Biography of Stephen Williams and Emma Jane Hillard
Contributor: DdraigGoch Created: 2 years ago Updated: 2 years ago
STEPHEN (1816-1897) AND EMMA JANE (HILLARD)(1826-1897) WILLIAMS
Written by Their Great Granddaughter Clara
Stephen Williams was born 1 May 1816 in Hartland, Devonshire, England. He was the sixth of eleven children born to Thomas Williams and Sarah Elliot. We have no record of his boyhood, but we suppose that he worked with his father who was a cordwainer, one who works in cordovan leather, since Stephen became a tanner.
Stephen married Ann Rendle on 12 Apr 1841.Ann was born 12 April 1841 at Bideford, Devonshire, England, a daughter of Thomas Rendle and Ann Collins. They were the parents of two children, John and Thomas James. Ann died on 17 February 1845, about four weeks after the birth of Thomas James, and the baby died on 4 March 1845.Stephen then married Emma Jane Hillard on 26 December 1845 in Bristol, England. Emma Jane was born on 31 March 1826 in Alhampton, Somerset, England, to Andrew Hillard and Mary Higgins. During the next twenty-six years Emma Jane was to bear Stephen twelve children, ten of whom grew to adulthood and married. Their first four children, Thomas Andrew, Stephen, Emma Jane and Joseph Alma, were born in Bristol, England and the others were born after the family emigrated to America.
Stephen and Emma Jane are Converted to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
Some time before the birth of their fourth child, Mormon missionaries were led to Stephen and Emma Jane with the message of the restored gospel. They were deeply moved by it and soon requested baptism. Emma Jane was baptized on 28 November 1847 and Stephen on 15 February 1848. We know that they were truly converted for the names of their three children born after they were introduced to the Book of Mormon and accepted the Gospel were prominent names in the Book of Mormon, Joseph Alma, Samuel Moroni and Nephi.
Stephen and Emma Jane were abused and ridiculed following their conversion and soon made plans to emigrate to "Zion." Stephen could no longer get work at his trade as a tanner and had to labor at anything he could find. In order to get passage to America, Stephen accepted help from the Perpetual Emigration Fund. The family crossed the ocean on the sailing vessel "Windermere" along with 477 other saints under the direction of Elder Daniel Garn. After fifteen days sailing from Liverpool, the smallpox broke out on board and spread rapidly until thirty-seven passengers and two of the crew were attacked. The disease was suddenly checked in direct answer to prayer. During the crossing six marriages were solemnized on board and six births and ten deaths occurred.
In Church Emigration records of 1854 there is a record of the month's journey across the ocean. It was reported in Vol. XVI of The Millenial Star as follows: "Seventy-second Company 'Windermere' 477 souls. The ship 'Windermere,'Captain Fairfield, sailed from Liverpool, England, bound for New Orleans on the 22nd of February 1854 with 477 Saints on board, the Company being in charge of Elder Daniel Garn. Included in the Company were seven ex-presidents of conferences, namely, Abraham Marchant, Robert Menzies, Job Smith, John T. Hardy, John A. Albiston, J. V. Long and Graham Douglas.
"The Windermere arrived at New Orleans April 23rd. During the voyage contrary winds were encountered, arising at times to heavy gales, but at the end of five weeks a favorable wind set in, and the ship made 1,000 miles in four days. After 15 days sailing from Liverpool, the smallpox broke out on board and spread rapidly as the vessel approached the tropics, until 37 passengers and two of the crew were attacked; but at this crisis the malady was suddenly checked in answer to prayer. Six marriages were solemnized on board, and six births and ten deaths occurred.
"On the morning after arriving at New Orleans, eleven persons suffering with smallpox were sent to the Luxemburg hospital agreeable to orders from the health officers at the port; and Elder Long and five others were selected to remain at New Orleans to attend to the sick until they were sufficiently recovered to go forward. The rest of the Company continued the journey from New Orleans April 27th, on board a steamboat, and arrived in St. Louis a few days later, from whence the journey was subsequently continued to Kansas City."
The Stephen Williams family crossed the plains with Captain Darwin Richardson's company that arrived in Salt Lake City on 30 September 1854. Their youngest child, Joseph Alma, died on 28 June 1854 and was buried in an unmarked grave somewhere in Missouri or Nebraska as the family was preparing to cross the plains by ox team. He was just two years old. Six weeks later a baby boy, Samuel Moroni, was born to Emma Jane enroute near Council Bluffs, Iowa.
The family stayed in Salt Lake City for about three years. Emma Jane gave birth to their son Nephi in Salt Lake City. Emma Jane was especially happy after her sister, Elizabeth and her husband Thomas Broderick emigrated in 1855 and were also living in Salt Lake City. Stephen began paying back the Perpetual Emigration Fund money by cutting poles in the nearby canyons.
