several of the most unreliable handcarts were abandoned. At first there wasn’t room for everyone to ride but walking along side was much easier than having to pull a handcart. The wagons they had met were just the first of literally dozens of wagons headed east to their rescue. Journals say that all members of the Willie and Martin handcart companies were in wagons before they reached the Salt Lake Valley. The Willie Handcart Company arrived in Salt Lake City on 9 November 1856, thirteen days after Captain George D. Grant and his rescue company found them at the Sixth Crossing of the Sweetwater. It is estimated that of the original five hundred emigrants who made up that company, sixty-seven died en route to the Valley. Mary Priscilla’s youngest son, George Taylor Farnsworth, of Richfield, Utah, then eighty-eight years old, told this story as his mother related it to him. “My mother, Mary Priscilla, was twenty-one (twenty-five) years old when she crossed the plains. She walked all the way pulling her own handcart. Their provisions were scarce and rationed. Before they arrived, they had to kill their oxen which had pulled the provision wagons thus far. The meat was very poor, but they were forced to eat it in order to stay alive. One day as they journeyed they came upon the bodies of people who had been massacred by the Indians.” When she got to Salt Lake her feet were frozen. The following are several comments about this episode in history that are worth mentioning. Many years later in a Sunday School class in Cedar City, Utah, there was a discussion about the Willie and Martin Handcart Companies. The teacher and some of the class members were sharply criticizing the Church and its leaders for letting the two companies come so late in the season. Even though this man was a member of the Martin Handcart Company, I’m sure he speaks for all. The following recollection was written by William R. Palmer, who was in attendance at the class. “One old man in the corner [Francis Webster] sat silent and listened as long as he could stand it, then he arose and said things that no person who heard him will ever forget. His face was white with emotion, yet he spoke calmly, deliberately, but with great earnestness and sincerity. He said in substance, “I ask you to stop this criticism. You are discussing a matter you know nothing about. Cold historic facts mean nothing here, for they give no proper interpretation of the questions involved. Mistake to send the Handcart Company out so late in the season? Yes! But I was in that company and my wife was in it.....We suffered beyond anything you can imagine and many died of exposure and starvation...Every one of us came through with the absolute knowledge that God lives for we became acquainted with Him in our extremities! “I have pulled my handcart when I was so weak and weary from illness and lack of food that I could hardly put one foot ahead of the other. I have looked ahead and seen a patch of sand or a hill slope and I have said, I can go only that far and there I must give up for I cannot pull the load through it. I have gone to that sand and when I reached it, the cart began pushing me! I have looked back many times to see who was pushing my cart, but my eyes saw no one. I knew then that the Angels of God were there. “Was I sorry that I chose to come by handcart? No! Neither then nor any minute of my life since. The price we paid be become acquainted with God was a privilege to pay and I am thankful that I was privileged to come in the Martin Handcart Company.” Elizabeth Horrocks Jackson, of the Martin Handcart Company, who had lost her husband at Red Buttes recorded these words. “I have a desire to leave a record of those scenes and events, thru which I have passed, that my children, down to my latest posterity may read what their ancestors were willing to suffer, and did suffer, patiently for the Gospel’s sake. And I wish them to understand, too, that what I now word is the history of hundreds of others, both men, women and children, who have passed thru many like scenes for a similar cause, at the same time we did. I also desire them to know that it was in obedience to the commandments of the true and living God, and with the assurance of an eternal reward–an exaltation to eternal life in His kingdom–that we suffered these things. I hope, too, that it will inspire my posterity with fortitude to stand firm and faithful to the truth, and be willing to suffer, and sacrifice all things they may be required to pass thru for the Kingdom of God’s sake.” Gerald Lund, while doing research for his novel, Fire of the Covenant, noted, “I went back to the journals again, this time reading with new eyes, this time searching for new insights………… “There was evidence of the marvelous sustaining power of God. The storms were not turned aside, nor