History of Elizabeth McGhie Boam


Elizabeth McGhie Boam
Elizabeth McGhie Boam

Written by Katie Boam Fairbanks, Granddaughter

ELIZABETH McGHIE, daughter of William McGhie and Elizabeth Collins, was born in Glenhead Toll, Kirkoswald, Ayreshire, Scotland Ė January 6th, 1832.

She was the second born of eight children; two boys and six girls: five of these eight children only lived a short time.

Her parents joined the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and Elizabeth was baptized a member of the Church on December 8th, 1843.

These people were not a record-keeping people and their stories of their lives as told to different members of the family were never written down, so I have nothing to tell about Elizabethís life until she, her brother William and sister Agnes set sail for America with their parents on the ship Windemere from Liverpool, England, February 22nd, 1854.

The captain of this ship was a very able man who had sailed the high seas successfully for over ten years. Despite this experience and his ability, he always endeavored to secure some Mormon passengers as he often said, he had a feeling of security and safety when they were on board, regardless of popular prejudice.

For unknown reasons to the passengers, the boat did not set sail on its scheduled date of the previous week. Goodbyes had been said and everything was in readiness, but no one was allowed to leave the boat because they didnít know when the Captain would decide to weigh anchor.

(I was fortunate to find the following material pertaining to the crossing of the ship Windemere on the date mentioned above, which is as follows:)

The following information was copied from "Daughters of Utah Pioneers," lesson for September 1954 by Kate B. Carter, titled: "They Came in 1854." This gives an account of the crossing of the Saints on the ship Windemere of which our ancestors, William McGhie and family, and Thomas Boam were passengers. (See page 38) William Walton Burton, a twenty-one year old passenger on the boat kept an account of the journey, which he prefaced by this:

"As the land disappeared in the distance, the sweet singing ceased and many began to feel ill. About 8 p.m. the first day at sea, an old gentleman named Squires died. All that night the wind howled fiercely; the sea was rough and the ship was driven off its course toward the Isle of Atan. About 11 p.m., Holly Head, which is the most dangerous point and the scene of frequent shipwrecks, was passed. On the following morning, February 23rd, the body of Philip Squires was lowered into the sea.

On the 12th day of March, from 7 to 8 a.m., an exceedingly fierce storm arose. The masts cracked andmany of the sails were cut in pieces. The Captain of the Windermere [sic], Captain Fairfield, expressed fears that the ship could not stand so heavy a sea. In speaking with Daniel Garn, President of the Saints on board, he said: "Iím afraid the ship cannot stand this storm, Mr. Garn. If there be a God, as your people say there is, you had better talk to Him Ė if He will hear you. I have done all that I can for the ship and Iím afraid that with all that can be done, she will go down."

Elder Garn went to the Elders who presided over the nine Wards on the ship and requested them to get all the Saints on board to fast and call a prayer meeting to be held in each Ward at 10 a.m., to pray that they might be delivered from danger. The waves lashed and the storm continued in all its fury Ė but precisely at 10 a.m., the prayer meeting commenced and such a prayer meeting few have ever seen. The ship rolled from side to side. Large boxes which were tied with ropes under the berths broke loose. Pots, pans and kettles rolled with terrible force on each side of the vessel and great confusion prevailed for sometime as they ceased their prayers to dodge the untied boxes. This terrible storm lasted about eighteen hours Ė then abated a little, but it was stormy from the 8th of March until the 18th.

ÖThen smallpox broke out. One of the three Brooke sisters was taken down with it. She had a light attack but her two sisters contracted it also, and both died. Three days after the outbreak of smallpox, the ship took fire under the cooking galley. The cry of "Fire" ran through the vessel and there was excitement and consternation everywhere. The sailors applied water freely; all the water buckets on board were brought into use and soon the fire was under control.

On the 8th of April, a voice called out: "There is land!" There was a rush to the side of the ship to see land once more. This was the Isle of St. Domingo. On the 9th, they came in sight of the Island of Cuba. On that morning about 10 a.m., a young man named Dee died of smallpox. At the time of his death, the wind had ceased howling Ė not a ripple upon the water. The sea appeared bright and clear Ė as smooth as a sea of glass. The young manís body was sewed up in a white blanket and at the feet was placed a heavy weight of coal. A plank was placed with one end resting in the porthole on the side of the ship and the other near the main hatchway. The body lay on the plank. The mournful tolling of the bell began. Elder McGhie made a brief address and offered a short prayer, after which the body was lowered into the sea. The ship was standing perfectly still and the body could be seen sinking into the water until it appeared no larger than a personís hand.

On the morning of April 20th, the ship entered the mouth of the Mississippi River and arrived at New Orleans on April 23rd. The morning after, eleven persons suffering with smallpox were sent to the Luxenburg hospital, agreeable to the orders from the health officers of that port. Elder Long and five others were selected to remain in New Orleans to attend to the sick until they were sufficiently recovered to go forward. The rest of the company continued from New Orleans on board the steamboat Grand Tower, April 27th and arrived in St. Louis a few days later."

Thomas Boam, the only one of his family to come to America, was on this ship, the Windemere, and it didnít take long for the McGie family and Thomas Boam to get acquainted. Thomas and Elizabeth fell in love and were married in St. Louis, Missiour, May 15th, 1854, by Elder Orson Pratt.

They boarded the boat Hundoris and sailed up to Florence, Nebraska, where they joined other Saints who were preparing to come to the Rocky Mountains.

Thomas had sent money ahead for the Saints at Florence to prepare wagons and oxen so they could continue their journey without delay when they arrived. When they arrived at Florence, they found nothing had been done to secure wagons and oxen for them, so their trip West was delayed. Finally, they left Florence in the Daniel Garn Company and endured the joys and hardships of crossing the "Plains" as the other Saints did.

They arrived in Salt Lake City, October 3, 1854, and three days later, they went to the community called Big Cottonwood, which was about twelve miles southeast of Salt Lake City and established themselves on some government land which Thomas farmed.

Thomas built an adobe house on the brow of a hill consisting of one large room in front and two small ones in the back. Some time later he built a log house with two large rooms and a storage room downstairs and one large room upstairs. The location of this home was what is now 1500 East and 4800 South, on the north side of the road.

Here, Grandmother worked hard as a farmerís wife and reared her family of nine children.

The children were Thomas George, Elizabeth, William McGhie, Clara Ann, Agnes McGhie, Fredrick, Sarah McGhie, Ruben Miller and Rhoda Ann.

Fredrick and Ruben died of diphtheria in 1878, just two months apart. Grandmother was 45 years old when Rhoda Ann was born.

Grandfather died May 31st, 1888, leaving Grandmother to rear an 11year old girl, as all the other children were married or dead. I didnít know my Grandfather as he died before I was born.

Grandmother took a lot of comfort in having this girl with her. Even after Rhoda Ann was married, she lived in her motherís home much of the time.

Those were the days when a boy or man felt it was beneath his dignity to do anything they felt was womanís work. The girls had to polish the boysí shoes with soot from the inside of a stove lid.

My Grandmother was very much of a home-body; large in stature and heavy set.

I was born and reared in a house less than three or four hundred yards from Grandmotherís log house, so I had many opportunities to go see her. I remember vividly of having to scrub her kitchen floor every Saturday. It was a large space covered with a brown print linoleum and the print had worn off. Grandmother wouldnít let me use a scrubbing brush as that would wear the linoleum out too fast, she said; so she had me use a piece of gunny sack as a mop cloth. Have you ever tried to wipe up water with this kind of material? I didnít mind cleaning the floor, but I sure was unhappy trying to wipe of the water. She kept a cow and it was my job to milk the cow night and morning. On a farm, it was all right for a woman to do a manís work Ė but not for a man to do a womanís work. I always seemed to be the grandchild that was sent to do things for her as my Mother needed my two older sisters to help her Ė and my two younger sisters were too young.

Grandmother was not a religious, or should I say, not a church-going person. She was kind and willing to help people, and a good neighbor.

She died March 28th, 1909, at the age of 77 years in the log house that her husband built for them. The house was purchased by Doctor George Allen and moved to his property at 1328 South 1300 East, Salt Lake City, Utah. Grandmother is buried in the Elysian Burial Gardens.