ANN RATCLIFFE KARREN
by May Belle Davis
The personal knowledge I have of my English Grandmother Anne R. Karren derives from my early childhood recollections and impressions. She died 8 January 1886, at age 70, at the home of my parents in Provo, Utah, when I was 10 years old.
Her passing, my first intimate experience with death, presented many disturbing questions which no one seemed able or disposed to answer. We children were not important during the two days following her death. As there were no morticians or mortuaries in our town the neighbors took turn “watching”. Many people were coming and going preparatory to the journey to Lehi where the family had assembled to pay their final devotions and lay her remains in a desolate sage brush covered graveyard beside my Grandfather Thomas Karren, whose death had preceded hers by ten years.
It was an excellent likeness, much as I remembered her in her black close-fitting basque and ample skirt and her Sunday cap trimmed with ruffles of lace, crowning her white hair with its center parting. The cap was an English tradition which she observed as consistently as tea at four o’clock. On week-days she wore a plain black one which she donned each morning upon removing her white night-cap.
The portrait does not reveal her beautiful fair skin, so soft and smooth to touch, which had survived exposure of the long pioneer trek that had, in many instances, left unsightly blemishes on other pioneer women. Nor does the portrait do justice to her large brown eyes, so patient and understanding.
Grandma’s visits were frequent, as she always came when someone was ill. With children coming along at two or three year intervals, she was very comforting and helpful in solving our childish problems and attending mother’s personal needs.
She made a game of our chores and challenged us in a way that brought order and pleasure. If a situation threatened to become boisterous she could bring peace and quiet by a promise to tell us a story.
My brother Bert would ask for a pioneer story, preferably one about Indians, a subject with which she was familiar. I would ask for one about Queen Victoria. Those stories were like fairy tales to us. She loved to tell us about Queen Victoria, four years her junior, whom she quoted as her foremost authority on values, morals and manners. The coronation of the young queen in 1838 was widely publicized throughout England and had left an impression that even the subsequent events of leaving her native land and joining the Mormon Pioneers in Nauvoo, with all the tribulations that ensued, would not eradicate. When she said that something I had done was good or nice enough for the Queen, I felt that I was a proper and satisfactory child.
She was gentle and restrained in speech with a slight English accent. She did not scold but was firm. My father held her in high esteem and we children loved and obeyed her. She was courteous to everyone and received courtesy in return. Forty years of living in a rough and rugged country had not marred her serenity and native refinement.
She and my paternal grandmother, who we called “Gran” were often visitors at our home at the same time. Although they were good friends and had much in common in their religious and family devotions, they were entirely different in personality and background. Gran considered the four o’clock tea and inexcusable intrusion into an honest day’s work. But when Grandma put on the tea-kettle and brought out the thin slices of bread and butter and the currant loaf, Gran would lay aside the quilt block or the hooked rug and join her in a refreshing cup of tea.
About this time I would bring out my small cup and saucer. Grandma would take care of the rest. Gran would say, “Are you teaching the child to drink tea?” Grandma would reply, “Oh no, the dear is so thin and she needs the cream. I merely warm it up a bit.” If I liked tea, it must be on Grandma’s conscience.
I recall various incidents when I went to Lehi to visit her. On one occasion I ran eagerly across the street to see my three little friends, who were sisters. When Mrs. Brown came to the door I told her I had come to play. She looked very sad and said that the little girls were no longer there, then closed the door quickly. Disappointed, I ran back to Grandma and asked where the children had gone. She said they had been sick with diphtheria and were now with Jesus who loved them and was taking good care of them. She then changed the subject and said a friend was coming and she wanted her to see how tall I had grown and what a good worker I was. Then we got busy arranging for tea.
As there was no one to play with, I sat quietly while the two old friends reminisced about that first winter of 1850, when they had arrived with their families in Salt Lake City by ox-team and covered wagon and Brigham Young advised them and several other families to go south and made a settlement near Utah Lake.
The story, which I have since been able to piece together from scraps and incidents related in other conversations and documents, is as follows:
Those first pioneers of Lehi had lived in their wagons while the cabins were being built. It was November and the men had to do fast work to get the logs cut and laid before the snows of winter came. A gully in a near-by canyon was located to serve as a saw pit. With a whip saw, Thomas Karren, as top sawyer and William Fotheringham underneath, fashioned the logs which had been hauled from Alpine canyon. The wagon boxes served for doors, and the small windows were covered with the coarse muslin which the pioneers had included among their supplies. Some cabins were larger than others to provide for the families, according to their size.
