LIFE STORY OF
REBECCA WILLARD TURNER
Rebecca Willard Turner
"It is difficult for the younger generation to appreciate with what untiring labor and perseverance attended by manifold dangers, our pioneer ancestors pushed civilization step by step to the West. It accepts the ease and comfort of life today without understanding the privations endured to attain them. On the other hand, the pioneer was filled with a spirit of adventure which helped him to endure and urged him on to that country still un-trodden by the white man. They had courage and faith."
Rebecca Willard Turner was born on the 18th of July 1834 in. St. George, Lincoln, Maine. She was the second child of four, one older brother, Henry Barter Turner, and two younger brothers, David Seavey Turner and Nathaniel Turner. Nathaniel didn't stay with them long. He was a very sweet happy baby and they all loved to take care of him. It was a very sad day for the family when he died.
Rebecca was born at home as all babies were of the time on a very warm summer day. Her family was very happy to have a little girl, even her older brother, who was just one and a half years old.
Rebecca's mother, was Elizabeth Hupper Barter. Elizabeth Hupper Barter's parents were, Roger Barter and Elizabeth Hupper. Elizabeth Hupper Barter had been named for her mother. Mariam Hupper Turner and Elizabeth Hupper Barter were sisters. In her widowhood, no doubt, Miriam spent much time in her sisters home and Nathaniel was raised with her children. As they grew older, Nathaniel fell in love with and married his cousin Elizabeth Barter, in about 1830, at the age of 30 years. Rebecca never knew her grandfather but she loved her grandmother Hupper very much. Grandmother Hupper always called Rebecca her special little girl.
Grandmother Barter had six boys in addition to Rebecca's mother, so they were all very happy Rebecca was a girl. Rebecca's uncles were Henry, John, Samuel, Pelatiah, William and Cyrus. The Barter family were mostly fisherman and lived in South St. George, Maine.
Elizabeth Hupper Barter was also born in St George, Maine. It was on the 29th of May 1779. She was born during the fight for freedom from England.
Rebecca's father, was Nathaniel Hupper Turner. His parents were. Henry B. Turner and Mariam Hupper. Henry was an English sea captain who came to South St. George, Maine. He liked the country and the people. He met and married Miriam Hupper. He decided to make his home there and went into the butcher business, having a shop of his own. A little boy, Nathaniel Hupper Turner came to bless their home. They were very happy. Then Henry's business began to fail, and he finally closed the door. Having been raised and trained for the sea, he did not know what else to turn to. So he decided to go back to the sea. He thought he could make a trip or two and have finances enough to start a land business again. He bade his wife and child good-bye and set out across the briny deep. That was the last they ever heard of him or any of his crew. They were lost at sea. No one knows their fate. These grandparents were also born during the Revolutionary War times. Elizabeth Hupper Barter's family were staunch supporters of the war against England. Many of the family members fought in the Revolution. They all sacrificed to help the war effort. They wanted to live and bring up their families in a free country. A place where they could help in making the rules that controlled their lives.
These people were mostly fishermen and farmers, and they were very active in community affairs. They were councilmen and were often called as jurymen and to help with probate work.
The area was rather sparsely settled. The land had rich brown soil, and plenty of water with large rivers, and small streams everywhere. The fall was an especially beautiful time. There were many trees, and when the frost touched them they wore their splendid colors as if a painter had hand painted the landscape.
Nathaniel was a woodman. He went about in the woods hunting "tree Knuckles". The natural bend in the trees was so strong that they were valuable in the building of ship hulls before steel was used for this purpose. For this he was nicknamed "Tree Knuckles". Growing up on a farm in this time period was not easy. There was always so much work and everyone even the small children had to help, and always there was the threat of an Indian raid.
As Henry grew older he liked to go with his father to the woods, and soon became much help in the business. When they would find a "knuckle" Nathaniel would begin cutting and shaping it. Henry would scout about to find more knuckles. He usually had one or more waiting for his father. Nathaniel declared he could not carry on the work without Henry. Henry being young and agile could get around through the woods and locate the knuckles in less time than his father could.
One day when he was about ten. Henry had been extra active in the woods and had located several good knuckles for his father. That night when they got home. Henry was sick and could eat no supper. A very high fever developed rapidly. For days they worked and prayed over him. Then he began to get better. His right arm and leg were more or less affected with paralysis. That side did not grow like the other side any more, making him a cripple the rest of his life upon the earth.
When the Indian attacks would come it was often at one farm, but occasionally larger groups would attack. When this happened everyone would gather at the home that had been designated as a "fort" for that area. This "fort" was grandfather Barters' house most of the time. There was not a family in the valley that had not lost a least one family member to the Indians. Many families had been completely killed out or were captured and the captives taken into Canada.
Winters were the best time because the Indians didnÕt attack then because the winters were so cold and there was a lot of snow. Before winter came the family would gather brush and dirt and other materials to put up against the house to help hold the heat in. Most families had only fireplaces to heat and cook by. They often heated rocks to put in the beds at night to help keep them warm. They had feather ticks (similar to a mattress) to sleep on, and home made quilts to put over them. Keeping warm in the winter was not easy. Enough food and wood had to be stored to last them through the winter and many times they were snowed in for weeks at a time.
About the time of Henry's illness one day Nathaniel, Rebecca's father, came home and said one of the neighbors had ridden over and told him about a meeting that night. Two men who were Ministers were going to talk. The families didn't have a full time Minister in the area and everyone was eager to hear what these men had to say. The whole family was excited.
It was always fun when all the grownups got together. It meant the children would get to play with children of other families. They were able to see each other during school, but these hours were few, and taken up with learning. This was precious play time and not to be wasted.
Everyone hurried about getting all the chores done early so they could attend the talks. They had a quick supper then father Nathaniel hitched up the horses to the wagon. They put in lots of quilts to wrap up in because they didn't know when they would be coming home. The nights were really cold even if the days were still nice.
It didn't take long to get to the neighbors, but to Rebecca it seemed a long time. She just couldn't hold still and keep under the covers in the wagon bed. The boys were as bad as she was. They were anxious to get in some play before they were all sent some place to sleep while the grown-ups talked.
One time when she bounced up Rebecca saw several other wagons, and some men on horseback going in the same direction they were. It looked like there was going to be a really full house.
Finally they did get there and people were all over the yard, unhitching horses and tying them to the ends of wagons. Most had a little feed for the horses to eat.
Rebecca could hardly wait to get out of the wagon. She had an especially favorite cousin she wanted to see since she had so much to tell her. Finally Rebecca saw her cousin, the cousin had been looking for her too. Together they went into the house and found an almost quiet corner where they could hear the exciting news, but still talk quietly to each other. Soon however they were so busy talking they forgot to listen. Before they knew it the two young men had finished talking, and her mother and father said they were going home.
All the way home her mother and father talked about the exciting new Church. They talked of how these men had been able to answer everyone's questions. It was so hard for Rebecca to keep awake she finally gave up and went to sleep.
The next couple of weeks were special. The family went to several of the neighbors homes to listen to these same two missionaries. One, really thrilling evening they even came to Rebecca's house to talk to the family.
Rebecca had been listening to the things they had to say, and when they told them that if they were good and lived the commandments they would be able to see her brother Nathaniel again. Everyone just cried with joy. All the things these men told them were so new and different. Every time they saw them they were given something new to think about. They learned there was a real living Prophet, named Joseph Smith. Joseph Smith who had seen and talked to Heavenly Father, and His Son Jesus Christ.
One day Rebecca's parents told Henry, David and Rebecca they were going to be baptized into this new Church called the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Henry and Rebecca said they wanted to be baptized too.