did manna rain down from heaven, but neither were those hapless emigrants forgotten by the Lord……… “Gradually I came to realize that there was an incredible miracle taking place here, a miracle largely unseen and passed over without comment by those who experienced it. It was not only that the marvelous sustaining power of God was there, but that these exhausted, starving, freezing emigrants never lost faith in that power, not even in the hour of their greatest extremity…. “I found the fire of faith burning in the hearts of the people so brightly that no amount of suffering could extinguish it. In like manner, it burned in the hearts of those who left their homes and mounted one of the most amazing rescue efforts in American history.” [Fire of the Covenant, pp xiv-xv] Author, Wallace Stegner, not a member of the Church, wrote: “Perhaps their suffering seems less dramatic because the handcart pioneers bore it meekly, praising God, instead of fighting for life with the ferocity of animals…as both the Fremont and Donner parties did. But if courage and endurance make a story, if human kindness and helpfulness and brotherly love in the midst of raw horror are worth recording, this half-forgotten episode of the Mormon migration is one of the great tales of the West and of America.” [Faith in Every Footstep] PART IV After the Willie and Martin Handcart Companies arrived in Salt Lake, President Brigham Young arranged with the bishops of different wards and settlements to take care of the poor emigrants who had no friends or family to receive them. Mary Priscilla was befriended by Mr. and Mrs. Bassett of Salt Lake. Their kindness and those of others can not be too highly praised. 27 January 1857, less than three months after her arrival in the Salt Lake Valley, Mary Priscilla Griffiths married William Willes. They were married by Brigham Young, in the President’s office. She became his third wife. WILLIAM WILLES William Willes was born 5 July 1814 in Woolwich, Kent, England. He was the seventh child of Thomas Willes and Sarah Hawkes. His father was a plumber, painter and glazier at Woolwich, a suburb of London for thirty years. He had an extensive business in which he employed a large number of workmen. By the time he was sixteen, both parents had passed away. He helped operate his father’s business until the age of twenty-one. At this time he sold his portion of the business to a brother. He then attended college and became qualified to be a schoolmaster. His first appointment was to take charge of a school of 160 boys in Cardiff, Wales. Here his beautiful singing voice was discovered and he was able to receive some training. He was always interested in education and pursued this cause throughout his life. He taught in Europe, Asia and America. While in Wales he met Ann Kibbey. She became his wife 6 Feb 1839. In 1846 he accepted the Mastership of the Woolwich British and Foreign School. In the Fall of 1848 he was converted to the gospel and was baptized in the River Thames. When the school committee found out he had been baptized they gave him a choice to abandon his new religion or resign his office at the school. He could not abandon his new faith so he was found looking for a new job to provide for himself and his family which now consisted of four children. He was unable to find employment as a teacher but finally found work cleaning dirty locomotives for a rail yard in Cardiff, Wales. On weekends he traveled to surrounding villages to preach the gospel. In the Spring of 1851, William Willes was called to the East Indies Mission by Apostle Lorenzo Snow. He left behind his wife and four children. During his voyage to Calcutta, India, he learned the Hindoostan language from an elderly lady. He arrived in Calcutta 25 December 1851. He served a successful mission in India, laboring for three and a half years. In order to purchase passage back to England he opened a school in Rangoon and taught until he had sufficient funds to purchase a ticket aboard a ship. From England he left for the Great Salt Lake to be reunited with his wife and children after four years and two month absence. Once in Salt Lake, at the counsel of Brigham Young, he gave many lectures about India. He was also a member of the committee to prepare lessons and lesson books in the Deseret Alphabet. In April of 1856 he was appointed by Brigham Young to see to the schools in the Territory of Utah. The following information is taken from William Willes’ journal. 