Susan Foy Chidester Life Sketch
Contributor: trishkovach Created: 2 years ago Updated: 2 years ago
THE LIFE STORY OF SUSAN FOY CHIDESTER
In the spring of 1831, (April 4) while you were still in Strongstown, Pa., a baby girl came to brighten your home. She was known as Susan. She was stronger than her sister Elizabeth and as she grew older was a big help to her mother, as there were seven younger brother and sisters to help care for. It was like having an extra pair of hands for her mother.
She went through all the hardships of crossing the plains. She met a young man at Winter Quarters by the name of John Peck Chidester who had worked on the big mill there. He helped ferry the saints across the Mississippi River, also helped them cross on the ice. When they got to Utah they were married. This was in 1851.
Their first three children were born in Spanish Fork, the next two in Salt Lake City. They were called to help colonize Southern Utah and four more children were born in Washington, Utah. They lived in St. George and Washington Ward and did much for the relief of the poor. It was their delight to do temple work and spent many happy days in the temple.
Susan never complained when her husband spent much time helping to build the St. George Temple or when he took time to manage the Mt. Trumble Lumber Company for the United Order. There was a living to make besides. She was left alone in fear of Indians while he helped to build the canal and big dam in the Rio Virgin River.
She was a good daughter, faithful mother and lived to a good old age. She passed away in 1902 at the home of her son in Panguitch and was buried in Washington, Utah. She had a record of 603 descendants.
History of Susannah Foy
Contributor: trishkovach Created: 2 years ago Updated: 2 years ago
SUSANNAH FOY by Leslie Tuttle Foy. 2013.
Susannah Foy was the second child of Thomas Birk Foy and Catherine Fink. She was born on 4 April 1831 in Wheatfield, Indiana, Pennsylvania. She went by her nickname, Susan, for much of her life. Little did the family know then that Susan would play such a great role in the eternal salvation of her ancestors, her extended family, her siblings and their descendants.
Susan lived on the frontier all her life. Survival was the first order of business on the frontier. It was expected that each member of the family would work as hard as possible to insure that the family had food, shelter, and clothing for survival. Planting crops came first before a shelter would be constructed. As early as three years of age, children would have chores to do. Susan learned well from her mother. As other children came into the family Susan had to grow up fast and take on added duties. Her family moved six times before she was married and started a family of her own.
Susan was only five when her parents joined the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. She was not old enough to be baptized into the new Church but she was old enough to learn about its teachings. Membership brought with it new friends. Membership also brought with it prejudice and name calling that she had not experienced before. She heard stories of how some members of the Church had been driven from their homes and farms in Missouri. She heard stories of how some of the leaders of her Church had been sent to jail.
When she was eight, her family moved to Illinois at the request of the leaders of her Church. They settled in the town of Warsaw, Hancock County, near the town of Nauvoo. One of the first items of business in Warsaw was to see that the two oldest children were baptized. One record shows that Susannah was confirmed on 1 January 1840. It stands to reason that may have been her baptism date also. They lived in Warsaw from 1839 to 1844. This town was the headquarters for publishing bad things against her Church. Mobs of bad men came in from Missouri and other places to make life hard for those who were members of the Church. Her parents and her older sister Elizabeth and she signed a petition that was to be taken to Washington D. C. and given to government leaders so they could stop the bad things from continuing and to see that those who had lost belongings and property would be compensated. No help was given.
When living in Warsaw and after the death of the Prophet Joseph Smith and his brother Hyrum, it became too dangerous to live there so her family moved into the city of Nauvoo for safety. Susan was thirteen years old at the time. She had never lived as near to so many people of the same religion before. For the next two years, the people worked hard to finish building the old Nauvoo Temple. It required the efforts of all the Saints. There were no meeting houses like we have today. Church services were held in the “Grove” near the temple site. There so many members of the Church that they were divided in to units called Wards. Lasting friendships grew from associating with members of the Ward and other young people her age.
Susan was aware of the great blessings that her parents had been given by the Patriarch of the Church, Hyrum Smith. Those blessings told of future temple blessings that they would receive. She was well aware of the great blessings that her parents had as they received the temple ordinances of Washing, Anointing, and the Endowment. Many of her neighbors had received the same blessings. Susan longed to have such great blessings.
