FRANCES GODDARD WOODBURY
WRITTEN BY MARY M.W.LEANY and
ELIZABETH W. FOTHERINGHAM,DAUGHTERS, AUGUST 1935.
Frances Goddard Woodbury was born in Stockport, Lancashire, England, October 27, 1844, had blue eyes and dark brown hair. Her hearing and eyesight were good. She was quite small--only about 5 feet in height; and quite slender until at about 45 or 50 years of age she grew more fleshy. She was married October 10, 1863 to Orin Nelson Woodbury in the Endowment House, Salt Lake City, Utah is the mother of 10 children, 6 sons and 4 daughters, namely: Thomas, William Henry, Abram Nelson, Mary Margaret, Florence Jane, Charles Robert Goddard, Elizabeth, Joseph, Clarence and Rosena. The two oldest died in infancy. Eight lived to maturity, married and had children. Florence Jane died August 30, 1911, seven are still living at this date 1935.
Mother's health was good until after her marriage. While raising her family it was very poor, and she has certainly earned a crown of glory for living the commandment of the Lord to be fruitful and multiply and replenish the earth, that you may have joy and rejoicing in your posterity.
Mother was a daughter of Robert Goddard and Margaret Woolfenden, who were married at Gretna Green, Scotland, in 1843, and were the parents of 6 children, 4 boys and 2 girls. Two boys and one girl died in infancy. Mother was their oldest child. When the gospel message was taken to their home by Latter-day Saint Missionaries, the parents accepted it with joy. They and mother, who was then eight years of age, were baptized in the fall of 1852. Some girls frightened mother by saying her head would be held under the water 5 minutes, so just as she stepped into the water, she said to the Elder, "please mind me". He answered very gently, "yes, I will mind you".
Owing to persecutions, baptisms were performed after dark. Grandmother was suffering from quite a bad cold and her mother who had not yet been converted, but accompanied them to the waters of baptism, scolded severely, telling her daughter it was enough to kill her to go into that cold water. But the appointment had been made and grandmother's faith was that no harm would come to her from being baptized. The next morning she went to her mother, and as soon as she saw her, exclaimed, "mother, my cold is well." For so it was, no trace of it was left. Very soon after this, mother's grandfather, Abram Woolfenden, his wife, Mary Pearson, and one son and two daughters joined the church, but two daughters who were married did not.
Great Grandfather Woolfenden was a very wise man in correcting his children. He did not correct while angry. When one did something not right, he would tell them to come to his room at a certain time, and they knew they had to obey. He would then correct them as he thought best for their good. I do not remember what his occupation was. His son Abram was a contractor and builder.
Saints at that time were urged to emigrate, and were advised by the elders that if they did not have means for all members of a family to come to Utah at the same time, if men would come first, they could get work in this country for higher wages, and would be better able to assist other members of the family to come. So Grandmother Goddard's father, Abram Woolfenden and his son, Abram Woolfenden, about 18 years of age came first. On arriving in Salt Lake City, they inquired for a brother who had been to England on a mission. They had stayed at their home many times and had been given the best bed in the house to sleep in, as they thought nothing was too good for the Elders. As the brother had invited them to come and stay with him, they found his house and inquired for Brother________. He came to the door, but did not seem to know them. Great Grandfather said, "don't you remember us?" He said, "no, I don't think I've ever seen you before." Then great-grandfather said, "don't you remember Brother Woolfenden and his son Abram?" His answer was, "oh, I do seem to have a faint recollection of having met you before. I'm sorry, I cannot ask you in, as I have company".
Being treated in this manner, was a bitter disappointment, to two strangers in a strange land. Soon after this, great-grandfather was taken sick and they had the misfortune to get acquainted with a family of apostates, who took them in and was very kind to them. As fate would have it this was soon after the "mountain meadow massacre." These people naturally had a great deal to say about this terrible affair, and worst of all, told them that President Brigham Young sanctioned it. Sad but true, brother Woolfenden and his son really believed it, decided they had made a grievous mistake in coming to Utah and that they would return to England.
