IIROBERT BODILY SR. 1815-1892
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Orson Pratt Brown's wife Jane Galbraith's Grandfather
Robert Bodily Sr.
Robert Bodily Sr. a faithful and philanthropic member of the church and a resident of Kaysville, Davis county, Utah was born Dec. 30, 1815, at Blakesley, Northamptonshire, England, the son of Daniel Bodily and Ann Page. In December, 1845, he emigrated to Cape Colony, Africa, with his wife and two children, landing at Cape Town, Easter Sunday, 1846. The town had a population of about 10,000. Here he followed the business of an engineer in the royal service for about two years, sometimes having one hundred men working for him. During that time most of the batteries in Cape castle were rebuilt and every gun reset in the vicinity of Capetown.
Mr. Bodily then moved to Port Elizabeth, it had a population of 5,000 or 6,00 people, and was situated in the eastern south of Africa. At the point of Table Mountain just north of Cape Town and when the winds blew, the clouds settled down on the mountains so it looked like a table cloth spread on a table. Here he carried on building business and acted as contractor. Robert took a government grant consisting of 12,000 morgans (a morgan contains about one and one-fourth acres) this was located about forty-eight miles east of Port Elizabeth. This grant required him to maintain a public house for the accommodations of travelers. Also a wagon and blacksmith shop so the travelers could repair their wagons as they traveled through the country. This grant was situated on the Bushman's River about mid-way between Port Elizabeth and Grahamstown, a small town with a population of 3,000 people.
Country houses in Africa were all built with shed roofs on account of the terrible winds that visited the country. In Port Elizabeth there were no large block like we have today and along Bushman's River the houses had thatch roofs.
Several black tribes lived near Bushman's River. The Hottentot, a short people worked as teamsters and most any kind of work; the Kaffirs, a hardy stalwart people and hardly ever shorter than six feet, herded cattle and sheep, but they did not engage in farming. They were a great deal like the American Indians only better looking and they did differently. They gathered seeds of different kinds. They had a flat and round rock which they used to grind the seed and make a dough, then they made a fire on the ground and when it had been there long enough for the ground to be hot, they scraped away the coals, put the dough where the fire was, then pulled the coals over the dough and made another fire and in this way they cooked the dough.
The Hottentot ate their meat where they killed it. When they killed a cow they tied ropes on its hind and front feet and stretched it out, then cut a hole in its stomach while it was alive and tormented it to death, and made it bawl as much as they could. After they had tormented it to death, they cut off a strip, gave it a shake to get part of the blood out and then ate it.
There were no saw mills and flour mills and only one grist mill in Africa. The people ate brown bread made by the grist mills until later when flour and bread were imported from America. Some of the more financially well off bought white flour to have what they called white bread on Sunday. The white flour was very expensive. They made most bread from sour dough and baked it in a bake oven as they had no stoves, until Robert Bodily made a brick oven. Inside of this a fire was made and when it was very hot, all of the coals and ashes were scraped out and the bread put in. It was then closed tight and the bread was baked from the heat. The other cooking utensils such as pots and pans were made of cast iron. Nearly every kind of vegetable was grown by the people; they did not have much fruit until later years, then there were oranges, lemons, pears, peaches and apricots, but not many apples and what there were, were of a poor class. The Africans cultivated their crops but little, and harvested with a cycle.
The clothing was all imported from England and the styles originating there. The clothes were made of English broadcloth, calico and the like, some plain and some plaid. Before Robert Bodily's family left Africa the hoops were introduced there from America. Young people had little chance for an education unless their parents were able to give them private tutors; fortunately Robert Bodily was able to do this for his family. As for amusement the youth had to provide for their own. The younger hunted bird nests among the trees, wild animals abounded in the jungles near where they lived; monkeys, baboons, goat species; (a goat about twice as large as the common here;) another a little larger called the grey-stem-back, a yet larger one an awful runner, is the diker, one still larger called the bush buck which is the size of a good deer; wolves, jackals, tigers and snakes of all kinds, some twelve to fifteen feet long; but the large black ones were not dangerous. One big yellow variety climbs in a tree over a trail and watches for deer. When they come along the trail the snake drops down and wraps itself around the deer's stomach and pulls him into the tree. They squeeze the life out of the deer and eat what they want. Other varieties of snakes are: the Puff-adders, Rencles, a big black snake, and the boa constrictor. The latter when coiled is as big as the hind wheel of a wagon. As long as a person is in front of the puff adder there is no danger as their teeth are hooked and they have to throw themselves backwards to hook their teeth into anything.
