Rebecca Wood Moss
In the year 1800 there lived in the state of Now York a man by the name of Henry Wood. He and his family were called loyalists. He moved his family across the Canadian border, then called upper Canada, to the little town of Earnetown. The land in that territory was divided be the English government into what was called land grants, and given to the people who would come in there and settle, cultivate and till the soil.
My father who was Daniel Wood was the son f this Henry Wood. He was born in New York on October 18, 1800 and was only three years of age when he moved with his father and mother to Earnestown, Canada. After they had lived there for some four or five years they moved to Loughborough, a little town not far from Sidneyham, which is situated North of the Great Lakes. There they took up-more land and made themselves a new home. It was in this town that my father met my mother. Her name was Mary Snider. She was born in this town on November 5, 1803. My mother was a very beautiful character, always mild, kind, modest, sincere and persevering. My father a man of very strong character and personality , honest, brave, hardy and steadfastly true to his convictions. Once his mind was made up to the truth, nothing could swerve him from his course. They were married in this town and there they built their home. "I",.Rebecca Wood Moss was their first child born, May 11, 1826 and it was there I spent the first part of my childhood, romping, playing and helping my parents with the little tasks children do.
My Grandparents were staunch Methodists. My father and mother also belonged to the same Faith. One day two Mormon missionaries came into this humble little town to preach the "Gospel of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints." A religion Just recently brought to earth by revelation to a young boy by the name of Joseph Smith. Those elders preached Faith, Repentance and Baptism by emersion and then they went on their way. My father was so impressed by this doctrine that he could not forget it or pass it over. His religion did not teach baptism by emersion, and so when a reformed minister by the name of Robert Perry, came to that town preaching baptism, he and mother were baptized by him. Sometime latter Brigham Young and Joseph Young, his brother, came into town preaching the true gospel. My parents were overjoyed and received them with open arms. They ware baptized February 17, l833 by Brigham Young and on May 12, 1834 the day after my eighth birthday, I was baptized.
This very same year in 1834 my father sold our home and farm and everything we could not take with us and left for the United States and for a place called Kirtland, Ohio. We did this for our religion and that we might join the body of the saints and be near the Prophet Joseph Smith. It was rather hard for us to leave our nice home and comfortable surroundings and go to another country to build a new home, but we were very happy with this religion and felt by the promptings of the Lord that we were doing his will.
We traveled with our wagon and horses to Kingston on the shore of Lake Erie. There we loaded everything we had onto the boat called the "Great Britain" and set sail about five O'clock at night. A terrible storm arose and the boat was tossed to and fro upon the water. The sailors said they had not seen such a storm in seven years. My father and mother became very sick and it took us all night long to cross the lake, but when morning came we could see we wera near land. The storm was still raging, but the Lord had blessed us so that we were able to cross safely and land safely. We unloaded our horses and wagon from the boat and continued our journey by land. Finally, we arrived at Kirland. Brother James Lake, another member of the church made us welcome with his hospitality and we lived with him and his family for a short time. After this we bought a farm that laid about four miles from Kirtland where we remained for about four years.
During this time we saw and suffered much of the persecution and mobings of the Saints. It was during this time that the Kirtland Temple was built. My father was called to help guard the Temple and watch over the Prophet Joseph' s home to keep the mob from tearing them down as they were threatening to do. The Doctrine and Covenants was presented to the Church, and many great and important things transpired during those four years that we lived in Kirtland.
We prospered considerably while we were there. We built a very nice house and a large barn. By the Spring of 1837 our enemies drove us from our homes and we started for Missouri. Sacrificing nearly everything we had, we started traveling. We had a very pleasant journey and enjoyed good health. We became so used to traveling that we considered ourselves at home wherever we camped. On the llth of June, we landed at Davies County Missouri, where we took up a new farm. Father cut a new set of logs and laid them up for our new home. The roof was made of pealed bark. About this time father took very sick, but he got up from his bed to attend family prayers. He prayed that he would be made whole and in less than four hours he was well enough to do a days work. By the lst of August the mob began to rage on every side. They would come to tell us that if we did not leave they would kill us. They were very terrible at times and would frighten us children but our father and mother were so courageous and faithful, always trusting in the protection of our Father, that at night we could lie down in our beds with only a blanket hung up for a door and sleep soundly.
The mob kept gathering thicker and fiercer, swearing vengeance against us and all the other Mormons in that county. One night the mob shot at one of our guards and took one of our spies prisoner. We were ordered to leave and all of our people prepared to do so. Part of the mob brought their cannon and amunition and stored them under the floor of an empty house. In some way they were frightened away and we took possession of it. This took place in September.
Time went on and by the first of October the mob had set fire to all the surrounding prairie and the land about us. We were in very grave danger so we moved on to Far West, which was about eighteen miles to Davies County, Missouri. When we arrived there, we had to move into a log house with three other families. A terrible snow storm arose and as we had to sleep on the floor our beds were covered with four inches of snow, but still the mob kept gathering in on all sides of us. Some of the men had to stand guard both day and night. We were in this condition for some length of time. By this time the mob numbered into the thousands. Our people made what preparations they could to defend themselves. At last they gatherd on Goose Creek right to the side of us. We could see them and hear their shouting and the firing of guns and their instruments of war. Our people lay in groups on every side of the city. Now and then they would catch one of our men. A man by the name of William Cary, was taken and beaten on the head with the butt end of a gun. He died shortly afterwards.
Finally hundreds of them formed a line of battle. Two or three hundred of our men came up in single file to meet them. As soon as this was done they took down their flag and hoisted a flag of truce and asked for an interview. This excitement lasted for several days until five or six of our brothren betrayed our beloved prophet and his brother Hyrum into the hands of the mob. They told the Prophet that the mob wanted him and others to sign a treaty of peace. They were taken prisoners and our people were immediately ordered to deliver up our arms. The next morning the whole city was put under guard. We soon became short of food for we had to leave everything we raised back in Davies County. The mob had taken possession of the city. They called themselves soldiers. Shortly a load of provisions came for the mob. My father went over to one of the wagons where they were dealing out the food. They mistook him for one of their number and gave him out a portion, according to the number in our family. Father said he did not think there was anything wrong about it and he did it honorably. He felt truly thankful to Our Father in Heaven. We were blessed greatly in that not one of us ever lacked for a meal, and that we always had a little to spare to help those who were more needy than we. Our city was under guard and my father soon discovered that if he dressed like a Missourian that they would not harm us. He put a red patch on his shoulder the same as they had, and he could go in and out of the city as he pleased.
About the first of February we were readv to leave for Illinois. When we left we had a team of oxen and a cow to pull our wagons. After traveling for sometime we sold our cow and bought a yoke of steers and a new dress for my mother. The month of February was fine weather so fine we could make our beds on the ground. Father always taught us to never deny that we were Mormons for fear of persecution. Since we left our first home in Canada, we suffered almost everything but death. We have been hunted as beasts of the field, the mob seemed never to be satisfied.
We traveled until we came to Illinois and when it came our turn to be ferried across the river we went into that State. In Mount Sterling, Brown County, we rented a farm belonging to a man by the name of Larkons. Here we raised a great deal of corn. When we landed in this place, father had scarcely any food and only fifty cents in money. The people in this place were very prejudiced against the Mormons and would not trust them with anything. Father felt that he must break this attitude and prove to them, that the Mormons were honest and upright. He went to the merchant of the town and persuaded him to lend him five dollars and he promised to pay him back in a certain number of days. He took the money and went to another place of business and had it changed into small change and then on the morning of the day he was to pay it back he went bright and early and gave the merchant the money. The man was well pleased and fathers credit was established for good.
At this time there were five of us in our family; my father, mother, myself, eighteen years of' age, and my two brothers, Henry and John.
