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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1855 (age 43), Fish (Bell), Ann

She came alone with children.
Ann Fish was born January 21, 1812 to Bert Fish and Dorothy Kirkup. At the age of 22 she married John Watson Bell, Sr., at Elsden, England, October 1834. Their first child, Ann Elizabeth, was born March 22, 1836. They moved to Newcastle on the Tyne River in 1836 and here two children were born to them, Robert and Alice Jane. They were baptized into the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints August 8, 1840 by Elder Amos Fielding at Newcastle and in the spring of 1841, sailed for America on the ship Rochester in the Heber C. Kimball company with one hundred and twenty-eight other converts and seven of the Council of Twelve, Brigham Young, Heber C. Kimball, Orson Pratt, Wilford Woodruff, John Taylor, George A. Smith and Willard Richards. They docked in New York harbor May 18, 1841.

On May 1, 1846 they moved to Farmington, Van Buren county, Iowa and there on October 6th Joseph Alma was born. In the spring of 1848 they moved to Indian Town, Pottawattamie county, Iowa, living in bark houses built and deserted by the Indians. Here they wintered with six other families. During this time five more children were born, one of them to the Bell family on Christmas day, 1848, who was given the name of Mary Frances. They ran out of provisions and had it not been for a large mound filled with corn stored by the Indians, they would have suffered greatly. In the spring the families moved to Kanesville, Iowa and lived there the next four years on rented farms. The Bell's last child was born here August 4, 1852. She was named Sarah Emily. In July of the following year she died.

The Trek
John Bell had very poor health, having suffered a sunstroke, and was advised to leave his family at Kanesville and go on to the Salt Lake Valley, which he did. Ann and the seven children followed the next year. She made arrangements to travel with a company of Saints, and with a yoke of cows, two yoke of oxen and two wagons filled with provisions and clothing, started on the journey. After a couple of days travel her cattle disappeared during the night. The captain said they could not be delayed while they searched for them and went on without her, telling her to wait for the next company. In a week or so the cattle were found and she and her children started out alone, thinking the next company would overtake her. Friends tried to dissuade her but she was determined, knowing her husband was somewhere out west and ill. She said she would go on if she landed in the Platte River. This statement almost became a fact for they were being ferried across the river when one of her wagons, not being properly blocked, rolled back into the water. The wagon was recovered but part of her precious belongings were lost.

They traveled two weeks alone and then were overtaken by a government freight train, known as the "Truckee Train." The captain was a Frenchman and an Indian interpreter having lived among the Indians for fifteen years. He had twenty-five men in his company. They were surrounded several times by Indians, but Truckee knew how to handle them, giving them blankets and food. At one time the Indians became more troublesome than usual. Ann was frightened and knelt by her wagon praying for protection. The Indians saw her and rode way. After that the men called her their good luck charm. She traveled with the train until they reached Fort Laramie and there she joined the Gilbert and Gerrish Freight company bound for Salt Lake City, Utah. After traveling a few days they overtook the Mormon company that had left her behind and the captain asked her to finish the journey with them. She replied: "No, thanks, you didn't wait for me and now I am not waiting for you."

Ann reached the valley several days ahead of the company, arriving in October 1855. She was thankful to God for His protection and grateful to the two freight lines who had been so kind to her and the children. Great was her disappointment however when she learned that her husband had gone to Carson valley to serve as a guard. It was harvest time and after a few days rest this little family started gleaning wheat in the fields. They gathered and threshed by hand eighteen bushels. After a time she was reunited with her husband.

The Bell family lived in Salt Lake City for the next four years, then moved to Provo and, in 1867, President Young sent them to help colonize Mona, Utah.

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.