Rebecca could tell this made her mother and father very happy. They had not wanted to force their children, but they did want to be a united family in this new and wonderful Church.
Some of their relatives were glad they had found the Church because they also had joined, but many of them were very angry and told the family they would never speak to them again. It would be as if they were dead. This made Rebecca and her family feel very sad because they loved all of their family, but once her parents had decided this was the right thing to do, nothing or no one could change them.
On a bright sunny day they all went down to the river with the missionaries and were baptized and confirmed members of the Church that meant so much to them.
It was a beautiful experience. Many of their neighbors and friends were also baptized. Everyone bore testimony of feeling the Spirit, and knowing they had done the right thing.
Rebecca watched as her father and mother were baptized, then Henry. At last it was her turn. She was so glad she was nine. You had to be eight to be able to be baptized. David wanted to be baptized also, but he was only seven so he had to wait another year.
Somehow she felt closer to her family now. She felt clean all over, just like she had been scrubbed. She wanted to laugh and cry at the same time, but all she could do was hold tight to her mothers hand. When her mother looked down and smiled, Rebecca knew her mother was aware of just how she felt. The feelings of warmth and closeness to her whole family was so very special.
The whole day she felt as though the light of Christ was with her. She could tell the others felt the same way. Rebecca's father seemed to stand a little taller as he fed and took care of the animals. Her mother laughed and sang some of the hymns they had learned as she went about getting supper. Altogether it was just a very special day. In the days that followed Rebecca's father and mother talked a lot about what the missionaries had said about gathering at Zion with the Saints.
They talked often about what it would be like to make the trip to Nauvoo, Illinois. Winter was coming and it would be a very difficult trip by wagon.
Some of the Saints who were baptized at the same time Rebecca and her family, were determined to make the long journey to Nauvoo soon. It took some time to convince Rebecca's mother to leave her warm comfortable home, and all the people she loved so much to start out into the unknown in the beginning of winter, finally mother began to feel the excitement of the new adventure.
They put their land up for sale and it sold quickly because it was such a good, well taken care of farm. Then they started to pack their things into the wagons they had bought to make the trip. The wagons seemed so big at first they were sure they could put everything into them. As the necessities were put into the wagons food, clothing, bedding and grain for the horses the space soon became smaller and smaller. Each of them had made a pile of the things they wanted to take. Soon they could see there simply wasn't any room left. Rebecca's mother cried as she gave her good china, which had been a wedding present, back to her mother. Rebecca cried as she had to discard all her toys. All she could take was a little rag doll, and that only because she promised to carry it.
Sooner than Rebecca could believe they were all packed and ready to go. They all gave their house a last looking over, then they knelt together for their last prayer in their home. Her father asked the Lord to guard over them and protect them on their journey. Then with a last farewell they drove out the gate and joined with the other Saints who were going to Zion, Nauvoo, Illinois.
Rebecca's mother was a little worried over it being so late in the year to make such a long journey, but her father told her the Lord would take care of them.
It was good to be with the others who had joined the Church who were going with them. She did wish some of her cousins had decided to come, but still it was exciting to be on their way.
Her father said they had not gotten very far that first day, but it sure seemed a long way to Rebecca. She had walked most of the way, and even with her mother and David walking beside her and talking to her, she still was very tired. Henry had to ride because of the illness he had that had made his legs weak, and he always had to limp.
At first the trip was an exciting adventure even if she did have to walk so much, there was so much to see and talk about. The men were always watching for an Indian attack and they had to set guards out every night. They never really saw very many Indians but her father always worried and kept his gun ready all the time.
Soon it began to rain and this made the road or rather trial muddy so it was even harder for the horses to pull the wagon, because of this they had to be rested much more often. The last wagons had a frightful time, mud was everywhere. They had to carry wood in the wagons to keep it dry so they could have fires in the evenings to dry out a little and to cook by.
It was so miserable they were only able to make a few miles each day. They were all glad when Sunday came so they could rest. It was good to be able to give the horses a rest too. Many times teams had to be put together to put the wagons through a really bad spot and at times the men would also have to pull and push on the wagons. They were even glad when they saw the first snow. The ground froze and made pulling the heavy laden wagons easier, but the ice was hard on the hooves of the animals.
At first the frozen ground was a relief, but soon the snow piled up until some of the men would have to ride ahead and break the trail for the wagons. Firewood became a lot harder to find, and they were always cold. Rebecca's mother said once she didn't feel she could ever be warm again.
Rebecca didn't know how long it took but they were all so happy when they heard they were nearing Nauvoo. She had begun to think they would never get there, she thought that all the rest of her life she would be slogging through heavy snow and fighting that constant cold wind. It didn't seem she could ever get away from it. No matter where she was or how many clothes she put on, it seemed to go right through her bones.
Rebecca's mother was having an even harder time of it. She seemed to be weaker all the time. Father did everything he could to help and make it easier, but there was always so much to do, and that constant walking, walking, walking. Fighting the cold and snow every step was just to hard on her.
One day in early January of 1843 the guide told them they were only two days out of Nauvoo. They could hardly believe their ears. Maybe this terrible journey was going to have an end. That night as the wind died down a little they all sang Hymns around the camp fire, and thanked and praised God for His goodness to them in bringing them through all the trials of this hard trek to Nauvoo.
Two days later they drove the wagons into Nauvoo. What a beautiful City. Many people came out to greet them. What a joy to really be with the Saints.
The people of the wagon train were taken into different homes for the night. It was so good to be inside a house again. To be able to be out of the snow and cold. To be able to sleep in a real bed again. Henry, David and Rebecca just hugged and hugged each other. Now they could hardly wait to get into their own home in this marvelous city, where everyone seemed to be so full of love and friendship.
Early the next morning they were anxious for RebeccaÕs father to start looking for them a house or a place to build one, but he said mother was not feeling very well so he was going to stay with her for awhile. Later he did leave for a little while to go talk with some men about getting a house for them.
The boys and Rebecca walked out a little bit, but it was so cold they were soon glad to go back to the house they were staying at Rebecca helped Mrs. Benjamin Covey, who they were staying with, take care of her children, and the boys helped Bishop Covey with the chores outside. It was such a good feeling to be here.
Everyone was talking about the trouble the mobs were giving the Saints. Rebecca just could not understand why. All they wanted was to worship God the way they choose.
Rebecca was so grateful to the Lord for their safe journey. They had a lot of problems, and it was very hard but they were there at last, and she knew that without the Lords help they never would have made it.
The next couple of weeks were very busy. Rebecca worked hard to help Sister Covey. She ran errands, helped with the children, Enoch 6 years old, Joseph 4 years old, and Hyrum who was Just a baby. Sister Covey had also had a boy named Alma who had died. Rebecca helped with the meals where she could. She and her father were also busy helping her mother who just didnÕt seem to be getting any better.
Then, the worst thing she could think of happened. She simply couldn't believe it. Her beautiful mother left them. She died of a malady called the "Black Tongue". It was a sort of canker that attacked the pioneers, thought to be caused by the lack of vegetables and proper kinds of food. The mouth would get sore and the tongue swell and go black. There was no known cure at that time. She died January 22, 1843, in Nauvoo.
Everyone put their arms around her and her family to tell them how sorry they really were for them. She tried hard to understand but it all seemed so confusing. It was so cold and snowy when they had to bury her mother. It was almost more than she could stand. She just wanted to run away and pretend this whole trial had never happened. They had had such high hopes about living with the Saints in Nauvoo, but now she wished she had never came here. How she wished she could be where her grandmothers could hold her close and help her try to understand why the Lord had to take her mother.
