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Peters, Ann Jones Parry - Biography

Sketch of the Life of Ann Jones Parry Peters

by Orpha D. Peters



Far away in the beautiful land of great mountains and splendid cataracts, green valleys and wild flowers of the north of Wales, there came to the family of Jones one bright spring day a sweet baby girl--the subject of this missive. She was warmly greeted and the kind care that is necessary for a newborn baby was given her. Thus did she begin and spend a happy child life ont eh farm of her thrifty parents. At times I think I see her as a child roaming hills, gathering wild flowers or wandering over to the quarry (of which there are many in the neighborhood) to watch the men cut and handle the large glistening stones. As evening approached she ran along holding big brother's hand asking all kinds of children questions.

Thus her young life ran merrily on into young womanhood without a care. Then it was she met the one man, perhaps it was at the quarry she visited so often, for he was a quarryman. As hard work makes large, strong men, so it was with this man. He was said to be one of God's noble men; a fine singer; and accomplished harpist.

This future husband of Ann Jones was known by the name of Edward Parry. He was several years older than she, but what of that? - was he not a good protector for her young life? So we find them happily together when the new and everlasting gospel came to their home.

Elders of Israel had climbed to the heights of Wales to bring tidings of great joy. Of course, the Parrys were ready and willing to receive it along with a goodly number of others and were indeed happy to enter the waters of baptism. How they did enjoy the cottage meetings held in their home or that of their neighbors where they were taught the new doctrine of life and salvation for the children of God. Here in word and deed they rejoiced and mingled their voices in songs of praise.

As it was with most of the early converts, so it was with the Parrys. The spirit of gathering entered their hearts and took complete possession of their being. They could not rest day or night until they were on the way to Zion. It was with light, happy hearts they went about disposing of their home and other possessions, which were not a few, for they were not of the very poor class of people, but were very comfortable as were most of their neighbors in the north of Wales.

They started on what they thought to be a most wonderful journey to the new world--America. Were they not going to the land of Zion of the latter days! Why not be joyful and make merry! On they go to Liverpool. Here they engage passage on a sailing vessel and under the guiding hand of Captain Dan Jones who was in charge of the first company of Welsh Saints to emigrate, they set sail on the Buena Vista on 26 February 1849.

I will give the account of this incident as it was seen through the eyes of an eight-year-old girl. She [Sarah Peters Squires, daughter of David and Laura Peters] repeated it to me but yesterday [1928] although she is now eighty-seven years old. She says:

"I will never forget as long as I live. We all went down to the dock to see the first company of Latter-day Saints leave from Wales. It was a grand sight. I remember standing, holding my father's hand as he waved his kerchief and shouted good-bye and God bless you to the departing friends. As I looked up to the departing ship, there stood John Parry leading the singing and Edward Parry playing on his large harp. These men were bare headed and, being very large, they looked wonderful to me as they led the singing of the hymn 'Oh Babylon, my Babylon, we bid thee farewell, we are going to the mountains of Israel to dwell'. As this song was sung the gangplank was removed and the ship slowly pushed out to sea."

As this good woman narrated the story the tears coursed freely down her wrinkled and timeworn cheeks.

We know not much of what happened on the sea to the company, for the little eight-year-old girl and her family were left behind. For one more week she stayed in Liverpool and didn't join the others until they reached Council Bluffs. [Because there was insufficient space on the Buena Vista about eighty Welsh converts had to wait until the following week to sail on the Hartley from Waterloo Dock in Liverpool.]

After they started from New Orleans an epidemic of cholera broke out and whole families died. Others had one, two or three left to tell the dreadful tale. Surely their great joy was turned to sorrow.

It was here that the subject of this sketch met her first great trial for her beloved husband was smitten, and in a few short hours Ann Jones Parry found herself a young widow with one little child to care for, far away from home in a new land of whose language she knew nothing. She also knew that before she could reach the valley of the mountains there would be another child. Oh! the heartbreaking hours as they slowly moved up the river which was so shallow that their boat continually became fastened on the sandbars and would lie for hours in the burning heat waiting for help. All this time someone was dying and being taken to the nearby shore to be buried. Oh, the pity of it all!

Finally they arrived at St. Louis and disembarked, removing such things as they could, and the boat was towed to the opposite side of the river and burned, as it so badly contaminated with cholera it was perfectly unfit for further use. [See The Call of Zion: the Story of the First Welsh Mormon Emigration, p. 47-51, for details of this group between New Orleans and Council Bluffs.]

We find Mrs. Parry near Council Bluffs, one might say alone, but God had not forgotten her or a number of others in much the same condition, for in this company there was a woman of abundant means--a Mrs. Lewis--who bought ten wagons and fitted them with teams and supplies. In one of these wagons she placed Mrs. Parry and her little son Edward.

From here they moved up the river by team to Council Bluffs and lay in waiting for other companies to get ready to cross the plains. In due time three big emigrant trains started on the long trail west. They were all fully organized in tens and fifties with captain, etc. Each knew his duty. All three trains were under the direction of Apostle George A. Smith. He had his young wife, Bathsheba, with him.

On can follow these trains along the dusty, hot, rough roads with their cattle, pigs, chickens, dogs, etc. We see them up at break of day, each person doing their given task, each striving to help in the best way they knew, and as they make camp at night, tired by with an assurance that it would come to an end some day, these three big trains kept quite close together so to form protection to each other, not only against roving bands of hostile Indians and wild animals, but against the gold-crazed companies of men who rushed madly on in every conceivable way to try to reach the gold fields of California.

The little girl[[Sarah Peters Squires] tells me she had lots of nice times with the other children as they ran races, picked wild flowers, and always had in mind to stay close to the camp for fear of the enemies. She enjoyed the music and singing at evening as they gathered around the campfire, for there were some very good musicians, she tells me.