Then the order came again to flee the state of Illinois or be driven out. It was probably the end of May when the Foy family left in 1846. Susan would have been about fifteen years of age. We do not know how long it took her family to cross Iowa or just when they ended up in Pottawattamie County, but that is where they would call home until the spring of 1850. There were two gathering places after being driven from Nauvoo. One was on the west side of the Missouri River at the place which became known as Winter Quarters. The other was on the east side of the Missouri River near the place that was called Kanesville. It was too late in the year to try and go west. Crops had to be planted. Shelters had to be built. Livestock had to be provided for. The poor and needy had to be provided for. People were scattered in many different make shift camps the first winter. Winter Quarters would become known in later years as Florence, Nebraska. Kanesville would become known as Council Bluffs, Iowa. More people died during that first winter than at any other time in the history of the Church. It became known as the “Valley Forge of Mormonism”. Those who had left Nauvoo early were able to get further west and cross the Missouri River. This included most of the leaders of the Church. Those who came later had to stay further back. The Pottawattamie settlement was made later. It was on Indian land and arrangements had to be made for people to stay there. It was among the Pottawattamie Indians in a place called Pleasant Valley that the Foys would call their new home.
While the Foys were living in Pleasant Valley, Thomas and Catherine Foy crossed the Missouri River and received their Sealing Ordinances by Heber C. Kimball. This must have made a big impression on young Susan. Since the rest of the family would need to wait until they got their temple blessings, she looked forward to the time they could be an eternal family.
Many changes took place in the Foy family while they were staying in Pottawattamie County. Susan’s older sister Elizabeth was married and started her own family. Her mother Catherine had two more children. And Susan had a young man named John Peck Chidester who had been noticing her. John’s family also lived in Pottawattamie County. Both John and his father were turners. They made wood products with lathes.
John Peck Chidester started west before the rest of his family in 1850 in the Warren Foot Company. He was age 18 at the time. The company left on 17 June 1850 and arrived in the Salt Lake Valley between the 17th and the 26th of September 1850. This was just a few days before the Foy family departed in the William Snow/ Joseph Young Company on the 21st of June 1850. Departures had to be made after the spring run-off on the Missouri River. The little ferry boats could only take one or two wagons at a time across the river. It was also slow getting the cattle across the river.
Wagon trains were like frontier settlements on wheels. The need for food, shelter, protection of the livestock and families had to take place every night. Each member of the family was expected to work for the survival of the family. The job of children was to stay away from danger. Snakes, wolves, poison plants, rivers, quick sand, Indians, stampedes of buffalo, falling under wagon wheels, and getting lost were but a few of the things that they were constantly warned about. If the children were old enough, they gathered buffalo chips for fuel for their fires. Boys herded the pigs and sheep. Older boys tended the cattle and horses. Older girls helped with food preparation and care of the children. The oldest boys and men drove the ox teams, hunted, and stood guard duty at night. Some had to repair wagon. Women had all the above duties.
Catherine Foy, Susan’s mother, became ill early on the trek. She contracted cholera and nearly died. Catherine was also expecting a child. A heavy burden was placed on Susan and her other sisters for the care of her mother and the care of the family. Susan was nineteen at the time. Thomas Ditymus was just one year old.
Also great help was given by the two oldest boys, John Moroni and William Bosley. As it turned out, the family had to go into the valley before the parents because the journey in her condition was slowing them down.
Catherine and her older children were re-baptized in Salt Lake City on the 12th of April, 1851. The children were Susannah, John Moroni, William Bosley, and Emma Smith. This was a common practice during the early days of the Church. It was a statement of re- commitment to one’s faith. Thomas had been re-baptized back in Nauvoo on January 31, 1842.
John Peck Chidester and Susannah Foy were married on 23 October 1851 in Salt Lake City, Salt Lake County, Utah Territory. This was a civil wedding. Her temple blessings would come later. There would need to be a place first for this to be done.
The continuing influx of pioneers into the Salt Lake valley prompted the Church leaders to encourage people to make settlements in some of the near-by valleys. John and Susan moved to what would become, Utah County. There were settlements there as early as 1850. The settlement of Palmyra was made in 1852. That is where the Chidesters made their home. John’s carpentry skills helped get the settlement started. Susan gave birth to her first child, John Foy Chidester, on 2 February 1853 in Palmyra, Utah, Utah Territory. Utah County was home to a large band of the Ute Indians. They were primarily fishers and hunters. Utah Lake and the streams that flowed into it were natural fishing places for the Utes. Conflicts soon broke out between the settlers and the Utes over water and fishing and hunting rights. The official policy for the settlers in all communities in the territory was to feed the Indians rather than to fight them. It did not always work.
John and Susan made a short trip back to Salt Lake City long enough for them to be sealed on 16 November 1854.
John and Susan moved again. This time a little further south to Spanish Fork, Utah which was also first settled in 1852. Two more children were born while they were living there. Mary Catherine Chidester was born 15 February 1855. She died in 1857. Because they had been sealed, this child and all others born to John and Susan were born in the covenant. Susan Emaline Chidester was born 2 December 1857. Sometime during this period, John served in the Black Hawk Indian War. Spanish Fork Canyon was the migration path for the Utes.
