Sunday, October 7, 2012

Ann Jewell Rowley

Ann Jewell was born in December 1807 and christened at St.Andrew’s Church on 5 December 1807 in Worcester, Worcestershire, England. Here

William Jewell and Frances Green. Ann’s mother died the same month of Ann’s birth and William remarried a woman named Sarah Hyde. Many records refer to Sarah as Ann’s mother and she did raise her, but was not her biological mother.

As a young adult, Ann was employed as a governess to William and Ann Taylor Rowley, who lived in Suckley, on a piece of land known as Mars Hill. Ann Taylor passed away in 1835. The youngest of their 7 children would have been 9 or 10 years old.

On 22 August 1835 in the Suckley, William and Ann Jewell were married. Their marriage certificate indicates that neither William nor Ann could write due to the ‘X’ following each of their names. We can assume from this that Ann was not formally educated and may not have been able to read.
William and Ann's marriage certificate

The couple continued to live at Mars Hill for the 10 or 11 years. The couple bore seven children from 1837 to 1848.  Their children are: Louisa, Elizabeth, John, Samuel, Richard, Thomas and Jane.

In 1840, a missionary from the LDS Church named Willford Woodruff, traveled from Missouri to England. After praying for guidance, Elder Woodruff made his way to a remote farm in Herefordshire, England to the home of John Benbow. Benbow was a member of a congregation of over 600 men and women who had broken off from the Wesleyan Methodist church. They called themselves the United Brethern and were searching for truth. Eventually, all but one member of the congregation were baptized into the LDS church.  Among the congregation were William and Ann Jewell. (Click HERE to read an article about the conversion of the United Brethren.)

According to Willford Woodruff’s journal, Ann was baptized 6 May 1840 and William was baptized 24 May 1840. 

The next few years, the family was active in the LDS Church and helped in its growth in the area. In fact, their home was likely to be licensed for the use of religious meetings. Elder Woodruff stayed with the family on at least two occasions, but possibly more.

As many other early members of the Church, the Rowley’s financial situation declined. In 1845 and 1846, their crops failed, forcing them to sell their home and all their possessions but a feather bed.

William died February 15, 1849 at the age of 64 in Suckley, possibly to complications from a wagon accident a few years earlier which may have left him bedridden. Ann may have been providing for the family prior to his death, but at the time of his death was left with sole stewardship over her 7 children, whose ages at the time ranged from 7 months to 12 years as well as her step-daughter Eliza, age 25, who lived with them.

In Ann’s autobiography is says: “I was very grateful for the gospel of Jesus Christ and the comfort it gave me. I knew that our parting was only temporary and that viewed from the eternities, this was but a fleeting moment.”

The next 7 years in England must have been a hardship. Ann was an accomplished seamstress and worked with the help of her older daughters on items they could sell, although there was some prejudice in the community toward her due to her religion. Louisa, the oldest daughter, worked as a maid in her teens and the John and Samuel were sent to work at a brick kiln at the ages of 9 and 7 located several miles from home.

Ann’s brother Thomas Jewell and her sister, Sarah, provided some help to the family, as well as a few shillings a week from the parish “poor fund” but her desire to join the members in America must have continued to grow during these trials.

As the years went by, fear of John being sent to war and Louisa falling in love were more reason for Ann to get her family to America. It took the Perpetual Emigration Fund (PEF) to accomplish this goal. The PEF was started in 1849 and was a fund that the LDS Church created and members donated to in order to help members in Europe to emigrate to America. Those who took money from the fund were to pay back what they could over time.

On 1 May 1856, Ann Jewell Rowley (46) although with her 7 children and step-daughter Eliza, boarded the ship Thornton in Liverpool, England. James G. Willie was called as president of the “company” of 764 Latter-Day Saints by Elder Franklin D. Richards. Their 6 weeks journey was relatively calm. The Thornton docked in New York City on 14 June 1856.

After several steamboat and railroad trips, the company made its way to Iowa City on the 26th of June. By the 15th of July, their company, now known as the Willie Handcart Company, started their 1300 mile trek to Salt Lake City, Utah.

By this time, Ann’s children’s ages ranged from 19 to 8 years old. Everyone over age 7 was expected to walk. The company generally woke at 4:30am and left camp by 7:30am. On average, they traveled 14 to 17 miles a day. Due to many circumstances, the company was met with much hardship.

