Our Family Legacy
William Watts, the grandfather of Hannah Watts, lived at Prestan, Cloucestershire, England. His wife's name was Hannah. Her maiden name was unknown to her granddaughter, Hannah Watts Handy, the subject of this memoir.
Grandfather William Watts and Hannah only had one child, a son, William Watts. He married Mary Hayden. He was a gardener and was born at Preston. Mary Hayden was born at Ailstane, Warwickshire. Mr. Hayden and his wife Elizabeth were Mary's mother and father. After being widowed with 4 children, Elizabeth moved to Berward where she died. William Watts and Mary Hayden had nine children:
Ann Watts, born August 17th, 1803
Hannah Watts' mother died when she was 9 months old and she was reared by her sister Mary. She attended school very little and was forced to go to work early in life, keeping birds from the grain, padding thistles, weeding, haymaking and cutting grain, for which she received three pence (6 cents) to eight pence (16 cents) per day. She married Samuel Handy when 21 years of age.
Her husband, Samuel Handy, went to work for Thomas Adams, a miller and farmer and they lived at the village of Clifford, Gloucestershire, about one year. They then moved to Ailstone where their first child was born, a son, William Handy, on July 30, 1842. They then moved to Waterloo Alvestone Parish, Warwickshire and her husband worked for a Mr. Lane a farmer and while at this place her second child was born, a son, Joseph Handy, on April 10th, 1844. Here also her third child was born, a daughter, Mary Handy, on the 5th of December 1847. They then moved to Stratford-On-Avon where her husband worked for a Mr. Lacy, making their residence in the Lace Cottages.
Hannah Watts Handy continues this record in her own words:
"Here our second daughter, Eliza, was born on December 20, 1849. After Eliza's birth we again moved to Waterloo and my husband worked on a farm for a Mr. James. While at Waterloo, a third son was born (Samuel) on Nov. 5, 1853, he died May 27, 1854. On 18 April 1855, a son James Henry Handy was born at Stratford-On-Avon. In the year 1848 I joined the Baptist Church. Poverty was our lot for a number of years. Our food rations were bread, 31/2 lb. meat, 1lb. butter, 1 lb. sugar and 2 oz. of tea for two weeks and occasionally we had grew potatoes.
"It was about the beginning of the year 1852 when we first heard of the Mormons through one of our neighbors, a John Horton. Several of us went one Sunday night and listened to the Mormon Elder and we were convinced of the truth of the gospel and were ready for baptism on the 8th day of February, 1852. My husband, Samuel Handy, was baptized and confirmed on Feb. 22 1852 by George Smith, President of the Branch. Due to opposition and confusion created in this neighborhood it was thought best to have the ceremonies performed on different occasions.
"We continued to live in Waterloo Cottages till we left England for America, for which we were preparing and looking forward to with eagerness. From the time of my marriage till now I had worked hard on the farm and performed a slavish part to keep body and soul together and now the thought of leaving the land of our childhood for the new world presented grave problems financially but our faith was strong and all doctrines of the church were received in joy and gladness with the hope that the Lord would provide the way.
"With the assistance of my husband's mother and brother we were given 20 pounds and we sold our household effects for 10 pounds and with our careful management we were able to get enough together for our fares to New York. During the early part of July, 1855 we were very busy preparing to make this important journey. We received notice to be in Liverpool ready to sail on the ship Cynesure which was to sail for New York July 28th. At the scheduled time my husband and I and our five children, together with other passengers, 300 in all, 159 of whom were Latter-Day-Saints, sailed out to sea and after about 6 weeks on the briny deep and after suffering with considerable sea sickness, we landed in New York at Castle Gardens. My husband had $15 in his pocket, the sum total of our capital to start life in the new world or land of America. While here, William, Joseph and Mary were baptized.
"After remaining 3 days at Castle Gardens, we left for Williamsburg where we stayed till about Christmas. My son Joseph died September 18, 1855 and was buried at Flat Bush, New York. While at Williamsburg we suffered severely for food and after my searched two months for employment he finally succeeded in obtaining work at Toms River, Ocean County New Jersey, chopping cord wood during the winter months and loading schooners during the summer. We lived close to the seashore and fish was plentiful for food. We saved enough money with the loan of $20 from Mr. Edward Ivins, my husband's employer, to take us to Iowa City. We left Toms River in the spring of 1857, sailing to New York City and then via ferry boat to Jersey City and thence by railroad to Iowa City. After paying our fares we had spent nearly all the money we had.
"Arriving at Iowa City we found a branch of the church presided by Brother William Williams, afterwards succeeded by John Taylor. Here my husband found work at $1.25 per day and his dinner and at other times he sawed wood with buck saw for .50 to .75 cents per day. House rent was 2, 3, and 4 dollars per month. I went out washing which assisted greatly in outfitting for our trip to Utah.
"In the spring of 1859 we got ready for our exodus west. We had purchased a yoke of oxen and an old wagon for $45 and we had ample provisions for the trip. We had good times through Iowa, plenty of grass and our teams improved and we arrived in Florence in good trim and spirits. We stayed in Florence, Old “Mormon Headquarters” about a month. Here we found many Mormon emigrants preparing for crossing the plains. Our trip was uneventful and we enjoyed ourselves. There were 63 wagons in the company with James Brown as captain. We found a few stray sheep, together with some wild game, which helped our food rations. My husband's brother, William, met us at Green River and brought us a supply of provisions which were very acceptable as we were just out.
"We arrived in Salt Lake Valley in the early part of September and went to Provo to live. My husband kept busy all winter hauling wood across Utah Lake and chopping wood at the Tithing Office at Provo and various other work—anything to earn an honest dollar. Our family kept in good health, and was prosperous.
"Desirous of having a home of our own, we make preparations to move to Cache Valley and in March 1860 with Thomas Smart, Joseph Dunkley, Joseph Perkins and my husband's brother William we started for Cache Valley, arriving at Franklin April 15, 1860. We suffered all the privations incident to pioneer life, preparing for the heavy snowfall and cold winters, also for protection against the Indians, who were our greatest menace. On one occasion my husband was taken prisoner by the Indians. Our house was ransacked, $16 in money taken and 60 chickens killed. I went through the trying time of the fight at Battle Creek and many other happenings of a nerve racking nature.
"Franklin continued to grow and we prospered financially so we were able to assist in the erection of the Meeting House, school house, the Logan Temple and others and improvements which contributed to the welfare and happiness of the people at large. The years of 1876, 1877 and 1879 were also trying ones as we had to fight grasshoppers to save our crops from being destroyed. Also in 1879 we were menaced with a diphtheria epidemic which took a great toll of deaths.
"On January 15, 1882 by husband was killed, being thrown from a horse. This, naturally was the most trying time of my life, all else from the time of my fist recollections being trivial as compared with the loss of my companion, having worked together congenially through all our ups and down."
Hannah Watts Handy died at Whitney, Idaho, June 5th 1893, true to the faith for which she left her native country.
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