Annie Maria Barbara Palmer Wallis
Memoirs from the life’s of Annie Maria Barbara Palmer Wallis and John Wallis and their daughter, Hannah Elizabeth Wallis Gilbert and husband James Alexander Gilbert By; Bessie Rodgers Erickson (A great grand daughter-in-law) To the posterity of Annie Maria Barbara Palmer Wallis this little story is written, so that her life, hopes and struggles may live on through the generations to come. Giving to her progeny strength, faith, and courage to meet the trails of this day. The story was told to me by her grand daughter, Virginia Mae Gilbert Erickson as she remembered the outstanding events in her grand mother’s life. It is hoped that it is read and pondered over that more memories may be recalled and that this manuscript may be added to and enlarged, until we can obtain a complete story of her life. Annie Marina Barbara Palmer was born in Suffolk, England on September 27, 1848 to Robert and Hannah Palmer. Very little is known of the childhood of Annie, but we do know that her mother was a seamstress. Her little girl helped to thread the many needles that it was necessary for her to use. It must have been a good home to produce children of such sterling characters, the mother must have been anxious to give her children proper training so they would be well equipped to meet the trails ahead, for this mother planted in the hearts of her two children the desire to search for the truth and the good way of life. And it was through that eagerness for knowledge and truth that early in Annie’s girlhood she was able to here and accept the gospel of Jesus Christ of Ladder-Day Saints. And it was the courage and strength that this home instilled into the children that enabled her and her brother to later emigrate to America and finally to Salt Lake City, the home of the saints at that time. Robert and Hannah Barber Palmer were happy with their two children, Robert and Annie Maria, and they were happy with each other even though there means were limited and the love and happiness was to be short lived. The father was not privileged to live long with his dear little family, for early in Annie Maria’s life, her father passed away leaving the mother to struggle alone. Although, they must not have been blessed with too many material things, we know that this braved widowed mother was rich with two beautiful children she had. Annie Marie was small in stature, slightly plump, with large dark gray eyes, and long beautiful auburn hair. She was small boned and had such tiny feet it was difficult for her to find shoes that would fit them properly. Robert, who was also small and rather stocky, was jovial in his nature and always proved a good companion for his sister. When Annie Marie was still a very young girl, she was called on to face separation again, but this time it was from her dear mother, her teacher, her kind adviser, and companion. We can well imagine the loneliness, and bewilderment that she and Robert felt, with no one to turn to for help and comfort. So, because of necessity, she and Robert were compelled to find work, their first employment. Not too much is known about Robert and what he did during this period of adjustment, but Annie Maria secured work as a maid for a wealthy family and found much joy and happiness in this family, and even years after when Annie Maria had established a home in a new land, she would receive little gifts of love from this noble family. Often times she recalled to her children and grand children, the ease and luxury which she enjoyed as a maid in that home, and how different her life would have been had she remained in England. But there was another mission that the Father of us all had in mind for this woman of strength, and it was not long before the missionaries from the Mormon church found she and Robert and told them the glorious plan of life and its meaning in our life’s, and because of the purity of her life and her eagerness to learn, she was able to comprehend the massage and accept it, and after a few months of working and saving, she and Robert left their beautiful England, never to return. It would be easy to imagine the missed fillings, sadness from leaving friends, relatives, and above all their homeland. Anticipation for a voyage across the ocean to a new and glorious land, where the only stories they had heard were of wealth, adventure and opportunities in store for all those who sought, and humility with knowledge of a new and true religion and that their life’s were important and had meaning. Very little is known about the voyage across the ocean and the long wearisome trek across the continent to Salt Lake City. It is certain, however that these two young people must have encountered much hardship and sacrifice, and probably a little disappointment. But not long after they arrived in Salt Lake City that Annie Maria found work in a private home. It was there she met John Wallis, who was to become her husband. It was soon after their arrival in Salt Lake that Robert, too. Found work that was to become his life long employment. He went to West Jordon, Utah and there established a farm and home, and in time became quite successful in this endeavor. The life of Annie Maria cannot be told without including the struggles and headaches of John Wallis before his marriage to Annie, and which are so closely interwoven into the life and love of this beautiful, winsome English girl. So we have to include a few of the known facts about his life, but it is are hope that these things are read will bring to mind many more incidents pertaining to his life that may be included in these scant pages. John Wallis was born in London, England October 23, 1835 to John Thomas and Mary Ann Martin Wallis. He was a tanner by trade and although we know