An Account of my Great Grandfather and Grandmother, Joseph Bagnall, (1839-1920) and his wife, Sarah Ann Frobisher Bagnall (1841-1913), Brave Mormon Pioneers.
Attached please find a new twelve page account of my great grandparents lives. It is a much expanded and corrected account. As an historian at Palomar College, I have had the advantage of newly found sources. I hope you will accept the update and corrections.
Joseph A. Bagnall
|Joseph A. Bagnall|
The descendants of these brave pioneers extend throughout the United States, and there are many living contemporaries who have their blood coursing in their veins. We all owe an enormous debt of gratitude to Joseph and Sarah Ann for our very lives.
Joseph Bagnall, Mormon pioneer, was born in Wakefield, England on December 27, 1839. He was the son of George Bagnall, an illiterate moulder in an iron foundry who listed his place of employment as his residence. George married Ann Rawling. She gave birth, according to Joseph’s birth certificate, at the iron foundry.
George was born in 1804, in Fall Ing, Sandal Magna, Wakefield. He died at age 55 in Heath. The death certificate indicates that the cause of death was Phthisis. (At the time this term meant tuberculosis of the lungs). Ann Rawling was born in 1812, baptized October 25, 1812, in Crofton, Wakefield, was baptized in the LDS faith in 1854, died at age 43, and was buried April 30, 1856, in Crofton, Wakefield.
Joseph had an older brother, Thomas William Bagnall, who was born in 1838 in Fall Ing, Sandal Magna, Wakefield. In 1858 he married Emma Hulse. He passed away in 1874 in Hemsworth, Yorks.
A younger brother, George Robert Bagnall was born April 6, 1842, and was baptized April 7, 1844, in Crofton, Wakefield
.joseph had two sisters. Emma Bagnall was born January 30 1844 and baptized April 7, 1844, in Crofton. Emma died at age 20 and was buried September 8, 1864, in Crofton. Susannah Bagnall was born January 8, 1849 in Heath, Wakefield and baptized October 27, 1849 in Crofton. The record of her death is missing.
James Rawling Bagnall was born July 29, 1851, in Heath, Wakefield and was baptized October, 1851 in Crofton. He was married in 1884 to Mary Jane Dyson. This couple followed the example set by Joseph and Sarah Ann. They came to Utah, settled in Colton, Utah, lost two children in a fire, and returned to England where they had four more children.
How did an illiterate iron foundry worker support a family of this size? How did the mother of all these children manage her household? The record shows that she bore James Rawling just five years before her death!!
Joseph, beginning at age 12, apprenticed in a trade. He was a skilled stone cutter. He worked in England until the mid 1860s and knew his brothers and sisters well. He learned to read and write although there is no record of attendance at school. On his 25th birthday, December 27, 1864, Joseph married Sarah Ann Frobisher in Wakefield. She was the daughter of Thomas Frobisher, who was a shoemaker by trade, and Ann Cookson.
The following was taken from the only material that remains of Joseph Bagnall’s diary: My mother, Ann Rawling Bagnall was baptized into the (LDS) church about 1854 and died of childbirth in 1856. I had attended the Latter Day Saint meetings with her, but I did not attend any meetings after her death, until the first part of January in 1862. I was baptized (LDS) on the 10th of February 1862, by George Harston, and confirmed by William Firth, President of the Wakefield branch. …
I attended to my prayers and paid my tithing every week and attended to all duties required of my hands. I also commenced to place a part of my weekly earnings in the Emigration Fund at Liverpool, so that by the spring of 1865, I had enough to pay mine and my wife’s emigration to Salt Lake City….
Sarah Ann Frobisher and my sister Emma were baptized by George Harston, in April 1862. Sarah Ann was confirmed by Joseph F. Smith and Emma by William Firth. My sister Emma died on the 6th of September, 1864.
(Sarah Ann and I) left home on the 27th of April 1865, for Liverpool, and sailed on the 29th, a Saturday afternoon. We had a pretty fair time aboard ship. Sarah Ann was sick most of the way across. We were crowded with about seven hundred passengers on board. We were a month on the voyage, and landed in New York on the first of June 1865. We were kept from landing one day on account of a general fast and a day of mourning because of the assassination of President Lincoln.
