Wednesday, February 4, 2009





I, Priscilla Merriman Evans, born May 4, 1835, at Mounton, New Marberth, Pembrokeshire, Wales, am the daughter of Joseph and Ann James Merriman. About 1839, father move d his family from Mounton up to Tenby, about 10 miles distant. Our family consisted of father, mother, Sarah, aged six, and myself, aged four. Tenby was a beautiful place, as are all those Celti c Islands, with remains of old castles, vine and moss covered walls, gone to ruin since the time of the conqueror. Nearby was Castle Hill, with its old castle, most beautiful in its decay. It was moss and vine covered, and most beautiful in its architecture. Near it, and in fair condition, was a building belonging to the Castle, which was fitted up for a school. It was

called the National School of Tenby. When we were settled in our new home, we girls were sent to school, as children were put in school very young. There was a path leading up Castle Hill to the school, and another leading around the beautiful old moss covered Castle down to the seashore, where the children played in the sand and gathered shells at intermission. The children also loved to wander around in many rooms of the Castle, but shunned the lower regions, or basement rooms, for they had heard weird stories of dungeons and dark places, where in early times, people were shut up and kept until they died.

Besides reading, writing, spelling, and arithmetic, we were taught sewing and sampler work was done in cross stitch, worked in bright colors, on canvas made for that purpose. The designs were churches, houses, trees, lawns, animals, flowers, etc. We were also taught the Bible. I was greatly interested in school, but was taken out at 11 years of age, or in my twelfth year, owing to the illness in our family. I was a natural student, and greatly desired to continue my studies, but mother's health was very poor, so I was taken out to help with the work. My sister, Sarah, continued school, as she did not like housework and wished to learn a trade. She went to a Mrs. Hentin and learned the millinery trade. Mother's health continued poor, and she died at the birth of her eighth child, Emma. I had many duties for a girl so young, caring for my sisters and brothers. While Sarah was learning millinery, she would sometimes wake me in the night to try on a hat, one she was practicing on. She learned the millinery business then went up to London, opened a shop of her own and was very successful. She married a gentleman by the name of James Harris, who was devoted to her, and followed her to London. She died at the birth of her fourth child.

Mother died on the eighth of November 1851, when I was 16 years old. The responsibility of the family rested on my young shoulders. I remember an incident which happened when my sister and I were quite young. A Russian Gypsy came and wanted to tell our fortunes. Among other things, the gypsy told my sister that she would learn a profession, and that she would grow up to be a great lady, dressed in her silks and satins, and live in a beautiful home in la large city. She told me that, owing to my good heart, I would not have the opportunity to become like my sister, and I would have to work and help others, and eventually I would cross the Great Waters. I had forgotten all about the gypsy's fortune telling until I had been in Utah some years, when my sister sent me, among other things, a beautiful black silk dress pattern and many beautiful things to wear, which were too nice for my circumstances. She sent presents to me by missionaries who visited London, and to whom she was very kind. I remembered then, the gypsy. My sister was a grand lady in London, and I had crossed the Great Waters, to America, "The Land of the free, and the home of the brave," and was happy in my growing family and rejoiced with my husband and family in the Gospel of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. After the death of my mother we were very lonely, and one evening I accompanied my father to the house of a friend. When we reached there, we learned that they were holding a cottage meeting. Two Mormon Elders were the speakers, and I was very much interested in the principles they advocated. I could see that my father was very worried, and would have taken me away, had he known how. When he became aware that I believed in the gospel as taught by the Elders, I asked him if he had ever heard of the restored Gospel. He replied, "Oh, yes, I have heard of Old Joe Smith, and his Golden Bible." When my father argued against the principles taught by the Elders, I said, "If the Bible is true, then Mormonism is true." My father was very much opposed to my joining the Church, but I had found the truth and was baptized into the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Tenby, February 26, 1852, by John Thorn [Thain], President of the Tenby Branch. My sister, Sarah, took turns with me going out every Sunday. She would go where she pleased on Sunday, while I would walk seven miles to Stepaside and attend the Mormon meeting. My father was very much displeased with me going out every Sunday. He forbade me to read the Church literature, and threatened to burn all I brought home. At the time I had a Book of Mormon borrowed form a friend, and when Father found out I had it, he began looking for it. It was in plain sight, among other books, in the book case. I saw him handling it with other books, and I sent up a silent prayer that he might not notice it, which he did not, although it was before him in plain sight. I do not think my father was as bitter against the principles of the gospel as he seemed to be, for many times when the Elders were persecuted, he defended them, and gave them food and shelter. But he could not bear the idea of my joining them and leaving home.

