Sarah Erminnine Bushman Fowles
Daughter of Charlotte Turley and Jacob Bushman
From The Theodore Turley Family Book, p. 496-497
Sarah Erminnie Bushman was born in Lehi, Utah on March 17, 1869. Her parents, Jacob and Charlotte Turley Bushman were honorable, intelligent people, much respected in the community in which they lived. Sarah was the fifth child of a family of ten. She was a frail girl but was endowed with strong convictions and a will to walk in the path of duty wherever it might lead.
She spent her childhood on the farm at Saratoga. There was a creek winding its way through the farm and she delighted to paddle in its waters. Her mother was much opposed to this and warned her that if she did not stop playing in the water her mother would dunk her; so true to her promise the next time Sarah played in the water her mother pushed her in. There was no more water playing from then on. Her favorite pleasure was to play house with her cousins, and many long summer afternoons were spent in this game trailing long dresses and clumping along in her mother’s shoes.
One of her first chores was to drive the cows to and from the pasture and as soon as she was old enough she was set to helping her brother milk. First they would let her “strip” but before long she could squirt the white streams into the bucket with both hands as fast as anyone and she found herself a full-fledged milkmaid.
Her father kept a little account book where he jotted down the price paid for the things bought and quite often would appear “Candy for Sarah.” She really was fond of candy but surely she did not eat it all as the family was large. Her father never charged nor went in debt. If he couldn’t pay for an item, they went without it. Sarah loved to do housework and at the age of 15 when her mother’s last baby was born she took care of her mother and the baby too. Her schooling was very limited as they lived so far away from a school. She loved school and was very sorry when she had to quit.
When she was about thirteen years old she went into the fields to glean wheat and in one year earned enough to buy herself a side-saddle. Her father gave her a riding pony which she called Fanny. She loved horses and could ride very well.
In 1884, President Taylor called her parents along with other families from Lehi to go and settle Northern Arizona. Her brother, Theodore, and she rode horseback and drove the cows to St. Johns, Arizona. They were six weeks on the way. Times grew harder and as things grew worse each year Pres. Taylor released the Saints to find more favorable places to live. Her parents then settled in Fairview, Utah.
Sarah was married on April 19, 1888 in the Logan Temple to Henry Fowles. They had three children, two boys and one girl: Henry Harmon was born March 25, 1889. Jacob Timothy was born Aug. 21, 1891. Ruby Rosamond was born April 30, 1894.
When in 1898 her husband died, Sarah was left a widow with two children— her oldest son, Harmon, had passed away on Jan. 6, 1892 with diphtheria, being just three years old.
After the death of her mother in 1899, Sarah’s father spent his last 17 years at her home, She worked in the Mutual from 1899 to 1904, two years with the North Sanpete Stake and three years in the Fairview Ward Mutual. In 1908 she was called to be the third president of the Fairview Ward Relief Society, a position she held for eleven years. She spent five years doing genealogy research and temple work.
In 1910 she lost her only daughter, Ruby, which was a great trial to her. She had only a son, Tim, left and felt that life would be quite empty unless she had another daughter to take the place of her first one, so she adopted a little girl, Lillian Grace, to have as a companion. Lillian was two years old at the time. It was at this girl’s home that Sarah Fowles passed away.
Though her associates knew she was getting weaker, none realized that the end was so near. Monday she seemed unusually well but during the night she grew worse and in the early hours of Thursday morning, July 17, 1947, she merely ceased to breathe. There was no struggle, no spasm of pain; only the spirit forsaking its mortal tenement, and the body was at rest. She had lived a long and useful life and has now gone to brighten another sphere.
This history mentions Sarah’s service in the Fairview Relief Society. It’s fascinating to learn more about her Relief Society service. In 1968, a centennial history of Fairview’s Relief Society was published. A copy is available in the Salt Lake Family History Library:(Fairview North Ward Relief Society Centennial 1868-1968, FHL: US/CAN 979.2563/F2 K2h).
Here are some interesting excerpts from that record:
The Fairview Relief Society has given one hundred years of service to the community. The service of helpfulness to those in need has never faltered. The sisters have given much and have received in return a nearness to our Father in Heaven, a true conception of brotherly love, and an undying testimony of the truth of the gospel to pass on to the next generation. The type of service may have changed but not the spirit.
On the 14th of June, 1868, Bishop Amasa Tucker organized the first Relief Society in Fairview. He chose Mary Ann Pritchett as President.
For twenty-seven years Relief Society was held monthly on the Monday following the Sunday Fast. Because of this the meeting was called the Relief Society Fast where testimonies of the women were given as they struggled with the difficulties of pioneer life. The sisters were a great help to each other as they counseled together bringing the faith of all to a greater desire to serve.
