Autobiography of Margaret Ann Griffiths Clegg

(This history was written by Margaret in 1910 in her own handwriting and her own language. She had only six weeks schooling in her life. At the age of 85 years she had the privilege of riding in an airplane which she greatly enjoyed. She had a wonderful mind and was very progressive and had a great desire to not be a burden upon anyone and remained very active until the last year and a half of her life. She never recovered from an automobile accident.)

My father's and mother's names were John and Margaret Griffiths. They were baptized into the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, January 30, 1840 by Elder John Taylor, when he was on his first mission in England.

My father lived in Liverpool, England, then, and in 1840 I was born on April 15th. When I was six weeks old we went up to London to live, as her majesty the Queen, wanted more men to work in the Woolwich Dock Yards, so my father was one that was called on. The foreman he worked for went too, and my father worked for the same foreman twenty-seven years. Mother was baptized the same day father was. Heber C. Kimball sent word to my father for him and his family to go to Salt Lake City, Utah. That was in March 1856, so we got ready and left Liverpool the 28th of May, 1856, on the ship called Horizon. We were five weeks on the sea. For two weeks I was dreadfully seasick. The name of the captain was Mr. Reed and when we anchored in Boston Harbor in U.S.A. we held a meeting and the captain got up and spoke. He said, "The song says, ‘I'll marry none but Mormons' but I'll say, I'll carry none but Mormons, for they are the best people I ever crossed the sea with." I believe there were nine hundred and fifty Mormons on that ship.

In 1840 when my father went to London, we went to what was called the Latter-Day Saints Depot. There were only four Mormon elders there at that time, and they laid their hands on him and ordained him an Elder and sent him preaching. He would work all day from six in the morning until six at night, and then he would eat his supper and then go preach at night. Some times it would be eleven and twelve o'clock before he would get home, as he had to walk, for there were no conveyances to be got, and there were no railroad in Woolwich at that time. Father raised up Woolwich Branch, Welling, Elton, Greenwich and Deptford and lots of other places. The first men to join the Church in Woolwich was Aaron Painter and Mr. Bates, Thomas Fisher, and William Blackmore. My father was a boilermaker by trade and so was Mr. Bates. One day when Mr. Bates was at work a large piece of iron fell on him and they took him to the hospital and he died in a short while after being taking to the hospital. The last words he said, he was calling my father. The people all thought that it was my father that was dead. My father and mother who were with the mourners could hear the people say, "Now Griffiths is dead, down with Mormonism!" And they were greatly surprised when they heard that he had been preaching on the next Sunday. They thought it was my father that was dead. He got along quite nicely after that and raised quite a nice branch. He would go and preach Sundays as well as nights. Well, he was a faithful elder in the Church of Jesus Christ of L.D.S.

In 1853 the war broke out in Seabastipool and they were pressing young men into the service so my father and mother sent my brother Thomas to Utah. That broke up mother’s heart and she died in six months after. She was forty-three years old then.

My brother sailed on the ship called the International. He arrived in Salt lake the same year and he lived with Lorenzo Snow, who had him sent with the Church herd to Carson Valley and he never came back. The last I heard from him he was in Sacramento California, very sick. I wrote to him but never got any answer. It was in 1855 that he went to Carson and it was in 1858 before I heard from him and that was by a young man that came in the house to see my husband and he got to talking about traveling. He said he was a great traveler. He had been all over the world nearly and the last place he went was with the Church herd to Carson Valley in 1855. My husband asked him if knew a young man by the name of Thomas Griffiths and he said "Yes, he traveled with me all the way to Sacramento." So that is how I heard he was there, I wrote to him but never have heard any more about him, excepting the one letter which I received in the year, 1858. Well, I must go back to England.

