HEROINES OF MORMONDOM
NOBLE WOMEN’S LIVES SERIES
A REMARKABLE LIFE.
Many of the noblest lives have been lived in obscurity and in poverty. Nobility and virtue are never dependent upon surroundings. And when you have read the simple little chronicle which I am about to relate, I think you will agree with me that even though humble and retiring, the subject of this sketch was one of nature’s own heroines.
In a little cottage in Bravon, Lees-Mersem, England, lived an old lady named Harris. She was given to study although very meagrely educated. She was feeble and sat a great deal of her time poring over her Bible.
One day her granddaughter came to visit her, bringing her little daughter, Mary, with her. The old lady had been reading her Bible, and as her daughter came in she said:
“My dear, I have been reading some of the great prophecies concerning the last days, and I feel sure that either you or yours will live to see many of them fulfilled.”
“Not so, grandmother,” answered the woman, whose name was Mrs Dunster, “thou wast always visionary; put by such thoughts. Our religion’s good enough for the Like of us.”
The old lady arose, unheeding her granddaughter’s warm reply, placing her hands on the little girl’s head, said solemnly:
“Here’s Mary; she shall grow up and wander away from you all and break her bread in different nations.”
The solemnity of her great-grandmother’s manner and the peculiar spirit that accompanied the words made a vivid impression on the little girl’s mind. How well that strange prophecy has been fulfilled you and I, my reader, can tell hereafter.
The little girl, whose name was Mary Dunster, and who was born in
At last she consented to be his wife on
one condition: that he would take her to
After they were married they settled down to work and lived, William as farm labourer, in Lympne for four years. Two children were born to them in this place, Mary Ann, born June, 15, 1836, and Henry, born August 18th, 1838.
Four years after their marriage, at which
time the introduction of convicts into
Between the years of 1840 and 1850,
The young couple had determined to
engage a farm of shares, and so went, immediately upon their arrival
, to a country part near Botany Bay.
Here they remained a short time and then went up to
And now let me tell you something of the character of this same Mary, ere I relate to you two strange dreams which she had while living at Camden.
She was a medium-sized, well built woman, with kind gray eyes and a pleasant but firm mouth. Her step was quick, and her manner was full of warm-hearted simplicity. She it was who ruled the children, administering with firm justice the rod of correction. Her husband contented himself by controlling his wife, having the whole of the remainder of the domestic regimen entirely in her hands. She was never disobeyed by her children. But withal “father” was a tenderer name to their large flock of girls than was “mother.” But with all her firmness, she was far too womanly to possess one grain of obstinacy. When it was her duty to yield she could do so gracefully. With these qualities Mary united a sound business capacity, economy, thrift and extreme cleanliness. She was, and always has been, a remarkable healthy woman. With these gifts she had something of the visionary or semi-prophetic character of her great-grandmother Harris.
She has been a dreamer, and her dreams have been of a prophetic character. Most of them require no interpretation, but are simple forecasts, as it were, of the future.
One dream, which was indelibly impressed
upon her mind, occurred to her just before the birth of her eighth daughter,
She dreamed she had to travel a long way. At last she reaches a stately white building, with projecting buttresses and towers. Going up the broad steps she entered a room filled with beautiful books. Seeing a door ajar, she walked into the adjoining room. There sat twelve men around a large table, and each man held a pen. They were looking up as though awaiting some message from above. She drew back, so as not to attract attention, when a voice said distinctly to her: “You will have to come here to be married.” The thought passed through her mind, “I am married and why, therefore, should I come here to be married?.
She went on out of the building and walked through the streets of the city that were near the building. The streets were straight and clean, with little streams of water running down under the shade-trees that bordered the foot-paths. Everything was clean and beautiful to look upon. Footbridges spanned the litte streams, and the houses were clean and comfortable. She saw just ahead of her a woman driving a cow with whom she felt a desire to speak, but before she could reach her, the woman had gone in at one of the gates. She walked on, pleased with all she saw. Raising her eyes she saw in the distance, coming to the city, what looked like an immense flock of sheep. But’ as they came nearer she saw they were people, all clothed in white raiment; They passed by and went on to the white building. “Ah!” thought Mary, “if I was there now, that I might know what it all meant!” But she felt compelled to go the other way. And so the dream ended.
When she awoke she related the strange episode to her husband and told him she believed her coming confinement would prove fatal. She thought the beautiful place she had seen could only be in heaven, as she had never seen anything like it upon earth. William comforted her, but the spirit of the dream never left her.
However her little babe was born and she resumed her household duties.
Two years passed away, and ere they are passed let us stop a moment and see a little of this new country which lies away on the opposite side of the earth from America.
Australia, as you may all see, my
readers, by getting out your geographies, is in the Pacific Ocean, down in the
tropics and lying south-east of Asia.
It is generally called a continent; but it looks very small, does it
not, compared to Asia or either of the
This region you will find marked as the “gold region.” But gold was not discovered until 1857, eleven years after the Chittendens’ settled in their new home.
The country in New South Wales is good for farming and grazing; with the exception that it is subject to extremes of drouth and floods. There are no high mountain ranges, and very few rivers. There is no snow there, and the Winter season is a rainy season instead of being cold and freezing like our Winters. There are trees in that country which shed their bark instead of their leaves. I shall speak of these trees and the uses to which their bark is put further on. Then, there grows a native cherry, which has the pit on the outside, and the fruit inside. Wouldn’t that be queer?
There are many precious stones found in this country, and also considerable gold; but the discovery of gold failed to excite William Chittenden, or turn him from the even tenor of his way.
