Thursday, August 9, 2007

Christina Howie Lindsay

Christina Howie Lindsay

Written by her son William Lindsay

She was the oldest child of William Howie and Jane Blackwood. She was born at Craighall, Aryshire, Scotland, on July 3rd, 1823. Her father was working as a farm laborer and although a very steady worker, he had little of the world’s goods, and it was hard to support his family. Wages were very small in the county of Craighall. It was a small village near the banks of the river Syrshire that Burns mentioned often in his songs and poems, a very pretty place some three miles from the town of Ayrshire, and in a farming district.

She got very little education, as they lived three miles from the school house. When quite young, she learned to milk cows, make butter and cheese. She even helped to cut the grain with a cycle and bind it. While cutting grain, she cut her little finger which was stiff for the rest of her life.

When Father first met her, she was a dairy maid at a farm called Crawfordstone. They were married at Craighall on the 15th day of May 1844. On account of Father’s work they kept moving about from time to time. Only once, however, did they move out of Ayrshire an that was just before my birthday in 1847. While living there in 1848 (April) they joined the Mormon Church, and both were faithful leaders as long as they lived, though they had to meet the scoffs and scorn of their friends and neighbors. She was the only one of the Howie family to join the church at this time. Her brother William Howie did join later, but it seemed it was only for the purpose of getting help to bring them to Utah, and then he was not satisfied and went back to England. I visited him in Leeds in 1907, and found him a poor old man and very deaf, but he wished he was back in Heber Valley again. Poor old uncle Willie, I felt sorry for him. Father and Mother in their moving about were far from the meeting places of the Mormons. Quite often they walked three or four miles to attend the meetings, and she generally had a baby to carry. She would wrap them in a shawl and carry them on her back. I am sure she did this hundreds of times. No woman was more interested in the welfare of her children than she was.

I remember well when I first had to go to work in the coal mines. I was nine years old and we had to get up very early. Mother used to wake us up and help us get dressed and with tears in her eyes she would say, “My poor sweet boys, I hope you will some day get away from the coal pits.”

Mother was a grand baker of soda scones, especially if she could get butter-milk to mix with the flour. At the death of our dear father, she did not give way to despair but stood the terrible shock wonderfully well. Her faith in God was still strong, and calling us boys around her, she said, “Boys, never mind, we will go to Zion yet.” And on the very first ship in the spring, she was right. Father was killed on the 17th of October, 1861, and we started for Utah the 19th of April 1862. Of course us boys had to work in the coal mines that six months and do the best we could without our dear father. James and I had to pull our little cars of coal right over the spot where father was killed. Robert and Sam had to work in another part of the mine. Finally a letter came from Liverpool, informing us that the berths on the ship had been secured for New York for all our family. The name of the ship was, “John J. Boyd” and it was to sail for New York on April the 22nd and for us to dispose of everything that we would not need on the journey, and be in Liverpool by the 21st of April. This letter was the cause of much rejoicing in our family. Brother Sam ran around saying, “That’s the best letter that ever came to hour house.” And I think we all agreed. We received this letter about the 16th of April and we quickly dispensed of the few things we had to sell for just what we could get. On the 19th of April 1862 we gladly bid our friends goodbye. We went by train from Kilmarnock to Glasgow and from there to Liverpool on a small steamer, where some of us got our first touch of seasickness. We got on board the ship along with 700 passengers, all leaving relatives and friends ant their native land, bound for Utah.

James S. Brown was president of the company. The ship was divided into 7 wards with a man to oversee each ward. We only had one storm of any consequence on the voyage. The food and water was not good and there was only one large stove or galley to cook for the 700 people. In these conditions it as hard to get anything cooked. Mother, however, had cooked a lot of oat cakes to bring with us so we fared better than many others. There were two deaths on the sea. We arrived safely in New York on the 4th of June, stayed there two days and had to walk two miles to the horse cars which took us to the Hudson River. We went to Albany on a steamboat, then by train and steamboat to Florence. We were 10 days getting to Florence and had little to eat. We got food from the Church storehouse at Florence. We were there seven weeks waiting for the ox teams coming from Utah to haul our luggage over the plains and mountains.

Our family, with others, was assigned to John Turner’s wagon in Homer Duncan’s company. The teamsters and oxen were new to us. We left Florence on the Missouri River July 20th, on our long and tiresome journey of a thousand miles, in the heat, dust, rain and wind. This was a wonderful experience and very trying for most of those people who had never slept out of doors or cooked in pots and skillets on the open fire made of sticks, brush or buffalo chips and sleeping in tents with ten or twelve others and traveling along the long dusty road for some 15 miles a day. There were fifty wagons in each train and all were warned to keep close to the wagons for fear of Indians. At night there was a corral formed by the wagons, twenty-five wagons on each side with an opening on each end and a guard placed at the openings. Our family crossed the plains without any serious mishap. Several persons died and were buried by the roadside without coffins. We arrived in Heber on the 21st of September, 2 months on the way. George and John Muir met us on Silver Creek or probably we would have gone with the train to Salt Lake City.

Mother soon bought a cabin from Dayless Sprouse and paid for it in clothing she had brought from Scotland. Robert and I hired and we got wheat for our pay, so the family had bread to eat. Our little sister Elizabeth died on the 4th of October some two weeks after our arrival, and was among the first to be buried in Heber.

