John Rider

by granddaughter Marguirite R. Davis

John Rider, my grandfather, the first child of Thomas Rider and Ann Jane Rowland was born 08 November 1837, in Milltown, Monoghan County, Ireland. Two more sons, Thomas and James, were born there, also and then the family moved to Waterfall, Stafford County, England. A potato famine in Ireland during which many people died was the probable cause of the family moving at this time after living there just four years.

John's father, Thomas Rider, was born in Morwich, Norfolk, England, about 1811. His wife, Ann Jane Rowland was born at Glasslough Belfast, Antrim County, Ireland about 1815 (TIB). She was a milliner by trade and owned her own business. Thomas is said to have owned a sizeable estate in England.

Thomas and Ann Jane had five more children in England: Ann Jane, Louisa, Francis, Isabella Letitia, and Benjamin. Benjamin was about a year and eight months old when his father died 03 September 1840. The death certificate states that he was a "Custom House Officer" and that he died of tuberculosis of the elbow after an illness of one year. They were living at Langdon Stoke on Trent, Stafford, England.

I was told that the Riders were Catholics and when my grandfather heard the gospel from Mormon missionaries in 1855 he became very interested. He was baptized 28 June 1857. His mother was opposed to the Church and bitterly told him that she never wanted to see him again and disinherited him. However, when he went on a mission to England in 1879, he went to see her and he made peace with her. No others of his family joined the Church.

Soon after joining the Church, he was ordained a priest and was given an assignment to assist the elders in preaching the gospel for two years. He was prepared to go to America, but he was ordained an elder and again was called to missionary work, laboring one year in Glasgow, Scotland, and one year in Essex, England, presiding over each of these two conferences.

He was again ready to go to America. A widow, who was eager to go to Utah and had no money, accepted his fare. When the Saints were loading he was there watching them embark on the ship "American Congress". The Captain, Albert Woodward, saw him standing there and offered him transportation for services and he became a passenger.

John Nicholson was given charge of this company of Saints, 350-500, from Great Britain to the banks of the Missouri River, by Elder Brigham Young who was then president of the European Mission. My grandfather was assigned to be a councilor to John Nicholson on this journey.

The ship left the Port of London on the 23rd of May 1866. After sailing for several days a heavy fog settled over the ocean lasting for four days preventing the captain from using his sextant. Nevertheless, he pushed on being anxious to make time. Elders Nicholson and Rider were conversing with the captain on the quarter deck when my grandfather happened to turn his face

in the direction in which the ship was sailing. At that moment the fog lifted up from the surface of the sea as if a veil or scroll had been raised. He saw clearly between the fog and the water for some distance a head.

Suddenly he exclaimed, pointing forward, "Captain, what is that?"

Captain Woodward, who was tall, powerful, and active, made no answer. It was no time for orders. He sprang to the wheelhouse with the agility of a tiger and knocked the man 'heels over head' sending him sprawling on the deck, at the same instant he grasped the wheel, turning it with the most surprising, rapidity. He was busy with his voice as well as his hands and shouted in a clear voice for all hands to 'bout ship. The sailors sprang to their posts and the ship swayed slowly around thus averting disaster on the rocks and breakers ahead which my grandfather had seen. My mother said it was an iceberg.

Had this action been delayed a few moments the ship would have been dashed to pieces and not a soul of the nearly five hundred would have been saved.

The captain asked them not to say a word to the people about the danger with which the ship had been threatened thus preventing much fear and a possible panic. So the company were not aware of the danger through which they had just passed. Elder Nicholson and grandfather thanked God for His goodness in so manifestly exercising His power in behalf of His Saints. The Lord fulfilled the promises made to them by His servants at the time they left England for the land of Zion.

When the vessel came to anchor July 4, a great fire was raging in New York City, resulting in an extensive destruction of docks, warehouses and shipping which presented a striking and awful spectacle to those on board.

The remainder of the journey to the frontier, then in Wyoming, was by steamboat and railroad and came to an end on the 15th of July. The rest of the way to Salt Lake was by ox team arriving there October 1stI 1866, in time for the October conference.

That winter grandfather spent in Salt Lake City. He moved to the Cottonwood Ward in the spring where he was employed in erecting a distillery for William Howard which, at that time, was the largest in the state.

Mary McDonald came to America on the same ship that grandfather came on. When she arrived in Salt Lake she went to work for D. H. Wells until she married my grandfather 28 July 1867, in the Endowment House. They made their home in Cottonwood on what is known now as Highland Drive just north of 48th South. They lived here until they were called by President Brigham Young to go to southern Utah to help settle Kanab. They first lived in a fort with other families each having its own living quarters.