On the 15th of April, 1853, a son was born to the Chittendens, who was christened William John, but who only lived a few weeks
Some time after his death Mary dreamed that she was lying in her bed asleep. It was, as you might say, a dream within a dream. As she lay sleeping two men, each carrying a satchel in one hand and a cane in the other, came to the foot of her bed. She dreamed then that she awoke from her dream and looked earnestly at these two men; so earnestly that their faces were indelibly fixed upon her memory. One of them held out to her a little book.
“What is the use of my taking the book?” she thought within herself, “I cannot read a line, for I have never learned to read.” Then, after a moment’s hesitation, she thought, “Why, I can take it and my children can read it to me.” So she took the book.
One of the men said these remarkable words to her:
“We are clothed upon with power to preach to the people.”
She awoke in reality then, with those strange words thrilling her with a new power she had never felt before. She roused her husband up and related her dream, and he replied kindly to her.
They had now been married eighteen years and Mary had born seven girls and two boys; neither of the two boys, however, had lived but a short time. The farm upon which they lived had been rented, or leased, from a large land-owner named McArthur, for twenty-one years. Thos McArthur owned some thousands of acres of farming and grazing land in this region, which was leased in farms of various proportions.
The Chittendens’ farm consisted of two hundred acres, and was mostly farming land. The term upon which they leased it were very similar to others in that country. For the first five years they paid sixpence an acre. After that it was ten shillings an acre.
William put up the house in which they lived, and an odd house it was too. First he took a number of poles or uprights, which he placed in the earth at regular distances. With these he made the framework of his house. Between these uprights were placed smaller poles. Then he took fine willows and wove them, or turned them round the center, or smaller pole, resting the ends on the larger poles. In and out went these willows, something the same way as you will see willow fences here. Then he made a thick mud and well covered the whole, inside and out. Next came a good plaster of lime and sand, and finally all was whitewashed. The roof was made with rafters laid across the top. Now came in this bark about which I told you. Going up to the forests which were found on the near hillsides, the bark was cut in the lengths wanted at the top and bottom of the tree; then with a sharp knife split on two sides, upon which it peeled off in thick, straight slabs. It was then nailed on in place of shingles, each one overlapping the under one. Then the floor was nailed down with wooden pegs, “adzed” off and finally smoothed with a jack-plane.
In this manner one large sitting-room, two bedrooms, a dairy and a kitchen, detached from the main building, were built; to which afterwards added a long porch to the front of the house, which faced east, the rooms all being built in a row.
Mary cooked upon a brick oven, which was built upon a little standard just between the kitchen and the house.
Large fire-places were built in the kitchen and sitting-room. The one in the kitchen, being big enough to take three immense logs, which would burn steadily for a whole week.
The dairy was well furnished with pans, pails, etc.
In 1853, William decided to take a trip
up to Sydney to sell a load of grain, bringing back with him, if he succeeded
as he wished, a load of freight for some settlement or town near his home. There was a great demand for wheat now as
many hundreds of emigrants had rushed into the great gold country. William left the farm to be managed by his
prudent little wife and started out on his hundred mile trip. How little did he dream of the result of
this journey! On his arrival in
“Oh, yes,” replied William, “I didn’t know you had any brothers in America!”
And so arm in arm, they entered the little room where several men sat at a table, or pulpit with a strange book in their hands and strange words upon their lips. Here William heard the sound of everlasting gospel for the first time.
From the first William felt the truth contained in the words, of the Elders although he knew little or nothing concerning them.
On their way home Mr. Andrews explained to him that these men were his brothers, being brothers in the covenant of Christ.
“And Chittenden,” he added, “if any of them go down your way, you’ll give them dinner and a bed, won’t you, for I know you can”
“Oh, as to that,” replied William, “I wouldn’t a beggar from my door, if he was hungry or wanted a roof to cover him.”
William procured a load of freight for a
man in Goulburn (one hundred miles further south than Camden) and started on
his return trip. His mind was often upon the things he had
heard, and he wondered what it all meant.
The Elders to whom he had listened were Brothers Farnham, Eldredge, Graham and Fleming, Brother Farnham having
charge. They were the second company of
Elders ever sent to
After the departure of William
Chittenden, a council was held by the Elders and it was decided that Brothers
Fleming and John Eldredge should go up to Camden and
the surrounding district. At the last
moment however, Elder Fleming was desired to remain in
“What did you think of them William?”
“Well Mary if they don’s speak the truth then I never heard it spoken.” And then he went down to Goulburn with His freight.
One lovely day in summer two dusty, tired, hungry men each with a satchel and a walking-cane in their hands, stopped at the wide open door of the Chittenden farm-house. And what saw Mary, when she came to the porch? With a queer throb, she saw in her door the very man who came to her bedside in her dream. She even noticed the low cut vest showing the white shirt underneath. But as he stepped inside, and her eye fell upon his companion, she saw he was not the second one of her dream, although he too carried a cane and satchel. She invited them within, and the first one said,
“We are come, madam, to preach the gospel.”
The words, almost identical with those of her dream. Giving her their names, he whose name was Eldredge explained to her that they travelled up from Sydney, and in all the hundred miles, they had found no one willing to give them food and shelter.
Mary bustled around and prepared dinner for her guests. When evening drew near, Brother Eldredge remarked,
“Mrs Chittenden, can you let us remain here overnight?”
“Oh,” said Mary, “I am afraid I have no place to put you!”
“Well you can let us sit up by your fireside, and that is better than lying on the ground as we have done so lately!”
And then Mary assured them she would do the best she could for them. So a bed was spread out on the floor of the sitting-room, and here the foot-sore Elders were glad to rest their bodies.
The principles and doctrines of these men fell deep into Mary’s heart, and like her husband she felt they spoke the truths of heaven.
One evening in conversation with them, Mary told Brother Eldredge that she had seen him before in a dream. But, she added, you were accompanied by another man, not Mr Graham.
