Heritage Gateways

Official Sesquicentennial K-12 Education Project
sponsored by the Utah State Board of Education, the BYU-Public School Partnership and the Utah Education Network

Pioneer 1848-1868 Companies

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1868 (age 14), Wilson (Cleghorn), Eliza

[Eliza] heard Charles W. Penrose deliver an eloquent sermon on the resurrection. It so appealed to the young girl that she decided to join the Mormon Church. The missionaries at that time were urging the Saints to go to Zion at their earliest opportunity. "Sell all your belongings," they said. "If you can't sell them, give them away; but leave immediately. Next year the way may be closed." Accordingly, Mrs. Elizabeth Gorden disposed of her possessions at a disadvantage and with her small son Augustus and her fourteen-year-old niece, Eliza, sailed for America.

From New York they traveled by train to Laramie, Wyoming, where July 25th began the thrilling and interesting journey across the American plains to Salt Lake City. In the company were 300 Saints with thirty-one wagons, all under the leadership of Captain Joseph S. Rawlins. The trek itself was comparatively uneventful. They followed the same program of the thousands who had crossed ahead of them, journeying slowly in wagons along the well-worn dusty trail, making a circle of their vehicles at night while their cattle were guarded nearby and arising at dawn to continue their forward march. Two or three scouts rode several miles ahead of the main wagon train to make sure the way was clear.

Eliza soon learned the program. Being young and nimble, she was supposed to walk, but she did not like the dust. She would start early along the trail a little ahead of the company. When the first wagon overtook her, the teamster would usually draw to a halt and call to her, "Lizzie, wouldn't you like to ride today?" Of course she would like to ride, and with the aid of his hand, she would quickly scramble up over the big wheel to a fine seat in the head wagon. Thus Eliza rode all the way into the Valley.

"What's up?" the teamster exclaimed one morning. "It's a freighter beside the road, dead," explained the captain who galloped up on horseback. "He is shot full of arrows. His wagon, which is loaded with brooms, has not been disturbed, and his fire is still burning, but his cattle are gone. There is not an Indian in sight, but they can't be far off. Don't touch a thing! Close ranks and drive by as quickly as you can." The next company of Saints, which passed two days later, brought the wagon of brooms into the Valley.

When Eliza reached Salt Lake City on August 20th, 1868, she was heartsick with disappointment. The city did not look much like Zion to her. Had it been possible, she would have returned immediately to England; but her aunt had married and gone to Logan to live, and Eliza still had her passage money to pay back to the Church. She was sent directly to the home of Mary Ann Angell Young, Brigham Young's wife, who lived in an adobe cottage just east of the Eagle Gate, known as the White House. Mother Young was very kind to her.

A half block south on what is now State Street was the Social Hall, where dancing parties were frequently held. Everyone attended. In the evening when her work was done, the boys would call, "Lizzie, let's go to the dance!" Off would come her colored apron; on would be tied a white one with lace crochet across the bottom, and Eliza would go with the others to the dance. Separate escorts were not necessary: partners were selected for each dance, and young and old joined the merrymaking. This young English girl with her coronet of braids wrapped around her head did not lack for partners. Pioneer life had its compensations.

In October of 1871, Eliza Wilson married Robert Cleghorn, a registered druggist, formerly of London, England, and recently appointed manager of Z.C.M.I. Drugstore.

Source: Our Pioneer Heritage © Carter, Kate B., ed. 20 vols. Salt Lake City: International Society, Daughters of Utah Pioneers, 1958-1977. All rights reserved. No part of this material may be reproduced in any form or by any means without permission in writing from the publisher. Documents and images are exerpted by permission from the LDS Family History Suite CDROM from Ancestry.