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Autobiography of Ann Jewell Rowley

The following is said to be the autobiography of Ann Jewell Rowley. No original document can be located, and there is no record in the typewritten document to suggest the date on which it was written or dictated or transcribed from conversation. From internal evidence, it appears to have been written by someone who heard her tell her story at a family gathering. Or, more probably it was written by someone very familiar with her life to be given in first person as if Ann were speaking at a reunion of the Samuel Rowley family. James Albert Jones compiled the original typewritten document in Some Early Pioneers of Huntington, Utah and Surrounding Area (1980). My name is Ann Jewell Rowley and I am the great grandmother of you older people and the great-great grandmother of most of you other people of the William Rowley line. I married William Rowley 22 Aug 1836. I was 29 years old at the time, as I was born in 1807. William was a widower with 7 children. I was considered an old maid. I was uneducated, but an excellent seamstress. I sewed for my wealthy sister, making her gowns and draperies. William was 50 years old, but I loved him, this great man and his children. I thought I had made a good catch, he was fairly well-to-do. He had a beautiful home in a place called "Mars Ill," in the parish of Suckley, Worcestershire, England. We made our living by selling "Hops and Fruits." We were members of a religious body called the "United Brethren." There was more than 600 of us who had broken off with the "Wesleyan Faith." We were continually praying for light and truth. Before our first child was born, we were privileged to hear a man named Wilford Woodruff proclaim a new gospel message. We really went to hear this man because we were curious and because we had heard that the Church of England had sent a constable to arrest him, but this man had converted him instead. Then the church sent two spies who were commissioned to set in on the meetings and report back. They too were converted, so the church dared not send anyone else. We all wanted to hear this astonishing man. We had only to hear him once and William and I knew with all our hearts that he was offering us a priceless treasure. We accepted his offer and were baptized into the "Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints." All but one of the 600 members of the United Brethren were converted and baptized at the time. Although a great many joined the church, there were many who opposed. Our lovely and spacious home was always open to the missionaries and we delighted in holding meetings there. One night there was a specially important spiritual meeting planned, because Apostle Wilford Woodruff was going to conduct it. The Saints had all been invited and they came, but what promised to be a beautiful meeting became a nightmare, for an angry mob gathered around our home. They were noisy and troublesome. William started for the door to quiet them down and I begged him not to go, but he said, "Why Ann, they are people I have known all my life, they are my neighbors and I'm sure they'll listen to reason." He opened the door and was immediately seized and beaten up severely. Only then did the mob disperse. William was grateful the Apostle Woodruff was not harmed. With such bitter opposition our financial affairs didn't go well and when our fruit crop failed two consecutive years, we were in real financial difficulty. Many people with money were no longer our friends and finally the day came when our house, furniture and all our possessions were sold at auction. Even our feather beds were confiscated, all except mine and William's. William suffered deeply from his humiliation. We were left to earn our living by day work, which in itself is not disgraceful but the circumstances were hard for us to endure. We dreamed of going to Zion, where we could be with the main body of the Saints, but money was the problem here too. The Lord sent another son, whom we named Samuel, and it is through him that you people are here. Samuel was blessed by "Apostle Woodruff." Seven more years passed and our home was blessed with 3 more children. We had a sweet home, but we didn't have a fine house to put it in. William was never to see Zion, as he could never recover from his financial loss, or the heartbreak of seeing his family in such stringent circumstances and the hurt of having his friends turn against him and because of all this, he died when Jane was 6 months old. I was left a widow with 7 children under 12 years of age and the step children of William's first marriage. I was very grateful for the gospel of Jesus Christ and the comfort it gave me. I knew that our parting was only temporary and that viewed from the eternities, this was but a fleeting moment. I also knew that no matter how fleeting a moment it was, I had to make the best of it. I had a very real job to do. The children had to be fed and clothed, but the big task and the one I must accomplish, is to get us all to Zion. I must be among the people of my faith and I must get the Temple work done for us. Each person that could earn money at all, was required to work. The next seven years were hard. This was the period of time when England was exploiting "Child Labor," just prior to their industrial revolution. Many big industries would hire them for next to nothing. Samuel was only 7 and John 9, but they worked in a brick yard tramping mud, to be used for bricks. I would help the little fellows across a narrow dangerous bridge, to go to work at daylight and at night I would meet them and help them home. The girls, even 11 year old Elizabeth, worked late in the night making kid gloves, doing mock frocking and other needlework. We did this in our home. Then at the end of the week, I would take them to market, where they were sold to the gentry. Our savings were meager. My desire became more urgent, for war broke out between England and Russia. John