The old English money was used in Africa and for common labor the people would receive three shillings a day (about seventy two cents) while mechanics received five or six shillings a day.
Brother and sister Bodily were very staunch members of the Church of England and now they were out in the world away from the Church. Before leaving England he (Robert) was a member of the choir of that Church.
Bushman's River was a very sparsely settled country with not many neighbors. Brother and sister Bodily were a prayerful people and they taught their children to observe and respect the principles of the Church of England.
They became acquainted with a dear friend, John Stock, who lived in Port Elizabeth and who used to make a practice of visiting them about Christmas time every year; he affected their lives more than anyone whom they had ever met. Brother Stock had met the Mormon Elders and had been converted to the Mormon Church. He endeavored to convert brother and sister Bodily to his faith, but was unable to do so at this time.
The first Mormon Elders sent to Africa were: Jesse Haven, Leonard I. Smith and William Walker. They were sent to Africa about the year 1855 or 1856. About the year 1857 the Elders were sent to Bushman's River by brother Stock, to visit the Bodily family. The Elders stopped over night, with the family, they talked until a late hour about the scriptures. Sister Bodily, a great bible student produced many scriptures in support of her own faith, but the Elders took the same scriptures and used them in defense of their own cause. The Elders left the next morning on horseback, as that was the way they traveled, and upon their departure brother Bodily presented them with a purse and some money. He was now considered a rich man; he had accumulated wealth very rapidly while he lived at Bushman's River. He had large herds of cattle and many acres of land.
The Elders were gone about a month, then returned and stopped again over night with the family. This time sister Bodily had lots of scriptures to present to them and they talked until late in the night. Brother Bodily employed a good number of hands, and they with their families studied and pondered over the instructions of the Elders. The result was, that about the latter part of the year brother Bodily wrote his friend, brother Stock who was at this time President of the Port Elizabeth branch, to come and baptize him, along with his wife; their three sons, William, Robert and James, as well as some of the work hands. Brother Bodily was put in charge of the little company to be baptized, and they were baptized by brother Stock in the Bushman's River, May 3, 1857.
Brother Bodily was considered a wealthy man at the time he joined the Church and decided to come to America. Before his baptism he was opposed to emigrating to America, he being the owner of one of the finest farms in the country, but as soon as he was baptized, he told the Elders that he desired to emigrate to Zion. He also carried on blacksmithing and wagon making, being on the main road between Port Elizabeth and Grahm Town. He sold his farm and business in 1860 for about six thousand dollars. Ever since he joined the Church his home had been a regular rendezvous for the Elders who frequently partook of his hospitality for months at a time.
He with his family spent one month in Port Elizabeth before sailing for America. Most of their time was spent in fishing. There were few Saints in Africa, but what few there were gave the little company who were leaving for America, a farewell. Farewells were not the custom then as they are now. They started to America in a sailing vessel called the Alacrity, under the charge of Captain Cooper on 22 March 1860. Brother Bodily assisted several of the Saints financially in crossing the ocean. The company on board the ship numbered about forty. They sailed from Port Elizabeth and went by way of Cape Town and St. Helena. They stopped at Cape Town over night and the boys went fishing for sharks. They caught several but the largest was not more than two feet long. There were so many sharks in the bay of Cape Town that it was unsafe for them to go in swimming.
St. Helena Island, the place where Napoleon was buried, was their second stopping place. A baby girl was born there the night they stopped. The Malay people of the Island fished with a harpoon and used shrimp for bait to catch the mackerel. A harpoon is a little steel with a hook on the end; it will go into the fish but will not come out.
After they left St. Helena, James (Robert's son) got his fishing line and sat on the back of the ship fishing for a shark that had been following them. One day as he was trying to get a bite the captain came out and called "What ya doin here, ya little brat." James told him and the captain called the sailors and they got a piece of fat pork and put it on the shark hook. Immediately Mr. Shark grabbed it; the sailors had a big rope and as they pulled the shark aboard they sang their song, "Pull Away, Pull Away." The shark flopped and jerked and kept knocking against the cabin with its tail, making it very hard to get him on board for he was a big fellow twelve feet long.
