Reference: Sketch of the Life of Mary Curtis Markham

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Dec 07, 2012

Sketch of the Life of Mary Curtis Markham
Document Number: 99

Author: MARKHAM, Charlotta Juline
Classification: ORIGINAL: FamilyHistory
Location: USA, Utah, Utah, Spanish Fork
Date Range: BTWN 1832 and 1900

Biographical Sketch of CURTIS, Mary

Document Entry Number: 1

     Sketch of the Life of Mary Curtis Markham. Written by her Daughter: Charlotta Juline Markham Crow of the McKinley Camp D.U.P., Salt Lake City
     Mary Curtis was born 15 November 1832 at Highland, Oakland County, Michigan. She was the daughter of Jeremiah and Ruth Stratton Curtis.
     The Curtis family moved from Michigan where they first heard the gospel about the year 1836 to Nauvoo, Hancock County, Illinois.
     Their son in law, Ornan Houghton, who had married Aurelia, second child in the Curtis family, helped move the family from Michigan to Nauvoo. Mr. Houghton and his wife had lost their oldest child and they felt so lonely and bad that they took Mary to live with them. Aurelia wanted Sarah, who was two years old, but Ornan wanted Mary, who was four years old, as while traveling she had hung to him so close he had become very much attached to her. She lived with them until her sister Aurelia died, in February 1845. After her death Mary took care of her sister's family, Francis and Louisa. Later she married Mr. Houghton, and had one son Edgar, who was born in Montrose, Lee County, Iowa.
     The 18 of August 1847, her husband died, leaving her a widow with three children.
     In 1845 her father's family went with Lyman Wight's company to Texas, and wanted her to go with them, but she had heard and seen Brigham Young when the mantle of Joseph Smith fell upon him and heard his voice as of Joseph's. She often testified of this as she was present at the meeting when the question was presented as to whether the saints should follow the twelve apostles or Sidney Rigdon. So she would not leave the body on the saints as she had a lasting testimony of the gospel, but went through all the hardships and trials of the saints in Nauvoo. She was among the mourners who stood by the roadside as the bodies of the Prophet Joseph Smith and his brother Hyrum Smith were brought back to Nauvoo after being murdered in Carthage Jail.
     Mary went through the Nauvoo Temple January 29, 1946, and had her own endowments. Later on she witnessed that awful sight if the temple burning down. Her step-daughter Louisa remembers seeing the temple burn in 1848, and seeing an old Catholic woman waving her arms and shouting "Glory Hallelujah" as she watched it burn.
     After the death of her husband and while still a widow her oldest brother Meacham came from Texas, where all her brothers and sisters lived with their parents, but his only conveyance was a mule to take her and her three children to join the rest of the family. He sold everything he could belonging to her, even a strand of gold beads which had been handed down in the family for a number of generations. These beads were to be handed down to Louisa for which she never forgave him in all her eighty years of life. Still, Mary would not consent to go with him, as she had heard Brigham Young speak and she knew he was chosen by God to lead his people. Her brother went back to Texas very mad at her as was all the rest of the family.
     Mary had one cow and a young heifer which were hitched up together and preparations were made to move from Nauvoo. She joined her cousins of the Curtis family who had wagons and cows and one horse which they hitched up together and they started for the west.
     Mary and Francis Houghton, her step son nine years old, drove the team across the plains. She helped cook for the company of the Curtis family.
     While crossing the Mississippi river on a flat ferry boat February 8, 1846, this incident occured. A teamster who had driven on the boat with two yoke of partly broken steers hitched to his covered wagon had neglected to unhitch them. Someone just for a joke spit tobacco juice in the eye of one of the steers making it almost crazy with pain. In the excited threshing around of the steers a plank in the bottom of the boat was torn loose and the boat began to sink very quickly. The animals were floundering in the water and some of them were clear outside the boat. Someone pulled the pin from the wagon tongue and this turned them loose and they swam to shore. This took the weight from the water soaked boat and it rose to the surface again. The people on the shore were frantic and soon got boats and rescued all getting them safely to shore. Only one yoke of oxen was drowned. Why the boat did not go down was a mystery to them. Some thought it rested on a sheet of ice under the surface of the river. Sheets of ice were floating all around. Twenty-five persons were on board, among them were three women, Mary being one of them and there were also four children. The water came up to their arm pits as they sat in the wagon seat and the mothers raised their babies as high as they could reach to keep them out of the water. The story when told by two of the women who came to Utah and raised large families said it was a great miracle that all were not drowned but the hand of the Lord was over them.
     Stephen Markham was Captain of the company. They arrived in the Salt Lake valley the first of October 1850, and on the fifth of October she married Stephen Markham in Brigham Young's office as the Endowment House had not yet been built.
     In the fall of 1851 Stephen and family were called by Brigham Young to go south and settle Spanish Fork. The Indians caused them a great deal of trouble, by stealing their horses and cattle. A fort was made in Palmyra a few miles from Spanish Fork where Mr. Markham was made Bishop. A marker has been erected on the site of the fort but is only now seen by the farmers in that locality as there is no highway passing near it.
     In settling this country many hardships were endured by the saints. The Markham's having a large farm and he being Bishop every stranger coming to the settlement was sent to the Bishop and he gave them all work, which made much work for Mary and she always had a large crowd to cook for. She was very kind and gentle in her nature and made everybody welcome to her home. She was dearly loved by young and old. I have had many old residents of Spanish Fork tell how when children gleaning in the fields they always just loved to go to Mary Markham's. Whenever they came she would always give them bread and butter, the best they had ever tasted. Mary Markham had the name of making the best buttermilk biscuits that could be made and many have said her butter was sold to people from all over town. When a basket of butter was taken to the butcher shop, the butcher never weighed it. When asked why he didn't, he would say, "If I did I would cheat myself, as her butter is always overweight."
     Mary had thirteen children by Mr. Markham and raised four other children. She died in Spanish Fork the 6 of October, 1900, the next day after having been married to Stephen Markham for fifty years. She had been a widow for twenty-two years. She was the only member of her father's family who remained in the Church and came to Utah. She died leaving a large posterity with many good and worthy examples for them to follow.