This was primarily for protection from the Indians. As soon as they did not need this protection they all moved out of the fort to their own homes which they had built.

Two boys were born to them at Cottonwood, John and William McDonald, who died there. Their third son, Francis James, was the first white child born in Kanab. They had ten more children: Thomas, David Benjamine, Mary Jane, Louisa Ellen, Rachel Ann, Oscar Leonard, Florence May, Walace Henry (twin), Christina Eliza (twin), and Rowland Wandel.

Grandfather had a likeable disposition. He made friends easily and was loved by the Indians. He was made a counselor for them.

In 1874 on March 12th the United Order was established there in Kanab. John R. Young was president, Bishop Levi Stewart vice president; Thomas Robertson second vice-president; James Lewis, Secretary; John Rider Treasurer; Taylor Crosby, foreman of farming; and Charles H. Oliphant foreman of gardens. Articles and by-laws were drawn up of the association and passed by the people. The heads of nearly every family in Kanab joined the Order. Grandfather was sustained for two more years as treasurer on 3 Jan. 1876. The order was dissolved in 1878 due to increased contention and withdrawals.

The first of Jan 1879 he was called on a mission to England. Grandmother was left with the responsibility of taking care of her family and she was four and a half months pregnant at that time. Her eldest son, John, was eleven years old.

Elder Orson Pratt, also serving on a mission in England, received a letter from President John Taylor on the 5th day of May 1879 informing him that the Twelve had decided that he should obtain electroplates for a new edition of the Doctrine and Covenants. He divided the text into verses and supplied references. He was assisted in this by John Nicholson, Hugh Findlay, John Rider, and Moroni Snow.

Grandfather completed his mission in twenty-one months and was given charge of a company of emigrants from Liverpool to Utah. He was appointed Stake High Priest president on his return to Kanab.

He had learned to be a machinist and a locomotive and marine engineer in England. He was also a builder as well. He built four of the - finest homes in Kanab and they are still standing in good condition.

In politics, he was a believer in the principles of the Republican party. He held the office of justice of the Peace for two years and was a Probate judge for ten years. He was also County Commisioner for two years and served two terms in the State Legislature from Kane County during Governor Murray's administration. He was a school director in Kane County for twelve years. He was also very active in the Church and so he, therefore, was away from home much of the time. This left grandmother with much of the hard work to do. She tended the cows, chickens, gardens, and the children. She supplied yeast for the whole neighborhood-the town of Kanab.

My grandparents decided to move back to Salt Lake in 1895. They lived in the Mill Creek Ward at the corner of Eleventh East and Fifteenth South streets; eleven acres of land comprised the land they settled on.

Mr. Rider has been a delegate to many political conventions and has done a great deal of work for the Republican party in its campaigns in this State. He has been associated with all the prominent men of Utah and his appointments have been issued to him and signed by Governor Thomas, President Harrison, President McKinley, Governor Wells, and Governor Murray as well as Governor Black in 1873, Governor G. W. Emery in 1877 and in September 1886 by Governor W. C. West.

Grandfather followed agriculture wherever he lived. In Salt Lake County as well as Kanab he made a farm out of the barren wilderness. His success has been due entirely to his own efforts and the ability with which he conquered every difficulty that stood in the way of his success.

When my parents, Thomas Rider and Sarah A. Wahlstrom, were married on 05 April 1901, Grandfather performed the marriage. He had been voted to the office of justice of the Peace in 1900. He was active in Church and civil affairs marriage for fifteen years and then they decided to go back to Kanab where he died 19 December 1919 at the age of 82 and was buried in the Kanab cemetery. Grandmother lived until 19 February 1931 and was buried beside her husband.

John Rider

The following article, ''Saved by Providence'' by J. Nicholson appeared in Gems for the Young Folks, 4th Book of the Faith-Promoting Series, Juvenile Instructor Office, Salt Lake City, Utah, 1881, pp. 19-21:

"The Elders of the Church often speak of the care shown by the Lord in preserving His Saints from harm. He has delivered them miraculously from accidents and death many times.

"I will tell of a case in which God exercised his power in behalf of a company of His people.

"The young people who may read this perhaps all know that hundreds and thousands of Saints gather to this country, from far off nations, every year. Many ship loads of them have crossed the Atlantic Ocean - a voyage of nearly 3, 000 miles. On the sea, many accidents occur whereby people lose their lives by drowning, through the sinking of ships in storms. But nothing of this kind has ever taken place with a ship load of Saints. The reason for this is, that God has promised to protect His elect who should gather from the four quarters of the earth in these latter days.

