Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Maria DeGrey Smith (1840-1879)

Maria DeGrey was the seventh child born to John DeGrey and Maria Brooks. She was born on March 21, 1840 at Dudley, Worchestershire, England. Except for one very sad incident, Maria's childhood was an average, happy one. She had five sisters and one brother older than she, who fussed over her, spoiling her just a wee bit. She and her little playmates who lived nearby, whiled away the hours in playing house or some other form of make believe.

When Maria's father died, she mourned him as only a little child could. It was hard for her to understand that her "Daddy" would no longer play with her each evening after he returned from work. Her "daddy" had gotten sick soon after he started to work in the brewery, which was located in a basement. The dampness had affected his lungs and caused his death.

The children were all good children and helped their mother in every way they could. Even little Maria did her share to ease the heavy burden thrust upon her mother.

A few years later when Maria's mother accepted an invitation to visit their cousin's home to hear some "Mormons" tell of their religion, she was happy with anticipation at the prospects of something new and different. But later, when the conversation reached the point where a new home in Utah was discussed, then Maria was really happy. Nothing could have been more exciting than the talk of going to America.

When Maria was twelve years old, she was baptized on November 29, 1852 by Elder John Rice and confirmed a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter day Saints by Elder Blood at Dudley Chapel 6 in December, 1852.

Though she was just twelve years of age at this time, Maria noticed the changed attitude of their friends and neighbors toward the family when they became members of the then very unpopular religion. However, this feeling against them just had a tendency to make the family want to work harder and save more do they could join the Saints in Utah. Then their dreams were fulfilled when
in June, 1856, after final arrangements had been made, Maria, her mother and her sisters bade farewell to their homeland and boarded the boat, "Well Fleet" bound for America and their new home in Utah.

Maria's sister, Selina, had married one of the missionaries, Elder John C. Hall, he had been one of the Elders to contact the DeGrey family. She remained in England with her husband until the completion of his mission. Maria's only brother, Alfred, also remained in England and came to Utah later. So only Maria Brooks DeGrey and her daughters, Selina, Kezia, Maria, Sarah and Charlotte came to Utah in June, 1856.

During the entire trip to the Great Salt Lake Valley the six weeks voyage across the Atlantic, the nine months spent in Boston working to secure funds for the remainder of the journey, and the long, slow trek to Utah Maria and the many other young people found adventure and pleasure in each tedious mile. Regardless of the hardships, the young quickly adapted themselves to the new life. Because of the inadequate means of conveyance for the nine persons in the group, the younger ones walked most of the distance. At the end of the journey on September 12, 1857, Maria's shoes were beyond repair.

The group arrived in Salt Lake City with no funds with which to prepare for the coming winter. It was difficult to find employment, too, so it was a natural sequence that the young girls accepted the offers to go into other homes, work, and then sometimes marry the head of the household in order to manage financially. At that time the Saints worked closely together and helped others whenever sickness or death came into the home. Also the Saints had been urged to live in plural marriage.

Maria had no shoes and no money to purchase any, so she accepted an offer from Charles N. Smith to assist his wife who was ill and needed help. Maria was a young lasso of seventeen years and was willing and able to work and assist her friends.

After she had worked for about two months, Charles asked her to be his second wife. She accepted and they were married on December 20, 1857. Both Charles and his first wife were faithful and good people and believed in obeying council from the church. Too, they felt that Maria would make a suitable wife and companion for Charles. Although Charles was twenty four years older than Maria there was happiness in their marriage. The two women learned to love one another and were able to work harmoniously together.

Maria respected and appreciated Sister Smith and regardless of her young years, she fit into the home because she had a desire to do the right thing.

To Maria and Charles, were born eleven children, five sons and six daughters. Their first child, Joseph Alma, was born on October 29, 1858 at Springville, Utah. The family had moved there, probably, to escape expected trouble from the Johnson's Army, which came to Utah about the same time as Maria had arrived. Their next son, George Alfred, was born on June 28, 1861 in Salt Lake City, apparently after the family had returned to its home. Even in the Valley there seemed to be no end to the trouble heaped upon the Saints. Determination and dogged endeavor brought success and security to the weary toilers, after years of persecution and hardship.

Soon after the second child was born, Charles, in answer to a call for volunteers to go to the Dixie Cotton Mission, moved his two families to Grafton, a small settlement about 30 miles east of St. George, which was then the largest community of the Dixie Mission. Maria was still a young girl, so she was happy that her sister, Charlotte and her husband, George, also settled in Grafton, and her two older sisters, Selina and Kezia and their husband, John, were located at Rockville, just a few miles farther up the Virgin River. She had never been away from her mother before in her life, so it helped to know that she had some of her loved ones nearby.

With the arrival of two more children, Maria, however, had little time to be lonesome and homesick. There was plenty of work in the home and also on their farm, guiding and preparing for the long winter ahead. Struggles were many, but complaints few, as the faithful worked side by side to make a comfortable and happy home life.

Maria had her share of sorrow as a young mother. The third son, who was born to her and Charles was Charles Hyrum, born in 1863. He died when just a young man on July 10, 1883. It was hard for her to lose her young son, but she was consoled by the teachings of her church.

On September 15, 1865, a daughter, Eliza, was born to them, then in about 1886, Charles moved his families to Rockville, where the rest of their children were born, namely: Maria, born September 29, 1867; Mary, born December 22, 1869, Charles T., born February 11, 1871; Sarah Ann, born on February 18, 1873; twins, David Arthur and Martha, born, September 4, 1875, and Sophia, born on March 20, 1877.

