Johnson Ancestral Bridges Spanning Time & Eternity
This collection of messages from some of the Johnson Family ancestors is written to commemorate the 2006 Johnson Family Reunion.
It is the intent of the authors that the younger generations will benefit from learning about these people. We only went as far as John Robert Johnson and Cora Eyre's parents and grandparents. Hopefully it will entice you to find more and follow the path even further. Genealogy is, of course, facts. However with a little study we can learn what these people were like and what was going on in their lives.
This is respectfully submitted to attendees by John (Jack) and Pat Johnson. Please know that this project was done with great respect and produced quite a spiritual feeling. Some literary license has been used. Reading the records tells us the facts, but reading between the lines is what gives us the picture of these ancestors. We hope you enjoy "Johnson Ancestral Bridges Spanning Time & Eternity".
Table of Contents
John Robert Johnson's Father:
John Rowden Johnson .....................................
His father Luther Johnson ................................
His mother Harriet Rowden .............................
John Robert Johnson's Mother:
Sarah Elizabeth Colyer ....................................
Her father George B Colyer .............................
Her mother Mary Eliza Thomas .......................
John Edwin Eyre, Jr ..........................................
His father John Edwin Eyre, Sr .........................
His mother Jane Orton .......................................
Cora Eyre's Mother:
Emma Jane Maxwell ..........................................
Her father John Maxwell ....................................
Her mother Martha Wright .................................
Words From John Rowden Johnson
"I was born in Dodge City Kansas. My parents, Luther and Harriet Rowden Johnson had migrated from Michigan before I was born. They were headed west in America when it was the "thing to do". Something about Manifest Destiny. I was born January 12, 1882. By 1887 my parents had moved on to Pueblo, Pueblo County Colorado. It was a vibrant time in our country and my parents were always looking for work. Eventually they moved to Billings, Yellowstone County Montana. This is where I spent my early adulthood, working with my father in the construction field.
This is also where I met a young lady, Sarah (Lizzie) Elizabeth Colyer from Missouri. On 29 September 1909 we were married. My sister, Viola Johnson and Sarah's brother, Charles Garland Colyer were the witnesses at our wedding in her father's house.
On October 17, 1910 our oldest child was born in Spokane, Spokane County Washington. You all know him as Dad, Grandpa, Great Grandpa and Great Great Grandpa, John Robert Johnson. We had Harold George Johnson February 27, 1912, Florence Adeltha Johnson on February 14, 1916 and Ruth Eleanora Johnson on March 22, 1918.
The pressures of life at that time took its toll, and our marriage ended in 1920 in Seattle, King County Washington. Lizzie took the two girls and I took my two boys to raise. After a short while "us three boys" headed to Lovell, Big Horn County Wyoming. My family had settled there and I had no where else to go, so we headed to Wyoming. There was work there for me and the boys went to school for a short while after we moved there. The three of us led an ideal "bachelor existence" for many years. We went where we wanted , when we wanted, not encumbered by any females bossing us around, telling us what to do, how to dress, where to go or when to clean up. It seemed great. Little did we know what we were missing!!
On August 13, 1931, my son, John Robert Johnson married the sweetest little lady in the world, Cora Eyre. She treated me so nice and was genuinely kind to me. She called me "Dad" and helped me many times when my son and I got into heated "discussions". Many is the time she invited me to eat with them in the evenings. She was the best thing to happen to me and the "boys". She brought kindness and gentleness to a trio of "roughnecks".
I only got to know Cora and Robert's two oldest sons, Jack and Jim. One of our favorite things to do was pack some food to cook and a watermelon and head for the Big Horns. Jack, Jim and I would get in the rumble seat of Robert's car, he and Cora sitting up front as we headed out of town for a picnic. Oh yes, I remember so well when the two boys would come over to my house and I would go to my dresser drawer and take out an old crumpled paper sack with chocolate drops for Jack and Jim. Robert would bawl me out for giving the boys candy, but as soon as he left I would get it out and give them some more. Even though I didn't get to know the rest of you, know I watch all of you, and I see that MY family is the best of all."
Words from Luther Johnson
"To my dear Johnson descendants. I am so pleased that you are gathering together to renew family ties. I wish I could have met each of you, but alas that will have to wait for a future meeting. However, I would like to tell you a few clues about me and my family. What better place than at a famous Johnson Family Reunion!
