Mary Waslin Metcalf History

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by Camille Nielson (great granddaughter-in-law)

Behind every successful man stands a woman. This was true of Mary Waslin. She was a perfect example of a pioneer wife and mother. She worked by her husband's side and upheld him in everything he did.

She was the daughter of Christopher Waslin and Ann Nelson, born in Skidby, Yorkshire, England, on 15th of July 1810.

She married John Edward Metcalf in 1855. To this union were born 12 children. When they were first married, they lived in Hull, Yorkshire. John Edward was a carpenter by trade and went where work was available. Their first five children were born in Hull Yorkshire England. They were: Jane Ann Metcalf, 15 March 1834, Elizabeth, 15 August 1835, Anthony Metcalf, 26 Sept. 1837, John Edward, 23 June, 1839, and a second child named Elizabeth (the first child named Elizabeth had died in 1839) born in February 1841.
In 1841 the family accompanied Father Metcalf to Belfast, Ireland to do some carpenter work. While there two children were born, both being named Anthony. The first Anthony was born in January 1842, He died the same year, so when a second son arrived in 1843, they also named him Anthony. This was the third son named Anthony in their family, the first two having died. (The third Anthony Metcalf, born 5th of September 1843 was the grandfather of my husband, Farlund Nielson.)

After residing in Ireland for 2 years, they returned to England and lived in London where three children were born: Mary Elizabeth, 24 Oct. 1845 and a stillborn son born in 1846. James was born Jan. 12, 1847. It was here they joined the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints in 1849.

The next year they returned to Hull, Yorkshire. One more daughter was born to them while there. Her name was Eliza born 17th August 1850.

In 1853 they immigrated to Utah. After going to London they set sail on the 17th day of January on the Ellen Maria, which was under the presidency of Elder Moses Clawson. They were in the company of about 332 other converts to the church. Six of their children accompanied them. Five others had died.

They sailed to New Orleans. The ship was in North Latitude 39 by 59, West Longitude 28 by 11. Their passage across the ocean was rough and stormy at times. They had no heat on the ship and it was usually cold. They prayed often and felt that God had stretched out his arm to help them.

After arriving to New Orleans, they took passage on a steamboat up the Mississippi River to St. Louis, then took passage to Keokuk. Here they obtained wagons, oxen, cattle and supplies to get ready to pursue their journey westward. At length they started for Council Bluffs with wagon and oxen. They stopped here for about a week to rest and then continued their journey to the Missouri River. They were ferried over the river by means of flat bottom boats made for the purpose. On the west bank of the Missouri River was Winter Quarters where the Saints wintered when they were driven from the States.

There were other companies of saints going west and they often sighted them or overtook them when there were difficult places to travel. There were also wagon trains going to California. There were many streams to ford and sloughs where they built bridges of sod and grass. There were graves sighted along the way where previous companies had buried their loved ones. There were sand hills where they had to double their oxen to get over them.

They held church on Sunday and always observed the Sabbath. When necessary they held meetings to discuss the best means to facilitate their journey.

Thunder storms with hail and rain often came unexpectedly. Sometimes it would be hard to find wood for fires and feed for the animals.

It was September by the time they reached the Platte River. The days were warm but the nights were cold. By this time the cattle and oxen were getting tired. Some of them had to be abandoned. This required leaving some of the wagons behind. When they would come to a place where there was good feed they would stop and let the animals graze.

The children had to walk most of the way. Food was scarce, but Mother Mary always saw to it that they never went hungry. She would also share what they had with others less fortunate. When one of her children became worried that there would not be enough food for them if she kept giving so much away she said, "Aye, Laddie, there will always be a mixing in the Barrel!" And there always was.

By the time they reached Fort Bridger, they were in mountainous country and the weather was cold most of the time. There were severe frosts at night. There was better feed for the animals in the high country, although traveling was difficult because of the mountains and streams.

What a welcome sight it must have been when the family arrived in Salt Lake City the latter part of September 1855. They lived there in the Fourth Ward. While here her last child was born, a son William Metcalf born May 5, 1855.

In 1856 they moved to Springville. While here they were active in the church. John E. worked on the old White Meeting House. The ground was fertile and they grew gardens and flowers.

In 1862 they were called by the church to go to St George to help build a community there. Then in 1863 Brigham Young called them to move to Warm Creak (now called Fayette, Sanpete Co. Utah) to build a gristmill and operate it. On this warm stream they would be able to operate the year around. As they neared the settlement one of the girls said "I see fields but where are the "ouses?" The houses were there but all that could be seen was smoke curling out of chimneys on top of mounds of dirt. The settlers all lived in dugouts. The valley had an abundance of wild life such as ducks, geese, pelicans, cranes and all kinds of small birds. Trout were plentiful in the river and deer came from the mountains to drink at the spring and to browse in the meadow. A profusion of wild flowers grew over the foothills and among the meadow grass. The riverbanks as well as the banks of the creek were covered with tall shrubbery, including bullberry bushes, cane, wild roses, wild currants and sagebrush and willows.

The Metcalf camped about three fourths of a mile east of the other settlers, at the sight where they decided to build the mill. Besides the family, they brought a few provisions, all they had in fact, in a wagon drawn by oxen. They also had a pick, a shovel, and axe, a steel bar, two augers, a hammer and a chisel; also faith, ambition, and perseverance. They soon hauled rock from the nearby hills and built their dugout and close by their mill house. The burrs for the mill were chiseled and fashioned from some granite boulders they found in the Cedar Ridge, east of the "Painted Rocks," about twelve miles north of Warm Creek. They used wagon tires to hold the sections of the burrs together.

The ditch from the spring to the mill had to be dug by hand with pick and shovel. It was tested and the water ran through it. The wooden water wheel had been assembled and set in place, and aside from leaking a lot, it worked. The burrs had been moved into place and everything was ready for the test.

Mother Mary had helped her husband and boys, but now that the water was turned into the flume to pour over the wheel, she stepped back a few stops and stood with uncovered head and arms folded. The water wheel was soon in motion, but nothing happened with the burrs. Father John Edward hurried into the cellar and adjusted the rawhide belt that transferred the power form the water shaft to the burr shaft. Then, slowly, the burr commenced to turn just a little, and was soon scraping its face against its mate stone burr. One of the children called out, "Maw! It's turning. It works Maw, the mill works!" Mother Mary turned and walked slowly toward the dugout, and with head bowed she said something, and what she said, only God, the angels and she knew.

Even though they lived in a dugout, Mother Metcalf took pride in her housekeeping. She would sprinkle water on the dirt floor, then tamp it with a wooden tamper until the surface was smooth. The tamper was made of a round section sawed from a log. A handle was inserted in the center and stood upright. It looked much like one of their churn dashers. When the floor dried, she would mark designs on it with charcoal and limestone.

In 1877 John Edward Metcalf was called to England on a mission for the church. Mother Metcalf took over the care of the family until his return in 1879. Their son Anthony took over the operation of the mill.

In the summer of 1882 Father Metcalf was blinded by a head injury he received when the buggy he was driving tipped over, throwing himself, wife and a granddaughter to the ground. This was a great heartbreak to Mary and the family. The hard life of a pioneer mother and wife had taken its toll. She cared for her husband until the time of her death March 26, 1884. She was 73 years and 8 months old.

Written March 1, 1977



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