Rachel Holt was born June 14th 1856 at North Ogden, Utah to James Holt and Parthenia Overton Holt. Her parents were converts to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in its early days. While living in Johnson County, Illinois a missionary from the Church came through the area to preach the gospel and both James and Parthenia became converts to this new religion. In 1840 the family set out to be with the Saints in Nauvoo. He was a real helper in the building of the Nauvoo House and the Temple, both by giving of his means and by his labor. In following the Church he and his family suffered many hardships. His wife and two children died leaving him with four children.
After the death of the Prophet, he went with others to carry the Book of Mormon to the Iowa Indians. Here he met Rachel’s mother, who was one of the company on this mission. They were married in a wild Indian country and she took over the care of his four children, all of whom were in poor physical condition because of lack of proper care. Pen cannot write the hardships they endured, but finally in 1852, they arrived in Utah locating at North Ogden. It was here that Rachel was born. Her father had moved so much that it was hard for him to remain in one place very long. When he would get well established he would sell out and make a new home. After nine years, when Rachel was six years of age he moved his family to Washington, Washington County, Utah to grow cotton. Though Rachel was young, she could pick the cotton very rapidly. When she was eight years old, she and her brother would walk the seven miles to St. George with her cotton to trade it at Bentley’s store for something much needed. She well remembered giving her week’s wages of cotton for a yard and a half of calico cloth. But how proud she was of the scant dress she got out of it.
After the second season in Washington, her father was suffering with Malaria and they sought a cooler climate. A number of families were starting homes at Long Valley, Kane County, so the Holts joined the group. They had only established themselves in crud shelters and planted their second crops when the Indians became very troublesome and they were advised to move out. They moved to Virgin City. The men went back to try to harvest their crops but only got part of them when they almost fell victim of an Indian massacre, and it was only by making their way by foot through the deep Zion Canyon country that they made their way back to Virgin City with the Indians taking all their produce.
One year was long enough to remain there and they moved back to Washington; but some relatives had located a ranch at the Meadow above the town of Hamblin and were so well pleased with their place that they thought it was just the place for the Holts to move to.
Rachel was now eleven years of age. Her schooling had been neglected because of moving so much. She herded sheep, rode horses and milked cows. Father Holt raised sheep for the meat and wool from which the family clothing could be made. It was scoured, carded, spun and woven. Rachel’s part of the work with the wool was spinning. Her mother did the carding, then she spun the flakes into two, three or four fine threads twisted into yarn for knitting into stockings. The successful use of the spinning wheel was an art in which Rachel was very clever, and for years after her marriage, she went to the ranch during the summer to spin yarn from which she made stockings for herself and family. While visiting with her parents, she also milked the cows and made cheese and butter for winter use.
When Rachel was seventeen, she went to St. George to go to school. She lived with Martha Ashby, working for part of her board and room, and paying with farm produce for the rest. She was not up with most of the young people in her education at the time, but did fairly well during the winter.
She had been courted for some time by a fine young man of Hamblin, who accidentally shot himself in the arm and later died of blood poison. While going to school she became acquainted with George T. Cottam and they fell in love with each other. Some time after she returned home, he made a trip up to see her and make the acquaintance of her family. When he arrived unexpectedly, she was dressed in an old pair of her brother’s work pants and was down in a potato pit sprouting potatoes. How embarrassed she was, but he did not care. He was still of the opinion he wanted to marry her.The Endowment House in Salt Lake City, 1880
In October 1874 they went to Salt Lake City along with four other couples from St. George and were married in the Endowment House by Daniel H. Wells. The trip took three weeks with team and wagon. While in Salt Lake, George and Rachel were guests of his grandparents. She was a very shy and modest girl and the old grandfather shocked her terribly. When they returned home, they at once came to live in St. George, where George was a prosperous young man. They made their home with Father and Mother Cottam for two and a half years while their home was being built.
