Family: William Garner/Mary Field (F744)

m. 1 Nov 1856


 

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The Last Leaf on the Tree The Story of Mary Field Garner By Anne Garner Bafton



A brief history of the life of Mary Field Garner, born at Stanley Hill, Herefordshire, England, February 1, 1836, the daughter of William Field and Mary Harding Field, who had joined the church of the United Brethren, at Herefordshire, England. When the first Mormon Missionaries came to Herefordshire to preach the Gospel they were very interested in their message and Elder Wilford Woodruff explained the Gospel to them. My father and mother accepted the Gospel and were baptized into the Church in 1840. They were very faithful Latter-day Saints and lived the Gospel’s teachings to the best of their ability. They were glad to assist the missionaries and made them always feel welcome in their home.

After joining the church my parents were not content to stay in England, but they wanted to be with the main body of the church at Nauvoo. As soon as they could save enough money to make the voyage they came to America. This was with some of the first companies of Mormon Emigrants to leave England. The sea was very rough and there was a bad storm at sea which caused the ship to be driven off its course; thus it took us seven weeks to make the voyage. We were only at sea a short time when I became sea-sick. This sickness lasted the entire trip. Father wanted me to see the ocean and I was too sick to walk so he carried me upon the deck to watch the ship going through the water. We were all so happy to see land again and to know we were safe after such a terrible voyage. After landing in America we soon came west to Nauvoo, Illinois, to join the saints there. We found Nauvoo a beautiful city, which had been built up from swamp land situated near the Mississippi River. This city had been built under the guiding hand of the Lord and the hard work of the Saints and their leaders.

My father did not have enough money to buy a home, so we rented a house from one of the Saints. Here we lived in peace and happiness under the Prophet Joseph Smith. Here he stood at the head of this dispensation, as Adam stands in the forefront of the human race. We were very glad to attend church and listen to the Prophet Joseph and other leading brethren teach the Gospel of Jesus Christ to us. We marveled at Joseph’s superior intelligence of the Gospel and the simple way he could explain it unto the Saints, so that the most unlearned member could know and understand the truth.

The Saints, at this time, were enjoying peace and prosperity after the persecutions they had endured in Missouri. They purchased more land and built comfortable new homes, thinking they had found a permanent dwelling place, free from their mob enemies. Nauvoo was fast becoming famous and its population was increasing rapidly by the great emigration of Saints from England, but such peace and prosperity was not to last long, for our old enemies from Missouri, who had been aided by Governor Boggs, were not content to see us happy and prosperous, living our own way and worshiping God as we wished. Hatred and jealousy again filled their hearts. They wanted is [us] Mormons driven out of civilization, on to barren wastes where white man never dwelt before, to be killed by savage Indians, or eaten by wild animals and thus get rid of us forever.

They began to stir up ill feelings between the Saints and their new friends and neighbors in Illinois. Our enemies did not posses [possess] a Christ like spirit, nor did they follow his teachings to “love thy neighbor as thyself”. They made all sorts of false accusations against the Prophet Joseph and the other leading brethren of the church. They demanded the arrest of Joseph and Hyrum Smith. This they succeeded in doing, but our leaders proved their innocence and were released to return to their families.

Joseph was arrested many times on trumped up charges, but each time was roved not guilty. He also had to hide for days at a time to escape the mob. Members of the mob kidnapped some of the Saints and whipped them severely, and were cruel to them in different ways. Then persecutions began to increase. The saints were instructed to be on their guard all the time.

While at Nauvoo my father, William Field, and my two sisters, Eliza and Rachel died, leaving mother with six children to provide for. We were very poor and had very little to eat. Corn meal being our main food, when other food became exhausted we were put on rations of one pint of corn meal a day for the seven of us. We could cook it as we wished. OH! How hungry we were for something else to eat. The children cried for a piece of white bread, and mother, oft-times, would cry with us, as she was unable to give us the bread or get enough food to satisfy the hungry cried [cries] of her children. Mother worked hard to provide for us and keep our family together. The Saints were very kind to us and tried to help us the best they could. (You must remember most of the Saints were poor after being forced to leave their old homes and be driven from one state to another by anti-Mormons) We did not complain. We were too thankful to be at Nauvoo with the other Saints of God and to be acquainted with Prophet and leader, Joseph Smith, and listen to his teachings.