The steward on the ship did all the cooking. He cooked such foods as we have today: Pork, beans, salted and pickled beef, potatoes, vegetables and sea biscuits. The sea biscuits are about 1/2 to 3/4 inch thick and the size of a plate. They are very hard until dipped into milk, coffee or tea. They resemble soda crackers only much larger. They kept them in a barrel until they crossed the sea. The steward fried fish for those who caught them. One morning when they awoke, as far as the eye could see whales bounded and played in the water. The captain said if one hit the ship with its tail it would sink it.
They encountered storm at sea and some were severe. Once they came near running into a large rock hidden under the water. They were going 15 or 20 knots; the captain saw the rock and ran out shouting "About Ship" which means to turn the ship about. He later explained if they had gone on for about 15 minutes longer there would have been a big wreck. The passengers watched the paupos. a sea animal which is a good deal like a clumsy pig and the size of a yearling calf. They live in the ocean and go in droves. They bounce up and down showing nearly their entire body. The flying fish also went in droves like the black birds do. They flew until their wings got dry and they would drop into the sea again; some of them alighted on the ship and Robert dried two or three of them and brought them to Utah to show the people.
The voyage lasted for three months, for one week of that time they had a calm sea and the boat stood still, not a breath of air was on the sea. From the time they left Fort Elizabeth the sun was in the north, but the night they crossed the equator the sailors brought a lot of water and filled some tubs, they had everybody who had not crossed the line, especially the young people, sit on a board which they had put across the tubs. Neptune was supposed to appear to them as they crossed the line, then they were introduced into the other part of the world by having the board pulled from under them and being dunked into the water. Some t ook it as a joke and other got very angry, therefore the sun was to the south of them.
There was a very sick woman on the ship, she was sister Sandall. The captain said the shark that had been following them was a sign she was going to die before we landed, but the fish was caught and she lived. She came to America to Utah and some years later died in Kaysville.
Word had gone out that a ship load of Africans were going to land in Boston harbor; the impression among the people were that the Africans were all colored people. The docks were crowed with people to see the colored people land, but to their surprise the Africans were all white but of different nationalities.
From Boston they went by train up to St. Joseph on the Missouri River. This was the first time some of the children had been on a train, and soon after they boarded it two stalwart Indians boarded it also. They were the first Indians the children had ever seen. The little company went from St. Joseph by boat up to Florence Nebraska where they stopped and fitted out a train to cross the plains.
As the boys had been reared with cattle and understood them they were given the responsibility of driving two yoke of cattle across the plains and they had an enjoyable time while crossing. Every night the wagons were circled to form a corral, the tongues of the wagon on the inside, and the company always had prayers night and morning. They traveled in President Budge's company and as they came up the Platte river a native of Poenuce Indians traveled with them for a week. The company killed several cows for the Indians to eat. The Poencuses said they were coming to fight the Crow Indians. The company had no trouble with the Indians and to furnish amusement Robert Bodily put up a stick on the ground about 50 or 75 or one hundred paces off from the group, he put a dime on a stick and the one who shot it off, could keep it.
Brother Bodily fitted out five families to cross the plains. The company saw buffalo, elk, deer and many other wild game while crossing the plains.
Throughout the long and arduous voyage and overland journey by ox teams he showed his generosity on numerous occasions by aiding his poor brethren and there was probably not one of that company who did not hold him in grateful remembrance. At this time the Church was in need of funds to aid in immigration and unless funds could be raised the immigrants would have to stop over until spring. Brother Bodily gave George Q. Cannon $2,000 to aid in immigration and he brought forty head of cattle and five head of horses into the valley. Brother Cannon promised him he would get his money back when they got to the valley, but they didn't have money at the tithing office to let him have it and they didn't have flour so he could get his winters supply, so he had to look somewhere else. In the spring he went to see President Brigham Young and made the Church a present of the money. President Young asked him if he was giving it with a good feeling and his reply was that he dared not give it any other way. President Young slapping his hand on his shoulder said, "God bless you, Brother Bodily, but you will go down to the bedrock, but you'll never see the day when you shall have no bread, and your children after you." A few days after this Brother Bodily met Apostle Cannon and he asked him if he had received his money. Brother Bodily told him what he had done and Brother Cannon slapped his hand on the same place the President had and said exactly the same words the President had said. Robert marveled at them saying the very same thing.
The Bodily children's first experience with snow was the night they camped at Little Mountain, east of Salt Lake City, Utah. They came down out of Emigration Canyon into the valley and landed in Salt Lake City on 5 Oct 1860; they had traveled nearly an entire year. When they first entered the valley flour cost $6.00 a hundred pounds and after the mines opened in Montana flour sold for $24.00 a hundred, and for wheat they received only $5.00 a bushel.
