When we read the stories of our ancestors, certain memorable instances can stay with us. One such instance from my own family history centers on my 2nd great-grandmother, Mariah (Brockhouse) Beddoes. I’ve always wondered at the story of how Mariah’s parents were so upset at her emigrating from their England home to the Utah Territory that they hid her little girl, Selina, in hopes that it would prevent the journey. I pictured myself as Selina when I was young, then as Mariah when I first had children, and now as a grandmother, I can sympathize with the grandmother, Phebe.
This story involves three generations of my maternal ancestors, and my heart goes out to all of them. As mother and daughter, Mariah lies at the center, so she’ll be the focus.
Life in England
Mariah was born to Enoch Brockhouse and Phebe (Lloyd) Brockhouse on 9 March 1842 in Willenhall, Staffordshire, England. 1The second of nine children, Mariah was the only daughter that survived childhood. Her three sisters, as well as a brother, died very young. Mariah’s father, Enoch, was a locksmith. Willenhall was known for manufacturing locks and keys, and Enoch would have been one of many locksmiths.
Mariah’s parents had her baptized on 14 March 1842, just five days after her birth, in the St Giles chapel at Willenhall.2 Mariah likely attended the Church of England services with her family.
By 1860, Mariah had become a dressmaker and lived on Bilston Street in Wolverhampton. She probably moved to the larger city to start earning wages, and there she met and married William Beddoes on 13 August at St. George’s parish church. The couple moved back to Willenhall, where Mariah’s parents resided and made their home on Alma Street. Wiliam worked in the coal mines. His father had died when he was ten, and by age twelve, he was already working as a miner.3
William and Mariah welcomed their first child, Phebe, into their home soon after their marriage, and she was joined by a brother, William, in 1864. Sadly, both children died in April 1864, just eight days apart.
Mariah went on to have eleven more children who all survived, with the exception of the youngest, Effie. My great-grandmother, Selina, was born several months after the death of her oldest siblings on 31 December 1864. She was followed by Matilda, born on 10 May 1867. These two little girls would have brought great joy to their grandmother, Phebe, who lost three of her four daughters young, and she probably looked forward to seeing them grow, marry, and have families of their own.
Phebe’s hopes were dashed when Mariah and William announced their plan to go to America. They had joined The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints in 1865 and wanted, above all else, to join fellow saints in the Utah Territory. One of Mariah’s daughters wrote:4
Mother worked very hard and saved in every way by taking in boarders, washing, housecleaning and sewing to keep the home up so that Father’s wages might be saved for the expense of coming to America. When it was made known a year later that they were going, Father was very much surprised at the money that Mother had saved in addition to keeping up the house.
When their plans were made known to their friends and relatives, they were surprised. Her parents, however, were much opposed and tried to persuade her not to go. They told her of many bad things they had heard of America. Her father took the oldest little girl and tried to hide her away, thinking it would make them late and so keep her from going. But Mother’s mind was made up and her desire was firm to come to Zion for the Gospel. She told her mother that no matter what she would suffer or have to endure she would not torture her with the knowledge. She said many times with all the suffering she never complained nor wished herself back. They disposed of all they had at a very low price, selling what they could and giving the rest away. Many valuable things which would have been very useful could have been put in their luggage.
Selina was the “oldest little girl,” and her life history written by her sister, Eliza, also records this instance.5
When Selina was still very young, preparations were made for the journey. On the day they were to sail, her grandparents being so grieved at their going, the grandfather took the little girl into the woods trying to prevent them from going. Her parents, discovering the absence, went in search of her. She was found and there was no delay.
Did Selina remember this episode? She was 3 1/2 years old and likely learned of it from her parents. However, it might have made such an impression on her that she did remember the fuss that must have ensued with her being found and then the painful goodbyes.
Crossing the Ocean and the Plains
Mariah and William, with young daughters Selina and Matilda, braved the Atlantic Ocean crossing crowded with over 400 other Latter-Day Saints on the ship “Colorado.” They sailed from Liverpool, England, and arrived in New York City on 4 July 1868.6 Traveling in steerage, they were very sick for the six-week voyage. From New York, they traveled by train to North Platte, Nebraska, then made the journey across the plains using an ox team. Selina’s younger sister Eliza wrote:
Selina can well remember being put with her sister, Matilda, in the wagon with their few belongings. Her father walked most of the way. Her mother walked behind holding to the wagon to be near the children. Their teamster’s name was Robert Davis. Her memory is very keen to things that happened on this journey.
One of the scouts shot himself accidently while walking down the tongue of the wagon. One day and he died. Her father was scouting ahead, when he came upon a fresh camp loaded with provisions. The man was dead; the Indians had scalped him and taken his team leaving the wagon and provisions. The captain would not allow them to bother the things, because others may suspect that they had killed him for the food.
Life in Utah Territory
Mariah’s life history records the challenges of life on the frontier. The barren desert of Utah would have taken getting used to after the lush green of her native England. Mariah went on to have a family of thirteen children, most of who lived to adulthood. William worked as a miner, and Mariah worked in the fields as well as the household tasks. Despite the hardships of life, they never regretted their decision to emigrate to America. Their daughter wrote:
They used to sing together and were always asked to sing a song which they sang before leaving England. The meaning of the song was the coming to America. This song was written by Father:
Will Thou gang along with me, Bonnie Lassie, O
Far across the deep blue sea, Bonnie Lassie, O
Fearing neither wind nor tide,
I can love thee by my side,
If thou will gang along with me, Bonnie Lassie, O
If thou will gang along with me, Bonnie Lassie, O
What makes thee want to roam, Bonnie Laddie, O
To leave thy happy home, Bonnie Laddie, O
Does thy country displease,
Or does sorrow vex and tease,
As thou can’st not be at ease, Bonnie Laddie, O
But the journey’s long and drear, Bonnie Laddie, O
And my heart is full of fear, Bonnie Laddie, O
For the journey’s over plains,
Mid’st the frost, the snow and rain
I shall perish with the pain, Bonnie Laddie, O
Nay, the journey’s not so bad, Bonnie Lassie, O
If thy heart does not retard, Bonnie Lassie, O
So banish all thy fears,
For I will thy troubles bear,
So gang along with me, Bonnie Lassie, O
Then I must leave my home, Bonnie Laddie, O
And like Abraham and Sarah roam, Bonnie Laddie, O
Take my children in my arms
For to baffle many storms
Leave my country in its charms, Bonnie Laddie, O
Yonder temple is rearin’ high, Bonnie Lassie O
With it’s spire in the sky, Bonnie Lassie, O
And our Father says he’ll bless
Our hearts with humbleness
If we will toward it press, Bonnie Lassie, O
Let’s prepare to make a start Bonnie Laddie, O
I’ll agree with all my heart, Bonnie Lassie, O
And for future let us say
When we kneelest down to pray;
May God help us on our way, Bonnie Lassie, O
May God help us on our way, Bonnie Lassie, O
What about Mariah’s family left behind in England? The histories report that Mariah and William were the first of their families to come to America and that as other family members emigrated, they stayed with the Beddoes family until they found work and homes of their own. I imagine that many letters were sent back and forth and that Mariah’s mother, Phebe, learned of her American grandchildren. Phebe and Enoch died in England and never saw Mariah and little Selina again.
At great sacrifice, Mariah left all she knew and started a new life with William and two little girls. Their song shows that their faith in God overcame all obstacles.
- Birth Certificate, Maria Brockhouse, 9 March 1842, GRO, Somerset House, London, Memories, Mariah Brockhouse (1842-1926) KWCB-KQH, FamilySearch (https://www.familysearch.org/photos/artifacts/11064635 : accessed 16 April 2023), contributed by Diana S. Elder, 23 October 2014.
- “England, Staffordshire, Church Records, 1538-1944,” Maria Brockhouse baptism, 14 Mar 1842, database with images, FamilySearch (https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:QL3R-1XGN : 8 July 2020) ; citing Baptism, Willenhall, Staffordshire, England, United Kingdom, Staffordshire & Stoke on Trent Archive Service, Stafford; FHL microfilm 7,566,701.
- “England Census, 1851,” Staffordshire, Bilston, William Beddows, database with images, Ancestry (https://www.ancestry.com/imageviewer/collections/8860/images/STSHO107_2021_2021-0508 : accessed 14 April 2023); Citing the National Archives, Lond, England, Class: HO107; Piece: 2021; Folio: 342; Page: 41; GSU roll: 87425-87426.
- “The Life Story of Riah Brockhouse,” Memories, Mariah Brrockhouse (1842-1926) KWCB-KQH, FamilySearch (https://www.familysearch.org/photos/artifacts/4172900 : accessed 16 April 2023), contributed by Nicole Elder Dyer, 29 December 2013.
- “Life History of Selina Beddoes Kelsey by Eliza Beddoes Curtis (her sister), Memories, Selina Beddoes (1864-1962) G913-WL6, FamilySearch (https://www.familysearch.org/photos/artifacts/24262737 : accessed 16 April 2023), contributed by TERRY60, 28 March 2016.
- “New York, U.S., Arriving Passenger and Crew Lists (including Castle Garden and Ellis Island), 1820-1957,” Wm, Mariah, and Selina Beddows 28 July 1868, ship Colorado, database with images, Ancestry (https://www.ancestry.com/imageviewer/collections/7488/images/NYM237_299-0025 : accessed 14 April 2023).