“Ah well, that might have been. You may have seen Brother Fleming for he was coming with me, but Brother Farnham altered the appointments at the last moment!”
And it proved so. When Mary afterwards saw Brother Fleming she recognized him as the second one of her dream.
The Elders were not idle because they
had found a comfortable resting place, but travelled about seeking to get
opportunities of spreading the gospel.
One family named
The Elders made Camden their
head-quarters, but went about through the surrounding country, meeting,
however, with very little success.
William and his wife, with their oldest daughter were ready to be
baptized, as were the
I want to stop and tell you a little about the worldly condition of this couple, as well as mention a detail of two more about the country they were living in before I go on with my story.
They had brought their two hundred acres under good cultivation; they had a large fruit garden back of the house, in which grew the most delicious peaches, plums and cherries. The country is so adapted to fruit that peach-stones thrown out near running water would be fruit-bearing-trees in three years. There were no apples, but such quantities of tropical fruits. Grapes, melons, figs, lemons and oranges were so plentiful and so cheap that William would not spend time to grow them. A sixpence (12 cents) would buy enough of these fruits to load a man down.
They had four horses, one wagon, a dray and a light spring cart, six cows and many calves, plenty of pigs and droves of chickens, turkeys and geese.
The large granary to the south of the house groaned with its wealth of wheat, corn, barley and oats.
And while I am speaking of wheat I am minded to give a description of the way adopted to preserve wheat in that country. Mr McArthur, the owner of all these thousands of acres, received from his tenants a share of the wheat grown. This he stored up as there was little or no sale for it until the drought years, when it commanded a good price.
After three years of drought which occurred there prior to 1853, William and his wife went to this mr McArthur to get wheat. He had dug a very large cellar, and this had been well cemented, top, bottom and sides. Here the wheat had been stored for twelve years when the Chittendens went to get theirs. The wheat was perfectly sound and sweet. Over the vault a store-house had been built, and the door to it was near the top of the cellar.
You can see that our kind friends were well-to-do, and had every prospect ahead for success and prosperity.
In the Spring of ’54, the Davis family and the Chittendens decided to be baptized. Rumors and false reports had been rapidly spread about the Latter-day Saints and their enemies sprang up like magic. Many sarcastic and insulting remarks were made about the “dipping” (as the baptism was called) of the two families. Mr. McArthur was a bitter enemy to the new sect.
One day the Davises
were over to Chittenden’s and remarked they were
going to be baptized the following Monday in the river near their house.. William decided
to come over with his family on the same day.
So on the 24 of April 1854 William and Mary were baptized by John Eldredge in
The gospel once having been received the
spirit of “gathering” soon follows. And
with Mary, who had always wished to go to
As she sat and listened to the Elder’s description of Zion being built up in the bleak mountains, of pretty streets lined with shade-trees, and watered by swift-running streamlets she turned to her husband told him that this must be the place of her dream.
William was a very quiet, determined man, who could not be turned from the way he had chosen.
The days when through the long summer evenings they all sat and listened to the various principles and the new and lovely doctrines unfolded one by one, by the Elders, like the petals of a glorious flower, were the very happiest Mary and her family ever knew. Poor Mary! They were the light which shone over her dreary oncoming future, sometimes brightly, sometimes faintly, but always shining over the wretched, darksome road of the next twenty years.
One little circumstance, which will illustrate Mary’s simple but powerful faith will perhaps be worth mentioning and may strengthen some other one’s faith. Just before the birth of her eighth girl, which occurred in the Fall after their baptism, she felt low and miserable, scarely sick enough to be in bed, but too ill to work. One evening Bro. Eldredge was talking to her and said that if she had any sickness or bodily ill, it was her privilege as it was of any member of the Church, to call upon the Elders to administer to her, and thenif she exercised faith, it would leave her. Mary had never read a word in her life, and so this came to her as a new and very precious truth.
“Well, Bro. Eldredge, if I can be ministered to get well, I want it now,” said Mary.
So the ordinance was performed, and she was indeed instantly healed. From that day for many months she never felt one moment of illness. And she says to me today in her simple quaint way,
“I have never been ministered to in my life since, that I did not get better.
Ever since the arrival of the Elders, the Chittendens had opened their house for them to hold meetings in on Sundays. No other place had ever been obtained, so that the meetings of the Saints, or those who were friendly to them, were still held in Mary’s cosy sitting-room.
On the 1st Nov. 1854, Mary
had another daughter whom they named
They had eight girls now, and it would take quite a sum of money to emigrate them all to Utah. So thinking to increase their means a trifle, Mary had taken a little motherless boy, about seven years old, his father paying a certain amount a week for his board. This was money and they would never miss his board as they raised everything which they consumed. This little boy was very troublesome and mischievous. He was very fond of playing out in the hired men’s bedroom which was over the granary.
On the Sunday of which I am speaking, he was out in the men’s room, and there found some matches. He thought he’d have some rare fun then, so out he ran, matches in hand, and made what he called a “pretty fire,” right down close to the pig pens. He watched it burn up, quietly at first, and then --- whew! --- here is a jolly little breeze catches up the flame, and carries ir bravely up right on to the roof of the pig-pen. Then how it did sputter and crackle, and leap. The boy was old enough to see by that time, that something more than a bit of mischief would grow out of that tiny flame. It spread over the pens like a living thing. Frightened now, he sped away, down to the nearest farm house, running in and shouting to the gentleman, Mr Root who lived there, “I didn’t set the pig-styes on fire, I struck a match and it blowed.”
