Thursday, August 9, 2007

William Lindsay Senior

A Brief History of William Lindsay Senior

and His Wife and Family

This is Don H. Lindsay's great great grandfather.

This William Lindsay was the Eldest son of Robert McQueen Lindsay and Elizabeth Geddes. He was born in May, 1820, at Wanlockhead, Dumfries Shire, Scotland. Wanlockhead is a small village and the chief occupation of the men is lead mining. It is located high up in the Lowther hills where the bonnie bloomin heather adorns the hills in the summer time. The village is eight or ten miles from a railroad and is quite isolated. Most of the people are related through marriage as their forefathers have lived there for generations back. They seem to be a simple, honest, sincere class of people; very religious and law abiding; hospital and friendly. People seldom moved away from there and very seldom any new families came there to make homes.

However, this Robert McQueen Lindsay and his family moved into Ayrshire probably about 1832, where he and his eldest son, William, engaged in sinking shafts and opening new coal mines. While working there William got acquainted with a young woman who was a dairy maid at one of the farm houses whose name was Christina Howie and in due time they were married at Coylton parish church, July 19, 1844. This I learned from the parish records in Edinburgh some time since.

She was born at Craighall July 3, 1823 and had lived near there all her life up to that time. Her parents names were William Howie and Jane Blackwood; highly respectable people of the working class and their work was on farms, tilling the soil and attending to the horses and cows, and usually a few sheep were kept on each farm.

Soon after their marriage this couple moved to a little village named Gatehead, where Robert, their eldest son was born on 19th of April 1845. On account of changes in the work and wages of the coal miners they changed and moved from place to place quite often, seeking better pay or better working conditions.

From there they moved to a place called Chapehall, near Ardrie in Lanarkshire and while living there their second son was born on the 11th of February, 1847. It was probably while living here that they came into contact with the Mormon Elders. I have heard my father say he attended a meeting held by a Mormon Elder named Crandel Dunn and that he attended that meeting for the purpose of showing this Elder wherein he was wrong. But he listened attentively to his preaching and soon became convinced that the elder was preaching the Gospel exactly as Christ and his Apostles preached it as set forth in the New Testament. Therefore he could not gainsay it. So it came to pass that in April 1848, Grandfather and Grandmother Lindsay and all their family were baptized as members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, including William Lindsay and his wife Christina Howie and all became active, earnest workers in the Church with the exception of James, who had enlisted in the British Army and was then in South Africa, and he too, found an Elder in that country and was baptized when he learned that the rest of the family had all been baptized into the Church.

While the Lindsay family all joined, our Mother, Christina Howie, was the only one of the Howie family to join the Church at that time. Soon after William Lindsay’s baptism he was ordained an Elder and used to go out on the streets and preach the Gospel to people in the neighborhood of his home. He also in time acted as President of at least two branches, one at the town of Ayr and also at Stewarton; and he was very prompt and faithful in attending to all his duties in the Church as long as he lived. He even, when President of the Ayr branch, had to walk ten miles there and ten miles back attending the meetings but he felt it was his duty and he did it regularly.

For some cause, however, they moved back into Ayrshire before our brother James’s birth, which took place on the 17th of February, 1849, at a place called Hudson Bridge, near Kilmarnock in Ayrshire. I think it was while living near Kilmarnock that mother was baptized by John Lyon, the poet, and a prominent man in the Church. The next move they made was to a farm house named Plelland (?), Near Tarbolton. Father was working at a mine some four or five miles off and could not be at home and while mother and the rest of the family were living in this out-of-the-way place our dear mother gave birth to twin boys. This was on March 4, 1851. Father had, however, engaged an old lady to come and care for mother at the time of her confinement, which she did and mother and the twins got along wonderfully well considering everything. The twins were named Samuel and George and not long after their birth father got the family moved to Brnbrae, near where he and grandfather were sinking a new shaft, and we were all happy to be together again.

I can remember we had scarcely enough to eat when living at Plelland (?) and perhaps not much to wear either. It was hard times for some cause. We soon moved again, this time to Craighall, where our good brother George died and was buried in St. Quin Churchyard, and brother Andrew was born on April 14, 1853. And it was while here that the men working in the mine with father, on account of pure prejudice on account of his being a Mormon, called a meeting and decided to have father discharged. A committee waited on the mine owner and stated their case. Mr. Dixon asked if Mr. Lindsay had interfered with any of them in any way and they admitted he had not but he was one of those Mormons and they would not work in a mine where he was. “Well,” said Mr. Dixon, “I have noticed that Mr. Lindsay is one of the best miners in the mine. He is steady and dependable and can be trusted to do any kind of a job in the mine and I am not going to discharge him just because he is a Mormon. You men work or quit, just suit yourselves but Mr. Lindsay can work anyhow.” So, of course, the men went back to work and were a little more careful in their actions towards the Mormon.