About this time, Thomas D. Evans, a young Mormon Elder, was sent up from Merthyr Tydfil, in Glamorganshire, Wales, as a missionary to Pembrokeshire. He was fine speaker, and had a fine tenor voice, and I used to like to go around with the missionaries and help with the singing. Elder Evans and I seemed to be congenial from our first meeting, and we were soon engaged. He was traveling and preaching the restored Gospel, without purse or scrip, and I was keeping house for my father and five little brothers.

Perhaps his mission will be better understood if I give a little account of his work here. Thomas David Evans is the son of David Evans and Jane Morris Evans. He was born Feb. 14, 1833, in Troedyrhiw, three miles from Merthyr in Glamoganshire, Wales. His father, David Evans, died and left his mother a widow with eight children, Thomas D. being four years old, and the youngest. He was placed in a large forge of 2000 men at the age of seven years to learn the profession of Iron Roller. At nine years of age, he had the misfortune to lose his left leg at the knee. He went through the courses and graduated as an Iron Roller.

When set apart for his mission to Pembrokeshire, it was predicted that the days of his life spent in that country should be spent in expounding the Gospel Scriptures, and that he never should be confounded by the enemy, so long as he kept the commandments of God, which promise has been verified. In the spring of 1852, he left his home in Glamorganshire to go to Pembrokeshire, South Wales, to travel as he had been traveling, and preaching the Gospel on foot without purse or scrip. After he came to Pembrokeshire as a missionary, we met in one of his meetings.

There were about 10 young girls in our branch, and we used to meet with the Elders and help them with the singing, and we girls would often meet together and sing the beautiful songs of Zion. It seems to me now, when I think of that time, that we had put the world aside, and were not thinking of our worldly pleasures, and what our next dress would be. We had no dancing in those days, but we were happy in the enjoyment of the spirit of the Gospel.

My people belonged to the Baptist Church, and I attended their meeting and Sabbath Schools before joining our Church. As previously stated, the Bible was taught in the National School of Tenby where I attended until in my 12th year, so that I was familiar with the bible doctrine and when I heard the Elders explain it, it seemed as though I had always known it, and it sounded like music in my ears. We had the spirit of gathering and were busy making preparations to emigrate.

About that time the Principle of Plurality of Wives was preached to the world, and it caused quite a commotion in our branch. One of the girls came to me with tears in her eyes and said, "Is it true that Brigham Young has ninety wives? I can't stand that, Oh, I can't stand it." I asked her how long it had been since I had heard her testify that she knew the Church was true, and I said if it was, then it is true now. I told her I did not see anything for her to cry about. After I talked to her awhile, she dried her eyes and completed her arrangements to get married and emigrate. She came with us. My promised husband, Elder Thomas D. Evans, was president of the Pembrokeshire Conference for the last two years; so he was released from his missionary labors. We went to Merthyr to visit his mother, brothers, sisters, and friends, preparatory to emigrating to the Valley. His family did all in their power to persuade him to remain with them. They were all well off, and his brothers said they would send him to school, support his wife, and pay all of his expenses, but all to no avail. He bade them all goodbye, and returned to Tenby.

I think I would have had a harder time getting away, had it not been that my father was also going to be married again, and I do not suppose the lady cared to have in the home, the grown daughter who had taken the place of the mother for so many years. Pres. Evans and I walked 10 miles from Tenby to Pembrokeshire, secured our license, and were married on the 3rd of April, 1856. On our return from Pembrokeshire, we found a few friends and relatives awaiting with a nice supper, which was very much appreciated. After visiting with our friends and relatives for a few days, we took a Tug from Pembroke to Liverpool, where we set sail on the 17th of April, 1856, on the sailing vessel "Sam Curling." Captain Curling said he always felt safe when he had Saints on board. We heard that his ship went down later with all on board, but there were no Saints that trip. We were on the ship five weeks, and lived on the ship's rations. I was seasick all the way, and had a miserable time. We landed in Boston on the 23rd of May, then went by rail 300 miles to Iowa City, where we waited three weeks for the handcarts to be made.