Mr Root hitched up his horse to his water-budge, a cask on wheels which he carried water from a lake near the Chittendens’ house and started on the run for the scene of the boy’s wickedness. The Chittendens saw him pass their door running to the lagoon or lake. “I’ll declare,” said Mary, “is Mr. Root going for water on Sunday? I never knew him to do such a thing before!”
Just thenEliza ran in and said, “Father, the shed is full of smoke.” She had been down to gather eggs from the shed. The barn, pig-styes, cow sheds, granary, poultry houses and stacks were all at the back of the house and about six rods away.
At last William got up to go down to the shed to see what was the matter.
When he looked out of the back door, what a sight met his eyes --- the whole yard in flames! Others had seen the fire, for the farm-house faced the public road, and people were all passing there on their road to Chapel. But no one except Mr. Root ever offered a hand of help.
“Oh,” said they, “its those d—d Mormons, let them burn up and go to h----.”
The whole family rushed down to the fire and tried to stop its progress but all to no avail. The pigs could not be driven out, and were literally roasted alive. The barn, sheds, pens and every combustible thing went down before the relentless flames. Farm implements of every description, even the grain to the amount of hundreds of bushels, were burned. The flames swept towards the house. Then how they worked. Everything movable was got out, and the roof was town off; and the men commenced pouring water on the walls to save them.
“Alas for the rarity of Christian charity.” If a few brave men had given help when the fire was first discovered, much might have been saved. But when it was all over, and Bro. Eldredge and William had thrown themselves on the ground completely exhausted, and the only Christian who had helped them, Mr. Root, had gone home in the same condition, Mary sat out doors with a few of her household goods broken and scattered around her, her two wekks’ old babe wailing in her arms, and all that was left of their comfortable home, the empty, blackened, smoking walls of the house looming up in the twilight fast falling around her! Hundreds of cart loads of burnt grain were carted away for the next few days and buried. How many bright hopes and happy plans were buried at the same time, only the future could tell! The roof was speedily put on again, and thngs inside made as comfortable as might be.
still advised going out to
Mary urged all she dared, for she knew the Elders were about to leave for home. It was no use. The only answer she got was, “not now, Mary, not now.”
He found an opportunity about that time of going into the country a hundred miles with some freight. While he was away a gentleman came to the farm-house and wished to buy the good will of the farm.
You will remember that William had rented it for twenty-one years. About fourteen years of the lease had expired. The improvements, etc, always went with the lease. So when this gentleman offered pay three hundred pounds ($1,400) for the remainder of the lease, or the “good-will,” as it is termed in that country, Mary thought it a fortunate thing.
The loss by the fire had exceeded three hundred and fifty pounds, or about sixteen or seventeen hundred dollars of our money; and Mary thought if she could sell the lease of the farm, then they could sell what stock and personal property was left them, that making perhaps another two hundred pounds, which might get them all to America. So she sold it; knowing, however, that the bargain would not be legal unless ratified by her husband. She hoped though, that he would see things as she did. When William reached home Mary told him what she had done.
“Humph; I suppose you know it’s of no use unless I give my word, too?’
“Oh, yes,” said Mary, sorry to know her husband was so annoyed, “you can, of coarse, upset it all.”
Then she explained all her hopes and
plans to him. How they could raise five
hundred and fifty pounds, and then they could surely get to
“And reach there,” objected William, “with a big family of little children, and not a shilling to buy ‘em bread with. Nice plan, that!”
In vain she argued and plead. William was not to be moved. No one could blame him for not being guided by his wife’s advice. Albeit she was a prudent, far-seeing, wise little woman, whose advice had always been proved to be of the best; still the man leads the woman, not woman the man.
But when Brothers Eldredge and Graham counselled him to return with them, it was quite a different matter. They were over him in the Priesthood and had a right to his obedience, even as he exacted obedience from his wife and family. However he still refused, simply saying, “I don’t see how I can go just now, Brother Eldredge!”
And so the time passed on, and the
Elders left Australia without the Chittendens. The
Here then was the grand mistake of
William’s life. He did not see it then,
nor for years after, but the time came when he wished in the agony of his soul
that he had gone to
It is not a grand lesson for our young Elders? How easy it is to fancy that our own wisdom, especially about our private affairs, is better than any one’s else! But when the voice of God speaks through His servants and says, “Do thou so!” woe to the man who turns from that and works out his own will in direct opposition. Let this sink deep into your hearts, my young readers, and remember always, God knoweth best!
Although William was annoyed at the step his wife had taken, he concluded to let matters go as they were. However, much to Mary’s chagrin, he took a farm close by, and tried to make another start. Nothing seemed to go right.
On the 24th of July,1856, Mary gave birth to another daughter, to whom they
gave the name of Rachel. The next year
another company of Elders came down from
When he got back to the Chittendens, he walked wearily in, and Mary’s daughter, Jane, bustled around to get him something to eat. “No,” said he, “don’t cook me a thing. I want nothing but a piece of bread and a drink of water.”
She hastily set what he required before him, and after he had eaten he said, “Sister Jane, you shall receive the blessing for this. I have not broken my fast since I left your house until now. I have had to sleep out under the forest trees. I am now fully satisfied there is no place to be had to hold meetings. I thought as I was leaving the city, shall I shake the dust off my feet as a testimony against this people? No no; I will leave it all in the hands of God!”
The bitter prejudice of people around
With what earnest prayers did Mary seek
to persuade her husband to go along too!
And the Elders counselled him to return with them. But no, he could not feel to go with his
helpless family and have little or nothing to support them when he arrived in
William was like his wife, unable to
read one word, and all that he knew of this gospel had been taught him orally
by the missionaries. He was also very
young in the faith, and had not learned the great lesson of obedience nor
dreamed its mighty weight in this Church.
For this reason God was merciful to him, and did not deprive him of the
light of the gospel, but taught him the painful but necessary lesson through
much and long tribulation. And his
children, although scattered and living most of them in
After the Elders had been recalled, Mary commenced to feel a great brooding darkness settle down over her. In the day she could not throw it off, but when night closed her labours and laid her at rest, the darkness would fold around her like a garment. She was anything but a nervous, Imaginative woman, and this terrible darkness grew into something tangible to her husband as well as to herself. At last he listened to her and decided to once more sell out and get away.
Two more girls were born to Mary before leaving Camden vicinity. One, Caroline, was born May 10, 1858, the other Louisa, was born June 25, 1860. Mary had then eleven girls, her two sons having died in infancy. The older girls were very much disappointed that neither of the last two were boys. Especially was this the case when Louisa was born; their chagrin being expressed so loudly that it reached their mother’s ears. She was a trifle disappointed herself, but when she heard their comments she was really sad and cast down. The feeling could not be shaken off until the next day; when as she lay dozing, a voice plainly said to her: “You shall have a son, and he shall grow up and be a great comfort to you in your old age.” As usual she related the circumstances to her husband and he fully believed in it. He thought he would try “sluicing” for gold in some of the mining camps. The process called “sluicing gold,” or washing it, is as follows:A box about a foot wide and two feet long, is fitted with several little boards or slats, about an inch high, across the bottom. This is to make the water ripple over. Into this box the sand is shoveled, and the water washes away the dirt leaving tiny nuggets of gold in the bottom of the box. This is of course in the regions where gold is found plentifully. Rocks are broken up and shoveled in, and often are richer than the sand. But this “sluicing” process is a slow one, so much of the finer portions of gold being washed away. If quicksilver was used to gather the tiny shining metal, it would prove much more profitable, but quicksilver itself is expensive.
So William sold out, and they started up to a place called Lemon Flat in the early Spring of ’61. All of a sudden severe rains set in; the country was flooded and the soft soil became actually impassive. Insomuch so that the family were obliged to relinquish the idea of going to Lemon Flat and turned aside to go to another mining camp called Gunderoo.
While going to Gunderoo
the day they reached the outskirts of the town, was a very tiresome one for
all. Mary had a light, one-seated
carriage, a great deal like the one horse delivery carts in
Mary, walking near the cart, began to feel a curious weakness creep over her. No pain, only a weakness in every joint. Alarmed at the long absence of their mother, two of the oldest girls hurried back, and found her seated by the roadside unable to proceed another step. They assisted her to rise, and half carried her up the hill to the tents. She whispered to them to put her in bed in the cart where she always slept. They did so. But she grew weaker and weaker. She would faint entirely away, then slowly come back, and wonder feebly what was the matter, and why they all stood around so. Then faint away again and so on all night. At last Jane remembered her mother had a little consecrated oil packed away, and she searched among the boxes till she found it. They administered to her then, and she revived some. But begged to be taken away from that place.
Her husband felt she might die if he did not comply with her wish, so they started immediately for Yass river. They were travelling along, when Mary’s horse gave out. She was obliged then to wait for her husband to return, and get her. She felt much better, and thought she could get out and walk about a little. So she directed the young man who drove her cart to let down the shafts. She got out, but the moment she went to rest her feet on the ground, she fell to the earth. The young man assisted her into the cart again, and then for three months she never stood upon her feet. There was no pain whatever, only an extreme weakness.
While camping on the Yass river the next evening Mary had a dream which when related sounds like the history of her life for the following twenty years, so true is it in every particular.
She dreamed that she saw herself and her
family travelling, struggling and trying to get a start again. Everything seemed to go against her
husband. Sickness came, and she saw
herself the only one able to be out of bed.
Deadly sickness too, but she was promised that there should be no
death. Things seemed to grow blacker
and blacker. At last, starvation
approached and she saw them all without a morsel of food to eat; everything
sold for food, even their clothes. Then
when the last remnant of property had been taken from them, the tide
turned. She was told they should at last
go to Goulburn, where they would break land and prosperity should once more
visit them, and that they should finally reach
“I would rather,” she added, “have my head severed from my body this minute, then go through what I have dreamed this night.”
“Well, wife,” answered William, “let us hope it is nothing but a dream.”
She related to him, but he felt too confident in his own strength to believe such a dream as that. It gradually faded from Mary’s mind as such things will do, but now and then some circumstances would recall it to her mind with all the vividness of reality.
While camping on the Yass, a stranger came to William and asked him for his daughter Maria, who was then only fourteen years old. William replied that Maria was nothing but a child, and he was an utter stranger, so he could not for a moment think of consenting. Three nights after this, the man stole the girl away, and when morning came and the father discovered the loss, he was almost frantic with grief. He was a most devoted and affectionate father, and he was fairly beside himself with his daughter’s disappearance. He spent money like water. Advertised, went from place to place, searched and hired others to search with him, for the missing girl. It was of no use. She was never found.
While searching for her four of his horses wandered away, and only one ever returned. Then, finally giving up in despair, he hired horses and went to Yass city. Arriving there William obtained work for a man named Gallager, at putting up a barn.
They had been settled but a short time when the baby was prostrated with colonial fever. Mary did all she could, but the child grew worse. Four months went by and still there was no improvement. At last Mary persuaded her husband to get a doctor. The doctor came and told the mother there was one chance in a hundred of the baby’s life. No signs of life seemed left in the little body, but he ordered her to put a strong mustard poultice over the stomach. “If it raises a blister,” said he, “she will live. If not, she is dead.”
Into Mary’s mind there suddenly flashed her dream. “Sickness, but no death.” Well, then her baby should live.
A short time after the doctor’s departure, Mrs. Gallager, a neighbour, came into the tent, and said, “Mrs Chittenden, let me hold the child.”
