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History of Rebecca Ann Telford Wiser


Rebecca Ann Telford was born in Brigham City, Box Elder County, Utah on January 16, 1862, less than 15 years after the first Company reached the Salt Lake Valley. She is the daughter of John Telford and Elizabeth Robinson Telford, who were both early Utah Pioneers.

Her mother emigrated from England with her brother, leaving parents, family and friends, to face the perils of an unknown wilderness to cast her lot with the people of her faith. Her brother died on the plains from hunger and cold. She walked over 1,000 miles and pulled a handcart through the summer heat and winter blizzard and icy winds. She forded streams and rivers of slush ice, her clothes freezing on her. She was stalked by wolves and suffered from hunger and all the hardships endured by that courageous band, on what has since been described by historians as the most tragic journey in our pioneer history.

Her father emigrated from Ireland to Canada where he joined the L.D.S. Church, and moved to Kirtland just before the Saints were forced by threatening mobs to leave the City. He was mobbed, persecuted and driven in Ohio, Missouri and Illinois. When they were driven from Nauvoo and came to the trip West, he was Captain of "50" and while crossing the plains, they were attacked by Indians, who killed his fine black mare, surrounded his other horses and drove them away. He was fortunate in being able to buy oxen and one horse which he hitched with a cow. Thus he finished his weary trek to the Salt Lake Valley.

Rebecca was the third child in a family of nine children, three of whom died young. When she was three years of age, her parents old their farm in Brigham city, and returned to their home in Bountiful where she spent her childhood and grew to womanhood. Bountiful is the second oldest City in Utah.

Although Rebecca's childhood was spent under the trying conditions prevalent in Utah at that early time, she never knew want or privation, or lacked the best that the pioneer community afforded.

They owned only a small farm, but raised several kinds of grain, feed for all their stock, what for their flour, and all kinds of small fruit, as well as peacches, apples and plums. They always raised a good vegetable garden and had colonies of bees which provided them with plenty of honey. This, added to their eggs, butter and milk and the meat that was also raised on the farm gave them plenty and some to spare. Her mother always had the children well dressed as she was exceptionally good at sewing and dressmaking.

No one had much money at that time, but they learned to enjoy the simple pleasures and made the best of what they had. Rebecca had a happy childhood, and a variety of interests. As they lived only then miles from Salt Lake City, she had the opportunity of gong there quite often and enjoyed the better advantages of that larger community.

Rebecca was taught to love good books and the beauties of nature. Many happy days were spent in the canyons hiking and climbing and picnicking by her and her fiends. They also used to go bathing in Great Salt Lake during the summer as the lake was near their home at that early day. There was also a large pond on their farm and this provided pleasure and amusement both summer and winter. In the summer they went saling on home-made rafts and skated in the winter. The children of the neighbrhood gathered there, and built large bonfies and roasted artichokes, potatoes, corn and nuts in the ashes and ate their picnic around the campfire.

Dancing was enjoyed by both young and old. They tried, when Rebecca was young, to have their dances from 4 in the afternoon until 10 at night but they were never a success, for when the dance was over the young people wanted to finish the evening someplace else. Rebecca could remember when they held their dances all night and had midnight suppers, but she never attended them as she was only a child at that time. She attended afternoon dances when she was a young lady in Bountiful.

The only shows that they had were Panorama's. These sliding pictures where about 14 feet long and usually depicted early Church History. As the pictures were shown, a lecture was given on the history of the event, and the pictures were changed as the story progressed. Rebecca enjoyed these panoramas very much and looked forward to their coming.

At a later period, Dramatic Companies were organized. Rebecca always enjoyed the theater. She knew Brigham H. Roberts when he was a young man in Bountiful and, and took leading roles on the stage there. He was a member of the Dramatic Club and was a wonderful impersonator and she enjoyed his acting very much.

Rebecca's parents spent much time and effort to make their children happy and often took them and their friends on short trips, helped them plan and entertain their friends and encouraged them in all the harmless pleasures. They did not neglect to teach them to work and to take responsibility. Rebecca did her share of the simple household [chores such] as dishwashing and keeping the house neat and clean. She also learned to sew, to make good bread and do plain cooking, crochet and to knit. She made all her own underwear after she learned to sew a straight seam, and trimmed it all with the lace she had crocheted. She was her mother card her wool and spin it into yearn, make tallow candles and even piece quilts by the light of the fire.