When the carts were ready, we started in the Bunker Company. The weather was fine, the roads good, and although I was sick and weak and we were all tired out at night, still we thought it a glorious way to come to Zion. We began our journey of one thousand miles, pulling our handcarts. Some families consisted of just the husband and wife, and some had a number of children. Each cart had 100 pounds of flour to be divided, and get more from the wagons as needed. At first we had a little coffee and bacon, but that was soon gone, and we had no use for any cooking utensils but a frying pan. The flour was self-rising mixed with water, and cooked in the frying pan over the fire. That was all we had to eat. After months of traveling we were put on half rations, and at one time before help came, we were out of flour for two days. We shook the flour sacks in the water to make gravy, but had no grease of any kind. Our company was 300 Welsh Saints. There were about a dozen in our tent, six of whom could not speak the Welsh language, myself among the number. Don't you think I had a pleasant journey traveling for months with 300 people of whose language I could not understand a word? My husband could talk Welsh; so he could join in their festivities when he felt like it. There were in our tent my husband with one leg, two blind men, Thomas Giles being one of them, a man with one arm, and a widow with five children. The widow, her children, and myself were the only ones who could not talk Welsh. My husband was commissary for our tent, and he cut his own rations short many times to help little children who had to walk and did not have enough to eat to keep up their strength. There were five mule teams to haul the tents and flour. We were allowed to bring but 17 pounds; the remainder to make up the amount was in an oil cloth sack. Just our commonest clothing, which would stand the hard wear of traveling as we did. The tent was our covering, and the overcoat spread on the bare ground with the shawl over us was our bed. My feather bed, and bedding, pillows, all our good clothing, my husband's church books, which he had collected through six years of missionary work, with some genealogy he had collected, all had to be left in a storehouse. We were promised that they would come to us with the next emigration in the spring, but we never did receive them. It was reported that the storehouse burned down so that was a dreadful loss to us. Edward Bunker was the Captain of our Company. His orders of the day were, "If any are sick among you, and are not able to walk, you must help them along, or pull them on your carts." No one rode in the wagons. Strong men would help the weaker ones, until they themselves were worn out, and some died from the struggle and want of food, and were buried by the wayside. It was heart rending for parents to move on and leave their loved ones to such a fate, as they were so helpless, and had no material for coffins. Children and young folks, too, had to move on and leave father and mother or both.

Sometimes a bunch of buffaloes would come and the carts would stop until they passed. Had we been prepared with guns and ammunition like people who came in wagons, we might have had meat, and would not have come to near starving. Pres. Young ordered extra cattle sent along to be killed to help the sick and weak, but they were never used for that purpose. One incident happened which came near being serious. Some Indians came to our camp and my husband told an Indian who admired me that he could have me for a pony. He was always getting off jokes. He thought no more about it, but in a day or two, here came the Indian with the pony, and wanted his pretty little squaw. It was no joke with him. I never was so frightened in all my life. There was no place to hide, and we did not know what to do. The captain was called, and they had some difficulty in settling with the Indian without trouble.

In crossing rivers, the weak women and the children were carried over the deep places, and they waded the others. We were much more fortunate than those who came later, as they had snow and freezing weather. Many lost limbs, and many froze to death. President Young advised them to start earlier but they got started too late. My husband had the misfortune to lose his left leg at the knee when nine years of age. In walking from 20 to 25 miles per day, where the knee rested on the pad the friction caused it to gather and break and was most painful, but he had to endure it, or remain behind, as he was never asked to ride in a wagon. One incident shows how we were fixed for grease. My husband and John Thayne, a butcher, in some way killed an old lame buffalo. They sat up all night and boiled it to get some grease to grease the carts, but he was so old and poor, there was not a drop of grease in him. We had no grease for the squeaking carts or to make gravy for the children and old people. We reached Salt Lake City, October 2, 1856.