12 November 1857 William Willes with his family, which consisted of his wives, Ann, Sarah and Mary Priscilla and his sons Fred G. and John K. and his two daughters, Annie and Harriet moved to Beaver, Utah. This was at the time Johnson’s army was sent to destroy them. In 1856, some of the colonists from Parowan had been called to start a settlement in Beaver Valley. There was the possibility of good pasture for cattle for there was plenty of water available. There was also a great quantity of timber suitable for lumber. Twenty log homes were built. During the first year crops were planted and there was a bounteous harvest. A one-room log multipurpose building was constructed. When a ward was officially organized, Phil T. Farnsworth became the first Bishop In 1857 the Willes family made the trip to Beaver in wagons drawn by horses. It took them two weeks to make the journey. At Pine Creek they camped out one fine starlight night, but, in the morning they had eight inches of snow on their beds, which kept them quite warm. When they arrived in Beaver they were very kindly met by Bishop Philo T. Farnsworth. He allowed them to occupy the log meeting house until they were able to build a dug-out with the aid of the brethren. They had four rude bed boards built solid in the corners of the room; a chimney at one end and a door at the other. The roof was covered with dirt. The first snow storm lasted 60 hours during which time the roof leaked and they were completely soaked: it was a trying time but they made the best of it. William Willes was appointed clerk to the Bishop, Leader of the Choir, and President of the Mass Quorum of Seventies. During the winter they had good times in the underground cellar, pleasant meetings and singing in the evenings. Mary Priscilla gave birth to a son, Jesse Willes, 4 January 1858. There arose friction between Bishop Philo T. Farnsworth and William Willes. Bishop Farnsworth wanted William’s two daughters to be sealed to him. When they refused, according to William Willes’ journal, he became his bitter enemy. Because of this, William returned to Salt Lake City, 4 November 1858. Here he obtained employment teaching school in the 15th Ward. Several months later his family followed. The marriage between Mary Priscilla and William Willes was not a happy one. In his journal William Willis states, “Sarah and Mary were both divorced 16 May 1859 at the suggestion of President Brigham Young, which I ought not to have allowed, for they had been sealed to me over the altar. They took their sons away with them. Sarah’s Walter John, 18 months and Mary’s Jesse, 12 days younger.” Throughout his life, William Willes was always involved in education. He was also a gifted singer and was frequently called upon to sing. He wrote many songs and even published and sold many of them. Some of is songs are still in use today. (See LDS Hymns, 1985 edition, #244 and #278) He was called on two more missions, one to England and a second time to India. One of his crowning labors of his career was his work in the Sunday School with Brother George Goddard. These two elders were appointed as Sunday School missionaries. They visited Sunday Schools from St. George to Logan, preaching, singing and encouraging everyone, especially the youth to live the commandments, in particular the Word of Wisdom. They traveled from place to place in a one-horse buggy. He served in this capacity during the 70’s and 80’s until his health began to decline in 1890, at which time he was released. He passed away 2 November 1890 in Salt Lake City, Utah. On Easter Sunday, 12 April 1859, in Sherborne, England, Mary Priscilla’s father and mother wrote her a letter. In this letter they pleaded for her to return. The following are a few lines from this letter. “My dearest child, it is indeed a painful task for me to write these few lines to you for you are constantly in all our thoughts. I very often wish that you had never gone away as you would be so comfortable now. You would have had your room quite to yourself now. My dear child Willy and me often cry about you when we go to bed. We can’t ever be happy about you. Oh that you could have come back again it would be worth more than all the world to us, my dear child. I hope your health will continue good and I sincerely hope that your poor toes are better by this time. It must have been a great trial for you to have so many miles to walk and I am sure it must have tried your poor weak frame. I am truly thankful to think that you fell into the hands of such kind and good hearted people as Mr. and Mrs. Bussell. Do please give our kindest to them. I do hope you will send and tell us that you are coming back in your next letter as that would be more satisfaction to us than all. I do often say that if I had wings I would flee to you. My dear child, we would give you a good Easter cake if you were here but we would get you a good one made by the time you could come. My dear, please write as soon as you can, and send us all the good news you can as soon as possible. Affectionate Father, Mother, M & E Griffiths [Wording modernized for easier reading] After Mary Priscilla’s divorce, she moved back to