I was born September 28, 1854 in Van Buren County Michigan. My parents were Lewis B. Johnson and Polly Catharine Burdick. My father was 32 years older than my mother. His first wife had died and he married my mother when she was eighteen years old. They had seven children and I was the third child. For reasons I didn't understand, as children often do not understand, my parents divorced. My father never remarried and died in 1872. My mother remarried to Martin L. Pitts about 1869. She died in 1879.
I married Harriet Ann Rowden on July 27, 1877 in Van Buren County Michigan.
I lived in Michigan until I was an adult, married and the father of two children. In 1881, my wife, Harriet, and my oldest two children, Anna and Louis, started our western trek. Opportunities were better in the western states, and they encouraged people to come and work and settle and build new towns and communities. Our first stop after leaving our home state was Dodge City in Ford County Kansas. It is famous as a wild west town and a very energetic town. It was indeed that very thing. I had decided that farming was not for me, so I learned to be a lathe and plaster man. With the building boom going on in the 1880's I had no problem finding work. My third child, (and your ancestor) John Rowden Johnson was born while we were living in Dodge City.
After living in Dodge City Kansas for about five years we heard of opportunities further west in Pueblo, Colorado. At that time a family could rent a boxcar on the railroad and move their entire household by rail. We decided to move that way from Kansas to Colorado. We lived in Pueblo for several years, then headed to Billings, Montana then to Spokane, Washington. As you can see we went where the work took us. We were always searching for a way to survive and find work. By 1920 we had settled in Lovell in Big Horn County Wyoming. Our oldest daughter, Anna, and her husband, Claude C. Clark had moved there and he was in the home construction business. By this time Harriet and I had started to slow down and wanted to enjoy our last years in a comfortable and homey town. Lovell was the perfect place to do that.
Unfortunately, in 1923, when we were visiting in Long Beach, California, my beloved Harriet died. I took her back to Pueblo, Colorado to be buried in our family plot with some of our children that died while we were living there so many years before. We had traveled together for 46 years and shared many trials and tribulations -- but many joys as well. The biggest joy we had was in our family and seeing it grow and prosper. Prosper in both material things, as well as, spiritual things. There is no greater joy than that, and I wish that for each of you in your own time."
A Visit With Harriet Ann Rowden
"It is such a pleasure to see so many Johnson descendants gathered together. How I wish I could join you in person, but alas, that is not to be in this world. However, I can send a message of greeting to you vicariously, and also visit with you for a few moments. I would like for each of you to get to know me a little bit better than you do now.
I was born July 27, 1859 in Canada. My parents were John Rowden and Ann Whiteford. My father was born in England and my mother was born in Scotland. I was their oldest child and I had one sister and three brothers. My parents migrated to Illinois and then finally settled in Van Buren County Michigan.
On July 27, 1877, on my eighteenth birthday I married Luther E Johnson in Van Buren County Michigan. We were married for 46 years and went through the many trials that life brings. I had 8 children with 5 living to adulthood.
One of the worst trials we endured was when our second child, Louis Johnson took his own life. It is almost more than a mother can bear, to lose one of her children and especially in that way.
Our third child was John Rowden Johnson, your ancestor. He was an especially bright young man. He was a skilled lathe and plaster man. He learned this skill from his father and usually, in the early years, they worked side by side on construction jobs. Life's pressures took their toll on my son, and he more or less resigned himself to life with his two sons, John Robert and Harold George. They were quite the trio of laid back, relaxed, and carefree fellows and buddies. As his mother, I always loved him. It was hard to help him with some of his difficulties because he as so independent. I learned that I can not change people and I also learned to accept my children as they were. Mother's are able to do this because they have a special ability to love.
Most of my younger years were spent moving with my husband from place to place following the opportunities for work wherever he could find them. In my day it was the wife's duty to be willing to help her husband in any way, even if it meant a rather nomadic life style. I grew to like this life style. One of our favorite places that we had ever lived in was Pueblo, Colorado. When we lived there I was a young housewife and young mother. It was a good time in our lives. Perhaps it became a favorite also, because three of our children are buried there.
In closing I want to say I had a good life. I was blessed with eight children. I was blessed with a husband that was a good provider and companion. I am still blessed, to have you descendants that have part of me in your personalities and temperaments. There is no greater memorial."