William R. Jones, took us to his humble home in Spanish Fork, where we landed among the rocks, sagebrush, and dugouts. We were tired, weary, with bleeding feet, our clothing worn out, and so weak we were nearly starved, but thankful to our Heavenly Father for bringing us to Zion. I think we were over three days coming from Salt Lake City to Spanish Fork by ox team, but what a change to ride in a wagon after walking 1330 miles from Iowa City to Salt Lake City. We stayed in the home of Mr. Jones a month, then we were taken into the home of ex-bishop Stephen Markham. Him home was a dugout. It was a very large room built half underground. His family consisted of three wives, and seven children. The wives were Aunt Mary, Aunt Annie, and Aunt Lydia. There was a large fireplace in one end with bars, hooks, frying pans, and bake ovens where they did the cooking of the large family, and boiled, fried, baked, heated their water for washing. There was a long table in one corner, and pole bedsteads fastened to the wall in the three other corners. They were laced back and forth with rawhide cut in strips, and made a nice springy bed. There were three trundle beds, made like shallow boxes, with wooden wheels, which rolled under the mother's bed in the daytime to utilize space. There was a dirt roof, and the dirt floor was kept hard and smooth by sprinkling and sweeping. The bed ticks were filled with straw raised in Palmyra before the famine. Aunt Mary put her two children, Orvil and Lucy, in the foot of her bed and gave us the trundle bed. I do not remember whether her baby in arms was Don or Sarah. Oh, how delightful to sleep on a bed again after sleeping on the ground so many months with our clothes on. We had not slept in a bed since we left the ship, Sam Curling.

Can you imagine the hospitality of the dear, big-hearted, generous Stephen Markham, who took us into his large family, and made us feel like one of them? Mr. Markham had been one of the Prophet's bodyguards, and then was a Colonel in the Nauvoo legion. He went all through the driving and persecution of the Saints, and his great heart was ever open to the wants and suffering of those less fortunate than himself. And Aunt Mary, the first wife, what a grand, lovely woman she was. My second mother, for she surely was a mother to me. She had one son, by a former marriage, Edgar Houghton, and Mr. Markham also had a son by a former marriage, Stephen. Palmyra, a little place on the river between the present location of Spanish Fork and the Utah Lake, was settled about 1856. After the famine, the people of Palmyra, about 50 families, moved to Spanish Fork. They nearly all lived in dugouts that season and winter, as they had no time to build houses. Spanish Fork derived its name from the fact that the Spanish priest, Escalante, and his companions camped on the forks of the river--hence the name Spanish Fork.

On the 31st of Dec. 1856, our first daughter was born. My baby's wardrobe was a rather meagre one. I made one gown from her father's white shirt, and one from the lining of the old oilcloth sack we brought with us. Aunt Mary Markham gave me a square of homespun linsey for a shoulder blanket, a neighbor gave me a roll of old underwear, and I never wasted an inch. A man at the adobe yard told me that I could have a pair of gray wool pants he was through with. The backs were good, and I had brought the shawl with me. The pants were made into petticoats. I walked down to the Indian Farm and traded a gold pen to an officer for four yards of calico, which made her some dresses. Could we have brought the bedding, clothing, and so many things we had to leave, we would have been quite comfortable.

I don't think I was any happier in after years when my babies were born in a good home, surrounded by everything to make one comfortable, than I was to find a resting place in that dugout after walking 1330 miles and pulling a handcart. One day my husband went down in the field to cut some willows to burn. The ax slipped and cut his good knee-cap. It was with difficulty that he crawled to the house. He was very weak from the loss of blood. My baby was but a few days old, and the three of us had to occupy the trundle bed for awhile.

Wood and timber were about 30 miles up in the canyon, and when the men went after timber to burn, they went in crowds, armed, for they never knew when they would be attacked by the Indians. Adobe houses were cheaper than log or frame, as timber was so far away. Many of the people who had lived in the dugouts after coming form Palmyra got into houses before the next winter. They exchanged work with each other, and in that way got along fine. Mr. Markham had an upright saw, run by water. The next spring they got timber form the canyon, and my husband helped Mr. Markham put up a three-roomed house and worked at farming. He worked for Wm. Markham a year for which besides the land, we got our board and keep. The next spring we went to work for ourselves. We saved our two acres of wheat, and made adobes for a two roomed house, and paid a man in adobes for laying it up. It had a dirt roof. He got timber from Mr. Markham to finish the doors, windows, floors, shelves, and to make furniture. My husband made me a good big bedstead and lace it with rawhides. There were benches and the frames of chairs with the rawhide seat, with the hair left on, a table, shelves in the wall on either side of the fireplace, which was fitted with iron bars and hooks to hang kettles on to boil, frying pans and bake oven. A tick for the bed had to be pieced out of all kinds of scraps, as there were no stores, and everything was on a trade basis.