From Brown County we moved further on to Pike County, Illinois, which was about sixteen miles distance, and rented another farm. My father was made President of that Branch of the Church while we were there. Here I met and was courted by a young man by the name of John Moss. He was of medium build with dark hair and eyes. He was a very mild and pleasing personality. His faith was my faith; his trials were my trials and our interests were one. We were married in the early part of 1844 and cast our lot along with the rest of the saints. By the end of' this year, on November 16th a sweet baby girl, our first child, who was named Mary was born to us to make our union stronger and our lives and love greater. There were many pleasant things tlat came along in our lives that helped us to endure the hardships, that we were called upon to pass through from day to day and this was one of them.
In September 1845, my fathers family was stricken with the fever or ague which took many of the lives of the saints. At this time the mob was raging about and swearing vengeance on the Mormons. They were so fierce that my brother Henry had to stand guard at our door day and night. Finally he was stricken with the disease and death soon took its toll in our family. Henry died and was buried in the Nauvoo burial grounds. This was the most severe trial that our family had been called to pass through. He was such a good boy and fathers right hand man in everything that he did.
Sometime after the mob drove us to Nauvoo where we stayed for a short time while preparing to make the great move West. In the month of April in 1846 the saints were organized into companies of hundreds, fifties and tens. This great body of men and women and children prepared to move. We did not know where, but we did know that the mob would not let us stay there. We were only able to take provisions enough to last one year and we did not know but what we would have to travel for years. With my fathers outfits, we had four wagons, four yoke of oxen and four or five cows. When it was necessary we would yoke up the cows in front of the oxen.
We had not travelea long when we found ourselves in the wilderness. There were no houses or signs of civilization. Terrible storms of thunder and lightning and rain caused it to be verv muddy. One night the storm was so bad that everyone in the camp had to climb out of bed and hold onto the tents and bedding to keep them from blowing away, and when the lightning would flash, we could see everyone running around in their night apparel, and we had to lay over the next day to dry ourselves.
We were in an Indian country by now. We corralled our wagons every night in a ring; every man would lock his wagon wheel to the wagon ahead of him. The people would all be inside of the corral and a few of the men would take the cattle a mile or two distant to feed, while at times there would be plenty of feed near the camp. We did not travel on Sundays.
While passing through Pottawattamie County, Iowa, another child was born to us; a boy, this time, whom we named Daniel. This was on January 21, 1847. I cuddled him in my arms and carried him in my apron all the way across those trackless plains, through sunshine and rain, over rocks and through rivers and up the steep mountain sides always protecting our children with our lives.
We saw many wild animals but up to this time not so many Indians, but they had seen us and had gone ahead to inform the few soldiers who were stationed at Fort Laramie that the Mormon emigrants were coming. After a few days we came to a large river called Luke Fork. Here our camp stopped for a few days while the rest of the company moved on. President Brigham came upon us and we joined his train. There were nearly four hundred wagons in this company and we moved on at a very slow rate of speed. After some time of traveling, President Brigham Young called a halt to the camp of Israel and told us that Uncle Sam had gone to fight the Mexicans, and that he wanted five hundred of our men. This little army of men were rounded up which took five hundred of our teamsters. This made it very difficult to go on. Women and children had to drive the teams, yet we enjoyed ourselves very well.
By this time some of the saints were getting low on provisions and we were counceled to break up into smaller groups and thereby make better time. Here we pitched our tents and father went back one hundred miles to missouri to get food stuffs for them.
After many days and weeks of travel, following the trail that Brigham Young led the first company over, and coming down over the mountains through Emiaration Canyon, we got our first glimpse of the Great Salt Lake and the valley that lay at our feet. You could imagine our joy and gratitude at finding our journeys end. It was in August, as we looked down over the valley we could see some four hundred huts of log and adobe, and more than five thousand acres of land had been cultivated and put into crops, but where were the bounteous crops we had expedted to see? We soon learned that the terrible plague of black crickets had devastated the crops and in their stead we saw remaining the scant vegetation that the Seagulls had saved from the devouring pests. For the next twelve months we lived like the rest of the saints on rations of sego, thistle roots and cooked and ate raw hides.