Beaver. She married Bishop Philo Taylor Farnsworth 15 June 1860 in the Endowment House in Salt Lake City. She was his fourth wife. To them were born four sons, Walter, Wilford, Lorenzo, and George Taylor. PHILO T. FARNSWORTH Philo T. Farnsworth had been baptized at seventeen years old. Because of this he was disowned by his father. He made his way to Nauvoo to join the body of Saints there. He went through the mobbings, drivings, persecutions, and trials the Saints were called upon to endure. He helped with the ******** of the Nauvoo Temple, was a member of the Nauvoo Legion, and had many responsibilities and offices placed upon him. When the Saints moved west, Philo and Margaret went with the Franklin D. Richards family, who were good friends. They were married shortly after their arrival in Salt Lake in 1848. They set up housekeeping in a covered wagon. About a year later he was asked to go to Pleasant Grove and help with the settlement there. It wasn’t long until they were asked to move to Filmore, Utah and help build the new stake house. Again he was asked to move, this time to Beaver, Utah. Here they were finally permitted to make a permanent home. After they had been there a year he married a second wife, Margaret Adams. He married a third wife, Agnes Ann Patterson, in 1858 and in 1860 a fourth wife, Mary Priscilla Griffiths. He became the father of thirty children, twenty-six of whom survived him. Phil T. Farnsworth of television fame is his grandson. He became the first bishop of Beaver and in addition to this office he served as Probate Judge of the county of Beaver and was a member of the Territorial Legislature. During the trouble with the Indians in the southern part of the state, Philo often acted as interpreter, and his wisdom and good sense saved the early settlers from much trouble. He was often called upon to act as a doctor and left a wonderful reputation for help rendered in that capacity. He spent most of his time working for the public, leaving the rearing of his children mostly to his four wives and sons as they became old enough to help. Philo was arrested for polygamy but since the officers couldn’t prove the charge, he was acquitted. He was a friend to everyone. He lived beside the highway and his home was open to all travelers who came that way. He was a great friend of the Piute Indians, loved them and acted as peace maker for them repeatedly. Because of Philo’s involvement in church and civic activities, along with having three other wives, Mary Priscilla had the responsibility of supporting and raising their family mostly by herself. Mary Priscilla taught school many years in Beaver County. She was very successful as a teacher and writer. A teacher’s certificate shows that she was authorized to teach in the Beaver city and county schools for the unexpired portion of the year 1875. In the book “Monuments to Courage, A History of Beaver County” we read, “A beloved teacher was “Aunt” Mary Farnsworth, a gentle, refined little English lady who taught small children in her own home in the west part of town. Those who attended say they were always very quiet, yet very happy.” In 1880 Philo moved his last two families to Joseph, Sevier, Utah. They lived here for about four years and then moved to Pine Creek, which was about twenty miles north of Beaver. Some years later Mary Priscilla moved to Elsinore, Utah. People there knew her as “the dainty little English lady who sewed all her own clothes, could mend clothes that looked like new and was an expert at making button holes.” Mary’s son George Taylor, remembered his mother as a wonderful strong, hardworking woman. Walter Willes, another grandson, remembered the feather duster his grandmother always used. She had beautiful auburn hair. She made the comment that she hoped to live to see one of her grandchildren have auburn hair, this came to pass. She died in Elsinore, Sevier, Utah, 27 February 1914, at the age of seventy-nine. She was lovingly remembered as “Sister Farnsworth.” She is buried in nearby Joseph Cemetery, Sevier, Utah. In later years her son, Jesse was buried nearby. Mary Priscilla lived a life of courage, faith, service, and sacrifice. We, her posterity, owe her a great deal and can be very proud of her. In this year, 2006, I dedicate this history to Mary Priscilla Griffiths and all those who sacrificed so much that we could enjoy so many blessings. To us, her posterity, I think the words to Hymn #255 Carry On are appropriate for us to consider. Firm as the mountains around us, Stalwart and brave we stand On the Rock our fathers planted For us in this goodly land A rock of honor and virtue, Of faith in the living God. They raised their banner triumphant – Over the desert sod. We’ll build on the rock they planted A palace to the King. Into its shining corridors, Our songs of praise we’ll