If one neighbor had something they could get along without, they would exchange it for something they could use. We were lucky to get factory, or sheeting to put up to the windows instead of glass. We raised good crop of wheat that fall, for which we traded one bushel for two bushels of potatoes. We also exchanged for molasses and vegetables. We had no tea, coffee, meat, or grease of any kind for seasoning. No sugar, milk, or butter. In 1855-56 the grasshoppers and crickets took the crops and the cattle nearly all died. They were dragged down in the field west of our place on the other side of a slough, they called it, and a mud wall between the settlement and the field. Before my second baby, Jennie, was born, I heard that a neighbor was going to kill a beef. I asked her to save me enough tallow for one candle. But the beef was like the buffalo we killed crossing the plains, there was no tallow in it.

By this time I had two children, with no soap to wash our clothes. Grease of all kinds was out of the question. I took an ax and gunny sack and went into the field where the dead cattle had been dragged, and I broke up all the bones I could carry home. I boiled them in saleratus and lime, and it made a little jelly-like soap. The saleratus was gathered on top of the ground. My husband had traveled and preached the six years previous to coming to Utah, and he knew nothing about any kind of work but his profession of iron roller. His hands were soft, and white, but he soon wore blisters on his hands in learning to make adobes, digging ditches, making roads, driving oxen, and doing what was required of pioneers in a new country. The large bedstead came in good, for when my third child was born, two had to go to the foot of the bed, but it did not work. Jennie had to go to the foot alone. Caroline Louisa, or Carrie as we called her, was the third child, and although Emma was the oldest and just a baby herself, she could not be tempted to go to the foot of the bed, but was determined to sleep on her father's bosom, which she had done since the birth of Jennie.

We went down to the marshy land and gathered a load of cattails, which I stripped and made me a good bed and pillows. The were as soft as feathers. Our first fence around our lot was made of willows. Slender stakes were put in a certain distance apart, and the willows woven in back and forth. There was a board gate with rawhide hinges and flat rocks were laid on the walks, as we were located down under a long hill, and when it rained it was very muddy. There were many mud walks in the early days of Spanish Fork, as the material in them cost nothing. The mud was mixed stiff enough with straw in it so it would not run, and a layer was put on, then allowed to dry. Then another layer was put on, until high enough. Rock fences were also used, and were very durable. There were no stores. Sometimes someone would come around with their basket of needles, pins, buttons, thread, and notions, but I had no money to buy with. Men who had no teams worked two days for the use of a team one day. Shovels were so scarce that when men were working in the roads and ditches, they had to take turns using the shovels. My husband worked at Camp Floyd and got money enough to get him a good yoke of oxen. One day, while working in the canyon, a man above him (Mr. Beck) let a log roll down and broke the leg of one of the oxen. That was a calamity.

I traded for a hen with Mrs. Robert McKell, and got a setting of eggs somewhere else, and I have never been without chickens in all of my married life since. I could not get thread to sew so I raveled a trip of hickory shirting for dark sewing and factory for white sewing when I could get it. When we could get grease for light, we put a button in a rag, and braided the top setting the button in the grease, after dipping the braided part in the grease.

On the 4th of Aug. 1861, our fourth child, and first son, David T., was born, and in Dec. 1862 we were called to go to Salt Lake City to receive our endowments and sealing, which took place Dec. 6th, 1862. In that year my husband's mother and step-father came from Merthyr, Wales, Mr. and Mrs. David Jones. They had one son, Isaac, and his wife, Eliza, who also came. They and my husband were the only ones of his family who joined the Church that he knows of besides a cousin, Mrs. Haddock of Salt Lake City. His parents lived in with us, making eight in the family. Our rooms were small, and as grandma had left a good home and plenty, she became quite dissatisfied with our crowded condition. They drove their own team across the plains, two oxen, two cows, and they brought many useful things for their comfort.

We bought a lot on Main Street, and my husband gave his parents our first little home with five acres of land. They had a good oxteam two cows, a new wagon, and they soon got pigs, chickens, and a few sheep, and it wasn't long before they were well off. We moved up near our lot into a one-roomed adobe house with a garret, so to be near while my husband was building our new house. While living in that one room, the Indians were quite bad, and he was broken of his rest by standing guard nights and working in the day time.