little of his life in England we know that as a young man he experienced much sorrow and dissepiments for he had not been married long to Gatherine McLeannon, when his young wife passed away, February 10, 1859 leaving a heartbroken husband with two small children. John was also destine to live out his existence in the new and wonderful America, and was converted to the gospel of Jesus Christ. So it was with similar purpose that he and his two babies came to Utah. While in the East, before coming to Salt Lake, he met and married Sarah Elizabeth Davis in 1859 on the 8th of August (later information tells us that they were married in Manchester, England). And although she was probably a great help and comfort to John, she must have lacked much in her understanding for the children. They came to Utah and made their home in Mount Pleasant. John provided a little white house, one of the first homes to be built in that community, and established himself in his trade as a tanner. It was while in Salt Lake on business he met Annie Maria Palmer, the maid at the home of the manager of the tannery. Annie Maria Palmer, answered his knock, and as she opened the door to that handsome, tall man, there was something electrifying pass between them for that was the beginning of a new life for the both of them. The practice of polygamy was still being exercised in the church, so after he returned from Mount Pleasant, he received consent from his wife and the authorities of the church to court and marry Annie Maria. Certainly this lovely young girl must have been a devout testimony of the gospel of Jesus Christ and a great love for this tall, powerful man, to accept his proposal for marriage. And certainly she must have had to summon all the courage and strength with which she was so greatly endowed, to go with her new husband into the home of another woman, to share the same rooms, food, income, and husband. It must have been a far cry fro the dreams and aspirations she had for herself in that far away land of England. Yet, the love and devotion she had for John Wallis, knowing full well the handicaps under which her marriage must be exercised, the affection which she must share with another woman, and yet realizing that she was not only living for this life alone, but that she would have and love this great man of hers forever and ever. She was able to endure the heartaches that were before her. They were married May 1, 1872 in the Endowment House in Salt Lake City. Than John took his young, beautiful bride to Mount Pleasant, were she was to make her home for the rest of her life. Thus Annie assumed her new roll as foster mother and a second wife, and as she displayed her talents in sewing, cooking and home making, and as she loved and nurtured the two little children of John’s first wife, she grew in wisdom and understanding. And John’s love for her increased. About a year later, April 16, 1873, her first little daughter, Hannah Elizabeth, was born to her. It isn’t hard to imagine the feelings of envy, jealously, and perhaps disappointment the older, childless wife felt when she first heard that little cry coming from the other bedroom and that other world separated only by a single door. And as this jealously grew, it mounted to lust and covetousness and finally she demanded that Annie give up her baby to her. She was the rightful parent, she reasoned, because she was the first wife. Much contention and bitter words were passed between them, and of course, Annie clung even more tightly to her little one. As a result of that bitter argument, Sarah Elizabeth left the Wallis home and Mount Pleasant, and to our knowledge was never heard of again. Where she went and what she did we do not know, but no doubt she had many sad, remorseful hours. It is certain that Annie Maria never forgot the terrible incident. From that time one, Annie was sole mother to the two older children, John and Leavina and when little Hanna was about two years old, a second little sister was add to the Wallis family, Annie Rebecca. She was born June 1, 1875. Other children born to the family were, Roland Robert, born June 25, 1877, Norford Richard, born May 25, 1879, Joseph Henry, born June 25, 1884, Sterling William, born June 17, 1881, Louise Amelia, born January 17, 1884, and Pearl Winnifred, born February 16, 1886. This the courage and greatness of this little English woman was in turn instilled into the hearts of another generation. Life in Mount Pleasant was hard. It was not all joys and happiness, but seldom did Annie Maria complain of her lot, and always did she sustain her son and husband with love and devotion. There is much to be written about her life while her children were growing up. It is our hope that members of her vast family may add to the story with facts and incidents, which occurred during this phase of her life. Included in this life’s story of this good woman is a sweet, sad love story of Hannah Elizabeth that must told so that it may always be kept always in the memory of those who loved her so much. When Annie Maria’s oldest daughter, Hannah, was in late teens, the family financial condition was so strained that Hannah and her sister Annie went to Salt Lake City to seek employment in a private home. And, according to a pattern set before her many years earlier by a beautiful English girl, she too found the love of her life in this beautiful, tranquil city. This time the circumstances were changed a bit, because James Alexander Gilbert was not a Mormon. Those not belonging to the Mormon church were often called “outsiders”. He may well been an “outsider” as far as religion goes, but never with the love and devotion he gave to the Wallis family. As before, Hannah Elizabeth, opened the door to this gallant man’s heart, and