Our Family Legacy
If Kent, England, has the appearance on a map of an animal's lower jaw, Essex sits like an upper, with the River Thames as a tongue; or as two sentinels, sit those two counties, guarding the watery road to London. Essex was apparently the homeland of the Day family for centuries. They were people of the land, and the name of DAY has been associated with eastern England since the era of the Vikings. It is an occupational name - a "dayman" being a dairyman. Joseph DAY(h9-1) was born in Writtle, Essex, just west of Chelmsford, but he was married in West Ham, on the outskirts of London.
London has always acted as a great magnet, drawing the rich - for London was the center of commerce and politics - and the poor, who migrated there looking for sustenance. Joseph DAY did not go to London looking for investment opportunities, but for employment. He was apparently an experienced horseman by his late teens and knew something of farming, or gardening as it was called, for he was employed by a farmer in West Ham who grew vegetables for the London market. At least part of the time when Joseph was in the farmer's employ, he drove a produce cart over the cobblestone streets of the great city which, as children, we have all seen through the eyes of Eliza Doolittle, Oliver Twist and Mary Poppins. Early in the morning on market day, the clatter of iron-shod hooves and iron-rimmed cart wheels over the cobblestones was deafening to all who lived close to the streets. In fact, in his later years, that sound was one of Joseph's clearest memories of England.
Horsepower was essential to the operation of the farm where Joseph worked, but times were hard, money scarce, and the cost and maintenance of horses represented a substantial expense to farmers. Consequently, even farmers who were of a kindly disposition were inclined to skimp on feed and care for their animals. This was the case on the West Ham farm, where each teamster was given a small measure of grain for his horses and no more. It was false economy. The horses lacked stamina and were shabby looking.
One day Joseph was given the key to the grain shed and told to lock it up that night, which he did, but not before he made an impression of the key in a bar of soap. A locksmith made a duplicate for him, and thereafter he was able to help himself to a sufficient amount of feed necessary to restore his team to health. The horses immediately began to gain weight, the light came back into their eyes, their coats and manes began to shine, and their power and stamina returned. The owner noticed the difference in the team and complimented Joseph, thinking it was due to extra care which he took in grooming the animals.
Ann HARVEY(h10-1) was born in the village of Margaretting, southeast of Writtle. She also was in the greater London area as a young woman, working in a mill of some kind. Her sister worked in a bakery. Joseph and Ann were married in West Ham and found lodgings in Bethnal Green where their first four children were born. Apparently Ann continued to work when she was able, and before the oldest child, Mary Ann, was a teenager, she too was working to help support the family.
There was a branch of the LDS Church at White Chapel, just a mile south of Bethnal Green. It is not known how Joseph and Ann came to be interested in the message of the Latter-Day Saint missionaries, but Joseph was baptized in November, 1850, and Ann in January, 1851 when she was five months pregnant. Ann Reed [EVERINGTON] ROBERTS could also have been a member of the White Chapel Branch for a time, after her baptism in August of '51, and prior to her family's departure to Liverpool. If she were, she likely met Joseph and Ann [HARVEY] DAY while they were all in England. It could be only coincidence that Ann settled in Bountiful, Utah, when she emigrated to America. But the Days were living there by then and it could be that she went there because she knew them, or others from England who put down roots in Davis County. Whatever the case, James DAY, son of Joseph and Anne [HARVEY] DAY, would later marry Ann's daughter, Mary Ann Martha ROBERTS, thousands of miles away from London, England, on the shores of the Great Salt Lake.
Soon after their conversion, Joseph and Ann [HARVEY] DAY began to plan and save to emigrate to America. The story that has come down through the family suggests that telling Joseph's family goodbye was difficult. They were shocked and disappointed that Joseph had embarrassed them by associating with people like the Mormons, and urged him to give up the idea. Joseph did not back down. We have no record of the reaction of Ann's family to the news.
Apparently, Joseph did not tell his employer of his new faith. He felt he might lose his job if the owner of the farm knew he was a Mormon. After arrangements were made to leave England, Joseph told his boss he was going to California to look for gold. Disappointed, the West Ham farmer told him to come back to England if things didn't work out in California. A job would always be there for him.
In February, 1853, the family boarded the International for the trip to New Orleans. Ann was very pregnant, and when that fact came to the attention of the captain, he tried to dissuade the family from boarding. A ship was no place for a pregnant woman. But passage had already been purchased and there was no way the Day family was going to change its collective mind.
The trip was not unlike other winter crossings of the Atlantic which some of our ancestors made. Not only were the seas rough, but there were violent storms, one of which broke the main mast and tossed it into the ocean. Passengers were locked in their quarters below deck until the seas calmed. Fervent prayers were uttered during the course of those storms. On 13 April, the youngest of the children, two-year-old Sarah Elizabeth, passed away. Her body was prepared, and after a small sack of coal was tied to the corpse, it was lowered down a chute used for that purpose, into shark-infested waters. The weight of the coal may have taken the corpse quickly out of sight, but the horror of the unseen underwater spectacle that ensued, remained in memory for a lifetime -- particularly for Ann. What the eyes cannot behold, the mind oftentimes can. James DAY(h1-12), seven years old at the time, records in his biography how the mental picture of Sarah's burial remained with him the rest of his life. He then states that his mother gave birth to another girl, Jane, two weeks later. This does not square with the 27 February 1853 birth date of Jane in our records, but there is no question but what Jane was born at sea. Whether her birth was before or after the death of Sarah is subject to inquiry.
After reaching the Port of New Orleans the immigrants took a steamer up the watery trail of the Mississippi and Missouri Rivers to Council Bluffs, where they disembarked and prepared for the 1,000 mile trek to the Valley. The Days were part of the "Ten Pound Company" under the leadership of Jacob Gates. The family had saved "ten pounds" of English money which was enough to purchase a team of oxen and a wagon to cross the plains. The Days apparently made the trip with little difficulty and arrived in Pioneer Park in Salt Lake City, 6 October, 1853.
A family yarn maintains the Days had no sooner gotten down from their wagon than a Church official came up and said there was a handcart company of Saints stranded in "Dakota" freezing to death, and the Day's wagon and ox team were needed to go to the rescue. Team and wagon were supposedly turned over to the brethren with "nary a word of complaint from the Days." Since the handcarts did not start to cross the plains for another three years, the story lacks credibility. Further, when the tragedy of the Willie and Martin companies took place in 1856, it was in eastern Wyoming, not the Dakotas. It is possible that in 1856, Joseph volunteered a wagon for use in the rescue effort of the Handcart Companies, but if so, we don't have an account of it. These pioneers were brave, courageous and quite selfless, and there is no need to heap virtue upon their heads, or embellish the truth. Telling it like it was is awesome enough.
The Days settled in Session's Settlement (renamed Bountiful two years later) or, ecclesiastically speaking, North Canyon Ward, ten miles north of Salt Lake City. James DAY, a youngster when he crossed the plains in 1853, married Mary Ann Martha ROBERTS who also crossed the plains as a teenage girl thirteen years later.
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