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Saturday, April 3, 2010

Annie Margaret Harris - by Fanny Spencer Searcy

Annie Margaret Harris 4 Aug 1861 – 23 Apr 1931

My mother's father was George Harris of England. Her mother, Margaret Daily, was a working girl of Ireland. Mother was their oldest child. She was one of a family of ten children. Grandfather was one of the Royal Guards for Queen Victoria and occupied one of the cottages in the barracks of Buckingham Palace. He brought grandmother as a bride to the cottage in 1860, and my mother was born the following year, 1861, in the cottage, August 4, 1861 being her birthday. When grandfather was courting grandmother, I have heard him tell that one night he was going to see her, and a London fog came up, and it was so dense he ran into an iron lamp post and broke one of his front teeth. He always called it his “Sparking Tooth.”

Mother was blessed in 1863 by William Leek and baptized September 8, 1877 by William Rex of Randolph, Utah. My grandfather came over from England as a soldier of the Fifth Company and landed in Canada. He came to the United States the following year and settled in Pennsylvania, where he worked in the coal mines for five years. He came to Utah in 1868.

While coming to Utah my mother's little brother, Johnny got sick with Dysentery, and the night he died grandmother sat in the wagon with him, and had the last tallow candle to see with. Along in the night it had all burned up, and the only way she had to tell that he had died was when he was getting cold. She called my grandfather and told him that she believed he had gone. The next morning the Captain sent my grandfather and another man ahead to find a place and dig the grave along the way. When the wagons got to where they had dug, they handed out the Child, wrapped in grandmother's big brown shawl, and then traveled on. Grandfather and the other man had to catch up with them later. They did not let them stop because the Indians were so bad and the Captain was afraid to leave one wagon there. The place he was buried was near where Coalville now is.

When they came they went to Ogden, and as a child, mother went along the foot hills of Ogden and gathered the Sago roots for food. Then they went from there to Almy, Wyoming, where grandfather worked in the coal mines. Then they went from there to Randolph, Utah, where grandfather bought a small ranch and had some cattle. While living here, he was called to work on the Logan Temple to quarry the rock. While he was at work, my grandmother and the children had to take care of the ranch and cattle. That winter they had to draw water from a well to water the stock. Through exposure and cold, grandmother developed pneumonia and died. At this time my mother was working to help support the family.

While working for a Mrs. Spencer one day, cleaning cupboards, Mrs. Spencer asked my mother if she would not like to marry in polygamy with her husband, Orson John Spencer, as he was thinking of taking another wife, and she would rather it be her than anyone else. At first mother was surprised and didn't take it seriously. But after due consideration, and much against the wishes of her parents, she consented. They had to come to Salt Lake to the Endowment House to be married. They were accompanied by Mrs. Spencer, and it took three weeks to make the trip by wagon and team. They were married on October 12, 1878.

She lived with the family for a year or two; then she wanted a home of her own, and her first little home was two blocks from the other family. It was built on part of the farm where her first baby was born four years after she had married. Later on, mother moved to a ranch Dad had bought and with the help of one of the first wife’s boys, who was about sixteen, she would milk about thirty cows and live there in the summer-time. While she lived here, I was born, being her fifth child. About this time, they were waging war on the polygamists. My mother moved from Utah to Almy, Wyoming to be out of the state. Father evaded them as much as possible and after finishing his fall work, he gave himself up and was sentenced to six months in the State Penitentiary. While he was in there, mother gave birth to her sixth child, her first son.

Father was always proud of his having served time for my mother, and used to tell about it much to the embarrassment of the family. My mother was always tall and slender when she was young, and became real fleshy as she grew older. One day as father, mother and I were leaving the Tabernacle, a tall man leaned over and touched Dad on the shoulder and said, "Aren't you John Spencer?" Dad said, "That is my name." The man said, "Do you know me?” and Dad said, "No, I don't think I have ever seen you before." The man said, "I fed hogs and you fed horses up at the pen in ’89.” Then Dad remembered him, and they talked a little. Then Dad put his arm around mother and said "This is the little girl I served time for," and mother weighed at this time about 225 lbs. The crowd there had a good laugh, much to my embarrassment.

The first wife died when mother's baby boy was a year old and mother left her little home and took her six children and moved to the big new home which had just been built and cared for the six motherless children that were left. Mother felt this very keenly, as it had doubled her family. Her burdens were made much lighter by the help of father’s mother, who used to do almost all the sewing, and also when we had extra work, such as threshing and sickness. She was always there to help is she was needed for weeks at a time. My mother had sixteen children, ten girls and six boys. She had a very charitable nature, giving to the poor or anyone who needed help. I can always remember her going to take something to widows, orphans and the sick. She never liked anyone to know what she did. She was praised before and since her death, very highly for her charitable deeds and it has often been said, "She was an Angel in disguise." Her favorite song was. "Have I Done Any Good in the World Today?”

Mother had several great trials during her life; the death of her husband on November 28, 1916, leaving her financially well fixed, but with five children who were not yet married. Less than six months later she lost a son, Jeddiah, who had to come home from his mission because of ill health. He died at the age of twenty-two. Shortly after this a daughter, Hannah Miller, passed away. Mother felt this very keenly because she had depended on her for much needed help in caring for her family.

The last three years of mother's life were spent with a second husband, Hyrum J. Norris, Sr.

Mother died at Brigham City, Utah on April 23, 1931 at the age of seventy and was buried in the family plot at Randolph, Utah. She left a large posterity to mourn her loving memory.

Source: DUP record written by Fanny Spencer Searcy

1 comment:

  1. My great great grandfather was Samuel Daily Harris, Annie's brother. This story and picture is such a treasure! Thank you for posting! Could you tell me who's who in the photograph? My email address is scholz.katie@gmail.com


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