There was an open fireplace and a sod chimney for each cabin. The people did not complain about the dirt floors and roofs. They were grateful for shelter and the women and children sang as they chinked the open spaces between the logs to keep out the cold and drafts while the men cut the wild grass for winter feed for the cows and oxen. The water, always the most important factor in selecting a site for a settlement, had a flavor of sculpture which was most unpleasant, but fish in the nearby lake insured an ample supply of food.
When spring came, the people decided that the location was not favorable for a permanent settlement because of the water and the dampness and they moved inland to the place they called Lehi. They planted crops and again they built cabins. When the young green shoots appeared with a promise that gladdened the hearts of the pioneers, the Indians came, saying that the white man could have the cabins, but the land and water belonged to the red men as it had from the beginning. They turned their horses loose and the fair promise of a virgin crop was blasted as the pioneers watched the Indian ponies trample and browse where they had planted their precious seeds.
They then knew they must do as other settlers had done and they made plans to build a fort. The cattle would be carefully herded outside the fort during the day, but when evening came, they would be brought inside and the gates closed.
There was a frequent exchange of visits with these long-time pioneer friends among whom there existed a strong and enduring affection. They had shared each other’s joys and sorrows, as well as their iron pots, soap kettles and bake ovens. Visiting was their rewarding social relaxation now that the stress of life was past. Grandma was warmly greeted wherever we went and from conversations I overheard, I knew that she had been on the giving end of the sharing. I was very proud when she would bring a fresh pinafore for me and a folded white apron for herself and putting on her bonnet and shawl, would say we were going visiting.
Those visiting white aprons were hold-over styles from early pioneer days when conservation, both as to cleaning and the preservation of an article of clothing, was a necessity. A dress was something to be cherished and protected for future utilization as a child’s garment or a quilt patch until it final demise in a hooked rug or a lowly carpet rag.
Grandma’s pioneer stories were about incidents connected with her own experiences. One incident that was most appealing was about a beautiful baby named Anne who was born in a covered wagon and stayed with her only two days. Grandma was very ill and as grandfather was not there, Uncle John, her eldest child, who was twelve years old made a tiny box for baby Anne and taken care of the family until kind friends came to help them.
Many years afterwards I read the following item in the Karren family record, "Anne, (child) born 15 September 1846 at Mt. Pisgah, Iowa, died 17 September 1846." This was an answer to something I very much wanted to know. How had it come about that my grandfather, 36 years old, having a wife and five children, had enlisted in the Mormon Battalion and how had his family fared at such a time when the Mormon Pioneers were traveling westward in their covered wagons.
I knew from Mormon Battalion history that recruiting officers had ridden back from Council Bluffs, where the head wagons had arrived when the call for the Battalion came, to as far as Mt. Pisgah in quest of recruits to fill the quota of 500 soldiers requested by the government. As many of the pioneers were sick with malaria fever it had been necessary to draft some of the younger family men. Evidently Grandfather had arrived at Mt. Pisgah from Nauvoo just in time to meet up with the recruiting officers, and to enlist in Company E, the last company to be called. He could have refused to go, but he was dedicated to his religion. to him this was a call from God and his conscience would not allow him to decline. Grandma undoubtedly suppoted him in his decision.
The Battalion had left Council Bluffs, 16 July 1846. Two months late, on September 15th, baby Anne was born in a covered wagon at Mt. Pisgah. Grandfather was hundreds of miles away with the Mormon Battalion on its memorable march to "open a wagon road to the Pacific."
A happy incident of the Pisgah episode was about a kind man who came to see Grandma Anne as she lay ill with the rain leaking through the canvas wagon cover. He advised her to return to Garden Grove, where he had recently vacated a comfortable cabin. He thought it might be available for her family if she could start bak at once. He had planted potatoes on a plot of ground and had not waited to harvest them, as he wanted to bew on his way to the west. They would be ready to harvest soon.