Our next move was to Gatehead near Kilmarnock and while here our sister, Jean, was born and while living here Grandfather Lindsay was severely burned in an explosion of gas in the coal mine, but by careful nursing and the blessings of the Lord he finally recovered. Brother Robert and I used to gather hawthorn blossoms to scent the room he was in.

While living at Gatehead Robert and I went to school. I for the first time but the teacher was a cruel man and whipped the children unmercifully if they did not happen to suit him. I can’t remember learning anything from him.

We moved again, this time near Crosshouse, and finally to Thornton Row and it was while there that Robert and I attended Neephill School about a year. We had a very good teacher named John Smith, and there I got all my school education as while less than ten years of age I was put to work in a coal mine. Robert, of course, went to work in the mine too, but he was near two years older than I. The law of the land did not allow boys to work in the mine under ten years of age unless they could read and write. Not long after I went to work in the mine the government inspector and the mine owner came down in the mine together and seeing me I heard him say to Mr. Finnie, “Here is a boy under age, you are to blame for allowing such a thing and it will cause you to be fined.” Mr. Finnie was annoyed but came to me and asked if I could read and write. I said, “Yes, Sir.” He took a book from his pocket and asked me to read, which I did. He then asked me to spell “Carmelbank” I spelled it right and so he asked me to read some more writing, which I did. Of course, this pleased him very much and he took out his purse and found no small change and he said, “You are a clever little fellow and I’ll be owing you a shilling.” The inspector said, “Mr. Finnie, I have a shilling, I will give the boy it and you can pay me later.” So in this way I got the first shilling I ever owned.

While living at Thornton Row, two more sisters were born, Elizabeth, November 14, 1858, and Isabella, December 31, 1860, and James and Samuel began to work in the mine. This was three miles from Kilmarnock where our church meetings were held and us larger boys were all required to attend regularly on the Sabbath Day. In fact, it was the only day that we even saw daylight in the winter when the days were short. We often went down in the mine before daylight and did not get out of the mine until after dark. So we were very thankful for the Sabbath.

Our father being a very steady man, always sober and dependable, always had the respect of the managers of the mines and the better class of the miners. But we boys had to stand the scoffs and scorn of the more ignorant class of men and boys; sometimes hard to bear. One little circumstance I will relate. When the men called at the office to get their pay, as each man’s name was called he stepped up to the office window and his pay was handed out to him. Father’s name was usually called among the first. One time he was not there when his name was called. An ignorant fellow named Lindsay answered. “The Mormon Lindsay’s not here but I’m here.” Mr. Gilmour said, “Well, even if he is a Mormon, he’s a much better man than you are.”

Well, of course, working in the mine was very hard work and very long hours; hardly ever less than twelve hours in the mine. Boys from 11 to 12 years of age were used almost entirely pushing the little cars loaded with coal from where it was dug to the shaft where it was taken to the surface, and with forty to sixty boys, all of an age you may be sure there was many a quarrel and often a fight for a change and every boy had to defend his rights or be over-run by his mates.

Father used to tell us boys to seek no quarrel with any of the boys and be sure not to try to abuse them in any way and if they try to abuse you, defend yourselves the best you can and then if you can’t maintain your rights, report to me and I will see that you get justice. But don’t ask me to interfere if you can get anything like fair play. So, of course, we learned to stand up for our rights when quite young in a coal mine.

Wages were very small and father’s family kept increasing so it took practically all we could to make ends meet when we all had regular work and all were well and able to work. Father tried hard to save a few shillings to put in the emigration fund in the hope that some of the family would be able to come to Utah and in time send for those who were left behind. But very little could be spared for that purpose. Finally, we moved right into the town of Kilmarnock early in 1861 and worked in a coal mine near the town. By this time there were four of us boys working in the mines – James and I were mates and Robert and Sam made a team to push the coal cars and things seemed to be going along smoothly when the 17th day of October, 1861, our dearly loved father was accidentally killed by a large stone falling on him while at work in the mine.

