EMMA WOOTTON KIRKHAM by her daughter, Wanda Kirkham, 1960
Emma Wootton was born at Sumersley, Eaton Bray, Berkshire, England on November 28, 1852 to Thomas and Ruth Smuin Wootton. [Her mother, Ruth, was my 2nd Great-grandpa John’s sister.]
At the age of six years, Emma went to a braiding school and there braided as much as forty yards of straw a day for hats. This was a difficult and tedious task for a child of that age. To break the monotony, Emma would watch the clock ten minutes and then her little playmate would watch. They were always running a race with time to see how much they could get done. Once a week a lady came and read to them.
One time when Emma got home from school at noon, she found her mother washing and ill. Emma insisted on helping her rub some of the clothes. The result was, she had to run all the way back to school with a piece of bread in her hand. She was late, however and had to stand in front of the class and receive a strapping on her hands.
This Eaton Bray School was built in 1864
Long before Emma was ten she had left this school and was doing servant work that was too hard for her frail body.
At the age of six her father died. He was drowned in the Thames river when he missed a bridge and fell into the river on a foggy night in traveling to his home. Emma’s mother knew of his death in a dream and so was warned and prepared for his death.
Emma’s mother, Ruth Wootton, then married a widower John Simmons. He had a married daughter Ann, a son Will (a soldier of the Gold Coast), John, Jane and Patty age five. Jane married soon after her father’s marriage. She married David Smuin.
Emma’s mother had a lot to do to care for the three children of her own, Ellen, Emma, and William, and the Simmons children also. Emma was old enough to be a great deal of help and she loved her stepbrothers and sisters. She was always afraid of her step-father. To avoid trouble, her mother would see that the children had their supper and were in bed before he came home at night.
Emma’s mother had three children by John Simmons. They were Ruth, Alfred, and Harriet. Ruth died at the age of one month, Patty soon afterward and Emma felt very badly. Harriet’s death came at the age of one year, one week before Emma’s mother died. Her mother died of “rapid consumption,” a broken-hearted woman, age thirty-three, September 21, 1862. She was buried in the pauper’s field because she had joined the Mormons.
Soon after this sad event, John Jr. fell and broke his leg. While he was in the hospital, his father married his sweetheart. Just as soon as John Jr. was able, he took little Alfred and cared for him. Alfred made his home with John after he was married.
Emma was left an orphan before ten. She and her older sister Ellen and brother William, younger than she, went out to work for others. She continued to do house work in the homes of the wealthy as she matured. Emma did all she could for others, especially for her dear old grandmother who called her a ministering angel.
One interesting experience happened one summer night. It seemed the master Emma worked for took his family to the seashore or elsewhere for their holidays. While they were away, the mistress required that Emma and the cook sleep a few nights at a time in the different bedrooms so lights would be seen there, beds used and linen changed during the summer. This particular night the girls were sleeping in the master’s room. When Emma put her shoes by the bed, she saw a man under the bed. In order to get help and not to frighten the cook, Emma went to the window and shook a piece of clothing. Then she dropped it out the window. Turning to the cook she said she would have to run down stairs and get it.
Emma ran to the gardener’s house for help. He called a “bobby” and when they got back the burglar was arrested and the girls night made safe.
This master always insisted that the servants meet with the family each morning in the library for scripture reading and prayers. This pleased Emma because she was a deeply religious young woman. One morning however, she was disturbed. She had just been baptized into the Mormon Church and didn’t want the master to know because she might lose her job in his home. When the master said, “Emma, are you attending church regularly?” Emma replied she was attending services. She meant the church she had joined, not the Church of England he belonged to. Then he said, “Emma, that is good.” Emma was grateful and knew her prayers had been answered.
Now Emma began saving her money for immigration to Utah. Since she was only getting $1.50 per week at that time, it looked like a long time before she could realize her heart’s desire and go to America. However, borrowing from the church fund, Emma was able to go to America much sooner.
When twenty-two, she was able to leave her dear old England for America, on the good ship Wyoming, September 2, 1874. She came with her older sister and her grandmother.You can read about this voyage and see these passenger lists on this website:
Their brother William had gone to Australia. Later Emma heard he had gone to Canada. He never married. Will was a lover of dogs and won many prizes.
When the girls arrived in Utah, they stayed in Ogden a while visiting with their relatives the Smuins. After Ellen married George Harvey, Emma went to Lehi to visit with James Smuin and family. He helped her get a job working for Bishop Charles Evans.
