Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Sarah DeGrey (1845-1926)

The nineth child to born to John DeGrey and Maria Brooks was a little daughter, who was christened, Sarah. She was born on January 27, 1845 while her parents resided at Dudley, England She was but a wee child when her father died, leaving her mother to care for the large family.

Sarah was almost too young to realize the full significance of her father's death and her mother's sadness, but she did miss her "daddy."

A few years later some young men came to their home and talked with her mother and older brother and sisters. She listened intently, but did not fully understand the conversation. However, a few months after Sarah turned eight years old, she and her mother, brother and sister were baptized into a new church. It was so different from the way her little friends were baptized and when she was baptized and confirmed a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter day Saints on June 22, 1853, she was indeed a happy and bewildered little girl.

Soon after her baptism, Sarah's mother began to plan and talk of their new home in America. Then in June 1856, the entire family with the exception of Alfred, Sarah's oldest brother, and Selina, who had married one of the young missionaries, sailed from England on the "Well Fleet" for America.

After six weeks in crossing the vast Atlantic Ocean, the family walked down the gangplank at Boston. They were without further funds so while awaiting the arrival of Selina and John, Maria and her daughters found employment in different homes. Sarah was only eleven years old, but she, too, worked. She, however, became so homesick and lonesome that her mother gained permission to take her into the home where she was employed.

The family for whom Maria worked was a family by the name of Colburn. They had a daughter about the same age as Sarah and the two girls became dear friends. When it came time for the DeGrey family to continue their journey West, Mr. Colburn told Sarah's mother: Mrs. DeGrey, you have been with us so long we have learned to love you and your little daughter, Sarah. We would like to keep her as a companion for our little girl. We would educate her and do for her as we would our own. "

Sarah's mother was grateful for the Colburn friendship but declined the generous offer. So in April, 1857, the family left Boston and traveled to the Missouri River and from there the group of nine continued across the plains to Utah in one wagon. The younger children were compelled to walk. So Sarah has credit for walking nearly 2,000 miles. For being so young, the long slow trek to the Great Salt Lake Valley was more of a pleasurable adventure than a time of hardships and sorrows. At the close of each day the weary little bodies rested in sleep and then were full of vim and energy for the following day.

On a Saturday, September 12, 1857, the Jesse B. Martin company arrived in Salt Lake City. The weary and footsore travelers welcomed the Sabbath on the morrow, as they really needed rest and uplift, both physically and spiritually. Even so, the valley was beautiful, dressed in its autumn hues. The desert had indeed blossomed "as the rose".

Homes were the first problems on the agenda. The family built Maria's home on 7th East between South Temple and First South streets and John and his wives, Selina and Kezia, built their home in Sugarhouse.

,As Sarah grew in years she experienced similar hardships to those of others pioneers. As she grew older she also became lovely and graceful in appearance. So it was that she attracted the attention of one, Henry Aldous Dixon, who had also accepted the gospel, left his homeland in South Africa and came to Utah.

Then in January 1865, eight years after their arrival in Salt Lake City, when Sarah was twenty years of age, she and Henry were married. They lived in a small house next door to Sarah's mother on 7th East. It was in this little home where three of her children were born, namely: Henry Alfred, who died when two years old, John and Arthur. Sarah was supremely happy with her little family, and adapted herself will to the role of wife and mother.

In 1871, Sarah's husband was called to Provo to take charge of the books of the Provo Wollen Mills. There they built their home and spent the remainder of their lives in Provo.

Sarah was the mother of eight sons and one daughter. They are as follows: Henry Alfred, John DeGrey, Arthur DeGrey, Ernest, Charles Owen, Walter DeGrey, LeRoy Arnold and Maria Louise. Her husband, Henry died when she was only thirty nine years old, leaving her with a large family of young children for which to care.

She was very religious and taught her children well, both by word and action, the principles of the Gospel. Her children were a living testimony of this fact as they were all active and respected in their church and their communities where they lived.

Through her children, Sarah received much joy and compensation for the loss of her husband. She took much pride in their activities and endeavors. However, coupled with her peace and happiness derived from her family, was much sorrow which Sarah experienced unfalteringly. Her son, Arthur, was electrocuted while working at the construction of the Murdock Power Plant at Heber, Utah. Her sixth son, Walter, passed away after an operation for stomach ulcers. The oldest son, John DeGrey, died quite suddenly of apoplexy on October 4, 1923.

Then when Sarah was seventy nine years old, another bit of sorrow came to her. Charles wife, Virginia, died and left six small children. Sarah willingly went into her son's home and cared for the small children.

When her son, LeRoy, was serving in the mission field in England, Sarah was privileged to return to her native land. Sarah and Electra Smoot Dixon, LeRoy's wife, made the trip to England and it was a wonderful experience for Sarah. She was so happy to be able to return to her birthplace and note the changes in the country and meet with some of her friends who were still living there.

Sarah was a faithful and willing church worker. She was the president of the Provo Third Ward Primary for many years. She was also a very active worker in the Third Ward Relief Society.

Besides her unfailing service in her church, Sarah was a friend to all those in need. She was always ready to answer the call to go and nurse the sick, day or night. She was well qualified for such service as she had taken a course in nursing. Scores of people showered her with gratitude for what she did in the sick room. She helped without any thought of pay for her assistance.

Sarah's only daughter, Maria Louise, wrote the following of her mother: She was loved by all who knew her for her unselfish character and her sacrifices to make others happy.” She died at the home of her son, LeRoy, on April 17, 1926, at the ripe old age of eighty one. Her son, LeRoy, died a few months later and in 1945, at the writing of this history, there remained only Sarah' daughter, Maria Louise and her youngest son, Arnold. A large posterity of worthy sons and daughters mourned Sarah DeGrey Dixon at the time of her death. "Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord from henceforth: Yea, saith the Spirit, that they may rest from their labours, and their works do follow them." (Rev. 14:13)

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