Their home was a combination between a New England Salt Box and Southern Colonial. On the ground floor, facing the street were two rooms, the bedroom where all the children were born and the parlor. Behind these two rooms was a large kitchen, and adjoining the kitchen, a small pantry and a screened porch. There was running water in the screened porch, no place else in the house. An inside stairway leading from the kitchen to the upper floor led to two bedrooms separated by a narrow hall. This hall led to a deck which was on the front of the house, and above the porch which ran the whole width of the house above the bedroom and parlor. An outside stairway led to a cellar area under the basement. The cellar was always well stocked with bottled fruit, squash, potatoes, turnips, apples and any root crops that could be safely kept through the winter.
The house was situated on a rather large lot, occupying almost a fourth of a city block. West of the house was the barn and corral, and a pen for the pigs. Out to the north was a granary, a cellar under it for storage of harnesses, tools and farm supplies. In the granary there were four large bins, in these were kept the barley, corn, rye and wheat that was used for bread and cereals for the family, and feed for the livestock. There was a large garden plot west and south of the house. Fig trees and grape vines lined the ditches. The front of the lot facing the east of the street had neatly manicured walk with a white picket fence that was always kept in good repair. The ditch was lined with black lava rock and had a lot of mock orange trees with one large black locust to the north and two ash trees toward the south.
Rachel worked hard helping with the chores such as milking cows, feeding pigs and caring for the chickens as her husband worked in the fields from early morning until late at night. She was a good cook and George was a good provider. Many people came to their home to spend a few days working in the Temple or for a few days of business and visiting. Many of her relatives, both from her Brothers Franklin O. Holt and George A. Holt came to St. George and made the Cottam home theirs while going to school. Her children were often tucked into a corner on a quilt or two at night while their beds were given to visitors.
This still remains an unpleasant memory with some of the children. For many winters Rachel boarded two boys while they attended school. With her large family it meant much additional work. The older children were girls and they were taught to work. If there was some time when there was not some job on, there was a baby to care for, so there was no time to play. As soon as school was out for the summer, quilts were to be made and repaired, carpet rags to be made ready for the weaver to make into a new carpet. Her five rooms were covered with home-made carpets. This was made possible by shifting the older ones upstairs at the house spring cleaning, and the poorest on put where the wear was not so great.
For twenty five years, Rachel and George donated the bread for the sacrament at the Sunday School. George raised the wheat, took it to the flour mill at Washington to be ground and Rachel mixed the bread every Friday might, and baked, sliced, cut off the crust, wrapped it in a linen towel for him to take Sunday morning to Sunday School. The bread that was left was used for supper with milk. George and William Baker took charge of the sacrament rites. Then Moroni McArthur took the place of William Baker and later Wilford Lee took the place of Moroni McArthur. Very few were the times George T. Cottam was not in his place on the Sacrament stand.
When her children were mostly grown she went to Relief Society and served for some time as a counselor in the Relief Society Presidency. For many years she was a visiting teacher and enjoyed the duty. In the days she served in the presidency, the Relief Society was expected to help care for the sick in the ward. At times it was a big job, when there much sickness and often a death or two. For many nights Rachel sat up caring for those needing help from the Relief Society.
She seldom missed going to Church on Sunday afternoon. With her older children she was strict in discipline and when she spoke to them they knew it meant “DO”. They were not allowed to play cards nor to read novels. It was a rule of the family that each of us made it known when we returned from a party and late hours were very much discouraged. She would not tolerate vulgar stories, slang nor profanity. If the girls overheard anything immodest away from home, they knew better than to repeat it at home. With the younger children, as times changed, they were not as strictly disciplined and though she did not approve of many things, they gradually crept in.
When they celebrated their sixtieth wedding anniversary all their nine living children, their grandchildren and many relatives and friends were there with them.
In her later years she pieced quilt blocks and made braided rugs. She read the Church books and some novels. She was the mother of twelve children: eight girls and four boys Her oldest boy died when he was nine years old. The others all lived to marry. She was a widow for seven years, being eighty five when she passed away at the home of her daughter Vilate where she had been living for some time. She died March 29, 1942.
