robert braithwaite


A history of Robert and Harriet Amelia Bemus Braithwaite as prepared by their granddaughter, Alta B. Coleman, with the help of my mother, Isabella Braithwaite Bown.

Robert Braithwaite was born 14 March 1830, in Kendal, Westmoreland County, England. He was the fourth child of a family of nine children born to Rowland and Hannah Askew Braithwaite. Of these nine children, eight were boys. The one daughter in the family was the seventh child. The names of the children in the order of their birth were John, Thomas (who died as an infant), Robert (who also died as an infant), Robert II (who was my grandfather and the subject of this history), George, Rowland, Hannah, William, and Joseph Smith Braithwaite.

Robert II was a dutiful and energetic boy. He enjoyed many of the pleasures of boyhood, and along with his brothers and one sister, he engaged in the normal fun found in a busy and happy childhood home. Robert's father was a shoemaker by trade. He died in his early fifties. Robert had worked along with his father in the business and after his father's death; he had taken over the business so he had had much experience along this line. This became pretty much his life's chief occupation.

Missionaries from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, who went to England, met and taught the Gospel to this humble family. All of them were converted and baptized and became true and faithful Latter-day Saints. They were not all baptized at the same time, but they were all converted and baptized in England before they arrived in Utah. Grandfather was one of the first ones to be baptized. Records show that he was baptized when he was fifteen in 1845. His mother was the first of the family to be baptized. She was baptized in 1843. His father was baptized three months later.

The Braithwaite people, like all of those early converted Latter-day Saints, had an urge to come to Utah. My grandfather, Robert, was the first of the family to arrive. In 1854 he crossed the plains by ox team under the direction of William Empey. After his arrival in Utah, he lived in Salt Lake City for about one year. During this time he followed the shoemaking trade. He worked diligently. He had a worthy purpose in view as he had a desire to save enough passage money to make it possible for his mother and his five brothers and one sister to come to Utah as soon as possible. His father had died two years before he had left England.

After a year's stay in Salt Lake City, Robert moved to Provo, Utah, where he continued to work at his trade. In the fall of 1857, he moved again. This time he moved to Manti, Utah, where he again set up business as a shoemaker, and he continued to work and save his money to help his family come to America. In the very early history of Manti, the people had to fashion temporary homes by making dugouts in the south side of the Manti Temple hill. The first settlers to Manti arrived in November 1849. A deep snow began falling the day after their arrival. The ground was never free from snow until late the following spring. It was a hard winter for them. Grandfather told many accounts of these experiences of those first settlers as retold stories handed down to him by the earlier settlers, to my mother. My mother retold many of those stories to me.

As the months and years went by, houses were built of logs and lumber from Manti Canyon, and stone from what later became the Manti Temple quarry from which the Manti Temple was later built. Grandfather arrived in Manti in 1857. By that time, he was able to live in a house built of logs, lumber and stone. One house in which Grandfather lived in Manti is still standing.

Another sore trial that came to those early settlers in Manti and surrounding settlements was the Black Hawk Indian War. Grandfather fought in that war. Willingly he went as a soldier to fight the Indians who were trying to kill the people and destroy their settlement. The settlers were glad when the war was over and peace came.

The settlement of Manti grew and community life developed and things became a little better for the saints. Grandfather helped promote the progress of this little town. He related many of these experiences to my mother and told her that many families came to make their homes in this growing settlement. It soon became a busy place, and the people became united in a common cause to build a happy community in which to live as Latter-day Saints.

It was a happy day in 1863, when the time came that his mother and his sister and brothers, except John, came to make their home among the saints in Manti. Grandfather's dream was fulfilled. He had sent them money to help pay for passage to America. They crossed the ocean in the first sailing vessel chartered from London to carry Mormon emigrants to America. The sailing vessel was called the "Amazon."

Back in England, their mother, Hannah Askew Braithwaite, had been trying very hard to save money for passage to America. John, the oldest son, was asked to come to Utah first but he declined the offer for some reason. Thus it was that my grandfather, next oldest, was chosen to come to Utah as the first to lead the way and help earn and save money to send for the mother and children to come later. Grandfather had done his task well. To him we are indebted for so much, even our very own lives in this free land of the U.S.A.