“No, Mrs Gallagher, thank you, I would rather hold her.”
The woman bustled about and got a tea-kettle of water upon the stove.
“What are you doing,” asked Mary.
“Getting a bit of hot water. The child is dead, so we will want some water hot.”
“She will not die, Mrs Gallager. She is going to live.”
“Why, woman, she is dead now! Her finger nails are black!”
“No, she is not dead,” persisted the mother. Who knows the great power and faith of a mother.
Within a few hours the child’s breathing
became audible. Her recovery was very
slow. And while she still lay weak and
ill, William was stricken down by the same complaint. He grew rapidly worse. He too lay ill for several months. He was in a very critical condition, but
whenever able to speak he would tell Mary not to bring a doctor, for he should
recover without one. The turn for the
better came at last, and as soon as he was able to get about a little, they
determined to go to Lemon Flat. Heir
first idea in going to Lemon Flat had been to homestead, or “free select” land,
as it is called in
And thus one year dragged heavily by. While here Jane was married to John Carter, and Ellen to a Grecian man named Nicolas Carco. Also, just as they were leaving Lemon Flat, Eliza married a Mr. Griffin.
Now they determined to go once more to Gunderoo to try what could be done there. The reason why William wished to go to Gunderoo was, that no matter what came or went, wages could be made by a man in “sluicing gold.” Now the family were almost destitute. After their arrival in Lemon, and for months, most of the children lay sick with the colonial fever.
Between three or four years had passed since they left Camden (over eight years since the last missionary left Australia), and the Chittendens were much poorer than they were when they left.
For many years Mary had been in the
habit of going about to her neighbours, nursing them during confinement. This was a necessity of the country, one
woman going to another, as there were no regular nurses to be had. She became acquainted in her labours with a
Doctor Haley, the best physician in Goulburn.
He always, after the first time when she nursed under him, sent for
her. This practice put many an odd
pound into her pocket. He husband was
far from idle, however. With his
disposition he could never be so. He
took charge of the estate of a gentleman named Massy, who was absent in
As soon as he was released from this situation, where he had earned some money and a good portion of grain, he rented a farm. With anxious hope and honest labor he seeded down twenty acres with the grain he had on hand.
He who sendeth the rains, withholdeth them at His pleasure! For two years there was a complete drouth visited the country. William walked over his field and could not, at the end of the season, pluck one single armful of grain.
While living in this place the promised
son was born to Mary, and once again her prophetic dream was realized. He was born May 28, 1865, and William named
him Hyrum. When the baby was two years
Alice came home, quite sick at her stomach, and her mother felt alarmed at once, for her children were regularly and simply fed, and when anything of the kind happened to them she knew it was of an uncommon and serious nature.
Jane had returned to her mother’s house, while her husband was up the country on a mining expedition. She had a young baby eleven months old.
When the doctor came next day he pronounced Alice’s case one of the most violent scarlet fever. Next day Jane and Rachel came down, and the next day Louisa and Caroline fell ill with the dreadful disease. Jane had the fever so violent that Mary was obliged to wean the baby, Everyone in the family was now ill but herself, and she with a baby two weeks old. For eleven long weeks the anxious mother never had her clothes off, but to change them. The disease was of such a violent type that not one human being had courage or had humanity enough to enter the door. Alone and utterly unaided she went from one bedside to another administering food and medicine. The physician was the only one who ever visited her, and at the times when he came (twice a day) to attend to them, she would sit down long enough to take up her infant and give it the breast.
Three months of sickness, toil and suffering, then the fever spent itself, and Mary could begin to realize their condition financially. Something must be done, for funds were very, very low.
There was a sudden excitement about this time at a place called Mack’s Reef, which was three miles from Gunderoo. Gold was found in quartz, and was very rich indeed, at this new camp. William decided to go. So investing their last cent to purchase a simple crushing-mill, and to take themselves out, the Chittendens went to Mack’s Reef.
Misfortune was too well acquainted with them now to be driven away, so she curled herself up in the crushing-mill, and behold it failed to do its work. It lost both the gold and the quicksilver.
Matters were no getting desperate. Food was wanted. Strain and economize as she might, Mary could not make things hold out much longer. The pennies followed the shillings, until when the last half-penny had to be taken for flour, William looked at Mary and said, “Mary, what are we coming to? Must our children starve?”
“No, William, please God! But do you remember my dream? You may not believe it, but I know it was a
true dream. Oh, William, why did we not
And so it went. Garment followed garment, and yet there seemed no chance of earning a penny. Finally, there was no more clothes; everything was sold.
Then William took his gun, and went to the woods. But after a very short time that, too, failed and they were starving.
That night, when the little children were put hungry to bed, William walked the floor in the agony of his mind. “My God!” groaned the wretched man, “must my children starve before my very eyes? In my pride I fancied my family would be better in my hands than in the hands of their Almighty Father! Oh, that I had listened to counsel! Now my family are fast leaving my roof, and we that are left are starving. Starving in a land of plenty!”
God listened to the prayers of His humbled son, and he was enabled to get a little something to eat. But the lesson was not over yet.
Mary had obtained a situation as nurse and this helped them. William thought he would go up to Goulburn, a large island town, where he felt sure he would find some employment. Accordingly he left the family with Mary, but of course in very wretched circumstances. It was the best that he could do, so Mary was satisfied to be left.
The trip to Goulburn was made in the old spring cart, which had been left of the wreck of their comfortable travelling outfit. The horse, which William had just found previous to starting, was one of the four he had lost on the Yass river. The poor thing had been so abused that it was almost worthless. In fact, it had no money value, for in that country where good stock was comparatively cheap he had tried again and again before leaving Mack’s Reef to sell the horse and the cart, or either alone in order to get flour for his starving family, but no purchaser could be found.