After we landed we were detained five days on account of poor railroad accommodations. After we got started we went first to Albany, then to Montreal in Canada. We saw Niagara Falls. From Montreal we went to Detroit, to Chicago, to Quincy, and from there to St Joseph, Missouri. We traveled up the Missouri River on a steamboat to a landing called Wyoming, forty miles below Omaha. We had to stay there ten weeks. There was much sickness and quite a number died. Sarah Ann, my wife…” (end of Joseph’s account. Source: The Bagnall Family History by Florence N. Bagnall)
The details in regard to the ship and the voyage, described by Joseph (above), are corroborated for the most part, and expanded and illuminated, in Document number 228 in the records of Ancestery.com: The Belle Wood was an American clipper ship built by George Greenman and company at Mystic, Connecticut. She operated for a time in the Brigham line, but during the Civil War, when Yankee shipping lines were in jeopardy, the Belle Wood was sold to the British firm Williams and Guion of Liverpool.
|Sarah Ann and Joseph sailed on the Belle Wood, leaving Liverpool on April 29, 1865, and arriving in New York on June 1, 1865.|
It was the afternoon of 29 April 1865 and Captain Thomas William Freeman cleared the Belle Wood from Liverpool Harbor and moved down the River Mersey. For the next thirty-two days he made every effort to make the voyage pleasant for the 636 Mormon passengers. Presiding over these Saints were Elder William H. Shearman and his counselers, Elders Charles B. Taylor and William S. S. Willes. There were also returning missionaries: Frederick w. Cox, Edmund F. Bird, George Simms, George W. Grant, Miles P. Romney , Robert Pixton, Alfred Lee, and Mathew Lyon. The crossing to America was described as “prosperous”, and the one reported death was of a child.
The Mormons were organized into nine wards aboard ship. There was also at least one romance. On shipboard, Martha Burrows, a twenty-six year old spinster who had paid three pounds eighteen shillings for her fare, met returning missionary Charles Barber Taylor and later married him.
During the first few days seasickness was so prevalent no meetings were held. However, a “female Sanitary Committee” was promptly appointed to help care for the sick, aged and feeble. They dispensed sego, tapioca, arrowroot, hot tea, coffee, soup, boiled rice and dried apple sauce, and other items that proved nutritious to the sick and the infirm. Captain Freeman permitted these special items to be prepared in his own galley at an earlier time than his own scheduled meals. In addition it was possible to provide “three good meals a day.”
Captain Freeman also cooperated in arrangements for religious services on the quarterdeck. The Mate, a man named Gravestone, prepared a pulpit by spreading the Union Jack on the harness cask and arranging seats for the Elders. One half hour before the meeting the ship’s bell tolled. The Captain, his officers, and crew members joined in the meeting and “paid marked attention.” The ship’s officers maintained the strictest order and decorum among the crew. At these meetings, the sacrament was administered, sermons were delivered and hymns were sung.
There were also social activities. A recreation program featured musicals with a small brass band, group and individual singing, skits, and readings. Even a newspaper, The Belle Wood Gazette, was published and edited by George Sims. It carried announcements, health reports, notices of stolen property, poetry, essays, editorials, and instructions. These planned events did much to keep morale high and materially contributed to a successful voyage.
The ship arrived in New York on May 31, 1865. The Emigrants were detained at Castle Garden until the 6th of June while suitable rail transportation was arranged.
We note that in Joseph’s account of the sea voyage, he makes reference to almost seven hundred passengers and he says they were crowded. He also says that Sarah Ann was sick most of the way. Why did the Belle Wood carry just 389 passengers on its December 12, 1863 voyage from Liverpool to New York? Was that the normal passenger load? Why were there so many people on its 1865 voyage? Why did the Captain make special note of trying to do everything to make 636 Mormon passengers comfortable? How were sleeping arrangements maintained? How were living quarters assigned? How much privacy was there? And finally, how did Sarah Ann cope with seasickness for a month, with her spare frame of less than 100 pounds?
The circuitous railroad journey described in Joseph’s diary (via Canada, Michigan, Illinois, and on to Wyoming, Nebraska, was the “suitable rail transportation” that was arranged. The last leg of this tour was by steamboat on the Missouri river where over 600 Mormons came ashore to find (according to pioneer Merlin Eastman’s account) nothing but a storm cellar. There was nothing in this storm cellar, so the Saints bedded down on a dirt floor, and spent the next ten weeks in Wyoming, Nebraska, plagued by sickness and death.
At Wyoming, Nebraska, over 600 Mormons were divided into a few covered wagon trains. Covered wagons and ox teams had to be purchased in Omaha and the surrounding area, and then came the problems connected with stocking and preparing their wagons for the long journey to Salt Lake City. As part of the finalized arrangements for the Henson Walker Company, there were 10 “merchant wagons” that were added to the company, no doubt stocked with basic supplies.
Under the headline “Captain Henson Walker’s Company,” there was a brief notice published in the Salt Lake City Deseret News Weekly, September 20, 1865. It stated “Captain Henson Walker’s Company started from Wyoming (Nebraska) August 12, 1865.” This simple line was followed by a list of about 200 people in 50 covered wagons. Included in the list was “Joseph Bagnal (sic) and wife.” In later years the LDS Church Library was more specific, listing Joseph Bagnall, age 25, and Sarah Ann Frobisher Bagnall, age 24, as part of the Henson Walker Company.
According to Merlin Eastham, the Walker Company did not see an Indian, but they were warned about the danger of Indian raids. They were told of a raid on a Danish covered wagon train near the Platte River, just three miles from Laramie, Wyoming. The Indians stole a woman, and when her husband tried to rescue her, they shot seven arrows into him. The man survived and arrived in Salt Lake City, but he never saw his wife again.
The trail was a jolting, jarring, sometimes hot and sometimes cold, very dusty, and in turn muddy experience. Death and sickness had plagued the care-worn, grim-faced pioneers of the Henson Walker Company as they arrived in the Salt Lake Valley on November 9 , 1865. The last part of the trip through Emigration Canyon probably involved traveling through snow.
Was there a feeling of triumph and elation when they arrived? Did they feel a sense of security in their new surroundings? How and where were they housed? It couldn’t have been an entirely happy event when, within a month, Joseph and Sarah Ann were called to move one hundred miles south to a hamlet called Moroni. As this happened, how many of their trail companions remained in the Salt Lake valley? How many relationships were broken? How did they feel about shaping their personal future in a remote area called Moroni? What was it like to move in a covered wagon, drawn by oxen, to a remote hamlet in the dead of winter?
|John F. Bagnall|
But for the parents of the Bagnall Brothers, there was more heartache and hardship. Ann Bagnall was born May 26, 1875. She died March 14, 1876, in Moroni. At this juncture, Joseph and Sarah Ann and their two sons moved five miles south to Chester, Utah. There is no information on their new home in Chester, but it was probably a log cabin. At any rate, John F. Bagnall, was born in Chester, Utah, on June 14, 1877. He lived to be 15 years old and was a happy lad who loved horses. He died November 3, 1892, of an “infection.” It seems an anomaly, but in the rustic, frontier setting of Chester, Utah, we have a handsome studio portrait of John F. Bagnall.
John F. spent the last three years of his life in a spacious stone house built by his father, Joseph, the stonecutter. The house, pictured below, was completed in 1889. This date was cut into the arch stone over the doorway.
Erected 1899 in Chester, Utah. Left to right: Horses May and Ben, Andy Rasmussen, William H. Bagnall, son of Joseph and Sarah Ann Bagnall, Sarah Ann Bagnall, Joseph Bagnall, dog Bruin (fierce), and Horse Maud hitched to the buggy. Missing from the picture was Joseph Frobisher Bagnall, son of Joseph and Sarah Ann.
The Bagnall House.
Water for this home was obtained from an old fashioned well that was plumbed into a kitchen pump. The pump had to be primed with water in order to create a vacuum and initiate the flow.
The house had a parlor with a fireplace, a family organ, a dresser with a marble top and a large mirror. The cellar below was stocked with preserved food supplies.
As a small boy, in about 1938, I (Joseph A. Bagnall) remember exploring the remnants of the old stone house. I recall warm burgundy colors in what must have been the parlor.
When the house fell into a pile of rubble, about a century later, Mildred Bagnall Peterson, granddaughter of Joseph and Sarah Ann, took the arch stone and buried it, with the face and the date visible to all who visited their home in Moroni, Utah.
Joseph and Sara Ann: A Closer Look
My father, Joseph R. Bagnall, knew his grandfather and grandmother well. According to his account of their lives, published in the Bagnall Family History, we glean the following:
Joseph was small of stature, measuring 5 foot 4 inches, and in his middle to late years, he was heavy. He had clear, blue eyes, a prominent forehead, a cheerful countenance, and he gave one a feeling of forthrightness and honesty. It seems he did not ride horses, but as a young man he traveled by buggy, frequently to Salina, and many times to Manti, Utah, about thirty miles south, where he cut stones for the Manti Temple. He also cut stones for a building that served as the Chester School and community church. I (Joseph A.) remember attending church services in this building in the 1930s. It was still in place in the early 1980s, when it was discovered standing bravely alone, fighting a losing battle against the elements. An architect from Salt Lake City took the building down, carefully numbering and categorizing all of its parts. He transported the building to Spring City, Utah, about seven miles away and reassembled it for his private summer residence. Joseph’s work still lives, in its original splendor, in the marvelous setting of Spring City, a Utah town where most of the old stone houses are listed on the National Historic Register.
In addition to his own stone house, the community school/church, and the Manti Temple, Joseph also cut stone for the St. George Temple, which was hundreds of miles south of Chester, Utah. He spent extended periods away from home doing this work.
Three generations of Bagnall men. Left to right: Joseph Bagnall, Mormon pioneer; Joseph Rodley Bagnall, grandson; and Joseph Frobisher Bagnall, son. Picture taken about 1903.
When he was at home, Joseph ran a small, one-room, community store. He stocked a few groceries, lard, coal oil for lamps, cloth and a few sundries. According to my father he had a warm and generous heart. He extended so much “tic” (credit) that the store was unprofitable. His sons, Joseph Frobisher and William Henry (Joe and Will) were doing well with their Bagnall Brothers livestock enterprise and were therefore called upon to re-establish their father’s credit with the merchandising houses that were supplying goods for the store. Joe and Will soon terminated this arrangement and the store failed.
Joseph was at once then, a stone cutter, a failed merchant, a farmer who planted a garden and raised hogs, a butcher who produced tasty ham and sausages, and a man who could preserve his meat with a process involving brine and a smoke house.
He was also a musician who played the fiddle at youth dances and social events, and he owned an organ, which he kept in his home. After taking lessons from Mr. Hasler in Mt. Pleasant, he amused himself and others with organ concerts featuring simple tunes. When he wasn’t playing music in public, he was a chorister in the church that he built, or he was just entertaining himself, humming and tapping his toe or singing a little tune.
In addition to his community service as a builder, he served as a school trustee in Chester for 15 years and a first counselor to Bishop Christensen for 14 years.
Near his handsome stone home, he built a shed that Sarah Ann called his “Smithy Shop.” It was constructed of three walls made of logs on the north, south, and west side. It was open on the east side. The top had pole rafters. Brush was thrown on the pole rafters, and dirt was thrown on top of the brush. Under this shed, he had an old fashioned wood and leather bellows. The bellows were pumped by a small pole that was hung from a wooden cross piece. Pulling the pole downward would cause the bellows to hiss and sigh and fill up with air. The air was then forced under pressure through a cast iron pipe to the bottom of a hissing, blazing, fire. The fire was used to heat metals to a temperature where they could be twisted, bent, and pounded into shape on his anvil.
In later years Joseph’s equipment was housed in a red blacksmith shop next to his son, Joseph Frobisher Bagnall’s ranch home, where it served in a new atmosphere of a large anvil, vises, grind stones, and welding equipment. It was a functional part of the Bagnall ranch where broken farm machinery was repaired well into the 1950’s.
Joseph was a creative person. His tools, other than his vise and his anvil, were made right in his shop. His tongs, pliers, awls, etc. etc. were fashioned by himself. He also made a surveying instrument from a piece of flat tin and two small lamp chimneys. He fashioned the tin into four pieces of pipe. One pipe was about three feet long. Three more pipes were about six inches long. Two of the six inch pipes were soldered at right angles to the three foot pipe. They both pointed in the same direction. The third six inch pipe was soldered in the center, but it pointed in the opposite direction. Small lamp chimneys were then sealed to the pipes on the ends, with white lead, and a wooden handle was inserted into the center pipe.
Joseph could then pour water into the lamp chimneys and determine a level line over land or a building. He used this equipment to run a levee across one piece of his ground to get water to his neighbor’s land. The levee is still in use today, more than 130 years after he “surveyed” it.