Rebecca's main responsibility was the care of the younger children while her mother and older sister, Jane, were busy with the family sewing, and etc. Rebecca always loved children, and even when only a child herself, had the happy faculty of understanding them, and was able to keep them interested and happy. She amused them by the hour by telling them stories and entering into their simple games. She also went to Relief Society with her mother and took care of all the children during their meetings.

Rebecca's parents were very much interested in education, and they taught their children to read and write and do their numbers before they were old enough to go to school. The schools during Rebecca's earliest childhood were private or tuition schools and were held only for a short period of time so she got much of her education in her own home where the children were taught be their mother. She had these children study every day as long as they remained at home. This habit of spending a part of each day in reading or study always remained with Rebecca. The books she enjoyed the most as a child were poetry, ancient history and Bible Stories.

Anson V. Call was the District School Teacher when Rebecca finished the eighth grade and he also taught her in the ninth grade. He was a very good teacher and all the advanced High School work that she took was under him.

Rebecca remembered hearing about the big celebration at Ogden, March 8, 1869 at the completion of the Union Pacific Railway to that point. Also the excitement attending the completion of the Great Pacific Railroad by the Junction of the Union Pacific and the Central Pacific at Promontory, Utah, and the driving of the Golden Spike on May 10, 1869.

When the Utah Central Railroad was completed by the Mormons frog Ogden to Salt Lake City on January 10, 1870, just six days before her eighth birthday, she gathered in the yard with other members of the family, to see the first train go through Bountiful. A few years later, she went over this road on an excursion trip to Ogden with the Sunday School. She had one railroad trip to Cache Valley when she was about sixteen and visited with her sister, Anna Stoddard, at Richmond and her brother, John D. at Lewiston.

When Rebecca was fifteen, it was her privilege to attend the funeral service of President Brigham Young, September 2, 1877. He died on Wednesday August 29, 1877.

There was no Primary organization when Rebecca was a child, but she always attended Sunday School and Church on Sunday and also went to the Fast Meeting, which was held at that early time on a week day. Thursday was the day designated as Fast Day until President Woodruff attended the first Sunday Fast Day service held December 6, 1896, after more than 60 years of week day fast days. No meals were cooked in their homes on that day and all the children fasted.

There Sunday School used to be held in the afternoon and the Sacrament meeting in the morning. They later changed, and were more successful in getting the children to attend. In Sunday School classes they had a program every Sunday and read from the Bible. Every three months they took an examination on their past work. Rebecca usually had a recitation prepared for Sunday, or was asked for some other part on the program. She also took part in their one act plays and dialogues in Sunday School and sang with a small group of girls.

The first Primary Association was organized in the Church August 11, 1878 at Farmington when Rebecca was 16 years old, under the direction of Eliza R. Snow. The first President was Mrs. Aurelia S. Rogers, the originator of the idea. Mrs. Snow, however, was the one who gave the organization the name of Primary.

Rebecca belonged to the first organization of the Young Ladies Retrenchment Society, organized in Bountiful about 1871. This society was organized by Brigham Young among his own daughters in 1870 but was extended the next year to include other young women. In 1877, six years later, it became the Young Ladies Mutual Improvement Society, and Rebecca was a member of this society in Bountiful.

In June 1881, Rebecca moved to Lewiston with her parents where they lived for a year. Then they moved to Richmond where her parents remained permanently. Rebecca, however, lived there only three years. She was married to Samuel Frost Wiser at the L.D.S. Temple in Logan, Cache County, Utah, on October 23, 1884, her husbands birthday. They went to Logan in a lumber wagon, the usual mode of travel at that early time. It took [??] all day to go through the temple. It was real late that night when they reached Richmond. Then they went on to Lewiston the next day so Samuel could return to his work on the threshing machine the next morning. They threshed all fall and never finished until in December. Then Samuel went to the canyon and got out logs for their new home. He and his father laid the logs and the house was partially completed during the winter and was finished the next spring after the crops were in. Although it was only one room log house, to the young bride, it was a palace.

Rebecca and Samuel worked and planned for improvements, and when their first baby was born and only four months old, she began staying alone, doing the chores and taking care of the home while her husband worked in the canyon and saw mill, until he had enough lumber for a new frame home.