As this was at the time of the gold rush to California they went there and earned money for the journey home. On arriving home they told the family the principles of the gospel were true, they felt sure, but the church was led by the wrong man, or he would not have sanctioned that terrible massacre, as they had been made to believe by the apostates that he had done. So, due to great respect for him and unity of his loved ones, the two families had their names taken from the church records. Very soon after a party was gotten up in honor of Abram Woolfenden, and he was asked to tell of his trip to Utah. The people, of course thought they would hear a big story against the Mormons, but they were disappointed, as he did not say one word against them, then or at any time to the people and very little to his family. In a few years, he was taken sick, with a lingering illness, which lasted several months. Awhile before he died, he said to his wife, "when I die, you will go to Utah. "Her answer was, "well, I should like to go and see for myself." and sure enough soon after he died, the two families joined the church again, with the exception of Abram who married there and had a family of children. When they were about grown he was accidentally killed and soon after, his family joined the church and came to Utah, settling in Beaver.
When these two families joined the church the second time, they were very anxious to come to Utah as soon as possible, but not having means for all to come in 1861, mother's father and mother and her two brothers, Tom and Abram Henry came then, but mother, then a girl of 17 remained in England one year longer and lived with her grandmother Woolfenden and two daughters, Sarah Ann and Mary Ellen. Frances's grandmother kept house for the three girls and they worked factories to earn money of which they saved part to pay their traveling expenses and all 4 came to Utah in 1862.
They sailed on the John J. Boyd Vessel. While crossing the ocean, the main mast of the ship was broken in a storm. During that storm was the only time they heard the Captain's voice, then they heard it above all the rest, giving orders to the sailors. After the storm there was a calm and they stood two weeks in mid-ocean without sailing, and were in all six weeks on the ocean.
They crossed the plains in the ox team train of which John R. Murdock was
Captain. There were wagons to haul the baggage and people who were unable to walk, but all who were able were expected to, and willingly did so. Mother walked all the way. Upon her arrival in Utah, she came to St. George, her parents and Brothers having settled here. Her father was a hatter in England and worked at his trade here. He made them for men and boys using wool just from the sheep's back. He brought with him from England large, heavy flat irons to press them and had blocks made of wood to shape them on. Her mother was an expert needle woman and helped people here with their sewing. Mother patiently endured all the trials and hardships of Dixie pioneer life, spinning, weaving cloth to clothe the family, making soap for which lye was obtained from cottonwood ashes, candles of tallow and no sewing or washing machine. When her 7th child was 9 months old, father bought a farm 14 miles from St. George on the Clara Creek, and she moved there thinking her health would be improved and she was not disappointed, as it was much better than in St. George, although she was not strong and was more fitted for the finer things of life, than hard work.
The family spent two years on the farm which was 6 miles from Gunlock, the nearest town. Abram went to St. George to school the first winter and the next Mary went. This was very unsatisfactory and mother was determined to move to St. George for school so all her children could attend, and father bought a home there for that purpose. Joseph was born on the farm, the other nine were all born in St. George.
Mother spent 11 summers on the farm and quite often we would go to gunlock, a town miles away, in a wagon over very rough roads, to attend sacrament meeting. While we were living there, mother's parents who had moved away from St. George years before, came and spent their last days with us. Their sons, Tom and Abram went to California to Los Angeles I think. We do not know whether they are still living or not. Grandmother was sick when she came, suffering from a stroke which had affected her mind some and so we were denied the privilege of getting acquainted with her real self, but loved her, sympathized and did all we could to help her. She could not walk alone, sat in an armchair most of the time, gradually got worse and died about 8 months later on the 21 may 1883.
Grandfather's health was very good. He and my mother did work in the temple for all of his kindred dead he had records of, and some friends as well whom he knew in England. He also assisted with work on the farm, doing just as he pleased. We were very glad to have him stay and make his home with us, as we loved him dearly, he was so gentle, kind and helpful. He attended faithfully to his religious duties, and after only a few days' illness, died July 14, 1890. Both he and his wife are buried in the St. George cemetery.
