HISTORY OF LOUISA (MELLOR) CLARK
Given at Spring Lake, Utah, March 26, 1881
I, Louisa Mellor Clark, oldest living daughter of James Mellor and Mary Ann Payne, was born 23 May 1840, in the town of Leicester, England. My father was born in Leicester 20 March 1818 and my mother was born 23 January 1819, in Warwick, England. They were married on 14 March 1858, All Saints Parish, in Leicester, England. They had twelve children born to them - Salina Ann, Louisa, Elizabeth Charlotte, Mary Ann 1st, Mary Ann the 2nd, James Mellor, William Charles, Emma Marintha, Clara Altheria, Eliza and Elizabeth, and John Carlos. (Emma and Clara, and Eliza and Elizabeth were twins.)
Father and Mother were indeed blessed, as they heard the gospel from some of the first missionaries sent to England. Father received it first and soon after, Mother accepted it as the true gospel. We do not have the exact date when they joined the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, but it was in April, 1844, in Leeds, Yorkshire, England, where we lived for three years. While we lived there Apostle John Taylor and others came often. A few months after joining the Church the Prophet Joseph Smith and his brother, Hyrum, were killed by the mob. It was thought by some of the saints that that might be the end of Mormonism, but not those who were faithful.
I was very young, about five years old, but I remember quite well one circumstance when Apostle John Taylor came to Leeds. My mother and a Sister Cluff were going to meeting and carrying their babies, when Brother Taylor and his brother came along in their carriage. Apostle Taylor stopped the carriage and made them get in and ride to meeting.
My parents were very poor. My father was a wool comber by trade, and worked at the factory daily. Work was getting very poor, as machinery was high, so we went back to Leicester and Papa gave up working at his trade and got work in the factory dying yarn.
I lived at home and went to Sunday School regularly, but I only had about six months' schooling in my life. I went out to work doing various kinds of labor. I was nurse girl for years. Then I worked for a lady and turned the mangle which was seemingly hard work. I took sick and would have died if it hadn't been for the blessings of the Lord. The doctor said I would die, and I guess I would have if I had taken his medicine, but I threw it in the fire. So it was faith and prayer and the blessings of my Father in Heaven that saved me. I was baptized at about the age of 14, by Elder Newton in Leicester Conference.
There was one faith-promoting incident I wish to mention. We lived quite a
distance from our own meeting house, but Mother always went to Sunday afternoon
meeting, taking the twins along, too. This particular Sunday I thought I would go to Sunday School close by our house, which was not L.D.S., but when I took my book to read, my speech was gone so I could not read a word. But when I got home my speech came back. That was a great testimony to me, and after that I never went to any Sunday School that was not of our faith. After that I walked three miles to the L.D.S. Sunday School, and came home at noon to help my mother carry her babies to meeting in the afternoon.
It was not long after Father and Mother accepted the Gospel that they found their friends and loved ones turning away from them. The spirit of gathering soon took hold of them and although Father worked as a local missionary he still prepared to go to Utah, or at least West.
My parents were, at that time, the only members of their families who had joined the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, so my father preached among his people. He converted his brother, John, and his family to the truth of the gospel, and later they came to Zion. My father was appointed to preach at two country villages every Sunday not so far from Leicester, five and seven miles. I often went with him and enjoyed it very much for I thought it so lovely to see potatoes and other things grow, as we didn't see these things growing in a big town. We had a good branch of the Church in Leicester when we left there.
Finally we were called to emigrate to Utah and leave our relatives and friends, which was quite a trial. The hardest was to leave my poor grandfather. I think I can see him now, although he is sleeping in his grave - I hope in peace, for he was a good man. He wept and offered money to his dear daughter, my dear mother, but relief was offered too late, for this gospel was more than anything else. My dear mother grieved for her dear old father, which brought sickness on, and she came near losing her life.
When my parents left England they had seven small children, as Salina Ann, and Mary Ann, had died when very young. The twins, Emma and Clara, were the youngest, and two-and-one-half years old at that time. We stayed a while at Liverpool to secure our passage, and while there Mother gave birth to another pair of twins, who died shortly after birth. They were Siamese twins and just like little dolls. The doctor said he buried them in the ocean, but later we found that he had preserved them and had made a fortune with them. Mother was so ill the doctor gave her up and said she could not live, that if we took her on board the ship the sharks would follow until she died. Brother Wheelock and Brother Goddard and others administered to her and promised her that she would live and come to Utah, that she would see her seed in Zion, and that her mission on this earth was not yet finished.