As one day after another the time went by, they came nearer the valley of Zion. As they were traveling along past that well-known landmark "Chimney Rock", a man approached Captain Smith saying, "I think we will have to stop for a while." The Captain said, "What is your reason for stopping?" "There is a sick woman in one of the wagons and the roads are very rough." The Captain rode back, had the wagon pulled to one side, and it stood by for a couple of hours. When this lone team and wagon again took to the road, Mrs. Parry held her newborn baby boy close to her sorrow-filled heart lest he be shaken too badly, and in this way she entered the valley of the great Salt Lake--the Zion of her people.

This was in the fore part of November. Winter was coming on. She had no home, but there were kind friends who in their own cramped conditions did what they could for her. Thus the first year passed by, and during the second year the Church built her an adobe one-room house with a dirt roof. Here she and her two children spent a wretched winter, as it stormed a great deal and the roof leaked. Nor did it stop at that, but kept it up for hours after bringing down mud on everything in sight.

Before another winter arrived, one David Peters, an acquaintance of some years and a near neighbor also from Wales, took into consideration the counsel of President Brigham Young (you remember at this time polygamy was in vogue) and after gaining the consent of his wife, Laura Peters, they visited the Endowment House, and there he, David Peters, and Ann Jones Parry were united in the bonds of holy wedlock [20 September 1851]. She always went by the name of Mrs. Parry.

After her marriage, she went at once to live in the household of the Peters, and plenty there was to do in a family of ten. Having only two small rooms, they used wagons for beds. [Laura Peters gave birth to a baby boy four weeks after being joined by Mrs. Parry and her two children.] With it, as with all newborn infants, came more joy and also more work. And as spring came on work seemed to increase for these women. There were plenty of children, but not much grown help to work in garden or field, so these two good women left their babies to the care of the eight- and ten-year-old girls, and, like Ruth of olden days, went forth to do their bit to get something to tide over another winter.

This was the season the grasshoppers were at their very worst. Things looked discouraging indeed to this family. I sometimes think it was harder for the people that came from foreign lands to meet and contend with the conditions such as were present in these valleys than it was for the American born who were used to a new country and to hard and difficult ways.

Families like the Peters, of which there were scores, coming from comfortable and very prosperous homes, used to good food and clothing, were brought to these barren wastes and poorly fed and housed.

The men, as many other men have done, became very much discouraged, but not so with the women. It was at this point that they said, "Come, let us go," and putting their hand to the plow they never looked back until the last rays of the sun had disappeared beyond the inland sea. Then it was that they returned to their household duties, which were not a few. It was here they received loving caresses and were fondled and kissed by the lonely little ones who had waited the long day through for their dear mamas to return, tired but happy, knowing they had done their full duty and so were content, having a goodly portion of the Spirit which entered their hearts when they joined the new faith. They ever went cheerily on under any and all conditions.

It was in the early winter months that Mrs. Parry returned to her own home which had been made into a much more comfortable house. An adobe slope had been added and a good roof that would shed water was over it all. She had not more than become comfortably located in her new home when a pair of twin boys came to her--one born one day, one the next.

These were very delicate children. They were named Joseph and Hyrum, the same as many other twin boys in those days.

It was customary for President Young to call groups of people to go out and pioneer to north, south, east, and west. It is said of him, "He never sent out the weaklings; only strong men and women were chosen for this work." So it was that he chose David Peters, together with five other families to go north as far as the Box Elder Creek and settle.

In the spring of 1853, David Peters, his wife Laura and children came north. His wife, Ann Parry remained in Salt Lake City. During the following two years both of her twin boys died and she gave birth to a daughter who was also very delicate.

In 1855 she too moved to Box Elder. By this time a fort had been built to protect the people from Indians, and so many people had arrived that a second fort was built. In this fort Mrs. Parry had a room. After a time things settled down, the Indians became somewhat friendly, people began building up on either side of Main Street.

David Peters built a double log house with an entrance room between. Laura and family lived in one end or room, and Mrs. Parry lived in the other. The children, some of whom were grown up, slept in the entry. Here they seemed to go on much the same as others in the community. More families came to increase the number, most of whom were of Welsh descent.

During the following summer David Peters and Laura came down to Three Mile Creed and took a homestead, spending their summers on it and returning to town each winter for safety.

While they were on the farm, Mrs. Parry did her bit keeping any or all of the children that wanted to stay with her. These women and children seemed to be very united, always striving for the best good of each other, doing anything that would be of advantage of the other's family.

It is said Mrs. Parry was somewhat younger than Mrs. Peters [the difference in age was five years] and enjoyed going out more, so Mrs. Peters cared for the younger children. Each had infants born during the winter while living in town. While one cared for those at home, the other went to dances, singing schools--of which there were many in this Welsh community--and any parties that came along.

So we see the children had good care one and all and were early trained to become good, stable, respectable men and women of the communities in which they lived, taking honorable parts in both Church and State. Too much praise cannot be given these two good women for the important part they took in the pioneering of the northern part of Utah. They helped populate it with honorable, respectable sons and daughters such as always respect their father and mothers. They lived a pleasant, agreeable life, each helping the other when they so sorely needed help which was not always to be had. Sometimes it looked like Mrs. Parry had much care of Laura's children, but after the death of Mrs. Parry's older son and her own death, which came in her 40th year--just in the prime of her life--Mother Peters took Ann Jones Parry's two sons and two daughters along with her own and did the best she knew, which was good and praiseworthy.

"God bless the labors and memory of these women."

Immigrants:

Parry, Edward

Jones, Ann

Peters, David Hughes

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