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 45), Shill (Bird), Anne

Tiny in stature, but great in heart was "Granny" Bird. Although she had undergone many trials and great hardships in her own life, she was always cheerful and ready to give encouragement and help to others. Everyone loved her, young and old. Anne Shill Bird was born January 21, 1823, at Syde, Gloucestershire, England. Her father was Robert Chappell Shill and her mother was Prudence Golding. She was one of a family of twelve. When the Elders of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints came to England preaching the Gospel to the people, many accepted and were baptized. Among them were Anne Shill and her family: her father, mother, sisters and brothers. Anne joined the Church on February 6, 1848, at Caudle Green.

When Anne was 27 years old she met and fell in love with Andrew Bird, son of Richard and Phoebe Norton Bird. They were married December 8, 1850 at the Parish Church in the Parish of Syde in the county of Gloucester.

May 25, 1851 a baby daughter was born to Andrew and Anne. They named her Elizabeth. In 1853, on the 13th of August, another daughter was born to them, and they named her Ann.

On September 29, 1855, Phebe was born. On January 21, 1859 another daughter, Mary Marie was added to the family. Hiram was born June 7, 1861 and Mary Louisa, September 27, 1864. Tragedy struck the family the following year when on September 8, 1865 Phebe was taken ill with diphtheria and died at the age of ten years. A week later Elizabeth died of the same disease.

One day Andrew was walking past a church which was being built when he saw a group of boys pull some pegs from under a scaffold. A few minutes later a man started to get onto the scaffold. Andrew called to him and told him of his danger. The man was a minister and was so grateful to Andrew that he gave him a Bible on the first page of which was written, "Presented to Andrew Bird by Thomas Wolstencroft, Rector of Syde, Gloucester church in grateful remembrance of the kind manner in which he pointed out the great danger to which I was exposed when removing a portion of the scaffolding of the new Rectory, November 28, 1866."

The Bird family was very kind to the Mormon Elders and they were welcomed into their home at any time. One Elder in particular seemed to be their favorite; he was Elder Charles W. Penrose. They confided in him and he helped them in many ways. He often stayed with them for a week at a time. To converts who are active, a desire seems to grow in their hearts. This desire is the Spirit of Gathering into one great body, to be with the Saints in the Rocky Mountains. This was the desire of the Birds. They received a setback when the father's health failed and they had to rely on the support of the community.

Financial Help From Brother to Immigrate
Finally George Shill, brother of Anne, sent sufficient money to bring them across the water. On the 20th of June, 1868 they set sail on the Emerald Isle for America. Captain Gillespie was in charge of the boat which was crowded to the fullest capacity. At this time Andrew was 39 years of age, Anne, 45 years; Ann, 15 years; Mary, 9 years; Hiram, 7 years; and Emma, 4 years. Also on the boat were Richard Shill, 58 and his wife Phoebe, 53. Richard was a brother of Anne. George Beard who later resided in Coalville, Utah, and a friend, Mr. Kimber were also on the boat. Due to the crowded quarters most of the family was sick during the crossing. The boat had to rely on the wind to sail it, and many times the winds were contrary so that they were driven back over the same course they had already traveled. Water became scarce, and sea water was used for domestic purposes. Richard who was by trade an expert glass blower, died on the way over and was buried at sea. They finally reached New York harbor in September, 1868.

Health/Death/Fiancial Problems in New York
Upon landing, they were taken through the Customs and Emigration office. All the family, except Andrew, were taken to the hospital on Ellis Island. They were not given very good care while in this institution and almost starved to death. They also suffered from Cholera Morbus. They had been at the institution two weeks when the baby, Emma Louisa, age four, passed from this earthly existence on her birthday.

One day Mr. Kimber, the friend who accompanied them across the ocean, visited them. He brought and gave to Anne Bird a watch, chain, knife and a few articles. She exclaimed, turning pale, "Why, these are Drew's. Where is he?.... The Lord will care for the homeless and the widowed," said Mr. Kimber, looking at her with tears in his eyes. He then related this story: As soon as Andrew saw his wife and children placed in the hospital, he went to an office where he was supposed to receive some money to help them across the plains. When he inquired for his money, the clerk informed him there was none for him. Fearful and heartbroken Andrew left the office without speaking. The next Mr. Kimber heard was of his death, probably caused by heart trouble. His valuables were given Mr. Kimber to deliver to the family. He had died August 8, 1868.

This was indeed a shock to Anne and placed an added burden upon her. She must now support her little family and find a way to bring them to Utah where her brothers and sisters were living. Elder Penrose, hearing of their trouble visited them. He brought food and other things for their comfort. His promise was given to them that they would be out of the hospital in a short time. He was true to that promise and within a week they were released.

At that time the Church loaned money from an Emigration Fund to aid destitute families across the plains to Salt Lake City. Members who drew from the fund repaid the money when financially able to do so. Anne Bird and her family received aid through this fund. They decided to come on to the West even though they were in poor health. Part of the way was covered by train and the other portion they had to walk. Because they had very few clothes they suffered greatly from the cold. Anne had the extra burden of carrying most of their necessities and tending the children. She missed Andrew so much and needed the comfort and love he always gave her, but she was brave and went on from day to day making the best of her troubles. It took them a month or more to make the trip.

Trip Ends on Weber River
In October, 1868 they were met in Echo Canyon by Thomas H. Stephens, who took them to friends in Coalville, Utah. They remained overnight and the next day went to Croyden, where Anne's relatives lived. They spent two or three months in Croyden and then moved to Henefer, where Louisa Shill Richins lived. Here they settled.

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.