Brother Bodily sent his cattle to Grantsville to be wintered and the next spring when the cattle returned he had only seven head out of forty. They use to meet in March to prepare to send boys back after immigrants. Brother Bodily always sent a team, and sometimes he sent a team, wagon and hay. Three times in the spring he had only one ox but he had faith and always managed to send a team back and have a team home to do his farm work.
Brother Bodily spent the winter of 1860-1861 in Salt Lake City, and in June 1861, he bought a farm in Kaysville, Davis county, where he resided until the time of his death. Here he acted as a ward teacher and as a counselor in the presidency of the High Priest quorum. Brother Bodily died in Kaysville April 15, 1892. His character was beautiful in its rugged simplicity and honesty, stern and uncompromising in the presence of evil, pleasant and genial in the society of friends; he was a man whom to intimately known was a pleasure, and to possess his esteem was an honor.
One of his characteristics which harmonized with the beauty of his life was his love for flowers. He was often heard to say jocularly that if he could not have a flower garden in heaven, he did not care to go there. After joining the Church, he followed almost literally the Savior's injunction, "Sell all that thou hast and give to the poor and follow me." After he had become an aged man he met with financial reverses and had to make a new home under new conditions and circumstances, but he went to work with phenomenal energy and until his last sickness the history of his life was one of great labor under circumstances which to many others would have been discouraging. Through all he remained consistent; prosperity could not spoil him, and adversity could not swerve him. His course was straight forward, his objects the glory of God and his own salvation. Bro. Bodily left a family of eleven children, seventy grandchildren and nine great grandchildren.
Brother Bodily died of Pneumonia 15 April 1892 and his wife died 22 September 1904.
Following is a letter written by Jane Pittam Bodily wife of Robert Bodily Sr. to an aunt in Great Britain:
Cape Town, Sept. 13, 1847
I hope these few lines with our kind love will find you all well as it leaves us so at this time. Thank God for it. My children have been poorly with a cold or I may say complaint that most of the children in the town have had, but thank God, they are all better. I had the doctor to my baby for he was so ill, and there were so many of the young children that died, that we thought it better to have something in time, for here was four or five little children buried in a day in the English burying ground, for days together.
The burying ground is not joining the church as at home. I should say it is a mile from the English church and they don't take the corpse to the church and if they read the burial service at the grave they demand twenty dollars, that is 30 shillings, and 15 shillings for breaking the ground. My boys are grown very much, they both go to school. I have sent William to the free school but I don't see that he learns any good at all for there are so many boys, so that I now send them to a woman that lives near us. I think it is better to pay a little and have them kept more strict. I daresay you have heard father's letter my little boy's name is James. He grows very nicely, is now four months old, he was born on the 6th (sixth) of May. Most people say he is like little Robert, he is a contended, little dear, and we don't make a little fuss with him. My husband is still working in the engineers department. The work has been very slack this winter, there has been but two or three masons all winter. Robert and one more that came in the "Susan," the vessel before us. Now they have set two more hands on but there has been so little work going on in town so that there has been a great many out of employment all winter. We now hear that the headquarters is to be removed to the frontier so I dare say there will be a great many men going, but I don't think Robert will go, for as he says, there will always be work in the battery and at the castle, and he has been very fortunate to have some good jobs there and he thinks it better to stop a year or two and see. We hear that the farmers and all that can take cattle are to have them so as people say it will be encouragement for them to try their best. Some say it will soon be over now, some say not for years but I don't know. Who knows? I suppose we shall have the meat cheaper when it is. Beef is now four d mutton 3d (six cents). Butter is now a dollar and milk is now at 2 1/4 shilling (fifty four cents) a bottle. We have had a good deal of rain this winter so that there is more grass for the cows which makes it so cheap. Vegetables are very dear. Potatoes are now 2d (4 cents) the pound and I myself have gave 4 1/2 for a brocily that was only just enough for dinner. When they first come in they are gone if any size. Onions are very dear and scarce. I gave 1 three fourths d (3 1/2 cents) for one the other day but the young ones are coming in so they will be cheaper. House rent is very dear at the Cape. We have been paying $20.00 a month for this last eight months and you can't get a place under if it is in any respectable part. You may get houses for eight or ten dollars but then it is up some back yard where there are all sorts of characters living. But the houses are most of them large ones so then a person takes one and lets rooms. We were in a part of one for eight months. We gave nine dollars for a front room and seven for a back one, but it is not like having a place to yourself. If there are three or four families living in one house you all have to cook at one fireplace in the kitchen for there are very few houses that there are fireplaces in the rooms and most of the houses have flat roofs. There are, now and then one slated house to be seen that has been built within a year or two and then they are only one story. But way out of town. It is more healthy and it is near Robert's work. They tell me that five or six years ago there was only one house dropt here and now it will soon be all buildings, for every few days you may see some new one began. Robert has been buying some ground, it is about five minutes walk from where we now live, and as soon as we can we shall run us up a little house on it. It is about 160 feet square so that we shall have enough for to keep goats and I say we might keep a cow as you can turn them out to graze with getting a boy to look after them. And we shall be able to grow us a few vegetables in the winter if we live so long, it is no good to think of gardening in the summer as the southeasters destroy everything unless it is mounded ind with a very high wall. People make two or three times the money he gave for it which was nine pound. (forty four dollars) as they are buying ground farther up every little time.