John, the oldest son, came to Manti after the death of the mother, Hannah. She knitted socks and sold them; she did all kinds of odd jobs and saved every cent she could to help John, his wife and family to come later. After her death, the money was sent to John and he and his wife and family came to Manti.

This dear lady devoted her entire life, after she was baptized, to getting herself and her children to "Zion." She was a good, true Latter-day Saint. We owe so very much to our great-grandmother, Hannah Askew Braithwaite, who was the first Braithwaite to be baptized into the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. She is buried in the Manti Cemetery. Her grave should never be left undecorated on Decoration Day when all about is so beautifully decorated.

After their arrival in the United States, they crossed the plains in Captain Daniel McCarthy's company by ox team. They went directly to Manti, Utah, arriving there in October, 1863. They each made a home in Manti, married and reared large families. The Braithwaite descendants from these families, at this time of writing, I'm sure numbers into the thousands. They have become scattered into the far places of the earth and have honored this great name.

The mother of this large family, Hannah Askew Braithwaite, lived twelve years after her arrival in Utah. She was a remarkable woman, a faithful Latter-day Saint, and a devoted mother. She was the first Braithwaite to join the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

February 5, 1858, was a very important day in our Braithwaite history as it was on that day that my grandfather, Robert Braithwaite, was married in Manti, Utah, to a beautiful young girl by the name of Harriet Amelia Bemus. Harriet Amelia Bemus was the daughter of Lyness and Martha Amelia Juell Bemus. She was born 16 September 1844, in Louis Town, Culton Co., Illinois. Her people were of English descent, but her parents were from Maine and New Hampshire, according to report and family memory.

The family had moved west to Illinois and during the gold rush to California, they moved westward with it. Martha Amelia Juell Bemus was a convert to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. When they arrived in Utah, it was her desire to remain among the Mormons. Her husband, Lyness Bemus, who was not a member of the Latter-day Saints Church, wished to follow the gold rush westward to California. However, because his wife wished to stay in Utah, he obliged and always said afterward that he was happy that he stayed. They made their home in Manti, Utah. Martha Juell Bemus remained a true Latter-day Saint and a dutiful, neat, kind, little woman. She died September 11, 1892, and is buried in the Manti Cemetery. Lyness Bemus was an honorable man. He never joined the Latter-Day Saints Church. However, in the later years of his life, which was not a long life as he died at the age of 53, he did express a desire to be baptized. However, he became ill and died before it could be done.

My grandmother, Harriet Amelia Bemus Braithwaite, was one of ten children born to this couple. She was either the sixth or the seventh child. I have never been able to ascertain whether Ira was the oldest child in this family or not. He left soon after they arrived in Manti and went to California. He was never heard from again. If he were the oldest child, then Harriet Amelia was the seventh child. Her brothers and sisters were Mary Judith Elizabeth, William Myron, George, Harvey Franklin, Francis, Ira, Emily Matilda, and twins Norman and Norris.

Robert met and fell in love with the beautiful, young Harriet and they were married February 5, 1858. They were sealed later in the Endowment House. For the next 44 years, they made their home in Manti. In 1901, they moved to Spanish Fork where Grandfather died in 1906, and Grandmother died in 1929. Twelve children were born to this couple. Their names were Martha, Mary, Emily, Robert, Harriet, Isabella (my mother), Lyness, Eleanor, Catherine, John, Willard and Jesse. These children lived to maturity; they each married and raised fine families. Their descendants have been numerous, impossib1e to get an accurate count, and they were scattered to the four corners of the earth.

During the years Robert Braithwaite lived in Manti, he followed his trade of a shoemaker. He also had a small farm which provided work for his sons. He was hired to run the Manti Carding Machine Shop. This shop was in operation from early spring until late fall. Here, rolls for spinning yarn and batts for quilts were made. In the winter months, he worked in his shoe shop. He spent a little time during the summer repairing shoes, but there was not as much demand for repair work in the summer, as the children went barefooted when there was no school. The shop was a very busy place just before the school season began.

When my mother was a girl and up until she was about 12 years of age, she spent much of her time in these places of work. She helped card wool in the carding mills and to make or repair shoes. She said that she was always happy that she had spent so many hours working side by side with her father. He was a soft-spoken, little man and displayed wisdom and kindness. He had a strong testimony of the gospel of Jesus Christ and she learned many valuable lessons in character building from him. She loved him dearly.