The oxen were heading eastward in almost no time with Uncle John geeing and hawing in the driver's seat. The cabin in Garden Grove was found to be available and the potatoes were in excellent condition. With food and shelter for winter, Grandma's health improved and under her direction and abundant crop was harvested and a profit made form the sale of the potatoes to passing caravans of covered wagons.
This was the beginning of a venture to which Grandma Anne was no stranger. In her native Liverpool she and Grandfather had operated a bakery business – he as head baker and she as manager. Here now in Garden Grove, at her door was a ready market for all the bakery merchandise she could produce. She selected one item that seemed most suitable to the trade. It was a hard biscuit made by beating the dough upon a chopping block (ship’s biscuit, which they had made in Liverpool to supply sailing vessels). It would keep indefinitely and met with increasing demand.
There was another story that we children like to hear over and over again. One day, a strange man had walked into the house without knocking at the door. The young children were frightened and ran to Grandma. The man had a long beard and long hair and wore very odd clothes—“buckskins” he said they were, with fancy fringe trimmings on the coat. Even Grandma was startled for a moment. But they soon knew it was Father, and what a happy reunion it was. And how surprised he was to find his family living in a comfortable home with an established business.
He was not too greatly surprised about the business however. He had known Grandma to do audacious things in the management of their bakery business which had belonged to her father, and which she had taken over after his death and successfully carried on until the departure of her family for the United States. On one occasion, as a teen-ager) Anne had gone to her father’s banker and asked for a loan of $800.00. The banker, who had great respect for her ability as she had been her father’s main helper, granted her request. After the loan had been paid off she told Grandfather about the transaction.
Grandma was undoubtedly the financial head of the family. But on the matter of religion, Grandfather was a persistent and compelling force to which she finally succumbed. Caught in a wave of religious revivalism that was sweeping England at that time, Grandfather extolled first on denomination and then another. Anne was not greatly concerned when her husband informed her that he intended to join the Mormon Church. But when he began talking about going to America and taking his children with him, that was another story. She could see no reason for leaving their comfortable home and prosperous business. For two years the argument continued. It was a revelation to Ann Karren that this man, who had looked to her for leadership in all of their domestic and business affairs and whose devotion she had never doubted since their youthful romance, when Thomas Karren became her father’s employee with recommendations for honestly loyalty and industry, would present such unrelenting opposition to her wishes. One day she said to him, “Come Father, I have something to show you.” She led him to a room strewn with all manner of things – clothing bedding, utensils, dishes and packing boxes. “We are going to America” she said.
She surrendered to the fervor of his religious faith and in time became a convert herself, but it was her nature to look to the material needs of her family. In the weeks following, there ws much to do in preparation for the boyage. Grandfather was ebulient with anticipation of joining the Latter-day Saints in Nauvoo and of meeting their great leader. One can imagine that Grandma Anne was much concerned with disposing of the business and thier home and with decisions as to the contents of those packing boses. There was a china dinner set for which she had great sentiment. It had belonged to her grandmother who had reared her. That must be carefully packed. She thought it might be avisable to bring something that she could sell in case of need. She had heard that Nauvoo was a frontier town and merchandise might be scarce. Whatever they might take should be something that could be conviently packed, and what would serve a useful purpose. She purchased twenty paisley shawls.
The time was set for sailing. Reservations had been mde for Thomas and Anne Karren and their five children, ranging from two to ten years of age. The belonging had been stowed in the boat and all were ready to embark, but there was a delay depending on the wind. Lodgings, as near to the wharf as could be found, were secured for a few days. But the few days lengthened into many. February came in cold and blustery. In going b ack and forth to the dock the youngest child Joseph, contacted a severe cold that developed into pneumonia. Grandma's sister Mary, had come to see her relatives off andremained to help care for the sick child and finally bury him. Grandfather, rushing in one morning after a visit to the wharf exclaimed "the sails are filling. We shall be leaving within an hour." At that moemtn little Joseph was breathing his last breath. Anne insisted she could not leave, but her sister and husband persuaded her that there was nothing she could do by remaining. Under these conditions Anne left her native land.
For six weeks their boat battled the gales of the Atlantic. Ann was "in a delicate condition" (expecting a baby). After a few days travel on the water because so sick -- so heartbroken over the loss of her little one, that she thought it would be the best thing for them all if they could go down to the bottome of the sea. The ship finally anchored at New Orleans in the latter part of March, 1844.