Later Ellen brought her only child, George Harvey to live in Lehi. This proved to be a happy arrangement for Emma. The two sisters could enjoy each other’s company.
When twenty-three, on December 12, 1875, Emma Wootton was married to James Kirkham, son of George William and Mary Ann Astington Kirkham in the old Endowment House. She was later married by Thomas R. Cutler, bishop of Lehi Ward, November 28, 1900 to satisfy Territorial Law.
To her were born the following children:
Albert Wootton, b. 16 Feb. 1877, d. April 1962
Richard Astington, b. 25 Oct 1881, d. 23 Feb. 1956
Esther Ruth Smellie, b. 23 Feb.1885, d. 25 Feb 1919
Arthur Jesse, b. 5 Oct 1887, d. 18 Mar 1964
Florence Luella, b. 26 Dec. 1891, d. 20 Dec 1892
Rose Winnifred Thomas, b. 29 Apr. 1894, d. 24 Sep. 1964
Wanda Emma, b. 25 Oct 1897, d. 5 May 1964
Milo Franklin, b. 17 Jun 1901, d. 21 Apr. 1929
Emma was active in Relief Society. She was a visiting teacher for many years. The Young Ladies Retrenchment Association was organized April 23, 1875 in Lehi with 88 members. Emma was a member. The first president in Lehi was Orinda Davis. On April 24, 1879 Miss Lucy Ferguson was made the second president of the organization. Then on May 8, 1879 a new set of officers were installed and Emma Kirkham was made Miss Ferguson’s second counselor. The other officers were Mrs. Armita Ashton, first counselor. Others were Sarah Clark, Annie Wanlass and Sarah Simmons. Secretary was Sarah Taylor, assistant secretary was Mrs. Mary Kirkham. The choir leader was Polly Ann Zimmerman. Emma enjoyed her services in this organization very much.
When James Kirkham’s first wife, Martha Mercer, died on November 21, 1890 Emma left her little house and moved in the “big house”. It was made of brick. She took over the duties of two families.
She cared for Elizabeth Jane, a new baby of Martha Mercer Kirkham until she died at age one month.
Emma gave birth to a baby girl, Florence Luella who lived to be a year old and then died. This took place while her husband, James Kirkham, was on a mission in England. Emma also experienced the death of a fifteen year old girl, Martha Eva, born March 16, 1881 and died November 4, 1896, a daughter of Martha Kirkham.
Emma had learned proper manners from her service in the homes of the rich. She insisted that her family know good manners and practice them. The table was always properly set and meal time was a time for family enjoyment – any problem was settled afterward.
No matter where the family lived, in Lehi, Raymond, Alberta, Canada for five years or in Salt Lake City, Emma made a real home for all of her husband’s children. She was a wonderful mother, splendid homemaker, neighbor and friend. Emma Wootton Kirkham was faithful in the Mormon Church until her death. She died April 22, 1926 in Salt Lake City, Utah
This information is found in the SMUIN BOOK, p. 73-75.
Deseret News, Page 8, Saturday, April 24, 1926
“WOMAN CHURCH WORKER WILL BE BURIED SUNDAY” “Mrs. Emma Wootton Kirkham, wife of James Kirkham, died Thursday at the family residence, 1031 Lincoln avenue. She was born November 29, 1852 at Summersley, Eden Bray, Buckinghamshire, England. Her parents joined the L.D.S. church in England. She emigrated from London to Utah in 1874. December 13, 1875, she married James Kirkham in the old endowment house. She was the mother of eight children, as follows: (Albert?–16 Feb 1877/78 in Lehi) Kirkham, Raymond, Canada; Astington Kirkham. Salt Lake: Esther Ruth Kirkham Smellie, deceased. Arthur Jesse Kirkham, Hiawatha: Florence Luellia Kirkham, deceased; Rose Winnifred Thomas. Salt Lake City; Wanda Emma Kirkham( born Oct 25, 1897). Salt Lake City, and Milo Franklin Kirkham (born 1900), Salt Lake City.
She lived in Lehi until 1904, when they moved to Raymond, Canada, where they made their home until 1907, returning to Lehi again and living there until eight years ago, when they moved to Salt Lake City, where they have resided ever since. December 13, 1925, Mr. and Mrs. Kirkham celebrated their golden wedding.
The funeral services will be held at the Le Grand ward chapel at 1 o’clock Sunday afternoon and burial will be at Lehi.”