Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Wessman 15: Martha Roach Pugsley

Martha Roach Pugsley
b. 14 December 1829  North Curry, Somerset, England
chr. 10 Jan 1830  North Curry, Somerset, England
m. 28 June 1851  Bristol, Gloucester, England
d. 23 June 1906  Salt Lake City, Salt Lake, Utah
b. 25 June 1906  Salt Lake City, Salt Lake, Utah
Father: John Roach
Mother: Mary Knapp
Husband: Philip Pugsley

Martha Roach was born December 14, 1829 in North Curry, Somersetshire, England. She was the daughter of John and Mary Knapp Roach. Her father died when she was thirteen years of age, leaving her mother with a family of five to provide for after his death, four girls and one boy. They moved to Bristol where the opportunities were better for making a living and her mother took in sewing. She must have had a good education for those times as I have heard mother say she wrote letters for all the neighbors, none of whom could write.

Mother went out to service and lived for some time at a young ladies’ boarding school. She told of going to a woman fortune teller at this time who almost foretold her life as it afterward occurred. She was baptized into the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in 1850 by George Halliday and was married to father in Bristol, England, on June 28, 1851 by George Halliday who was the Presiding Elder of the Conference at that time. Her family was much opposed to the church, being very staunch Church of England people and her mother died soon after her daughter’s marriage. At this time she took her youngest sister to live with her and this arrangement lasted until she left Bristol for Utah.

In common with all who became members of the church, the spirit of gathering took possession of them. Mother was especially anxious to leave before they had much family, so they took three young men as lodgers in order to get the money with which to come. In April 1852 her first son was born and they left for Utah in April 1853 with the famous ten pound company, sent to this country by Apostle F.D. Richards.

They crossed the ocean in the ship Falcon commanded by Captain Bennet and arrived at New Orleans after a voyage of eight weeks. I have often heard Mother tell of the storm which they ran into before they left the English Channel and in which it looked as though they would be wrecked. She was sick all the way over.

The Ten Pound Company was made up of people who were able to pay their way here without any aid from the Church, the ten pounds referring to the money necessary to pay for the entire trip. At Keokuk a company was organized to start for Council Bluffs with wagons but before they got started it was found necessary to throw away about two thirds of their luggage and it was later found necessary to lighten up still more on the plank road opposite Nauvoo.

The company under the command of Captain John Gates started with ten in a wagon and all badly supplied with provisions. They arrived in Salt Lake City on the last day of September and camped on what is now the site of the West High School. At this time Father had ten cents in money, a wife, a son, and one small box which contained all their clothing. Mother had been very sick all the way over the plains with ague and fever and was still very ill when they arrived. They camped in a wagon box for a while and here was formed a friendship which lasted as long as she lived.

Sister Eliza Broadbent heard that there was a sick sister at the square and came up with a loaf of newly baked bread. To a woman who had been sick for months it was a Godsend and mother was the kind who never forgot a favor done for her.

They lived in a tent for several weeks until the snow got very deep and then moved into one room of an old house which looked as though it would fall in on them at any time. Money and provisions were very scarce but father managed to get a few beets which mother boiled down in a bake kettle, pressed the juice from them, and then made molasses. Father finally got work at the Ames tannery and with the first twenty-five cents he earned, bought a piece of leather which he traded for a shin bone of beef. This was boiled every day for two weeks until broth could no longer be made from it. For the first candle they had father scraped the fat from the inside of the hides and mother rendered it down until after several weeks of this, they had enough for a candle and borrowed a mold to make it in. You can easily imagine how precious this candle was so it was only lit in extreme cases. The fire on the hearth furnished most of the light at night.

I am the oldest daughter and was born on December 23, 1854 (Elizabeth Ann Pugsley). At that time they were living in a one room log house with dirt floors. It was a terribly stormy night and the wind blew the snow through the dirt roof. A quilt was tacked over the bed in an effort to keep that dry. Under these conditions her first daughter was born. Some time later father bought the house on Fourth North St. where nine more children were born.

The Philip and Martha Pugsley Family.
Front row (L-R): William, Martha, John, Philip, Philip
Back row (L-R): Elizabeth Ann, Emily, Joseph, Minnie, Adelaide

In 1858 Mother moved south with the rest of the Saints and lived in Springville until the trouble was over, Father remained in Salt Lake as a guard. In 1865 Father was sent to the Sandwich Islands by the church for the purpose of determining the advisability of starting a tannery there. The trip took six months.

At this time Father was running a tannery and a flour mill besides being interested in a butcher shop and several other industries. During the six months of his absence, mother attended to all the details of his business and directed the drying of hundreds of pounds of fruit which was later shipped to the mines in Montana and proved to be quite a source of income. Father returned in October and the following January mother’s second pair of twins were born after three days of labor and nearly at the expense of her life.

At the time of her death she had six children living, four daughters and two sons. She had suffered the loss of three sons, one fourteen years of age, one twenty-one and one thirty-one, also two infant daughters, so that in her life she had known many sorrows as well as joys. Father and Mother celebrated their golden wedding anniversary in June 1901 and Father died in August 1903. Mother died in June 1906 at the age of 76.

She was a very reserved woman having but few intimate friends but the respect of many. She never forgot old friends and was always generous to those in need. Even in her own time of need during the grasshopper war she never refused to share what she had with others. She had a strong sense of justice and always tried to see both sides of a question. A daughter-in-law who had lived in the family for forty-five years when questioned as to what could be said of her mother-in-law replied, “One of the best women that ever lived.” She never worked in any church organization her early years being occupied with the care of eleven children and her later life being devoted to the care of Father who was sorely afflicted with rheumatism.

I feel that her Patriarchal blessing was certainly fulfilled since it said that “Her children shall rise up and call her blessed and her name shall be handed down and revered by her posterity.”

Hayward, Elizabeth Ann Pugsley. “Biography of Martha Roach Pugsley.”

• • •

Deseret News, June 23, 1906, 2.


Mother-in-law of Mayor Thompson Passes to Rest after Useful Life

In another column of today’s issue of the Deseret News the serious illness of Mrs. Martha Roach Pugsley was announced. Subsequent to its having been written Mrs. Pugsley passed to her rest from general debility in the presence of her loved ones, who watched the gradual extinguishment of life’s last spark.

The deceased was in all respects a good woman. She loved to do good for good’s sake. And she did it without ostentation or show. Generosity was a part of her very nature. She was the friend of the poor and those in distress never appealed to her in vain. The hungry who came to her door went away filled, and those who mourned obtained comfort from the words she uttered. The frills of fashion and the glitter of modern society never appealed to her. The substance she liked better than the shadow and that was the gospel she taught.

Mrs. Pugsley was the wife of the late Phillip Pugsley, a native of Somersetshire, England, and was born December 14, 1829. She became the wife of Phillip Pugsley in 1850, and three years later came to Utah, and settled in Salt Lake City, where she continued to make her home up to the time of her death. She leaves six children, Joseph, Phillip, Mrs. H.J. Hayward, Mrs. Ezra Thompson, Mrs. S.M. Barlow and Mrs. Adelbert Beesley.

The funeral services will take place from No. 1 Pugsley’s court, on Fourth No. between Second and Third West St. at 4 o’clock, Monday afternoon. Mayor Thompson, one of her sons-in-law, is in Denver, and it is not known at this time whether he will return in time to attend the obsequies.

Salt Lake Herald, June 24, 1906, 6.

Salt Lake Herald, June 24, 1906, 18.

Many thanks to Wessman cousin Toni for sending the family photo! The Bristol image is from wikipedia.

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