From the contemporary accounts of his grandson, Joseph Rodley; my paternal grandmother, Hannah Christensen Bagnall; and a number of granddaughters who were also the daughters of William Henry, the following image of Joseph emerges:
He was intellectually curious. He subscribed to Joseph Pulitzer’s New York World, a Democratic newspaper that became the chief rival of William Randolph Hearst’s New York Journal in the famous circulation wars near the beginning of the 20th Century. He also subscribed to a London paper and the regional Deseret News. According to Joseph Rodley, he would read all of these papers carefully, fold them up, put them away, and then take them out and read them again.
Hannah Christensen Bagnall told me of his love affair with books. She described him reading Mark Twain’s books and commentary. On one occasion, she said he was laughing until the tears rolled down his face.
He was a lifelong Democrat who argued politics with his son Joseph Frobisher, whom he called a “Mutton Republican.” Joseph Rodley witnessed these arguments and wrote “Grandfather was at one side of the table and my father was at the other side, each talking at the top of his voice… At the strategic time, mother would approach the table and say. Now! I think that you have both said about enough. Let’s drop this matter right here!” Grandfather would go to his room and Father would go saddle up his horse and ride out to inspect the cattle and the ranch. After a short period, Grandfather would come out of his room, humming a tune. Father would return and report to grandfather on the condition of the livestock and the ranch. All was serene and calm, but neither man ever budged or compromised his basic beliefs. In the early 1920s, Joseph F. served as a conservative Republican in the Utah State legislature.
He was the butt of many family jokes. Joseph R. has chronicled a few occasions where his grandfather was traveling in his buggy and had carelessly draped the reins, out of hand, on a post in the buggy. He would be oblivious to the responsibilities of keeping control of his horse. His mind was on a political issue or a world event, or something else in his broad range of interests, when something on the road would trigger a runaway. At least three times “grandpa” had to be rescued and his buggy had to be repaired. Many of his grandchildren also tell stories about playfully calling him ”Dumpsy,” hiding his walking cane, and engaging in light-hearted banter with this fun loving man.
In old age he became absent minded, often in a world of his own, perhaps more stimulating and inspiring than the real world around him.
He actively pursued the ideal of contentment. In the grim atmosphere of the frontier, with the challenges of snakes, bugs, flies, infant mortality, sickness and death, he chose to be of good cheer. After the death of his wife, Sarah Ann, he was old and infirm, living with his son, Joseph F., and his wife, Hannah, engaging in heated political debates, and having serious discussions about values and goals. He told “Joey” and Hannah that he had never wanted to be wealthy. He suggested that they had become too acquisitive and warned that the day would come when regulation and taxes would stifle the free atmosphere of the open range. His advice to his son and daughter-in-law was to seek enough material things to live comfortably and then enjoy life.
He was spiritually attuned. In Joseph Bagnall’s last days, which were spent in his son’s home, he huddled with the next two generations of Bagnall men and his daughter-in-law-for morning and evening prayers. The grandson, Joseph R., writes of the occasion. “Grandfather took his turn (leading the prayer), and it was (always) a testimony to his faith in a living God and to the truthfulness of the gospel for which he and grandmother left old England… His prayers came from the heart, full of gratitude and thanksgiving for his family, food, clothes, and all other blessings…He always asked that he might be blessed with a contented heart…It was thrilling to hear him pray.”
Joseph’s wife Sarah Ann was petite, wiry and thin, with dark hair, hazel eyes, thick brows and a distinctive square jaw. She had a direct, brusque manner and she cried easily and often.
She was seasick for most of the voyage to America. The hardships of travel were overwhelming. The trauma of giving birth to six children was difficult, but the experience of losing four of them in death was devastating. She verbally yearned for her home in England constantly.
Sarah Ann Frobisher Bagnall
Sarah Ann Frobisher Bagnall
Sara Ann died at age 72, in 1913. Joseph passed away at age 81 in 1920. They are buried in the Moroni, Utah cemetery. There is a tall twin-towered headstone that marks the spot. The headstone stands in virtual isolation in the old part of the cemetery. It is surrounded by a wide expanse of well - kept lawn. The reason for this arrangement is that they are buried in the area with their pioneer friends. This section of the cemetery was, for the most part, simply marked. Over the years the wooden caskets and bodies have disintegrated and are not detectable with modern sensing devices; and many of the markers have wasted away. A beautiful lawn covers what is left underground and the Bagnall monument stands in splendid isolationism, a magnificent tribute to my great grandparents, in a revered and sacred spot.