Associated Persons and Marriages:
MARKHAM, Stephen (Id# 104) Religion, MEDIUM 
CURTIS, Mary (Id# 103) BornD, MEDIUM 
CURTIS, Mary (Id# 103) BornP, MEDIUM 
CURTIS, Mary (Id# 103) DiedD, MEDIUM 
CURTIS, Mary (Id# 103) DiedP, MEDIUM 
CURTIS, Mary (Id# 103) EndD, MEDIUM 
CURTIS, Mary (Id# 103) EndP, MEDIUM 
CURTIS, Mary (Id# 103) Religion, MEDIUM 
CURTIS, Mary (Id# 103) LinkMToChildren, MEDIUM 
CURTIS, Mary (Id# 103) LinkCToFather, MEDIUM 
CURTIS, Mary (Id# 103) LinkCToMother, MEDIUM 
MARKHAM, Charlotta Julina (Id# 122) LinkCToMother, MEDIUM 
MARKHAM, Charlotta Julina (Id# 122) LinkCToFather, MEDIUM 
HOUGHTON, Ornan (Id# 1131) DiedD, MEDIUM 
HOUGHTON, Ornan (Id# 1131) LinkFToChildren, MEDIUM 
HOUGHTON, Ornan (Id# 1131) Religion, MEDIUM 
HOUGHTON, Edgar Stratton (Id# 1163) BornP, MEDIUM 
HOUGHTON, Edgar Stratton (Id# 1163) LinkCToFather, MEDIUM 
HOUGHTON, Edgar Stratton (Id# 1163) LinkCToMother, MEDIUM 
CURTIS, Aurelia (Id# 231) DiedD, MEDIUM 
CURTIS, Aurelia (Id# 231) LinkCToFather, MEDIUM 
CURTIS, Aurelia (Id# 231) LinkCToMother, MEDIUM 
(Living) and (Living) (Id# 31) LinkMarriage, MEDIUM 
(Living) and (Living) (Id# 31) MarrD, MEDIUM 
(Living) and (Living) (Id# 31) MarrP, MEDIUM 
(Living) and (Living) (Id# 35) LinkMarriage, MEDIUM 
(Living) and (Living) (Id# 1085) LinkMarriage, MEDIUM