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John White and Sarah Ann Holton – Marjorie White’s Grandparents

John White was born on March 17, 1858, in Ampthill, Bedforshire, England. He was a son and the last child of Thomas White and Eliza Sear White, both of whom were born in Steppingly, Bedforshire, which is separated from Ampthill by a park. The seven children were born respectively, in Steppingly, Ampthill and Eversholt in the same Shire. John’s father was very strict with his children, so much so that his son Alfred left home and his whereabouts remained unknown to the family. John, too, had to “toe the mark”. If he was not home by a certain time, he was sent to bed without his supper. However, his favorite sister Ruth always came to his rescue after their father had retired, so John didn’t go to bed hungry. His father was an Elder in the Wesleyan Methodist Church at Ampthill, England. He was a very religious man and taught his children to honor the Sabbath and attend church. When John was thirteen years old, the Wesleyan Sabbath School Superintendence presented him with a Bible as a reward for attendance and knowledge of the scriptures. His mother was an invalid from the time of John’s birth and spent many years in a wheelchair. The family lived at No. 29 Woburn Street in Ampthill.

John left Ampthill to accept a position at Shuttelworth’s Grocery Store in Northampton.

Sarah Ann Holton was born on July 3, 1857, in Northampton, England. Her parents were John Samuel and Ann Scroxton Holton. Sometime after Sarah’s birth, the family moved from George Street to No 2 Fitzroy Street. This was a two story house, and at the bottom of the stairs stood an urn which contained the ashes of her grandfather. The home was covered with grape vines, and the walled backyard had an apple tree and vegetable garden. As a child, Sarah delighted in household tasks and in caring for her little sister Cicely Louisa, though she, herself, was just a child. Sarah dearly loved this little sister, though she was just a toddler herself; Sarah tended and cared for her and was very sad when Cicely died two months before her fourth birthday. She was very helpful to her older sister Hannah, who from infancy was not strong, but lived to move to Utah.

Amusement in Sarah’s early days in England consisted of visiting ancient buildings and ruins, hikes, and tea parties into the woods and parks. Games and sports carefully planned for the children were races, cricket, golfing, and tennis. Northampton was a city of three-fourths of a million people, boasted on one of the finest race courses in the country, and extended for miles with well kept lawns, shrubs, flowers, pools, and flower bordered streams. Sarah attended theatres, operas, musical concerts, minstrel shows, and bob-sleigh parties. However, Sarah never cared to dance or ice skate.

May Day was a great event. Groups would gather and approach the doors of homes with garlands of May and sing: “I bring you here a bunch of May and at you door I stand; it’s all put out and set about, by the works of my own hands.” The ribbon tied garland would be accepted by the occupant; he giving the child a penny or so. After disposing of their floral offerings and collecting the coveted coins, the children would assemble in a park where a public Maypole and spring celebration were held, and the money was spent.

Guy Fawkes Day, better known as the Gunpowder Celebration, was held on November 5th of each year. The children would carry big clubs made from the branches of trees and knock at the doors and sing. They were greeted and given coins; the money was used to purchase fireworks. In the evening, a fireworks celebration was held in the woods. [Vida May Fowkes White (see section 30) is related to Guy Fawkes]. Guy blew up the House of Lords with gunpowder, and then they put poor Guy to death, for ages to remember.

Boxing Day was the day following Christmas. Christmas was observed religiously, everyone attended church services and holding the day sacred. Packages were delivered to loved ones the next morning. Family dinners were held and a most happy time enjoyed. Christmas trees were included and holly wreaths made from holly gathered in the woods were hung on doors and packages. All contributed to make it a festive occasion. A huge roast of beef or young pig seemed to be the favorite meats, though turkey later on began to make its appearance, replacing the other roasts.

Later in life, Sarah often spoke to her children about romping though the woods as a child, and later strolling there with her husband. It was a sweet past-time, enjoying the wild flowers: buttercups, daisies, bergamot, violets, daffodils, and gathering blackberries, choke cherries, and all kind of nuts, particularly chestnuts. The country estates on the outskirts were beautiful and magnificent sights. Green pastures and rolling hills made delightful lover’s trails.

Now as a young lady, Sarah and her friend, Sarah Hassler, were out walking one evening. Joe Farr and John White saw them coming down the street. Mr. Farr knew them and asked John if he would like to be introduced and join them. His companion said, “Which one do you want—I like them both.” John said, “I like the one with the beautiful long hair.” This is how Sarah met John. Their courtship days were spent principally in walking through the woods, often in the cemetery. John, with his high silk hat and walking stick, would start quoting Shakespeare. He knew Shakespeare as well as he knew the Bible. “I am thy father’s ghost”, etc., would usually come during the darkest part of the cemetery.1 It was in a cemetery while reading inscriptions on headstone that John read the epitaph that he on future occasions, and at certain stellar times, would recite for the family,

“Let the wind blow free, where ‘er you be,
For the lack of wind was the death of me.”