Brother James and I were working with him taking the coal away in the little cars. We were the last to see him alive and were gone with our car of coal about half an hour and came back to find him dead. Of course, we were almost frantic in our endeavors to get the stone removed but it was impossible, even when we ran to other parts of the mine and got men to come and help remove the stone, they were some time in getting him out from under it.

That was a sad and sorrowful day for us and especially for our dear Mother, who, with him, had been hopefully looking forward to the time when he and all the family might at some future time have the blessed privilege of coming to Zion and making our home. The last words our Dear Father said to James and I when we left him alive and well were, “Pitch in boys and help me all you can for I have not long to be with you.” I believe he had in mind his expected coming to Utah in the spring of 1862, when he intended to come and bring James with him and leave Robert and I to support the family until he could send for us. Of course, the men got his body and took it to our home.

What a sad home coming that was. He had left home that morning well and strong and full of hope and cheer for the future. Now all our hope seemed blasted forever. A few of our friends came to our aid and did all they could to cheer and comfort us and prepare his body for burial.

He was buried in St. Andrews Churchyard in the town of Kilmarnock, Ayrshire, Scotland. No man was better respected and loved by those who really knew him. John Lyon, the poet said, “He was a man in whom there was no guile.” A kind and considerate husband to our Dear Old Mother and a very affectionate and patient father to his children.

But even in this dark hour of trial our good Mother did not give up. But when we were all feeling very downhearted and discouraged said, “Cheer up boys, we will go the the valley yet and on the very first ship next spring.” Her words proved true to the letter. We did come on the first ship that brought Mormon emigrants in the spring of 1862.

However, we were under the necessity of still working in the mine from the time of our dear father’s death up to the 14th of April, 1862. The pit boss helped us to find men to work with pushing the cars in the mine. But it was a sad change for us working with strangers and there were those who imposed on us as we had no kind father now to protect us. We even had to push our little cars right over the spot where Dear Father lost his life.

However, we managed to work every day and got along as well as we could trying to earn enough to support mother and the family. Mother doing all she could to encourage us and save expenses of all kinds.

On the 16th of April 1862, Mother received a letter from George Q. Cannon, in Liverpool telling her that passages had been secured for all her family on the ship John J. Boyd and advising her to dispose of furniture and any other thing not needed for the long journey to Utah and for us to be in Liverpool on the 20th, ready to sail for New York.

This letter caused great rejoicing in our home. Brother Sam was so overjoyed he ran around the house saying. “Boys that is the best letter ever came to our house.” And we all felt to endorse it. There was some excitement disposing of what little we had and making preparations for the long tedious journey before us. Some of us boys went to the mine and notified the men we were leaving and we sold what tools we had of father’s for just what was offered us and Mother did the same with the house furnishings and on the morning of the 19th of April, Robert’s 17th birthday, we boarded the train for Glasgow where we were bet by Brother Robert Sands, who secured passage for us on a small steamboat bound for Liverpool and helped us get located on the boat and here we left our native land without the least feeling of regret. Not that we did not love the land of our forefathers and many heroes and great men Scotland had produced, such as Wallace and Bruce and Burns and many others, noted characters, but we felt that we were being privileged to go to a land of greater liberty and opportunity, and especially as it was to us the land of Zion and the headquarters of the Church where all our future hopes and prospects in life were centered.

We landed in Liverpool next morning and went on board the John J. Boyd along with some 700 Mormon emigrants all bound for Utah. James S. Brown was in charge of the company and John G. Lindsay and Joseph C. Rich were his counselors. The ship was divided into 7 wards and men put in charge of each ward, so that every person was looked after according to their needs while crossing the ocean.

We left Liverpool on the 22nd of April, 1862, bound for New York and we landed there on the 4th of June. We had one quite severe storm and two deaths. A man and a child who slipped over the side of the ship into a watery grave. Rations of food were issued once a week. A very small amount of flour, rice, sugar, potatoes and salt pork. There was one large stove called a galley on which to cook for 700 people. A very little water was also allowed but, it was very poor water.

But we lived on our fare all right and were glad when we reached New York and got on land again. Of course, we all had a taste of sea sickness and the taste is not pleasant at all but is never fatal.