As bad as all this was it was going to get worse. In just two weeks her father had taken sick with the same thing, He died on February 6, 1843, in Nauvoo. The death of Elizabeth and Nathaniel left their three children orphans in a strange country among strangers. She simply couldn't believe it. How could this be happening to Henry, David and her. A month ago they had been a happy family, now the three of them were here among strangers all alone.
Word was sent to their people in South St George Maine. Elizabeth's brother, Samuel, started for Nauvoo, Illinois to bring the orphaned children home to their parentÕs people. But Samuel sickened and died on the way without reaching the Mormon City. Two years later another brother, William Barter, stared for the City of Nauvoo. He also sickened and died on the way over that wild and unknown country on March 5, 1845. It is thought that he died at Buffalo, New York. In their determination to get the orphaned children, Elizabeth's youngest brother, Cyrus Barter, left his wife and family and started on the journey to Nauvoo. The same fate struck him. He died on April 13, 1845. Thus fate had decreed that those three children remain with the people of the same faith their parents had embraced, and be reared under the light of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
At the time of their parents death David was just seven and it was decided he would go with a family that lived near and do what he could for his board and room. He lived with Israel Barlow. Henry who was not strong had to work around as best he could to try and make a living for himself. Almira Mack Covey, wife of Benjamin Covey, and daughter of Stephen Mack, who was a brother to Joseph Smith's mother, said Rebecca, who was nine, was a big help to Her, and she would be glad to have her stay with them. It seemed before she could think her family was broken up. Mother and father gone, Henry, and David living in different homes. Even though they were close and she could see them often, it was just not the same as being together as a loving family.
For days she could not believe this terrible thing that had happened to her and her family. It seemed to her she was walking through a bad dream. Every night she cried into her pillow and asked the Lord why He had taken her parents. She just couldnÕt seem to accept it. Many people tried to comfort her, to try to explain, but it just didn't help. She was happiest when she could be with Henry and David. Then they would hold each others hands and promise to always stay together and help each other.
One day while she was helping Sister Covey Rebecca heard her and her husband talking about the mobs that were giving everyone so much trouble. They even said they were threatening the life of the Prophet Joseph Smith. Rebecca didn't see how they could threaten the life of a Prophet of God. When she talked to Henry about it he said yes, there were problems everywhere. She was so upset Henry took her to see the Temple. He said it would make her feel better. When she saw it she couldn't believe how beautiful it was. It seemed to glitter in the sunshine. They sat there on the hillside for a long time, over looking the Temple, somehow it seemed to make them feel closer to their mother and father. It was almost as if they were sitting there with them. For the first time in a long time she felt surrounded with their love.
After awhile, Henry took her by the hand and they walked slowly back to Brother Covey's home where she was staying. Still the feelings at the Temple stayed with her and she knew her mother was with her trying to help her. So she stopped crying into her pillow each night and determined to work hard and make her mother proud of her.
The days seemed to go by so fast. There always seemed like there were things to do, but there were fun times too. When they would have parties and would gather around the organ and sing the songs from the hymn book. On her birthday the 18 of July, when she turned nine there was even a party for her. Henry and David came. She always loved to be with them. It made her sad however to see how much trouble Henry still had walking and getting around. She wished so much that he could live with her so she could help him. She knew her mother would have liked that.
It seemed Brother Covey was always talking to some one or other about how much trouble the mobs were causing. It just seemed to get worse all the time.
Rebecca began to wonder if the mobs were going to come right into town. As far as she could hear they were mostly attacking those who were either outside of town on farms, or at least on the edge of town.
She prayed hard for the Lord to protect Henry. Sometimes he would take her to watch the Nauvoo Militia work out. They looked so big and brave, and she just knew the Lord would be with them. After she had watched them she always felt safer for awhile. Then she would go home and Sister Covey would be all upset about another group of Saints who had been run off their farms. She worried a lot about her husband getting involved and getting killed. One day he even had to go to court somewhere and testify for someone. Sister Covey was a nervous wreck all that day.
Rebecca didn't know how she managed to live through that first year after her parents death. Everyone tried to be very good to her, and she was very grateful to Sister Covey who helped her to learn how to work so she could take care of herself. Several times her grandmothers and others in the family wrote trying to get Rebecca and her brothers to come back to Maine, but somehow they knew their parents would want them to stay with the Saints. Sometimes she wondered how it would have been if she had returned, but never for very long.
Somehow the year did go by and it was spring again. Rebecca was now almost ten years old. She could still not understand all the problems the countryside was giving to the Prophet Joseph Smith. It was really hard to believe what happened that terrible summer day when the Prophet and his brother Hyrum were shot and killed. Sister Covey was Alvira Mack a cousin to the Prophet.
Everywhere you went all that was talked about was the Prophet's and Hyrum Smiths deaths. No one knew what would happen now. Every night it seemed that men were over to talk to Brother Covey, or he was gone to talk to someone else. Even the babies seemed to feel the tension in the air. They were much harder to take care of. There seemed so much more to do around the house with Sister Covey away so much. Some nights Rebecca was so tired when she went to bed she could hardly say her prayers. She longed for the days when her mother and father were alive. Life had been so much easier then.
Days passed, then weeks. Every adult it seemed wanted to get to go to the Temple for ordinance work. Now that was all that was talked about.
The mobs had fully expected the Nauvoo Legion to go around fighting and getting even for the killing of the Prophet, but instead the Council of Twelve told everyone to be calm. The Legion would only be used in defense of the City.
There was talk all around that the Prophet Joseph had planned for the members to go to the West where they could live in peace. Now everyone wanted to know if Brigham Young and the Council of Twelve were going to go forward with his plans. Everyone felt better when it was learned Brigham Young who was President of the Twelve Apostles, knew he would recognize the place they were to go to.
In the fall of 1845 anti-Mormons started trouble with some of the outlying settlements. They were really surprised when President Young agreed that they would leave the next spring. Many people who had decided to stay in Nauvoo before the Prophets death were now anxious to leave.
Brother Covey came home one night from one of his many meetings with a list of supplies and equipment they were to start getting together for their preparations to move in the spring. It sure looked like a long list to Rebecca, and they had to get it all in only one wagon. That night when she went to bed Rebecca looked at her store of possessions. She kept them in a small box under her bed, and wondered if she would be able to take them or if they would have to be left behind. She was eleven years old now, and it seemed such a long time ago that she had been making preparations with her parents for their trip to Nauvoo.
The next day she worked especially hard to get everything done so she could spend a few minutes with Henry and David. As they sat together looking at the Temple they wondered how long they would be able to see each other or if they would be separated never to see one another again. She tried to be brave for Henry, but oh how she wanted to cry out. "Mother, Father, why did you have to leave us." "Why couldn't we have stayed together as a family."
Henry's legs just were not getting any stronger. How she wished she could take him home and take care of him. He seemed so small for 13 years old. David at nine was big and strong. She knew somehow that he would be alright. That he would be able to take care of himself. But her poor little Henry, she worried so over him. Their time together was always so short. Soon they each had to go to their separate homes and jobs. She was so proud of how gentle David was with Henry.