There was no Relief Society Hall. The first meeting was held in the “Englestead House,” later at the old “Meeting House” near the fort. Weather conditions almost made it imperative that the Relief Society meet in the private homes.
The Visiting Teachers under Rebecca Sanderson went about giving messages, cheering their sisters in their efforts of making true Latter-day-Saint homes in the wilderness. Not only did they give as they went but collected in baskets anything the sisters had to spare that might assist another in an old account book of 1870 a day’s donations read as follows: six yards of jeans, eight yards of flannel, five yards of Lindsey, $2.50, two bed ticks, one bed quilt, 100 lbs. of flour, one pair of pants, one dress, and 85 cents. Not at all a bad investment to be distributed where it was needed.
These sisters were always ready to help those in need and care for the sick. They also prepared the bodies for burial. In a small community these services were of incomparable value to the bereaved. There never was a call these sisters refused. They contributed to the missionaries, the immigrants, the temples, and other buildings the church had need of.
There were special calls made upon the sisters. In the year 1877, Brigham Young instructed the Relief Societies of the church “to gather wheat and save it against the time of famine.” He prophesied that famine would come not because crops would fail but because of the influx of population. The sisters accepted the challenge. Through their efforts and those of their children the Fairview sisters had gathered 372 bushels by donation and gleaning from the fields. By 1907 they had stored 2,892 bushels; by 1914, 3,385 bushels.
Wheat was borrowed from time to time and small amounts were sold. If wheat were lent, even better wheat was returned. When President Joseph F. Smith offered wheat to the United States during the World War, Fairview had stored more than any other ward in the church —3,130 bushels.
The taking care of the wheat was a task in itself. Mary C. Tucker was appointed chairman of a committee. Mice, of course, were a problem. She set 100 traps daily. A revolving trap helped somewhat. Two granaries were built for the storing. The wheat had to be changed from one granary to the other to destroy the weevil and rust. Fairview Relief Society bought the land on which the granaries stood January 27, 1897.
To assist with the building of the temples, contributions were made to the St. George, Salt Lake, Manti, and Hawaiian. To the workers on the Manti Temple the sisters could send produce, eggs, butter, and cheese.
For five years, every week, each sister donated one to twelve pounds of milk for the making of cheese. Fairview was divided into three districts. At one of the sister’s home in each district the cheese was made. Some of the barrels sent held 25 cheeses. Cheese was also sent to the Temple sawmill. A special party and dance was held January 4, 1895 to secure especially needed funds for the temple.
In the Social Hall the Relief Society met to make carpets. Some colored the rags, others cut, and sewed them. For the Hawaiian Temple a penny drive was instigated. The carpets along with quilts were sent by Fairview to the Manti Temple.
Another special charity was a donation of $7.75 sent to the Welch sufferers in 1877. In 1883, $9.45, was sent to the Latter-day Saint Hospital, and $100.35 was contributed to the Provo Woolen Mills.
Quite a unique experiment was the attempt to raise silk worms in 1880. Mulberry trees were purchased and planted. The altitude was too high. The trees could not winter. The attempt in Fairview failed.
In 1895 a “Mother’s Meeting” was held for two weeks to counsel mothers on how to care for and rear children. Dr. Ellis Shipp commenced her nursing classes in 1900. Each ward was permitted to send one representative.
The sisters likewise determined to eliminate that which was a detriment to a Latter-day Saint community. They tried to have the Creamery closed on Sunday. In 1900 they attacked the problem of the Saloon. In 1906 a plan was presented for building a community meeting house where the North Ward Chapel now stands. The Relief Society sponsored the first activities to raise funds. They raised money by selling ice cream and lunches, holding Relief Society Bazaars and holding an apron sale.
There is a record of Sunday Eggs being gathered in the early days of the Society. The building of the new meeting house gave a new impetus to the gathering of Sunday Eggs. All eggs in the community laid on Sunday were given to the cause. $200.30 was obtained from seven Sunday gatherings. In August 1911, $529.65 was added to the account and $554.40 in August 1912. The total on Sept. 8, 1913 was $2,300. In 1915, $342.17 was raised to build a fence for the meeting house.
A new Relief Society Hall was purchased in 1916 for $1,000.00. The hall was dedicated Sept. 15, 1917 by Elder David O. McKay. The sisters moved in October 31, 1917. A fence was put around it and trees planted.
Another project in 1920 was a demonstration of how to remodel old clothes and hats. Special recommendations were given in the canning of fruits, vegetables and the preserving of eggs.
On June 20, 1921, the Fairview Relief Society had a complete reorganization when the Fairview Ward was divided, North and South. After 53 years as community holder of guide lines of service, the Fairview Ward became two. With a devoted past the two wards have gone forward to assist and help the community in offering many new and old services.