Ann’s autobiography says: “Handcarts had to be made, supplies gathered, oxen caught and broken to pull the heavy supply wagons, everything that even hinted of being a luxury must be eliminated. There were many keepsakes that I wanted to take, but couldn’t. But there was one thing I didn’t consider a luxury and that was my feather bed. I had hung onto that beloved item from the time of the auction in England and now clearly there was no room for it. It wouldn’t be bad to walk 1300 miles if one had a feather bed to sleep on at night, but no matter how I folded it, it was too bulky. Wouldn't it be just wonderful, I thought, if I could deflate it in the morning and inflate it at night, so it would pack compactly. But a feather bed is a feather bed and when it came to choosing between Zion and a feather bed, well it was a little too late to turn my back on Zion, so I ripped it open and emptied the feather on the ground and used the tick to cover the supplies on the handcart.”

Ann’s autobiography says: “Our handcarts were not designed for such heavy loads and we were constantly breaking down.  They had been made of green lumber and were affected by the weather.  Rawhide strips was used to wrap the iron rims to the wheels and the wood would shrink and the rawhide would come loose.  It hurt me to see my children go hungry.  I watched as they cut the loose rawhide from the cart wheels, roast off the hair and chew the hide." 

She continued: "There came a time, when there seemed to be no food at all.  Some of the men left to hunt buffalo.  Night was coming and there was no food for the evening meal.  I asked God's help as I always did.  I got on my knees, remembering two hard sea biscuits that were still in my trunk.  They had been left over from the sea voyage, they were not large, and were so hard, they couldn't be broken.  Surely, that was not enough to feed 8 people, but 5 loaves and 2 fishes were not enough to feed 5000 people either, but through a miracle, Jesus had done it.  So, with God's help, nothing is impossible.  I found the biscuits and put them in a dutch oven and covered them with water and asked for God's blessing, then I put the lid on the pan and set it on the coals.  When I took off the lid a little later, I found the pan filled with food.  I kneeled with my family and thanked God for his goodness.  That night my family had sufficient food. “

Ann’s step daughter, Eliza, died on the way to Salt Lake and was buried along the trail. Eliza was frail before the trek began but she traveled from Liverpool, to New York and on to Iowa City. She walked nearly a thousand miles to get to Zion with part of her family. Surely it was a sacrifice for her to leave her other siblings, and I am confident that she has been rewarded for her devotion to the gospel of Jesus Christ.

The family entered the Salt Lake Valley on 6 November 1856 and were given shelter and food. Ann had a piece of sagebrush in her eye that needed attention. The family was split up and sent to different homes so there would be less burden on the Saints in Salt Lake. Ann, Samuel, Thomas and Jane were soon sent to Nephi where the ward provided for them, although Ann did not like accepting charity and wanted to pay her immigration fee as soon as she could.  Not wanting to burden others or live off of others’ labors, Ann and Samuel dug a room in the side of a hill where they lived through the winter. This is according to family tradition. During this time, Ann took in sewing and Samuel worked for several farmers.

In the Spring of 1857, a man named Andrew Baston, of Parowan, UT, came to the bishop in Nephi to ask if there was a woman who would make a good wife. Bishop Bigler introduced Andrew and Ann and “it was as simple as that,” Ann said. “He needed a wife and I needed a home for my younger children, so we were married within a few days. Andrew was a fine man.”

Andrew paid Ann’s debts and provided a good home for her family. He died less than a year after their marriage. Ann said, “I was grateful to the Lord for having sent Andrew to me. I know I was a comfort to him, that last year of his life. He left me well provided for.”
On 14 Oct 1859, Ann made her way to Salt Lake and was sealed to William Rowley in the Endowment House.
Ann married again to a man named Luke Ford who took care of her until his death.
1860 Census showing Luke Ford (70), Ann (52),
Samuel (17), Richard (15), Thomas (14) and Jane (12) and Parowan, Utah.
In her later years, Ann lived in Huntington, UT where several of her children lived.

This valiant pioneer died in 1888 and was buried in the Huntington Cemetery.

 Click HERE to see Ann's headstone on Find A Grave.

Click HERE to preview the book: Rowley Family Histories, a history of William & Ann Jewell Rowley and their children.

Click HERE to see information on ordering your own copy of Rowley Family Histories.

Click HERE to read Ann's Autobiography from Some Early Pioneers of Huntington, Utah and Surrounding Area, by: James Albert Jones compiled in 1980.




  1. Robyn, thanks for your efforts in telling the fascinating story of Ann Rowley and her own little group of crazies. Very inspiring and nicely done. And thanks for including a link to the Rowley Family Histories. They're still in print and in hot demand. Bless you. Good luck with the crazies.

  2. As of today 05/25/16, a FREE electronic copy of Rowley Family Histories is available in .pdf at: