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History of Elizabeth Gould Weech

By Della Ann O’Donnal Taylor (great great granddaughter). Also mentioned: Elizabeth Chambers, Henry Gould, Hyrum Weech, Samuel Weech.

Elizabeth Gould was born in New Mill, Somersetshire, England. She married Samuel Weech and they were parents of eight children, four sons and four daughters, one daughter was born here in the United States. Elizabeth was born 12 February 1810 [other records say 8 and 10 Feb.], she died 2 February 1894 at Pima, Graham County, Arizona.

Her children were: Henry, Sarah, Joseph, Hyrum, Lorenzo, Fanny, Eliza and Emily.

They emigrated from that country, England, to America in the year 1848, with the family in the vessel by the name of Sailor Prince. They arrived here in the same year, landing in New Orleans. They had to stay there for a short time owing to the sickness of the youngest daughter, who was a little over a year old.

After the child was well enough to proceed on the journey, going by steamboat to Alton, Illinois, expecting to remain there until they could go on to the Valley of the Great Salt Lake.

In Alton, her oldest sons and husband found employment and built a home on leased ground and made a comfortable living, but they were not able to save much. The husband’s health was not good, he being troubled with asthma. There were a number of Latter-day Saint families, besides the Weeches, that had settled there. A branch of the church was organized and they enjoyed a great degree of the Spirit of the Lord. All in all the Weeches were much like all the other families that were preparing to journey across the plains to the Salt Lake Valley.

In the year 1849 on the 16 of May the little daughter passed away and was buried at Alton, Illinois. But to lessen the blow the Lord sent another baby to help take the sting of that baby he had called home. This baby came to live with them the 15 of July 1850, they named her Emily. During the same year the family were [sic] subject to the ague and in the year 1852 another big blow came to Elizabeth. She was called to see her husband pass away with the dreaded disease dysentery. He was buried in the Alton cemetery. The 20 October 1852. This made her more determined and anxious to go to the Valley where the Saints were gathered and the whole family put forth every effort to prepare for that great event.

In August, 1854, the oldest son, Henry, was married to Harriet Allen. Elizabeth had desired that he wait until after they were in the Valley, but he would not listen to her suggestions. But he did agree to help her and to go with them to the Valley. Elizabeth was to get a wagon and one team of cattle and Henry the other team. In the spring of 1856 a wagon was offered for use to the widow Weech for hauling to the Valley. So they sold their home and the lease so they could outfit themselves with provisions and clothing and one yoke of steers. Now with the yoke of the sons’ they were ready to begin their journey to the "Promised Land."

By this time the oldest daughter, Sarah, was married to a William Betts, in August 1853, and they were intending to follow the family the next year. Even so with the married son and his wife there were nine in the wagon.

They took passage with the St. Louis Saints on a steamboat to go up the Missouri River to Florence, Nebraska. They left St. Louis in June and had a hazardous journey up the river as there were many sand bars and snags. The river often changed its channel in flood time, cutting through strips of timer, breaking the trees off from their roots and leaving snags. If the boat ran into them it was likely to pierce the side or bottom of the boat and sink it, so the captain had to be very cautious and to go very slowly. But they did have not too an unpleasant a trip [sic] because they had a brass band that would go upon the hurricane deck of the boat and play very often in the evening until bed time. Lorenzo and Hyrum had to sleep in the engine room. The noise was annoying until they got used to it. There was not accident among this group and they arrived at Florence about the middle of June. They made camp a short distance from Florence and waited for the wagons and cattle that was coming on another boat. They were to arrive in a few days but did not come for some time.

Meanwhile Elizabeth and her family lived in a tent and spent their time fishing and picking wild blackberries.

Elizabeth was to have another disappointment. Before the wagons arrived Henry and wife decided they did not want to go on to the Valley. She couldn’t persuade them to change their minds. But regardless she just wouldn’t give up her desire to some day be in the Valley. Arrangements were made for another family to share the wagon with her [and] in turn they would furnish another yoke of steers.

When the cattle did arrive they had to be "broken." They had a time teaching them to know what was meant when they were told to "Gee," "Haw," and "Stop." They did this by hitching the cattle to the yoke without the wagon and driving them around for about four days. Then on the fourth of July the captain, John Banks, decided to make a start. The first stop was to be about five miles out. The train started around the early afternoon.

It was amusing to see the way the teams were herded along. Very few of the company had ever driven cattle before, and the women would walk on the one side and the men on the other. But still some of the steers ran around and broke several of the wagon tongues and the people had to cut a green tree and put in a new tongue, which made it after night before they finally made camp. However the family of Elizabeth did not have this trouble.

After some time they arrived at the river called the Loupe Fork Platte. Here they had to ferry the wagons across and make the cattle swim, as it was too deep to ford. This took all day.

When they make camp they would make a corral of the wagons so that the cattle could be driven into it or be yoked up. One wagon would take the lead, the right side of the camp would follow one day and the next the left side would follow first.

After leaving Loupe Fork Platte river the next stream they came to was the Little Wood River. Up to this time they had traveled through a timbered country, but this stream was void of wood. Only occasionally some driftwood could be found. Here they had their first experience of cooking meals with buffalo chips.

The next stream was the Platte River. This stream had timber growing along its banks in most places. The river was a shallow stream at this time of the year. They traveled along the north side of it and here they began to see the wild buffalo of the plains and the Indian camps, and the guards had to be alert to keep the cattle from stampeding at nights and noon, or whenever they were turned out to feed.

When they arrived at Ft. Laramie, a government post, they saw the Indians. Sioux, as they came in to get their annuity from the government. They were a fine looking lot, camped along the river in their teepees made of buffalo skins. They were clean and well dressed in their buckskin clothes, and it was a grand sight to see so many of them.

In September they came in sight of the box canyon and could see "Devil’s Gate." Some of the thinnest cattle had become chilled and could not get up without help the morning after they camped that night at this place. They had to stay there all that next day as some of the thin cattle died. The sun came out and most of the snow melted. They had sage brush to keep them warm so the people did not suffer too much.

They left Sweetwaters going north and crossing to a stream, called Sandy. Then to Green River and onto Blacts and Hams Forts to Fort Bridger. While at Sweetwater some of the men from Salt Lake City met the train. They were carrying provisions for the handcart companies who were coming behind this train. Elizabeth’s flour was gone, so her son Joseph traded a gun for some. It made very dark bread, but it tasted so good to the family as they had been on rations.

Fort Bridger was one hundred and twenty miles from Salt Lake. When they were so they could see the great Valley they were so happy. And they were thankful that no accident had come to them and that the cattle had stood the trip as well as they had.

The journey ended the third day of October 1856. Her oldest son at that time was eleven. I mean the oldest son at home. They were without means, a three-cent silver piece was the only funds they had. No provisions, but they were rejoicing because they had at last been gathered with the Saints.

They went four miles south to Mill creek to a Mr. Chaples farm. He kindly furnished them with a one-room log house with a dirt roof. Fanny had gone to work in the city. Eliza went to live with a Brother John Needham, a friend from England. She later married him. This left Elizabeth, her sons Hyrum, Joseph, Lorenzo and daughter Emily. Five to provide for.

Winter was near and no provisions, nor money to buy if there should be any to buy. They had turned the wagon over to the man who had kindly furnished it to them, so were without use of one. Joseph went to work for the farmers, helping them to get their potatoes, beets and squash in, for which they paid in kind. But they could not get flour for their work. But they were allowed to glean the fields. This they did. This was hard work and not much to show for the long hours work. It was hard for Elizabeth because she was a tall woman. And bending was not too easy. She had never done too heavy work in England. The kind of work she did in England was tend a toll gate, work in a shop that sold groceries, fish, etc. But she was anxious and willing to always do her part, always a good worker. The only place they had to store their wheat was in the one corner of their one-room cabin. They gleaned until the snow came. They had plenty potatoes, squash, beets and a little cornmeal. Brother Chapple was kind and gave them some skimmed milk to eat with their mush, which tasted good. Through all this Elizabeth never was heard to complain.

When the snow came to the fields they had no wood. They had been so busy getting food they had forgotten the wood. Snow was deep in the canyons. They had no wagon, but the boys borrowed Brother Chapple’s wagon and went to the canyon for wood. The oxen was so poor or thin, only having what they could pick from the hills for food. It was late when they got the wood. Joseph walked all the way home to lessen the load for the oxen, and froze his feet. His shoes where so poorly. This laid him up all the winter. Leaving just Hyrum and Lorenzo to help with the wood gathering and all. They planted an early garden to help supply the good. They also planted wheat and potatoes. After the harvesting of the potatoes and the threshing of the wheat Joseph bought a wagon and moved his mother to a better home on the State road, where it crossed Mill creek. Then he started a new place just being settled at the south end of Utah Lake. This place was later called Goshen. They bought some chickens which furnished them with eggs. They minks killed quite a few because their house was so near the creek, they could get at them easier. Most of the men were out to stop Johnson’s army. Elizabeth had let her tent go for the men to camp in. When they returned it, the boys were all in need of clothing very badly, so she cut the tent up and made shirts, pants and dresses from it. Clothes were so hard to get.

Joseph came to move the family to their new home. It was a sod house, covered with cane and mud and dirt on top. It was the first home of their own in Utah and they were so proud of it. All the people lived in sod houses, made of blocks of sod dug out of the meadow and they were so warm.

During the winter of 1858 the boys and Elizabeth grubbed the greasewood off the land and got 5 acres cleared and ready to plant. The seed they had raised at Mill Creek was still waiting to be used. They planted these seeds and potatoes. The crop was good. That summer the army came in and built Camp Floyd, twenty-five miles from Goshen. This made a good market for hay, straw and vegetables; in fact, for everything that they had to sell.

The people grew tired of living in a fort, so a townsite was located and called Sandtown, as a nickname for Goshen. Here, the Weech family built a dugout. It consisted of a room dug down in the ground to a depth of about five feet, with a fireplace in the side. The gables of the room were built up with logs. Stairs were dug, sloping out from one end. The roof covered with cane and mud to keep the dust from rattling through the cane. The ridge poles were cedar, a chimney was built up from the ground with adobes, a window on one side afforded light through a piece of cotton cloth. A small oven was built in the fireplace. In this, bread was baked. The fire burned over it and there was a place under it in which to put live coals to heat the bottom. There was an iron rod driven into the back of the fireplace with a chain hanging down to which hooks were attached. Upon these the pots and kettles were hung for boiling meat, vegetables, and etc.

Elizabeth worked with her boys and girls and watched them grow into manhood and womanhood. She saw them all married and raising their families and pioneering other places. She finally was laid to rest in Arizona where her son Hyrum had made his home. She really and truly was a "Utah Pioneer."


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