No greater words have ever been uttered by man, than the teaching of the prophet Joseph – “That man is an eternal being, as to his essence capable of eternal progression. The intelligence of spirits is immortal. It had not beginning; neither will it have an end. There never was a time when there were not spirits, for they are co-eternal with our Father in Heaven”. These to me, are very wonderful thoughts. At another time he declared, “God himself was once as we are now and is an exalted man. There and many other great things he taught us. We loved to listen to his words as they fell from his divine lips, thus to be recorded in church history, to continue on and on to teach the correct principals of the Gospel to mankind, thus probing he was guided by the spirit of God to be able to know and understand these things and explain them to the people.

The Prophet was a very dignified looking man, and in his uniform of a General he was noble and kingly looking. His voice was clear and distinct and he could take command of his men in a very intelligent way. We were proud to call him or leader at all times.

I can remember the first American Indians I ever saw. It was at Nauvoo, when Prophet Joseph invited them to attend meeting in the Mansion House he would explain the gospel to them. While the Indians were in the meeting the children watched them through the picket fence. I was one of those children. We stooped down to keep from being seen. The Indians were quite a curiosity with their quaint dress and manners. Especially the squaws with their babies hung on their backs.

I shall never forget the morning Joseph and Hyrum crossed the Mississippi River and started west for the Rocky Mountains, because the mob demanded them taken to Carthage the mob would murder them to escape death they started for the west. When some of their friends sent them word that they were fleeing from Nauvoo to leave the Saints to certain butchery Joseph said, “If my life is of no value to my friends, it is of none to myself.” So they returned to Nauvoo. The news spread rapidly of Joseph’s return. We all hurried to greet him and welcome him back home, only to find he was giving himself up and going to Carthage, and had only stopped to see his family and talk with the leading brethren and to bid us all good-bye. Joseph seemed to realize he would never see his family and friends again. Joseph lingered to look at the beautiful city of Nauvoo and the temple. He said, “This is the loveliest place on earth and the best people under the heavens. Little do they know of the trials that await them.” He afterwards said, “I am going like a lamb to the slaughter, but I am calm as a summer morning. I have a conscience void of offense toward God and towards all men. If they take my life I shall die an innocent man, and my blood shall cry from the ground for vengeance, and it shall be said of me, he was murdered in cold blood.” We felt very sad to see them leave us, not knowing when they would return again to us. How happy we were a few days later when we saw a group of men coming to Nauvoo. Believing it [was] our beloved Prophet and Patriarch returning, the women and children joined hands and ran to meet them, glad to welcome them back home. To our surprise it was Governor Ford and his men coming to Nauvoo.

We were ver [very] disappointed to learn Joseph and Hyrum were still in Carthage jail. That afternoon Governor Ford and his men held a meeting in the Bowwery [Bowery] and Governor Ford delivered an address. He warned the Saints if they caused any disturbance whatever, the whole country would come upon them to punish them. This statement the Mormon people resented, as they were not guilty of an offense toward any people. They had kept the laws of the country. We were glad to see Governor Ford and his company leave Nauvoo, because of the ill feelings they held toward the Saints. While Governor Ford and his men were in Nauvoo the mob gathered at Carthage jail to take the life of our Prophet. They were not content that he was persecuted and being held in prison on false charges. They wanted to kill him. Thus the mob, painted faces to disguise them, rushed up the stairway of the jail, and finding the door being held shut by the brethren inside, shot through the door. The ball passed between the brethren. As there was no usable lock on the door it was forced open by the mob and many shots were fired into the room, killing Hyrum and wounding John Taylor. As Joseph was about to leap from the window someone on the outside of the jail shot him. He fell to the ground a dead man. After succeeding in killing the Prophet and Patriarch, the mob fled from the scene of their terrible, dishonorable crime. Elder Richards told the Saints not to rush to Carthage, but to stay at home and be prepared for another attack from the mob. There orders were obeyed. We all tried to be as calm as possible, although we felt so badly over the terrible tragedy.

The bodies of Joseph and Hyrum were placed in rude lumber boxes and put in a wagon and each covered with brush to protect them from the hot sun. I was with the Saints who met them outside the city and followed them to the Nauvoo Mansion House, where they were prepared for burial.

