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Onward to Utah

by Nancy Ballard and Sidnee Day Spencer

Elizabeth Day Spencer (1844 - 1924)

Elizabeth Day Cotterill

Elizabeth Cottrell Day

Elizabeth Cottrell Day was born on November 7, 1844, at Ryhall, Rutlandshire, England. She was the daughter of George and Catherine Messam Cottrell. Elizabeth was eight years old when her parents and two brothers, George and Henry, sailed from Liverpool, England, on January 23,1853, with 321 Saints under the direction of Jacob Gates. While crossing the ocean, they ran onto a sandbar and were stranded for several weeks.

They arrived at New Orleans on March 26, 1853. Elizabeth's father got work in the coal mines and her mother kept books and did washing for miners; she also cared for the sick.

They stayed in New Orleans for 15 months, leaving in July 1854 in the company of the John Broomhead family and others. On the journey, her father took sick and died very suddenly. They thought he may have suffered a poisonous bite.

Cholera broke out in the company, and her mother lay sick in bed much of the way. Elizabeth had to sit in the wagon to care for her mother. She would fill her small pail with water whenever they came to a stream to quench her mother's thirst and bathe her head to allay the fever. This was a great sorrow to Elizabeth throughout her life; it made her sad to tell of her trip across the plains.

The party arrived in Salt Lake City in the fall of 1854. Elizabeth's mother married Absalom Wamsley Smith as his second wife in plural marriage on 31 Oct 1855 and the family moved to Draper. Three children were born to them: Mary Catherine, Jacob Wamsley, and Isaac who died when about a year old. Elizabeth and her brothers grew up in this family and went through the trials of early pioneer life. Her brother, Henry, who had crossed the plains as a small child, died when he was 19 years old.

At one time Elizabeth needed a dress very badly. Her mother gathered blossoms from the rabbit brush and made dye from them. She took a sheet, colored it with the dye, and made her a dress. When the grasshoppers had destroyed most of their crops and flour had become scarce, they made pancakes to make the flour go farther. The older members of the family would get a whole pancake, the younger ones, a half and small children, a quarter.

On becoming Mrs Eastman Day

Henry Eastman Day

Henry Eastman Day

On November 1, 1862, at age 18, Elizabeth married Henry Eastman Day as his second wife in plural marriage. Nine children were born to them: Samuel Cottrell, Nancy Catherine, George Addison, Elias John, Andrew Jackson, Mary Elizabeth, David William, Ellen Lucretia, and Rachel Ann (who inherited her mother's auburn hair).

When Leah Rawlins Day, Henry's first wife, died in 1866, Elizabeth took Leah's five children and cared for them along with the two children of Henry's third wife, Caroline Nylander Day when Caroline died in 1871.

Elizabeth's life was a busy and useful one. She spun yam and wove cloth to make clothing and stockings for the family and also for wool carpets to cover the floors. She visited the sick, helped clothe the dead, gave to those in need, and did a good deed wherever she could.

She had very little schooling, but through hard study and perseverance she became a great reader and well informed on the principles of the Church and general topics of the times. She was president of the Primary for twenty-three years and a member of the Relief Society board for a number of years.

The Temple, Salt Lake City, Utah

Salt Lake City Temple

Her daughter, Rachel, wrote, "My mother had very good health. She lived the Word of Wisdom. I never remember seeing her sick in bed a day until after she was over 70; she had the flu. Coming from England she was used to her tea. She went to conference and heard Brigham Young tell the people not to drink tea or coffee. She never tasted it from that day."

Elizabeth traveled with her brother, George Cottrell, and her mother, Catherine, in 1886 and 1891 to the Logan Temple to do temple work for deceased relatives before the Salt Lake Temple was completed. Elizabeth attended the Salt Lake Temple dedication in April 1893.

Elizabeth was "Aunt Lizzie" or "Grandmother Day" to everyone. Elizabeth lived to be 80 years of age and was loved and respected by all. She died August 3, 1924, at Draper, Utah, and is buried in the Draper City Cemetery.

Nancy Catherine Day Ballard, daughter
Sidnee Day Spencer, great-granddaughter

Continued in column 2...

Postscript: A life in Salt Lake City

by Robert and Kathi Garff

Rachel Ann Day

Rachel Ann Day

"I Rachel Ann Day Garff, was born November 9, 1881, in Draper, Salt Lake County, Utah. I am the daughter of Henry Eastman and Elizabeth Cottrell Day. . . Aunt Betsy Draper waited on my mother when I was born and I was named for my father's grandmother, Rachel Pendexter. As I grew older, all my friends called me Rae - Rachel Day’s own words

Rachel stood about 5'3" with soft yet proud features. She was physically strong, spiritually faithful, and an educated, independent woman with curly auburn hair. When she was young, she had long auburn hair curled into ringlets or wrapped loosely on top of her head. As she grew older, her hair fell down around her neck and face and she would often tighten her hair with little metal rods. She had a most loving and affectionate personality, yet was stem and disciplined.

Rachel was very hard-working and taught by example the virtues and rewards of working long laborious hours. She was an excellent cook and taught frugality, patience, and kindness with her everyday living. Rachel let her grandchildren play in trunks, read books, play dress-up, and made up games to play with them. Her home was a world of creative and magical discovery. She had the radio going all the time to listen to the news and she was well read and interested in current events.

Rachel was the financial wizard-and business mind in the family and was always very interested in her children's investments.

She was a fanatic about eating properly. She had her grandchildren breath in and out several times before eating meals. She made them chew their food slowly and deliberately. She made sure each of her grandchildren ate an apple a day, and consumed lots of fresh vegetables and fruit.

Rachel was a mother hen who collected her children and grandchildren together for EVERY holiday. She was like a magnet. She would save seats for the 24th of July parade in Salt Lake City with blankets and chairs. All the family went to Liberty Park for picnics and celebrations throughout the summer months. Thanksgiving, Christmas, and Easter were especially memorable because of her good cooking, warm hugs and lots of laughter.

One of the family's favorite stories is about a musical performance of Rachel's children in a Sacrament Meeting. They had been taking music lessons, practicing hard, and she was anxious to show them off. They sat on the front row, dressed in their Sunday finest, hair slicked back or curled, and held their heads up very high. She was very proud of her little brood. Her children each played a different instrument: Royal played the saxophone, Minnie played piano, someone played the violin, Ken, Grace and Margaret sang. Their musical number was, "I'm Forever Blowing Bubbles!" We're fairly confident they were never asked to perform in Sacrament Meeting after that day.

Added: May 2nd 2005
Last updated: March 24th 2012

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