The Karren family arrived at Nauvoo at a most crucial time for the fifteen thousand inhabitants who had gathered there from the eastern states, Canada and various countries of Europe in response to their conversion to the Mormon religion. There was an atmosphere of tension and aprehension throughout the city and environs. A campaign was being conducted to elect Joseph Smith as president of the United States
This was a threat that the Mormon elemtn might become too strong politically as the group continued to grow. Old enmities were awakened and culminated in the assassination of the prophet-leader and his brother Hyrum. This tragedy occured in June, just three months after the arrival of Thomas and Anne Karren.
The family record shows that Hyrum Karren was born 9 July 1844 at Nauvoo, Hancock County, Illinois, less than a month later.
The loss of their leaders was a stunning blow that struck at the church as well as at every member. Great decisions were to be made, but who would make them? The Twelve Apostles, of whom Brigham Young was the head, took over. The people were now notified in no uncertain terms, that they must leave the country. There was but one direction in which they were free to travel. That was WESTWARD.
Preparations soon began for the great trek. Every home and business became a workshop.
By the Spring of 1846, twelve thousand covered wagons were ready to transport the Mormon Pioneers to some remote, and as yet unknown place “where they could live in peace and brotherly love and worship God according to the dictates of their consciences”
This historic trek was wisely planned. A “Bill of Particulars” as published in the “Neighbor”, the local newspaper of Nauvoo, enumerated the minimum equipment for a family of five as follows:
A strong wagon, two or three yoke of oxen, two or more milch cows, one or more beeves, one musket or rifle for each male over twelve, seed for planting, and one thousand pounds of flour or bread material, in short, subsistence for a year or more.
I mention these matters because they are a vital chapter in the story of my grandmother Anne Ratcliffe Karren. This was the turbulent whirlpool that Grandma did not understand, that of politics, mobs and persecutions. But she was learning the hard way. I think that secretly she had fostered the idea of setting up a bakery business or some other enterprise of trade as that had been her life in England. The only thing of that nature now, was to dispose of the family effects to the best advantage and equip her family for the approaching adventure. With a family of seven to provide for, not much more than the minimum requirement could be pack into their covered wagon. A financial loss could not be avoided.
Grandfather would do a good performance in preparation for the journey in selecting the necessary animals as he was born and reared on a farm on the Isle of Man. This youthful training was to stand him in good stead later on when he plowed the virgin soil of Utah. He would also be on hand to render community service for there was much of that to do in a migration such as this.
The only personal story of this period that recall is one told by Grandfather to my father who in turn related it to me. Some time after the deaths of Joseph and Hyrum Smith, when the morale of the people was at its lowest ebb of uncertainty and confusion, a general meeting was called. As Brigham Young began to speak, a hush fell over the assembly. It seemed as if Joseph himself was the speaker. As the speech continued it was the very voice and accent of Joseph. At first grandfather thought that he might be giving vent to his imagination. But many others had the same impression – that it was the voice, manner and expression of Joseph. The saying was spread about the “the cloak of Joseph had fallen upon Brigham.” From then on, the fears and perturbations of the Karrens were relieved. They accepted Brigham as their leader in full confidence and obedience.
The first wagons of the Mormon Pioneer caravan crossed upon the ice of the Mississippi River in February 1846. Others followed as their preparations allowed. Until the latter part of June the pioneer wagons were rolling west across the plains of Iowa. At that time, the vanguard halted. An astounding thing had happened. Captain Allen of the United States Army had appeared in their midst with orders to recruit 500 able bodied young men to serve in the Mexican War. The leaders of the Church knew the story behind this order but the people generally did not. It was amazing to them that, having been denied the protection of their country, they should now be required to go on a long arduous march in its defense. Brigham promised Captain Allen that he should have his battalion.
Recruiting officers were sent out to insure that promise. It was a call from the Lord to a special mission. In that spirit it was accepted by many of the devout, especially was this so to those men who must leave their families behind.
As already stated, Grandfather parted with his family at Mt. Pisgah, a way station along the route where accommodations had been provided to meet the emergency needs of the oncoming pioneers. Another such station was Garden Grove where after about 18 months, Grandfather was reunited with his family.
The Battalion march was strenuous. These men were not professional soldiers, accustomed to long forced marches, for during the trek from Nauvoo to the Missouri River they had been riding in their covered wagons. Some of them grew stronger under daily exercise of marching as soldiers, while other failed and had to be borne in the supply wagons. Some fell victim to the Malaria fever which was prevalent at that time of the year. Grandfather was among these, but as the wagons were overloaded it was Grandfather’s lot to be one of the marchers. Staggering under a pack weighing sixty pounds, with chills and fever wracking his body, heartsick over leaving his family, his plight was comparable with Grandma’s.
Upon arriving at Santa Fe he was included among the sick and disabled and sent to Pueblo, Colorado, for winter quarters, where he remained with 150 others until the spring of 1847. This group of the Battalion was called the Pueblo Detachment. It entered Salt Lake Valley of 29 July 1847, just five days after the first pioneers had entered there. Thirteen men of the detachment had overtaken the pioneers at Green River and entered the valley with them. There is good reason to believe that Grandfather was among these thirteen. There is a family tradition that he and one other man reconnoitered this valley on horseback on July 23rd, and bathed in Warm Springs. I inquired at the office of the Church Historian to see if this could be verified. He said it might be true as there was a story from Hamilton Gardiner of Lehi that “Thomas Karren had landed in Great Salt Lake Valley on 23 July 1847.” I decided that the probability was that he had come on ahead of the Detachment and that the family tradition was correct.
It is a matter of historical record that the Battalion members built the bowery upon the spot where the Salt Lake Temple now stands and that this was the first public edifice in the intermountain region. Another family tradition is that Grandfather turned the first shovel full of soil for that project. It is also a fact that Battalion members built much of the old fort. I know that Grandfather was there at the time those things were done.
I know nothing of his journey back to Garden Grove to rejoin his family other than what I have related regarding their meeting.
The Karren family record reveals that a son, Charles Hopkins was born 25 April 1849 at Garden Grove, Iowa. This is proof that the Karren family resided in Garden Grove for four years, two and one half years of which time Grandfather was with them. They carried on a good business with the sale of bakery merchandise and farm produce to the passing travelers on both the Oregon and Mormon Trails.
Grandma thought it wise and worthwhile to remain and rebuild their finances, But Grandfather was desirous of rejoining the pioneers. When they arrived in Salt Lake City in 1850 and found a community of thousands of people, Grandma Anne would have preferred to remain there and open a business, but when Brigham Young assigned the Karren family to form a settlement on the shores of Utah Lake, her wishes to have a business of their own was buried “in the tomb of lost desires”. They now had a family of six children ranging from two to sixteen years of age, with a stern struggle for survival before them.
Those first six years in Lehi were difficult and at times hazardous. For two years there were the locust pests in which so much damage was done to the crops that bread was a scant and precious item and the quest for edible roots and weeds was imperative.
Close proximity within the fort had advantages, especially during the three Indian uprising of that period. The log cabins that had been built when the pioneers moved inland from Sulphur Springs were knocked down and rebuilt end to end to form the walls of the fort, making a rectangular enclosure.
I note in the Karren Family Record that Mary was born 20 Jan 1852 at Lehi, Utah. In October of that year Grandfather was called to go on a mission to the Sandwich Islands (Hawaii). Uncle John, 18 years old, was recruited for service in the Indian Wars and was away on duty much of the time. But Grandma had two nearly grown daughters to stand beside her during this perilous time, besides intimate friends and the security of the fort.
I recall a story pertinent to this period that Grandma told us. One night she was awakened by rain pouring down upon the bed where she and two of her young children were sleeping. The rain was muddy as it came through the dirt roof. The leak spread and water began to pour upon the dirt floor. She took the young children, one on her back , and went to the cabin of her dear friend, Sarah Peterson, whose husband was also on a foreign mission. Sarah shared her bed with her distressed neighbors, with little Charles at the foot. All slept soundly except Grandma, who was doing some determined thinking. She had patiently endured many unavoidable experiences but this time she made the firm resolution that her family should have a home with a shingle roof and a board floor. The end of the story was that when Grandfather returned from his mission he found his family securely housed with a protective roof and an enviable floor – the first board floor in Lehi.