The Saints were grief stricken over the martyrdom, which had taken their beloved Prophet and Patriarch, who had guided them so faithfully through all persecutions a hours of darkness and despair, giving them hop [hope] and encouragement.

Mother took us children to view the bodies after they were prepared for burial. At the public burial only bags of sand were deposited in the grave, the bodies being buried at night in Nauvoo Mansion House, afterwards being taken up and buried in the rear of the house where Joseph had lived.

Thus the Prophet and Patriarch sealed their testimony of the truthfulness of the Gospel (as did our Savior Jesus Christ) with their blood which shall forever remain a stain on the State of Illinois, with the broken faith of that state as pledged by the Governor, and is a witness to the truth of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. They were innocent of any crime, but were murdered in cold blood to satisfy the evil desire of a blood thirsty mob. No man could give more to prove his calling was divine and to uphold the principles e advocated were true and correct and were revealed to him by God, and he was not afraid to stand for that which he knew to be true.

After Joseph’s death there was some confusion as to who should be our leader. Sidney Rigdon claimed to have had a vision that he should be our leader, but I, with my mother, was present at the meeting in the bowery when the mantel of Joseph fell upon Brigham Young while he was talking to the people. Mother had the baby on her knee. While the baby was playing with a tin cup he dropped it, attracting our attention to the floor. Mother stooped over to pick it up. We were startled by hearing the voice of Joseph. Looking up quickly we saw the form of the Prophet Joseph standing before us. Brother Brigham looked and talked so much like Joseph that for just a minute we thought it was Joseph. There was no doubt in the hearts of the Saints from that moment on who was to be their inspired leader; who had been chosen by God to guide his people in the path of truth and righteousness, and who, later, was to guide them through many days of bitter trials and persecutions across the trackless desert. Out beyond the borders of civilization, west to the Rocky Mountains to a very desolate land, and somewhere in that vast unknown to build a home where the Saints could dwell in peace away from the persecutions of their mob enemies.

After Brigham Young was sustained as our Prophet and leader the church was soon restored to order again under his guiding hand. The saints were anxious to complete the Nauvoo Temple, as they had been commanded, through the Prophet Joseph Smith before his death and all the hard work and determination of the Saints the temple was completed and large numbers of the Saints received their endowments in the Nauvoo Temple.

Before the Prophet’s death, he said, “It is thought by some that our enemies would be satisfied with my destruction, but I tell you that as soon as they have shed my blood, they will thirst for the blood of every man in whose heart dwells a single spark of the fullness of the Gospel. The opposition of these men is moved by the spirit of the adversary of all righteousness. It is not only to destroy me, but every man and woman who dares believe the doctrines that God hath inspired me to teach to this generation.” His words were fulfilled. The Prophet had only been dead a short time when our old enemies from Missouri, aided by Governor Boggs, began to stir up opposition against the Saints by accusing them of being thieves and counterfeiters and that they protected criminals who came among them. These accusations were entirely false for the Mormon people had always respected the rights of others and upheld law and order. In the fall of 1845 an anti-Mormon meeting was held at Morley. This was a little settlement near Nauvoo, for the purpose of finding some excuse to rid the State of Illinois of all Mormons. While this meeting was in session some of the mob fired on the building, not hurting anyone but causing plenty of excitement. The meeting broke up in confusion and, as usual, the Saints were accused of the deed. Of course this was not the truth, but it served the purpose for which Governor Boggs and Governor Ford and the mob intended it should. Public sentiment became more bitter toward us.

Shortly afterwards a mob attacked the town of Morley, burning several houses and driving the people out to seek homes elsewhere. Brigham Young knew this was the beginning of more trouble for us, and tat [taught] the mob, with Governor Ford and Boggs, world never be satisfied until the Saints were all driven out of Illinois.

The Twelve Apostles wrote a statement that since the public feeling were aroused against them and their people they would prepare to leave Illinois early in the spring, but they would like to be allowed to sell their property at a reasonable price. This plan was accepted by the mob and they also promised to prevent any further attacks against the Mormons until they could leave.