filled it completely with her young vivacious charms. James Gilbert fell completely in love with Hannah, and despite the objections hr encountered from John and Annie Wallis, he was determined to have her for his wife. John and Annie Maria, of course were strongly opposed to the marriage because James was “not of the faith”. There were probably feelings of anxiety about the good-looking stranger from the East. He had come from Philadelphia. What about his parents? No one knew much about him. And yet, Hannah loved him and there was no way to talk her out of it. Hannah saw in this man of hers what her mother could never see. His quite manner, his thirst for knowledge, his deep serous disposition, and above all else, his devotion to her. But not even Hannah could imagine the role James Alexander Gilbert would play in the Wallis family. When James and Hannah came to Mount Pleasant to ask for the consent and blessing on there proposed marriage, the parents finally consented but with misgivings. The couple was married in Salt Lake City May 4, 1892, and John Wallis her father was a witness to the marriage. It isn’t hard to imagine the heartache and disappointment this faithful little pioneer woman felt about her daughter’s marriage. She had spent her life sacrificing for her religion she believed so thoroughly --- where had she failed to install this faith in the ears of her children. But Annie Maria learned to accept James Gilbert, and as the years rolled by she depended upon him heavily, for never did his loyalty to her fail. James was employed as a machinist in the railroad shops in Salt Lake City at the time of there marriage, so he and Hannah returned to Salt Lake to make there first home. Their love was now complete, and James in his energetic way provided his sweet bride a home and the necessities of life. It was in this white frame house, a year latter that there first child, a baby girl, Annie Katherine, was born. Hannah and James had honored the names of both grandparents in naming their baby Annie, for the Wallis grandmother and Katherine for the mother of James. This was the first grandchild for Annie Maria and John Wallis and so her birth was cause for much celebration. We know how happy Annie Maria was to have another member added to her posterity, and she loved this little Granddaughter of hers dearly. About this same time Annie Rebecca, second daughter of the Wallis household found her love and was also married. She and Thales Edwards also set up there first housekeeping in Salt Lake City. Often times they would go together dancing and on picnics. Even today James’s daughter remembers what a wonderful waltzer he was. No doubt those dancing evenings were happy, carefree times. Hannah and James were devoted to each other, and all through the years that they lived together, they experienced no regrets or even loneliness for there home and parents. For them life was complete. James provided well for his family too, so it wasn’t necessary for Hannah to worry or fret about family finances. Just a year and five days after Kate’s birth, March 17, 1894 another baby girl came to make earth her home with Hannah and James. They named her Virginia Mea, and even though Hannah was not privileged to live long with her little girls, she made a lasting impression on the mind of her second child. A never forgotten memory of a sweet mother with long beautiful hair, kind voice, and happy disposition. It was while Virginia was still a baby that the country was struck with a dreadful depression. Men lost their jobs, money was scarce, and families were forced to near starvation. James also caught up in the current of the depression, and lost his job at the railroad and was forced to take his wife and two little girls to Mount Pleasant to live until things opened up again. Of course, Annie Wallis welcomed them with open arms for there was always plenty of milk, eggs, and beans to fill up hungry men and boys. Hannah too was glad to be home again and have help with her babies. Hannah was frail and had little vitality at this time. She tired easily, and two lively girls kept her busy. So, it was a great help to her to go home, and Annie in her kind and understanding way, could see the tired little body and the strain that child-barring had been on her precious daughter, so she relived Hannah and nursed and cared for her. James helped too. John Wallis was selling, so James, in his energetic way did what he could to help. However, it was not long before James found work again, this time in Mercur, Utah. So he moved his wife and little girls there again they established a home of their own. It was while he was in Mercur that he worked as a plumber. He had contracted to install the plumbing in a mill that was being constructed there. He not only worked as a labor, but also hired a crew of men to work under him. It was a big job, and the beginning of a life long career, for before his life was over, he had the opportunity to manage and control many such projects. Little is remembered about the months and years while there at Mercur, but it is certain that those five years were happy years for James and Hannah Gilbert. Although Hannah was never strong, she cared for her babies well. Annie Wallis made several visits over to see and help Hannah. Annie’s life was destine to be filled with sorrows, and it was at this time she was called upon to part with her John. It was April. Spring was telling of new life, but there was still the problem of supporting her self and two youngest daughters. What would should she do, where would she go? She needed John so badly! Why, oh why, was he taken from her! But, God in his wisdom had decreed that the period of probation for John Wallis had finished. And Annie Maria was again given strength