Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Temperance Westwood

  • Name: Temperance Westwood Moon
  • Born: August 19, 1839 Bromsgrove, England
  • Died: September 21, 1922 Farmington, Utah
  • Related through: Erin's grandmother Margaret Udy Hanni
 Temperance Westwood, daughter of Joseph Westwood and Ann Webley, was born August 19, 1839 at Bromsgrove, Worcestershire, England. At an early date, the family heard the gospel and joined the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in 1840. The grandmother was the first to leave England, and she came to Nauvoo alone. The family never heard from her again.

Early in the year of 1849, Joseph and Ann Westwood with some brothers and their eight children walked from Bromsgrove to Liverpool to board a sailing vessel for America. Some of the family got employment on the ship. The family started out with high hopes. One of the brothers composed a song on the ship called “The Tea,” and they all enjoyed singing it. But the journey proved to be a very trying one. They were fourteen weeks on the water, and the food supply ran low. One of the brothers died and was buried at sea. The mother was ill most of the time and had to remain on deck. She was carrying her ninth child.

One day on the ship as little ten-year-old Temperance was going down the steep stairs from the deck to get a fork for her mother to whom she had taken a plate of hot food, she was knocked to the bottom of the stairs by two men with a trunk who had failed to see her. She was hurt and compelled to remain in bed for several days. The trip was unpleasant in many ways. The ship encountered storms and was driven off its course. Many weeks were required to get back on its way again. The crew said they would rather take Mormon passengers than anyone else because they never had any accidents with Saints aboard. The ship sank on its way back to Liverpool.

At the mouth of the Mississippi River, the passengers were transferred to a steamer for the trip up the river to St. Louis. There was much rejoicing and thanksgiving for their safe arrival in the new land. Little did the Westwood family know the trials that awaited them.

It was the spring of the year, and the journey up the river on the steamer was a very pleasant one. The banks of the Mississippi were covered with green grass and flowers and looked very inviting to the weary passengers who had spent fourteen weeks on the water. Every day the steamer stopped for freight. One day Joseph Westwood, after helping put the freight aboard, lingered awhile on shore and the steamer started on without him. Seeing the steamer pull away from the shore, he ran along the shore behind, tried to get the captain to stop the boat but he would not. Temperance was afraid she would never see him again. But he came up river on the next steamer and joined his family.

When they reached St. Louis, they found that an epidemic of cholera was raging. On the first day of May 1849 a little daughter, Betsy Ann, was born to the new immigrants. The next day the father, Joseph Westwood, who had contracted cholera, died. On the fourth of May, the little infant daughter died also, and two days later the mother passed away. The cholera also took another little daughter, Patience.

Seven little children were left alone in the strange country, The children were taken into different homes in St. Louis. Some were adopted and some found employment. Temperance lived with a kind woman who gave her a foster home. As a little girl in St. Louis, which, at that time, was a small frontier town, Temperance had several experiences with the Indians. At this time there was a wall around the town and the people lived inside the wall and raised their crops on the outside. Among the chores that were assigned to Temperance was the task of bringing the vegetables from the field outside the wall to the house. These trips were very unpleasant for her as she lived in mortal fear of the Indians. One day the Indians held a sham battle outside the city. To Temperance, who thought it was a real battle, it was a very harrowing experience. On another occasion a blind Indian, who had been brought to the town many times to be killed because of his blindness but had always been taken back alive, came to the house where Temperance was living with a woman and demanded bread. Being alone and frightened, she told him that she did not have any. Guided by his sense of smell, he came into the house and picked up a loaf of bread which had just been baked. With the loaf in his hand, he chased the little girl around the house in one door and out the other. He was angry because she had told him an untruth. Luckily he finally stubbed his toe and Temperance ran to the neighbors. Later several Indians came back and entered the house. The woman with whom Temperance lived hid in a closet and Temperance also attempted to hide but they were both found. With a tomahawk, one of the Indians inflicted a severe gash on the little girl’s cheek and one above her eye. She always had these scars. The woman was also injured.

Field House in St. Louis

Temperance’s older sister, Mercy Westwood, who was 16 years old, obtained employment as cook in the home of Roswell Martin Field, father of Eugene Field, the famous poet. The Field family was in good circumstances and kept a considerable establishment, living in a three-story house in one of the best residential suburbs of the city. Roswell M. Field was a lawyer of considerable local note. He became famous for his representation of Dred Scott, the slave who sued for his freedom. One day when Temperance was visiting her sister, Mrs. Field came into the kitchen and Mercy explained to her that the eleven-year-old girl must find a place to stay. “I want you to stay here, “she said to Temperance, “and take care of Eugene who is getting to be a big boy.” Little Eugene was then nine or ten months old. Later when another child, Roswell M., was born into the Field family, Temperance had the entire charge of Eugene, sleeping with him in the nursery and looking after him all day long. (The Field House in St. Louis is now a museum.)

Temperance remembered many things about her famous charge. At one time she took the child, dressed in his first little suit of clothes, to have his picture taken. The new suit was of black velvet, with a circular cloak that fell to his heels. He also had a black velvet hat with a feather to wear with it. The child was very large for his age, fair, with dark blue eyes and soft pliable light hair that was quite long for a baby. This fairness, Eugene Field kept up in later life. A newspaper story described him as “tall, slender, boyish, blonde and aggressive.”

Later, Temperance was to say of Eugene, “He seemed in spirit older than his body.” She also said that he clung to her, and that she could do anything with him. He was a good baby, large and healthy, and of a very inquiring disposition. One of his favorite tales was “Puss in Boots.” Temperance recalls particularly that in the last months of her care for him, when the child was in his fourth year, how he loved stories. Mrs. Field often gave her money to buy fairy tales to read to Eugene. These she loved as well as the little boy.

Mrs. Field was a very particular woman, insisting that the best of care must be given her children. She did not like nicknames, so the boys were called by their full names: Eugene and Roswell. Mr. Field, a lawyer, was very fond of his children and used to come to the nursery to play with his boys oftener than the nurse liked. He was a great smoker and Temperance remembers seeing him striding up and down the parlors declaiming some speech he was about to make.

In 1853, when Temperance was nearly fourteen years old, she left the Field home in St. Louis to cross the plains with her brother in the William Atkinson Company. It was with great regret that she parted with the little boy she had so learned to love. The many experiences of the strange and full life in the West caused her to lose sight of her charge, whose mother soon after died and the family was broken up. But she was to hear from him again.

The trip across the plains was a weary one for the young girl. The oxen pulled the wagon and Temperance and her brother walked until a painful stone bruise on her heel made it necessary for her to ride part of the time until it broke and healed up. The pioneer train was met by a company of soldiers who had been sent from Salt Lake. The arrival of the soldiers was a happy experience to the weary travelers. The men were so light-hearted and full of fun that they danced and showed the travelers the time of their lives. Temperance never forgot this happy experience or one of the soldiers.

Temperance Moon house in Farmington
 Upon reaching the valley, the Westwoods first went to Springville. Very soon, at the age of sixteen, Temperance was married to Henry Moon on March 18, 1856 in Salt Lake City. He was Bishop of the First Ward in Salt Lake from 1856 to 1870 and later was Bishop of the Woodland Ward. He had joined the church in 1838 and had left Liverpool June 6, 1840 with the first company of Saints to leave England and sail for America. He had married Lydia Moon, daughter of Matthias Moon, in Pennsylvania. He had gone to Nauvoo and crossed the plains in 1850. He was 20 years older than Temperance, but she was an orphan in a strange country and though young had had a great deal of experience. Henry’s first wife, Lydia, was like a mother to Temperance and, as she grew older, they were like sisters. Lydia was to die a young woman and Temperance nursed her in her illness with loving care. They lived together in Salt Lake for a time and then a farm was purchased in North Farmington and a log house was built just north of the present day meeting house. Here in one large room with a shed on the north with one enclosed bedroom for the boys, Temperance was to raise 13 children.