A Visit With Sarah Elizabeth "Lizzie" Colyer
"To my dear Johnson descendants. I am so happy you are all getting together to honor your ancestors at this Johnson Family Reunion in July 2006. There is nothing more important than renewing family ties and remembering who you come from. I wish I could join you in person, but alas, I must only do it vicariously, through human memories.
I was born June 30, 1891 in a little farming community called Bolckow, in Andrew County Missouri. My parents were George B. and Mary Eliza Thomas Colyer. It was nice to be one of the "baby sisters" in a large family. I had five older brothers and one older sister to spoil me and teach me about the world. One of my older sisters died as an infant, so I only had one that survived to adulthood.
Early in my life my father gave up the life of a farmer and moved his family, and his parents, to St Joseph, Buchanan County Missouri. We seemed more of an urban family than an agricultural family. Around 1902 my parents answered the "call of the west" and moved to Billings, Yellowstone County Montana. They homesteaded in 1910 in the Billings area, but once again, found that they were not cut out for farming. We lived in town when we first arrived in Billings and this is where I met my husband to be, John Rowden Johnson. He was nine years my senior and we married on September 29, 1909 in Billings, Montana. The wedding was held at the home of my parents, George and Mary Eliza. As with any newly married couple the future looked bright and promising.
By 1910 we had moved to Spokane in Spokane County Washington. We followed the work and went where it was booming. On October 17, 1910, I had my first child, John Robert Johnson. I was nineteen years old and fast learning the responsibilities of motherhood. We moved on with other members of my family to Seattle, King County Washington. This is where John Rowden Johnson and I parted ways. We traveled the same road for about eleven years and then went our separate ways. I stayed in the Seattle area with my second husband Guy Hapeman and my two daughters, Florence and Ruth. John Rowden and my two sons, John Robert and Harold George, went to Lovell, Big Horn County Wyoming.
In March 1947, I received a call from my oldest son, Robert, asking if I could help him in Lovell, Wyoming. His dear wife Cora, was ill and had to be hospitalized for a short time. Cora had just given birth to her fifth child, Wendell Eyre Johnson, and Robert needed some help in caring for his family until Cora could come home. It was a wonderful (if sad) opportunity to get to know my grandchildren better. My oldest grandchild, Jack Johnson was age 15 at the time and I enjoyed so much telling him about my childhood, etc. He was full of questions and it was a pleasant way to reminisce. It felt good to be taking care of a family again. I also got to visit with my old friend, Anna Johnson Clark. Anna was John Rowden's sister and also lived in Lovell. One of my favorite memories was when Cora returned home and I placed that little baby son in her arms for the first time in several months. I left for my home in Seattle shortly after Cora returned. I enjoyed so much my short stay in Lovell with my family. Family ties are much too strong to be broken by time and distance. My love is with you always."
Words From George Benjamin Colyer
"Dear Johnson descendants, it is wonderful to see you gathered together in Buffalo, Wyoming.
I spent many years north of here in Billings and Hardin, Montana. This has long been one of my favorite parts of the country. If I may, I would like to refresh your memory of me and tell you a bit about my life.
I was born February 18, 1851 in Kentucky. My parents were Jesse G Colyer and Mary Pew. They in turn were children of some very early pioneers of Kentucky. Kentucky is a beautiful State, but unfortunately there wasn't enough room for all that lived and farmed there. It was a natural phenomenon that we move west. We didn't know the term "Manifest Destiny", but we were, none the less, a part of it. By the time I was five years old, my parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles had moved to Andrew County Missouri. This is where I grew to adulthood.
In1872, in Andrew County Missouri, I married a young lady named Sarah Linville. She died from childbirth complications having my first child William Colyer, born January 21, 1873. With the help of my parents, William survived. On September 16, 1877 I married Mary Eliza Thomas in Bolckow, Andrew County Missouri. She was a pretty young girl and she lived near my uncle Daniel Pew. That is where I first saw her. We were married for 53 years and had 9 children. Our 8th child was Sarah Elizabeth Colyer, your ancestress.