bring, For the heritage they left us, Not of gold or of worldly wealth, But a blessing everlasting Of love and joy and health. And we hear the desert singing: Carry on, carry on, carry on! Hills and vales and mountains ringing: Carry on, carry on, carry on! Holding aloft our colors, We march in the glorious dawn. O youth of the noble birthright, Carry on, carry on, carry on! President Gordon B. Hinckley, speaking about pioneers said: “I will never get over being thankful to them: I hope you never get over being thankful to them. I hope that we will always remember them…. Let us read again and again, and read to our children or our children’s children, the accounts of those who suffered so much.” [Church News, 31 July 1999 p.5] Biography of Mary Priscilla Griffiths Willes Farnsworth Handcart Pioneer ~ Willie Company ~ 1856 Compiled and written by Mildred Gaye Whitney Nelson Wife of Jack William Nelson Great, great Grandson

A letter from Mary Priscilla Griffiths Farnsworth to her son Milford

Contributor: TreeClimber Created: 3 years ago Updated: 3 years ago

Elsinore, Sevier Jan. 8th, 1914 Dear Son Milford, wife and family I received two cards from your family of late, but I have not been able to get around for some time. I am afflicted with inflamitry Rheumatism in my right arm and what is still worse some kind of growth under the arm causing great pain and anxiety. It is with difficulty that I wait on myself indeed there are some things I cannot do. Emily is in Salt Lake visiting Hattie, some of the family call on me occasionally. Lorenzo is staying at Jesse’s place during the winter he has a chance to feed his horses there whilst Jesse is working on the train Son George & wife called on me the day before Christmas I have not seen George since he is so busey with his own personal affairs. I am glad Grant is with you. I received a letter from his brother Walter recently he was all alone living in a wagon box at Blackrock. I am so glad that my granddaughter Anna’s health has so far restored to her is Florence still absent from home Minne Gunn called on me recently Horrace has a herd of sheep wintering near here. Minne, 2 children are looking well. Accept my kindest love every one of you. Your Grandma Mary G. Farnsworth [page 2] George thought Milford would have come in this winter is there any prospect of your moving back to Elsinore? Last year this block that I am living on was shamefully neglected and the result is weeds weeds George rented it to Boosk [?] that you rented to on one occasions and he having sickness in his family neglected it shamefully the sweet clover chocked the wheat that only part of the wheat could be cut and I think it will be hard to find anyone to take it again with the exception of one that is the man that worked that land [?] for Otto Frandsen the mans name is LaFever he wrote to you once, he lives with his family at the southeast corner of your lot across the road I think he is reliable he gave satisfaction to the person he farmed for last year he is willing to run your two pieces provided you both agreed to terms the city piece being so near his home he would be able to keep of intruders for we have some daring ones that like to make a convenience of this lot this Mr. LaFever is a stirring energetic young man and he wished me to write to you His wife also asked me to enquire of you. [page 3] There is very little doing in Elsinore at the present time no hotel [?] running partly in consequence of a man from Richfield on hand at depo with otomoble taking passengers Sunday meetings very poorly attended Stores little patronized. Woodards has sold their brick house they have a smaller house here, but they have gone to take up a farm at a place known as John’s valley. That third nephew of Lois’s getting away with an Elsinore girl, I am told, is not correct. I sincerely hope you will be blessed with health and the good spirit that will encourage you to struggle to obtain the necessary blessings of life for such a family Please baby’s picture when you come I may never see the reality. I realize such a change in the last year How is Mrs. Gunn remember me to her is Mrs Alice White prospering I suppose she has quite a family now Kindest love to the Father Mother and all the dear children The transcription of this letter was emailed August 8, 2010 From Clyde Farnsworth Dear Cousins: Florence recently sent a photo copy of a letter written by Mary Priscilla Griffiths Farnsworth to our grandfather Milford (her son) dated January 8, 1914. This would have been 31 days before she died in Elsinore, Utah. Milford had moved to Ely, Nevada, in 1906. Mary would have been 82 years old – three months short of her 83rd birthday, according to my calculations. The letter is in her own handwriting, and – as far as I know – the only document we have written by her.