When those early pioneers moved inland from Sulphur Springs each family selected its favored site and built a cabin. The Karren selection chanced to be at the west end of who later became the community center. The Mormon settlement plan provided that the farming land, call the Fields, would be located at the periphery of the population center. Thus the pioneers lived in a close neighborly association, favorable for church, school, and social activities. The Karren family plot was situated at the juncture of the Community Center and the Field section. The main street of the city passed their place. On the opposite side of the road was a creek, probably the reason for this choice selection for a home site.
When the disabled members of the Mormon Battalion left the main body at Santa Fe and went to Pueblo for winter quarters, they wondered just what they had accomplished of benefit to themselves or their people for the sacrifice they had made. They soon because aware that two ideas, end products of their experience, would be of great value in the settlement of the new homeland. They had witnessed with keen interest, a system of irrigation as it was practiced in New Mexico, and the numerous adobe houses that were in general use in that region.
The adobe house was a natural, progressive step in housing the Utah Pioneers. They found much of the material on their own soil. A quite different view had greeted Grandfather’s eyes when he entered Salt Lake Valley with his family in 1850, from the one three years previously when he had arrived with the first pioneers and there wasn’t a house to be seen. In the meantime 5000 pioneers had arrived and log cabins had been erected to shelter them. Young trees and adobe houses seemed to be growing up out of the ground simultaneously. At last the Saints had found their land. Each one was eager to locate his own plot and build a home for his family.
Thomas and Anne had undoubtedly discussed an adobe house as their future home and in view of Grandma Anne’s initiative, she would wish to get it under way at the earliest date possible. Land was cleared and linseed was planted. The straw from the crop provided the binder for the adobes. Water to moisten the earth was close at hand.
The following is an excerpt from “Pioneers and Prominent Men of Utah” by Frank Essham (1913), “Thomas Karren was the first man to plow a furrow and start the settlement of Lehi, and built the first house in Lehi.” I have no information as to how the adobe house, which was to be the Karren family home for more than two generations, was built, but the story of the pine floor in the large family room conveyed a proud memory. It was a show place and an inspiration in the settlement. The two oldest daughters, Catharine and Lydia, had much pride and zest in keeping it shining clean.
Grandma’s resolve to have a board floor was not a fantasy. Anne Karren was not a dreamer. She was a realist. By the light of her former experience she could see the way by which it might be done. It is probably that the foundation for the house had been laid and the walls erected before Grandfather was called to leave for his mission to the Sandwich Islands. Soon thereafter, the log cabin that the family had built for temporary occupancy was knocked down to be made a part of the fort where they were living when Anne made her momentous decision.
The project conceived by Anne could not be completed in a few weeks or months. It might even require a year or more. Labor was the great problem that would cause the delay. A saw-mill had recently been built in Alpine Canyon. That being the case, the rest would follow.
Each month had brought additional pioneers to the settlement. As there was not sufficient room within the confines of the fort for all and as the Indians were a grave menace, Brigham Young advised that a wall should be built to include the entire settlement. This was an arduous task and called for community effort. Many who were living in the fort could now move to their own lots. Some were building new cabins. New irrigation projects were underway. A large school-house, serving all the needs of the community for meetings, recreation and all other public functions was built. Uncle John was fighting the Indians. How could Grandma entertain the great expectation of a board floor and a shingle roof when there was neither money or a husband at hand to help provide for such luxuries?
About this time something very important was happening in Salt Lake City and other towns. The Gold Rush to California was on in full force. Thousands of seekers of the precious metal were passing through the territory, leaving many things that the pioneers needed in exchange for what the pioneers had to offer. Some of the travelers arrived on a route which passed through Lehi. Here was a ready market for Anne’s bread and hard biscuits. In exchange she could get some things that might not be available, such as nails, or furniture, or such as money.
Grandma’s formula for accomplishment was “When you wish to do a thing, start it, stick to it and finish it.” That must have been the inspiration that carried her project to its successful conclusion.
After serving three years as a missionary to the Sandwich Islands, Grandfather returned to his family in 1855. It was well that he did so, as the years of 1855 and 1856 were the most arduous in the history of Lehi. The grasshoppers came in swarming hosts during the summers and the winters were intolerably cold. It was a battle for survival in which no one was spared the pangs of hunger or the icy blast of cold.