"In the year 1866, Elder Brigham Young, Jr. , who was then President of what is called the European Mission of the Church, appointed the writer of this article to take charge of a company of about five hundred Saints from Great Britain to the banks of the Missouri River, in this country, on their way to Salt Lake City. The Saints did not cross the sea in fast-sailing steamships in those days. They traveled over the waters in slow-going sailing ships, depending for speed on favorable winds. At that time, six week,9 was considered the average length of time for a voyage from England to New York.

"We left the port of London on the 23rd of May, 1866, a very fine company of people, not a few of whom, I am pleased to say, are good, honorable members of the Church, in Utah, to-day. I have in my mind especially now some of the boys who were with us. I have seen them grow up to manhood, and they are still faithful.

"When the ship American Congress, on which we sailed, was near the shores of Newfoundland a thick fog prevailed for several days, which prevented Captain Woodward from taking an observation, being unable to see the sun. He therefore could not tell exactly where we were.

"About this time the captain and Brother John Rider, who now lives in Kanab, and who was one of my counselors in the presidency of the company, were conversing on the part of the ship called the quarter deck. I was standing some distance away from them. Brother Rider happened to turn his face in the direction in vAiich the ship was sailing. At that moment the fog lifted up from the surface of the sea, as if a veil or scroll had been raised. He saw clearly between the fog and the water for some distance ahead.

"Suddenly he exclaimed, pointing forward, 'Captain, what is that?'

''Captain Woodward, who was tall, powerful and active, made no answer. It was no time for orders. He sprang to the wheelhouse with the agility of a tiger, and knocked the man at the helm 'heels over head, I sending him sprawling upon the deck. At the same instant he grasped the wheel, turning it with the niost surprising rapidity. Although his movements were so quick, he did not lose his presence of mind a moment. He was busy with his voice as well as his hands, for while he acted as I have described, he shouted, in clear, loud, piercing tones, the several orders directing all hands to 'bout ship. ' The sailors sprang to their posts. There were active limbs and busy hands among the rigging. The good ship American Congress, swayed slowly around, and the moment of peril was past.

"Had this action been delayed a few moments the vessel would have been among the breakers, upon the rocks, dashed to pieces and probably not a soul of the nearly five hundred on board would have escaped a watery grave.

"The rocks and breakers ahead, on the line of the vessel's course, were what Brother Rider saw when the fog lifted. The captain asked us, as a special favor, not to say a word to the people about the danger with which the ship had been threatened. He being commander of the vessel, we considered it right to respect his desire; besides, we thought his suggestion wise, as a knowledge of what had occurred would doubtless have caused an uneasy feeling among the passengers. The company were, therefore, not aware of the great danger they had escaped.

"Elder Rider and myself thanked God for His goodness in so manifestly exercising His power in behalf of His Saints. The Lord fulfilled the promises made to us by His servants at the time we left England for the land of Zion."


Mary McDonald Rider


By Mary Wood - published in "Descendants and Ancestors of
William McDonald and Christina Wallace" (1968)


Mary McDonald Rider was born at Formal, Lintrathen, Forfar, Scotland, Aug. 1, 1845, the daughter of William and Christina Wallace McDonald.

In the year 1855 two Mormon Elders came to the vicinity of Forfarshire to preach the gospel. This was her first knowledge of the Church of Jesus Christ. She was then ten years of age and joined the Church the following year.

She was baptized by President Andrew McFarlane and Elder John Gillis of the Dundee Branch in Scotland, in the sea at 12 o'clock midnight as the tide was coming in, and was confirmed by these Elders at the sea shore.

Her father didn't want her to be baptized. So she prayed that he wouldn't be angry with her. When she came home all he said was, "So you were baptized, 11 and she wondered how he knew.

She was 20 years of age when she left Scotland to come to Utah, leaving her son with her parents and coming alone.

The Elders of the Church often speak of the care shown by the Lord in preserving his Saints from harm. I will add here a piece written by Elder John Nickolsen in regards to the shipload of Saints with which Mary McDonald and also Bro. Rider came.

In the year 1866 Elder Brigham Young Jr. who was then President of the European Mission appointed John Nickolsen to take. charge of about five hundred Saints from Great Britain to the banks of the Missouri River, in this country, on their way to Salt Lake. They did not cross the sea in fast sailing ships at that time. Six weeks was considered the average length of time. They left London May 23, 1866 in the ship American Congress. They arrived in New York on the evening of July 3rd and Captain Woodward asked them to remain on board to see the 4th of July fire works. It was a wonderful sight that could never be forgotten.

The company left New York July 4th, 1866 for Missouri. They remained there until preparations were made to finish their journey to Salt Lake. They traveled by ox teams enjoying perfect health and good weather the entire trip from Missouri, and arrived in Salt Lake about Sept. 20, 1866 in time to attend the October Conference.