One might wonder why so many children died during the 1850's in Utah. It must be remembered there were recurring infestations of crickets and grasshoppers that destroyed some of the crops making food supplies short. It was an unsettled life with Indian threats, and threats from the US Military. Families from the northern settlements moved south during the “Utah War”. When they moved back, John and Susan Chidester followed soon after. On 9 September 1859 Lodema Elizabeth Chidester was born in Salt Lake City. John’s parents were living in the 16th Ward in Salt Lake City.
On 21 March 1860, Susan received her own endowment including the initiatory ordinances in the Endowment House in Salt Lake City. This brought her not only personal joy but it set the stage for future temple work that she would be engaged in.
For a brief period, John Peck Chidester and his brother-in-law William Bosley Foy were working together in Parley’s Park. This is the present day Snyderville and Park City areas. Samuel C. Snyder first settled in that area in 1853. He built a gristmill and lumber mill. A short time later he built a lath mill and a shingle mill. The area was also used as a common herding ground for cattle because of the abundant grass. It is doubtful that Susan spent the entire time at Parley’s Park because there were periodic problems with Indians. She was staying in Salt Lake City when her next child, Myron Alphonzo Chidester was born on 6 March 1862.
The Journal History item #170 for October 1862 listed the names of those individuals and families who were called to the “Cotton Mission”. John M. Chidester was called. He was listed as a turner. Two of his sons were also called. David Chidester was living in the 16th Ward in Salt Lake City with is father. John Peck Chidester was also called. His residence was listed as Parley’s Park. No trade was listed for the sons. However the years of pioneering experience was most important in making the choice as to who would be called to this mission. This would be the 12th move for Susan. William Bosley Foy was also listed as living in Parley’s Park. Thomas Burk Foy was called from Ogden. William and his father Thomas were the last two to be called. No trades were listed for the Foy’s either.
These families moved south to Washington, Washington, in Utah territory in 1863. Washington was the largest county in the territory. The town of Washington was the County Seat because it was the most central settlement in the County. A short time later the County Seat was changed to St. George. The purpose of the mission was to grow cotton and other crops that would help make the people of Utah self-sufficient. The Civil War was raging in the eastern half of the country. Many items were hard to get. Utah could potentially be a supplier of needed goods to California and in the east.
John Peck Chidester played a key role in the construction of the cotton mill. He was the foreman in charge of the timber works for the mill. Later he played a major role in the engineering and construction of the Pile Dam on the Virgin River. Multiple problems made life difficult in this area. Several famines caused multiple deaths from lack of nourishment. Susan gave birth to Robert Edgar Chidester on 23 September 1864 in Washington, Washington, Utah Territory. He died a year later on 3 October 1865 in the same place.
The saints living in the St. George area were asked to be re-baptized to show a rededication to the Church as work would soon start on the construction of the temple.. Susan was re-baptized on 5 May 1865.
Susan gave birth to three more children during these hard times in Washington County. Twin daughters were born on 18 February 1868. They named the girls, Emeline and Eveline Chidester. The final child was Lucinda Jane Chidester born on 29 August 1870. Lucinda was also the name that her father Thomas chose to name his daughter who was born a few months earlier in 1870. Susan’s mother, Catherine, passed away a few months before Susan’s last child was born.
Land records show that Susan and John lived very near her father and his family in Washington. The Chidesters were very kind to Thomas and his second wife and her children. After the death of Thomas Foy in 1773, they continued to give aid the family and see that they had work at the mill.
The St. George Temple was competed in April 1877. Susan, acting as proxy was endowed for her sister Elizabeth Foy Digman on 25 April 1877. Susan was sealed as proxy to her husband, John Peck Chidester, for her sister Elizabeth on 26 April 1877. Susan had Elizabeth sealed to their parents on 21 October 1882. On 7 August 1877 Susan was baptized and confirmed for the following female relatives that she knew were dead and her son, John Foy Chidester, was baptized and confirmed for the following male relatives: her grandfather Frederick Foy; John Foy, William Foy, Nicolas Foy, Samuel Foy (all uncles of Susan); John Fink (grandfather of Susan); George Washington Fink, David Fink (both uncles of Susan); Thomas Didymus Foy (baby brother of Susan); her great grandfather Fink and her great grandfather Goshorn; her uncle -in-law, William Kaisley; her grandmother Elizabeth Foy, Polly Foy, Elizabeth Foy Vonn ( both aunts of Susan ); her grandmother Sarah Goshorn; Rachel Fink Kaisley (her aunt); her great grandmother Fink; her great grandmother Goshorn; and two Fink cousins.
Not enough tribute can be paid to Susan and her husband, John, for having the proxy work done for so many relatives as quickly as there was a temple ready for proxy work to be done. The “Cotton Mission” as such may have failed in its objective but the building of the first temple in Utah and the first place in this dispensation where proxy work for the dead other than baptisms and confirmations could be done was worth all the sacrifices that these pioneers had to pass through.