BRIEF HISTORY OF THE LIFE OF MARGARET PATTERSON SMITH
Written by her daughter, Catherine P. Smith Bennett
Margaret Patterson Smith was born on December 1, 1838 in Clackmannan, Scotland. She was the eldest of four children born to her parents, Andrew Patterson and Margaret Fife Patterson.
When she was in her early girlhood, about the age of 12 or 13, her father and mother heard the glad tidings of the Gospel of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, brought to them by humble missionaries. The words were like music to their ears and they knew it was true. They immediately joined the church and began making preparations for immigration to America, thence to Utah.
This was no easy task. They were laboring people and money was not plentiful. However, with the help of their Heavenly Father, all preparations were completed. They said, "Goodbye," to relatives and friends sometime the next year after their conversion to the church and set sail for America. This was a long, tedious voyage. They were tossed hither and thither by the mighty waves on this sailing vessel for eleven weeks.
They finally landed on American soil and made their way as soon as possible to where the saints were located. They then prepared for their journey across the plains to Utah. An ox team and a wagon were provided, and this family, with hundreds of others, started their long journey over desert sands and sagebrush. While on their journey across the plains, grandmother died, August 5, 1848, and was buried at Grovy, near St. Louis, Missouri. This was a terrible trial and, although very young, my mother was left with the responsibility of helping her father to care for her young brother, Robert, and twin sisters, Mary and Ann.
Finally, after months of suffering, privation and hardships, they landed in Salt Lake Valley on August 14, 1852, They were members of the Captain John Higbee Company. The only time my mother was allowed to ride was when she had to care for the little children. I have heard her say many times that the larger children in the company would have to walk ahead of the wagons awhile before camping at night to gather buffalo chips for the evening fire.
Within a few weeks, my grandfather purchased a lot and began building a home for his motherless children near Ogden, Utah. Before the home was completed he was called by Brigham Young to go with others to settle on "The Muddy". This was near Moapa, Nevada. After remaining there a year or so, they were sent to colonize Cedar City, Utah.
Soon after this grandfather married again. Six children were born to this union. As mother's stepmother was a midwife, she was away from home much of the time. Consequently, mother had to care for the children.
It was at Cedar City that mother met her future husband, a young English immigrant by the name of John X Smith. He had received the Gospel in his native land and had also been sent by President Brigham Young to help colonize Cedar City, Utah. Here my father and mother were married, July 24, 1855, by the bishop. My mother was only sixteen years of age. Later they went to the Endowment House in Salt Lake City where they received their endowments April, 1857 and were sealed for time and eternity.
They were sent by President Brigham Young to help colonize Beaver City. They arrived in Beaver in June, 1856. (1) (Beaver had been settled February 6 that same year.) They remained in Beaver the remainder of their lives.
Margaret Patterson Smith was the mother of fourteen children. The two oldest were born at Cedar City and the others were born in Beaver. Two sons died in early childhood and twelve were raised to maturity. Many people, today, consider it a disgrace to have a large family, but in those days it was considered an honor. Many hardships were endured while raising this large, pioneer family.
A few days after my birth, while my mother was still bedfast, my l4-year old brother, Richard, was scalded in a tub of hot water. (2) This happened at the Old Tyler home where men were preparing to kill and scald pigs. Richard was accidently pushed so that he fell into the hot water as he was watching the men. He died four days later.
Mother always considered it her duty to milk the family cow. Father never learned to milk. But he was good to help in the house. Saturday night saw us all bathed, the shoes shined and placed in a row, ready for Sunday morning. Father was a shoemaker, so we always had shoes. My brother, Will, had small feet and used to borrow Mother's shoes to wear to dances. Mother was a good cook and an excellent housekeeper. Everything was always clean and neat.
All of the twelve who grew to maturity, married and had families of their own.
Mother knew all the hardships encountered in raising a large family in a pioneer community. Money and help were scarce. Before their oldest child, John A. was five years old, they had four other children. They were John A., Margaret, Joseph and the twins, Sarah and Robert. While Mother was in bed with new babies, Father had to go to the field to work. He would place cookies by the bed so Mother could feed herself and the children during the long days. Occasionally, a neighbor ran in to assist, but other than that, Mother was alone. Clothes were so scarce that she had to wash almost every day.
Another duty that fell upon Mother was the making of candles for light. She also made our own butter and cheese. I have heard her tell about the first dress she had after coming to Beaver. She made it out of a bed tick and colored it with rabbit brush dye. Brother M. L. Shepherd and Brother John R. Murdock went to California and brought back provisions for the people who could afford to buy them. They paid $.50 for a spool of thread and $1.00 a yard for calico. Mother obtained lye for soap making by washing the wood ashes from our fires.
From the view point of some people, my mother was not an educated woman. One writer has said, "A woman who looks carefully to the physical well-being of her husband and children, who keeps a clean, sanitary home, where peace and love and contentment abound, that woman is an educated woman, and a real wife and mother." Such was my mother. Our home was always a gathering place for the young people of the town, and sweet are the memories of those candy pulls (molasses candy) and surprise parties, enjoyed by all.
Well do I remember my mother as a devoted Relief Society worker. One day each month was set aside to do Relief Society teaching and nothing but sickness stood in her way. Her testimony of the gospel grew stronger each day.
During the last few years of her life, Mother had poor health. Her legs were very bad from vericose veins. For a year before her death, it was almost impossible for her to get out of her chair. She was a large, heavy woman.
She died February 4, 1906, one year after Father's death. She was well prepared to go to her reward. It could truly be said, "Well done. thou good and faithful servant. "
(1) Probably this should be 1858. See footnote (6) for John X. Smith.
(2) Richard Haley Smith died 29 Dec. 1874 at Age 9 (not age 14).