Mary McDonald went to work for D. H. Wells where she remained until she married John Rider July 28, 1867. They made their home in Cottonwood on what is known now as Highland Drive just north of 48th South. They lived here until called in the year of 1870 to go to Kanab and make a settlement there. They had to

protect themselves from the Indians.

As Brother Rider was a very likable man and easy to make friends with everyone, he soon had the Indians as friends.

One time the Indians bargained to buy horses from the settlement. During the night the Indians drove the horses away from town and into a hollow back in the hills where they thought the Whites would not look for them, They then gave orders if they did not have the horses by a certain time they would destroy the homes. All families were ordered to the fort to remain and get ready for trouble.

The time came and no horses, so the Indians were upon the hillside making ready to charge the fort when around the brow of the hill came the herd of horses. The Indians were put out considerable but decided that maybe the Lord was with the small company of Mormons and caused very little trouble after that.

Elde r Rider was an active church worker, also a staunch Republican, holding many offices in Church and Civil work. He was, therefore, away from home a lot of the time leaving Sister Rider the hardest part of the work to do.

She tended the cows and chickens and the gardens. Also supplying yeast for the whole neighborhood--the town of Kanab. She was kind hearted and was always the first to welcome those who came to Kanab into her home and give them the best she had.

After living here for awhile she persuaded her brother Francis McDonald to come to Zion. He took up her home on Highland Drive while she was in Kanab making another home. Later the two were instrumental in bringing their father and mother and another brother David to the land of Zion.

Two boys were born in Cottonwood Ward before leaving for Kanab. There were thirteen children born to her in this union. They came back to Salt Lake in 1895 living here and making another home for about 15 years then returning to Kanab, where she lived until the ripe old age of 86.

Mary McDonald Rider, wife of John Rider, was an excellent mother of more than a dozen children and a leader in the community.

Mary McDonald Rider was loved dearly by her parents, brothers, children, grandchildren, nephews and nieces. Her stories of Scotland and Southern Utah were thrilling to those of us who had the opportunity to hear her. She told of their conversion in Scotland and the difficulties they had over the newly adopted religion. Father Francis McDonald ' her brother, was heard to say that Mary was an angel.

The following are dead: David, James, Francis, John, Tom, Jane, Wallace, and Florence.



by Tamer Hamblin

Away off, in the Scottish highlands, across the ocean wide

Where the heather and the sand dunes are swept by the swelling tide

Here lived a little girl, who grew rugged as the land

Like the mighty oaks, prepared, through the storms of life to sway and bend, but, stand

When through the heavens the angel flew with his glad tidings to mankind

God's messengers were sent, ''The pure in heart" to find

Her great pure soul was touched as with a spark of fire

To answer to the gospel's call, was made her whole desire

"Gather unto Zion" was the cry to every land

Sister Rider came and joined the Mormon band

Across the ocean and the plains as a Mormon pioneer to Utah's land of sun

It was here among the mountains that her married life begun

She met her husband who had sailed from England's neighboring shore

In the holy bonds of wedlock they were sealed to separate no more

She was all a wife could be to the man she held so dear

She answered the calls of her life with him, with courage knowing no fear

Fourteen times down in the shadows, she went, to hear an infant's cry

Then they say she's dead, souls like hers, why! they cannot die

Too noble to mingle with the dust, she's gone to grace a throne

Gone to that noble pioneer band, gone from us, but just gone home

Four score years of life, lived full, from day to day without complaint

Happy to have answered the calls of life, glad that she was a "Latter Day Saint"

She never longed for praise or fame but humble went her way

"I couldn't preach a sermon, 11 she was often heard to say

"I just did the work at home, so John could help his fellowmen

Seeing that all things were ready when he came back again

Yes, I gave the neighbors a johnny cake or a cup of yeast"

I can hear the angels answer her, "Come, sit here at the feast. it

Just in the glorious dawn of yesterday's beautiful day

She heard a voice calling in the distance far away

"Dear faithful soul, we're ready, come to thy rest on high

Life eternal is yours, you do not have to die

Yes, there is a happy meeting in that land of after while

There are parents, husband, children and friends with their loving smiles

She shall be made to feel she is welcome, that her life was a sermon each day

She'll be at home in the beautiful land, she'll be glad and willing to stay

As age creeps on her children they will realize her worth

Praising her name in honor that she gave them life and birth

For though they live beyond her years they will never find another

That will live and do, what she has done for them, their humble, loving mother

For the life of hardship and trial, for the life of obedience and love

For the life of a noble woman that God created and sent from above

For her fine example of living, for her honesty, courage and cheer

We bow in reverent homage to this true, noble Pioneer