The Stephen Williams Family are Sent to Ephraim
While Stephen was away at work in the canyons, Lars (Yuska) Anderson from Ephraim, came to Salt Lake City with a wagon load of tithing and was about to return empty when the "brethren" agreed that this was a good time for the Williams family to be on their way south. Stephen could follow later. Obedient to the call from President Young, but with a heavy heart, Emma Jane packed all the family's earthly belongings into Yuska's wagon, and the moving party started for Ephraim. Yuska drove a mule and a cow as his team. He could speak and understand very little English. Emma Jane and the children knew no Danish so communications was limited mostly to gestures. Clumps of bushes along the way were convenient rest places. The end of the first day found the little party near Utah Lake south of Provo. Emma Jane provided and served the food along the way. Yuska and the older boys slept on the ground. Emma Jane and the other children enjoyed the luxury of the wagon. The oldest daughter, Emma Jane, then eight years old, helped care for Samuel, age three and little Nephi, the baby. The mule and cow were staked out to feed in the lush lakeside grass for the night. When morning came, John and Tom, up early to do some exploring, roused the others with the horrible news that the cow was dead--stuck in the mud.
It was a somber party that wended its way towards Ephraim that day. Yuska walked most of the way holding up the neck yoke where the cow had been, the mule pulling the load by himself. John took his turn "in the traces" occasionally to give Yuska a rest. Two days later the forlorn but happy group pulled to a stop in front of Yuska's dugout in Ephraim. The Williams family had no place to go so Yuska and his wife took them in with their family in their "commodious" dugout in Ephraim.
Some months later Stephen was finally able to repay the emigration fund. He had learned that his wife and family had gone to Ephraim and he made his way there. In Ephraim he found his family at the Anderson dugout where they undoubtedly had a happy reunion. Both families lived together in the dugout until the end of winter. As the story is told, the two families got pretty well fed up with each other. In the spring Stephen moved his family into Fort Ephraim where he built a tannery and was able once again to return to his trade as a tanner.
Memories of Ephraim
Emma Jane was the first Primary president in Ephraim, serving from 20 May 1879, the date it was organized in Ephraim, until May 1886. Anthony (Tony) Lund, later a leader of the Salt Lake Tabernacle Choir, acted as secretary. The story is told that he was so small that he would sit on Emma Jane's lap while he called the roll. Emma Jane often laughed about this as Tony became older.
Emma Jane had a beautiful voice and besides her calling as Primary president, she sang in the first choir in Ephraim and was often asked to sing solos.
Emma Jane gave birth to her last six children in Ephraim; Mary, George Edward, Sarah Elizabeth, Charles Heber, Jane Lettice and Stephen Henry.
Besides raising her own family and her step-son, Emma Jane cared for three of her sister Elizabeth's children. In 1873, Alfred, John and Heber came to live with the Williams family. Their father had died in 1864. Elizabeth remarried, but it was not a happy marriage. She died in 1871 leaving the boys in an unhappy situation with their step-father. The three boys ran away from home and some way made their way to Ephraim where they could be with their uncle and aunt. Emma Jane filed a petition of guardianship and on 17 May 1875 was made their legal guardian.
Emma Jane was called on often to care for the sick and she was always willing. In the spring she had her children help her gather various herbs and hang them to dry. These herbs she used as medicines in treating the ill. We are told that while she served as Primary president many Sunday eggs were gathered. The eggs and also cheese were sold and the money was used to help with the building of the Manti Temple. In connection with the Manti Temple construction a touching story is told of Emma Jane. She was given a setting of turkey eggs which she hatched under a broody hen. The turkeys grew and grew until they were ready for table use. The family could have enjoyed a big turkey dinner, but this was not to be. Emma Jane had raised the turkeys for the temple and that is where they went, every one.
Stephen's primary work was that of a tanner and the Williams Tannery is shown prominently on the map of Fort Ephraim, but he is also known in Ephraim for his operating of a fanning machine for cleaning grain. His hand operated machine was horse-drawn so he went from place to place, even to neighboring towns doing custom fanning. Stephen loved his Emma Jane, and Ephraim people told of his asking, when treated to some especially good food by a customer, if he might take a bit "home to his Hemma Jane." They both used the English "H" broadly.
Stephen and Emma Jane were happy in their Ephraim home. Emma Jane was an immaculate housekeeper and kept everything scrubbed clean always. All of the family had beautiful singing voices and they frequently got together for parties and a good song fest. Their home was on Main Street a block north of Center Street.
Stephen and Emma Jane Moved to Emery
In the late 1880's and early 1890's all of the Williams children with their families, except Emma Jane and Sarah and their families, moved over the mountain into Castle Valley and settled in Emery. The Broderick boys also joined in the move.
As Stephen grew older he began to show signs of forgetfulness. This was a concern to the family and since all of the boys had moved to Emery the family decided that the parents should move there also. In Emery, the boys build a little home on the southwest corner of Samuel's lot where Stephen and Emma Jane lived the remainder of their days. Stephen died on 8 January 1897. After his death Emma Jane went back to Ephraim for a short time to be near her two daughters. She returned to Emery where she lived with her daughter Lettie until her death on 27 June 1897, less than six months after Stephen's death. Both Stephen and Emma Jane died in Emery and are buried in the Emery Cemetery.
As descendants of Stephen and Emma Jane, all of us and many yet unborn, should be eternally grateful for the faith and courage of these noble people, these sturdy pioneers who accepted the Gospel in spite of loss of job and friends and in spite of ridicule and persecution, and who endured what they had to endure with steadfastness to the end.
Stephen Williams and his wife Emma Jane Hillard are Clara’s great-grandparents. Much of the data for this history came from the book that Clara compiled, Stephen Williams and His Descendants 1816-1978.