Since this is May and Memorial Day is in May, I love to share a story from the life of one of my ancestors as a Wednesday Story. Today I would love to share about my third great grandmother Sarah Jane Peck Rich. She was the fourth wife of Charles C. Rich. Yes I come from a polygamy family. That was an essential part of the history of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. And I am ever grateful for those faithful saints who had wonderful families and made it possible for me to be here. I am also very grateful not to have to participate in it now.:) But many of the wives of Charles C. Rich wrote that polygamy worked wonderfully in their family.
Sarah was an amazing woman who endured much heartache when it came to losing children. I think that is why I feel such a strong bond to her. I know she understands loss. I hope that you will enjoy a few snippets from her life written by her granddaughter.
When Charles C. was called to settle San Bernardino, Sarah was glad to remain in Centerville. During his absence she continued to work and care for her family be doing everything she could to gain a livelihood. She raised many chickens and ducks, and when she sold eggs, 13 were always a dozen to her. She gave the large eggs when selling them keeping the smaller ones for her own use. These were hard times and it a known fact that when food was scarce, she often went without to feed her children. She was alone when her babies were born and when they died.
The following is a paragraph from the first wife’s autobiography which shows the love that existed between them and also gives us a glimpse of the existing conditions. This was in 1851, when Charles C. was in San Bernardino with his other three wives. I had gone to our farm twelve miles north of Salt Lake City, to visit two of my husband’s other wives who lived there. One of them–Sarah Peck Rich–was expecting to be confined, and as she lived so far away from me, I felt impressed to ask her to go home with me and stay until her confinement was over. When I asked her to do so, she said, “I was just wishing you would ask me to do that!” We soon got her ready, and I took her home, in order that I could see her through her sickness. For I loved her dearly; she was a good woman and had always been good to me. And as my husband had been gone now for six months, I felt it my duty to see that she was well cared for. I got her comfortably fixed up, and on Sunday, the fifth, I went to meeting, came home, and about midnight she was taken sick. I sent for Dr. Clinton, and about four o’clock in the morning she had a pair of twins, a boy and a girl. I could see now why the Lord had impressed upon my mind to take her home to my house! I felt proud of our twins. I got her comfortable in bed, and dressed the babies and nursed and took care of them until the mother got well enough and felt like returning to her home in Centerville. Sarah have me the privilege to name the twins. I named the boy Orson and the girl Orissa. They were pretty, health babies.
During the 17 years that grandmother lived in Utah, eight children were born to her. They were Henrietta, Orson, Orissa, Samantha, Julia, Phebe, Henry and Lorenzo. Three of these eight children, Orissa, Orson and Henrietta died and were buried in Centerville during this period of time. In 1864 when Charles C. Rich was called by Brigham Young to settle Bear Lake valley, Sarah moved there with her family. None of could ever realize the feelings that she must have had to leave a comparatively comfortable home in Centerville, situated in the heart of church activities, near good schools and colleges. These things she must leave to pioneer another valley–a valley so barren and cold as Bear Lake was at that time. Yet no one ever heard her find fault or complain. It took days to make the long tiresome journey. When they arrived in Paris in the spring of 1864 there were only a few families there.
After coming to Bear Lake two more sons were born to her (Walter and Wilford) making a family of eleven children. As has been stated before, two girls and a boy were buried in Utah before she moved to Bear Lake. Julia and Samantha died soon after coming to Paris. Sarah then had but one daughter left – Phebe. Phebe was a girl of great promise, beloved by her family and all who knew her. She was so devoted to her mother whose heart had been wrung so many times with sorrow and disappointments. Yet this young woman was not permitted to live long. At the age of 19 she was stricken with typhoid fever and died. This was almost more than Sarah could endure, yet through it all she was ever brave, courageous, and full of faith. Later, she was to lose two more of her grown sons–Henry and Lorenzo–one died the 1st of January and the other the 5th of January of the same year, 1893. She lived to bury all but three of her eleven children. (Hyrum, Wilford and Walter). She died in 1893 at the age of 68 and was buried in Paris, Idaho with her husband.
Life was definitely hard for those women early in this country. I am so extremely grateful for the modern conveniences I have all around me. I am grateful for excellent medical care right around the corner. I am thankful for a furnace and a/c! And I am thankful for grocery stores! I hope that today’s story will inspire you this month to look to your ancestors for strength to help through whatever trial you are experiencing right now. And if you can’t find any info about your ancestors, then you can borrow mine.:)
Life is Good. Share the Good.