Elizabeth Degen Bushman
Written January 10, 1920, by her son, Martin as a token of respect for his parents.
Elizabeth Degen was born September 12, 1802 in Holstein and Tacknais, (Baselland) Bazeland, Switzerland. She is the son of John Casper and Maria Graff Degen. She had been only four years old when her mother died at the birth of a sister born October 26 and was buried October 29, 1806. Therefore, she never had a mothers care, and love to guide her in her youth. One year later her father married Ann Maria Shaublin (Schaubline). Six children were born to this union, two died in Switzerland as infants.
She had a good education in her childhood, then she had to work for her own living.
In the fall of 1816, John Casper Degen took his family: Elizabeth, her step-mother, and her half brother, Frederick, and half sister, Anna Maria to America. They sailed from Ansterdam, Holland, in an old sailing vessel that was seventeen weeks crossing. They suffered much for food and water. The voyage was rough and they lost two of her sisters on board the ship and were buried at sea.
After arriving America, the trip being longer than they were thought, put them in dept to the caption. Elizabeth, then fourteen, was bound out for two years to pay the debt as a domestic servant, after which she continued to work to help provide for the family. She was a child of good character and strong will power and was able to work her way along in the community in which she lived. The experiences she got between the ages of 15 and 25 seemed to prepare her for her future life. At 25 she could read and write and speak the English language as well as her native language. She learned to cook and do all kinds of household work. She was also very handy with the needle. She was an expert with the spinning wheel and could spin the wool into yarn and the flax into thread ready for the loom. She could go into the field and bind up and stock the grain, at that age she was strong and healthy. She could milk the cows and make butter and cheese. They settled in Lancaster Co. Penn.
She married Martin Bushman March 20, 1829, and made their home near their parents at first. She had black eyes and black hair and was short in stature, but stoutly built. She was 5 feet 4 inches in height. She was a good specimen of a Swiss Maiden. They lived there until 1840 when they lift with the Saints for Nauvoo, Ill., a journey of 1,000 miles with horse and team. Their relatives were bitterly opposed to their joining the church.
She became acquainted with the Prophet Joseph Smith. All went well for three short years, then the Prophet Joseph was slain and their people plundered. In September 1846, they were driven from their homes. Just before leaving, she took her children by the had and led them to the Temple at Nauvoo that they might see it and behold its beauty outside and inside, that perhaps when they got older they might remember how it looked. It was a place that they had loved and a place where they had received their sacred blessings. They left the beautiful city of Nauvoo and started on their journey through Iowa.
They lost two daughters from expose to the cold. They died only a week apart. They had to continue with the saints. They settled in Highland Grove, Iowa. They lived there four years, then they came on to Utah in 1851. It took them five months to cross the plains. They came to Lehi, Utah, and here again she went through trials and hardships of a pioneer mother. She knew how to care for the wool and spin it into yarn that it might be woven into cloth that she might clothe her husband and children. She also spun the lint from the flax into thread to sew the cloth into coats and pants. Her husband could not milk so she milked and made butter and cheese. They lived in Lehi nineteen years when her husband died.
She was a wonderful mother and a faithful Later-Day Saint woman and was pure and unspotted from the sins of the world. She was a loving wife. She was a practical nurse and midwife, spending much of her time with the sick and afflicted. She will live in the hearts the woman for many years to come for her kindness to them in sickness and sorrow.
Elizabeth Degen survived her husband eight years. She lived to see three of her sons and daughter get married. She was the mother of ten children, six boys and four girls. She was exceptionally spiritual in nature and enjoyed many spiritual gifts, even the gift of tongues. She spoke in tongues several times after she joined the church. She had a large number of grand and great grand children. She remained quite healthy almost up to the time of her death. She died May 21, 1878, at the age of 76. This sketch was written January 10, 1920. She had now been dead 42 years. She still had three sons living. Martin B. age 79, John 76 and Elias Albert 70.Here is the size of the original photo of Elizabeth: