By Ida W. Jackson
(Submitted by Susan Freeze, May 13, 2010)
Each descendant of my grandmother, Amelia Mariah Fellows (4th wife of Edson Whipple), should take great pride in the devoted life and honorable ancestry of this fine woman. Secular authorities leave little room for doubt that ancestral heredity contributes as much towards the final development of an individual as does his surrounding environment. My grandmother was born May 13, 1838 into a line of strong, devoted ancestors who were seeking to establish an environment of freedom in which their descendants could be born. By the time she died on July 4, 1890, at the age of 52 (my mother, Ida Rosetta Whipple Walser, was only 14 years old), she had made many contributions towards the perpetuation of this great ancestral heritage. I am acquainted with her own ancestral origins primarily through materials provided me by my dear sister, Anna W. Bentley, who is our family genealogist. Although I did not know my Grandmother Fellows personally, I feel intimately acquainted with her and her ancestors from the many incidents and stories related to me and her other children by my mother.
The great courage, strength, character and endurance of our ancestors are perhaps best exemplified by our Pilgrim ancestors, whose arrival off Cape Cod in Massachusetts on December 21, 1620, marked the first colony of self-governing immigrants in the new world. Among these hardy colonizers came the first of our Fellows ancestors to arrive in America--John Howland and Elizabeth Tilley, the sixth great-grandparents of Amelia Mariah on the side of her mother (Sally Maria Hanford Fellows). It is through this same Hanford line that our ancestry is traced to three Samuel Murdock's, then several generations of Scropes (later changed to 'Throope' in America) leading into the royalty lines of England and the Nordic countries, then on to the House of Israel, Abraham, Shem, Noah, and to Adam.
Many of Amelia's ancestors fought and stood valiant to the cause of freedom during the Revolutionary War. One great-grand-father (Samuel Murdock from Vermont) was listed on the rolls of the Green Mountain Boys. Another, Jesse Hanford, was killed in 1777 near Old Well, Connecticut. Still another, Obil Dill Fellows, was taken captive during the Revolutionary War campaigns in Canada.
Practically all of Amelia's ancestors were landowners in the New England states; hard working, honest, and intelligent, reliable citizens. This sturdy background and environment of the early 1800's greatly enabled Amelia to prepare for the many hardships of raising her own large family of twelve children during the latter part of the 19th century.
Amelia's father, Albert Gallatin Fellows, was born the second son of James and Phoebe Leonard Fellows on September 5, 1799, in Huntington, Luzerne County, Pennsylvania, into a family of five boys and three girls. Albert married Sally Maria Hanford on September 5, 1826, in Rutland, Vermont. Through this union, two boys (William Harlow and Hiram Wallace) and four girls were born, including Mary Ellen (who died at ten months), Emily Louisa (died at 18 months), Amelia Mariah, and Phoebe Louisa.
Amelia was born May 13, 1838, In Canton, Wayne County, Michigan. She was just nine months old when her father and mother were baptized into the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in February, 1839 at Brownstown, Wayne County, Michigan, near Detroit. On July 7, 1842, the family sold its 1/4 section (160 acres) in Michigan and moved to farm on the outskirts of Nauvoo, Illinois in order to be with the early Saints. As the family's farm was about four miles from Carthage, the county seat, many of their friends and church members would stop at the Fellows home on their way to or from Carthage on business trips. They were always made welcome by the family, especially by the two little girls (Amelia and Phoebe) who loved the attention given to them. Grandmother told my own mother that she had often sat on the Prophet's knees and remembered his deep beautiful, friendly big eyes. How shocking and tragic it must have been to Amelia and members of her family when this same Joseph Smith arrived at their home on June 24, 1844, in the custody of a company of about sixty mounted militiamen! After stopping nearly half an hour to partake of "such refreshments as they had brought with them," Captain Dunn of the mounted militia (who had just returned from Nauvoo with the sate arms requisitioned by order of Illinois Governor Ford) escorted the prophet into Carthage, where they arrived at five minutes before 12 o'clock midnight. Three days later, in the evening of June 27, 1844, the heinous martyrdom of Joseph and Hyrum Smith took place. On the 29th of June, they were interred in Nauvoo admidst the deep mourning of the stricken people.
A year later a shadow of personal grief came into the Fellows home. The mother, Sally Maria, died on October 14, 1845, at the early age of 38 years. The grieving father was left to care for his family, now consisting of William (17 years old) and Hiram (15) and the two little girls, Phoebe (5) and Amelia (7).
Six months later, the family (by deed recorded on April 20, 1846) sold its Illinois property and sadly departed from Nauvoo, "The City Beautiful". By July 1846, Amelia's older brother Hiram had joined the Mormon Battalion at the age of 16. The following winter, the family weathered the elements at Winter Quarters, Nebraska, then left for the long trek west from Elk Horn River (27 miles west of Winter Quarters) on June 19, 1847. The family traveled in the company of Edward Hunter (the second Company of One Hundred), with Jacob Foutz as their captain over fifty, and arrived in the Great Salt Lake Valley on October 1, 1847, after a five month trek across the plains. Amelia was nearly 10 years old, so I can imagine that she and Phoebe were able to do many of the household chores for their father and brother William, the latter who never married.
On May 3, 1852, when Amelia was 14 years old, her father, Albert Gallatin Fellows, was married to Phoebe Danfield. The marriage was performed in the Salt Lake Seventh Ward, and the couple was sealed in the Salt Lake Endowment House on August 25 of that same year. Phoebe had been born to Peter and Elizabeth Danfield in Chester, Pennsylvania on September 20, 1807, the same year that great-grandmother Sally Maria Hanford (Fellows) was born in Vermont.
At the early age of 16, Amelia married Edson Whipple in Provo, Utah County, Utah, during the summer of 1854. They were sealed in the Salt Lake Endowment House on September 4, 1855, by Heber C. Kimball with Jedediah M. Grant and W. W. Phelps as witnesses. Amelia became the fourth polygamous wife of Edson Whipple, who was 34 years her senior and who had come in the first company to arrive in the Salt Lake Valley.
Edson Whipple's mother, Basmoth Hutchens Whipple, and his first wife, Lavinia Goss, and their first baby girl, Mariah Blanch Fellows, all died at Pony Creek, about 25 or 35 miles from Council Bluffs, Iowa in November, 1846. (See history of Edson Whipple.) Three years after arriving in Salt Lake Valley, Edson Whipple married two sisters, Mary Ann and Harriet Yeager, in the Salt Lake Endowment House. These marriages, on November 4, 1850, had the blessings of the first presidency of the Church.
The next spring after Amelia's marriage to Edson, her husband was called and Amelia accompanied him, to help build Ft. Supply in Wyoming. Edson left his first two wives in Provo and took Amelia with him on a sort of "solo honeymoon." These were exciting but dangerous times on the Wyoming-Utah frontier. Fortifications had to be built to protect the white settlers from the Indians. During his sojourn in Wyoming, Edson built a gristmill and made other improvements to Ft. Supply. After much suffering and hardship, however, the fort was abandoned and the settlers returned to their Utah homes in 1857.
Shortly after their return, Edson married his fifth and last wife, Mary Ann Quinney, on March 21, 1857. All four families then lived in Prove (much of the time under the same roof) until 1880, when Edson was called to move with part of his family to settle in Arizona. During the Provo years, grandmother Amelia gave birth to 11 of her 12 children. The first one, Albert Fellows Whipple, was born in 1856, and the last child, Alfred Safford Fellows, in 1879. Amelia was pregnant and nursing babies during that entire 23 year period. He children consisted of six boys and six girls, including one pair of twins, Heber and Alice, who were born on March 23, 1862.
My own mother, Ida Rosetta Whipple, was born March 29, 1876, as the 10th child. When Ida was only one year old, her brother Heber contracted the small pox and had to be placed into isolation in a quarantine or "pest house". After trying in vain to find a nurse to car for Heber, his father, Edson, was himself preparing to go into the quarantined quarters to car for the child, when his wife, Mary Ann Yeager insisted on doing this herself. Rather than risk the loss of Edson or Amelia, who had so many young children to support and care for, Mary Ann unselfishly proceeded to nurse and care for Heber. Despite her best efforts, Heber died with the dread disease on March 19, 1877 at the age of 15 years. Three days later, Mary Ann died from the same disease. These two family members were removed from the pest house and buried at 12 o'clock midnight because of the contagion. The following day memorial services were held at the Provo chapel.
In spite of what must have been very hard and trying times, especially for a person as young and inexperienced as Amelia, the qualities of unity, love and unselfishness seemed to prevail at all times in this polygamous family of four wives and thirty-five children. At the beginning, the young and sensitive Amelia must have received much love, assistance and instruction from the two older wives. Ultimately, great sharing and flexibility were necessary in caring for these children; Mary Ann had five, Harriet had eight, Amelia had twelve, and Mary Ann had five.
In the 1880 move mentioned previously, Edson took two of his families (Harriet and Amelia and children) to Show Low, Arizona, the others remaining in Utah. They moved into the Block House, at fortress built by the few Mormon settlers as a defense against the Indians who were making trouble in Arizona at that time. It was remodeled and later became known as the "Whipple Hall," and was used as a public social building. Edson then built two small dirt-floor rock buildings for his two families, and helped lay out and construct the town of Show Low. My mother, Ida Rosetta, was only four years old when the family moved to Arizona, and was 10 when they left for Mexico. She often related stories to her children about her experiences in Show Low, including her first schooling, making corn cob dolls, playing with the little Indian children, and sharing bread and molasses cookies with them. Most of the Indians were friendly during their time in Arizona, and the settlers experienced very little trouble with the Indians because of the new settlers' own friendliness.
Mother also remembered and sang many songs and recited poems that she had learned from her mother. Two I remember that I especially liked were the song "Two Little Children" and the poem, "tom twist." She remembers being dressed up by my grandmother in her very best and gently hoisted up onto a table to sing "Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star" to an adult party. From such little incidents, I came to learn of the deep love between my mother and grandmother.
On July 18, 1883, Amelia gave birth to her 12th child and 6th girl, Elizabeth. The baby died that same day, and was buried in Show Low, Arizona.
The Whipple family prospered during the six years they lived in Show Low. During this time, however, the Edmunds-tucker law forbidding the practice of polygamy was passed. Edson Whipple made a trip to Provo to visit his wife (Mary Ann) and children who had stayed behind. After conferring with the Brethren and his own family, Grandfather Whipple returned to Show Low and moved his Arizona families to Mormon Colonies in Mexico. The Whipple families were among those who arrived in the little town of Colonia Juarez, state of Chihuahua, sometime during the summer of 1886, among the very earliest settlers in that area. Just how many of the children went with them, we are not sure, but we do know that they were accompanied by Amelia's three youngest children. Five children had already died (3 boys and 2 girls) and others had married in the United States.
After all the hard times already endured, it must have been particularly difficult to face this new frontier in the rugged interior of a foreign country. The two Whipple families lived in cave-like dugouts along the banks of the shallow Piedras Verdes River until their adobe house was ready. Edson settled his families at the base of the mountains, a few miles southwest of Colonia Juarez. He had decided to go into the cattle business and the grass was best for his stock away from the main town. It must have been lonely at times for these families but our pioneer forebearers became accustomed to hard times and made the best of it. Nonetheless, they endured many frightening and difficult experiences while living in Mexico. There were encounters with bears, Indians, and Mexican natives trying and sometimes succeeding in killing or driving off the family livestock while on the range or in the corrals.
I remember my mother relating how she and Alfred, her younger brother, would accompany their mother late in the evenings out into the cedar forest and leave poisoned meat on the bear trails. This was done in hopes the bears would eat it and die so that they would not attack and kill the young cattle, as they often did.
Grandmother Amelia was left alone at the ranch house with her two small children most of the time while grandpa was logging or engaged in work to obtain money. The Apache Indians roamed and lived up in the mountains and often came down in the valleys to molest the people living there. One night after the little family had retired, grandmother was awakened by a noise coming from the cows and horses in the corral near the house. She awakened the children and then went outside to see what was happening. To her astonishment and fear, Indians were attempting to drive off the cows and horses. Ida, (then 10 years old) heard an American man's loud voice shouting at the Indians. The Indians suddenly left. When Grandmother came back into the house, Ida asked her who the man was that had so loudly called at the Indians. Her mother answered her that there was not man, but only she had done the shouting. Mother said she would never forget the change in her mother's voice as she participated in a miracle from God to protect the animals and family.
Amelia's only neighbor was her sister-in-law, Catherine Whipple. We call her Aunt Caddy. She told us "Your grandmother was a very jolly person, a fastidious housekeeper who always arose early. She was an excellent cook, able to whip up a good meal from almost nothing. She did beautiful handiwork and always tried to look and do her best."