Memorial / Obituary / Personal History
Contributor: lyndahirst_1 Created: 1 year ago Updated: 1 year ago
My Grandma Heaton (May Mills Heaton, born 1901 in Oldham, England) lived just down the dirt lane from us, and just beyond her house, was the house of my uncle and aunt, Derryl and Inge Heaton. Growing up was all about family really. I would spend a bit of time at my Grandma Heaton’s house. Every once in awhile I would watch Saturday morning cartoons there. I remember vividly sitting in front of her swamp cooler in her dining room on hot summer days and just loving the cool air. I still love swamp coolers just from that memory. Sometimes my Aunt Carrol (Carrol Heaton Lamb) would be there visiting, and in addition to the swamp cooler, there would be a plate of Aunt Carrol’s chocolate chip/sour cream cookies sitting on the dining room table. That is a really good memory, too:). My Grandpa Heaton died in 1959, so I never knew him. My Grandma Heaton was a widow for over 30 years, until she died in 1990 when I was about 12 years old. I have many memories of her, I remember her being very kind and loving, and always going out of her way for me. She had a great talent for crocheting and she made a lot of doilies. When I was about in fourth grade or so, I had an idea to have her crochet little wide brim hats, about 2 inches across, stuff them with potpourri, and then sew them to some braided yarn. I talked about this idea with my Grandma, and a couple of days later when I went to visit her, I was surprised that she already had about 10 of the hats crocheted, and we spend an afternoon finishing the project. I remember her being so encouraging about my creativity, whether I really was or not. I remember her going with me and my dad going out onto the Arizona Strip to check cows at Pipeline (the land we lease from the BLM). My dad was driving the old green Chevy truck, and the roads are dirt and clay. There were some old, small bridges made of wood that crossed some small gullies. My dad was going pretty fast and those bridges made a great ramp, and we caught air as we went over it. I remember Grandma Heaton laughing that she had hit her head on the top of the cab of the truck
Early Life of May Mills Heaton
Contributor: lyndahirst_1 Created: 1 year ago Updated: 1 year ago
My grandma, May Mills Heaton, was an amazing woman, who showed faith, dedication, and love of family and the gospel throughout her entire life. This story was written by my dad and edited by me. May was born in 1901 in Oldham, England to a good Lutheran family. Her parents owned a neighborhood shop, with a bit of spare ground at the back of their shop. In 1912, her parents gave permission for the Mormon missionaries to build a small, tin chapel on the spare ground at the back of their shop. When the church was finished the missionaries invited the Mills family to attend their meetings. May (about 8 years old) and her older brother Seth began attending their meetings.
May continually sought parental permission to be baptized. Her parents continually refused to give permission. She began playing the organ for Sunday School at age 14 and later for the other meetings. She taught a primary class and held other positions even though she was not a member. When she was 16 she went to Manchester with her friend, Lizzy, who was being baptized and May told the missionaries that she wanted to be baptized also. They baptized her then asked if she had gotten her parent’s permission. When May told them she had not, the missionaries did not confirm her.
Then May met her future husband, my grandfather Christopher Heaton, who was on a mission in England. His first wife had died before Chris left on his mission from Arizona, and his three children were living with his parents in Arizona. May said about their meeting, “About 1918, I organized a parriot troupe. We went around and gave a variety show, primarily to the wounded soldiers in the hospitals. We were giving a concert in the Oldham church. Most of the missionaries came to them. Elder Atkinson came to me and said, ‘May, I have a new companion who has been here two weeks and he never smiles. Why don’t you see what you can do.’ So we went to Elder Heaton and Elder Atkinson said, ‘Elder Heaton meet May Mills.’ Elder Heaton just said, “Hello.”
On April 22, 1923, Chris was called to be the branch president of the Oldham branch. He spent considerable time working on the chapel back of the Mills home. Chris and May became better acquainted and May finally got Chris to smile.
Under the direction of Chris’s mission president, David O. McKay, May, now 23 years old, was finally baptized by Chris and confirmed by another missionary on January 19, 1924. May was of age and didn’t need her parents’ permission, but she was baptized secretly as her parents were still against the idea of her baptism.
Although they had never been alone together Chris and May had apparently talked about marriage because Chris went to May’s home just before leaving England to return to Arizona. May, who was now 24 years old, wasn’t home at the time, but Chris requested her parents’ permission to marry her. They were polite but refused to give permission.
May and her mother had always had a good relationship. However, there were rumors, posters, and sermons indicating that the Mormons kidnapped girls and took them to America. Many people, including some policemen, believed the rumors. This undoubtedly had an effect on May’s Mother’s actions. She cannot be faulted for the things she did. She was only trying to protect her daughter.
When May arrived home, after Chris had asked permission to marry May, her mother was very angry at her and told her she was never to go to the Mormon Church again. She told May that if she went to the Mormon Church she would be disowned and could no longer live in their home. She also threatened many things she would do if she tried to go to the Mormons in America. May quit attending the Church for a while, but knew she would eventually have to choose either her family or the Church.
Chris’s heartstrings were again stretched to the breaking point (he lost his first wife before he left on his mission). Apparently he did not talk to May after going to her home. He departed from Liverpool England on the ship Montrose November 5, 1924 and arrived in Quebec, Canada November 22.
Chris resumed his farming and ranching in Arizona and he and May began to write to each other. When May’s mother found that Chris was writing to May, she made sure that she got the mail and destroyed Chris’s letters before May saw them. May knew that the time had come that she was going to have to choose either her home and family or the Church, but always knew which she would choose. She prayed fervently and often, hoping that she would not have to make the choice. The situation deteriorated at home to the point that her brother told her she should leave. Early one morning, May took what she could carry and left home before anyone else was awake. She didn’t tell anyone where she was going. She traveled to the adjacent town of Rochdale and stayed with an elderly lady who was a member of the Church and got a job at a store. May could now receive Chris’s letters.
May’s mother had reported to the police that the Mormons had kidnapped her, so the police and others were watching for her. One day, May went to her family doctor for an appointment, and while she was there the doctor called the police. She was arrested and taken to her Mother’s home. May said she would not quit the Mormon Church. Her Mother said she could not stay there at her home, and May he was taken to her Mother’s brother, Walter Grindrod’s home where she was almost a prisoner. They arranged to have Clergy and others come to talk some sense into her. Finally her uncle and aunt took her back to her mother’s home for a family meeting to convince May to quit the Mormon Church. Her mother again told her that if she quit the Mormon Church she could come back home. May refused to quit the Church so her mother told her that she would have to leave. When May got up to leave, they wouldn’t let her take even her coat. She went back to Rochdale.
Chris wrote and told May that he would save all the money he could and when he had saved enough for her passage to Canada he would send it to her. It took a year for Chris and May to save enough money for her trip. With only a few close friends present, May boarded a ship in Liverpool to cross the Atlantic Ocean by ship and then across most of Canada by train where she was to meet Chris is Cardston, Alberta.
On December 16, 1925, Chris and May went to the Cardston, Alberta Temple. She was endowed and then they were married and sealed. May said that she had never “gone out with” (dated) Chris until after they were married. The couple then traveled to Arizona, where May started a new life with a new family, new surroundings and new country, and the beginning of another story. Her life shows me how to have faith and determination and how to endure well to the end.