Louise Maria Austin is my 3rd great grandmother. Let me tell you about her.
Louise Maria Austin
- Born – 21 June 1838, Suffield, Hartford, Connecticut.
- Sailed – 1846, on the Ship Brooklyn from New York City around Cape Horn to Yerba Buena (San Fransisco).
- Wagon Train – 1848, traveled from California to the Salt Lake Valley with the Ebenezer Brown Company.
- Baptized – about 1849, into The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. (I am suspicious of the accuracy of this date.)
- Married – 12 April 1860, to Joseph Thompson Cheney in Farmington, Davis, Utah.
- Mother of 8 children.
- Widowed – 30 September 1897.
- Died – 26 April 1927, Laketown, Rich, Utah.
Things I wonder about Grandma Louise and her life:
- Did she find her great ocean voyage exciting, frightening, adventurous, boring, all of those?
- What challenges did the wagon company face? She was so young for both of these journeys.
- She made several moves after she was married. A few of them are only briefly mentioned. I wonder what prompted them to move and then ultimately move back to the Bear Lake Valley.
- Has any of her handwork survived? I would love to see anything she made.
- How did she get by for the last 30 years of her life as a widow in a harsh mountain town?
Louise’s oldest daughter Delina wrote a history about her mother. Within the text are these gems:
“Mother had a vivid recollection of their home in the East (Connecticut) and it’s surroundings of the patches of cranberries she went with her mother to pick, and of the school that she attended two winters before leaving there. The school was only of three months duration each year, but she acquired the rudiments of reading and writing there in the little school that was quite a distance from her home. She said she had to walk and the winters were cold with snow on the ground.”
Of the voyage on the Ship Brooklyn, “Mother remembered very distinctly the voyage on the ocean of five months and twenty seven days duration, the terrific storms they encountered, once they were hatched below the storm was so terrific, the women and children were lashed to their berths at night for in no other way could they keep them in.”
“After arriving at San Francisco-then Yerba Buena-the family were in sore straits for means of subsistence as were nearly all of the Saints who were passengers on the Brooklyn. Mother with her parents and two brothers went to live in the old Mexican barracks to work and do whatever they could for a livelihood. The Mexicans and soldiers were good to them, mother said if it had not been for the kindness of these people they surely would have gone hungry many times. It was while there that the Spanish girls taught mother to speak their language, which she spoke quite fluently, they also taught her to dance to their sweet music, she said she could waltz for several minutes with a glass of water on her head without spilling a drop of it.”
After she was married to Joseph Thompson Cheney, they first made their home in Centerville, Utah. “In the summer of 1865 mother with her husband and children moved to Paris Idaho, where father built a two room log house. One room had shingle roof and a rough board floor. The other room had a dirt roof and dirt floor, here the family lived for over two years.”
“In Paris, Idaho-then Utah-their third daughter Hattie Margaret was born. In the spring of 1867 they moved to Swan Creek where they remained for six months coming back to Laketown in May 1868. In Nov 1869, Father and Mother and three daughters went to San Jose California where father worked on a farm until May 1870. They returned to Laketown and their first son, Joseph Austin was born. In 1872 their fourth daughter, Della Maude was born in the old log building that was later used for a store, at present it is used for a granary. A two room frame building was built to provide more room for the family, here their second son Clarence E. was born. The last house father built was an adobe one. The home now stands on the old place here their two youngest children Claude Leroy and Blanche Lenore were born.”
“Mother made butter and cheese to sell to increase the family income she also made gloves from buckskins she bought from the Indinas that were tanned and smoked by them, some of them she colored with green tea and other dyes then she cut and made gloves for men from the heavier skins, and made gauntlets of real beaver fur, those gloves she could sell for $5 per pair. Some she made with leands of buckskin at the top that she sold for less. Some of the finer and softer skins she made into gloves for women, these she ornamented with stitching and flowers on the backs of the gloves with bright colored silk floss, usually she could sell them for a fair price. Besides she spun many poinds of fine yarn that she knit into socks and stockings for her family, she also spun yarn for cloth to make our clothing, and wool sheeting for our beds in winter. Then she washed considerable wool which she carded and made into bats for quilts and comforters. Later in life she made a number of pretty pieced quilts, some of them for her children and grandchildren. She also did quite a lot of fine needle work and embroidery on pillow slips, towels and sofa cushion covers also other articles.”
“Mother lived a long and eventful life in which there were many changes. Many inventions were perfected in her day and many conveniences were brought into the homes by electric power, but the one she deeply appreciated was electric lights; she had made tallow candles for light, and had used the better lights made by kerosene lamps but was thrilled when she could have electric lights in her home.”
“Mother was stricken with erysipelas in the left arm five weeks before her death from which she suffered terribly. She died April 26, 1927 and was buried in Laketown, Rich Co. Utah. She was 88 years, 10 months and 14 days old. At the time of her death, she was survived by a half brother, Philo Austin, and seven children; Delina, Hattie, Joseph, Dalla, Clarence, Claude and Blanche. Also 25 grand-children and 6 great grand-children.”
The full text of the history of Louise Maria Austin Cheney written by her daughter can be found here.