Children of Rachel Holt and George Thomas Cottam
1. Mary Ann Cottam Born 19 July, 1875 Died 03 June 1969
Married Albert Edwin Miller
2. Rachel Parthenia Born 03 Mar. 1877 Died 16 Oct, 1900
Married John Arnold Mathis
3. Caroline Cottam Born 03 Dec. 1878 Died 24 Nov 1898
Married George H. Webb
4. George Thomas Born 01 Oct 1880 Died 03 May 1890
5. Ada Cottam Born 22 Sept 1882 Died 21 June 1904
Married John Albert Pace
6. James Franklin Born 22 Sept. 1884 Died 08 Sept. 1909
Married Caroline Bunker
7. Maggie Cottam Born 21 Sept. 1886 Died 25 June 1972
Married Charles B. Petty
8. John Henry Born 30 Sept. 1888 Died 27 Dec. 1910
Married Agnes Maude McCallister
9. Effie Cottam Born 23 Nov. 1890 Died 23 June 1910
Married Brigham Franklin McIntire
10. Bertha Jane Cottam Born 13 Nov. 1892 Died 11 Sept. 1911
Married Frank H. Petty
11. Vilate Cottam Born 06 Mar. 1895 Died 25 Nov. 1915
Married Antone Brigham Prince
12. Joseph Milton Born 14 Dec. 1897 Died 24 June 1921
Married Zilla Helen Stuart
MY PARENTS, by James F. Cottam
· 28 September 2015 ·
Mother was born in Ogden, Utah, on June 14, 1856. Her family moved to Washington when she was about ten years old, then out to the Mountain Meadows and then to Holt’s Canyon which was three miles below. She was of medium size with gray eyes and dark hair. Her hair changed to gray as she became older. She was an excellent cook, a quick, hard worker and she never permitted a suggestive or unclean story to be told in her presence.
She baked all of the bread for the Sunday School Sacrament each Sunday and for many years she did the laundry for the church table cloths. She kept the commandment, “provoke your husband to good work”. She wrote few letters but ‘saw to it’ that father never neglected the family letters to the absent ones.
During the time Emma Brooks served as Relief Society President, mother was a counselor, but she never sought public office or wanted publicity for what she did.
Her washing was begun before daylight each Monday morning and finished before noon. She raised a few chickens and every Sunday she prepared a fat hen with dumplings or noodles for dinner. “James like the neck”, she would always remind us, until I thought I did.
It was a rule of the family that each of us made it known when we returned from a party and late hours were very much discouraged.
Mother died at the home of my sister, Vilate, in St. George where she had been living for some time — March 29, 1942. She was 85 years old.
The Deseret News Mar 31 Page 16
Rachel H. Cottam
St. George – Service for Rachel Holt Cottam, 83, devoted church worker, and widely known for her hospitable home for many years, were held Tuesday under direction of the Center Ward bishopric. She died at the home of her daughter. Vilate Prince on Sunday after a short illness.
Aunt Rachel as she was affectionately called by her numerous friends was born in North Ogden June 14, 1856, daughter of James and Parthenia Overton Holt. She came with her parents in 1862 to the Cotton Farm in the Dixie Mission. They later lived at Long Valley and at Virgin City because of malaria, before settling permanently at Washington. As a girl she gained the record of being the best cotton picker. The family helped settled Hamblin, in Washington County. She attended school two winters in St. George and after her marriage made her home in St. George.
She served as a counselor in the Relief Society presidency and until her health prevented. She was a Relief Society teacher. She was a member of the D.U.P. and was a worker in the St. George Temple for many years. Her husband prepared the sacrament for 25 years and she baked the bread each Saturday to assist in this call of the church.
She was married in the Endowment house in Salt Lake to George T. Cottam Oct 6, 1874. He died Dec 14, 1934. Eleven of their 12 children grew to maturity. Eight survive; James V. Cottam, Vayo, Mrs. Ada Pace, Price; Mrs. C. B. Petty and Mrs. R. F. McIntyre, Salt Lake; Mrs. F. H. Petty Cedar City, Dr. J. M. Cottam Van Nuys Calif., Mrs. A. E. Miller and Mrs. B. Prince, St. George also surviving are one brother Henry Holt, St. George and 46 grandchildren and 39 great grandchildren.