As was the general custom during that era, many love letters were written; Sarah Ann bound them with satin ribbons and kept them in her lavender scented armoire until just a few years before her death. Just prior to Sarah’s death, she burned these letters in the fireplace in order to keep them private.2

Sarah and John White were married in the Church of England at St. Peters in Northampton on February 7, 1887, by their good family friend, Reverend Tom. Her brother Fred and sister-in-law Harriet witnessed the Certificate of Marriage. The certificate states that Sarah was living in St. Peters Parish, and John was living in St. Sepulcher Parish. The marriage certificate states that John’s father was a brewery man; elsewhere, his occupation was given as a farmer. It stated that Sarah’s father was a shoemaker. Upon arriving in Salt Lake City, they were remarried “for time and all eternity” in the Salt Lake Temple. After their marriage, they took several trips to London to visit John’s parent who now lived in London. Sarah later said they were very kindly treated; and a sweet affection existed between them; and she remembered Thomas White as being jovial.

Soon after their marriage, the Latter-day Saint missionaries came from Utah preaching the Gospel, among them being Thomas Ezra Wrighton and Charles Kelly of Brigham City, Utah, and later John Clark who became mayor of Salt Lake City, and others. These young men were very fine morally and spiritually. They made a deep and convincing impression on Sarah and John and the rest of Sarah’s family. After John Samuel Holton’s death, Jane Scroxton came to live with Ann Scroxton Holton. They moved to Similong Street at Northcote Terrace. Sarah and John lived next door to them at No. 1 Northcote Street, where Cicely was born on February 18, 1887. It was at Northcote Street that the Holton family first became acquainted with the Latter-day Saints. Sarah’s family was the first to investigate. Later, the missionaries came to John and Sarah’s home. Both before and after their conversion, the missionaries were always welcome to stay at their home, without charge. As a couple of missionaries would leave for another field or be released, they would take into their home another pair, and so on. They were always given the best of everything, accommodations as wells as food. Their home became a haven of hospitality and comfort for these missionaries traveling without purse or scrip, and they appreciated the kindness extended to them.

The church meetings were held on Portland Street in a little chapel over the stables; one would hear the horses below.1 Here they heard “Come Come Ye Saints” for the first time; this song gripped their hearts.2 They first heard Daniel H. Wells, President of the Mission, at this place. He was over eighty years old and had to walk two miles through the snow, at times. There was a fire burning in the open grate. Cousin Ellen Holton and the Charles Browns were there. The Browns invited President Wells to sleep at their home that night. They had a fireplace and a warming pad made of copper, filled with hot coals. It was a foot long.

Some of the young men were not as well versed in the scriptures as those whom they endeavored to convert. In fact, John helped them to understand the Bible more fully, and taught them how “to argue their points more intelligently.” They relied on John a good deal. John and Sarah said they were converted “through the Spirit of God and the spirit of humility and faith that the missionaries possessed, rather than by their knowledge of the scriptures and doctrines.”

Sarah and John were baptized by Elder Wrighton on March 16, 1888. He confirmed them members of the Church on March 18th. Before baptism, they gave up their interest in the Church of England, and when approached their minister and advised him of going to Utah with the “Mormons”, he was taken back and expressed grave regret, telling them he hoped they were sure of the step they were taking. But, they assured him they were, and that they would always remember the joy and happiness and satisfaction that came to them in accepting the Gospel. Their friends tried to persuade them otherwise, but they had made up their minds. It took a lot of courage to give up a splendid position, beautiful home, household affect were auctioneered, the severing of fond affections and bonds of friendship. But the acceptance of such a glorious faith they felt compensated for it at whatever cost, and never did they regret it. When John told the manger of his company where he had been employed for a good many years that he was coming to Utah, he used every effort in induce him to stay, offering him an increase in salary, etc. On leaving, the manager presented him with a token of the love and esteem which he and the employees held for him, and he corresponded with John for a number of years. John had worked for two large stores: Margetts and the Shuttalworth Grocery Company.

Two weeks before their departure for America, Fred and Cicely were vaccinated for small pox. Cicely became very ill from blood poisoning that set in after inoculation. John and Sarah were advised by doctors, relatives and friends to postpone their journey. In spite of the warning that Cicely would be buried at sea, their faith that she would live prevailed. The journey was started on schedule, but with a measure of anxiety.

On April 23, 1888, their household effects were auctioned. Some of those items were bedroom furniture, chairs, a couch, three figures, crockery, a highchair and a perambulator, old bottles, and twenty-two volumes of poets. This auction list survived and is attached.

