William Parley Rowley
Contributor: trishkovach Created: 2 years ago Updated: 2 years ago
William Parley Rowley Sr.
Written by his daughter Nellie Rowley Mecham
It was a bitter cold day 30 December 1880 in Nephi, Juab County Utah, but in a cozy adobe home located on the north east bench of the city, a cheery fire was burning brightly, and voices of rejoicing and praise were ringing through the house, because that day a lovely baby boy with black curly hair and heavenly blue eyes had come to live there. The fortunate and happy parents were John Rowley, and Emma Ozella Johnson. John was born l4 July l840 at Worcester, England. He was the same John Rowley that was frozen severely and brought back to consciousness the night that many froze to death including William’s great grandfather, William James, while crossing the plains. John was crossing with his widowed mother Ann Jewel, wife of William Rowley. Ozella, mother of this new babe, was born 17 October l858 in Springville, Utah, daughter of Lorenzo Johnson and Emma James. The Emma James that suffered hunger so extreme while crossing the plains that she roasted her rawhide shoes and ate them.
This lovely baby boy was a strong and healthy child in every way, he was given the name of William Parley Rowley, 3 February 1881 by Charles Sperry. He was born into a polygamous family, his father had several wives, and three of them were living in this house and sharing the same kitchen, but having their own separate bed rooms.
William’s childhood days were happy ones, romping and playing with his brothers, Lorenzo and David, and sisters, Emma, Alice, and Julia. The children were taken to church and taught the gospel from infancy. They were also taught in their tender years to work hard and well.
Their father owned and operated a grist mill, blacksmith shop, molasses mill, and a mill for the making of plaster of Paris. He made most of his own machinery. President Young of the Manti Temple made the statement at one time in the presence of William's sister Alice, that their father, John Rowley, donated 1000 pounds of plaster of Paris to the building of the Manti Temple.
In his childhood William helped to strip cane for the molasses mill. The children worked at this job when they were so small that it took two of them to cut it, one to pull it over and the other to cut it off. They would then stack to in piles ready for the heads to be cut off and hauled to the mill.
William attended school in Nephi until times became difficult for the Rowleys because of polygomy, and they were forced to leave their lovely home and go to Pima, Arizona in 1888. Here they established another blacksmith shop.
William attended school and kept busy doing what odd jobs he could to help the family. It was in Pima that he was baptized 3 January 1889, by Jacob Burns and confirmed that same day by his father.
While living in Arizona, William and his brothers were sleeping out of doors one night in their covered wagon by the side of the house, his sisters were sleeping in the upstairs of the house, in fact the family had all retired except their father, when a great cyclone came and blew part of their log house over. The girls were pinned in their beds upstairs, so were the boys in the wagon. Logs were blown on them, their father pried the logs off to get them free.
A short time later the family moved by wagon to Diaz in old Mexico, along with several other Latter-day Saint families that fled to avoid trouble caused by polygamy.
Their father soon had another grist mill under construction, also a large windmill which pumped water into a reservoir he made, out of which they watered their gardens. Many people were baptized in this reservoir, including William's sister Alice.
One year later William's father moved Ozella's family up in the mountains to Pacheco, leaving Mary Ann, one of his wives, and her family in Diaz to operate the mill. In Pacheco they soon established another grist mill, located on the side of the river, the machinery was turned by a large water wheel, he also built a kiln where they burned lime. They then put together the Molasses Mill they brought from Nephi.
It was in Pacheco that William received the Holy Priesthood, 5 March 1893, he was ordained a deacon by his father. The following October his father passed away, leaving the great responsibility of supporting the families upon the shoulders of others. William played a prominent part at this time by running the grist mill at Pacheco. His aunt Orissa and family operated the molasses mill. These were trying times for the Rowleys, not much to eat except corn meal and molasses, but they were ambitious and through much hard work things began to brighten for them, they owned large corn fields, where the family spent much time at work. In the fall when the corn was cut and shucked, they would dry the shacks thoroughly, and put them in their ticks for a good fresh bed for the winter.
Wheat was scarce because it would not grow well up in the mountains, what they did get they would save for when it was their turn to furnish the bread for the sacrament. Their mother would make one loaf of bread at a time for sacrament. The children happily ate every crust and crumb that was left after it was cut and prepared ready to take. To them it tasted better than the best cake tastes to us.
1 June 1899, William was advanced in the Priesthood, he was ordained to the office of a teacher by Patriarch Henry Lunt, who had previously given him a patriarchal blessing on 14 November 1897.
One beautiful sunny day as William was watering his horses down at the stream he saw the Gurr family move into town. His attention was immediately drawn to their charming brown eyed daughter Nellie. At that moment he said to himself, “She’s the girl for me.”
Life was not all work for William, he was one of the town’s best ball players, and was also good at jumping. One Sunday afternoon he and some of the other young folks of town were out by the side of the house, seeing who could jump the furthest. Grandma Marsh came to the door and said, “Hey Will Rowley, I never thought you’d do a thing like that on the Sabbath.”
William was also known for his gift of graceful dancing, gliding about the floor with great ease. He loved to dance and was a leader in square dancing, “Don’t you see my new shoes”, and many others.
One evening the young folks were enjoying a little extra excitement during the dance. They were pinning pieces of paper on the coat tails of the men. William got a squirrel tail and pinned it on the coat of a certain gentleman, but the next Sunday found him much embarrassed up in front of the ward asking forgiveness for doing it.
The young folks did a lot of horseback riding to Cave Valley and other places of interest. They loved to visit and carve their names in the famous caves.
Many delightful and enjoyable parties were held in their homes, while making candy from the skimmings of molasses from the mill, parched corn was also enjoyed at their parties. Always when William would call for his girlfriend his pockets contained fresh parched corn, which they enjoyed eating while walking to church, a dance, or where ever they were going.
After an enjoyable courtship, William asked his beautiful brown eyed sweetheart if she would become his wife. She of course was delightfully happy with the idea, because for many years she too had dreamed of this very moment. She felt he was perfect in every way, tall dark and very handsome, and a gentleman in every respect. He had a pleasing personality, a song in his heart, and was always whistling a tune while at work or walking down the street. Folks could always tell when William was near.
Even after their engagement, William and Nellie were still expected to be in by 10 p.m. The next few months were heavenly for them as they prepared for that wonderful wedding day that was soon to come.
William had the glorious privilege of receiving the Melchizedek Priesthood, 22 December 1901, he was ordained an Elder by Warner A. Porter. He felt now that he was ready to commence married life, so this happy couple decided that New Year’s Day would be their wedding day. They were united in marriage by Bishop George Hardy, 1 January 1902, at the home of the bride.
The happy couple then kept house in two rooms of William's mother’s home, while he was busy building a home for them. William was a very ambitious man and soon had their home ready with ever comfort possible for his bride. She in turn did everything in her power to make life pleasant for him. They owned fields of their own and had plenty to keep them comfortable and happy. William also built a large barn and other buildings as they were needed.
The first Presidency of the church, gave authority to the Stake President Anthony W. Ivans to seal families in Mexico, because it was impossible at that time for them to get to the temple. William and Nellie were sealed by him.
On the 25th of October 1902 their hearts knew no boundary line, their joy was complete, for that day a darling baby girl with black curly hair and brown eyes was entrusted to their care, Later on 7 December 1902 they took her to church, to give her the name of Vera.
Time had a way of flying fast for the young couple. Two years later on 6 October l904 their first son was born, an adorable boy with long black hair. It was December again the fourth to be exact, when they proudly took their son to church to receive the name of William Parley Rowley Jr. He was a big husky boy, and was soon large enough to play with his sister.
Three years later on a hot day in July their daughter Nellie was born, 9 July 1907, then things grew hotter by the minute. This household was again rejoicing one beautiful summer morning because a fine bouncing boy was born, 2 June 1909 and later was given the name of Reuben. This boy always seemed to hold a real spot in his father’s heart, he was so proud of his Reuben as he grew, because of the way he could remember and quote scripture.
This was indeed a happy family, all the children very much enjoyed being with their father. One day as he was out watering his horses his son Parley went to help him without either parent seeing him. As he walked behind the horses, one of them kicked him, knocking him unconscious. Many dark days followed, his parents seemed powerless to be able to do anything for him, except fast and pray, because no medical help was near for anything this serious.
Theirs was a home where the spirit of the Lord was ever present, and one in which they did not forget their Father when things were all sunshine for them. Now He came to their aid and answered their prayers. It was only through prayer and the power of the Priesthood that Parley finally awoke after laying unconscious for three weeks, and soon became perfectly well.