Rebecca cooked for threshers, moving beds out to make room for the large tables, and cooked 13 meals in succession. They always had from 15 to 25 men to cook for.

Once word was late reaching her that she was going to have the threshers for breakfast in Cornish. She didn't have any preparations made and was alone with the children. She got up in the middle of the night, cut wood, borrowed dishes, cooked breakfast and had it packed and in Cornish at four A.M. These men had to work every daylight hour on those horse powered machines in order to get the grain threshed before the winter blizzards set in.

One fall the Wiser machine was so busy and they had promised their grain to the buyer so they had to get a machine from Preston. There were 25 men in the crew and they had to move the stove outside to cook so there was room enough for the men at the tables. The wind blew and the sand got in their food and they had a terrible time getting the meals.

Rebecca was left with the care and responsibility of her family three times while her husband went into the Mission Field. The first time she had six small children. Her oldest boy was only nine years old and she had to help the children milk the cows and supervise the other chores as well as do her housework. The second Mission she had nine children, the youngest only three months old, but the boys were then old enough to take the responsibility of the farm work.

We can imagine some of the things she went through during this time and she always worked in the Church.

She witnessed all the changes from pioneer conditions to modern conveniences, and she enjoyed all the pioneer pleasures. Twice Rebecca and Samuel went to Yellowstone Park in a "Ludlow" taking a month for the journey. Later they made the same tour in an automobile making the trip in about ten days. Later they visited other Parks in Wyoming, Idaho, Utah and in the Grand Canyon in Colorado. They traveled by private by private car to Mexico and to Canada and they had been in 25 States. They went to the Pacific Ocean and to the Atlantic Coast, passing over the old Mormon Trail. They visited all the places of interest in early Church history in Ohio, Illinois and New York. Rebecca said she would never forget the thrill she felt in those places, all sacred to the Mormon people. They visited the World's Fair at Treasure Island and saw the marvelous achievements of man depicted by pageantry from Pioneer times. They had the pleasure of flying in an airplane at the opening of the Logan Airport.

Although not an early pioneer of Lewiston (the town was ten years old when she came there as a bride) she spent the remainder of her life there. She served under every Relief Society President who had presided over the Lewiston First Ward and under every Bishop. She was always willing to do what was asked of her in the Church and in the Community and she had many Church and Civic positions.

She was a member of the Lewiston choir for thirty years, a visiting teacher for 28 years and over 14 years as a class leader in the Relief Society where she taught "Beauty in Nature." Here she taught many to see and find for themselves these beauties. She taught theology for 14 years. She was an officer in the first organization of "The Service Star Mothers" which was organized in Logan soon after the war as two of her sons went to war. She was a member of the Daughters of Utah Pioneers and many times was asked to represent them as their Queen on their floats for the Lewiston celebration. She made a lovely picture with her beautiful white hair, her twinkling ever youthful eyes, and dignified bearing. She was always cheerful and pleasant to be with and her friends were many.

Rebecca received wonderful training from her mother and father and had a happy faculty of passing on to her own children the wonderful lessons that she had learned so well. She was always cheerful and happy and would sing about her work. She never knew defeat and always said that whatever anyone else could do, she could at least try. She always looked for the good qualities in everyone and could analize[sic] their characteristics almost at a glance. She possessed courage, integrity and all the characteristics invaluable in facing and overcoming difficulties. She always wanted to be more ???????? ????? and was willing to meet people more than half way. Sympathy and tolerance were the keynote of her existence. She was a woman of courage and understanding and a lover of the beauties of nature.

Rebecca was truly a worthy daughter of her pioneer parents. She was a devoted mother and always worked in harmony with her husband and helped him in every way she could to meet the obligations of life. They worked and planned together to insure for their children every opportunity for education, etc. that their circumstances and finances permitted. In all their business dealings, they never once failed to make their payments when they fell due.

Rebecca was the mother of nine children, who revere her as one of God's choicest handmaidens as she contributed much to the world and her influence is still widely felt in the Lewiston Community. She passed away January 7, 1954 in Lewiston, Utah. She would have been 92 years old on January 16th.

From a history of unknown origin in the possession of Robert S. Raymond, ggrandson of Rebecca Ann Telford Wiser. Rebecca's first child, Effie Lenore Wiser was active in family history so one might suppose that she is the author of this history. Monday, 27-Jan-2003 21:45:33 MST