Elizabeth Graham b. 1844, first wife of Henry Fowles who later married Sarah Erminnie Bushman

Written by Peggy Stewart Mower A granddaughter of Charles William Fowles


Elizabeth Graham

Elizabeth Graham was born 28 Jan. 1844 in Thurnscoe, Yorks, England. Her parents were Richard and Mary Woodcock Graham. Richard was the son of F. Nathaniel Graham and Catherine Scamideen or Samidine. The date of his birth was 16 Oct. 1816 and was born in Brinsworth, Yorks, England. Mary was the daughter of George Woodcock and M. Rebecca Harrison. She was born at Darfield, Yorks, England on 10 Mar. 1820.

Mary and Richard married 8 Mar. 1841 two days after Mary’s 21st birthday, in Wombwell, Yorks, England.

Elizabeth was their oldest child. The family remained at Thurnscoe for at least five years, as their second child, George, was born there 14 Dec. 1847 and John entered the family on 6 Aug. 1849.

By 1854 the family was living in Barnsley, Yorks, England. Here the family received the missionaries from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. They accepted the doctrine and Elizabeth’s father was baptized 27 Aug. 1854. Her mother was not baptized at this time. Probably because she was large with child. Richard Jr. was born nine days after the father’s baptism on 6 Sept. 1854.

Elizabeth received her baptism at Sheffield, Yorks on 15 Jun. 1856. Just a month later her mother gave birth to her last child, a daughter, Rebecca, on 11 July 1856. Elizabeth was twelve and a half years old, at the time, just the age to welcome a new sister and be a little mother to her.

It was 1862 when the family immigrated to the United States. Elizabeth’s mother was not well when they left England. The long ocean voyage and the uncomfortable journey across the states were hard on her. On the plains, in Nebraska, Mary passed away, 5 Oct. 1862. This was a very trying time for the Graham family. Elizabeth was 18 years old, George 15, John 13, Richard 8 and Rebecca just 6. Elizabeth tried to be a mother for her younger brothers and sister. But, oh, how she missed her loving mother.

There was a kind Danish lady, Eleanor Godlif, on this same wagon train, which was under the directions of Capt. Ansel P. Harmons. She assisted Richard Graham with his children.
When they reached Utah Elizabeth’s father married Eleanor. They were advised, by the church authorities, to move to Sanpete County. They came to Fairview and made their home at 253 South State.

Elizabeth was living in Fairview during the Black Hawk War. She with her step mother and the other families were required to move to the Mt.Pleasant Fort for protection in 1865. When they moved back to their homes she watched the minute men, from the town, guard the farmers as they worked their fields. although it was only one and one- half blocks from her home to the fort, many times she ran as fast as she could to it’s protection at the sound of the drum. How relieved the women all were to be able to return to their homes, even though they knew they would be running to the fort again soon.

It was during this time of trouble that she met Henry Fowles, the son of Timothy and Eliza Sanders Fowles. They married on 20 Feb. 1866. She was 22 years 1 month old, he was 21 years 4 months. Because of the Indians troubles and the winter weather they were not able to go to Salt Lake to be married in the Endowment House. It wasn’t until 8 June 1867 that they were sealed. Even then it was a dangerous journey.

Henry and Elizabeth lived in Moroni for the first year of marriage. Then, after returning from Salt Lake, they moved to Fairview where Henry farmed on shares (farming another person’s land and dividing the crops, after harvest, with the owner). It wasn’t long until Henry was able to buy his own property.

Lizzy and Henry set up housekeeping in a small log home at 180 East 100 South in Fairview. Their neighbors were, Charles Rigby across the street north, and Isaac Y. Vance kitty corner from them. Lizzy was a neat housekeeper and a good wife. A jolly person who loved to laugh.

She enjoyed her little log house. She was a few blocks from her father and step-mother. She visited them often. Her brother, George, married Ann Briggs, John married Mary Christina Jensen and Richard married Nellie Lasson. Her sister, Rebecca married William Franklin Young. All lived in the vicinity of Lizzy’s home. They were a close knit family and enjoyed each others company.

Lizzy and Henry had a happy marriage. They loved one another. However, she became discouraged when her friends were starting to have families and she was unable to conceive. Because she loved children she longed to have some of her own.

This experience is taken from “Story of My Life” by Mary Young Miner the daughter of William Franklin Young and Rebecca Graham. (Reed Lasson, Mary Miner’s grandson gave this to me– Peggy Mower).

“Aunt Lizzy Fowles, mother’s older sister, lived three blocks from our house. If anyone had an apple she did. Because she could not bare children of her own, she took delight in handling out apples, bread and butter, or anything she had to other people’s children. She was a lovable character, a little on the humorous side. I remember one incident; In those days people practiced polygamy. I heard mother and aunt Lizzy say something about uncle Henry wanting another wife. I was about five years old. One day when I was at aunt Lizzy’s, she took me into the bedroom and began talking to me about uncle Henry. I said, “Yes, he wants to marry somebody else, so aunt Lizzy, You’d better come live with us”. Uncle Henry was listening, and after I said my piece, he came in. Both he and aunt Lizzy laughed. He said, “What’s this I hear you saying about me?” I fled down the road, only stopping to look back once. Uncle Henry had a big rosy apple, and called to me to come and get it, but not even an apple could tempt me. Worst of all, my mother laughed when I told her.”