Not long after we arrived in the valley, another little girl was born to us, Elizabeth born June 7, 1849 but she did not stay long with us as she took whooping cough and died.
We did not stay long in Salt Lake, but turned our faces north for about eight miles and there my husband and I chose a tract of land which was later identified by being situated about a quarter of a mile south of the Woods Cross O.S.L. Depot, on the west side of the road. On a slope just west of the road we built a dugout. This dugout and our wagon served as our home for nearly two years. Here Joseph was born, August 10, 1850 and he was the second white child born In this part of the country.
Our next home was built nearer the street and was made of logs and adobe with a huge fire place in the north end. Here, all our cooking was done over the open fire. The floors were bare at first and it took much hard work to keep them scrubbed white and clean. Corn, wheat and potatoes were our main crops. As time went on we accumulated a few sheep and as they increased they became the foundation of a Great Livestock and Sheep Corporation of which my husband was the founder.
How the time flew during the next few years. With the work of pioneering a new country that probably no white person had ever walked upon. Clearing sagebrush, removing the rocks, and burning the brush, plowing and tilling the soil, planting, fighting the grass-hoppers, hauling logs, helping to build places of worship, hauling stone from the canyons many miles with ox teams to build our temple, cording, weaving, spinning the wool, flax and hemp making our own dyes, and hats. Practically every article that was used or worn was made by our own hands.
With all these duties and responsibilities John and I did not allow them to take up our entire time. We always found time to attend our church duties, for after all, that is what we came here for. The hardships we had gone through, the persecutions we had suffered, and the pioneering of a new country, would have all been in vain had we not taken time to establish our faith and carry it on after we arrived here. For nine years I labored as a teacher in the Relief Society. In 1879 I was chosen to work in the Presidency of the Relief Society with Sister Phebe Atkinson and Rebecca W. Brown. Between the years of 1844 and 1867, twelve children were born to us. The four I have mentioned and the following. eight:
Mary Moss Moyle born Nov. 16, l844, died January 22, 1921.
Daniel Moss born Jan. 21, 1847, died Jan. 27, 1925.
Elizabeth born June 7, 1849, died 1849.
Joseph Moss born Aug. 10,, 1850, died Dec. 31, 1934.
John Hugh born Nov. 16, 1852, died Nov. 22, 1920.
William born June 21, 1855, died Nov. 8, 1933.
Moroni, born Oct. 17, 1857, died Feb. 5, 1921.
Rebecca Jane born Jan. 30, 1860, died May 28, 1873.
Ellen Moss Hatch born June 3, 1862.
Nephi Moss born Sept. 7, 1864, died Oct. 27, 19l9.
Alice Moss Egan born Nov. 20, 1866, died Aug. 8, 1923.
Henry born Nov. 15, l867, died Oct. 24, 1934.
One day when we had all gone to Salt Lake, except Mary and Joseph, who was about five years of age, a big Indian came into the house and ask her to give him the little boy. Of course, she refused and so the Indian tried to catch Joseph with the lasso rope. Mary screamed and ran for help to a man who was working outside. When he came, the Indian left them, much to the relief of the children.
So far, is the history of one of "Gods Noble Women" who sacrificed her life and all the comforts and pleasures that a good woman is entitled to for the sake of truth, her religion and her family. Grandmother Moss was a rather large woman, with strong rugged limbs that fitted her surroundings and yet graced her labors and her position. She had a very lovely complexion, her hair a light brown and eyes that wore a soft gray-brown that looked at you with sincerety, honesty, and friendliness.
She died at her home in Woods Cross, March 4, 1882 with Typhoid Pneumonia at the early age of 56 years, surrounded by her husband and ten living children and seventeen grand children. She was honored and loved by all who knew her.
Up to the year 1934, she has been blessed with the numerous posterity to carry on the work for which she so nobly lived.
Compiled and written by Leila Moss Grant Lee