Maria was blessed with a fine husband. He was kind and considerate, yet firm and steadfast on the side of right. He was a friend to all who needed friendship and assistance.

Charles was a recognized leader and was called to the office of Bishop, a calling which he fulfilled faithfully and honorable for many years. The church work took a great deal of Charles' time, so much of the responsibility of rearing the children fell to the mothers.

Maria was blessed with fine sons and daughters. In the teaching and instructing of her children, she was thorough and wise. She was a good mother and she instilled in her children the principles of the Gospel. She was faithful in her endeavor to serve and accomplish all that was asked of her. She had a beautiful alto voice, which she used to bring joy to others. Her favorite song, "Hard Times Come Again No More", could often be heard by neighbors and passers by as she sang as she worked.

To know of the activities of her children as they grew to maturity is to know somewhat of the character of Maria.

Joseph Alma was a wonderful man and was always a helpful son to Maria and Charles. On March 3, 1880, one year after his mother's death, he married his childhood sweet heart, Adeline Drucilla Duzette (Sellie). They had a fine family of sons and daughters. They left Rockville and moved to Monroe, Utah, where they lived for many years. Their desire to better their conditions and give their children more advantages encouraged Joseph and Adeline to leave Rockville.

He and his good wife were happily married for fity nine years. Durning that time Joseph was a faithful church worker. He was an interesting public speaker, which helped qualify him for the many responsible positions, both civic and religious, which he held.

Next was George Alfred, who early learned the value of hard work. In Rockville, the facilities for education extended to the first few grades, so George's knowledge was self imposed through personal study and experience. In those early pioneer days the diversion from work came through the church. George was one who enjoyed fun. He was talented and was a general favorite among his friends.

He chose as his wife and companion, the charming Eleanor (Mellie) Morris of Rockville. They, too, soon moved to Monroe, Utah, then later to Provo, where they lived until their death. They were active in their church and left some good sons and daughters to carry on after them.

Eliza was next in order. She was the oldest daughter. When her mother died much of the responsibility of caring for the younger children naturally fell on her shoulders. She married Hyrum Morris in Rockville and like other young couples who desired further advantages for their growing family, they left their home town. They moved to Mesa, Arizona where they worked hard to make a home for their ten children, six of whom passed away. One son lost his life in the World War I and another son died during his service as a missionary in Samoa.

Three of their daughters died in maturity. Two left two children each and one left three children. Eliza, herself, was left a widow at the age of fifty years, but her faith and devotion to her church and the love of her children helped but the sting which came through the loss of her loved ones. She is still living in Mesa, Arizona at this writing, 1950, as proof of her sturdy character in the face of sorrow and despair.

Then there was Maria, named for her mother and grandmother DeGrey. To quote one who knew her and wrote these words of Maria, (Nora Lund); "When I think of Maria Ballard, I think of a person perfect as anyone could be. She always had a smile and a friendly greeting for everyone. She was a hard working woman always busy, either inside of her home or outside in her yard. She was a marvelous cook and housekeeper. However, she never was too busy to help someone not only the sick and needy, but those who just appreciated a kind word from a friend. She radiated joy wherever she went. She had a sense of humor that was worth a million dollars. She laughed "with" people, not at" them."

Maria's husband, Dave Ballard, whom she married in April, 1891 in the St. George Temple, was a wonderful companion and help mate to her. Their devotion to each other and their children, two daughters and four sons, was a beautiful thing to see.

She was active in every organization of the church in the small ward at Grafton where she and her husband made their home. She instilled in her children the one trait which was so paramount in her own life ... that of the joy and satisfaction derived from service to others. Her children always acted accordingly. She was a comparatively young woman of fifty years when she died on July 12, 1917.

Sarah Ann was the next one in line. She was born on February 18, 1873 in Rockville where she lived for several years. When a young woman she met and married Albert Tuft on September 2, 1897 in Monroe, Utah. They lived there for many years then they moved to a farm at Elsinor. Later they returned to Monroe.

Seven children were born to them to bring happiness and joy to Sarah Ann and Albert. Her husband became ill and was bed fast for many months prior to his death. The children were grown and most of them had moved to California where they were either married or else had employment. After the death of her husband, Sarah Ann went to California to be near her children.

In the wintertime she would go to Mesa, Arizona to visit with her sister, Eliza, and work in the Temple as her health would permit. She and Eliza spent many happy times together. They sang beautifully together even as they grew older. Sarah was loved by everyone who knew her. She died in California on October 11, 1943 and was buried in Monroe, Utah on October 15, 1943.

Sophia, the youngest child born to Maria and Charles, was born in Rockville on March 20, 1877. She lived in Monroe for some years then she married John Manson. They had five sons and daughters to bless their home. The children are all married now and have families of their own. They are devoted to their faithful and good parents who still reside in Provo, Utah.

Maria died in Rockville on December 18, 1879. At her death she left a baby just two years old and her oldest child was a young man of twenty one years. Elisa, Charles' first wife faithfully loved and taught the children left in her care.

In brief review of Maria's life, we see her as a child in England, baptized and confirmed a member of the Church, crossing the plains as a young girl, her sojourn in Salt Lake City prior to her faithful pioneering in Dixie, mothering, in love and devotion, a fine family then leaving behind those young children as a living devotion, a fine family then leaving behind those young children as a living monument of her goodness ... all this in the brief span of thirty nine years.

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