According to the Church Archives, the Whites left with a group of seventy-one saints from Liverpool on April 28, 1888, on the steamship Wisconsin. John’s diary describing their immigration read as follows, ”Before leaving, on April 26, 1888, we called to bid farewell to Mr. and Mrs. Mayo, Mrs. Ryan, and Mrs. Cheshire. Joe Farr called but were not at home. April 27th a large gathering of saints to see us off and wish us a pleasant journey. Harry Farmer brought our luggage to the station gratis. Richard’s father called to wish us goodbye. April 28th rather a difficult matter to bring our luggage from railway but after tipping a tanner all went well. S. S. Wisconsin clear out of Docks 12 o’clock Saturday. Saw “City of Rome”, “City of Chester”, “Fire King”, and “Nevada”. Fine afternoon but rough at sea. Irish Channel 6:30 p.m. Charles Brown and wife sick; they had to go to bed. 7:45 all our lot a bed, except myself—just thinking of going; ship heaving water, dashing against port holes, very rough on deck. Sarah and I had an 11 months old baby and Fred three years. Baby very sick—people wondered how we dared going with her; but we felt she would live and get to Zion. April 29. Reach Queenstown 8:15 on the 29th.
Damp. Very rough voyage. At 6:30 p.m. can neither stand upright on deck or below. Sarah and Mrs. Brown ill in bed. Etruria 10 miles ahead of us. 5 p.m. Vomiting. April 30. Rough caps of waves, ordered not to go on deck. Expect to meet a storm. Ship rolling every way. All of us on deck but very rough. 12:30 a hurricane came up; threw our boxes down, tins, etc., rattling all over the ship; men and women tumbling all ways; had a sing song this afternoon as they would not have us on deck. Ginger ale. Two women in next bunk to us have not gotten out of bed since we started. 7 o’clock p.m. Gale. Sunshine. Rough on deck. Singing below. May 2. Freddie sick and our baby very ill so far. Passed terrible night. Awfully rough this morning. Afternoon fine; ship going in good style. First night’s sleep. May 3 Morning rather damp but warm breeze. Sea very calm. May 4 A child buried at sea. No vessel yet seen since leaving. Singing and dancing. Very rough. Nothing to be seen around us since Monday but water. Time altered by sun every day 12 o’clock. Thursday, after dinner on deck. Irish and German girls singing. Fog coming on but all jolly on deck. Ginger ale drank in good measure. Been washing 1 dozen napkins for baby today. Vaccination very effective. Singing and leap frog on deck in evening. Rough night. Water all over vessel. 178 miles. 12 to 12 p.m. Next day 12 to 12 p.m. 298 miles. Sturdy, rough morning. Freddie ill. German women picking lice from their children’s heads. Brown’s pastry gone wrong. Had to pay for board for 9 days. No sleep at night. Sunday morning brighter. Went to services in the salon. Singing hymns. For dinner – beef soup, plum pudding to all passengers and crew. Roughest passage all thru the winter. 100 tons of coal used per day. Wet on board. The Wyandotte boat, in distress, tugged into harbor. Arrived New York Harbor a.m. Passed Customs Officer. Dunvorn Docks. Started Thursday 4:15. Steamed across river to railway. 200 miles to Litchberg. Stayed about an hour. Went up town for refreshments. Foliage grand, log huts, etc. Virginia. Bristol, Tennessee. 8:45 a.m. Richmond Virginia. 228 ½ miles from Norfolk. 179 ½ to Bristol. Stopped to gather watercress. Had a good feed. Thunder. Very hot. Fire flies at night by the thousands. Then on to Chattanooga, Memphis, Kansas. Roses in gardens, peas in bloom. Bought bread 5 cents per small loaf, 1 dozen apples 15 cents. Chattanooga Station. Engine broke down in Tennessee, hindered us for several hours. Into Memphis and left next morning. 9:15 crossed the Mississippi River in our sleeping cars on large barge, engine on other side to draw us off. Washed in the river. Kansas City. Change trains on through Prairie. On watch at night. 1230 miles from Kansas to Salt Lake. 40 persons sleeping in our car. Over 20 dead cow lie side of railway tracks. 9:40 a.m. Pueblo, Colorado. Waited til afternoon then started on mountain railway, Rails 1 yard apart. Fine morning, started from Pueblo 2:225 to Arkansas. Snow-tipped mountains; viewed valley. 8:10 stood still on top of mountain surrounded by snow. Beautiful wild country with Rocky Mountains on either side, and wild flowers along track. Board marked “Solitude”. Not a house, man, bird, beast or anything to be seen alive for over 100 miles. Arrived at Green River 190 miles from Salt Lake. 20 minutes to wait but only 2 houses in the place. Average, nine fine days out of 10. No rain for six months. Arrived in Salt Lake on May 18.”

Upon arrival in Utah, they were met by, and taken to the home of Cousins Richard and Ellen Holton and stayed with them until John obtained work. Cicely’s health had not improved. Charles J Thomas was called in to administer to Cicely. He promised them that she would fully recover and enjoy good health and fulfill an active, useful life because of the courage and faith exhibited by her parents in accepting the Gospel and in coming to Zion under such adverse circumstances. Cicely immediately began to improve.

Richard and Ellen Holton (cousins of Sarah) and their two children, Eli and Amy, were the first of the family to be baptized. In May of 1887, they came over on the same boat as Sarah’s brothers and sister, John Samuel, Fred J, and Hannah Wilcox Holton, their mother Ann Holton, and Aunt Jane Scroxton, were already living in Brigham City when John White and his family arrived to Utah.

Fred J. Holton was Sarah’s brother and the first immediate family member to join the Church. Fred was educated at Regent Square British Grammar School but went to work also when very young, as did the other members of the family. He was a brilliant student, making at one time three grades in one year. A wealth man wanted to adopt Fred and educate him as he would his own, but Fred’s mother wouldn’t listen to it. However, Aunt Jane came to his rescue and sent him to Cambridge and Oxford. In May 1887, Fred, Ann Holton, (Sarah’s mother), Aunt Jane Scroxton, and Aunt Hannah immigrated to Utah and settled in Brigham City, Utah. At this time, some of the men of the Church were in jail for polygamy; business was at a standstill. Fred stayed at the home of John Clark’s father. He couldn’t get work. He then lived with the Kelly family. Brother Kelly went to Idaho, and Fred went with him and got a job as a farmer while he was helping Brother Kelly. He finally took up law, studying at Columbia University in Washington, D.C. and at Ann Arbor. He became a distinguished orator, was District Attorney and later Judge of Box Elder County, and held many positions in the Church and civic circles. He at one time taught school during winter months. He married Lucy Perry.