My mother related that Grandfather's shop was a popular place because he was an honest and well-liked person. Many people went there to pass a few remarks and to discuss the topics of the day, as well as to purchase shoes or have them repaired. Many times gospel principles were discussed. He had a strong testimony of the Gospel. Very often people came to these places where Grandfather worked or to his home for the purpose of seeking advice about a problem. He was a humble, sincere man and many times he was called upon for counsel or for some of his herbs for healing the sick. He was especially blessed with the gift of healing and through the Priesthood of God, which he held, coupled with his faith and the faith on the part of those ill, many a person felt grateful for the help given by this little man. He was of small stature, but he must have had quite a strong constitution for it has been said that on many an occasion, Grandfather walked from Manti to Provo when the occasion became necessary.

He was a tireless worker or else used his time wisely for he accomplished much in his time. He was a splendid gardener and took much pride in having a neat-looking garden. He grew fine vegetables. He grew rhubarb and had berry bushes, such as currants and gooseberries, as well as fruit trees such as cherries, peaches and red astrakhan apples. He was generous in sharing these with others. Grandmother and the children had a share in this project and in helping to prepare for winter in the way they knew, what produce they could from his garden. They dried what could be dried; they put into root cellars what could be stored. And they made jellies, jams, pickles and relishes, which they stored in crocks and jars which were available.

Grandfather was a lover of flowers. My mother said his garden was bright with hollyhocks, daisies, larkspur, sweet williams, and a special variety which she had in her garden from seed handed down from his seed. I never learned their true name, but to me they were called "Grandpa flowers." And yet, Grandfather still found time to devote to the Church. He advanced in the Priesthood; he held the office of a High Priest at the time of his death. He had a sweet singing voice and sang in duets and in the choir. He led the choir on many occasions. In fact, all those early Braithwaites sung a great deal. On many occasions, especially on long winter evenings, it was not unusual for many of them to gather together and spend an evening in someone's home. Food would be brought and musical instruments, such as a jews harp, a violin, a harmonica or a banjo. If the hostess was lucky enough to have a piano and someone in the crowd could play it, then music really rang out. Food was served early and the rest of the evening was spent in games, recitations by young and old, and then the songs began, one right after another. "Annie Laurie," "When You and I Were Young, Maggie," "Silver Threads Among the Gold," "Round Goes the Wheel," and many others. This writer remembers with warmness of heart of being a child in just such gatherings--not a gathering of the generation of my Grandfather and his generation--but of the second generation, my mother's brothers and sisters and a host of cousins. I well remember the singing of all the group, and games and stories. And always there was good food.

In my very youngest childhood memories, I recall some of those family house parties. They were choice experiences of my young life. The fine people and the happy songs and the wholesome fun and good eating we had as children in those parties were impressed on my mind to last forever. I had some of the dearest relatives that a child ever had.

Grandfather and Grandmother Braithwaite moved to Spanish Fork, Utah, before I was born. They left Manti in 1901. They took with them the love and admiration of hosts of people with whom they had lived and loved. They were to gain still more friends among the people of Spanish Fork. Grandfather Braithwaite died 26 October 1906, in Spanish Fork, Utah. Grandmother Braithwaite died 10 February 1929. They were both buried in the Spanish Fork Cemetery.

Grandfather and Grandmother too, were small of stature but what they lacked in size of figure, they made up in personality and strength of good character. He had no great wealth in money and lands. It has been said that "A man needs no finer monument than a place in the heart of a friend." If that is so, then Grandfather was rich. Thanks to their memory and noble ancestry, we of their posterity have been blessed abundantly with a good heritage.

The name Braithwaite, taken from genealogy, means a hill in a clearing. A hill rises higher than the valleys below. It signifies loftiness, height, grandeur and steadfastness. These older Braithwaites have been towers of strength in helping to build high standards of character. They produced good citizens and helped build good communities. They left to their posterity honor and a good name.

May we and our children and our children's children never forget the names of Rowland and Hannah Askew Braithwaite and their son Robert and his good wife Harriet Amelia. Through them, we are indebted for our lives and our heritage. May we ever so live to honor that great name.