Mary and I lived for several years in St Joseph, Buchanan County Missouri. My parents lived with us and both died in St Joseph. It was typical in those days to care for your parents when they reached old age. We wanted to move further west, but with aged parents, we had to wait. We knew our time would come and we would be able to fulfill that dream. Finally in 1902 we traveled by railroad to Billings in Yellowstone County Montana. Even though we knew we weren't exactly cut out to be farmers, we tried again, and homesteaded near Billings in 1910. Within three years we sold that "ranch" and moved back to town. We lived a few years in Hardin, Montana where I worked as a laborer for Fred Rein. We lived on Crow Avenue in Hardin.
Some of our children, your ancestors John Rowden and Sarah Elizabeth Johnson among them, had moved to the Spokane, Washington area. The search for work was an everyday event in those days. I suppose that hasn't change much over the years. At any rate, Mary and I liked the northwest area, and migrated that way ourselves in the 1920's.
We spent our last years in Seattle, King County Washington. Our three oldest sons, Frederick, Edward and Daniel had stayed or returned to Missouri, but the rest of our children were all in the Seattle area. It was only natural that we wanted to be near them. Mary and I were featured in the Seattle newspaper when there was an article about "The Over Fifty Year Club". It was about three couples that had been married over fifty years. The ladies gave sound advice to the younger generation about how to accomplish such a feat. My advice is to find the perfect girl and hope to high heaven that she will put up with you. Needless to say I was lucky in that regard.
I hope you are proud of your Colyer ancestors, because we are very proud of you."
A Few Words from Mary Eliza Thomas
"It would be so nice if I could visit with you in person, but we will have to settle for an imaginary conversation. I am glad to see so many of my Johnson descendants gathered here. Some of you may not know much about me and I would like to share my story with you.
I was born August 22, 1854 near Ursa, Adams County Illinois. My parents were David H and Elizabeth Lillard Thomas. I have three sisters. One is my twin sister, Sarah. My parents died when I was quite young and I don't know much about them, except their names. I know more about my mother's family than my father's family. The Lillards, especially my Uncle Frank Lillard, took care of us girls when our parents died. I was eventually taken in by the Smith McGinnis family. My sister, Sarah, went to Missouri and worked for the Erastus Bozarth family. She married their son, Erastus Bozarth, Jr. and raised his children from his first wife, as well as having three of her own. Sarah spent the rest of her life in the LaGrange, Missouri area.
About 1865, Smith McGinnis and his family moved to Andrew County Missouri. I also went to Andrew County as part of his family. Smith McGinnis farmed next to Daniel Pew and Daniel Pew had a nephew named George B Colyer. After a few years we became acquainted and married September 16, 1877 in Bolckow, Andrew County Missouri. George's first wife died in 1873 shortly after having their son, William Colyer. William was as dear to me as my own nine children.
Family was always important to me, primarily because I had missed out on having parents from an early age. George's parents, Jesse and Mary Colyer, became my own parents. They lived near or with us until their deaths in St Joseph, Buchanan County Missouri. They were gentle and dear people and I loved them very much.
I had nine children and all but one grew to adulthood. My eighth child was Sarah Elizabeth Colyer, your grandmother, great grandmother and great great grandmother. She was a strong willed girl and a joy to be around. She seems to have inherited some of her pioneer ancestors traits. She was never afraid to try something new and adventurous.
George Colyer and I were married for 53 years. We moved from Andrew County Missouri all the way to Seattle Washington in those 53 years. We moved many times, always looking for opportunities to work. We endured heartache and joy and every emotion in between. My dear George died on September 1, 1930.
My story illustrates how fragile the thread of life is. So many things could have been different, but if only one thing were different you wouldn't be here. Some of those things were sad and heartbreaking, but without them we would all be different people. I am so thankful that things happened as they did because I think I have the best descendants in the world. Even though my parents didn't live to see their own children grow up, they live on through you."
A Few Words from John Edwin Eyre, Jr.
"How I wish I could join all of you at Buffalo, Wyoming for this family reunion. It will have to be a meeting of memories, but I will be there in spirit. I am so proud of my descendants and I hope you all will learn a little bit about me before you leave this place. Let me share a little bit about my life with you.
