Saturday, February 16, 2013

Our Brass Plates: Chapter 10

Joseph Howard
     The Howards and Lowes

The call to gather to Zion was for all saints.  All would need the blessings of the temple.  However, some were given the call to remain where they were for a while in order to build up the Church.  The Joseph Howard family received just such a call.  Joseph was taught the trade of farming by his father on the family farm near Birmingham, England.  

Canal towpath with heron near Gravelly Hill, Birmingham

Joseph met his wife to be, Ann Shelton, who worked as a clerk in a grocery store.  After their marriage, they farmed near his father.  In addition to farming, Joseph became a successful coal merchant.  They had eleven children.  Joseph was the first in the family to be converted to the Church.  He was baptized in a font that was built on his farm that was fed by a spring by William Griffin on November 27, 1851.  He was then ordained an Elder by Charles Jones.  Ann was baptized on December 16, 1851.  The children were baptized as they reached the appropriate age.

Joseph was appointed to be the president of the Allison Street Branch of the Church.  Church singing in that area often attracted the unwanted attention of rough men who hung-out in the neighborhood.  Joseph was a strong man and had to stay near the door at the top of the stairs to keep ruffians out of the meeting place and to prevent them from not letting members and investigators get past.  Not withstanding of these hardships, membership in the branch grew.  Joseph secured a larger meeting place and was able obtain a lease for 99 years.  The Chapel became known as the Hockley Chapel.

The very day that Joseph made the lease of the new chapel, on the way home he was attacked by a mob of Mormon haters and was nearly beaten to death.  His clothing was ruined.  His silk hat was smashed.  He received deep cuts and was left unconscious in the mud.  His own neighbors would not come to his aid because the hate was so great towards members of the Church.  Joseph continued to preside over that branch for another ten to eleven years.  Members of the branch made sure that Joseph had bodyguards to see him safely home after his meetings.

Economically, things went from bad to worse for the Howards.  People refused to buy coal from a Mormon.  Coal mine owners refused to sell their coal to him.  The family decided to sent two of the older sons ahead to America to see if they could earn enough money to help pay the passage for the rest of the family.  Eighteen year old Thomas and seventeen year old William were agreeable to do this for the family.  They set sail on April 23, 1861.  America was a different place for these teenagers with different customs and manners of speech.  This was also the beginning of the American Civil War.  

The two brothers hired on as teamsters driving ox teams across the plains to Utah walking all the way.  They survived by eating only bread and bacon grease as their main source of food.  The people of Utah were very poor and could not give them to much help.  The first winter they cut wood in the mountains for the right to have a place to stay and have a little food to eat.  During that winter in the mountains, Thomas had his feet frozen and had to walk back home to the family with whom he was staying.  With his feet wrapped in burlap, he chopped wood for the family for the rest of the winter.  

Thomas was able to find work with William Muir.  He saved his money and send it to England to help pay the passage of the rest of his family and his bride to be.  It would not be until 1864 that the rest of the family would be able to sail to America. 

Joseph was able to find work at a smelting and refining company.  It was hard work but he was glad to be able to have some work.  They had to sell five acres of their farm to also help make ends meet.  

Mary Lowe Howard
The year before Thomas and William left for America, a young woman by the name of Mary Lowe started attending some of the church meetings that were held in the Hockley branch.  Joseph and Ann made her feel welcome.  Mary had to walk six miles to attend the meetings and six miles back to the home where she was staying.  Some times she stayed over with the Howard family rather than walk back late at night.  Thomas started walking Mary to her home because the distance was a hardship on his father and they did not want her walking home in the dark.  The family for whom Mary worked as head cook were very rich and had a strong liking for Mary.  When some of the other servants told them that Mary was going to Mormon meetings, they tried to talk her out of going any more.  They even had the minister come and meet with here to try and convince her of the error of her ways.  The more he talked, the more she was convinced that the Church of Jesus Christ was true.  She had the opportunity in that small branch of hearing Apostle Penrose speak.  