Sister Covey started right away getting the things on the list ready. There was a special place where they put things on the list. The pile just kept getting bigger. Rebecca didn't see how they could possibly get everything in one wagon. Sister Covey's children kept finding things they wanted to take and putting them in the pile. Then Rebecca or Sister Covey would have to take them out. Sometimes the children would set up quite a howl but those wagons were not very big. Almost everyone in town were making wagons for the trek West. No one knew how long it was going to take, or even for sure where they were going. They did know the Lord was going to be with them. All winter they tried to be careful of their wheat and other supplies because they knew when spring came they would need every bit they could get. Brother Covey said the plan was for President Young to take a vanguard of selected members and go ahead to find the "promised land". He told everyone however to get out of Nauvoo as soon as they could. It was no longer a good place for Latter-day Saints to be. They were happy to be leaving. It was going to be so nice to not have to worry about mobbers coming in at night to murder, beat. and destroy.
The 4th day of February 1846, when Brigham Young started the first group across the Mississippi was a day Rebecca would never forget. It was so cold when a person stepped outside, their breath froze. The wide Mississippi was frozen over solid. The horses and oxen could pull the wagons down the incline to the river and then right across to the other side. At first everyone was afraid it wouldn't hold the heavily loaded wagons, but soon they were going across as fast as they could. Rebecca didn't know what happened to the plan of President Young and a group going first then more later, but by night time almost everyone had come across.
Many were not well prepared with either food or clothes for such a cold spell. As Rebecca sat by their fire she was very glad of the warm coat and boots Sister Covey had gotten for her. She had really grown up a great deal, she was almost twelve now. It had been three long years since her parents death. She prayed they were watching over Henry, David and her. That somehow they would help them stay together.
It was late into the night when every one leaving that day were across the river. They didn't go very far that first day. They were all put into groups of tens, and fifty's. There seemed to be so much noise and confusion. Children everywhere seemed to be crying, and even the animals seamed to be upset. In fact the animals were making a lot of noise. Some say that only five riles was made that first day.
Rebecca was very glad when the children were settled down and she was able to lie down for awhile. They had three wagons. They had them arranged so they could all sleep inside them on cold or wet nights. Rebecca didn't even know where Henry and David were, or if they had gotten across. The next few days were simply a blur, they were not able to go anywhere. It was cold, wet and muddy. There were many people who were not well prepared. Everyone had to share what they had brought with those who didn't have anything.
Every morning they had to get up early and get their breakfast cooked over the camp fire. then get things cleaned up and packed back into the wagons.
Rebecca forgot how long they stayed at that first camping place. So many people were ill. In fact a lot of babies were born that first night. Brother Covey said there were about six thousand people camped with them by the river. Finally one day when Rebecca had about decided they would be there for ever, the word came that President Young and the Vanguard would move out the next day, and that the rest of them would leave soon.
Rebecca was glad, anything, even the Indians would be better that this waiting around with nothing to do but cooking and taking care of the children.
Rebecca was glad when they finally got their wagons going. She had to walk by the side of the wagon and before many days had gone by she was glad when they decided to camp again. They stayed at this camp for a few days then packed up and went to the next campsite. They really felt blessed. Some of the children had gotten colds, but mostly they were all pretty well. Many of the families were really ill, and had to have a lot of help to be able to keep up. Everyone's supplies were getting low. Some of the men drove wagons to the nearest settlements and bought supplies. They felt very blessed to get them. They knew the Lord was with them, guiding them along the way.
Finally after what seemed forever they came to the place that was to become known as Winter Quarters. Here some of the men and boys put up log houses and others started plowing the ground and planting crops. Brother Covey said they wouldnÕt be able to harvest the crops themselves but that others who would come after them would. He said there would be many thousands who would be making this trip to find a place where they could live in peace and worship God the way they wanted.
It was a busy summer. Sister Covey was gone so much helping people who were ill. There seemed always to be some one who needed her help There was always something to do what with the children to take care of, and now Rebecca had to do a lot of the cooking and cleaning up also. Some of the older children were now able to help her carry the water they needed, with the bathing, cooking and doing dishes, there never seemed to be enough water. Rebecca never complained because everyone had so much to do.
Many people died that first year they were at Winter Quarters. Rebecca didn't get to see Henry and David very much, but at least they all three seemed to be well.
In the early Spring of 1847 President Young and a group started West to find the "Permanent Home". People were arriving at Winter Quarters everyday and more and more food and supplies were needed.
Rebecca heard Brother Covey say President Young would know the place they were to settle when he saw it. They all knew the Lord would guide him to the place that was right for the Saints. Where they could grow and worship God as they chose. Where there would not be any mobbers to harasses them.
Trying to take care of all the new comers was a hard job. Brother Covey seemed to be away most of the time, helping to plant crops and building houses, trying to help settle differences. It seemed like everyone would try to make the best of these difficult circumstances, but there seamed to be many who felt they should be given more than others. Always there seemed some one who was dissatisfied with the way things were done. Many got discouraged and moved into the surrounding villages and decided to simply give up the Church and stay there. Always there seemed to be so much sickness. Many people were buried near Winter Quarters. It seemed especially hard on the children.
It was great news when a rider came back from President Young telling them he had found the place. It was in the Valley of the Great Salt Lake. The rider told them how he had looked out of his wagon and recognized the place from the dream or vision he had had where the Prophet Joseph Smith had shown it to him.
What a celebration they had that night. Everyone wanted to pack up and leave at once, but the leaders said no. They would keep to the plan that had been made in the first place. Smaller groups leaving with intervals between to give the grass a chance to grow a little so the horses, oxen and cattle could get some feed on the way. That way so much feed would not have to be carried in the wagons. Everyone knew it was the best way, but oh how eager they were to get to their permanent home.
That fall President Young and some of the other leaders returned to get the remainder of their families. By now President Young had been sustained as the new Prophet, Seer, and Revelator. It gave everyone such a good feeling to know the Lord was still with them.
Some days Rebecca looked at Henry and wondered how he would ever be able to walk to the new home. How she missed her parents. She knew they would have found a way, but she just didn't see what it could be.
Those at Winter Quarters had a big crop that fall. They had visits from the Indians because they were in Indian Territory, but President Young had made it very clear that it was cheaper to feed them than fight with them. So when they came they were treated friendly and always given gifts, mostly of the precious store of food. They always stayed friendly so it was worth it.
In the Spring of 1848 as soon as the ground was able to be traveled. President Young and the other leaders started wagon trains moving Westward again.
Bishop Covey was chosen to go with the Lorenzo Snow Company. They were to leave late in June. Oh, what work there was to get ready. Wagons and equipment had to be repaired and gotten ready. It was an amazement how much stuff had been collected. But one day there it was, they were all packed and ready to move out.
They bid their little house good-bye. Already another family was preparing to move into it. David was with the group and it had been decided that Henry would stay at Winter Quarters. He just wasn't able to walk that far. He was going to help with chores and such to earn his keep. Rebecca cried when she had to part with him, but she promised him that somehow, someday, she would return for him. So while her heart was happy to be at last on her way, she was sad to leave.
The children hated to be separated. But Henry went out with them the first day's journey and camped with them that night. The next morning, very early, these three children stood alone on the edge of the prairie and wept their farewell. Henry wanted so much to go, but expressed joy that the two children were privileged to go along with the body of the Saints. Henry stood on the camp sight watching and weeping for the poor exiles until they disappeared over the rolling hills. Then he wended his way over the lonely prairie back to Winter Quarters. Several times Rebecca came to high ground and looked back over the trail to see him limping along until his form became a mere speck in the distance. That picture never dimmed in her memory. The wish of her life was to work or do something to bring Henry across the plains.
Traveling was slow. They had so many cows. horses, oxen and sheep that came along with them.
Enoch Covey was eleven now. He helped drive the wagons or helped to herd the animals. Joseph who was nine helped to herd the animals. Hyrum was five he spent his time mostly walking with his mother looking for buffalo chips or wood that they would burn to cook their meals with. Everyone had to work. There were no exceptions.
Rebecca was now 14 years old. She walked every step of the way to Utah, driving the Covey cattle. About two days out she met a young man two years older than herself. He too was driving cattle for another party that they might let his widowed mother ride to Utah. Rebecca thought "0h if I could have found someone who would have let Henry ride it would have been a pleasure to have driven their cattle." But outwardly she never complained. She and this young man became very good friends.
Everyday was much the same. Always worrying about water and feed for the animals. Many said the Oregon Trail on the ether side of the river was shorter, but they knew many of the people there were from Missouri and they wanted no more trouble with them. So they were willing to take the longer route. They also felt there was more grass and water on their side.
Days became long and tedious. Sometimes Rebecca felt they would be out under the hot sum walking forever. It seemed like they didn't make many miles in a day. Sometimes they almost felt they would welcome an Indian attack to relieve the boredom, but when they saw groups of Indians in the distance they would soon change their minds.
The nights were the worst. Wolves howling, with never the certainty that it was wolves. The wagons were always put in a circle with many men standing guard. Sometimes as Rebecca lay awake at night looking at the stars and wondering how Henry was, and if he would ever be able to get to Salt Lake, she felt how comforting to hear the guards call to each other every hour. Somehow she knew the Lord was with them and they would be able to make it all the way in safety. Sometimes she would see Prairie Dogs sitting up watching as the long line of wagons and animals went by. It was so good when some of the hunters would bring in fresh meat. Antelope, deer and even sometimes a buffalo.
Some evenings they would sit by the camp fire after the work was all finished and sing, at times someone would tell stories. That was Rebecca's favorite time. She liked it best when they were by the streams, then there was plenty of water. In the evening she could even get a bath. She loved to play in the cool water after a long hot day on the trail.
She was often surprised at the variety of food they found on the way, such as wild currants, chokecherries, and gooseberries.
She saw Indian graves, not in the ground but high in the trees, where bodies with trinkets were wrapped in blankets. Sometimes some travelers had robbed these graves. Rebecca felt that was such a shame.
There were exciting times near the Sweetwater that made Rebecca wish she was back at Winter Quarters with Henry. Many of the animals died for no reason she could see. To listen to the wolves devouring these carcasses at night was really frightful. Even though it was August and the days were hot, at night it was so cold ice would form on the buckets of water. They had to go down ravines, and steep gulches. Rebecca didnÕt know how the teams even could do it. Sometimes everyone had to help get the wagons one at a time up and down these places.
As they got closer and closer to their destination they would see more and more riders from Salt Lake who had come out to meet them.
How glad they were when they finally walked down the trail in Emigration Canyon and got their first view of Salt Lake Valley. Rugged mountains rose like protecting monarchs clothed in the golden armor of Autumn as the wagons glistening in the sun rolled to their cherished goal.
Five months of trudging had brought them to the threshold of this new life. Then to the West she saw the City of the Saints!
Chimney smoke curled lazily from adobe as well as log homes. More than one thousand of them. A large log Fort loomed up in the heart of the settlement, and everywhere around there were fields, haystacks, and homes and barns being built.
Farther to the West the Great Salt Lake shimmered. Rebecca saw the vast valley was rimmed by rugged, protecting mountains. Oh how her heart thumped as she saw Saints, hundreds of them swarm out to greet them. Old friends from Nauvoo, and Winter Quarters welcomed them. Oh how she wished David and Henry could have been with them. Rebecca was now fourteen years old.
She had much to do to help Sister Covey and her family get settled into their rooms. To store much of their things because there just wasn't room for everything. The rooms were small, but to Rebecca they seemed like a palace. No more sleeping outside on the ground listening to wolves or coyotes, or wondering if Indians were going to attack.
After they arrived in the valley, Rebecca spent most of her leisure hours with the young man who had worked with her herding cattle, and his mother. The mother was always glad to see Rebecca, and did such nice little motherly things for her. They were very near and dear to each other. When the chilling blast of the second winter in Salt Lake City swept down upon them, this mother sickened and died.
After she was laid to rest, her son said, "Rebecca, we are too young to marry and anyway I am not in a position to take that step. I have no job and no home here now, so I have decided to go to the Nevada gold fields; to seek my fortune. Who knows, I might strike it rich. If I do, I'm coming back and we'll build a home-together. You take all of Mother's belongings, her featherbed and pillows, etc., and keep them as your own." With that he was gone. For two years she waited and prayed for his return. But not one solitary word came from him. She thought he must have died in the desert country. Everything sweet and dear in her life seemed to have been taken from her.
That winter was a very cold one. They were so glad to have a stove to huddle around, out of the wind and storms. One day that winter it went down to 33 degrees below zero. Food was scarce. There had been the cricket plague the previous summer. It must have been terrible, and there were so many of the new immigrants to pull upon the meager store of food. Some settlers eked out nourishment from sego roots or from thistles and weeds.
Sometimes the friends of the Coveys would give them vegetables they had stored from their gardens.
Rebecca at times went to dances. Mostly she just watched, but it was fun to see the laughter, to hear the music and for a short time at least forget her problems.
On Sundays they went to Church, often in the Old Bowery, the first chapel of the Saints in Desert.
In February on 1849 Brother Covey was made the Bishop of the newly formed 12th Ward. It took a lot of his time so they all had to work harder on the farm. He needed as much time as he could get to make shoes. There was very little money to be had, so most people bartered for what they needed.
They were doing pretty well, except for the plagues of grasshoppers that seemed to come out of nowhere every summer. It was a constant battle to keep the crops from being eaten entirely. Everyone kept saying however that it was not as bad as the first year. Sometimes word came in about Indians raids. It almost seemed like they were back in Maine again. When Rebecca was feeling very discouraged she wished that they were a family again, living together back in Maine. But she knew this Church was true and that she had to be a part of it even if it did mean sacrifices.
Money was very short for things Rebecca wanted for herself so she started working outside of Brother Covey's home. She helped clean house for John W. Patrick who had a farm close to Brother Covey's, and who had lost his wife.
Enoch, Joseph and Hyrum Covey were older now and able to help their parents, so she was able to have time during the day to do this. Rebecca was tired at nights after working so hard. She sometimes wondered if she would ever have a home of her own. That was when she wondered where her friend was, if he was still alive, and would he come back for her. Many nights she would cry herself to sleep, she would wonder where Henry and David were and if she would ever see them again.
There was a man in their Ward named Jacob Lindsy Workman. He was married to his second wife. His first one had died just shortly after they left Nauvoo. He was a very hard worker, but seemed very kind to his family. One day she was sitting outside under a tree thinking it just- seemed to be to much for her, she started to cry, when a man spoke from behind her. It was Jacob Workman. He had come to see Bishop Covey over some matter. He asked her why she was crying, if she were feeling well. He seemed so concerned that she just plain told him all her troubles. She didn't know why, she wasn't used to putting all her problems out for someone else to see. She told him how tired she was of working for someone else. How she would like a home of her own. She told him how worried she was about Henry, and how much she would like to have him with her so she could take care of him. He asked her to marry him. It was a question in Rebecca's mind, but when Jacob said, "Together we may be able to bring Henry across the plains", it was enough. Suddenly her life was all turned upside down. Bishop Covey had two wives and they seemed to do alright. She was seventeen and she thought life couldn't be much worse so what had she to loose. What she had was a lot to learn. Rebecca consented and the day was set. Fanny, Jacob's second wife, had given her consent and all seemed well. On the 3rd of January 1852, Jacob brought Rebecca over to the home expecting Fanny to join them. But Fanny had disappeared. She was nowhere to be found. Rebecca and Jacob went on to Brigham Young's office and asked what to do. He advised them to go right on. Rebecca and Jacob took their endowments in the old Endowment House. Rebecca stood first for Nancy, Jacob's first wife who died at Mt. Pisgah on the western trek from Nauvoo. After Nancy was sealed to Jacob. Brigham Young married Jacob and Rebecca for time and all eternity. For reasons not given here, this ordinance was repeated the 12th of July 1852.
She would have her own home and as soon as he could he would bring Henry out to be with them. It seemed like a prayer answered. All her problems solved in one swoop. How many times she later looked back. on that day and wondered about her hasty decision.
Jacobs wife Fanny was not a bit happy about him taking a young girl as another wife. She felt she had a right, she was taking care of five of his children from his first marriage, besides three of her own and she was soon to have another child. So no matter how you looked at it, it was not a very pleasant situation.
About six months after her marriage, Rebecca's young lover came to town, but when the Coveys told him she was married, he left again without seeing her.
Jacob gave a team and wagon to those who were going for a company of Saints if they would bring Henry Turner back to Utah. The last letter Rebecca got from Henry he was overjoyed to think he was coming to Utah with the next company. Rebecca was very anxious, but when the company came, they brought the news that Henry had died and was buried in Winter Quarters. Rebecca soon learned that she had jumped from the frying pan into the fire. She had to wait for her home to be built and she was resented everywhere she looked. It wasn't long before she was going to have a baby and felt just terrible. There was however no way back, so she tried hard to make the best of the way things were. She wasn't afraid to work so she kept herself busy. In August Sister Fanny had another a baby. It was really a joy for her to help take care of him. She began to really look forward to the birth of her child. It happened on the 29th of October 1852. When she looked at him, her own little boy Abraham Smith Workman, all the pain and frustration she had faced seemed to melt away. She knew now that she really had something to work for and fight for. She was really glad to be able to get out of bed and take care of him all by herself.
By now Jacob had her house built next door to his other one. They were all busy working on Jacob's farm. She seemed always to have something to do, but having Abraham seemed to make it all worth while.
Before long she realized she was going to have another baby. As it turned out it was twins. Two little girls, Mary and Elizabeth, born on the 26th of December 1853. They were so little, and were just not able to make it. Elizabeth died on the 28th of December, and Mary on the 30th. She could hardily stand the pain of loosing them. It took her quite awhile to get well. She felt if she hadn't had Abraham to take care of and live for, she would have been glad to just turn her face to the wall and die. But time goes on and she had to get out of bed to do her share. The households were large and everyone had to do their share.
On January 13, 1855 she had another little girl. They named her Hannah. She was so beautiful Rebecca loved to just lay and hold her close to her. Abraham was just two He loved to touch her cheek. She was so happy with her little girl. Then on the 24th of July 1855 while others were celebrating the coming into the Valley she lost her little girl. Just six months she was allowed to keep her. It was worse even than loosing the twins. Without Abraham to care for she surely would have lost her mind. Jacob tried to comfort her, but nothing seemed to help. Work was always around and she worked every day until she was ready to drop. Then would cry herself to sleep. Sister Fanny had a little girl just a year old. How she envied her.
Rebecca didn't want any more babies. It was just too hard to loose them. But in November of 1855 she found she was expecting again. She hadn't told anyone, she was just to worried about it, and she knew Sister Fanny would not be happy about it.
They went to Church at the Tabernacle on Sunday February 25,
1856. Rebecca had determined she would tell Jacob that day. During the meeting they called quite a number of men from the stand, to go to the Las Vegas Mission. From there they were to go to the Indians. Rebecca could hardly believe if when she heard Jacob's name called. Of course there was no question of his not going, but how would she ever manage without him. She thought life was hard with Jacob there, but she soon found it was infinitely worse with him gone. She felt so alone and out of place. On the 27th of July 1856 while Jacob was still on his mission, she had Martha Jane. What a joy she was to Rebecca. She was so strong and healthy. Rebecca wondered that she could have ever thought she might not want her. She filled Rebecca's empty heart to overflowing. Martha Jane and Abraham who was now almost four kept her busy, but she loved it. Sister Fanny was always telling her she spoiled them and spent to much time with them, but Rebecca didn't care.
One day she was refused flour at the mill and several other places. She came to Ezra Taft Benson's home. Apostle Benson was on a mission to England at the time. Mrs. Benson said, "No, I can't sell you any flour, but I will loan you a pan full". A few months later Jacob was released from his mission. He brought three or four sacks of wheat with him. As soon as the wheat was ground the first thing Rebecca did was to take a pan full to Sister Benson. It was now Sister Benson's time to feel thankful to the Lord. She said "You came just in time. I am entirely out. I have nothing in the house to eat." Then aside to her daughter she quoted from Ecclesiastes 11:1, "Cast thy bread upon the waters, for thou shalt find it after many days."
Jacob was glad to see Martha Jane when he finally got back from his Mission. Rebecca was glad to see Jacob, things were always better for her and the children when he was there It seemed he was always going somewhere for something He was in the Militia and had to be with them. Sometimes he went to buy or sell stock.
In 1857 when Johnson's Army threatened to come into the Salt Lake Valley, Rebecca and Fanny and the children were moved to the Provo area for protection. They knew that if the word came, everything would be burned so the Army could not take over anything. The thought of loosing their homes was very hard on them, but as with everyone else they were prepared to make the sacrifice if President Young called for it. Later when the threat was removed Jacob returned them to their homes in Salt Lake.
In many ways they were blessed. Jacob seemed to have cash to pay for new animals that he needed. There really wasn't much money about.
On Martha Jane's birthday in 1858, Rebecca had a little boy, Cornelius. He was also a healthy beautiful baby. Jacob and Rebecca were very happy about this new little boy.
In 1859 Jacob planted a small patch of cotton. They were thrilled by how well it did. There had been a lot of cotton goods brought into the valley the year before, so most people only planted what they needed for their own use. Jacob took some of his crop into George A. Smith, who was Chairman of the Council Committee on agriculture. Brother Smith was amazed at it. The staple though short was very good.
Things were going pretty well on the farm but the house seemed to be getting smaller as Rebecca's family got bigger. On the 2nd of April 1860 Nancy Luella was born. Again they were grateful for such a healthy baby. Abraham was almost eight now. He was such a joy to have. Rebecca still got a thrill each time she saw him. Things were just to crowded on Jacobs farm in Salt Lake, so he bought a small farm in Bountiful for Rebecca and her children. On the 26th of February, soon after she had moved, Isaac Nathaniel was born. Abraham was such a big help to them in taking care of the chores, and the smaller children. Martha would soon be six, Cornelius was almost four and Nancy would soon be two. Her children were her whole life. They filled her heart with joy and love. There were many things going on around her, but she loved the Lord and put her faith in Him that things would be alright.
Rebecca was so happy on her little farm with her children around her. But one day Jacob came and told her president Brigham Young had called him to go to Virgin in the Southern part of the State to strengthen the outposts of Zion and raise cotton for the Washington and Orderville factories. Rebecca would have to pack up and leave her little house and go with him and Fanny. She had heard how hot and dry it was down there, and moving into a house with sister Fanny and her children was almost more than she could bear. But she knew that she must be obedient to the calls of President and Prophet, so by morning she squared her shoulders and determined she would not let her children know how sad this move would make her. They settled on the banks of the Virgin River and it was later called Virgin City.