Mother was always very independent. There was a move on foot soon after we got here by Wm. J. Wall and others, for all of the settlers to donate to a fund that would furnish a cow free to all the new families, but she refused to take a cow in that way, so she traded a dress pattern to Janet Sessions and got her first cow. In 1864, she was married to George Muir, and even after her marriage she worked in the harvest fields binding wheat to help him with his work. She was always busy doing work of some kind. She got one of the first sewing machines and did sewing for other families. She went to the head of Echo canyon to work and cook for 20 or more men from Heber, who were working on the railroad in 1868. Later, she went to Evanston, where George Muir worked at the coal mines, and while there, she kept boarders, and saved enough money with the help of her sons to build the rock house in Heber. Very few women would have undertaken such things.

When they returned to Heber, she acted as a mid-wife, helping many women in times of need. Then she took up a homestead claim at Center Creek, proved upon the claim and gave the title to her sons John and George. She also did what temple work she could for her dead. She was quite active, up to within a year of her death. She often expressed her thanks to God, that she had, with help, and the help of her sons, been able to come to Utah and to see them all comfortably located in homes of their own, with good wives, and she said, “I couldn’t have picked better ones myself.”

When I went on my mission in 1905, she accompanied me on the train to Provo. There I was parted with her, having hopes that I would meet her again on my return but in this I was mistaken, as she passed away on the 25th of July 1906, a few days over 83 years of age.

She lived with George Muir over 40 years, and you may be sure she had plenty to put up with, on account of his drinking, but however she stayed with him or let him stay with her, and finally she had the satisfaction of seeing him live a sober few years. I want to say this for him, he had many good traits in his character and especially he was good natured and not abusive when drinking as some men are.

(Missing something here I think)

She said no, when got a cow it will be “oor ain”. So she sold a shawl or a dress pattern to Alex Session’s wife and got her first cow and she was proud of it too.

There was a grist mill on Snake Creek that had been built that summer but it had no smutter and the flour we got from it was very dark. But people had to use that or go to a mill at Provo and even after she was married to George Muir, she helped bind the grain at harvest time. She always was very independent and would not be a burden to anybody if she could help it.

I the fall of 1868 when the Union Pacific Railroad was being built, I took her out to the head of Echo Canyon to cook for some 20 men from Heber which were working there and I also took my intended wife to help her. I took Mother’s stove and all cooking utensils. They earned about $90.00 each while there. She had two children by George Muir. John, born May 24th, 1864 and George, born February 16th, 1866. She also got one of the first sewing machines in Heber and did the sewing for other families. Then she went out to Evanston and kept boarders …Missing words..years. While there, she decided to have a rock house built where the log cabin had been. They got us boys to quarry th rock and haul it, dig the foundation and all other work necessary around the building. Then we got old Elisha Averett to take…. Missing words… up the walls and some helping lay stone. In this way her stone house was built. She kept sending money and other things that we could use to help us… Missing words… while working on the building. Later she came to Heber and took up a Homestead and lived on it, got the title and turned it over to her sons John and George. The house was on Center Creek. For quite a number of years she acted as a midwife… Missing words… very successful in helping to bring many children into the world.

She also visited the Salt Lake Temple a number of times and did the work for all of her dead relatives that she had the necessary dates to work with.

A few years before her death, she lived in her own home in Heber and was quite spry and active and did her own housekeeping till within a short time before her death at the age of 83 years and 22 days.

Although she never held any high public office in the Church, she was a firm believer and a staunch supporter of all the doctrines of the church and did all she could to encourage her children to work in every way possible for the up-building and on-rolling of the worn of God in the earth. She surely deserves great praise for the great work she performed in bringing her family to Utah.

She was a wonderful good mother to us all. God bless her memory.

The following lines were written by me while in England on a mission.

On Hearing of my Mother’s Illness:

It grieves my heart to learn you are so ill

And that I am so far away but still

I know you’ve good true friends on every hand

No better can be found in any land.

I thank the Lord that though I’m far away

Your sons and daughters are with you each day

To cheer and comfort you by words and deeds

In every way attending to your needs.

I pray to God that if it be his will

That he with health and strength may bless you still

That we might all be spared to meet again

In Utah’s peaceful vales free from all pain.

On July 3rd you will be eighty three

A good old age that only few do see

And few have e’er excelled you in your life

As Mother, constant friend, or faithful wife.

I feel to honor you for all you’ve done

To teach and train your daughters and your sons

In honor, virtue, truth and all that’s good

I’m sure you did your best and all you could.

God bless our Mother Dear in life or death

And keep us all like her, firm in the faith.

That when our race upon this earth is run

We all may meet in our eternal home.

Dudley, England, July 1st, 1906

Another few lines written a few days later.

My Mother dear though I am far away

I think of thee quite often every day

And wish within my heart I had the power

To soothe your sufferings in your trying hour.

At morn and night when I bow down in prayer

I ask that God may keep you in his loving care.

And still preserve your life if he thinks best,

Till I shall meet you in the golden West.

But if it be his will that you should be

Called from this life unto eternity

I feel to bow submissive to his will

Knowing that I shall meet dear Mother still.

If true and faithful which I hope to be

I shall both you and my dear Father see

Where pain and sickness and all sorrows cease

And those who’ve overcome find sweet release.

Many times when I used to call at her home she would say, “William, I thank the Lord every day I live that I got you boys all here to Utah and away from the coal mines.” And then she would say, “I am very glad to see you all settled down in comfortable homes with right good wives. I could nae hae got ye better andes if I had picked them mysel.” No person ever left her door hungry if she knew it. She lived with George Muir for more than forty years. Of course she had a great deal to put up with, but she stayed with it and had the satisfaction of seeing him live a sober life for a few years at the last. One thing I want to say for George, with all his drinking and carousing, he was a generally good natured and not abusive as some men are and by having patience and staying with him, she preserved his life for a number of years I am sure.

Your affectionate brother,

William Lindsay.

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