I was born December 22, 1881 in Parowan in Iron County Utah. My father, John Edwin Eyre, Sr. was also born in Parowan, as well as, my mother, Jane Orton. My parents and my grandparents, John Eyre and Sarah Gillans all migrated to Big Horn County Wyoming to help further the work of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. On August 27, 1911, I received my Patriarchal Blessing from my grandfather, John Eyre at Cowley, Big Horn County Wyoming. I was a fourth generation member of the LDS Church, and it guided my life through all of the trials and tribulations that accompany a long mortal life. I learned early in life to remain humble in all things.
I came to the Big Horn country in Wyoming, as a young man in my early twenties. I came to help in digging the Sidon Canal that brought precious water to the area and helped things grow so beautifully there. One of the many jobs I had as a young man was working on the railroad as it was making its way into the Big Horn Basin. While working in Kirby,Wyoming I ate my meals in the cook wagon that the railroad provided for bachelor workers. I couldn't help but notice a beautiful young girl about age fifteen that worked in the "cook car". I soon learned that her name was Emma Jane Maxwell. She had beautiful red hair and was a "spirited" young lady, to say the least. Needless to say, I fell in love with her and found a way to talk to her in private by assisting her when she went to get water from the Big Horn River for dishwashing at the "cook car". It paid off in many ways as Emma Jane saved the best piece of pie for me from then on. When Emma turned sixteen I proposed to her and she accepted me. We were married in the Salt lake Temple on October 10, 1907.
We had eleven children and all but one grew to adulthood. We homesteaded 80 acres three miles west of Cowley, Wyoming and spent the next 33 years on that little farm. How we survived on what little it could provide is a testament to the Lord's graciousness. Our faith never wavered and we raised our family to adulthood there. Emma worked hard at keeping the farm running and raising the children. It took a toll on her, but she complained very little. That little farm house was a haven for many people over the years that we lived there. During the Depression several families of relatives lived with us. People had to make do as best they could during that terrible time. I often wondered how that small house could hold anymore people, but we managed and pulled through together.
In our later years we moved to Lovell, Wyoming and at last Emma had some comforts in life. I never needed much for my own comfort, but I was glad that at last she could take it a little easier. I worked part time at the sugar factory in Lovell to make ends meet and we were happy with our lives at this point. We lived next door to our daughter, Cora and her husband John Robert Johnson. It was such a joy to live close to our five Johnson grandchildren and see them grow up to be fine people. I feel so blessed when I look at my many descendants and see an army of fine and faithful people. In the end it is the only thing that matters."
A Visit With John Edwin Eyre, Sr.
"Hello to you all as you meet to rekindle family ties. That is so important to do and I am proud that you all make an effort to do so. I would like to visit with you for a few moments to let you learn a bit about me.
I was born November 17,1856 at Parowan in Iron County Utah. I am the oldest son of my parents, John E. Eyre and Sarah Ann Gillins. My parents both were born in England and joined The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints in the early days of the Church. They met and married in Salt Lake City in 1855. My father was ordained a Seventy. In March 1855 he walked all the way to Southern Utah to help colonize the Parowan Valley. After helping build the Tithing Office he returned to marry my mother. They then returned to the Parowan Valley and thus I was born there a year later. My father was ordained a Patriarch in the Big Horn Stake in Wyoming.
On March 5, 1879 I married Jane Ann Orton in the St George Temple. Our celestial marriage is recorded in St George Temple Sealing Book 23057. We walked hand in hand for 57 years, through many trials and tribulations and joys. Our
greatest joy was our family of three sons and four daughters. My wife Jane Ann Orton died January 26, 1936.
In 1901 we moved our family to the Big Horn Basin in Wyoming. In 1906 we sold our property in Wyoming and moved to Minersville in Beaver County Utah. The call of Utah was too great for us to resist. Our oldest son, John Edwin Eyre, Jr and our youngest son, Orton Burdette (Bert) Eyre remained in Wyoming. My parents, John E and Sarah Gillans Eyre also remained in Wyoming.
My son, John Edwin Eyre, Jr was a real father's pride and joy. He was gentle, humble and honest. You are blessed to be descended from him and his wife Emma Jane Maxwell. May you always remember and honor them as you gather together. You are of good pioneer stock and I am sure it has benefitted you all as you face different challenges and struggles than I had to face. Remember always who you come from and gather strength from that knowledge."
