Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Samuel Walter Jarvis and Frances Godfrey DeFriez Jarvis

Frances (Fanny) Godfrey Defriez was born May 5th, 1859, in London, Middlesex, England, was the youngest daughter of Dr. Joseph George and Mary Anne Godfrey DeFriez. She was given the best education available, especially musical training, which only the well-to-do could afford. The family kept servants for their house-work, and Fanny had a private maid. These things were all changed when she came with her mother to Utah, and had to learn to do all the various things necessary for the early Pioneer Women. She was a sweet, charming young lady of eighteen years when they arrived in St. George, Utah, in the summer of 1877, and was soon sought and won by a "Dixey" [sic] boy, Samuel Walter Jarvis. They were married in the St. George Temple, December 4th, 1877.

In the spring of 1879 they started for Arizona in answer to a call made by Brigham Young just prior to his death, to help establish settlement in Arizona, along the Little Colorado River.

Fanny had to camp out and sleep in a wagon box while her husband and brother Charles got timbers to build their log houses in Snowflake, fence and prepare land, and put in crops, &c. She must have been very lonely at times, there being no one of her class or kin, except the pioneers in that vicinity who were also making a new home. Charles had left his wife and baby in St. George until he had a log house for them to occupy. Accordingly, as soon as possible, he returned to Utah for them, arriving in Snowflake November 22nd, 1879. In the meantime, Fanny had given birth to their first child, July 11th, 1879 in Snowflake, while among strangers. One other child, George, was born October 13th, 1881, in Snowflake.

The following spring of 1883, her husband and brother moved to Nutrioso, Apache County, Arizona, to make a home there. They each moved into a one-room log house with dirt floor and roof, but Sam soon had a two-room frame house up, and Charles put a small stock of merchandise in the room he had vacated, but not before another son had been born to Sam and Fanny.

Sam's next move was to Old Mexico, in the fall of 1885. Here, as the Poet expressed it "Nature had moved in first, a good long time, and had things already somewhat his own style." They had to clear the ground, before building brush shelters, then proceed to make rude houses to shelter them from rain and storms. Townsites were selected, farms and ditches located, land cleared and fenced, etc. No time to help the women-folk with their affairs. To prepare food for so many under such circumstances, to do the necessary washing and taking care of little children was a full job. These were hard conditions for all, but they made the best of what could be obtained and lived through the stage of want and poverty, and established themselves, gathered comforts. They had a good home, cattle, land and means, when they had to leave it all at the time of the Revolution in Mexico.

The conditions this dainty English maiden had to endure during her long life and pioneer experiences cannot be even guessed at by us now, who have every convenience and comfort of this time. She bore it all uncomplainingly, and was the mother of twelve children. Her daughter Frances died and left a baby girl which she raised. Her husband had another wife, who died and left six children. These she helped care for until the oldest girl was able to manage the family, making in all nineteen children she mothered. In addition, she had her own mother [Mary Ann Godfrey Defriez] who was totally blind, with her for the last fifteen years of her life, and cared for her most tenderly, seeing to it that she had every necessity and comfort that was possible under the circumstances. Fanny also helped her husband with his store business and learned to speak Spanish, so as to be able to take care of their many Mexican customers.

Needless to say, her life was a busy one, yet she had time withall to live with her children and impress upon them the lessons of life, love, industry, self-reliance, kindness, loyalty to God and their Religion, and each other, and the fundamentals of culture and refinement.

Her daughter Grace Jarvis Fenn gives the following description and tribute: ——
Somewhat under average height, a bit sturdily built, comely of features, grey eyes, medium brown hair, Mother was a queen among women, with manners that became Royalty; not given to much speech, yet possessing an unlimited vocabulary, her expressions were easy-flowing and couched in the best of correct English, with the London accent, musical to the listener. Born and reared in London, tutored in a private school, her cultural nature was without flaw. She seldom sang except for congregational, though her voice was sweet and true. Her touch on the piano or organ was unexcelled, with rhythm seldom acquired. Her character was beyond question, lavishly endowed with all the noble qualities and graces. She was honest, upright, trustworthy and filled with integrity to the Truth. Having embraced the Latter Day Saint's Faith at mature womanhood, she understood and practiced its principles. Businesslike and methodical in all she did, it was said of her, "She was at home in any company." Neat and extremely particular in personal appearance, she won the admiration and respect of all who knew her, and 'twas often said she looked like Queen Victoria.

Her ability in art was best expressed in her bouquets of natural looking wool flowers of many kinds and rich hues. Brought up in luxury, with household servants for all menial tasks, she was not reared in idleness, but required to use her time profitably and advantageously, and when her age permitted, was allowed to assist her mother as Postal Clerk in one of London's large division offices. Being trained somewhat in elocution, she often gave public readings, with dignity and ease.
Much time during her last years, after her husband's death, was spent among her children tho' she kept a home of her own. She was able to wait on herself until near the last, when her children were glad to do all that could be done, waiting upon her with all tenderness.

She never complained of her lot, but was always thankful for her many blessings. She rejoiced in the fact that she had heard and accepted the Gospel of Jesus Christ in her native England, and had come to Utah; and her testimony of its truthfulness was faithful to the end. She passed away September 17th, 1933, at El Paso, Texas aged 74 years.

Samuel Walter (1879, Arizona)
George Josiah (1881, Arizona)
William Heber (1883, Arizona)
Frances (1885, Mexico)
Amelia (1887, Utah)
Grace (1888, Mexico)
Nephi (1890, Mexico)
Clementhina (1893, Mexico)
Lehi DeFriez (1895, Mexico)
Joseph DeFriez (1897, Mexico)
Benjamin Charles (1899, Mexico)
Mary Esther (1902, Mexico)

From Margaret Godfrey Jarvis Overson. George Jarvis And Joseph George De Friez Genealogy. Mesa, Ariz: M.J. Overson, 1957, ii:66-69.

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