While we were in Liverpool I spent my 16th birthday. It was on May 23, 1856, and a sad one it was for me, as I was left alone with a sick mother and a little sister
two and one-half years old, as my father had to take the rest of the family and go
aboard. The ship sailed out to sea so I thought my father could not come back again, but he did. My mother was very low, but Father said if she wanted to go he wouldn't give her up, so they got a stretcher and carried her in a bed to the sea shore and then in a steamboat out to sea to catch the vessel where the rest of the children were. When we got to the vessel the Captain asked, "What are you bringing a dead woman here for, and why don't you throw her in the sea?" But they got her on board and some of the sisters tended her. I had the care of the family of nine - seven children. We were five and one-half weeks on board and I used to go and see my dear mother twice a day, and take care of the children. Mother was able to gain a little strength, but not able to do anything, so I had nearly the entire care of the family.
We left Liverpool under the leadership of Edward Martin, on the ship HORIZON. There were 856 saints in all who were coming to North America. Storms arose and the ship tipped to and fro and delayed us from a straight voyage; however, on the evening of 28 June 1856 the ship cast anchor in the Boston Harbor. By this time my mother was getting better and able to get around some, so we joined the saints and went west to Iowa.
After landing we all took what might be called cattle cars, which was thought good enough for the Mormons, until we reached Iowa. We remained in Iowa City from July 8 to July 28, 1856, where my father secured work, and with the means was able to get two handcarts and some food and clothes to make the journey across the plains.
The Martin Handcart Company as we were called, was organized into two divisions for the journey to Florence, Neb.; we were in the second company to Florence, with 575 souls, 148 handcarts and 7 wagons. It was a pretty sight to see those 575 saints out with handcarts, singing handcart songs: "Some may push and some may pull as we go marching up the hill, a-merrily on our way we go until we reach the valley, and long before the valley's reached we will meet with music sweet and friends so dear, which supply our hearts with cheer." . . . We were the last handcart company to leave for the Salt Lake Valley that year.
One thing happened that convinced me that if we put our trust in our Heavenly Father he will answer our prayers when we are in need. While we were in Iowa we had to burn or sell our things because we could not haul them, and so as we were two miles from the city, Mother and I went to town to sell a few things in the shape of clothes. We walked from house to house before we could sell them, and as we were so long, when we got back to camp they had had dinner and started again, and the captain came back and met us. My poor mother was sick after that, but the Lord protected us from wild beasts and gave us food to eat.
Mother was put in the wagon for a while. We traveled twenty miles a day. Then my father took sick. He got so weak he could not pull his handcart, so I had to help him. We had two handcarts; my sister and I pulled one, and father and the younger sister pulled the other one. But father got weaker so we had to lighten our load again, and as 17 pounds were all that was allowed for each adult we had but little to spare, but a box of books and records which Father valued very much. But what could we do but let them go? So as we were going through the town we stopped and I helped carry them in a house and we got the privilege to leave them till we sent for them, but we never got them again.
While crossing the plains trials of different kinds were our portion. Many fainted and fell by the wayside. Many a mound was dug and a fervent prayer uttered for those gone and those left, that God would spare them to reach Zion. We were so fatigued and hungry that we would stop and get rawhide to chew on, as our food was diminished. We tried to keep a little flour as long as we could, to make porridge for the children; at first it was biscuits; then pancakes; then porridge. Often we would cook a hide or piece of it to get a little strength; it being winter, we could not find weeds to help out. One time Mother and family saw a young man chew his finger ends before dying. A little incident I well remember occurred on the journey. A cow died with calf, and Mother got the calf head and roasted it in the camp fire. The next day we took it along with us and had a great feast of it.
The first snow storm left about two feet of snow on the ground and we began to feel very nervous. We had to wade through more streams, and sometimes up to our waists, and when we got through our clothes would freeze on us until we reached camp and made a fire to thaw out. And so we traveled on until a great many gave up and a great many died, mostly old people. At last the snow got to be four and five feet deep and often we had to shovel a road before we could move. Thus our traveling was very slow and our provisions nearly gave out.
We witnessed some heart-rending scenes on our journey to Utah. Sometimes, I saw as many as thirteen bodies being buried in the morning before we started on our way.
The outlook was very discouraging. The captain called a meeting and told us there was only enough food for one more day and asked us if we would rather have it all or divide it into three days. We all agreed to divide it. And despite our desperate situation we sang the handcart songs. One was, "If we should die before our journey's through, Happy day! All is well!" The camp gave up to die, if need be, and scarcely a dry eye was left to see the dying.