Our farmhouse was built of lumber. In preparation for the first winter there, father built a very large rock fireplace. Cottonwood was plentiful and during the cold weather, a green cottonwood back log, too heavy to try to lift, would be rolled in; then with dry wood in front a fire was kept burning all night as well as day, which made it quite comfortable. Of evenings we would all sit around the fire, mother, Florence and I (Mary) with our knitting, would sing hymns and songs, read, tell stories, and father and mother would tell Incidents of interest in their early lives. In this way, we passed quite pleasantly many winter evenings. One story which was especially liked to hear Father tell was of his father being robbed, which he told us many times. One very dark, stormy night, I (Mary) well remember, he began the story with, "it was just such a night as this when your grandpa was robbed. He owned a young orchard of maple sugar trees in Massachusetts, and other property as well, which he sold before leaving there, and was paid in gold and silver money for it. We lived on a farm several miles from Nauvoo. That night after we had all gone to bed, a knock came to the door. Your grandpa asked who was there. A man answered, "Two travelers and we should like to come in out of the storm" your grandfather got up and said he would get a light, but they said, "oh, don't bother to do that, we just want to come in out of the storm." Your grandfather opened the door; one of the men grabbed him, pointed a firearm at him and said, "stand!" The other man hurriedly went into the house and to a bed made on two large chests which my brother John and I were sleeping on. We sprang out of bed in a hurry. The man opened the chests and threw things out until he came to a bag of money, which he took, and they both left. While the searching was in progress, the man at the door would say every time one of the children made a sound, "mark well where that one lies." We had a neighbor living not far away. Your grandpa went over and asked him to come and stay with us the remainder of the night, he willingly came and seemed to feel sorry for us, and pretended to be greatly surprised that his ax was by our door next morning. He offered to go to the city with your grandpa to see if any trace of the robbers could be found. On the way this kind (?) Neighbor asked to borrow some money. Your grandpa looked at him and said in surprise. "My money was stolen." and he wisely tried to make him think it was all gone, though the man failed to find the gold which was worth many times more than the silver. Your grandpa did not like the actions of this man and had been thinking perhaps he was one of the robbers, and now felt convinced that he was, although there was no way of proving it. We moved into the city soon after this as we felt it unsafe to stay on the farm longer." It was mother who had a special gift of story telling and they were always uplifting, teaching us honesty, truthfulness, and faith in the gospel, which was so dear to her. They were usually from the Bible.
Mother worked in factories in England where cloth was made. Their family was among the middle class and had nice clothes. They did not make quilts and rugs but bought blankets and spreads, sold all their old clothes to the "rag man" who went to the homes for them. She, of course, made quilts, rugs, carpets, from old clothes here, but disliked the work very much, and said many times, "oh, I wish the rag man would come!" and "he would take all these old clothes away out of my sight!"
This sketch would be very far from complete if some of the many faith promoting incidents which came into mother's life, and which she prized more than earthly possessions, were not given here. Her first baby died when about 1 year old. Her second only lived six weeks, and when her third was a few months old, he was very, very sick. A kind neighbor, sister Elmer, thinking he was dying, took him from mother's arms and laid him on the bed. She then left the room. Mother, of course, was sobbing bitterly, thinking her darling was gone. She heard a gentle voice say, "trust in the Lord and he will restore him." This was repeated three times. Thinking some person had entered the room she looked around but could see no one. She did trust in the Lord and had faith. She said she knew her son's life would be spared and she at once thanked him for his goodness and mercy to her. This was Abram and he is still living.
When my brother Charles was a baby just beginning to walk around by chairs, he pulled a pan of very hot milk off the table scalding him on his neck and body so severely it seemed as though he could not get well. Again that same comforting voice came to her three times as before, "trust in the Lord and he will restore him". This gave her undaunted faith and he was restored. She again thanked her Father for being so kind to her.
Mother used to be alone on the farm so much with her children, as father had to go to St. George for supplies and to visit his other family who lived there. She never failed to call us children together night and morning when we took our turn at family prayer. She had so much faith that the lord would protect us if we did our part. When father was away one night she dreamed that she was sitting sewing when a shadow seemed to come on the window. On looking up she saw the meanest looking Indian with his nose against the window looking in. It frightened her so much that she said, "oh I don't want that Indian to come in here, hurry Florence and lock the doors. She did so. When he came to one door and could not get in he went to the other. Upon finding it locked, He became greatly enraged and finding the ax broke the door in. He had a long knife hanging in a holder from his belt and a large riding quirt or whip in his hand, and started whipping us children with it. Mother was so badly frightened that she awoke and lay awake for some time after, then she went to sleep and did not think of her dream until the next day. She was sitting sewing when a shadow came in front of the window. On looking up, she saw this terrible mean looking Indian, and was just going to tell Florence to lock the door, when her dream came before her like a warning. The Indian came in the house but acted very bossy and sassy and ordered something to eat. He carried the same knife and quirt which mother saw in her dream. She gave him something to eat and tried not to cross him in any way as she said that she knew if she did he might have done as she had dreamed. That night she did not forget to thank Heavenly Father for his kind protecting care over herself and children.