The first president of the Fairview Ward Relief Society was Mary Ann Pritchett, who served in this calling for 33 years. No plans, no texts, no books or records were available to assist this little body to know how it was to function. Sister Pritchett was shown in a dream how she could make a record book out of rough brown paper for the first minutes to be written.
That all the sisters might assist each other, rag bees, knitting bees, sewing and quilting bees were held. Though calico was but five cents per yard, most women tried to supply their own material, by spinning and weaving. Materials woven were linsey woolsey and woolen cloth. Sunday best clothes were fashioned from their efforts in weaving. Fabrics were dyed yellow from rabbit brush and onions, reds from madder, grown in the gardens.
Ashes from quaking aspen and cottonwood trees were used to soften the water. A plate of sand with the aid of a brush made from broad leaf hay tied with a string, helped keep the floors white and gleaming.
Until 1900 the entrance fee for the Relief Society was ten cents; later it was increased to twenty-five cents. This was paid at the Annual Day in February. This Annual Day, a special day, began with a program in the morning at the meeting and a dinner was served free to all who came.
Rebecca W. Tucker was the second Relief Society President in Fairview. During her presidency (1901-1908), new ways of communication were opening up. The railroad had come to Fairview in 1897. By 1901 it was a way of transportation and travel. Telephone service was available first from Mt. Pleasant then from an individual, independent company at Fairview. This was an era of change.
Sarah Erminnie Fowles was the third President of this Fairview, Utah Relief Society. She held this office from February 1, 1908 to 1919. As the town had outgrown the first meeting house, the Fairview Ward faced the stupendous task of building a new chapel. Bishop James Peterson asked the sisters to finance the building. The sisters were the first to begin seeking funds from bazaars, dinners, etc., but these enterprises yielded small gains.
Sister Fowles and her counselors planned to ask the people to contribute Sunday eggs. She solicited the aid of the Primary children, who went from house to house Monday morning gathering the eggs saved from Sunday’s laying. It seemed the hens out-did themselves. They laid more eggs on Sunday than any other day in the week. Tirelessly the sisters counted their eggs. They collected one hundred dollars in the first fortnight. In a year and a half the fund increased to two thousand eight hundred sixty-eight dollars. For the building, at one time, twenty-eight dollars was donated. Sixty-eight dollars bought a clock, table, and other miscellaneous articles to furnish the church.
The First World War brought many changes and problems. The grain stored for years was given into the hands of the Federal Government. While the sisters had it in charge, it served many times to alleviate those in distress Farmers whose crops failed, had used wheat from the storage for food. In disaster areas the Relief Society contributed wheat and flour to the sufferers.
The “flu” epidemic brought sickness and death to many of the homes. During these frightening times the sisters nourished the hungry, nursed the sick, buoyed up the discouraged, and tenderly prepared the dead, and they were many. Their devoted service to the community shall always be remembered.
A new study class was outlined called The Mother’s Class. For the first time a list of topics for the visiting teachers was printed and sent to the ward. A Relief Society Song Book was published also and sent. The stakes were now organized to give additional help to ward class leaders through stake held classes in all departments.
The town was growing. It boasted a bank, and sidewalks had been paved in the downtown area. Electric lights, telephones, and tap water added much to the health and happiness. Not alone had the town grown but also the church membership. The new chapel might accommodate the community, but there was felt now the need for two wards. Dr. Rigby’s corner was decided to be the dividing line between the new North and South Wards.
As early as 1911 the plan was set forth that the stone in the old building should be used to build the new, but this was not to be for some time yet.
A new Relief Society Hall was purchased in 1916 for one thousand dollars. This was paid by the sisters by donations, entertaining, and Sunday eggs. They moved into the hall on October 31 of that year. It had been dedicated by Elder David O. McKay September 15, 1917. A fence was put around it; lawn and trees were planted.
Sister Fowles was released in 1919 having served for eleven years. Her gallantry in the war years as well as assisting with the gathering of funds for the new chapel is a cherished memory of her descendants.
From 1868 to 1914 a report on finances accumulated was as follows:
Sunday Eggs $2,986.00
Donated to meeting house 644.27
Donations to temple & other buildings 1,801.45
Home industry 207.57
Missionaries & Emigration 296.09
Charity 3,385.00 Bu. Wheat
Quilts since 1892 76
Granaries two good ones
No record of carpets
Our aunts, mothers and grandmothers left a wonderful heritage for us of service and kindness to others. What a joy it would have been to serve by their sides! Let us each do what we can to carry on in our respective Relief Societies and communities.
Sarah “Sadie” is sitting to the right of her father, Jacob Bushman in the front row.