From Jane Ann Orton Born 3 Dec 1860
"Dear family members. I hope you know how proud I am of you all. You have turned out to be faithful and upstanding people and what more can a lady ask for? I know many of you have not become acquainted with my history, so I would like to visit with you for a bit and hopefully you can learn about me. I was the third Jane in a row in my family. My mother and grandmother both being named Jane as well.
I was born on December 3, 1860 in Parowan in Iron County Utah. My parents were Alexander Orton and Jane Holmes. They were both born in England and were early converts to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter day Saints. They immigrated from England in 1856 and 1857 respectively.
On March 5, 1879 I married John Edwin Eyre in the St George Temple. I was very active in Relief Society and have belonged to it since I was age 15. My husband was also very active in the Church and I walked hand in hand with him as he did the various callings in his life.
In 1901 my husband and I moved our family from Utah to the Big Horn Basin in Wyoming. We spent several years there and in 1906 moved back to Minersville in Beaver County Utah. Two of our sons, John Edwin Eyre and Orton Burdette (Bert) Eyre remained in Wyoming. Your grandfather and ancestor, John Edwin Eyre was a special son to me. Always kind and gentle, he was a blessing to me and his father. You can be especially proud of descending from him.
As I neared the end of my journey on this Earth I was happy to count 36 grandchildren and 11 great grandchildren. Of course, that number has grown significantly as time has passed. It is the best legacy and memorial a person can have. Until I meet you in person, take care and be proud of your heritage."
A Visit With Emma Jane Maxwell
"Oh how I enjoy family get togethers! Any excuse for a family gathering was what we Maxwells and Eyres lived for. Many is the time we would all gather our families, pots and pans, food, blankets and tents and head in a big caravan up to the Pryor Mountains north of Lovell, Wyoming. Three days would be a typical family picnic in those days. It was a time to escape the harsh realities of life on an 80 acre homestead. It was a time to escape the hot weather down on the plains and climb to the cooler mountain air for a few days. It was one of my favorite times and I am glad to see that my descendants carry on that tradition in gathering together. I am with you in spirit as you gather at Buffalo, Wyoming this summer.
I would love to sit and tell you about my life, but will have to be content to send a few facts your way vicariously. I was born November 24, 1890 in Peoa in Summit County Utah. My parents were John Maxwell and Martha Wright. I had five sisters and four brothers, so I had to learn early to pitch in and help the family as much as possible. On May 7, 1900 my family moved from Peoa to the Big Horn Basin in Wyoming. This was in answer to the call made by President Lorenzo Snow. Members of The Church of Latter Day Saints were very obedient in those days and no one considered refusing that call. I was 10 years old and found adventure at every turn as we drove our wagons for four weeks, finally arriving at the Big Horn Basin. The families went separate ways when we arrived and my family traveled 25 miles further to the Pryor Mountains and my father started a sawmill there. The Pryor Mountains remained one of my favorite places for the rest of my life. It was here I encountered an old Indian woman that told me I couldn't pick chokecherries on the Pryors because it was Indian land! Without going into detail, I can say I won the day.
When I was 15, I went to work in Kirby, Wyoming helping to cook for the railroaders. My sister Grace and I worked there together. This is where I met a quiet young man named John Eyre. When he finally gathered enough courage to talk to me, we fell in love and he proposed marriage when I was 16. We were married in the Salt Lake Temple on October 10, 1907.
We rode the train to Salt Lake and as we were departing my father took me aside and said, "Emma Jane, when you get to Salt Lake, you will have to spend a night there before you can get to the Temple. Remember, you are not to stay in the same room with Ed, even though you will be married the next day. I don't want you to put yourselves in temptations way. You must be clean and worthy to go to the House of the Lord." This little story was a favorite of my children and was told around the dinner table more than a few times, much to the chagrin of Ed Eyre. However, we were both grateful for my father's wisdom and counsel.
I had eleven children and my third one was Cora, your ancestress. I named her after my younger sister, Cora Maxwell. Cora Eyre married John Robert Johnson, who was not a member of the Church, and it is the one time heard her father chastise her. The only thing that bothered me about them running off and getting married in Red Lodge was that they didn't take me along!
I spent many years struggling on our 80 acre homestead. Raising our family, cooking, washing, sewing, cleaning, hauling water - it was an endless time of hard work. Looking back at it however, I have reaped the harvest of the hard work by being the matriarch to such a fine family of descendants. I never was quite as humble as my husband - so I can openly say I am proud of you all."