It was indeed comfortable to be in a good house with a shingled roof and good floors. He set out an orchard of all kinds of fruit; also currants and gooseberries, planted lucern between the trees, and in a patch to itself, for cows and pigs. We had a nice garden spot, and we soon had butter, milk, eggs, meat, we raised our bread, potatoes, and vegetables. While our fruit trees were growing is when the saleratus helped. When I had the babies about all the same size, I could not get out to gather saleratus as others did; so we went with team and wagon, pans, buckets, old brooms, and sacks, down on the alkali land, between Spanish Fork and Springville. The smallest children were put under the wagon on a quilt, and the rest of us swept and filled the sacks, and the happiest time was when we were headed for home. The canyon wind seemed always to blow and our faces, hands, and eyes were sore for some time after. We took our saleratus over to Provo, where they had some kind of refining machinery where it was made into soda for bread. It was also used extensively in soap making. We got our pay in merchandise.

Another source of income before our fruit trees began to bear was the wild ground cherries. They grew on a vine or bush about six inches high, were bright yellow when ripe, were full of soft seed and about the size of a cherry. They made fine pies and all we had to spare sold readily at a good price when dried. Most people who had land kept a few sheep which furnished them meat, light and clothing. We had no sheep, but I , and my oldest daughter, learned to spin and we did spinning on shares to get our yarn for stockings and socks, which we knitted for the family. Before this time my sister, Sarah, had sent me a black silk dress pattern, with other things, which I sold to Mrs. Morgan Hughes, and I bought a cow and a pair of blankets. Before the building of the Provo factory, the people had wool picking bees. The wool was greased and the trash picked out of it, then it was carded into rolls. We made our own cloth, which was mostly gray in color, for dresses, by mixing the black and white wool. If a light gray was wanted, more white than black was put in, and dark was added if a darker gray was wanted. The dresses for grown people were three widths, and for younger women two widths, one yard wide. There was a row of bright colors, red, blue, green, etc., about half way up the skirt, which was hemmed and pleated onto a plain waist with coat sleeves. When our dresses wore thin in front, they could be turned back to front and upside down, and have a new lease on life. With madder, Indigo, logwood, and copperas, and other roots, I have colored beautiful fast colors.

My husband had a bottle green suit while on his mission and he got so tired of seeing all gray suits that he asked me if I thought I could make him a bottle green suit. He bought the wool, and I had it carded into rolls, then I was particular to spin it very even. I scoured the yarn white, then with Indigo, yellow flowers, and a liquid made from rabbit brush, the color was set. The yarn had to stay in this mixture for some time, and when it came out it was a pretty dark, bottle green. I took the yarn down to one of Pres. Hansen's wives who wove it into cloth. I ripped up an old suit for a pattern and made his suit all by hand, backstitching every stitch, until it was as smooth on the right side as machine work. We did all of our sewing by hand. I took a large dinner plate and cut from the cloth the crown of a cap, lined it and put a band on it. He got a patent leather visor in Salt Lake and when it was all finished it was surely swell for those days, and would not look out of place in this day of caps. We were kept busy in those days carding, spinning, knitting, and doing all of our sewing by hand.

After getting settled in our new home, my husband went over to Camp Floyd, where he worked quite a bit. He found a friend who was selling out prior to leaving for California. He bought quite a number of articles, which greatly helped us. One thing was a door knob and lock. He also bought me a stepstove. Stoves were very scarce at that time in Spanish Fork. I had never cooked on a stove in my life, and I burned my first batch of bread. Where I came from people mixed their dough and had it baked in the public oven, and at home we had a grate with an oven at the side. When the soldier Camp broke up, they left many useful things which helped the people.

On the 9th of July, 1863, our second son, J. J. Evans, was born. He was the first child born in our new home. After our fruit trees began to bear, we invited in our neighbor's young folks and had cutting bees. The peaches were spread on a scaffolding to dry, and when dried sold readily at a good price. We kept some for our own use. On July 16, 1865, our daughter Sarah Amelia was born, now Mrs. David Williams of Spanish Fork. On May 4, 1867, Charles Abram was born. Thomas Isaac was born on May I, 1869, and died when six months old. My husband farmed down on the river bottom, and between times he freighted produce to Salt Lake City, as he had come to Camp Floyd before the soldiers left, and brought home merchandise for the people. After the death of bishop John L. Butler, A. K. Thurber was bishop until 1867, when George D. Snell was sustained as bishop. Bishop Thurber was called to Grass Valley to show the Indians how to farm. He moved his family to Richfield, Utah, July 1, 1870. Our daughter, Mary E., was born and is now Mrs. Fred Cox of Salt Lake City, and the 4th of August, 1872, our son John W. was born.