to endure. Mercur had been the birthplace of the third of the Gilbert children, a son, James Franklin Gilbert, born July 31, 1898. Of course James was delighted with his boy and was even more anxious to provide well for his family. He had heard of a job in California that promised to pay well, and afford great opportunities for him. He was anxious to go and the promise for success was certain, with the help of Annie, who was visiting them, they packed their things. Little Kate age six, went with her grandmother to Mount Pleasant to have things ready when Hannah and the other children arrived. The plan was that James would take Hannah, Virginia, age five and baby Frank, age 15 months, to Lehi where they would stay with Hannah’s sister, Annie, for a short visit and then continue on to Mount Pleasant until James, who would go on to California, could find housing for them. It was very thrilling, this promise of a new home, a new state, and more money. Hannah arrived in Lehi, tired from the strain of moving, but excited and happy to see her family and loved ones again. The appointed day arrived that James would leave for California, and her reluctantly said good-bye to his children and wife. Even as a child of five, Virginia remembers the picture of her father and mother going down the path to the gate on that beautiful October day, and how her father kissed his adorable wife tenderly – their first separation. If only he could have known the import of that last real kiss and those last lingering moments together. But fate would her way; Hannah and James were to never meet again on this earth. It was only a matter of a few days after James’ departure that the children of Aunt Annie contracted scarlet fever. All the precautions that were known at that time to isolate Virginia and Frank were to no avail. For, within days Virginia and baby Frank contracted the disease. Hannah tried and exhausted as she was, never for a moment relaxed her vigilance over her stricken children, gradually they rallied and began to improve, but in her weakened condition could not resist the infection, and in a few days had to go to bed herself with a raging fever. A doctor was summoned from Provo to help the failing mother but she continued to sink lower. Finally, with her loved sister and dear mother and little children hovering around her bed, she raised her arms to heaven and called “Father Father”, than sank back on her bed and her spirit left this world. Evan as little child sitting on Aunt Annie’s lap, Virginia will never forget the scene. Words can describe the sadness and heartache for all the Wallis family, for the motherless children left, and especially for James Gilbert. For to James the light of his life had suddenly been extinguished, and although he had his little ones yet, his life was to be one of loneliness and sadness, of wandering and insecurity. It was certainly a grief-stricken man who came back from his dream of golden future, to a lonely little family, sad and lost. To Annie Maria Wallis, so recently bereft of her husband, the blow was more than she thought it humanly possible to bear. Again, as in the past, the strength and courage she had acquired during all those years of hardship and toil came to her rescue and she accepted the reasonability of rearing Hannah children. Annie never spared herself in her duty to the three children and for nearly twenty years she thought them how to sew, cook, and keep house. She loved them as a mother. Until the day of her death, October 16, 1914, just a few months before Virginia’s marriage, she never failed them. James too, was always mindful of his children and although he spent most of his time away in Nevada gold mining, or California or where ever his wanderings carried him, there was never a month passed that he didn’t send a check home to Annie to help care for his children. And how happy were the days when he could come home again to Mount Pleasant. And how proud Virginia and Kate were, as young women to “show off” their daddy to the dances and waltzed with that tall, handsome man that so many years before captured the heart of their mother. James was never able to find another love, for he had given himself completely to Hannah. And, even though, he did marry again in Nevada, he wasn’t happy so the marriage didn’t last long, and he contented himself with his travels, books, and family. Annie in her loving, motherly way trained the children well. Virginia had a flare for cooking, Kate for sewing. Annie, a master of both arts, instilled into her granddaughters good homemaking habits. Frank was a happy, jovial child with plenty of ideas about the best methods of teasing his sisters and getting into mischief. Annie made the children of these children a happy time and it was though her patience and loving care that the children grew and developed into fine men and women. She was strict in her discipline, both girls well remember how definite she was in the hour that they should be home, and also how firm she could be if they were not home at that appointed time and she had to go look for them. There are many incidents worthy of note during this period of rearing Hannah’s children, and it is our hope that those who read these pages will contribute what they remember of this devout woman. It has been said “ Loves! Labor lives after them” and it is true of Annie Maria Palmer Wallis, for as the patriarch promised her, she was truly a “mother to the motherless” and her life will always stand as an ideal of greatness in the hearts of those whom she mothered. Surly from struggles came strength, and from heartache and sorrow came tenderness and a mellowed sweetness of soul. Transcribed verbatim from the Book of Remembrance of with no corrections to grammar or spelling.