Robert Michie and Frances Potts

Married 16 March 1857
Preston Next Faversham, Kent, England


Life Story of Robert Michie and Frances Potts

As Told by Their Daughter, Della Michie Horrocks

Father, Robert MICHIE, went to school at four years of age, getting a very good education for those days. When old enough, he apprenticed himself to a miller to learn the trade. There were no roller mills in those days but burrs or large round rocks, two fitting together. They were "dressed" or sharpened with small steel picks, a very particular job, as they had to be perfectly level. Father was an expert at this job. When in his twenties, he went to Africa. He shipped as a sailor to pay his passage. Being fond of reading, he often climbed up the mast and sat on the crosspiece to be undisturbed in fair weather. One day the Captain was hunting him. Seeing him sitting up there, he shook his fist at him and called, "Come down from there, Scottie!" (Father was born at Aberdeen, Scotland).

He was in Africa from August 1848 to October 1856. There he became acquainted with Mormon [missionary] Elders and was baptised. At that time he was a user of tobacco, both chewing and smoking, but threw both away and never touched them again. He never swore. His children say they never even heard him say "dammit" or tell an unfit story and I can say the same of my mother, Frances POTTS. Preston Next Faversham Church

She was born in Barton, Kent County, England, Dec. 22, 1835. She joined the L. D. S. Church in England and she was married there. Her mother was dead the that time and she was the housekeeper. Her brother, Tom, met this Robert Michie (newly returned from Africa) and brought him home. Soon after they were married they sailed for America, leaving her father all alone. Her youngest sister, Alice and her husband, Thomas WHITE, sailed with them.

Mother (Frances P. Michie) was very sick on the sea. She told her children she would have died if the ship had been as long as usual in crossing, but they made the quickest crossing known for a sailing vessel up to that time. Her oldest daughter [Agnes Catherine Harriet] was born in Boston, 1858. Another child, Eliza Ann Helena, was born in 11 April 1860 in East Boston. This child died 26 Aug 1861 while crossing the plains coming to Utah.

Mother made many friends in Boston. She led the singing at Church and she and her sister Alice were both good singers. She and father were both free-hearted, gave a good deal from their scanty supplies, paid their donations and tithing and helped the poor. At several places father was tithing clerk. He was excellent in arithmetic.

Utah Pioneer wagon train After several years they emigrated to Utah, coming with ox teams so heavily loaded that father walked all the way, and mother much of the time, as the load was so far up under the cover she could not sit erect when she did ride. She was sick part of the time with black canker and other ailments. Then she had to lay little Eliza down and leave her in an unmarked grave. She [Eliza] died of black canker (probably needed milk). This was a very sad trial for my parents, especially my mother.

They never had any Indian trouble, but never knew when they could have, and had to always be on the lookout, and be very cautious. They were on the plains nearly three months in heat, dust and storms, sleeping in tents on the gound, not knowing any time that Indians might come and massacre them, burying their dead, traveling miles without water, cattle bellowing, and not enough to eat, wading streams where men had to carry women and children across. This was for the gospel and the faith they had.

When they reached Utah, they settled in Sugar House Ward (S.E. of Salt Lake City but now, 1953, part of the big city). Six weeks after arriving, my oldest brother, Rob, was born, Nov. 11, 1861. Father worked at various jobs. Then they moved to Nephi, Juab County. Here sister Harriett was born in January 1864 and died about 14 months later. On January 6, 1866, Alice was born. During this time father helped herd both cows and dry stock, took his turn at standing guard as it was the time of the Black Hawk Indian War. He also worked at his trade as a miller, so they always had good bread, but sometimes only water to go with it. Poor mother and her little childen were nearly frightened to death when the men were away on guard. Three Indians were taken as traitors and shot. My father was a friend to the Indians, helping them with food. One day a squaw brought her papoose to Mother, as it had fallen into the fire and burned its arm. Mother took white rags and castor oil and dressed the burns and they healed.

In Nephi lots of sugar cane was raised, a mill was established and much molasses made. Father made barrels trading them for molasses and other food. Often he had to run the grist mill at night which left Mother alone. The women did much weaving and spinning both yarn for stockings and linsey (woolen) cloth. Much of this was made into men's suits, as well as for women's dresses. They gathered shrubs for dyes--yellow, red and black so some of the cloth was plaid. I have seen this cloth in my day. After spending some time here, Father moved back to Sugar House to run a mill. As Mother often said, Father would go anywhere to run a mill. Good millers were scarce.

Here John was born in June 1868 and died in April 1869. Mary was born 9 Feb 1870, also at Sugar House.

After this Father went to Salt Lake City to run the old mill that was near the depot. At this place, I, Della, was born, 28 July 1872. When very young I had whooping cough, nearly choking to death. From this place we moved to Mt. Dell [in Parley's Canyon], Salt Lake county, where little brother William was born Oct. 19, 1875. I can just remember this. I called him "Little Dadling" as I could not talk plain. While here Father and Mother drove into Salt Lake City. A friend, George Piper, the one who became a singer and a great church worker, gave me a little sawdust-filled doll with china head, feet and hands. My first doll that I remember. We lived far from neighbors, a very lonely place and were afraid bears would come. All stores were in Salt Lake and it took a long day to go and return.