My mother, being still weak, finally gave up and said she could go no further. The company could not wait for her, so she bade my father goodbye and kissed each one of the children Godspeed. Then my mother sat down on a boulder and wept. I told my sister, Elizabeth, to take good care of the twins and the rest of the family, and that I would stay with Mother. I went a few yards away and prayed with faith that God would help us, that He would protect us from devouring wolves, and asked that He would let us reach camp. As I was going back to where my mother was sitting, I found a pie in the road. I picked it up and gave it to my mother to eat, and after
resting awhile we started on our journey, thanking God for the blessings. A few miles
before we reached camp we met my father coming out to meet us. What a joyful meeting that was! We arrived in camp at 10:00 p.m. o'clock. Many times after that Mother felt like giving up and quitting; but then would remember how wonderful the Lord had been to spare her so many times, and offered a prayer of gratitude instead. So she went on her way rejoicing while walking the blood-stained path of snow.
The snow was getting deeper and it was growing colder and more bitter at nights. My father's feet were both frozen. One night I had been holding my sister, Clara, in my arms while I slept, and when I awoke I found my long braids frozen to the ground. They had to be cut off to release them.
At last the Company gave up and decided they could go no further. We all gathered around and held a meeting, praying God to help us, as we knew it was Him alone who could deliver us from death. We were happy and willing to die for a just cause. The Lord knew our desperate condition, and sent us deliverance. A hurrah! burst from the camp as three messengers came riding in - Brother Cyrus Whelback, Joseph A Young and E. Hawks. They told us to cheer up as there were ten wagons loaded with provisions only three miles away, but they were snowed in. They could not get to us, but for us to eat all the food we had left for the morning's breakfast and by the next night we would get to the camp. We had to do much hard work and shoveling of snow before we reached camp, but they had a large fire and a good supper prepared for us and we were very thankful - the overwhelming feeling we had cannot be described. These scouts had traveled over 200 miles to meet our company. They were sent by President Brigham Young and the saints in Salt Lake.
Some of our company were so nearly exhausted by this time that a goodly number died; some were frozen to death and others were with frozen hands and feet. Only about one-half of our company survived to reach Salt Lake Valley; however, all of my people got through. We arrived in Salt Lake on 30 November 1856, being six months from England.
Brother Wheelock and Brother Goddard were in the crowd to meet us when we arrived. They asked for James Mellor. When they saw him they were stunned! A man of 38 years of age with hair as white as the driven snow! Indeed, the trials and tribulations, the hardships and the deprivations they had suffered from England to Salt Lake Valley had taken its toll. They took him in their arms and wept! They also greeted my mother, to whom they had promised life and that she would live to see Zion. We were received by the saints, some with tears in their eyes and some with joy. We were a pitiful sight to see, and for weeks this company was not allowed to eat much nor to see themselves in a mirror. President Young met us, and when he saw us he was so melted down with grief at sight of our condition he had to go home sick, but he blessed us first.
We stayed in the city about three days, then started south with my parents. They divided us to be cared for during the winter months. My father and mother and family went to Springville, where my youngest brother, John Carlos, was born. They later moved to Fayette, Sanpete County, Utah, where my father engaged in sheep raising and farming. In 1873 he became postmaster of Fayette. During their lives in this community they suffered many hardships in the Black Hawk war. However, they reared the family in grace and truth, all of them going through the temple. Later on my father went to Manchester, England, and contacted his oldest brother, John, bringing him and his family back with him.
On the journey south from Salt Lake I was left at the home of Sister Roper in Provo, Utah, to do housework for a few weeks. She wanted me to marry one of her sons but I did not like him for a husband, and also did not feel I wanted to be married at that time, so I made it a matter of prayer to God to know if it was right to marry him and it was made manifest to me that he was not the right man. But God showed me my husband and his family in a few weeks. Edward Watkin Clark came to ask Sister Roper if I could wait on his wife who had just been confined. She agreed to let me go for two or three weeks. So I went to live at Brother Clark's home and was treated very well and got to feel at home. After a while I was invited to come into his home as his wife. I gave the matter much thought and finally gave my consent, as I liked him very much. My parents gave their consent so we went to the City and were married and sealed* by President Brigham Young on February 3, 1857. I lived with him and in the same house with his family three years and six months. My first son was born on May 12, 1859. Later I moved to a home of my own. I have borne to my husband nine children and eight are living at this time. We went through the Endowment House and were sealed over the altar in 1868 by Daniel H. Wells in Salt Lake.*
Louisa Mellor Clark