William did much carpentry work on the ward chapel in Mexico. He worked in places on the roof where anyone else would not, they held his feet so he could not fall while doing it. When the chapel was completed a certain man who felt he had done exceptionally fine work, ask the inspector which work was the best. The inspector showed him William's work and told him it was the best work on the building.
In the summer of 1910, William received a large letter from Box B, which was the mailing address of the Church. This letter contained a call for him to fill a mission. Reading it over with his wife, together they decided that if their Father in Heaven wanted him to go preach the Gospel to the Lamanites, as he had been told years ago in his Patriarchal Blessing, there was only one thing to do.
William was a hard worker, and was also greatly blessed by our Father in Heaven, and he had sufficient money to take with him, and also leave his family well fixed, after selling his fine team of white horses, Dick and Prince.
William and Nellie worked together in preparation for this great mission, which was to be filled in the Southern States of America. In the fall of 1910 he and Nellie, his brother Mosses and wife Maud, came to Salt Lake City, arriving there in time to make the necessary preparations for his mission. The four went through the temple and received their endowments on the 12 October 1910. It took so long to go through the temple that they couldn't even go to the train together. William kissed his sweet wife goodbye as he ran to catch the train, which was leaving when he reached it, he jumped on and was off to his Mission.
He was a very humble and enthusiastic missionary, accomplishing many great things while there. He labored with diligence as a missionary, and at one time contacted Chief Blue, who was promised he would become a light person if he would live the principles of the gospel. Chief Blue spoke in one of the sessions of General Conference a few years ago in Salt Lake City.
While William was on his mission, the trouble in old Mexico broke out. The country was in such a condition that he went for weeks without receiving any mail from any of his loved ones. Imagine the anguish he went through not knowing if they were alive or not. His mother later met President Callis and he said, “Sister Rowley, your son walked the floor night after night for weeks, during the trouble in Mexico, until he heard you folks had arrived safely in El Paso.”
Two months before time for William's release, President Callis asked him if he would like to be released from his mission, his answer was, “I was called by the power of God, and I am staying here until I am released by that same power”. Elder Callis then said, "Elder Rowley you are now honorable released by that same power to go to your family.” He left his mission on the 30 August 1912 and came to Richfield where his loved ones met him at the train.
His family had just come from the Mormon colonies in old Mexico, and were not accustomed to certain ways of the world. Reuben had observed several men go by with cigars in their mouths, and pulling at his mother’s skirt said, "Mama, when my Papa comes will he have one of those things growing out of his mouth?”
It was indeed a happy reunion for this family to be together again. The first Sunday there they attended Church, one of the leaders in the ward arose and said, "Elder Rowley has just returned from a mission, his family was driven out of Mexico, we will appreciate it if you members will help them with money or whatever you can." William quickly jumped to his feet, he was large and strong in stature, and with a powerful voice that could never be forgotten, thanked the people for their kind thoughts, but with great meaning said, "I have never, or will never, accept one dollar or any public aid. I am able to work and will see to it that my family have all they need."
William wanted to see the country before settling down, so he took his family by train to California, Washington, and Oregon. When they returned to Utah they made their first home in Payson, where he secured employment as a carpenter on the sugar factory.
William and Nellie were grateful to have their family back in Utah. One of the first things they did was go to Salt Lake City and talk to the church authorities about their sealing in Mexico, and ask if they should take their children to the temple and be sealed again. They were told that the sealing which was performed in Mexico would have been binding if they had remained in Mexico, but now that they were here where the temple was available they could have the privilege of taking their family to the temple and be sealed again. They went as a family on the 15 January 1913, into that sacred temple in Salt Lake City, and were there sealed by the power of the Holy Priesthood, for time and all eternity.
William and Nellie remained in Payson until the sugar factory was completed. He then took his family and moved to Buckhorn Springs, where they lived long enough to homestead several acres of land, a few other families including the Gurrs and Edwards were also there.
At Buckhorn, William built a lovely and comfortable home for his family. It was made of adobe which he made himself, after he mixed the mud the children with their bare feet tramped straw into the mud, which helped to make the adobes hold together. The mold he made held three adobes at a time, as he filled the mold the mud would immediately set up so he could remove it, leaving the adobes in the sun to dry and making several in a day. How proud they were of this home, with a long porch extending the full length of the house.
In the late fall of l9l4 William's mother came to spend a few months with the family, and to care for the children while Nellie went to Parawan to be with her mother, and also be near the doctor. On 31 January l9l5, they were again blessed with a fine baby boy, there was great rejoicing when William returned home to tell his children of their new baby brother, he was the first baby in the family in nearly six years. He was a beautiful child with dark hair and eyes, the family decided this new babe should be called Albert Marvin.
At Buckhorn, William was Superintendent of the Sunday School. He held this position the five years they lived there.
William followed the trade of carpenter, working sometimes in Parawan, fourteen miles south. Often it was necessary for him to stay there during the week, as horse and buggy was his only way of travel. He always came home to his family on weekends, and was always there ready to carry on his church activities.
One Sunday morning as he was conducting prayer meeting in preparation for Sunday, School, his wife's sister, Violet, came running into the church calling, “Where is Will.” Folks told her to be quiet as he was in prayer meeting, she said, "I don’t care his house is on fire.” William herd these words and was on the run to fight fire, but the fire had such a start that very little could be saved of their belongings. However the house was built of adobe so the walls remained, and he soon had it rebuilt and lovely again.
William and Nellie owned one of the few organs in town, he would gather his family around it at least once a week and the family sang together. One song he often sang while working, was composed by him while on his mission, it reads as follows. "Read Psalms the eighteenth chapter, Isaiah the twenty ninth too, Ezekiel thirty seven, and that will prove to you, that Mormon faith is scripture as well as it is true, and there is none can preach the gospel like the Mormons do”
After living in Buckhorn long enough to secure the land they were homesteading, William and Nellie decided to move their family to Provo. They sold all their belongings except what they could put in their wagon, and started on their trip. This was a real vacation for the children. William had a comfortable bed fixed across the back of the wagon so anyone getting tired could lay down and rest at any time, he was quick and handy at anything he undertook to do, and made the trip a pleasure for his family. The table he had made for the trip was a nice round one, with four folding legs. When he made camp, he soon had a fire burning, and did all the cook¬ing himself, each meal seemed like a party. That was a trip the family loves to remember, how they enjoyed camping out at night, lying in their beds, and looking up into the beautiful sky, listening to the crickets sing, and the horses chew their grain. William made room on the wagon for Parley’s bicycle, each day the children enjoyed taking turns riding it in front of the wagon. After two weeks of travel, they arrived in Provo on a lovely day in July.
William purchased a home in Orem on Snow Street, about one mile east of the store. They attended the Timpanogos Ward, where he was sustained as President of the Y.M. M.I.A. He held this office the short time he was permitted to remain there. He was always active in his church work, his home life was also a beautiful example, never forgetting family prayers, living his religion every day of the week, and most of all setting a fine example for his family.
William continued to follow the carpenter trade, working in many buildings and homes including the cannery. He built many cabinets and was in great demand at all times for his fine work.
The following February the great influenza epidemic struck Provo for the second time, William and most of the family contracted the dread disease. This was the first time in his life he ever become ill. The best medical help available was obtained, but it seemed our kind Father in Heaven needed William for a greater mission. He answered his call on 5 February 1920. This was a hard ordeal for his family, seeing their beloved husband and father taken away. His sweet wife was so ill with the disease that it was absolutely impossible for her to attend the funeral. She never again saw her sweetheart after he was taken from her bed. And he didn’t live to see his last sweet daughter Violet, born four months later.
Brothers Newell K. Young and John Stubbs came out to the home after attending the funeral, while there they administered to Nellie. Brother Young in his prayer, with tears running down his cheeks said, “Sister Rowley, the veil is removed from my eyes and I can see your husband happily doing a great work as a missionary, do not mourn for him, for he was needed by our kind Father who knows best.” She also received the following letter from William's Mission President.
Sister Nellie A. Rowley
I am very sorry to learn of the death of your husband. You have certainly passed through much sorrow, but this will be over-ruled by the Lord for your good. He loves you and He knows what you have passed through. Your husband is continuing his mission in the Spirit World, and I earnestly trust that you will not think of him as in death, but think of him as an active elder preaching the Gospel to those who have not heard it, and preforming missionary work as he did here. In other words he is bringing people to the knowledge of the truth and preparing them to receive baptism, which will be performed by those living on earth. I pray God to bless you. It must be a comfort to you to know your husband was held in honorable remembrance in this mission.
With kind regards, I remain your brother in the Gospel, Charles A. Callis