Shortly before Lydia’s death, Henry married Mary Ann Thayne and moved her to Woodland where he had a farm. At one time Henry wanted to move Temperance and her family to Woodland so he could have his two families together but, now comfortable in a four-room adobe home with her beloved roses and trees and garden, she felt it too much to leave. She had moved enough. In 1888 Henry suffered a stroke which rendered him an invalid for the last six years of his life. Temperance nursed him until his death on November 14, 1894.

Temperance had little opportunity for a formal education. She went to school in England until she was ten when her family left for America. There was no school for her after that but she was not uneducated. She loved to read and did a great deal of it. Her book case was full of encyclopedias, classics, fiction, periodicals, letters and clippings. She raised fruit, flowers, chickens and a garden. There was always milk, butter, cream, eggs, fruit and vegetables. She was a sweet-faced, gentle-voiced little stooped lady with snowy white hair parted in the center and combed back into a bob on the back of her head. She had a ready smile and went about her work always humming a tune and knew and sang many little English songs she had learned as a child. Most every morning she could be seen with a hoe bending over a row of lettuce or a bed of pansies. Her window sills were lined with pink geraniums and wandering Jew.

When the first Primary organization of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was organized, many of her children were enrolled. The records of that first Primary showed that Rowane, Henry Moroni, Edmund and Phillip were members. The records also show that Orson, son of Mary Ann and an Armond (perhaps Amanda) were also members.
Temperance and some of her daughters and daughters-in-law.
Newspaper article about Temperance and Eugene 1910
In 1891, having read and learned to love the poems of Eugene Field, Temperance wrote to him and asked him if he were the little Eugene she had cared for and if he remembered her. He responded with warmth to her letter saying he remembered his nurse very well and inquired about her family and mutual friends. Many letters passed between them and the correspondence only terminated at his death. The following is a copy of a letter Mr. Field wrote:

Dear Mrs. Moon:
Your letter pleased me very much indeed. I send you a copy of a picture of my mother and myself—a copy of one made when I was a little baby. Please tell me whether it looks natural to you. The Pomeroy girls, Mary and Stella, are both married. Mary lives here in Chicago, and has no children. Stella lives in St. Louis and has a large family. My Aunt Belle is now a widow, living in Swanzey, N.H. She married a farmer named Angier. I married in 1875, and we have three children living, a girl of 15 and boys aged 12 and 9. We have lost two boys and one girl. My brother is married but has no children. He is one of the editors of the Kansas City Star. I shall try to send you a picture of my father if I can get a copy made of one we have. Do let me hear from you often. Your letter interested me very much. God bless you.
Ever sincerely yours,

Eugene Field
420 Fullerton Avenue, Chicago
May 13, 1891

 She said, “if he had lived, I believe he would have come to see me.” He sent her a picture with the inscription “Francis Field and her baby Eugene Field taken in 1851” and asked her to write him if she remembered it. She did and many interesting letters followed.

Temperance's youngest child, Franklin, died at the age of three, but the other twelve grew up and married and had families. She lived to see her great-great grandchild. She died September 21, 1922 at the age of 83 years.

This article was written by Helen Potter Severson, a granddaughter. It can be found in the book The Family of Henry Moon: Mormon Pioneer 1819-1894.


  1. Thank you for the interesting history of Temperance Moon. My interest increased when I saw the name Eugene Field. His poem, "The Duel" is one of my favorites. Years ago I did an illustration of it. To see the poem and the illustration go to the following web page:
    Thanks for all of your fine efforts on this family history blog I'm enjoying it.

  2. Cute illustration. I have been meaning to read some of Eugene Field's poems.

  3. I knew Helen Louise Potter Severson well. We spent many hours together working on the genealogy of the Potter family. She passed away in 1988. It is great to see that her work lives on.