Memorial / Obituary / Personal History

Contributor: TreeClimber Created: 3 years ago Updated: 3 years ago

Mary Priscilla Griffiths By Clyde Farnsworth, a great-grandson Coarsegold, California, 2004 My great-grandmother Mary Priscilla Griffiths came from Sherborne, England, as a convert to the LDS Church in 1856. Traveling with poor immigrants from Europe, she joined an ill-fated handcart company bound for the Salt Lake Valley. Her company of 500 was led by Captain James G. Willie. It was closely followed by another handcart company of 576 led by Captain Edward Martin. They faced 1300 miles of wilderness from their starting place in Iowa City, Iowa. The two companies were late getting started and many of the handcarts pulled and pushed by the immigrants were made of green wood and later fell apart on the trail. Three previous handcart companies had made the trek successfully, a tribute to the boldness of LDS leader Brigham Young in cheaply moving masses of poor converts across the great American desert. In all, ten handcart companies brought almost 3,000 immigrants to Utah between 1856 and 1860. The Willey and Martin companies, however, were in a race against winter, and -- as history attests -- they lost. Early storms in Wyoming stopped the desperate companies 300 miles short of the Salt Lake Valley, and more than 200 perished, 67 in the Willie company, and between 135-150 in the Martin company. Others, like Mary Priscilla survived, but suffered frostbite. She endured frozen toes. Rescue parties brought the exhausted immigrants to safety in Salt Lake City. There, we know that Mary Priscilla married William Willes, probably in 1857. He is known as a hymn writer, and two of his songs are still sung in LDS congregations today. We know that they had a son Jesse, and we know that Mary Priscilla and William divorced. Apparently Mary Priscilla and Jesse moved south to Beaver, Utah, where she became the fourth wife of polygamous Philo Taylor Farnsworth June 15, 1860. We know that Philo was a man of some prominence who served in the Utah Territorial Legislature, as a probate judge, and as an LDS Bishop. After her death in 1914, one of her sons stated that she was 21 when she crossed the plains. In actuality, she was 25. She and Philo had four sons, the first one, Walter Murray, dying at age 15 months. The others survived to old age. They were Milford Griffiths (my grandfather), Lorenzo Langdon, and George Taylor. Mary Priscilla must have raised four boys to maturity: Jesse, Milford, Lorenzo, and George. We know that Mary Priscilla is buried at Joseph, Utah, which is near Elsinore. At the same gravesite is the grave of Jesse. I don’t know how old Jesse was when he died. In fact, I don’t know anything about Jesse, my grandfather‘s half-brother. We have the contents of a letter written April 12, 1859, to Mary Priscilla by her mother Matilda Griffiths, begging her to return to England. The letter mentions Mary Priscilla’s sister Ann in England; a brother, Little Willy; and a brother William in Sherborne “at Lord Digby’s.” I and my wife saw a statue of Lord Digby at Sherborne in 1994. The Digby family owns a castle there which was once owned by Sir Walter Raleigh. We surmise that William must have been employed at Digby castle. The LDS church was severely persecuted for practicing polygamy. The federal government applied steady and harsh persecution of polygamists. The result was a declaration in 1890 by LDS president Wilford Woodruff ending the practice. Before that declaration, many LDS polygamous men were fugitives from the law and many were sent to prison. Philo died at age 61 in 1887, three years before the LDS Church declared an end to polygamy. According to the book Descendents of Philo Taylor Farnsworth, by Lucile Farnsworth Hales and Anna McDonald, published about 1965, “Philo was arrested for polygamy but since the officers couldn’t prove the charge, he was acquitted.” (p. III). This simple sentence hides a serious family rift. We know that Mary Priscilla was outspoken in her criticism of Philo Taylor, calling him a coward for not standing up for his LDS beliefs. I surmise that Philo must have lied under oath about his multiple wives and families. By denying he was a polygamist, he escaped prison, but he effectively divorced three of his four wives and abandoned 21 children. Philo’s perjury, technically left them “illegitimate.” My cousin Fred Farnsworth told me that his father, Fred Farnsworth Sr., listened to Mary Priscilla revile Philo’s cowardice when she was an elderly widow. The dislike of polygamy was reflected in later children. My grandfather Milford told his son Harold (my father) that “If polygamy is wrong now, it was wrong then.” I remember Harold telling me that. Polygamy was a difficult doctrine, not practiced by all the men of the LDS church, but by many faithful leaders, usually those who could afford more than one household. In a practical sense, it provided husbands for many single and widowed women in the pioneer west. It also provided children to help in conquering the desert. Philo Taylor Farnsworth sired 30 children in all; nine from his first wife; seven from his second, ten from his third, and four from his last wife Mary Priscilla. Among Philo’s posterity, a grandson with the same name -- Philo Taylor Farnsworth -- became the genius who invented electronic television. Strangely, since the Church abandoned polygamy in 1890, its practice continues today by apostate or imitation LDS groups. Old Testament people practiced polygamy and Muslims today may also have multiple wives.