It is too long a tale to tell of the many changes we had to make in getting from New York to Florence, or Winter Quarters, where we stayed seven weeks waiting for ox teams coming from Utah with which to take us over the plains and mountains to Utah. Suffice it to say we were ten days getting from New York and we had very little to eat at that time. I have said we suffered more with hunger on that trip than any other time in my life. While we stayed at Florence we got all we needed to eat at the Church Store there. Old Robert McKnight met us there with a small bucket of milk and a basket of scones his wife Katie had coked for that purpose, all of which was very much appreciated by us hungry boys. He also got our family located in a little log cabin that was standing empty and probably had been built by some of the Mormon people before starting for the Rocky Mountains. Most of the other members of our company were quartered in barns and stables that had been built by the Mormon Pioneers. About the 20th of July, the ox teams arrived from Utah and we were glad to see them although they looked roughly dressed and with their big whips and their strong voices made a great noise and confusion. It was indeed a very strange sight to us, we had never seen anything near like it before.

However, we were soon assigned to John Turner’s wagon along with a few others, about 12 persons to each wagon. Each family was given a bake skillet, a camp kettle and a frying pan and flour and bacon once a week and about once a week an allowance of fresh beef. A few small animals were driven along by each company to be used for beef at odd times.

As soon as possible we started on the westward journey in Homer Duncan’s ox train. Everything as done in an orderly way to make the people as comfortable as possible on the long wearisome journey. There was always 50 or more teams and wagons in each company and some six men on horseback who herded the oxen at night when they were turned out to eat grass, so they could work the next day. Fifteen miles was an average day’s travel and everybody had to walk if they possibly could.

A tent was furnished for each wagon to be hauled in the wagon and set up each night for the people to sleep in who belonged to that wagon and one man in each had the job of setting up the tent at night and taking it down and putting it in the wagon next morning. A corral was bade by one half of the wagons being placed on one side and the other half on the other side, and it was used to put the oxen in to yoke them up for each day’s travel and also as a meeting place where prayers were offered at night and morning and warning and advice given to members of the camp.

A bugle was sounded to call the people together for meetings. Although it was a long and very trying journey for people who had never seen oxen or tried to cook by smoky fires, or slept outdoors, even though tired, worn and weary, they used to gather around the campfires in the evenings and sing songs; especially “Come, Come, Ye Saints, no Toil nor Labor Fear, But with Joy Wend Your Way.” There was always someone who had a violin, an accordion or a concertina to make music and even play for a dance at odd times. We had several deaths on that journey and a shallow grave without a coffin was all that could be given them, and their sorrowing dear ones had to march on with the train never to see those graves again. Many had died and laid their wearied bodies down by the side of the Mormon wagon trial from the year 1847 to the year 1868. All that crossed the plains before the railroad are real Pioneers. Just think what faith and courage our good old Mother showed in undertaking such a journey with such a family in those conditions.

Our family got through without any loss of life. Our little sister Elizabeth was not well when we got here and died two weeks after our arrival in Heber and was buried among the first in the Heber Cemetery.

John Turner being from Heber and we being in his wagon, came right into Heber without going to Salt Lake City as nearly all Mormon emigrants did. George Muir was living here and mother knew him in Scotland, also his brother John Muir. So as this valley was new, mother thought it would be a good place for us boys to get some land and make our own homes in time.

We landed in Heber on the 21st day of September, 1862, having been five months on the way. Three days after getting here Robert and I went to work. We were hired for a year each to get one hundred dollars, to be paid in wheat at $2.00 a bushel, so Mother could get wheat to grind into flour for her and the younger children to live on. Mother had brought some clothing with her and traded it to Bailie Sprouse for a log house all ready to move into and a little later she traded more clothing for a cow. At the end of the year I took a cow on my wages and let Mother have her to milk, and later I traded the cow for 18 acres of land.

In 1863 Mother was married to George Muir and us older boys kept working for different people and earning means to help Mother feed and clothe the children, and finally amongst us we had two yoke of oxen and a wagon of our own and I went to hauling wood and coal to Salt Lake City to sell for store pay. There really was no money.

In 1866 the Blackhawk war came and I enrolled in John M Murdock’s company and did service, for which I now receive a pension. Robert worked for Alex Claderwood on the Weber that year and did not enroll that year, and though he enrolled in 1867, no one got a pension for that year as the war was over mostly.

Mother later went to Evanston with George Muir and kept boarders and made quite a bit of money and sent some to us boys, who were then married, and with her money and our work, her rock house was built. She later came home and took up a homestead in Center Creek, lived on it and proved up and gave the deeds to her sons John and George. She also acted as a midwife for years and had one of the first sewing machines and did sewing for others, and did what Temple Work she could and was really a wonderful and good woman in many ways. We had good faithful parents. God bless their memory.

William Lindsay – April 1931

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