One story concerning this period was told me by Aunt Mary. She was visiting with me on one occasion when I was bewailing the fact that I still had to mix a batch of bread, even though it was ten o’clock at night. She told me of crying for bread when she was a small child, when there was none to be had. She did not like pig-weeds and other greens but that was all there was to eat. She insisted upon making my bread while she told the story of the whole community using every device imaginable, beating, drowning, burning and still the swarms of grasshoppers kept coming until nearly every field had been devastated. Then they flew away and left the pioneers to manage, as best they could. To Aunt Mary, bread-making was a pleasure mingled with a prayer of gratitude. That this situation should have made so deep an impression upon the mind of a child of four years, was an indication of the suffering of the community in this year of 1856.
On January 1, of this same year, the record shows that a daughter Isabella, was born. The following year was a booster one for the colony. The crops were abundant and a few of the young trees began to bear fruit. Grandfather was there to take care of the farm work and Grandmother took over her natural roll of manager. Prior to this time, farming had been done with almost primitive tools: sythe, sickle and flail. When Bishop David Evans proposed that Grandfather join him in the owning and operating of a threshing machine and a fanning mill, Grandfather regretted deeply that there was no money to make the payment. Grandmother brought forth the amount required. It proved to be a profitable venture for many years.
Anne had been busy exploiting her opportunities. The travelers were still taking the southern route to California. The United States had established an Army Camp in Cedar Valley, a short distance from Lehi and the soldiers from Camp Floyd (later called Cedar Fort) provided a market for fresh vegetables, fruit, eggs, butter, bread, etc. Tithes and offerings could be paid with produce from the farm, but when the taxes fell due, Grandfather would become greatly disturbed until Anne would assure him that she had the money for the payment.
Grandfather was a hard working, energetic man and an excellent farmer. The products of his farm were first class and were in demand. He was frequently called into consultation on farm problems. In various ways his contributions to the community were valuable. He served as a member of the school board for many years, as an Alderman and other civic capacities. Probably his most outstanding service to the people was as Bishop Evan’s First Counselor. In the early years of Utah the Bishoprics of the various communities were of paramount importance. As emissaries of the First Presidency of the church they were, to a certain extent, the shepherds of the colonists.
From time to time, the pioneers were called upon to equip caravans to return to the Missouri River and bring on the remaining members of the Church. A popular item in the contributions of the Karrens for these trips was an ample supply of the hard biscuits for which they had earned a reputation.
The Karren home was a place of hospitality. Thomas and Anne were the gracious dispensers. Four o’clock was the hour when a neighbor or friend or someone to see a member of the bishopric might call. A substantial meal, to which Grandma would give her personal attention, was served to the hungry men from the farm at noon-day, after which they would return to their work. Anne was too busy to eat at that time. At four o’clock Thomas could be seen coming toward the house. This was Anne’s hour of relaxation when she and grandfather would sit and commune in the quiet understanding that characterized their deep affection for each other, or they would greet a visitor with friendly warmth and refreshment.
The Church Authorities were often entertained at the Karren home. The board floor might have been an attraction. There was no place where a better meal could be served and Anne’s china dinner set was an adornment to her table. Besides this, there was a four poster bed with down pillows and a great feather mattress that was available to favored guests. Grandma had probably negotiated for this bed-stead with an emigrant cabinet maker.
The birth of the eleventh child of Anne and Thomas Karren occurred 1 August 1858. He was named David Ratcliffe. Grandmother was 43 years old. For five years she and the rest of the family had lavished upon David the peculiar affection that a bright and charming youngest child receives from a large family. Then calamity struck. Little David was drowned in the stream that flowed near-by. Another tragic event in their lives was the untimely death of their beautiful daughter Lydia, a gifted young woman who left several young children to mourn her loss.
The Paisley shawls that Grandma brought with her from England were dispensed for the most part for payment of domestic help. There are at least two shawls still in the family. I have in my possession one of black cashmere. I had loaned and used this shawl and bonnet that Anne wore when she came to Nauvoo, upon many occasion – for dress-up purposes, pioneer affairs, dramatic presentations, etc. In 1944 it occurred to me that it had become an antique.