So he went up to Goulburn and took odd jobs as he could get them. When he had been gone some few months, a company of prospecters brought in a new machine to crush the quartz. This fanned the dead embers of hope in every one’s breast, and even Mary thought if she could get William to come down and try his quartz in this new mill, they would succeed at last.
But how to get word to him? He was at Goulburn, eighteen miles away. There was no mail, and she had not a vestige of anything to pay for sending a word to him. She was very weak too from lack of food. But everyone around her was so confident of the grand success about to be made, that she resolved to try and walk up to Goulburn. Accordingly, she set out leaving the baby at home with the girls, and walked feebly towards Goulburn. She was half-way there when she came to a river. This was forded by teams, but across it had been thrown a plank, and a poor one it was, too. Mary looked at the foaming water, and then at the rotten plank, and felt it would be an impossibility almost to go across. Still, she must get over, so she started; but she had only got a little way out before her head began to reel, she was weak and faint, and about to fall, when she had a sense remaining to lay flat down on the plank, and wait for strength. As she prayed for strength and help she heard a horse’s hoofs behind her, and a gentleman on horseback dashed into the stream. He rode up to her and said,
“Madam, permit me to help you. Let me take your hand and I will ride close by the board, and thus get you across all right.”
“Oh sir, you are very kind,” answered Mary as she arose thanking God that He had heard her prayer.
“Where are you going, madam? Pardon me, I do not ask from idle curiosity.”
“To Goulburn, sir to my husband.”
“I was wondering as I came along, to see a woman on this lonely road. You surely do not expect to reach Goulburn to-night?”
“I thought sir, I would go as far as I could, then lie down and rest until I could go further.”
“Well my poor woman, good-bye! And success attend you on your journey.”
“Many thanks, kind sir, may God reward your kind act.” And so he rode on.
Mary went on some distance, and began to feel that she could go no farther. Suddenly she saw a woman approach her. Wondering, the two women met, and the stranger said to Mary, “Are you the woman a gentleman on horseback assisted across the river?’
“Then you are to come with me. He has paid us for your supper and lodging to-night. Also, he paid me to come out and meet you and show you the way.”
“Thank God! I am almost worn out. What was the gentleman’s name, please?”
“That I can’t tell. But here’s our house. Come, get your supper, it is waiting.”
And thus was her humble prayer answered, and a friend raised up to her sore need.
The next day Mary reached Goulburn, and she and her husband returned the following day in the cart, to Mack’s Reef. But after reaching the Reef, William found it would require quite a sum of money to do anything with his quartz, so at last abandoning everything, he left the Reef in disgust. The poor old horse died shortly after that, and thus they only had the cart remaining. The harvest time was approaching, and William had the rent to pay on the farm he had taken, and which had failed so dismally. So he went to the owner and offered to harvest out the amount. The offer was accepted, and he went harvesting the remainder of the season.
Meantime, Mary had been sent for, to nurse a lady who lived a few miles out from Gunderoo. So, not liking to lose so good an opportunity of making a bit of money, she weaned her ten month’s old baby, and left him at home with the girls. She was engaged for a month, receiving a pound a week, about twenty dollars a month, for her services.
When she returned, she found he husband at home. “You know, William, I told you my dream would surely be fulfilled. Are you not willing to admit that so far it has come true every word?”
“Well yes, Mary, but what then?”
“Then in my dream we were to lose everything before the turn would come, and we should commence to prosper. We’ve nothing left now but the spring cart. Give that, as it is too poor to sell, to Isaac Norris. Then let us go to Goulburn, and once more try farming. You know we must break land there.”
“Thou art like a woman. If we part with the cart, how, pray, shall
we get to Goulburn.” “Why, William,
have I not brought home four pounds?
That will move us to Goulburn.
Come husband, let us get away from here.” At length William consented; the spring cart
was given to their son-in-law, Isaac Norris, and the whole family moved up to
Goulburn. Their daughter
About five years after their coming to Goulburn, Mary had another dream. A personage came to her and began talking to her of her affairs. This personage said to her among other things:
“You shall take a farm, on the opposite
side of the road to where you now live.
And, after, you shall prosper exceedingly. Then you shall take money, constantly, from
this side of the road, and you shall soon go to
“Mary how can you think of such a thing? What could I do with a farm? I haven’t a tool nor an animal to use. It is impossible. So don’t talk of it.”
But Mary was far from satisfied. However, she knew her husband to well to urge the matter, when he spoke as he had done. And further, in a very short time after the farm was vacated, it was re-let to another person. Mary was thus forced to give it up. A month or so slipped by, and one night Mary dreamed the same dream in relation to the farm across the road. She thought, however, she would not mention it to her husband. In a week or so, they again heard the farm was to let, as the family was dissatisfied. Then Mary made bold to tell her husband of the repetition of the dream, and beg him to try and take it.
“Why do you keep urging me about that farm, Mary? I have not one thing to do with. I tell you it is impossible.”
And again disappointed, Mary thought she would say no more about the matter. That day she was going up to spend a week at Mrs. Day’s assisting her in her housework and cleaning. After she arrived there, she prepared breakfast, and she and Mrs. Day sat down to eat. As they were talking, Mrs. Day said, “Why doesn’t Mr. Chittenden take that farm of Gibson’s? I hear it is again vacant. He is a good farmer, and could easily attend to that as well as look after mine.”
“He would like to do so, no doubt, but he thinks he could not account of having nothing to do with, no teams nor machines, nor in fact anything.”
“Well, if that’s where the trouble lies, I’ll tell you what I’ll do. He shall have the use of my horses and plows and all the farm machines for nothing, and I will furnish him seed grain for the first year. And he can let me have it back after he gets a start.