One trip, Father had Agnes (oldest sister) and cousin Tina with him. It was late and very dark and a narrow road. As Father tried to pass a team he tipped upside down in the creek. Agnes was under the wagon, the box on her arm. Tina landed on her feet in the creek. Father lost his hat. They had to walk home all wet, leading the horses, arriving late but safe, due to Mother's prayers. About this time, Father heard of a nice little valley called Sun Rise, which is now Woodland. So off we went with Uncle George (bachelor) driving the team while Father and brother Rob was bringing the cows. We reached the place in March coming all the way in the sleigh.

Woodland, Summit County, Utah The day was warm. We children sat in the bottom of the wagon box and made marks on the snow with willows. The snow at the place was four or five feet deep. When Mother would go down to the spring for water her head would be level with the top of the snow. Uncle George went back for another load of our things so mother and we youngsters were alone.

Over a mile to the next ranch, Harry Peake, a bachelor, lived. He was a good man and neighbor. We lived in Uncle's house, that was a one-roomed, log house with dirt roof. One day we saw a black bear walking on the snow a half mile or so away from the house. That night the table and chairs and other things were piled against the door to keep out the bear. When spring came, Father and Uncle and Rob went to work clearing land and getting our house built so we would be more comfortable by the next winter. There were hardships more than I can tell.

The nearest store was at Kamas, eight miles away. Alma Warr kept it. He took any products for goods. We gathered hops which brought 25 cents a lb. The older children went barefoot in summer. One day when we were picking up potatoes, a buckboard (light spring wagon) passed with several fellows in it singing "Round Goes the Wheel" and I never forgot it, but brother Rob said, "quit gaping!"

In the spring of '78 brother Rob took a load of cedar posts to Salt Lake City to trade for a few things Mother needed so badly, but alas, he broke the wagon and it took all his load to get it fixed. Poor mother was heartsick and so was brother.

About this time my Uncle Thomas Potts and his wife [Julia] and nine children moved to the region. This was a help to Mother.

On June 1, 1878, baby Christanna came. It snowed that day. We kiddies huddled around the cook stove and were told to keep very quiet. Then they told us of the new baby. It was very tiny and she has always been a slim little woman.

Summer passed and in January the dread disease diphtheria broke out. Sister Mary was stricken. No one near us knew anything about it. There were no doctors to be had. Mother and Father and others did all in their power, the Elders were called in, but after suffering for two weeks, Mary passed away. This is a sad picture in my mind. Just before death, Father brought icicles which she crunched. Her lips and mouth through were black. Then came the funeral services which were held in the house. I can see in my mind where the casket stood, the Bishop and others that sang and spoke. I remember my cousin and myself kissing Mary goodbye. When it was over, they carried her out to the garden where we stood as the snow fell, the grave was dedicated and the casket lowered. This death occurred January 13, 1879. This was the fourth child Mother had buried. There was no graveyard at this time. After a few years, Father moved her body to the cemetery at Heber City. No more of our family had the disease, nor Uncle Tom's. He had helped all through sister's illness. Our neighbors all lost one or more of their children. My sister Agnes went and helped sew and did all she could for all but never got the disease.

One day as we stood out in the yard, we saw a brown bear cross the road an go up the hill about half a mile from the house. Father often saw bears when after the cows. Deer were often seen at this home. There were clear streams of water and lots of wild flowers and lovely places to play in summer, but no school. So in a year or two, Father got a job at Heber City to run a grist mill for Abram Hatch. So we moved where there was school, Sunday School, Primary and all that there was in those days.

Soon after we moved to Heber, Agnes married Ephraim Lambert. Nine children were born to them--six boys and three girls.

Many happy days were spent at Heber mill. How I loved to play in the mill or sew up 50 lb. sacks of flour which were piled in stacks. Then Rob made us a flat boat to row on the mill ponds. What fun we and neighbor children had. These were the happiest [days] of Mother's life as there were no deaths.

While living here Alice married Joseph H. Lambert and Rob married Elena D. Lambert. They were all married the same day in the Logan [L.D.S.] Temple by Apostle Merrill. Rob and Lena's family were eight girls and three boys. Alice's were of five boys and four girls.

When I was sixteen, it was decided to put rollers in the mill instead of having the old stones which Father used, so he left the mill and moved back to Woodland on the farm. I worked for my living from then on. One winter I spent in Weber Canyon helping Agnes cook at the R.R. tie camp, of which her husband was boss. At this camp we were snowed in for six weeks, but we had plenty to eat and plenty of wood to burn. I also worked at the Lambert sawmill and at the camp for the railroad graders that ran through Woodland.


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