Grandfather was married to Elizabeth in 1865 and ten days later married Hannah. He had known Hannah first and had been engaged to her, after being commanded to take several wives. He did not want to go into polygamy but was told to do so as he was in the bishopric. Grandmother selected the wives and told him when, where and whom to marry.
Elizabeth had come to Utah and lived with Grandfather and Grandmother. Grandma wanted Grandfather to marry her first before someone else got her, but “he could get Hannah any time”.
Elizabeth Melines had been married previously and had two children. She left her huband and was on her way to Utah when he overtook her and took the children back to the East with him. Elizabeth came on and found a home with Grandfather and Grandmother. She was of Scotch descent, born in Ayershire, Scotland. It is said that Grandmother shared all her household goods with these two women.
I was about eight years old when I accompanied Grandma to call on Hannah and Elizabeth. They were “relatives” but I did not know what the relationship was. They lived in an adobe duplex, several blocks east of the Karren home. The house was definitely built for two families as there were two front and rear entrances.
First we called upon Hannah who greeted us warmly. Two grown-up young ladies were there. They said nice things to me although I cannot recall what they were. I do recall that I became very interested in what Hannah was doing. There were several straw hats on the table. Hannah was braiding a long strand of straw. She had learned the trade in her native England and had found it advantageous when she came to Utah as a Mormon convert and pioneer. The daughters’ names were Annie and Janie. A brother had died when quite young.
Afterwards we called on Elizabeth, who had a daughter named Eliza and three sons, George Robert and James. The boys were not at home, but their names were mentioned in the course of conversation. Both visits had been interesting and pleasant. The two women and three daughters were all very respectful to Grandma. I asked her how they were related to me. Relatives were special people in my young life. Grandma replied that they were Grandfather’s other families, that the boys and girls were my uncles and aunts.
The oldest of these children, George, was born in 1865, about two years following the death of little David. In all, the Karren children numbered eighteen.
Grandfather died 3 April 1876, after a long period of illness. Grandma measured up to her full responsibilities in her devotion and loving attention to him and the needs of his other families. After his death, Charles took over the farm and lived with his family in the Karren home. Granma kept her own apartment there where I would go to visit her and to which she would return after an extended visit to some members of her family, but she always returned to Lehi.
That was her home, where she had belonged since the first furrow was plowed in its virgin soil and the first house built. She had watched it grow from a flat land of sage-brush and grease-wood to a pleasant and progressive town of gardens and orchards and a burgeoning sugar-beet industry.
She was a familiar figure in her little bonnet and Paisley shawl as she walked along the sidewalks, flanked by fence-enclosed homes and irrigation ditches, on some business or friendly call. She had many friends, not only among the old-timers but among those settlers who came to Lehi in the years that followed that first battle for survival. Grandfather would call upon the newcomers to give them the spiritual comfort they might have needed and the advice as to building their homes and planting crops. Grandma had her technique also. She would follow with her basket. A loaf of fresh bread, a dressed chicken, some dried fruit were welcomed items. When her young daughters were able to carry the basket they would assist in these errands of friendship and good will.
I remember the basket. It intrigued my interest as it was unlike any that I had seen. It was square I shape with two lids opening up to the handle that spanned the top. It was sturdy but showed signs of various repairs. I asked Grandma why she still used such an old basket. She said that she still found it useful. After her death, I learned the story. To me it is a true symbol of her generous character and realistic approach to life. She had a keen sensitivity to the needs of the hour and sought to relieve them. She gave Christian service by sharing what she had. To the sick, the stranger, the lonely, and those in grief or want she went at the propitious time with a message of sympathy and cheer to strengthen the spirit, and the contents of her basket to nourish the body.
For a description of Grandma, I would ask her descendants to read Proverbs, Chapter 31, Verses 10-30.
In the Lehi Cemetery there was, at the graves of Thomas and Anne Radcliffe Karren until several years ago, a heap of white marble shards. The original marker at the final resting place of these pioneers had broken under the rigors of climate. The sexton gathered the pieces and piled them at the head of the plot. That now has been replaced by a plain granite slab. The names and dates of birth and death of each are inscribed upon this slab. Under the name of Thomas Karren is a list of the services performed by him as a soldier, missionary, pioneer, church man and citizen. Under the name of Anne Ratcliffe Karren is the simple statement “She kept the fires burning.”