Thursday, July 29, 2010

James Udy

  • Name: James Udy
  • Born: August 16, 1820 Cornwall, England
  • Died: June 19, 1905 Farmington, Utah
  • Related through: Erin's grandmother Margaret Udy Hanni
James Udy was born August 16, 1820 at Tervilmick in the Parrish of Lanlivery, Cornwall England, a son of Hart and Ann Brokenshire Udy.

Little is known of his early life in England, however, before leaving England he learned the blacksmith trade working as an apprentice for seven years for which he received only his board and clothing. He was also an armor in the British Royal Navy. This was the same as a machinist, similar to a blacksmith. There was a Navy yard in Woolwich, Kent. He married Mary Ann Trengrove. To them were born three sons.

After hearing the Gospel and being converted they joined the church in England and emigrated to America, landing in New Orleans. The voyage on the slow crowded ship was hard on him, but more so on his wife, Mary Ann who was a small woman and very frail. Upon arriving in New Orleans they both felt they had fulfilled a lifetime dream. They settled down in New Orleans with their sons for a time. But the long voyage and the life in the new country was too much for his frail wife, and she died. All he could remember of her was a fleeting shadow that had been with him for an instant, and then was snatched away. One son died in England and another son died soon after his mother, leaving the remaining son (William Henry Udy) the only tangible thing that James had from his family and life in Cornwall.

New Orleans held no future for James and at length he and his son took a boat up the Mississippi. Often he had thought of joining the Saints for the journey to Salt Lake but always it was thoughts of his sickly wife that held him back. It was there on the boat chugging slowly up the river that he met Isabelle Ann Cowley, she was from the Isle of Man. Isabelle had taken the small boy to heart and James found in her an answer to his dreams. A few months later they were married and on their way to Zion with a company of fellow converts.

They traveled in the Henry Bryant Manning Jolley Company in 1852. Isabelle’s parents appear to have been in this company as well. They eventually moved to Farmington as well. I will have a post about them soon.

On the journey west there was much sickness, deaths and massacre. Isabelle was pregnant and she suffered with the heat and the terror of the Indians. A week before they reached Zion it seemed she could not go on. She begged James to go without her, but he doggedly plodded on, working night and day to make things easier for her. The last miles were torture for Isabelle, every bounce of the wagon an intense thrust of pain. The rest of her life, Indians, friendly or not, caused goose pimples to stand out on her flesh, and her hands grew clammy with sweat.

In a short time Isabelle and James were settled in a tiny cabin of their own and James had set up a blacksmith shop in Salt Lake City. There was need for a good blacksmith and James Udy was most efficient in his trade. In fact there was no one in Utah during his lifetime that could surpass him in welding or any kind of blacksmithing. Even the old master himself had admitted that he had a magic touch with an anvil. In coming across the plains many of the wagons had been destroyed by Indians, broken or lost in fording the rivers and there was need for more wagons. He began to build wagons with some new friends. Money was scarce in the valley and all work was taken out in trade. Land was free to be taken up, wheat and other food stuffs raised by the settlers were traded for labor of all kinds. In this manner James acquired fourteen lots of land in Salt Lake City by the time their first child was born on November 4, 1852 and she was named Elizabeth Ann. James and Isabelle ended up having 10 children.

They lived in Salt Lake City two years when James decided to set up a shop in the new settlement north of Salt Lake called Bountiful. It had developed into a thriving community, and James anxious to find new trade and made plans to move Isabelle and his family there. Before leaving he traded his 14 lots of land for a yoke of oxen. A number of those lots on main street would have brought him a small fortune a few years later.

They lived in Bountiful for a time until news spread that there was plenty good land and water in Farmington and James had been thinking of moving there. Things were not so good in Bountiful as another blacksmith shop had gone up and he felt the need to move. So it was in 1856 that the family moved to Farmington.

For over four years James and Isabelle made themselves a part of the community of Farmington when news spread that Cache Valley had been settled. Pictures of the new land north came into James' mind. Seeing an opportunity to take up some more of this land, James sold his home and told Isabelle they were going to move to Cache Valley. For the first time and the only time in their marriage, Isabelle openly defied James. She refused to go, he tried to make her see that a good living would be made, but Isabelle stood pat and shook her head and flatly refused to move. The terror of the trip across the plains was so instilled in her mind that it could not be easily erased.

They did not move to Cache Valley. But with their home sold James and Isabelle took up 30 acres of land just over and below the hill from the Stewart family. Here James set up a rock shop and built a new home for his family. Up until a short time ago part of the rock shop stood on the hill.

Now that the wanderlust in him was gone, James was content to farm his acres and work in his shop. Lately he had been making iron parts for threshing machines. There were only a few of the more intricate castings that they had to send east for. Most of them he could iron out on his anvil with little difficulty. Many of the settlers could not understand how it was possible for a small town blacksmith to make such difficult pieces of iron work as those for the threshing machine. But James Udy had been a good apprentice in England and he was a good master of the trade in America.

James and Isabelle lived in Farmington for many years. Isabelle died very suddenly while preparing for a trip to Salt Lake City on December 4, 1893 at the age of 61. Always strong and healthy James Udy lived to be nearly 85. He died June 19, 1905. Both James and Isabelle Ann (Cowley) Udy are buried in the Farmington City Cemetery, as are his other wife Mary Sophia Hansen and three babies.

This history was compiled by Marva Udy Earl (grand-daughter) for the Daughter's of the Utah Pioneers Histories. I shortened it quite a bit but you can read the whole thing here. Also several members of the Udy family moved to Australia and New Zealand and were some of the first pioneers there. I have a book that goes into great detail about the Udy family in Cornwall called, "Udy, A Pride of Lions." written by an Australian relative. It briefly mentions James Udy. It was very interesting.


  1. Thanks Erin! I think your blog is great! I like to read up about family members but I'm not always sure how to do it.

  2. Erin, James is my great great grandfather.. may have missed a great..I'm stealing your gravestone photo's.. thanks.. Have you read "Udy, the new zealand perspective" If no contact me.. I'll e-mail it to you..
    john udy