Sarah was very close to her brothers Fred J. and John Samuel thru her teenage years, and she was most proud to be seen in their company. As youth in England, they had a lot of fun together, and always enjoyed each other. They were most devoted throughout their lives, especially John who made numerous trips from Perry to Salt Lake to visit Sarah, especially in her later years. Oft times before breakfast, Florence and Cicely (Sarah’s daughters) would hear John call, “Sarah, are you up”. At times, Cicely and Florence were still in bed on the porch. Those mornings he would say, “Well, girls, you get ready for work, and I’ll dress and take care of Sally (Sarah)”. At that time, Sarah had lost her sight, most of her hearing, and was unable to get around by herself. John took over Sarah’s care while Cicely and Florence were away. Sarah died on June 9, 1943 in Salt Lake City, John died the next day in Perry, Utah.

John Samuel Holton, Sara’s brother, worked as Chief Salesman for Alfred Crockerell Green Grocery Company, the biggest store of its kind in Northampton. They owned large farms where they produced all fruits and vegetables, etc., for their business. They were a very prosperous businessmen and very fond of John Samuel Holton, who was a steady, honest, good man. They gave him a Bible when he left for America in which was inscribed, “Presented to Samuel Holton in appreciation of his many years of faithful service.” His employer was very displeased when he joined the Church and sent for Reverend Hull, Vicar of Old Saints Church, and he asked him to knock the silly idea out of his head. Hull and a friend named McIntyre took him to the minister about 8 p.m. and talked religion until 2:30 a.m., but with no success. John could not be changed. They asked him every kind of question about the scriptures and also about Mormonism, and tried to baffle him, but he always had a ready answer, John said the answers came to him as quickly and clearly as if written on a blackboard before their very eyes. Then the Reverend turned to his own Bible and admitted that John knew much about the scriptures, in fact, more than he did, and he remarked that John knew enough to qualify him for a minister of any belief. John had gained his testimony from the missionaries and the spirit had taught him. John became a farmer; later he built and owned the Holton Store in Perry. He was a High Priest; he had been Superintendent of the Perry Ward Sunday School and a Ward teacher. He had been a member of the Perry school board. He was always active in the Church and civic affairs and loved by all that knew him. His visited John and Sarah White’s home at General Conference times and was a joy to the family, and he was adored. His laugh was contagious and made one feel good just to be near him. He married Olivia Davis, and they lived in a home about half way up the lane. As children, the White family spent many pleasant vacations on the farm with them. They were always kind and loving to the White family. John life came to an end twenty four hours after his sister’s (Sarah Ann Holton) death. Upon receipt of the news of Sarah’s death, John said he would be down on the next bus. As he was sweeping the steps of his store, a drunk driver came along and threw him several feet. As a result, Sarah’s funeral was on June 12, 1943 and John’s funeral was on June 13th on the same hour. He was buried on the Holton lot in the Brigham City Cemetery.

Aunt Jane Scroxton was Ann Scroxton’s sister and was greatly loved as an aunt [by Florence]. She was a dignified, distinguished, and refined old lady. In early life, she entered services of nobles and titled people, becoming traveling companion to one of the royal ladies, the wife of Baron Marquis Squires, who was known as “Lady Sartoris”. She gave Aunt Jane the christening gown of her babies. She gave it to Sarah Ann. All of Sarah’s children were christened (in England) or blessed (in Utah) in it. Aunt Jane was very well educated: she traveled in many countries of Europe with Lady Sartoris and was a governess for their children. When Jane decided to join the Church, the Sartoris’ offered her a home and an independent life if she would forsake her belief and continue to live with them. Jane was engaged to a fine appearing young man, but immediately broke off the engagement when she found him intoxicated. She was particularly fond on Uncle Fred, her nephew, for whom she did so much toward his education. Upon arriving in Utah, Uncle John, his mother, sister Hannah and Aunt Jane settled on farming property in Perry, Box Elder County. They lived in a cute little log cabin purchased by Jane (5 rooms, with only one inside door, from Aunt Jane’s room to the dining room). They lived at the end of the lane, west of what is now the Holton Store which is located on the Highway. Bishop Alonzo O. Perry built the cabin which was comfy and cozy, and it later became the vacationing place for the children of the White family; many happy days were spent there.1 This cabin was on property adjacent to the farm which was later purchased by Uncle John. During the latter part of Jane’s life, and that of Grandmother Holton, Uncle Fred took the two old ladies into his home in Brigham City, and together with Aunt Lucy, cared for them. Later on, he also took Aunt Hannah. Just before Aunt Jane’s passing, she sang “Oh My Father”, her favorite hymn, sighed and closed her eyes.2 She was born January 1, 1827, and died March 9, 1909.

On arriving in Salt Lake City, John White had a hard time getting work. He walked the streets for days, but without avail.1 Finally as he was standing in front of S.P. Teasdale Store at 132 and 138 South Main, watching a man dress a window, Mr. Teasdale came out and said, “Well, my man, you have been looking in here, do you know anything about this business.” John said, “Yes, sir, I use to do it in England.” Mr Teasdale said to the man who was in the window, “Bring this man anything he wants, he is going to dress the window.” When it was finished, Mr. Teasdale said, “It is splendid, you can have the job.” 2 [see picture of John in this store]

Upon getting a job in Salt Lake City, they first lived in a two story adobe home located at about 4th North between 3rd and 4th West and later at a home on Apricot Street, and later on 1st South between 7th and 8th East.

After Mr. Teasdale went out of business, John worked for W. S. Henderson Company, then Marriot Market on Market Row, and later for C. H. Cutting. Instead of taking a vacation, he applied the equivalent in money (one week allowed) toward family expense. The only places he visited were Brigham City and Farmington, not more than a day at each place.

Though he managed the grocery department of the store, he did most of the heavy work himself, such as carrying the sacks of potatoes from the basement. He was very quick and strong; if he asked a man to do something, he expected it to be done right away; otherwise he would do it himself. His motto was, “If you want something done right, do it yourself.” He put all the energy he possessed into his work. On market day, he was up at 4 a.m. (walking about a mile and half) in order that he might be the first to select the fruits and vegetables. If he didn’t sell them as fast as he anticipated, they would be charged by father to his account and sent to mother for her to pick over. When mother complained, he would say, “Well, I bought too much, so I should be the loser.” He taught the family to never take so much as a pin from their offices.

For the first several years after living in Salt Lake, John’s family had been so opposed to his joining the Church, that they ceased any correspondence whatever.1 One day in desperation because of no reply to his many letters, John wrote his sister Ruth that he was in sore distress financially. Immediately upon receipt of this letter, Ruth wrote him, stating regrets at their silence, and offering to send money for the return of the family to England. In fact, the whole family without exception was most concerned and offered any help necessary. To finally get a letter from them, giving the family news of which he had long been unadvised, delighted him to no end. 2 He replied that he was not in distress financially or otherwise, and that living in this good land was most delightful, but that was the only way he could figure out that would bring word from them. He had been known for his truthfulness and uprightness—he must have been desperate. This was the beginning of regular and steady correspondence from Aunt Ruth. Before her passing, she delegated others to carry on where she left off. Aunt Harriet, Aunt Anne, then her daughter Louis Thompson, and upon her demise, her daughter-in-law Delcie Thompson had written.

The White home at 225 Iowa Street was commenced on August 4, 1890, 1 and was built by Mr. Wade. It consisted of two rooms and a lean to kitchen. Mr. Dangerfield did the plastering, and Mr. Vine did the painting. The statement of Mr. Wade is quite interesting, it totaled $513.12, water an additional $47.50, an outhouse $9.50, paper hanging and painting inside $17.00, to this was added $21.25 for a kitchen made of rough boards; grand total $608.37 (attached at end of history). John borrowed from S. P. Teasdel, his employer, and his mind was never completely at ease until it was paid.2

On October 7, 1889, Alfred Thomas White was born. He must have been an exceptional child. They would often say, “Ma’s my baby; Pa’s my boy.”1 At the age of three, he caught whopping cough. In trying to help the child get better, they had repeatedly promised him a trip to Brigham City. He would shake his head and say, “Alfie not get better. Alfie not go to Brigham City.” Alfie died of whopping cough on June 10, 1892, just 18 days before Florence’s birth on June 28, 1892. Sarah spoke of the pain she felt in washing Alfie’s finger prints off the dining room window, and how she put it off for as long as she could. 2 Sarah said that John was never quite the same after Alfie’s death; in fact, years later, John could not bear to gaze on the face of a little neighborhood girl because she resembled Alfie. He’d say, “Take that child home, she looks too much like Alfie.” This event had become a serious blow to John’s happiness.

John was ordained an Elder on August 14, 1893, a member of the 9th Quorum of Elders in the Eleventh Ward.

Ruth Evelyn was born on February 19, 1895, and died on February 11, 1896. Florence remembered her as a sweet little thing with dark hair and blue eyes. Alfred and Ruth were buried within three years of each other. On May 9, 1897, Grace Darling was born and was healthy, and the family was completed. Grace would remain the baby of the family for eighty years.

Conditions were rather primitive in those days. A cousin would run over a mile to get coal and wood for the coal shed; Fred would do this later when he became old enough. The family had a range for cooking and two stoves for heating. Very often, the stove pipe would get so red that they would run out to see whether sparks were coming out and landing on the wood shingles. When they did, and if John were not at home, they would call their neighbor for help. When the Sears were on their mission and his sister was occupying their house including a large tent to the rear, the tent caught fire. It was feared that before the fire department could arrive, the White home would go as well, since the fire department was drawn by horses taking time to get to their home. Their good neighbor, Reverend Arnold saved it by constantly playing the hose on it. The fruit trees were scorched. Reverend Arnold owned the ground adjoining his home, which extended to the corner of the Avenue. Mr. Vine had a plaster house on which all kinds of vegetables were grown. Nothing would please the children more than to be called to the fence and handed an armful of produce. They burned candles and lit their lamps for years. It was the girl’s jobs to clean the lamp shades. Each girl took turns moving and cleaning everything in the built in cupboard, which had curtains instead of doors; polishing the knives, forks, and spoons; dusting; going to 8th East between 1st and 2nd South for yeast; and fetching water from a spring at the corner of 3rd South and 11th East. They had a hydrant that invariably froze on cold nights. They often thawed it out with ashes and a red hot poker. The only accessible telephone was at a laundry on Lincoln Street. The street car had a motor man and a conductor, and they would stop in the middle of the block, according to where the passenger’s home was located. The first street cars had stoves and ran on tracks in the middle of the road. Herds of cows frequently prevented the White children from reaching school on time, but this practice of herding cattle did not last long. Fred first attended the Eleventh Ward School; he and Cicely then went to the Bryant, and still later, they all attended the Webster School.

