ETHER ENOS MCBRIDE

Seventh child, son of Robert McBride 3rd and Margaret Ann Howard


Click on Stories of wives (1) Mary Jane Moffett, (2) Constance Ann Stephens (Eggleston)

I was born in the town of Rothsay, Isle of Butte, Scotland, in the year 1848 on the 29th day of February, close by the Rothsay Castle, which is celebrated in history.

At the age of five years we moved to England, our steamer had to stop at the Isle of Man over night. We were seventy-five miles from Liverpool. What surprised us children most was to see all the cats were bobtailed. (These were the famous Manx cats, a species born without tails.) The next day we went to Liverpool and loaded our household goods on a cart and started for Grandmother’s, my mother's mother. She lived in Churchtown, 21 miles from Liverpool. It got very dark and we had to stop over night at the Morris Dancer’s Inn. The next day we went to Granny’s and we were almost crowded out by Aunts, Uncles and cousins and neighbors that came to see Aunt Margaret and Uncle Robert and family. We were very kindly treated by them all. The next day we moved to South Fork there we lived three years. In April 1856, the Lord opened up the way for us to come to Zion.

We embarked on the good ship Horizon, It being a new ship and had only made one trip across the ocean. The Captain's name was Reed. We made a remarkable quick trip across the ocean and landed in the city of Boston. All was bustle getting past the Customs Officers and getting our few belongings loaded on the car and started westward for the land of Zion. We were permitted to ride on a train to Iowa City, the terminus of the railroad at that time. From Chicago we had to ride in cattle and freight cars. The night we arrived at Iowa there was one of the worst storms of thunder, lightning and rain that I have ever experienced. They had wagons and teams to haul our luggage to camp, about three miles, but we had to walk. It being so dark we could not see anything, and we had a great time.

A great many tents were put up on the camp grounds and we got into one of them, but everything we had was so wet; but we passed the night somehow and were all there. When morning came the sun shone bright, then there was some hustling among the people to get their goods spread out to dry. We were delayed there three weeks waiting for our handcarts and the people got very nervous and uneasy at the long delay, as they knew they had a long journey before them. At last we started about three o’clock in the afternoon. A good many grumbled making such a late start, but Captain Martin told them to be patient and they would soon see the wisdom of it. We crossed the Iowa River and traveled about five miles and then camped for the night and then they could see the wisdom of making a short drive at first so the people could get used to camping. The next day our company started early and were very tired before night. In the evening there was singing until about 9 p.m. when the sound of the bugle called to prayers.

And so we traveled across the Iowa Plains crossing rivers, and small streams until we reached the Missouri River at a place they called Council Bluffs. We then traveled up the river about three miles to Florence, where there was a ferry boat and it took about 2 or 3 days for Daniel Tyler’s Company to arrive and then we were all placed in one Company. It was such a large company, however, that we had to travel very slowly across the Nebraska Plains. Several aged persons died and were buried by the roadside and after the sad rituals were held we wended our way again. We had to burn Buffalo chips to cook our frugal meals.

As far as the eye could see there was not a hill in sight, or a tree. We crossed several streams of water and some pretty large rivers. The old folks and we children would start early in the morning and get as far as we could until the others overtook us with the handcarts. The ox teams that hauled tents and provisions usually traveled behind the handcarts. We had a great many handcarts break down and lost some of our cattle, which made some delay. It was quite an undertaking to get nearly 1,000 persons who had never been away from home, never seen a campfire in their lives to get used to a trip of that kind and required a great deal of patience to get these started and to get them camped at night. We saw a great many buffalo as we traveled up the Platte River. Our leaders forbade us, as it made the Indians mad to have them shot, so we used to hire the Indians to kill them for us. The one I saw killed was a young buffalo cow. An Indian was after her on horseback and when she tried to turn he would shoot an arrow into her side and keep her straight for our camp. We saw, great herds of buffalo estimated to be 50,000 in a herd. I will never forget one day when we met 3,000 Sioux warriors all dressed in their war paint, going east to fight the Pawnees. I remember how they laughed and jabbered to each other and how frightened we were. But they gave the road to us and made signs to us that they were our friends and they would not hurt us, that we were mostly squaws and papooses and it would not be brave to try to kill us. We got over that scare all right, so we plodded along day after day until we reached the Wyoming line and our provisions were cut down to 3/4 of a pound of flour a day and as the Indians were very bad that year, we had to be very careful, the men had to stand guard every night,

The weather got very cold and then commenced our real suffering. We had our flour cut to 1/2 pound a day and a great many of the older people died, and many young people were not able to stand the hardships. We were cut again to 1/4 pound of flour a day. Our teams gave out and when they died we were glad to eat them. The snow began to fall and then our suffering was intense. My father died somewhere along the Sweet Water. The snow got so deep we could not get away any farther, so we concluded we just as well die there as anywhere else, so we gave up and trusted in God to deliver us. That night three teams from the Valley arrived and reported that more would be there soon and one that has never been in such a fix could imagine how we felt for men, women and children knelt down and thanked the All Mighty God for our delivery from certain death. It put new life into all. the people.