Mary was released from her employment and had a hard time finding work.  No one wanted to hire a Mormon or friend of the Mormons.  At last she was able to work for a family who said that they too belonged to a strange church and that Mary=s religion did not bother them.  She had to work longer hours and for less pay.  Mary was baptized by Joseph Howard on September 11, 1860.  This was before Thomas left for America.  The two had been seeing each other and agreed that if neither of them found anyone better, that they would be married when she got to Utah.  Mary had several opportunities for marriage, but waited for her reunion with Thomas. 
The Howard family and Mary Lowe set sail for America on the ship Hudson in 1864.  This was the very ship that Margaretta Clark Call sailed on in 1856 as one of the handcart pioneers.  They arrived at the port of New York.  The Civil war was still going on.  England had taken sides with the South.  English emigrants were suspect and not made welcome.  Joseph and his son James were sick most of the way from New York to Nebraska where they joined a wagon company of 170 wagons.  Two of the sons, James and Joseph then hired out with a freight company as drivers.  This separation was hard on their mother Ann.  

The family had to walk.  It was hot and dry.  There was very little clean water for them to drink along the way.  In their weakened condition, two of the little girls became ill.  The baby, Tamar died just before they got to the South Platt River and was buried along the way.  Two weeks later one the six year old twins, Matilda, died and was also buried.  The stress of losing her children, weakened Ann even more.  She became to weak to walk but there was no room in the wagons to ride.  Finally Joseph was able to get permission for his wife to ride in one of the wagons.  Ann=s daughter Emma rode with her and comforted her as much as she could.  Emma could see her mother growing weaker as she held her in her lap.  That night, Ann Shelton Howard died and was buried the next morning in two sheets in a shallow grave never to see her four sons again in this life.    

Ann Shelton Howard was buried on Bitter Creek, Wyoming.
Thomas and William were waiting at Pioneer Park in Salt Lake City for their family when they arrived on October 26, 1864.  Their joy soon changed to sorrow for the loss o their mother and two of their sisters. 

Thomas and Mary Lowe were married by Bishop William Muir on Christmas day in 1864 just two months after Mary got into the valley.  Love knows no distance that can be separated by ocean and plains and desert.  Love also knows no distance of time either.  In June 1882, Joseph with his son James and daughter Emmy, made the journey from Bountiful to St. George where for the first time in this dispensation, work could be done for the dead other than baptisms.  Emma became proxy for her mother Ann and was endowed for her and sealed for her to Joseph.  The purpose for the gathering is evident.  Through the temples which are the product of the gathering, it makes families eternal families.  Families can be forever.

Of interest also is the story of the husband to be of Emma Howard.  Edward and Alice Parker Corbridge were some of the early converts to the Church in England.  They came to the United States in 1850 and crossed the plains in 1852 and settled in Bountiful.  Edward would take his young son William Henry with him into the mountains to get logs that could be used in the construction of barns and houses.  William learned to work hard at an early age.  In 1862 at the age of eighteen, William Henry drove a mule team for David Sessions back to Council Bluffs, Iowa to bring aid and to help immigrants into the valley of the Great Salt Lake.  He made a second trip back to the Missouri River to help another group of immigrants to the valley.  He made a third trip to bring wagon loads of telegraph wire to the valley to aid the saints in being able to communicate faster.  Back in Bountiful, William continued to do logging east of Bountiful.  He brought much of the timber that was used in the construction of the Bountiful Tabernacle.  He joined the U.S. Army for a short time and fought in the Black Hawk Indian War.  He received a bullet in the calf of one leg in one of the skirmishes.  He was sealed to Emma Howard in the Endowment House on Valentine=s Day in1870 by Daniel Wells.  
Of further interest, another family , the Henry Barrett family joined the Church in 1861.  They too needed to send their family to Utah a few at a time.  They sent their youngest son, Thomas, with a family that was coming to Utah.  He settled in Farmington with the Manning family.  They then sent their sixteen year old daughter Mary Ann and their twelve year old son, John next.  They sailed on the Hudson at the same time the Howard family sailed and were in the same company that crossed the plains.  Mary Ann Barrett would go on to marry Alfred Burningham one of our handcart pioneer ancestors.  

Note: Leslie Tuttle Foy wrote Our Brass Plates, of which this was but one chapter. Thanks, Uncle Les!  Picture of Gravelly Hill area near where the Howards farmed was taken by © Copyright Roger Kidd and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence and is found on the Geograph website The picture of Bitter Creek was first published in the Ensign in 1984 and is now found on                                                                                                                   


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