Their dear friend, Sister Eliza Wood toiled six days a week, that she might support her four fatherless children. After her husband’s death, she immigrated to America and Zion. She was a marvelous woman, and the Whites dearly loved her. In turn, the children took her hot lunch very often. “I can see her now, wiping the perspiration from her face with the corner of her apron, smiling, kissing and thanking us. On bidding us farewell, she would have a sweet message for us to deliver to mother.” Some of their happiest times were with her family; oft times, the children spent time playing at her home, up a lane from 1st South. Florence made this remark, “Sister Wood, if mother dies, will you be our mother.”

Sarah Ann was a faithful member of the Church and regularly attended Sacrament meetings, exercising her faith and belief in the Gospel. She taught it diligently to her children, and though quite and gentle, she was strong in her religious convictions and often expressed gratitude that she had been permitted to come to this land, blessed above all other lands.

John’s religious activities were marred somewhat because of working condition which necessitated going to the store on Sundays. For years, he was a Ward Teacher and saw to it that no one on his block suffered for lack of food, or coal, often paying for these necessities from his own pocket. He gave most freely to all contributions of the Ward, and he enjoyed the Ward Teachers, Brother Mills in particular. He was always anxious that his children participated in Church activities. The family attended the Eleventh Ward located at the corner of 8th East and 1st South. Robert Morris was a favorite bishop, who was especially kind to the family, especially during illnesses. Sunday evening, John felt too tired to go to church very often, so he would remain home while the family attended Sacrament meeting. He usually greeted his children with hot, buttered baked potatoes on each plate. 1 He even tried to make a Yorkshire pudding; they were not able to eat it. They very seldom had a Sunday dinner without a Yorkshire pudding; sometimes it was steamed.2

John was very fond of B. H. Roberts, James E. Talmage, Orson E. Whitney, President Heber J Grant, and others (General Authorities of the LDS Church). He would often take his children to the Salt Lake Tabernacle to listen to them. 1 Between General Conference sessions, he would buy meat pies for his family.

One Sunday evening, the Bishop called father and William Seare, their neighbor, to speak without notice. “Father was a reserved, shy man, and this humiliated him.” He said, “Speakers who were use to getting up before an audience were told before hand and had time to prepare their talks, but he had never done it before and it frightened him.” After that, he avoided church and usually sat in the gallery as not to be seen.

John would often recite Shakespeare to his family. He had entire acts of the bard’s play memorized and would often recite long passage to his family. On Saturday night, all the Sunday shoes would be lined up in the kitchen, and he would polish and clean shoes so his family would look respectable when they entered the house of the Lord. The family could always tell when their father was angry; because when the bad mood hit, he would clean the pantry. The family would leave a silent father, as they left their home to attend sacrament meetings. When they returned, the father would be whistling, and the pantry would have fresh paper on the straightened and rearranged shelves. 2

John and Sarah were active in helping neighbors. They were particularly devoted to Sister Frances Cornell, stepmother of Florence Knight. She lived on the corner of Iowa Street. Sister Cornell sewed carpets at Walker’s Department Store. Her husband was not well, and she was forced to make a living. Florence Knight looked upon Sarah as her own mother and confided in her. Her husband was John M Knight who was called on a mission before their daughter Minnie was born; Mother made the baby clothes for this advent. Throughout the years, Florence always kept close contact. Sweet friendships developed with the Daingerfield, Isaac Seare, Rhoda Seare and C E L Jackson who served one another. Hickcox, Hulberts, Coulams, Vines, Arthur Brown, George Mills, Penroses, Camerons, Martha Banks, and Sister Jones, Tucketts, Stams, and Eisenmanns were thought of as friends.

In 1910, John’s exceptionally good health changed to the worst. Early in the year, he came down with pneumonia. On June 16, 1910, Dr. G. V. Parmelee diagnosed peritonitis and was confined to bed from June 18th to July 12th. He started work again on July 22nd. During his last illness, Dr. Middleton was called in; at which time, John was suffering from nephritis, acute inflammation of the kidney. He died on October 2, 1910, at home at the age of 52. 1 As was the customer in the early part of the twentieth century, his body was embalmed in the parlor where his body remained for the days prior to the funeral. The odor of the formaldehyde in their home lingered in Grace’s senses, now thirteen years old, as a haunting reminder of death for the rest of Grace’s life. 2 The funeral services were held in the old stone Eleventh Ward Chapel, and it was well attended. Many fine tributes were paid to him, among which were stressed his honesty and integrity and as being wise and strong. He was buried at the Salt Lake City Cemetery.

After John’s death, the Cracrofts, whose fine son Ralph married Grace, became an important friend. This brought into the family a loving tie, a joy that was expected to continue into the eternity. Inasmuch as John their father passed away, George Cracroft, who was so friendly and jovial, asked the girls to call him “Dad”. Sarah, Cicely and Florence had some lovely times with the Cracrofts and their Ford, which he called “Lizzie”. Upon returning home he would say, “We had a good time and thank God I brought you home safely”, still unsure of his driving skills.