Some Memories of John Russell Maxwell
"Dear family, it is with great love and joy that I spend a few moments with you as you gather to renew family ties in 2006. Family reunions were pretty much an everyday thing in my time, as we usually lived close to one another and worked together to survive the harsh pioneer life. I know times have changed greatly since then, but family ties still are forever and can not be broken by time and distance. There are none left that knew me in person, so I would like to spend a few moments telling you a little bit about my life.
I was born December 7, 1857 in West Jordan, Salt Lake County Utah. My parents were John Maxwell, born at Lanark, Scotland and Ellen Russell born at Dumbarton, Scotland. My father was baptized in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints when he was a lad of 11 and my mother was baptized when she was a lass of 15, so you can see that I am from early converts to the Church. My mother left us all a great gift of the diary of her trip from Scotland and across the plains to Utah. The Church has been the foundation for their lives and for my life.
On December 21, 1882 I married my beloved wife, Martha Wright. We were sealed in the Endowment House in Salt Lake City. She stood beside me in all of my Church callings and moved with me to the Big Horn Basin of Wyoming in 1900. She was the perfect example of a hard working wife and mother. Our first eight children were born in Utah and the last two in Wyoming. I was blessed to have four sons and six daughters.
We homesteaded in Cowley, Big Horn County Wyoming when we were sent by the Church to settle that area. Some of the group that migrated to Wyoming left after a few years and returned to Utah. My parents were among those that returned to Utah. Martha and I felt we had found our home in Wyoming and remained here.
Martha died May 29, 1915, and I shall always bear the sadness of losing her to cancer. My granddaughter, Cora Eyre used to come to my house when she was a teenager to cook and clean for me. How I delighted in her company and cheerful spirit. It was a good prescription for an old man, to hear the bustling about of a happy young lady. I remember once having to comment that if she was going to make me soup, it would be nice to have something in it besides water and potatoes. You are so blessed to have Cora for your mother, grandmother and great grandmother.
I guess if I have any words of wisdom for you it would be, do not ever part from each other on a bitter note. Before my two sons, Alvin and Everett left Cowley for the US Infantry I had bought a car and let them and their brother Grant take it for a drive. There was an accident and fortunately no one was injured, but the car was damaged quite badly. Grant and Everett got into a heated argument. Everett left the next day for the War. Of course, he was killed in 1918 in France. Grant could never talk about his brother without a tear in his eyes. Their last parting was in anger and there was never a chance to undo it.
I wish I could know you all in person, but, I must reach across time and memory to join you here. To see you all gathered here in 2006 is the greatest reward a man can have."
From Martha Wright Born 12 April 1866
"Hello to my many descendants. I never had the opportunity to meet any of you, so I would just like to say a few words about my history. Perhaps this will enable you to get acquainted with me.
I was born on April 12, 1866 in Salt Lake City in Salt Lake County Utah. My parents were Thomas Wright and Elizabeth Barrett. My father was born in England and my mother was born in Nova Scotia. I married John Russell Maxwell in the Endowment House on December 21, 1882 in Salt Lake City, Utah. My parents were converts to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.
In May 1900 my family, along with my in-laws, John Maxwell and Ellen Russell Maxwell moved from Peoa, in Summit County Utah to the Big Horn Basin in Wyoming. I was four months pregnant with my 9th child when we embarked for Wyoming. My dear husband and older children prepared a bed in one of the wagons for me, to ease the rough going for the four week journey. My 9th child was Wallace Wright Maxwell and he was born October 4, 1901 in Cowley, Wyoming. Wallace died at age 6. I had one more child after that, Wynona Maxwell in 1905.
My 5th child in 1890, was Emma Jane Maxwell, your ancestress. She was a delightful and adventuresome child. She had the famous Maxwell red hair and a fiery temper to go with it. My 7th child was Everett Wright Maxwell, and he died in World War I. He was just a young man of 23 and did not have a chance at life before he was taken.
I am afraid I didn't leave many records for you to find in your genealogical hunt. I was much too busy being a pioneer wife and mother. My legacy is my ten children with eight living to have progeny. I am so proud of the many descendants I have. I am with you in spirit as you gather together."