Sunday, July 25, 2010


Yesterday was Pioneer Day. It is the day we celebrate when the Mormon Pioneers entered the Salt Lake Valley. I had a lot of Pioneer ancestors. They were all brave and courageous people. I could not cross the plains in a covered wagon, my idea of roughing it is a hotel without a refrigerator and microwave. I decided to share the story of one of my ancestors, who sacrificed a lot for the gospel.

Ann Smith Cottam was born in Chatburn Yorkshire England on February 18 1824.
She was converted to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and was baptized March 14 1838 This is the year in which the gospel was taken to Great Britain.
In 1843 at the time she was a little over 18 years of age she met a young man by the name of  John Cottam also a member of the Church. Soon after this they were married.
They left for America in 1845 accompanied by a young son William who was born in West Bradford on February 12 1844.
 They first went to Nauvoo where in 1846 a daughter Katherine was born She died in infancy and was buried in Nauvoo.
Ann and her young husband John were driven from Nauvoo in the exodus but in as much as they didn't have sufficient money to finance the journey across the plains they drifted
to Kanesville Missouri in search of work Here a son Smith was born His frail little body could not endure the rigors of pioneer life he died at an early age.
This young couple with their little son William located in St Louis Ann gave birth in 1850 to another son who was named Thomas. While in St Louis they were forced to eat much coarse corn meal. As there was little or no shortening for the corn cakes they had to be dug out of the pans. From this one can readily understand how difficult it was to eat this diet and it gave many of the saints,including the Cottam family what was then known as the bloody flux or bleeding of the bowels.
The father worked for some wheat flour This was made into biscuits which in time relieved the condition from which they were suffering.  He was so thankful for this wheat flour which relieved the suffering of his family that he wept.
For the next two years John Cottam worked on the flat boats on the river as he could find no work in the mills as a wood turner. Ann supplemented their income by working long days in a sail factory. She had to leave William who was only about six years of age alone all day with his baby brother. At noon time she would come home to get them something to eat.
William remembered well being left alone and how a playmate gave him a trinket to play with he took the trinket home. When his mother found he had something which didn't belong to him she explained he must take it back as it was not honest to bring things home. He rebelled, but she took him back and insisted on his returning the article. He never forgot this and  told the story to his own children and grandchildren to impress upon them the lesson in honesty.
At the end of two years after John and Ann had both worked very hard they had sufficient money to outfit themselves for the trip to the West. They started with a wagon two
yoke of oxen, four cows, bedding clothes and food.

About September 1852 they arrived in the Salt Lake Valley where they located their home on the northwest corner of North Temple and Fifth West streets. They built a comfortable two story home with a barn a work-shop and out buildings John was an excellent cabinet maker he soon established a fine business making tables chairs columns and balustrades.
Their home was comfortable and their life happy.
At that time City Creek flowed down North Temple passing the south side of their property.
In the spring the floods did considerable damage to the property so his young sons hauled cobble rocks from the canyons and together they built a strong rock wall.  The
neighborhood boys spent many happy hours on this wall because with its flat board top it was a convenient place to sit.  All around this street corner were box elder trees and in a few years the shade was very pleasant on hot summer days In later years when many of the boys who
played there were grown to manhood they would relate how happy they had been because they were made so welcome by Sister Cottam's kindnesses.
All went well and Ann was very happy except for the fact that many of their beautiful children died. After arriving in Salt Lake City she gave birth to the following children:
*John born in 1853
*Alma 1855
*Heber 1858
*Hyrum 1861
*Albert 1863
*Ann 1865
*Daniel 1867
*another son named John was born in 1868
*a baby boy who died a day or so after birth
William, Alma and Heber were raised to manhood. Hyrum was the victim of a peculiar  accident when he was hit in the head by a rock thrown by a playmate. He suffered intense pain for 13 weeks passing away just one month after his 13 birthday. Ten of her thirteen children died which saddened the family.
In the year 1864 Ann gave her consent for her husband
to marry a second wife Mary Ried. An addition to the house was built.
After several years Ann's health began to fail and for
many years she suffered  intensely. Matrimonial difficulties crowned her life and she, finally sought her freedom in the courts, being awarded divorce and her rightful share of the property.  She rented part of the home she was given and retained only enough for herself and her youngest living son Heber.
Because she failed to consult Frederick Kessler, the
bishop of the ward he cut her off the church, stating that when she asked forgiveness in fast meeting she would be reinstated. She told him that she had committed no sin that she still believed in and kept the principles of the gospel and she would not do as he asked.
She sang alto in the Tabernacle choir for many years. Many times she testified to her family that she knew the gospel was true and she remained firm in her faith to the last.
The following is quoted from a copy of her Patriarchal Blessing we found in her Bible:
" Your pathway shall shine brighter and brighter ever until the perfect day. You shall be able to
comprehend the principles of the kingdom and be a blessing to your father's house and blessing to all you are associated with and inasmuch as you desire to do good no good thing shall be held from you.  I seal upon you the blessing of life and of health and say under all difficult circumstances which you may have to pass through, the angels of mercy shall be with you and the angels of health will administer unto you. Wicked men or devils never shall never have
power over you.  The fostering hand of your Heavenly Father shall be over you continually and your guardian angel shall lead you forth in the paths of truth and righteousness and your heart shall rejoice and you shall live on the Earth as long as life is sweet unto you and have power to
fill up the measure of your creation with usefulness. The blessings of many shall rest upon your head in consequence of your firmness and perseverance."
 This blessing was given in Salt Lake City 26 October 1862 by John Young.
Shortly before her death she worried because she owed someone for a sack of salt.
She told her oldest son, that if he would take the money to the person she owed it to, that all her debts would be paid and she would owe no one.
Some ten or fifteen years after her death the unjustness of the excommunication of this noble woman was investigated by President Joseph F Smith and his permission was given to have her temple work done, thereby restoring her rights This work was done in the St George Temple through the efforts of William E Thompson a temple worker, and a dear friend of the family.
Ann Smith Cottam died in Salt Lake City Utah January 2 1890 of cancer The writer of this
history remembers very well several dear friends of this good woman who testified many times of her kindness, her courage, her patience and her devotion to her remaining sons and their families.
Written by Alice Cottam Bishop, granddaughter of Ann Smith Cottam.


Jenny said...

What an amazing story!

Anita Cramer Wells said...

I'm also descended from John, but through his third wife Anna's daughter Charlotte. Our histories don't mention his divorce from Ann at all! How interesting what gets passed down.
I just featured his dad today on my blog: