Martha Ann Smuin McFarlane was born 8 August 1847 in Abbington, Berkshire, England. Her parents were John Smuin and Jane Honey Smuin. She was the second child. The first child, Harriet, died when four years old. There were thirteen children born to the parents, but only four grew to maturity. They were Martha, John, Jane, and Louise. When Martha was five years old, the family moved to London, where they lived until they came to Utah. The parents and the grandparents, William Smuin and wife, and several of their sons and daughters had been baptized into the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints as early as 1844, and their greatest desire was to come to Zion.
They were poor people and it was hard for them to save much from their scant earnings. Martha went to work at a very young age, and found employment in the home of a wealthy general of the British army. He was away from his home much of the time. The officer’s baby, when a month old, was given into the care of Martha. The graduate nurse remained in the home another month giving Martha instructions on the care of the baby. The mother was very young and knew very little about the care of children, or home keeping, but that was beautifully taken care of by expert help, cook, butler, first, and second maids, so the home life was very orderly and pleasant.
After two years, a little girl was born. She too, was placed in Martha’s care. The time came when she had saved enough money to pay her emigration to Utah. She was the first of the family to leave for Utah. Her parents went with her to Liverpool to see her on board ship. Two of her girl friends were going with her and they were to travel in the care of Brother and Sister Andrews, who were close friends of her parents. They had two young daughters, Angie, who in later years became the wife of M. H. Walker, a Salt Lake banker, and Louie, who married a young man by the name of Raymond, of Kaysville, Utah. Both have passed on.
Martha’s parents remained in Liverpool overnight, as the ship, or sailing vessel, did not set sail till the next day. They spent a sleepless night, for they knew there was a long, hard jurney before their daughter. Still they were happy to have her go and they expected to follow soon; yet the parting was hard. As soon as it was daylight they went to the docks, hoping they would be permitted to go on board the ship to see her once more, but found the ship had been released from anchor and was moving out to sea. They could only wave farewell to her from the dock.
The company was presided over by Elder John Nicholson, with Joseph Rawlings, as chaplain. It was in the early spring of 1866 that their great journey started toward the promised land, which was to be their future home.
Martha frequently told her children how rough the sea was, at times, during the long voyage. Often, when their meal was prepared, the ship would give a lunge and food would be scattered on the floor. And what a clatter; for the dishes were all of tin. But they were a happy band of Saints. Only on one occasion were they all in deep sadness. A little child had passed away, and after brief services, the little body was wrapped in a blanket and lowered into the sea. Every heart was sad and the parents broken-hearted. There was nothing they could do, but accept the sorrow with humble hearts and pray to God for comfort.
The sailing vessel was six weeks in crossing the ocean and to see and set their feet on land again made them happy once more. They didn’t fully realize the long hard jouney yet ahead of them when crossing the plains.
They were met at Florence, Nebraska, by teamsters and covered wagons drawn by oxen, with provisions and food for the trip. Only the aged and little children could find places to ride while all the men and young people had to walk all the way. Their shoes were worn out long before the journey was over. They had to wrap their feet in any kind of heavy cloth they could get. At night their feet were often sore and bleeding from the thistles, rocks, and hot sand they had traveled over in the long hours of the day.
Camp was made by the wagons forming a circle. After the evening meal, the Saints would gather for prayers, and they would sing the songs of Zion; “Come, Come Ye Saints” was a favorite.
They had a great deal of trouble with the Indians. Sometimes the teamsters would arise in the morning to find part of their cattle had been driven off by the Indians, although the guards were watching the animals all night. It required a great deal of judgment and diplomacy to get their cattle back without a fight.
It was during the pilgrimage that her life’s romance began. Because her shoes were worn and thin, James McFarlane noticed her predicament. He was driving a yoke of oxen, having been called on a mission to go to Florence, Nebraska, and bring a load of freight to Zion. He invited her to ride on his wagon and a few years later they were married.
Sometimes it was hard to find water for the cattle and the people. They spent June, July, August, and September on the plains and arrived in Salt Lake City about 1 October 1866, and made camp in the tithing yard, where the Hotel Utah now stands.
Mother often related an experience she had on the last day of the journey to the promised land. Her shoes had worn out and her feet were raw and bleeding when thy made camp the last night before entering the Salt Lake Valley, but she still had her pride. So while the camp was asleep and as soon as the stores were opened, she purchased a new pair of shoes and went back to meet the caravan as it moved toward the city.
If the Saints had relatives, or friends, in Utah, they were met by them and taken to their homes until places and work could be arranged for them. Those who had no one to meet them were placed in care of the Church Committee who helped them to get located. Sometimes it would take a week, or so to get them all located. The covered wagons still provided shelter for them.
Martha was met by her cousin, Bishop George Smuin, and taken to his home in Mound Fort, Ogden. Work was soon found for her in the home of Brother and Sister Miles Jones, who lived on Canyon Road, and were members of the Ogden Third Ward. The Jones’ had one child and were expecting the second. So very soon. Martha found herself serving as housekeeper and nurse.
She managed both very well and gave perfect satisfaction to the family. She was quite young, having spent her 18th birthday on the plains.
In the spring of 1867, she went to the home of Bishop Chauncey West where she remained until October 5th, when she was married to James McFarlane in the Endowment House in Salt Lake City. Traveling in a wagon three days was the time taken in making the trip to and from.
There were six young people making the trip together. They were George T. Odell, Florence Grant, James McFarlane, and Martha Smuin. These young people were married October 5, 1867. The other couple, Annie Odell Wright and Gilbert Wright, were married in Ogden some time before, but had their endowments and were sealed the same day as the others.
They all returned to Ogden to continue to make their home. James and Martha had their home on Franklin Street (so named for Franklin D. Richards, a member of the Council of the Twelve Apostles). Later it was named Lincoln Avenue.
Peter McFarlane, father of James, owned a large piece of property and he gave James one-half acre and there he made his home. Martha had received one dollar and a half per week wages which she had saved for her wedding trousseau. She paid one dollar a yard for white material for her dress and it took 12 yards. Thread was twenty-five cents a spool. Later on she used the material to make window curtains and the layette for her first baby.
She and her husband loved music. He played the coronet in the Ogden City band and in the orchestra which furnished music for the dances and entertainment in the wards. They were both members of the Ogden Tabernacle Choir and the Third Ward’s choir for many years.
They were active members of the Ogden Third Ward. Winslow Farr, Bernard White and James Wotherspoon were the bishops of the ward during their residence there.
Her husband, James, worked for the Union Pacific Railroad Company many years as Baggage Master and Depot Master. Later, he was transferred to Salt Lake City, where he held the same position until called to fill a mission to England.
Ten children were reared to man and womanhood, one child having died at age three. Martha continued active service in Relief Society and temple work in Salt Lake City until her death 13 November 1913.
March 13, 1980
From a history of Martha Ann Smuin – written by Betty McFarlane Sorenson
(on file with D. U. P. at Museum Library in Salt Lake City.)
She was 5′ 2″ tall and weighed 105 pounds. She had dark brown hair, blue eyes, shiny lips, and a pleasant personality.