Sarah liked to read. Nothing in the newspaper escaped her, not even the funnies or the ads. Before Mrs. Lucas phoned her in the morning for her order, she would compare grocery and meat prices. Sarah was a good manager of the family budget and never wasted anything. Rhoda Seare and Sarah listened to the radio every day.1 There were certain stories which they followed: Betty and Bob, Our Gal Sunday, Ma Perkins, Helen Trent, and other productions sponsored by Rinso White, Oxydol and Ivory Soap. 2 The first radio was no larger than a mouse trap. Cicely would put one receiver to her ear and mother would listen over the other. While doing this, she invariably scooped out a grapefruit with the other hand. Cicely called this their ”radio fruit”. Florence would read a book as this was going on. It was quite amusing to see Mrs. Seare rocking in one corner of the room and mother in another, and to hear them discussing what the next episode would be. 1 “The darn fool,” Sarah would say, “He’s doing it again. He should know better.” 2 Sarah particularly enjoyed the Mormon Tabernacle Choir broadcast and religious services not only of her own church, but of other faiths as well. She liked to compare their beliefs with hers and sing with them, old hymns of her girlhood days. She liked to listen to the activities of the Royal family and knew their history. “Captain Dobbsie” charmed her every morning with his, “The world is so full of such glorious things, I’m sure we should all be as happy as kings.” 1

For several years in a row, Sarah’s delicate soft skin broke out with terrible running sores. Impetigo, the doctor said. But it didn’t look like impetigo. During the third year that Sarah was in bed again suffering with this crazy illness, their regular doctor was out of town, and a new doctor made the house call. He took one look at his patient, asked is she had been doing any gardening and if so where. He left the house, went directly east of the porch, took hold of a branch with his handkerchief wrapped hand, pulled it out of the ground and said, “There is your impetigo - it’s called poison oak. Sarah had been cultivating the pesky plant for three years.

As a very little girl, Helen Cracroft was taken by her mother (Grace) on occasion to Grandma White’s (Sarah) following a disagreement between her parents. She remembered Sarah never proving to be much of an ally for her daughter, as she loved her son-in-law pretty much as well as she did her daughter. Grace had gone to her mothers one day, crying and telling the whole sad story of their immediate problem. Sarah listened and then lit into her son-in-law, telling Grace that he was no good; he was a bad person; and she should leave him and come home to live. Grace spoke up and said he wasn’t all that bad. Sarah than told Grace to listen to herself, remember that she loved her husband, and to stop making a fuss every time something didn’t go the way Grace wanted it to go. 2

Sarah was a member of the Eleventh Ward and did a considerable amount of temple work. She took her grandson Jack White to the Temple for a blessing; his noble fine character showed that he had been richly blessed of the Lord. She always felt that though he was not made to hear that the Lord would be mindful of him and work out all things for his good. While at the deaf school in Ogden, he asked if he couldn’t become a member of the Church and have the priesthood. Ruth was not anxious to have her son become a member. Finally, Fred and Ruth consented; Cicely proceeded to make arrangements. Later, he and Vida were married by President J. Reuben Clark in the Salt Lake Temple, and they had three lovely children. The family attended to its duties in the LDS Church. Jack had a good position with the Tribune. 1

Only during the last few years of Sarah’s life did she become discouraged. She lived to be eighty-five years old. Her last illness was long and wearisome. The loss of her sight and her hearing were more than she could graciously stand at times. Every care was extended by medical science, children, and friends. Prior to her passing, she spoke often of joining her husband and children. When her mind was clear, she wanted to live to see Laury Cracroft home from the war, Paul from his LDS Mission, and Marjorie Thomsen home from the war camps; they were absent when she passed away. Sarah died on June 9, 1943. Thus came to a final earthly existence that of the most precious mother in all the world, one without a flaw or blemish, a noble soul of sweetness, tenderness and devotion, one of faith in God and loyalty to all she knew. God bless her memory. It will live on through the ages in the hearts of her children. Her services were held in the Eleventh Ward Chapel on Tenth East. Bishop E. A. Child officiated. 1

Written by Florence White with inserts written by Helen Cracroft White

Memories of Sarah:


I remember Grandma for her sweet gentle spirit and her love of family. Grandma came from a very loving family. It truly was always unconditional love for each of us. As to criticism of her children, she had a deaf ear, especially for my father, Fred. What a dear!

I remember her love for flowers. The flowers she loved in England were sweet Williams, moss roses, lavender, wallflowers, and violets. Grandma knew that I too had a great love for the fragrant little violets. She would say, “Marjorie dear, would you like to pick a bouquet of violets for me?” These were especially happy times, to stoop down and pick these fragrant little flowers, such joy for me!

My father, Fred, would take Grandma and the girls to Perry and Brigham City to visit Uncle John, Uncle Fred, and their families. Grandma always had a special cache of English peppermint candy stashed in her handbag. She never lacked a generous supply for each of us. I recall as a three year old, going to Uncle Fred’s home on Forest Street to attend a family prayer service for their son Perry, who died in France during World War I. I was not familiar with family prayer. I recall kneeling on the cold grey linoleum floor. It was a new experience for me. I did not comprehend the serious sadness they were enduring. Life gives us many blessing and sorrows. We each have our share of both. Hopefully, we will have Grandma Sarah’s patience and wisdom when they occur.

