Friday, October 8, 2010

Frances Sarah Brown

  • Name: Frances Sarah Brown
  • Born: December 13, 1834 Pullham Market, Norfolk, England
  • Died: June 14, 1922  Salt Lake City, Utah
  • Related through: Dan's grandmother Melva Castleton

Frances Sarah Brown was born December 13, 1834 to Robert Brown and Mary Ann Booty in Pulham Market, Norfolk, England, in the parish of St. Mary Magdalene. She was the fourth of fourteen children and the oldest girl. She was known to her family as "Fanny." She worked hard helping with the large family in her home, but it became necessary for her to go out to work as a servant girl.

She left her home and went to Lowestoft, Suffolk, England, about twenty-two miles away. There she met and eventually married James Joseph Castleton. He had been seeing the Mormon missionaries and was anxious for her to hear the gospel also. Together they studied and became converted. James was baptized in January 1853, and she embraced the gospel and was baptized October 12, 1853.

January 2, 1854, they were married in Great Yarmouth, Norfolk, England. Frances was busy keeping an orderly home and giving birth to four sons. They were very active in the church affairs, and found much joy and love in the gospel, but they weren't completely satisfied. The longing to be in Zion with the main body of the Saints continued to grow. On June 4, 1863 with the first company of Saints to leave the London docks, they started for Zion. The family sailed on the ship Amazon, directed by William Bramell with 891 Latter-day Saints aboard. Six weeks and three days at sea was a long trip for the young couple and four active little boys, Charles, Will, George and Frank.

July 18th, they were so happy to arrive in New York City, but a hard part of their journey was still ahead. In several days they made it to Florence, Nebraska by train, where Thomas E. Ricks met the company and became their leader. It was late in September and very cold when they arrived at Fort Bridger, Wyoming. They were cold and weary; the soldiers took them in to warm up and fed them buffalo stew for supper. Their little boy, Will said, "it was the best I ever ate."

Frances who was expecting her fifth baby in December walked every step of the long hard journey. Even the little boys walked except two year old Frank who was occasionally boosted upon a wagon or on his Father's broad shoulders. Times were hard, their bodies ached, and they longed for a fireplace or a warm soft bed. They were a cheerful happy people and I'm sure this and their love for music and their God helped make the journey easier.

"The whole company arrived in Salt Lake City, and encamped on the Union square on Saturday and Sunday October 3rd and 4th, at the time of General Conference of the church. They were in good health and fine spirits. After attending General Conference, they distributed themselves among the people of the territory, like the water of a river as it empties into the sea, and could now be found only by searching 25,000 square miles of country." (March 1980 Ensign)

Our grandmother walked across the plains, arrived in Salt Lake October 3, 1863, and on December 29, 1863 she gave birth to her fifth son, James Samuel. It was cold, Frances was living in a tent, and far from her cozy cottage and family she left across the ocean in England. Still, they knew it was true and were so happy to be in Zion with the Saints. Those that knew her said they never heard an utterance of regret or discontentment.

Soon they moved into a small house with a mud roof on Second and "D" Street. When it rained, an umbrella had to be placed over her and the new baby to keep the mud and rain off them. Everywhere they went they made things beautiful with lovely yards and gardens, and the gift of music, with which they were blessed. As soon as they were able James bought the corner of Second Ave and "L" Street. It was ten rods square, and they constructed a two room adobe house, which was afterwards the store warehouse for many years.

She later had a beautiful little girl, Martha Ann. They were able to have her for only a short time. When little Martha Ann was two years and five months, she was called back to our Father in Heaven. Grandmother said this was the hardest trial she ever had to bear.

After coming to this country her dear husband, James was a gardener for Brigham Young for many years. My grandfather, Arthur Robert, told how he delivered vegetables to the wives. He said, "They were dandy women." One day when he was about nine years old, Brigham Young ruffled his hair and asked whose little boy he was. Grandpa told him and Brigham Young said, "Oh you're Jimmy's boy, well he's a fine man." Grandpa was pleased and told us this many times.

James’ health began failing him and he became very ill. As always Frances pitched in and with her boys opened a store in her home. Her boys all played musical instruments; they organized a band and hired out for dances. They gleaned wheat from below Liberty Park which they threshed and had ground into flour. Coal was out of the question as it was so expensive. Their fuel consisted to a large extent of brushwood, which was gathered off the foothills by the boys.

They even cooked the bulbs of Sego Lilies to eat. In later years their mother often had the beautiful Sego Lily flowers in a vase on her table, she loved them so much and she felt they had helped them to sustain life.

After suffering for several years, her beloved James finally passed away on 26 November 1882. After 48 years of marriage, she was left with her six boys.

Frances was a widow for forty years, and was known for her goodness to everyone. She was first counselor in the Relief Society for many years. When she was over 60 years old, she was released but this didn't stop her. She was always there to help the sick or anyone she thought needed something. She went to the Temple often. On June 14, 1922 she finally joined her husband in death.

Thanks to Grandma Melva for writing and providing this history.

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