“Oh Mrs. Day, you are too good to us.”
“Not a bit of it. I would do more than that to keep you in the country. You know that I could not possibly live without your help.” replied the lady laughingly’
Mary could hardly contain herself for joy. And when night came, she begged to be allowed to go home that night, as she could not wait a whole week before telling her husband the good news.
Accordingly she hurried home that night and told her husband what Mrs. Day had said.
“Mary,” said William, “if Mrs. Day tells me the same as she tells you. I’ll take Gibson’s farm.”
So early the next morning they started on their errand. The farm house opposite them was vacant, and as they passed Mary asked herself, tremblingly, if they should be sufficiently blessed to live there. Mrs. Day greeted them very kindly and told them they were just in time tor breakfast.
“Thank you Mrs. Day; but Mary has been telling me you spoke to her about our taking Gibson’s Farm.”
“So I did Chittenden; and I tell you if you’ll take the farm, keeping mine too, mind, you shall have the use of my team, wagon and farm implements. Besides, I will lend you your seed grain for the first year and you can return it afterwards.”
“Well, Mrs. Day, if you are so kind as that, all I can do is to thank you and accept the offer. I will go right on to Mr. Gibson at once and make the bargain.”
Mr. Gibson was quite pleased to have William take the farm. That same week the family moved across the road, and Mary felt like a new woman.
During all these fifteen years you may be sure Mary and William had often talked or the religion that was so dear to both. Their daughters although they had perforce, married those outside the Church, were staunch “Mormons,” and are to this day.
One day William met Mr. Gibson who said, “I have been thinking, William, you can open a gate on the other side of the road, opposite your own door, and make a bit of a road to the woods, and you can take toll from the gate. You know you live on the public turnpike from Goulburn, and this toll road would be a good thing to the Goulburn people.”
“How much could you allow me, sir?”
“Five shillings from every pound. Then your children could attend the gate.”
“Very well, I shall do so, and I am very grateful to you for the privilege.”
“Well, mother,” said William soon after, as he entered the house, “your money is coming from the otherside of the road.”
And when he had laughingly told her how, she said she felt more like crying than laughing, she was so grateful to God.
The story of prosperity is so much easier to tell, and in truth is so much shorter than the tale of adversity and suffering, that we may well hasten over the remaining five years of their waiting in that far distant land.
Everything prospered. But about the second year William’s health commenced to break down. Gradually he became more and more incapable of work, until at last, one day, he came in and throwing himself down, he exclaimed, “Mary, I have done my last day’s work.” It was even so. But God did not fail them.
In 1875, two men came up to the door,
and asked for food and shelter. When
they announced themselves Elders from
The Elders were Jacob Miller of
Farmington, and David Cluff of Provo, since
dead. A month or two afterwards, Elder
Charles Burton and John M. Young of
William’s illness was Bright’s disease of the kidneys and he was slowly dying.
They left Sydney on the 7th of April, 1877 for Utah, six souls in all, William and Mary, their children, Caroline, Louise and Hyrum, with one grandchild, Lavinia.
On their arrival they went at once to Provo. William had much more to bear of poverty and suffering, than any could have dreamed, even after their arrival here. Mary went out washing to eke out their store, (they had barely ten dollars left,) and the two girls got positions in the factory.
Within a year, Caroline married Eleazer Jones, and Louisa married Abraham Wilde. The last named couple live near their mother now.
Caroline has moved with he husband to
Arizona. Mary’s eldest daughter, Mary
Ann Mayberry, also came with her husband and family to
I would not linger if I could on the severe suffering, and painful death of /William, just twelve month from the day they left home.
When the sad day came on which he left them all, in spite of his awful agony, he called his only son, who was then thirteen years old, and stretching out the thin, wasted hands he blessed him fervently, and said, “You are going to be a good boy to your mother, I think?”
“Yes father, I will,” answered the lad, manfully.
“My boy, I can do nothing, no work in the Temple for her, nor for myself; I have got to go.”
“If you have got to go, father,” tremblingly said the boy, “I will do all that lies in my power.”
“Remember mother, Hyrum, she has been good to us, and worked hard for us all our days.” Then again he blessed him, and soon the peaceful end came, and the poor aching frame was at rest.
A year or two of hard, constant work at the wash tub passed away, and one night the personage who had visited Mary before came to her in a dream and said:
“Mary, the time is now come for you to go and do the work for yourself and your husband. If you will go, you shall soon have a home afterwards.”
Here was a command and a promise. Hyrum had shot up and was a tall, quiet-mannered young man, and had gone out on a surveying expedition, carrying chains for the men, to earn some money. His great ambition was to get a home for his mother.
On his return from the surveying expedition he put nearly $100.00 into his mother’s hands. A day or two after he said, “Mother I would like to go down to St. George and do father’s work; you know I promised him to do it as soon as I could, and this is the first money I have ever had. I am sixteen years old, and if the Bishop thinks I am worthy, I would like to go.”
Mary quickly told he dream, which she had hesitated mentioning, fearing he would not like it, but he believed it.
“Mother, I will go this very night,” he said when she had concluded her story, “and see what the Bishop says.”
So down he went, and Bishop Booth very willingly told him to go, and he felt pleased to give the necessary recommends.
They went and had a most glorious time, and on he return Mary went to washing again. But mark! In less than one year from that time they had bargained for a place, and got two little rooms built upon it.
If you come to
She meditatively pushes aside her neat, black lace cap from her ear, with her finger, as I ask what to say to you in farewell, and with a mild but tearful eyes, says;
Tell them for me, always to be obedient to the counsel of those who are over them; and obey the whisperings of God, trusting to Him for the result1 And then, God bless them all! Amen.”