David Turner now being 26 years old went with them, bent on going to the gold fields of Nevada to seek his fortune. When they came to the forks of the road near St. George, he took his little bundle of clothes and swung a walking stick across his shoulder. Rebecca watched him go. She never heard from him thereafter. Many years after RebeccaÕs death, David advertised and found her children. He came and spent his last days with RebeccaÕs daughter Nancy. He had enough savings to pay his keep, but he had lost his faith in the Gospel and all things sacred.
After many hardships and difficulties in watering the land, they raised the first crop of sugar cane from which they made molasses. They used the seeds for flour which was dark colored and not very good tasting either.
Wild game was scarce and they were very happy when they harvested their first crop of corn which they ground into flour. It was a wonderful change.
They did have a little success in raising cotton, but it wasnÕt very profitable so the Church soon abandoned the project, although they did raise enough to help out at the time and later.
The first house in that part of Dixie was built by Jacob. It was made of adobe and was two rooms. This house was built in the town of Virgin City, and here his second wife Fanny lived with her family. Jacob bought a farm about eight miles out of town where Rebecca and her children lived.
Things were about as bad as Rebecca thought they would be. Jacob had a brother and his family who already lived in the area. They were a great help in helping them get settled, and in building them homes. Jacob got a very good farm for Rebecca to live on. They were right in the mountains. It took a couple of days to even get down to St George. That is where most of the Saints in the area lived. Soon everyone was busy helping Jacob get the farm cleared and planted. There was cattle and sheep and other animals to take care of, and gardens to plant and food to preserve for winter. Everyone had to help. They were up before light and very seldom got to bed until way after dark. On the 23rd of November 1864 Erastus Snow was born. He was a big healthy baby. Rebecca was so happy. On 23 March 1867 Rebecca had a little girl named Ella. All her babies now seemed to be healthy. Now she had seven children around her. Such beautiful good children, was there ever another mother more blessed than she? She thought not.
On 26 June 1869 Lucy Marinda was born. She seemed strong, but on the 23 of April 1871 she left Rebecca to join her brothers and sisters in Heaven. It was so hard to loose her. Rebecca thought her heart would break. Still She had to continue to take care of her seven other children, and on 16 July 1871 Adeliah Mariah was born. It was so good to hold a baby close in her arms again, to see her grow and laugh.
Time was slipping past, and Rebecca's children were growing up.
On the 17th of November 1872, Abraham married Millie Bethen Devoo. She found it hard to believe that he was 20 years old, and a man. How proud she was of him, and Millie was a lovely girl. She knew they would be happy.
On the 14th of January 1873, Nettie Percena was born. The weather was hot but then the winters in Virgin were mild. Rebecca really liked that, she hated snow and cold.
The farm was doing well, but it was getting harder for Jacob. Most of his children by Nancy Reader and Fanny Harris were married and had moved away to start their own lives.
On the 23rd of August 1874 George Albert was born. Rebecca was now forty years old, and this was her fifteenth child. Jacob was sixty two. She really felt she had enough children, but still on the 22nd of August 1876 Lorenzo was born. Rebecca told herself she should not complain because her children were all healthy.
On the 4th of December Martha who was now twenty, married Otto August Peterson. It was hard to see her children leave, but she knew they had to make their own lives. On the 7th of February 1877 Nancy married Benjamin Jones Redd.
Abraham lost Millie to death. It was on the 1st of June 1876. She died in child birth, and the baby a little girl also died. Rebecca took his two other little girls into her home to give them the love and care they needed while Abraham was working on his farm.
Some years the drought very nearly ruined all the crops. Then other years the yield was so great they could hardly take care of it all.
On the 28th of July 1878 Jacob died. He was sixty-six years old. He had always seemed so strong. How he could sicken and die so quickly she just didn't know.
What dark difficult days these were. JacobÕs older children and Fanny claimed about all Jacob had, which was not very much. He was constantly helping others, and sharing what he had. So at the time of his death very little was left. Rebecca didnÕt know how she was going to be able to raise her family. She knew her two older boys would help at least for a time, but that still left the three younger girls and her two boys who were still just babies. When Nancy had married she had taken Abraham's two little girls to live with her. She was very good to them.
On the 5th of November 1879, Cornelius married Permelia Elzina Hatch. Another of her children gone out on his own. Her children were growing and leaving so fast. It was the pattern the Lord had established. She was happy to see them make such good happy marriages. But it was hard to loose the help of her big strong boys on her little bit of ground. Many nights she lay awake all night praying and trying to figure out what she should do.
Then one day in what seemed to be an answer to her prayers, people started talking about going to Arizona t ground that was just being opened up by the government. There was of course some talk of the Indian trouble they were having with Geronimo and his band, but these people were talking about homesteading close to Fort Apache so surely the soldiers could keep them safe.
Rebecca thought a lot about all she had heard of this new land. A new land with good water and the opportunity for her boys to be able to homestead farms of their own. Everything about it appealed to the adventurous nature of Rebecca. She also thought about the many times she had had to pull up her roots and move to a new area.
She had experience, she had two big boys and a family who weren always willing to help. So she talked to Isaac and Erastus. They thought it was a great Idea. Abraham and Cornelius were not sure their mother should move so far away from where they could watch and help take care of her, but when they saw the excitement in the rest of the family they quieted their fears and said they would do what ever they could to help.
Martha and Nancy really didn't want their mother to move so far away. They realized they would not be able to have much contact, but they too could see what a chance it would give Rebecca to make a living for herself and the seven children still at home. The farm in Virgin didn't produce much.
Rebecca talked with her Bishop, who said he wished he could go with the group. There were many reports of how beautiful the country was. To be lead by good men who had been in touch with Erastus Snow who had settled in Snowflake, Arizona was encouraging.
So Rebecca sold her small farm and once again loaded all her earthly possessions into a couple of wagons and they started with the others for Fort Apache, Arizona.
She was going to build a new home for herself and her children. They knew it would take a lot of hard work, but they were not afraid of work. They had always had to work hard. Still a little fear would creep in as the wagons pulled away from the house where she had lived this last twenty years or so. Oh how she prayed she was doing the right thing. But with a last wave of her hand she turned her back on the past and looked toward her future. Pioneers with courage and ambition were making a settled territory of Arizona, people were coming in by various kinds of wagons, over roads in the North and South. Some even came by river steamer on the Colorado.
As always traveling with a wagon train was very slow. It was a little late in the year so they all were glad they were traveling toward warmer country. That is what they thought when they first started but as the days went slowly by with not much vegetation or water they became very discouraged.
Without Jacobs help to take charge of things Rebecca found it very difficult going. She had never realized before just how very much she had depended on him. Some days she wondered if she would ever make it. She began to realize she was not as physically strong as she had thought, and the heat and constant walking were beginning to wear her down.
THE HISTORY OF ARIZONA
How it was made,
And who made it.
The devil was given permission one day,
To select him a land for his own special sway;
So he hunted around for a month or more
And he fussed and fumed and terribly swore,
But at last was delighted a country to view
Where the prickly pear and the mesquite grew.
With a survey brief, without further excuse
He took his stand on the banks of the Santa Cruz
He saw there were some improvements to make,
For he felt his own reputation at stake;
An idea struck him and he swore by his horns
To make a complete vegetation of thorns;
He studded the land with the prickly pear
And scattered the cactus everywhere,
The Spanish dagger, sharp pointed and tall
And lastÑthe choyaÑthe worst of all.
He imported the Apaches direct from hell,
And the ranks of his sweet-scented train to swell,
A legion of skunks, we loud, loud smell
Perfumed the country he loved so well.
And then for his life, he could not see why
The river should carry more water supply
And he swore if he gave it- another drop
You might take his head and horns for- a mop.