My husband had poor luck farming. His farm was in the low land, near the river where the sugar factory now stands. Sometimes it would be high water, sometimes grasshoppers, crickets, would take his crop; so he got discouraged with farming, sold his farm and put up a store. We had just got well started in the business and had got a bill of goods, when in the spring of 1875 my husband was called on another mission to England. I was obliged to ask for a release on the manifold duties as secretary of the Relief Society. At that time I had already ten children and ever since the organization of the Relief Society in 1857 I had kept all books and accounts for the society; so I asked to be released. Before starting on his mission he sold his team and all available property, also mortgaged our home, for although he was called to travel without purse or scrip, he had to raise money enough to pay his passage and his expenses to his field of labor in Europe. He had too tender a heart for a merchant; he simply could not say no when people came to him with pitiful stories of sickness and privation. He would give them credit, and the consequence was that when he was suddenly called on a mission, the goods were gone and there were hundreds of dollars coming to us from the people, some of which we never got. Everything was left in my hands.

On the 24th of October 1875, after my husband's departure, our daughter Ada May was born, now Mrs. A. M. Coppin of Salt Lake City. I nursed her, also my little grand-daughter, Maud, as twins. The mother came near dying with a sickness from which she had not yet recovered. Ada May was our 11th child. To help us out, our oldest daughter got a position as clerk in the Co-op Store. I appreciated that of the board very much, as before that time they had not been employing lady clerks, and she was the first girl to work in the store. Before my husband's departure, he put our oldest son, David T., and a young man whom we had taken in some time before, Tom Holding, as apprentices in the Co-op store in the shoe shop, under Mr. Chiverel, manager. They did not get much pay for the first year, but every little helped. I had considerable sickness in my family during my husband's absence.

After my confinement I worked, paying debts and straightening up the business to the best of my strength and ability, until his return, something over two years. I supposed there is plenty to do, for those who are willing. After my husband's return, I was sustained as President and Secretary of the Relief Society in Spanish Fork. Each month I took my little boys and team, and gathered up the wheat the sisters donated, and took it to the storehouse. Sometimes we had a hard time getting places for storage. The Bishops helped us out, especially Bishop Benjamin Argyle. He would sell it when it was high in price, then buy it back when it was cheap. In that way he greatly helped us out. He also furnished a storeroom for our wheat in the tithing office, which we greatly appreciated. We had more than paid the principal of the mortgage on our home in interest. My husband's health was not good after his return. He had pneumonia twice. We sold our home on Main St., paid off the mortgage and put up a little house on the five acres of land we had given to his parents. They deeded it to us when they died. We have some of our children as near neighbors, and are quite comfortable in our new home. The city is extending down into what used to be the field, and the land is very valuable. There is no trace of the old mud wall which used to separate the city from the field. All of the old adobe houses, and in fact, most of the old landmarks have gone and nice modern homes have replaced them. Nov. 1, 1877, my last and 12th child was born. In that year, my oldest daughter, Emma P. Married James Little, and started pioneering again in Kanab, Utah, 300 miles south. We have been blessed with seven daughters and five sons, and have raised our twelve children to man and womanhood.

The motto of my life has been, "Not to look back, but onward." I have always thanked the Lord for a testimony of the gospel of Jesus Christ of the Latter-day Saints for I know it is true. I have thanked Him for a contented mind, I have thanked Him that I have been privileged to come to this glorious land of Promise, for had we remained in our native land, which was by the sea, we never could have owned a foot of land. This is a glorious country, but it is little appreciated by people who know nothing of the old world. Out of my father's family of five sons and three daughters, I am the only one to join the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. It has always seemed strange to me that the blood of Israel is scattered in families, two of a city, and one of a family. I hope to keep the light of the Gospel, and continue faithfully to the end.

Thomas David Evans and Priscilla Merriman Evans
ca. 1901, Spanish Fork, Utah

sources: (Dr. Ronald Dennis)


  1. Thank you for posting this information. This is my Great Great Grandfather and Grandmother.

  2. Hi,

    I am a friend of Gaylynn Bird and she has given me a copy of this wonderful autobiography of her ancestor. I have started a new blog called angelsinmyear in which I write fictional stories about real people based on the facts and hopefully
    a little inspiration to show the personalities of these wonderful people. I am going to post a story about her and if anyone wants to read her autobiography I will refer them here if that is okay with you. That way, I won't have to re-post it and this blog may get some traffic (hopefully) LOL