Life timeline of Mary Willes Farnsworth (Griffiths)

Mary Willes Farnsworth (Griffiths) was born on May 1831
Mary Willes Farnsworth (Griffiths) was 9 years old when Samuel Morse receives the patent for the telegraph. Samuel Finley Breese Morse was an American painter and inventor. After having established his reputation as a portrait painter, in his middle age Morse contributed to the invention of a single-wire telegraph system based on European telegraphs. He was a co-developer of the Morse code and helped to develop the commercial use of telegraphy.
Mary Willes Farnsworth (Griffiths) was 28 years old when Charles Darwin publishes On the Origin of Species. Charles Robert Darwin, was an English naturalist, geologist and biologist, best known for his contributions to the science of evolution. He established that all species of life have descended over time from common ancestors and, in a joint publication with Alfred Russel Wallace, introduced his scientific theory that this branching pattern of evolution resulted from a process that he called natural selection, in which the struggle for existence has a similar effect to the artificial selection involved in selective breeding.
Mary Willes Farnsworth (Griffiths) was 31 years old when U.S. President Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation, declaring the freedom of all slaves in Confederate territory by January 1, 1863. Abraham Lincoln was an American statesman and lawyer who served as the 16th President of the United States from March 1861 until his assassination in April 1865. Lincoln led the United States through the American Civil War—its bloodiest war and perhaps its greatest moral, constitutional, and political crisis. In doing so, he preserved the Union, abolished slavery, strengthened the federal government, and modernized the economy.
Mary Willes Farnsworth (Griffiths) was 46 years old when Thomas Edison announces his invention of the phonograph, a machine that can record and play sound. Thomas Alva Edison was an American inventor and businessman, who has been described as America's greatest inventor. He developed many devices that greatly influenced life around the world, including the phonograph, the motion picture camera, and the long-lasting, practical electric light bulb. Dubbed "The Wizard of Menlo Park", he was one of the first inventors to apply the principles of mass production and large-scale teamwork to the process of invention, and is often credited with the creation of the first industrial research laboratory.
Mary Willes Farnsworth (Griffiths) was 57 years old when The Great Blizzard of 1888 struck the northeastern United States, producing snowdrifts in excess of 50 ft (15 m) and confining some people to their houses for up to a week. The Great Blizzard of 1888 or Great Blizzard of '88 was one of the most severe recorded blizzards in the history of the United States of America. The storm, referred to as the Great White Hurricane, paralyzed the East Coast from the Chesapeake Bay to Maine, as well as the Atlantic provinces of Canada. Snowfalls of 10 to 58 inches fell in parts of New Jersey, New York, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and Connecticut, and sustained winds of more than 45 miles per hour (72 km/h) produced snowdrifts in excess of 50 feet (15 m). Railroads were shut down, and people were confined to their houses for up to a week. Railway and telegraph lines were disabled, and this provided the impetus to move these pieces of infrastructure underground. Emergency services were also affected.
Mary Willes Farnsworth (Griffiths) was 67 years old when Spanish–American War: The Treaty of Paris is signed, officially ending the conflict. The Spanish–American War was fought between the United States and Spain in 1898. Hostilities began in the aftermath of the internal explosion of the USS Maine in Havana Harbor in Cuba, leading to US intervention in the Cuban War of Independence. American acquisition of Spain's Pacific possessions led to its involvement in the Philippine Revolution and ultimately in the Philippine–American War.
Mary Willes Farnsworth (Griffiths) was 74 years old when Albert Einstein publishes his first paper on the special theory of relativity. Albert Einstein was a German-born theoretical physicist who developed the theory of relativity, one of the two pillars of modern physics. His work is also known for its influence on the philosophy of science. He is best known to the general public for his mass–energy equivalence formula E = mc2, which has been dubbed "the world's most famous equation". He received the 1921 Nobel Prize in Physics "for his services to theoretical physics, and especially for his discovery of the law of the photoelectric effect", a pivotal step in the development of quantum theory.
Mary Willes Farnsworth (Griffiths) died on 27 Feb 1914 at the age of 83
Grave record for Mary Willes Farnsworth (Griffiths) (May 1831 - 27 Feb 1914), BillionGraves Record 1843778 Joseph, Sevier, Utah, United States