The Saints kept their part of the agreement. They were busy selling their property and making preparations to leave as soon as possible. This displeased the mob for they knew if all the people did not sell they could drive them from their homes and take possession of their property. The Sheriff of Hancock county was very friendly with the Saints and did all he could to protect us from the mob. For his kindness toward us he was hated by the mob and they demanded his resignation. We were all very anxious to leave our beautiful city of Nauvoo as our leaders could see the mob forces were getting restless and they feared another attack. The move west was the desire of all the Saints. In February, 1846 the first company of Saints, with our leader Brigham Young, crossed the Mississippi River and started west for the Rocky Mountains and were soon lost from our view on the plains of Iowa. We were sad to see them go and yet we were happy to know they would be free from mob attacks. From that time on the Saints continued to leave Nauvoo for the west to join the first company. By the last of April most of the Saints had left Nauvoo.

The Saints who were left at Nauvoo were those who were too poor to provide means of conveyance and provisions to last for the journey across the plains. Also the ones who were too sick and others too aged to travel and help blaze the trail west. The brethren believed the mob would have too much mercy and respect for this helpless group of people to persecute them, but they were mistaken. They began to mistreat us and kidnapped and beat some of the men, and did many other unkind deeds which are too numerous to mention here.

We knew this terrible treatment would continue until we were all out of Nauvoo, so the Saints agreed to leave within sixty days and appointed a committee to sell their property. Again this did not satisfy the wicked mob, as they wanted possession of our property without cost to them, so they were determined to drive the Mormons from their homes. You must remember the land which the Mormon people owned it, and in good faith with the government of the United States and the state of Illinois, for they intended to make this their permanent dwelling place. They built good houses, tilled the soil, built a new city and a beautiful temple and obeyed the laws of their governments. Now they were being driven out and robbed of their homes and all they had worked so hard for, and neither the state nor the Nation would lend a helping hand to save these same people from such a dastardly crime. Never before or since has this great nation tolerated such great injustice to my any people, regardless of religion or color of the race.

In September, 1846 a mob of about two thousand came to Nauvoo, to the head of Mulholland Street, ready to march through Mulholland St. and take possession of Nauvoo by force. The brethren tried to compromise with the mob, but their demands were too great, so the Saints and some of the new settlers decided to defend themselves. They numbered only about four hundred and got guns and ammunition enough to them, but they expected some help from the state, as had been promised, but none came. Major Clifford was in command of the Nauvoo forces.

My brother James Field fought in the battle. For three days there were shots fired on both sides. On the third day the mob made a desperate effort to get into Nauvoo through Mulholland Street and the Saints fought desperately to resist them. Several of the mob were killed and wounded and a few of the Saints were killed. The mob gathered up their dead and wounded and went back to their morning camp. The Saints realized it was useless to fight the mob as we would soon be out of ammunition, then the mob would murder us and take possession of our homes. Thus they compromised with the mob to let them march into the city and would surrender all our fire arms and the Saints would leave five brethren to sell their property and the rest of the Saints would leave Nauvoo as soon as possible.

In September the mob rushed into Nauvoo cursing and yelling. They violated every promise they had made to the Saints. Brockman, their leader, ordered every Mormon out of the city. All so every man who had taken up arms against the mob in defense of their city. The mob entered our sacred temple, using irreverent, profane language and horrid oaths. A preacher, climbing the tower of the temple, shouted, “Peace to the inhabitants of the earth, now the Mormons are driven out.” The mob ran from place to place ransacking houses, taking whatever they wanted. They were very cruel to the aged and the sick and abused the people who were burying their dead. They held mock court in the temple. Some of the Saints were tried and sentenced to death, while others were mockingly baptized in the river by the mobbers. The mob did not give us time to dispose o f our property, nor to pack our wagons with all the things we needed. They demanded we leave immediately. We hurried to pack some food, cooking utensils, clothing and bedding, which was afterwards unpacked b the mob and strewn over the ground by the mob as they searched for firearms. While we were waiting to be ferried across the Mississippi River some of the mob, with drawn bayonets lined upon each side of the road leading to the river, while others searched the wagons and took all firearms the found, even to the housewives butcher knives, so we would have nothing to defend ourselves with. My mother was successful in hiding three guns in her feather beds and the mob sis not find them. A sympathetic member of the mob offered to carry mother’s baby down to the ferry, but mother refused the kindness. Mother had some bread already in the kettles to bake. Of course she did not have time to bake it, so she hung it on the reach of our wagon and cooked it after we crossed the Mississippi River.

After being ferried across the river on a flat boat we camped on the Iowa side of the river. Here we were in another state and without any shelter from the scorching sun of the September days and the cold of the September nights. Our food supply lasted only a few days. We could look upon our beautiful Nauvoo being occupied by the savage mob, and the grain and other crops in the fields rotting, while we were going hungry. One afternoon a heavy rain started. Our bedding and clothing was soaking wet. Some of the Saints were sick from exposure. The sick and dying were made as comfortable as possible by erecting a makeshift shelter of old canvas, quilts, blankets, or anything we could spare to protect them from the storm. Mother’s entire family kept well. The food of the entire camp was gone so there was extreme suffering, and we were all so cold and hungry, but we were without homes, shelter or food and no friends to offer us assistance. The Saints had been mobbed, persecuted, robbed, some murdered, and we who remained in Nauvoo had been driven from our homes to seek homes elsewhere. The suffering and sadness of that camp I shall never forget.

Mary Field Garner
1836 – 1943
“No one on Church record lived longer… 107 years”


“Here I must tell you of a little experience I had while crossing the plains. As I have said the Indians gave us some trouble and especially me. You see I had long red, curly hair hanging in ringlets down my back which seemed to attract the Indians. I was afraid of them, but one Indian Chief took a fancy to me and wanted mother to give me to him as his white squaw and he would give her many ponies for me. Of course mother refused him, but he was very determined to get me, so he followed our camp of Saints for several days. We were all worried for fear he would steel me so after he left camp one night mother decided to try and hide me the next day. In the morning before we broke camp mother took our feather beds and placed them over two boxes so I would not smother and I crawled in there. Sure enough, he Indian Chief came back with his men. He asked for me. Mother told him I was lost. He was not satisfied with this and so proceeded to look in every wagon to see if I was there, then he came to search ours. He even felt of the feather bed I was under but did not find me. He stayed with the company all day to see if I came back. When it became dark that night he went away, saying sometime he would find me, but we never saw him again during the remainder of the trip to Salt Lake Valley…

After reaching the valley she later writes:
“Now by the time I was a grown up young lady and still had my red, curly hair, which still had it attractions for the Indians. One day an Indian Chief came to our door, and to our great surprise it was the same Indian Chief whom we had our experience with on the plains. He made us understand he had followed us here and still wanted me to be his bride. Of course mother refused him again, but he would not go away. He sat beside the door for three days. This was an old Indian custom before demanding his bride. After the three days were over again he asked me to be his white bride. He offered mother many, many ponies, beads and blankets for me and said he would make me queen of his tribe that I would have a tent of my own and his other squaws could be my servants.”

She tells that her mother again said, “No” to his request. “Still”, she writes he was not satisfied. “I refused and told him I would never be with him…” and asked him to please go back to his Indian tribe and not bother me again. With lowered head and bent shoulders, he went away sorrowing… I have never seen him since.”

Source: The Last Leaf on the Tree, the Story of Mary Field Garner, By Anne Garner Bafton.

Mary Field Garner
1836 – 1943
“No one on Church record lived longer… 107 years”


“After Joseph’s death there was some confusion as to who should be our leader. Sidney Rigdon claimed to have had a vision that he should be our leader, but I, with my mother, was present at the meeting in the bowery when the mantel of Joseph fell upon Brigham Young while he was talking to the people. Mother had the baby on her knee. While the baby was playing with a tin cup he dropped it, attracting our attention to the floor. Mother stooped over to pick it up. We were startled by hearing the voice of Joseph. Looking up quickly we saw the form of the Prophet Joseph standing before us. Brother Brigham looked and talked so much like Joseph that for just a minute we thought it was Joseph. There was no doubt in the hearts of the Saints from that moment on who was to be their leader. Who had been chosen of God to guide his people in the path of truth and righteousness, and who, later, was to guide them through many days of bitter trials and persecutions across the trackless desert. Out beyond the borders of civilization west to the Rocky Mountains, to a very desolate land, and somewhere in that vast unknown to build a home where Saints could dwell in peace away from the persecutions of their mob enemies.”

Source: The Last Leaf on the Tree, the Story of Mary Field Garner, By Anne Garner Bafton. Transcribed from PH - 1 in the Mormon Trail Center at Historic Winter Quarters, Pioneer History Resource Library.





Linked toFamily: Garner/Field (F744); Mary Field

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