I had an uncle and aunt living in London, England in Stanhope, St. Clarce Marke Lincons in fields, close to Dury Lane Theatre, opposite Saint Clements Charity Institute. They had no children and they would come and see us at Woolwich of a Sunday and then take one of my mother's children back with them to visit. So it came my turn to go and stay with them, the last week we were in England. My father and family were to leave Woolwich on the midnight express and they would arrive at Usten Square Station, London, and stay there till the train left at half past six in the morning and I was to be sure and be there by six o'clock, but I overslept myself and never woke till six and we had a long way to go. My uncle and aunt went with me and we walked as fast as we could and got there in time to see the train pull out of the station. Well, I did not know what to do. To know that my father, brothers and a sister were on that train and leaving me behind. Oh! it was terrible. I was then 16 years of age. I was sitting down crying when an Inspector of the railway station came up to me and wanted to know what was the matter. My uncle told him and he said for me to stop crying and I should go on the next train. That would be eight o'clock in the morning. When the train came I got on and away we started. The inspector told the porter when he changed cars at Watford to be sure and tell the other porter that I was to go along all right, as my father had my ticket with him, but when that porter changed at Watford he must have forgotten for when I got to the station, called "Hedgehill" they take the tickets there, and when the porter asked for mine I told him I had none and he took hold of my arm and jerked me out in double quick time and then I told him how it was that I was left behind. They telegraphed up to London to see if I was telling the truth. The answer they got was that I was to go on to Liverpool as I was a Mormon that had been left behind. Liverpool is two hundred and fourteen miles from London, so I got on the next train that came and that was 10 o'clock at night. I arrived in Liverpool at five minutes past ten, and then I did not know what to do.

I expected to see my father there waiting for me, but I was disappointed, There was not a soul there that I knew. The station is called Lime Street station. Well, I did not know what to do in a strange place at 10 o'clock at night. I thought it was something awful, but I went up to an old lady at an orange stand and asked her if she would be kind enough to tell me where Earl Street was, out of Great Homer Street. She said yes, so she told me a great many streets to go before I got to the one I wanted. I had a hard time to find my aunt that lived there for I did not know the number of her house, but I kept on inquiring at every house. At last I went into a small store and the lady told me I would find my aunt just across the street. So I ran across the street and peeped in at the window and saw my father and brothers and sister and then I tell you I was happy. It was one o'clock in the morning and I was pretty well tired out as I had not eaten anything all day. It made my father sick, for he thought he would never see me again, for the ship was to sail in three days.

He was a pleased man when he saw me, and then we ate supper and went to bed. In three days we sailed for America. We landed at Boston, U.S.A. and took the cars [train] and came on to Florence, Iowa and camped there four weeks till our handcars were ready for us, then we started to cross the plains. It was the first day of Sept, and we arrived in Salt Lake the same year on the last day of November 1856, making it three months traveling. We were as happy a set of people as ever crossed the plains, till the snow caught us. We would sit around the camp fire and sing and were as happy as larks.

Well after the snow caught us we had a pretty hard time. My father took sick and he had to ride in one of the wagons, that had provisions. One day he felt a little better and thought that he would try and walk, but he could not keep up as he had rheumatism so bad he could not walk, and he took hold of the rod at the end gate of the wagon to help him along and when the teamster saw him, he slashed his long whip around and struck father on the legs and he fell to the ground. He could not get up again, and that was the last wagon for the handcarts had gone on before. As I was pulling a handcart I did not know anything about it till we got into camp, and then I went back about three miles to him, but could not find him, so I went back and I was nearly wild. I thought the wolves might have him.