I well remember how glad we all were and how we all rejoiced in the prospect of arriving in the valley. The next day several teams arrived and finally we were all loaded into the wagons. We traveled slowly along, early and late until we arrived at the Big Mountain. The snow was very deep and there were a great many men there from Salt Lake with shovels digging-the snow out of the road so the teams could pull the wagons up the long hill, and they had built fires on the side of the road so people could warm, as all who were able to walk had to do so. Finally we got to the top and then it was downhill and we finally arrived in Salt Lake City on the 30th day of November 1856. Our teamster took us to his sister's place where we were kindly treated. The next day we drove as far as Farmington. The snow was very deep; we stopped at Mr. Grover’s place and oh how different it was from our other stopping places. After the older folks got through supper there was not any food left for us hungry children so we had to go to bed half starved. Next morning we started for Ogden where we arrived about sundown. We were taken to an old gentleman's house. His wife had been dead about two years. He was very poor but he told his housekeeper to see that we had plenty to eat. Everybody in that part of the country seemed to be very poor as most of them had been driven from their homes in the east and robbed of all they had and had just got homes started again and began to get a little around them. After stopping with the old gentleman a few days they got us a house about 10X12 feet covered with dirt and a dirt floor, a fireplace in one end of the room and when it rained the water and mud would run down the walls and drip on our bed and us children used to say to mother, "Is this Zion?" She would say never mind children the Lord will provide.

I thought many times how mother must have felt to live in such a place after living in a comfortable home but I never heard her complain. Some men brought us a load of wood and we had to grub sage-brush to keep the fire going. There were five of us, my oldest sister 15 years, my oldest brother 13, 1 was 8 and my youngest brother 6 and sister 3 years. Many times I have heard her cry herself to sleep for want of something to eat and say take me to my own home. We got through the winter somehow and in the spring my sister went to work for a man by the name of Fairchild. Our principal diet that winter was cornmeal, salt and squash. Mother was sick most of the winter but she was better when spring came. We used to dig segos to eat. My mother later married Samuel Ferrin. My oldest sister married his oldest son. She died about one year ago. She had eleven children, 85 grandchildren, 150 great grandchildren and 9 great-great-grandchildren. The Indians killed her husband in 1882. Mother's husband was a good old man to us children.

He had a boy about my age and a girl the age of my youngest sister. Chauncy West, Bishop of Ogden City at that time, was very good to the poor. I went to school barefoot all winter, as did many other boys. Johnson's army was approaching the territory with orders from President Buchanan to annihilate the Mormons and there was quite a rustling to again leave our homes. Where, oh, where are we to go? Go south was the council of Brigham Young. The road from Ogden South was lined with teams of every description taking their belongings and all the food they could haul. The women walking barefoot, going where, they did not know. A few men were left in every place to burn everything that would burn if the soldiers undertook to force their way in. All companies of men were armed and sent to Echo Canyon, determined to fight or die at that place as they had been mobbed and robbed and driven and they were determined to fight it out. But finally the President sent Thomas L. Kane and others and all difficulties were settled, and we moved back to our homes.

I went to Provo and heard Brigham say, this is the first time that Israel were ever to go and retain their homes and we shall never, no never flee before our enemies again. After getting back to our hones my step-father took up a farm of 200 acres of land about three miles from Ogden where I had my first acquaintance with the Indians, as we had no other playmates. I had got quite familiar with their language, manners and customs, which came in quite handy in after years. In 1862 we moved to Ogden Valley and there were lots of Indians there. It was a beautiful valley, covered with grass and we could mow hay in almost any part of the valley. We had to cut our hay with scythes, as there were no mowing machines at that time. A good many people moved into the valley that year,

Huntsville got to be quite a settlement as there were a great many Scandinavians settled in the north end of the valley. Where we settled people took up land and settled on their farms but in 1865 the Indians got so bad we were ordered to abandon our farms and build closer together so as to protect ourselves. So we surveyed a place and brother Richard Ballantyne picked the place, got a surveyor named Jenkins and we started a little town. Richard Ballantyne with others named the place Eden. Then we had to vacate our farms and move into Eden, It seemed as though we were never going to get settled but now the valley is one of the most prosperous parts of Weber County.

The grasshoppers were very bad for a number of years and the people nearly got discouraged. In the year of 1866 the Indians got so bad Captain Pleasant Green Taylor, Captain of police in Ogden, was called on from headquarters to organize a company of 50 minute men to guard and protect the northern settlements. I joined the company in May of 1866. We had to have good horses and be well armed and ready at a moments notice to go where and when we were ordered. I well remember being ordered at 3 P.M, to start at 4 P.M., for the south end of Bear Lake about 100 miles. There were no roads and we had to follow Indian trails. We rode all night and until about 10 the next morning. We found a number of families, just beginning to make homes, since called Lake Town, situated at the south end of Bear Lake. We found a few Indians about three miles above their settlement but they were peaceable, all having their squaws and papooses with them. We had a good many such expeditions and many trips. In 1867 we were released and the company disbanded and we stuck to our farms and in the course of a few years we were all married. Of course we passed through many trying scenes that I don't wish to mention, but I do know that God, our Heavenly Father, has had His protecting hand over us in many instances so that we did not take the lives of our fellowmen.

Your brother in the Gospel of Peace

Signed E.E. McBride.

At one time (possibly after he served his stint in the Black Hawk War) Ether was sent east to assist migrating parties over the mountainous route into Utah. He saw the place where the ill-fated Martin Handcart Company, of which he had been a part had camped when his own father was buried with others in a common grave.

Whether able to locate the exact spot of the grave, Ether’s record does not state.

Despite the hardships incident to pioneer life in the Ogden Valley, Ether managed to get an education. This, coupled with many unique experiences, qualified this humble, dedicated man in many fields. Successful in many endeavors, Ether’s vocations included, farmer, logger, sawmill and mine owner, schoolteacher, railroad contractor, freighter, merchant etc.

He held various auxiliary offices also Quorum offices. He served also as justice of the peace in many towns where he lived. Like his older and younger brothers, he was always of a jolly, congenial nature, a good and willing public speaker that loved to sing and entertain.

Ether married Mary Jane Moffett, Dec. 13, 1869. They hade their home in Eden, Weber County, Utah, where they raised their family. From a total of ten children only six grew to maturity, the first four and the last two. Between 1880 and 1884 four children were born and died in infancy.

In May 1890, Ether was called to serve his Church on a mission to England. At that time all six of his children were living at home, their ages being approximately, 18, 16, 14, 12, 3 and 1. Despite tremendous sacrifice he served a two-year mission, 1890-1892.

In England, in the vicinity of his boyhood home (Southport), he visited with many of his relatives on his mother’s (Margaret Ann Howard) side of the family. He kept a diary in which he mentions many names of aunts, uncles, cousins and in-laws, as he worked in places familiar to his childhood years: Preston, Churchtown, Manchester, Armkirk, Aston, as well as Southport. Being well received by all his relatives. Ether tells of staying in their homes, taking meals with them, leaving literature and bearing testimony of the Restoration. He mentions one individual he met in Southport, a Mister Fletcher, whom his father (Robert 3rd) had baptized thirty-five years before. Profound emotion is revealed in some of the entries in Ether’s diary:

12 June 1890 – I walked to Armkirk and visited some Saints in that village, then took the train to Southport. When I arrived at the station I was puzzled which way to go as it had been 34 years since I had visited that spot and how vivid the recollections of the past. Thirty four years passed before my view as I stood looking around me in that magnificent city where I had spent so many of my boyhood days, where my beloved father and mother, brothers were to greet me, but now I am alone, a stranger in a strange land thousands of miles from home and loved hones, and the great ocean between us. But God had called me, a messenger to proclaim His Gospel in that land. I stepped boldly out into the road, walked at a brisk pace to Lord’s Street, took the train to Churchtown and arrived at Uncle Esau Howard’s at 7:00 p.m. Uncle did not know me, but cousin Bertha came running down stairs and she knew me and greeted me most cordially. They were all very sociable and kind to me.

14 June – Cousin Isaac came from Liverpool and took me to see Parks, etc. and old landmarks. Isaac having to go back to Liverpool, Cousin William came to Uncle Esau’s and took me for a stroll around Southport. Wesley’s place and to our old home still standing.

4 July – Went to Preston and while there many were the thoughts that ran through my mind, knowing that I was going over the same ground that my beloved father had gone over some 45 years ago.

Upon returning from his mission, Ether did extensive writing. Historical material and genealogy, which he had collected in England, he kept in a little store he owned. Sad to say, the store burned, destroying most of the precious records. To add to the devastating blow, only a few years later, his beloved wife, Mary Jane died, a few short months short of age forty-nine. Ether, left with two young boys, Lewis Ezra, nearly fourteen and Vestal Cyril, twelve, married again in 1904 to Constance Ann Stephens of Afton, Wyoming.

About the year 1894 the family moved to American Fork, Utah. Ether spent the remainder of his life, except for a short period with his son, William Armstead McBride, in View, Idaho. His second wife died in 1926.

Ether was hardly sick a day in his life, but during his declining years he suffered a series of strokes and finally he lost his speech, which sure did hurt, though not bodily pain, the loss of this faculty caused much grief for one who had been so jolly and talkative. He also had much difficulty swallowing his food. Finally, unable to walk with safety, he needed constant care, lovingly proffered by his daughter, Mary Jane Cunningham, and her family.

A good man, whose hallmarks were industry and zeal to teach others? Ether McBride had experienced much joy in living. Those early years which nearly brought death on the plains and a struggle for survival had laid the foundation for a long successful life.

He died July 20, 1933 at age eighty-five and was buried there, Spanish Fork, Utah.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~