was now of military age and I knew we must leave at once, if he was to go with us. With the perpetual aid fund, we were able to book passage on the sailing vessel the "Charles Thornton." Only one of my stepchildren sailed with us, Eliza, a sweet girl, with very frail health. All of my children came. There was Louisa 19, Elizabeth 17, John 16, Samuel 13, Richard 12, Thomas 10 and Jane 8. We left England with all its beauty 6 May 1856. The sea voyage took 6 weeks and several deaths occurred and once the ship was in a calm and the Saints fasted and prayed and the Lord showed forth his power in our behalf. He also came to our deliverance in a terrible storm, when the ship caught fire and we called on Him for our preservation. Food was at a premium. One week was so stormy, the ship was driven back 500 miles. Six weeks was a long time to live aboard ship, in cramped quarters. However, our Captain didn't ill treat us, but he was a very cruel man and we were many times pained by witnessing his abuse to his crew. In a way, this experience strengthened us for our more severe trials ahead. The ship entered the New York Harbor 14 June 1856, landing at Castle Gardens, we sailed again, up the Hudson River, to a terminal of the Rock Island Railroad, where we took the train to Iowa City. Many Saints were migrating to Zion, which had been established in what is now known as "Utah." So anxious were we all to join the Saints, that we were willing to accept any kind of transportation, to make the trip. Just at this time, the "Handcart Method" had been adopted and we were grateful for even this mode of transportation to travel. We expected the handcarts to be ready, but they were not. We were delayed in Iowa City. Handcarts had to be made, supplies gathered, oxen caught and broken to pull the heavy supply wagons, everything that even hinted of being a luxury, must be eliminated. There were many keepsakes that I wanted to take, but couldn't. But there was one thing I didn't consider a luxury and that was my feather-bed. I had hung onto that beloved item from the time of the auction in England and now clearly there was no room for it. It wouldn't be bad to walk 1300 miles if one had a feather-bed to sleep on at night, but no matter how I folded it, it was too bulky. Wouldn't it be just wonderful I thought, if I could deflate it in the morning and inflate it at night, so it would pack compactly. But a feather-bed is a feather-bed and when it came to choosing between Zion and a feather-bed, well it was a little too late to turn my back on Zion, so I ripped it open and emptied the feathers on the ground and used the tick to cover the supplies on the handcart. We left Iowa City under the direction of Captain James C. Willie and Millen Atwood. Captain Willie had been a leader on the ship while we were crossing the sea. I remember Brother Savage commenting on the lateness of the start and predicting the cold hardship and suffering the company would have to endure before they reached the valley. He cried like a child, but the captain rebuked his speech. We started out in great spirits, grateful at last that we were on the last lap of our journey. When we started our weather was intensely hot and our feet were badly blistered. The stock had to be herded at night and this was a laborious task for men who had drawn carts all day. When we were well into the wilderness, we noticed a storm approaching from the southwest. The terrifying thing was not the storm, but a large herd of buffalo stampeding right past our camp. Afterward, I thanked the Lord, that our lives had been spared, for we all could have been killed. As it was, we lost 30 head of our best oxen. They were swept away by the buffalo. The men hunted for them but had to give it up. This was the beginning of our great hardships and probably was the cause of most of them, for we had spent valuable time looking for the oxen. This loss in turn, reduced our meat supply and because there wasn't enough cattle to pull the supply wagons, a hundred pounds of flour was placed in each handcart. Our handcarts were not designed for such heavy loads and we were constantly breaking down. They had been made of green lumber and were affected by the weather. Rawhide strips was used to wrap the iron rims to the wheels and the wood would shrink and the rawhide would come loose. It hurt me to see my children go hungry. I watched as they cut the loose rawhide from the cart wheels, roast off the hair and chew the hide. There came a time, when there seemed to be no food at all. Some of the men left to hunt buffalo. Night was coming and there was no food for the evening meal. I asked God's help as I always did. I got on my knees, remembering two hard sea biscuits that were still in my trunk. They had been left over from the sea voyage, they were not large, and were so hard, they couldn't be broken. Surely, that was not enough to feed 8 people, but 5 loaves and 2 fishes were not enough to feed 5000 people either, but through a miracle, Jesus had done it. So, with God's help, nothing is impossible. I found the biscuits and put them in a dutch oven and covered them with water and asked for God's blessing, then I put the lid on the pan and set it on the coals. When I took off the lid a little later, I found the pan filled with food. I kneeled with my family and thanked God for his goodness. That night my family had sufficient food. The men returned with buffalo meat, and what wasn't eaten right away by the Saints, was dried into jerky. My two youngest children, Thomas who was 10 and Jane who was 8, often played as they walked along with other members of the company. When the company stopped at night the children would hurry to our own camp for roll call. One day when they had been especially busy with their own games, the company got far ahead of them and I didn't even know it. They hurried to catch up, but they were confronted with a large stream, too deep for them to cross and the wagons had gone on. Roll time came and the children were