But there was a company called the Independent Company led by Jesse Have and they were camped in another direction from us, and my father saw their tracks and crawled on his knees all the way to their camp. He was so badly frozen when he got there, they did all they could for him. Two of the brethren brought him into our camp about eleven o'clock that night. He was never well after that. My sister Jane and I and two brothers, named John and Herbert, pulled the handcart till my brother John died (age 12 year old). That was 50 miles the other side of Devil's Gate. We camped there two weeks and all we had to eat was four ounces of flour a day. With having so little to eat and so cold, for the snow was so deep we could not go any further, was I think, the reason he died. He froze to death. At the end of two weeks the horses came running into camp with no riders and we thought they were Indians' horses, but they went back again and about two minutes after, they came back with riders. They were David Kimball and I think the other was Joseph Young. They told us there would be ten wagons come into camp in the morning, from Salt Lake, loaded with provisions. That was good news, but they did not wait until morning but came in that night. They called a meeting but it was too cold so we went to bed. In the morning we had a little more flour and then moved from there to Devils Gate. (Before the provisions arrived, the company had used up all of their supplies and had rinsed the flour sacks and drank the water.) and camped there in some log houses for a week to recruit up a bid and then we left there and went to Independence Rock on the Sweet Water and camped there another week. We left our handcarts and came on with the teams that came from Salt Lake. I think there were about seventy wagons.

With two and three span of horses and mules to each wagon, which we were pretty thankful for, all the sick and frozen rode in the wagons, while those that were well walked as long as they could, and then they all rode. I buried my brother Herbert, six years old at Independence Rock, frozen to death.

My sister Jane lost the first joint of her big tow and I was terribly frozen up myself, I was laid up nine weeks in Salt Lake, because my feet had been so badly frozen. (After I was placed into the wagons and the frost left my feet, large bags of water formed at my heels.) My father died the next morning after we got in to Salt Lake. He was frozen to death, He was 47 years of age.

He died the first day of December, After that we were pretty well scattered. My sister Jane went with sister Isabel Thorn to live and I went with a Mrs. Montague.

When I got better I lived out anywhere I could get a place. Finally I got to a Mr. Henry Clegg’s and lived there a while and then I married him.

Mr. Clegg and I were married in the Endowment House in Salt Lake City, Utah the 6th day of Aug. 1857. We lived in Salt Lake until the move south and then I had many hardships to contend with. I worked very hard, digging post holes and making posts and setting them, making oak brush and willow fence, going out washing, whitewashing and taking wool to spin on share. I also did spinning for Bishop Johnson’s wives, to get mine wove into cloth. We also made soap and candles on shares, went out gleaning wheat and digging potatoes and cutting sugar cane.

I would tie a rope around a bundle of sugar cane and carry it on my back to the molasses mill. I took in sewing such as pants and coats and vests, also did knitting. Many a night I have sat up all night knitting by the firelight by putting on a few chips at a time, as I did not have a stove and there was no coal oi1 in these days. Nothing but candles or some grease in a time with a rag in it to burn for light. I would also pick corn and fruits and dry them and many other things I have done. I cannot think of them now. Well, that was in Springville, Utah.

In 1872 we moved up to Wasatch County, and I worked pretty much the same as I did in Springville until my sons got large enough to work and they would not let me work as I had done.

Well, to go back to crossing the plains, I have seen as many as seventeen sit around a campfire eating supper and I have seen some of them fall over dead as they were eating. I think there were six hundred and fifty of us when we started out to cross the plains, and I believe there were only three hundred that arrived in Salt Lake City. It was the last handcart company that came in that year. It was the last day of November 1856 when we arrived in Salt Lake, Utah.

My father and mother were born in Carnarvonshire, Bangor, North Wales. I have had eleven living children -- eight sons and three daughters.

I forgot to say that while we lived in Springville my husband had a tannery and I helped grind the bark and worked in the tannery like a man. On the 24th of July 1900 I was invited to an old folks' party, as I was sixty years old, and we had a nice time. There was an excursion on the 24th up here from Provo, Utah and we had a splendid time. There were about 900 people up from Provo.

In 1896 my son Joe took sick with typhoid fever and then I took it and then my son Levi took it and died. He was 18 years old and 8 months and was sick only 18 days. We were all down at once, but burying my son Levi was worse than all the rest. My daughter Margaret Ann Clegg 8 months died in Springville in 1862. My son Heber Clegg age one hour died in Heber City.

My posterity now numbers some 49 grandchildren and 120 great grandchildren and several great great grandchildren.

Contributed by Chris Christiansen

Back to Home Page