He filled the river with sand til! it was almost dry
And poisoned the land with alkali,
And promised himself on its slimy brink
The control of all who from it should drink.
He saw there was one more improvement to make,
He imported the scorpion, tarantula and rattlesnake
That all who might come to this country to dwell,
Would be sure to think it was almost hell.
He fixed the heat at one hundred and seven
And banished forever the moisture from heaven,
But remembered as he heard his furnace roar,
That the heat might reach five hundred or more,
And after he fixed things so thorny and well,
He said, "I'll be d__d if this don't beat hell";
Then he flopped his wings and away he flew
And vanished from earth in a blaze of blue.
And now, no doubt, in some corner of hell
He gloats over the work he had done so well,
And vows that Arizona cannot be beat,
For scorpions, tarantulas, snakes and heat.
For with his own realm it compares so well
He feels assured it surpasses hell."
For days Rebecca felt the dryness and heat would never end. They had trouble finding enough water for the cattle, and they suffered for it. Then gradually the terrain began to change. There was more grass for the animals to graze. More wafer to be had so that every drip didn't have to be counted. Then before long they found themselves in deep forest country. It was such a delightful change from the terrible desert wastes they had crossed However day followed day and Rebecca was tired of this wagon trip and wondered if it would ever end. But finally excitement filled the camp as the news came that they were nearing Fort. Apache. It was a happy day for everyone when they were finally there. It was beautiful country, That first night the family knelt down and thanked the Lord for their safe journey and all their blessings. As Rebecca gazed out at the beautiful land she felt all the hardships she and the children had been through were worth it. Here she could build a home. A home of love and peace.
It wasnÕt easy to wrest a farm and home from this ground. Rebecca and all the children, even the small ones had to work long hard hours. Each night they would gratefully fall into their beds for what little rest they could get. Still things began to get done. Ground was cleared and seeds planted. They were located not to far from the river and were able to use it to irrigate with. It was spring now and everything was going well. Rebecca could see things getting better every day. Then with the spring rains the river started to rise. Still they were far enough away that they wouldn't have to worry. Then everything came crashing down around her ears as a brush and dirt dam above them broke.
As Rebecca looked out over the fields they had worked so hard on and looked at the silt left by the flood that had covered and destroyed, everything they had worked so hard to do she simply could not keep the tears back.
Nathan and Erastus had been able to work at times for the soldiers at Fort Apache. Now this was all they would have until they could plant again. Their little store of money was really dwindling. The children were all really discouraged, it had seemed like such a good idea coming here, now none of them were sure.
They simply had to have some kind of income so they pooled what money they could get and bought a small saw mill. It was hard to make a living with it because even though the boys were willing to work hard, they didn't know that much about this kind of machinery. They did get enough lumber however to build them a small house. Things just seemed to keep getting worse. The crops didnÕt do very well and the whole family suffered for the want of food and clothing. Rebecca worried over her daughters. She did not want them to ever marry into polygamy, but she could see her health was failing and she did want to see them married, and taken care of before she died So, on the 24th of October 1884 she married Adelia Mariah who was just thirteen to Levi Thomas Jessup, who was forty-five. He promised faithfully he would never take another wife as long as Ade!ia lived. He worked at a sawmill so they moved where his work took him. Then on 8 December 1884, Rebecca Ella married Robert Burns Donahoo, and moved to Snowflake. She was seventeen and a big help to her mother. Now her two oldest daughters were gone. There was still five children at home and enough food and clothing was getting even harder to get.
On the 27fh of January 1885 her eldest boy at home, Nathaniel married Esther Jane Buckannon, a young lady visiting in the area with her sister.
They lived with Rebecca for about six months while Nathaniel worked at Fort Apache. In July of that year he left the family to take his wife to visit her ailing and widowed father. Rebecca was now left with Erastus, a lad of nineteen and the three smaller children. Nettie who was just twelve, George Albert eleven and Lorenzo who was nine.
The hard work and inadequate food were just to much for Rebecca's frail health, and she became very ill. Erasmus and Nettie went to the Fort for a doctor. There was one there but he was unable to leave the Fort. They made a bed in the wagon and the children took their mother to see the doctor. She was so desperately ill that on the way she lapsed into unconsciousness. The doctor told them he could do nothing for her. What she needed was rest and good food. The children took her home and with sacrifice and tender care took care of her. She recovered somewhat and for a short time cared for the family affairs, but she was never really well.
When the two older brothers, Abraham and Cornelius, who were living in Hatch, Utah, heard of their mothers illness they prepared a team and wagon loaded with supplies and Cornelius and his wife Zina went to bring the family back to Utah. At the little settlement of Johnson in Kane county, they were joined by Nathaniel, who on hearing of the conditions, blamed himself for having left his mother in such straits. Arriving in Arizona the boys found Rebecca again very ill and the family without provisions. The mother said through tears of joy, "I just knew my boys would come."
After a few days rest and with the tender care of her loved ones, Rebecca gained considerably in strength, and coaxed the boys to start for home. She felt she could stand the trip. The first day of travel seemed to go very well, but the next morning Rebecca was very ill. She could only look at her sons and say a few words before she died on the 4th of September 1885.
In a family council it was decided to start for the town of Snowflake, Arizona to bury the gallant pioneer mother in a real graveyard. They traveled all that day and night but floods had washed the roads out and brought big boulders and trees onto the road, which had to be cleared before the wagon could proceed. Nettie had been quite ill also, but she got up to help clear the road. During the night of travel she walked ahead of the wagon holding a lantern so the boys could see where to drive.
The second morning the family was forced to realize that they could not possibly obtain their goal. Part of the wagon box and some lumber they were able to obtain from residents were used to fashion a crude casket in which to bury the beloved little mother. Her grave lies with others near Fort Apache. Mute sentinels testifying to the struggle and sacrifice made to tame the desert.
Rebecca had sixteen children, so she had left a large posterity, most of who love and treasure her memory, who are grateful for the many sacrifices she made so that they might have a better life. One of her great, great granddaughters wrote the following song while she was visiting Church history sites, and we feel it is very appropriate to Rebecca.
IT WAS FOR YOU
by: Kathy Anderson Tousley
Thru all your noise and confusion
Can you hear us, we were there
As we pushed our wagons onward
The grass rustled, the songbirds sang
There were no other sounds
But our voices and the wind
There are graves along this way
Do you see them, do you see
Fathers of courage lie beneath this sod
Gentle mothers and newborn babe
The sun beat down, we travel on
Thou snow was deep
Remember always, of child of promise
It was for you. It was for you
when the hail storm tears at your being'
And the sun bakes the life from your soul
Know we've been there
Please know my child there is a purpose
In God's great plan we had a part
Love now fills hurts deepest sorrows
And we feel peace within our hearts.
Remember always child of my heart.
It was for you
Remember always child of my heart
It was for you.
This family history is dedicated to those descendants who follow in our footsteps so that they may more fully appreciate and know those who have gone before.
To write this history I have taken from the life stories found in Thelma Andersen's History of the Workman family, I found a life story written by Mary E. Workman who was told it by her father Abram S. Workman who was the eldest child of Rebecca, besides many other things I was able to find.
I take full credit for any mistakes, or any license I may have taken in writing this story of my great grandmother. I believe she was a very great lady, and I am sorry I never was able to meet her while she lived, but I believe she has been with me as I wrote her story and has inspired and helped me. I believe she has guided me to information that would help me. If anyone finds this material offensive or untrue then I apologize, but I feel a love for Rebecca, and I feel that she approves of my story.