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

Historical Pioneer Biographies

Eva Christine Beck

Born: 1851 Died: 1937

Crossed the plains in 1864 (age 13). Her brother is the famous millionaire, John Beck (Tintic Mines, Saratoga, Beck's Hot Springs, Beck Street). He joined the Church first, the rest of the family followed and immigrated the following year, settling in Lehi. Encountered a war ship at sea, ran short of food.

Biography: Eva Christine Beck Zimmerman Harrison, the daughter of John Beck and Eva Christine Caroline Holl, was born at Aichelberg, in the county of Shorndorf, Wurttemberg, Germany, May 12, 1851. Her autobiography follows:

My father died when I was three years of age, leaving my mother with four small children to support. Mother busied herself in many ways to make a meagre living for her family. She gathered flowers in the Swartz Wald (Black Forest), tied them in small bunches, and with her children's help, sold them in the nearby city of Stuttgart. After the flowers were gone we gathered all kinds of nuts that grew in the Swartz Wald. Another occupation that furnished means of sustenance, and in which all participated, was the gathering of seeds from the berries which grew on the wild rose bushes, and selling them to drug stores to be used as medicine. We also raised and spun flax and hemp to sell, and in the fall of the year, went out gleaning in the fields. Often I was given the task of tending the smaller children while their mothers also were out gleaning.

To Hamburg
It was while in Stuttgart my brother, John, embraced the gospel, thereby becoming the first Latter-day Saint convert in Wurttemberg. Returning home, John explained the new creed to his mother, sister Pauline Beck Naegle, brother George and myself. We all accepted the gospel in the year 1863, and my thirteenth birthday, May 12, 1864, my mother and her family left our native home, emigrating to America for the gospel's sake. When we arrived at Hamburg we were met by the missionaries who formed us in a line, each holding the other's hand, one missionary being at the head and another bringing up the rear to guard us, and thus we arrived at the hotel. The same formation was held in marching to the ship when we departed, lest we be stolen away and sold as slaves.

To England/Kidnap Attempt
Leaving Hamburg we sailed for London, England, where we were delayed for a period of three weeks while the ship Hudson, was being made ready for the journey to America. It was during our stay in London that I narrowly escaped being kidnapped. We were eating at one hotel and sleeping at another. One day while leisurely walking from the hotel where I had eaten to the hotel where we slept, knitting as I went, a crowd of women beckoned to me and coaxed me into a large room where mirrors were so arranged that I could see no one but myself. Just at this time a band passed by the house and attracted a large crowd, among them the women who had lured me into the room. At that instant, being very much afraid, I made my escape by ducking my head and slipping under their arms. I was later informed that had I stepped upon one of the trap doors, I would have dropped into a dungeon or cellar, this being one of the methods of obtaining slaves to ship to Africa.

To America
The vessel was completed and we boarded her for our journey across the great Atlantic, six weeks being necessary to complete the voyage. While crossing the ocean, fire broke out on the ship, which created a panic on board. However, not much damage was done. Severe storms were encountered, causing much sea-sickness amongst the passengers. On another occasion, a hostile war ship hove into sight and all persons, both passengers and crew, large and small, women, men and children were all rushed on deck to show how many souls were aboard. During the voyage the regular food gave out and all on board had to live on hard tack. Edward Harrison Sr., who later became my father-in-law, was a cook on board the vessel.

To Utah
Finally, the promised land was reached and the journey, mostly on foot, across the plains commenced, with the usual hardships and trials incident thereto. The only cooking utensils we had during the journey were a cast iron kettle, a frying pan with tin plates and cups to eat and drink from; the only fuel obtainable much of the time was buffalo chips.

In Utah
We arrived in Salt Lake City November 24th, over six months having elapsed since we left our native land. Jonathan Winch from Lehi met us at Salt Lake City with an ox team, accompanying us to Lehi where we spent the winter living in a log room built by Gottlove Zimmerman, which he had used for a chicken coop, but we cleaned it out and made it as comfortable as possible. [She later married John Zimmerman.]

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.