Father died August 26, 1890. About a year later the government bought the farm for an Indian reservation. The following winter, mother was so sick in St. George, the doctors gave her up. Aunt Annie was a temple worker. When she heard this she said. "Fanny must not die and leave her little children. "She came from the temple with 2 or 3 of the sisters. I think sister Morris and Ivens they washed and anointed her and it seemed to help her so much and they were telling her funny stories and she was laughing. It was the sweetest music which I, Elizabeth had ever heard to hear our dear mother laugh after being so seriously ill. I had led Dr. Ivens by the hand to visit her as he was blind, but mother had so much faith in him and wanted him to come. After the sisters had gone, mother told us if we would all be real quiet she felt that she could go to sleep. We were so thrilled to think of her being able to sleep as she had so little rest for days, that we did not make a sound. After about 2 hours she seemed to awaken and called all of us children to her. She said, "you think I have been asleep, but I have been with your Father. He led me by the hand to a beautiful mansion. On going inside, we saw President Brigham young and other church leaders around him. President Young said, "Sister Fanny, you have always tried to do what you knew to be right and lived a good life. What is the greatest desire of your heart"? I said, "my greatest desire is to return to earth until my youngest child is 18, she was then three. He said, "very well, your wish shall be granted." Father then showed me the beautiful home which he had prepared for me over there, and then showed me the suffering I must go through if I returned to earth, but again I said I preferred to go back to my children."
After telling of her visit with father, she asked one of us to get a pencil and paper; said she had been given some names of people who wished her to see to having their temple work done. She gave as I (Mary) remember, about 12 names, with the necessary information. Mother moved away from St. George before she was able to attend to this work but she paid for having it done. From the time of her visit with father, she continued to get well, although she was never strong. She had many severe sick spells, but we always held to the promise that she would live until Rose was eighteen. She had so much faith and would always ask for the Elders to administer to her when she was sick. She missed father very much at such times. One day she said to Florence who was in the room with her. "Florence, your father is here, please go out as he wants to talk to me." He came up to the bed and administered to her and she felt better immediately. He also gave her some advice about her financial affairs. In the spring of 1892 mother moved to Beaver and bought a home there. Just a few days before rose was 18. She visited at the home of Sister Ellen Morgan and Alice Boyter who were neighbors and told them she would not be here much longer. She told them of her promise and cried to think of having to leave her loved ones here. Several of her sons and daughters were with her on Rose's 18th Birthday. Mother was taken very sick on that day and they feel would have died had they not held on to her so strongly. After the doctor came and Elders administered to her as well she was better and able to be around. In about 2 weeks she was taken very sick again--did not get better as before and after she had suffered for 8 long weeks--we became reconciled and very earnestly and unitedly said --"the Lord's will be done." All of us fasted, went into her room, knelt by her bed, and each took turn in prayer, beginning with the oldest. Her suffering ceased at once. When we arose to our feet, she said her pain had entirely ceased" and said how thankful she was that we were all reconciled to say "the Lord's will be done" and that we all knew how to pray. She bore her testimony of the truthfulness of the gospel. Said there was nothing to compare with it. That it was more valuable to us than anything else in all the world and if we would just remember her teachings and live up to the principles of the Gospel it would bring to us eternal life in the Celestial Kingdom: where we would receive our reward for the good we have done on earth. She passed peacefully away about an hour after the prayer, on the 20th of November 1924. At her funeral services Charles Woolfenden --one of the speakers said, “there is a hymn which says "I know not what awaits me" but not so with this good woman as she knew what was before her.
My firm belief is, if the descendants of this noble woman strive diligently to keep the commandments of the Lord and thereby are worthy to dwell with her throughout eternity -- then and then only will her happiness be complete.
(Typed into computer by Jennie May Lee Adam, July 30, 1992)