Charles Rigby, across the street, had an older sister Jane. Jane was marrying for the third time. The first husband kept their children. She had only one child by her second. A little son she named Charles William. Jane left Charles with her brother Charles. His wife would tie him to the clothes line and leave him for hours.

Charley was Henry’s brother, John’s son. It broke Lizzy’s heart to see this sweet little child mistreated. “Why can someone else have children, who does not want them, and I who would love them dearly, not be permitted to give one birth.”

She watched this scene day after day until she could stand it no longer. Then she ask Henry if she could have little Charley. He consented to take him and raise Charles William as their own child. However, they never adopted him. And he always called them aunt Lizzy and uncle Henry.

Lizzy showered all the love a mother could give upon Charley. It was the first time he had ever felt a mother’s love. He grew and bloomed in this new environment. Lizzy marveled at the change in “her child”.

Lizzy and Henry were active in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. They taught Charley to pray and have faith in our Heavenly Father.

When Henry was called on a mission to work on the St. George Temple, he was gone for a year. Lizzy and Charley took care of the work at home. They also sent provisions to Henry. It was a happy reunion when Henry arrived home. He found things there very well cared for.


Henry Fowles b. 1844


Later Henry was called on a mission to help settle towns on the Little Colorado River in Arizona. This time it would mean taking his family, livestock, farming implements and goods with him.

We don’t know how Lizzy felt about this move, especially leaving her family behind. However, we know she loved and supported her husband. The town of St. Johns was the place Henry and Lizzy were supposed to help settle. It was a long tedious journey there.
Lizzy was a pleasantly plump person. A beautiful woman. She was strong and able to help drive a wagon to Arizona. Charley drove the livestock. There were other people, from Sanpete, in their wagon train.

Water was not always plentiful. The heat and dust was stifling. Lizzy felt that the end of the trail would never come. But she did not complain–in fact, she cheered up the other travelers.

The most frightening part of the journey was at Lee’s Ferry crossing the Colorado River on rafts. And Lee’s Back bone, the steep cliffs on the other side of the river. The steep trail was so narrow that a wagon barely fit on it. Lizzy did not ride in her wagon—but walked the four miles to the top. It took a whole day to get all the wagons and livestock to the top of the cliffs. They were a thankful group when this was accomplished.

The heat of the desert was almost overpowering. Not being the first wagon, in line, Lizzy was covered with dust and drenched in sweat every day. Seldom could she be at a location where bathing or clothes washing was accomplished.

When they reached, Sun Set, Ariz., the 1st Mormon settlement, which was settled in 1876, did not look prosperous. The women looked worn and old before their time. Lizzy wonder how life would treat her family in this arid country.

On reaching Ft. Joseph, the Fowles family still had 70 miles more to travel before reaching St. Johns. It had taken more than three months to reach Ft. Joseph. It seemed like a life time to Lizzy. And there was still more weary miles to go.

The last few miles were anxious hours. At last she could see a few small dwellings, close together. She thought this would be her home. Upon arriving she was told that this was the Mexican town, San Juan. St. Johns was nearby; Not much more than a square laid out in the sage brush with a bowery. With three or four homes built around the square.
Living so near the Mexican town was fearful experience for Lizzy. She could not speak their language and customs were very different.

The Mormon community remained small but the love the sisters felt for each other was tremendous. What one had was generously shared with others. This made the discouragements bearable when the dams, the men built, washed out and the crops dried up. Many gave up and returned to Utah. Henry and Lizzy did not give up.

However, after being there for a couple of years, they did return to Fairview for a season. Probably to obtain more livestock, flour and seeds. Charley was old enough to drive a wagon. This was necessary because of Lizzy’s health. She was a robust woman when they left for Arizona the first time. While living in St. Johns her health deteriorated. In 1887 she became so ill that Henry hired a young girl, Sarah Bushman, to care for Lizzy and keep house for the family.

By fall Lizzy weighed less than 100 pounds. Just a shadow of her former self. She continued to fail and passed away 13 Nov. 1887. Her funeral and burial took place in St. Johns.
Charles was devastated at her passing. He was 17 years old. Throughout his life he kept her “Sunday dress” and a large picture of her. He loved her and she loved him. He named his first child, a daughter, Elizabeth after her. This child was also called Lizzy in honor of Elizabeth Graham Fowles. Her memory has been revered throughout the generations. Even though we didn’t know you personally, aunt Lizzy, your love and devotion to a little discarded boy have instilled in us an admiration and love that will never be forgotten.
(One of Charles William’s granddaughters had him sealed to Henry Fowles and Elizabeth Graham. May they have joy in heaven over this sealing).


Elizabeth Graham Fowles Headstone

About Ann Laemmlen Lewis

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