missed. All the wagons were searched and questions asked of the members of the group. I was frantic with grief and worry for the night was coming on and I knew the dangers of wild animals and prowling Indians. A searching party was dispatched and the children were found on the other side of the river, huddled under an overhanging rock, cave like formation. I blamed myself endlessly. My only consolation was that the Savior's mother had experienced the same thing when Jesus was 12 years of age. From that time on Thomas and Jane willingly stayed by my side. The weather became cooler and at times the company was delayed because of the constant repair of the handcarts. We encountered many storms on the way and the way seemed long indeed. The last time we crossed the Platte River, Samuel's clothes were soaked. By the time he got to camp it was sundown and his clothes were frozen so stiff he could barely move. I wrapped a blanket around him and he stood by the fire, while I dried his clothing. Samuel celebrated his 14th birthday somewhere in the vicinity of Chimney Rock. He celebrated by pulling the handcart with John all day. From here on, the country became hilly and hard to travel. The company dragged on. Provisions were getting lower and the people weaker day by day. Anything that had no immediate use, was discarded on the way. I watched with alarm, my stepdaughter Eliza, grow weaker each day. She was never very strong. I had always devoted a lot of love and care to her, but she passed away one day and was buried off to the side of the trail. Her long journey was at an end, but ours had a long way yet to go. John being the oldest boy, had born the brunt of the hard work. I was grateful for my faith in God, for it was only through this faith, that I was able to carry on at all. I confess, it seemed at times, the Lord had deserted us. I watched John, so cold, drowsy and sick, want to lie down in his tracks, never to rise again. I had to stand helplessly while Captain Willie whipped him, to make him go on. Gladly, I would have taken the whipping myself. In traveling at night, in the frost of that altitude, Thomas' right hand froze while he was pushing on the back of the cart and when we stopped at night and his hand got warm, it swelled up, as Samuel said, "like a toad." John could finally go no farther and I felt my heart would break as I saw him laying beside the trail, waiting for the sick wagon. By the time he was picked up, his body was frozen in two places. That night, 12 people died and the next morning, 3 people joined them. I always thought, I shall be the happiest person, if I could reach Zion, with all my children alive. However, the Lord had not deserted us and I was ashamed for thinking for a moment, he had. Hope came to us, when the company of Apostle Franklin G. Richards overtook us and seeing our plight, hurried with as much speed as possible, to Salt Lake City, to get help for us. When the rescue party found us, we had been in camp 3 days and had been without food for 48 hours. There was 18 inches of snow on the ground. We were very grateful for the provisions they brought. It was good to see my family eat again. It was Cyrus W. Wheelcock of the Dan Jones party, that met us with the provisions and he could not hold back the tears, when he saw the condition of our company. With wagons to help us, we unloaded our carts. Samuel felt he could pull our handcart by himself and perhaps it would be useful when we got to the valley. He tried, but the trail was so rough and mud balled up on the wheels. I was very weary of the thing and was glad to see the family push it to one side and leave it. I think, none of us cared to see it again. We were able to ride on the wagons when we went downhill and I think that everyone enjoyed that. Perhaps! we can't really say, that we walked every step of the way. We entered the valley 6 Nov 1856 and were given food and shelter. That night, and during the next day 15 more Saints died. It is thought, that many ate unwisely after being so long without food. I thanked God, as did the other survivors, that the ordeal was over. The last few days I was especially eager to reach the valley, as I had suffered an accident, a piece of sagebrush had gotten into my eye. It was very painful. I was very glad to be where I could get it extracted. In order not to burden the Salt Lake City Saints unduly, provisions were made for each ward to take a portion of the company. My daughter Elizabeth stayed in the city and worked for Daniel H. Wells. But I and the rest of my family were sent to Nephi, where the ward provided for us. The older boys soon found work away from home. I was grateful for the comparative comfort we enjoyed, but still owed our immigration fee and it was hard to accept charity. But the Lord was mindful of me in a way I never expected. In the Spring of 1857, a man from Iron County, Andrew Bastion, came to Nephi. He asked the bishop if there was a woman in his ward that would make him a good wife. Bishop Bigler introduced him to me. It was as simple as that. He needed a wife and I needed a home for my younger children, so we were married within a few days. Andrew was a fine man. He paid my immigration fee and provided a good home for us. I was a good wife to him too, but not for long, for he lived less than a year after we were married. Again I was left a widow. I was grateful to the Lord for having sent Andrew to me. I know I was a comfort to him, that last year of his life. He left me well provided for. I later married a man by the name of Ford who took good care of me until his death. When Jane married, I would have been alone, but Thomas brought his bride to live with us. I must tell you, I learned to read and write, after I came to Utah. From that time on Ann lived with her children and spent the last years of her life in Huntington, Emery County, Utah. Ann Jewell Rowley died in Huntington, Utah in 1888 and was buried in the Huntington Cemetery.



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