Grandma had some physical problems, but modesty caused her not to seek the help of her physician. She did have frequent headaches, but a cup of steaming hot black Pekoa tea alleviated the discomfort for her. Grandma developed cataracts later in life, which finally caused her to become blind. She spent time knitting woolen scarves while sitting in her chair.

Grandma ordered her groceries from Lucas Grocery Store and from Wirthlin’s Meat Market. She enjoyed conversing with them. How times have changed; life is quite different now. We do not have a special relationship with our grocer like Grandma did. We have all become too busy to socialize. Maybe we should stop and smell the roses once again, like Sarah Ann did.

I remember Grandma whenever I smell lavender, peppermint candy, and violets. The smell of Listerine will bring back the memory of Grandma. Grandma used Listerine not only for sore throats, but also as an antiseptic for skin sores. I will always remember Grandma for her button shoes and her beautiful braided hair. Her smile was like an angel. How could I ever forget her gentle caress. Sarah Holton, my angel Grandma.3

Written by Marjorie White Thomsen



A favorite poem of Sarah’s:

“He sees when their footsteps falter, when their hearts grow weak and faint,
He marks when their strength is failing and listens to each complaint,
He bids them rest for a season, for the pathway has grown too steep;
And folded in fair green pastures, He giveth His loved one sleep;
Like weary and worn out children, that sighs for the daylight’s close,
He knows that they oft are longing for home and its sweet repose;
So He calls them in from their labors ere the shadows around them creep;
And silently watching o’er them, He giveth His loved one sleep.” 1


1. Written by Florence White, daughter of Sarah Ann, and gently edited by Richard W. Thomsen
2. Written by Helen Cracroft White, daughter of Grace White Cracroft
3. Written by Marjorie White Thomsen

Beloved Sarah Ann
Beloved Sarah Ann
John White in Northampton, England in 1887
John White in Northampton, England in 1887
Far left and middle: Church of St Peters in Northampton where John and Sarah were married.
Far left and middle: Church of St Peters in Northampton where John and Sarah were married. Far right: Family’s home at No. 1 Northcote Street, Northampton, England prior to moving to Utah.
Left to right: Cicely Janet, John White, Sarah Ann, Frederick John, and
Left to right: Cicely Janet, John White, Sarah Ann, Frederick John, and Ann Scroxton after immigrating to Utah in 1888.
John White is the first man on the left.
John White is the first man on the left.
Sarah Ann and Jack White (Fred’s son) in 1910
Sarah Ann and Jack White (Fred’s son) in 1910
Sarah Ann and John White in 1913
Sarah Ann and John White in 1913
Sarah in 1939 loving her flowers in her backyard garden on Iowa Street
Sarah in 1939 loving her flowers in her backyard garden on Iowa Street
Sarah Ann, Carol White (Jack’s Daughter), and Florence in 1941
Sarah Ann, Carol White (Jack’s Daughter), and Florence in 1941
The White Home at 225 Iowa Street in 2006
The White Home at 225 Iowa Street in 2006
Sarah Ann and Carol White (Jack’s daughter) in 1941 on front porch, Iowa Street
Sarah Ann and Carol White (Jack’s daughter) in 1941 on front porch, Iowa Street
Sarah in her garden in 1941
Sarah in her garden in 1941
Sarah’s greeting on a wedding card to Walter and Marjorie Thomsen in 1938
Sarah’s greeting on a wedding card to Walter and Marjorie Thomsen in 1938
Sarah Ann came from England with this recipe in her head.  She never used a recipe.  Later in life, her daughters measured her ingredients as she pulled a handful of this or a pinch of that.  This recipe card was copied by Marjorie White Thomsen and is in her hand.
Sarah Ann came from England with this recipe in her head. She never used a recipe. Later in life, her daughters measured her ingredients as she pulled a handful of this or a pinch of that. This recipe card was copied by Marjorie White Thomsen and is in her hand.
This is the true, unadulterated, official Sarah Ann, Yorkshire pudding recipe, written by Cicely, and given to Ruth White.  Marjorie White Thomsen believes the flour requirement to be 2 cups instead of 1 cup.  1 Qt of milk is one quart or 4 cups.  Other recipes would suggest 2 cups of milk instead of 4 cups.  Perhaps this is not the official recipe.
This is the true, unadulterated, official Sarah Ann, Yorkshire pudding recipe, written by Cicely, and given to Ruth White. Marjorie White Thomsen believes the flour requirement to be 2 cups instead of 1 cup. 1 Qt of milk is one quart or 4 cups. Other recipes would suggest 2 cups of milk instead of 4 cups. Perhaps this is not the official recipe.

Did the Whites have problems with their numbers? The Cracrofts must have!

Helen, Paul, and Dick Cracroft are the grandchildren of Sarah Ann and the children of Grace White and Ralph Cracroft. The Cracrofts came from Eastern England, closer to France and thus, less reliable English blood. They believe they have the official Yorkshire pudding recipe that differs from the above recipe. Did the Cracrofts corrupt the recipe? When will this mystery be resolved?
Contractor’s Invoice for building the White’s Home at 225 Iowa Street in 1890
Contractor’s Invoice for building the White’s Home at 225 Iowa Street in 1890
Auction List of Personal Items from home in North Hampton, England in 1888
Auction List of Personal Items from home in North Hampton, England in 1888