And we hear there is ground being bought to build a church very near to us so that if we should at any time wish to go up the country we could sell it, but I don't like the thoughts of going on the water again and if we have plenty good luck I should rather stop at the Cape though there are a great many going to leave, some going to Port Natal. We hear that is a fine country and in a flourishing state. Some are going to Port Adelaide but perhaps it may not be found as it is represented. It is now the Malay's new year, as they call it. They fast thirty days. They neither eat nor drink from sunrising to sun setting for thirty days, and when the time is up they have a feast and call it their "New Year." They illuminate their burying ground for three nights and take coffee and cookies, that is cakes, and set by the graves. They are a rum set of people, they will steal anything they can. The Malay women wear red handkerchiefs around their head, no bonnets, and they have sleeves and their hair all combed back from their forehead, and make a great roll which is fastened up with a very large pin. They all wear ear rings, they are very proud and some of them dress very fine in their way. I have seen some of the women with a nice silk dress as any lady would wear, only sleeves of another color. We have had a long cold winter to what we had last year and several heavy rains. We had one very heavy thunder storm three weeks ago, and the hailstones lay that we could pick up a handful which is the first I have seen since I have been in the colony, but we now begin to have the southeaster come on again which shows us the summer is coming and the flowers are spring that I say it makes me think of April at home.
I forget if in my letter to father, said they had been lighting the town with gas the beginning of winter. It looks very pretty at an evening to stand at our door and see the lights all up the streets for we live a little farther up, so that we have a fine view. I can't never shall say I like the Cape as my home nor should if I had my relations living with me but I make myself contented and think I ought to be thankful that we have our health and are in a way of getting a good living. For, thank God, I can say we are if Robert does but have his health as it all depends upon him, but I would never say to any one come out, for if you look at comforts stop at home for I often think of my poor father's words. He told me we should not be able to get things at home and so I find it. Oh, how I should like a nice bucket of apples to make some apple dumplings, for the apples we get here are not good, they have no taste as ours have, though the fruit is plentiful in the summer, and after all it is not the fruit we could get at home. My William begins to talk dutch a little, he often speaks to me in dutch, something he has learned of the children at school, and I tell him to speak as I can understand him for I shall never learn their talk. They call bread "brood." The Dutch people are so very fond of coffee they get their cup of coffee as soon as they are up and then they breakfast about ten o'clock but their living is very different to ours.
I shall tire you with my scribble and must say that Robert joins me in love to my dear grandmother, father, brother and sister and Mr. Pittam. Also to uncle and Emma and William. My children often talk of them and William says, "When Willy cousin comes he shall show him something, and he often talks about going to milk old Derry and going with his grandfather to feed the pig. When you see uncle Joseph please to give our loves to them all. I will write to some to them before long for I really are almost ashamed that I write home so seldom, for I think you must think that I have forgotten you all, but I put off from time to time, but I often think you all over and can see you all in your homes though you form no ideas of me in mine. But I must say that I shall be very happy to hear from any of you when you can write, as I love to hear about home though I cannot see it. Please to give our loves to Robert's friends when you see them, and I must say to all uncles, aunts and cousins and any inquiring friends, and accept the same yourself, from your affectionate niece,
Comments written about Jane Pittam Bodily by her grandson Joseph Bodily:
After his (Robert Bodily Sr.) death his widow, Jane Pittam Bodily, went and lived with her daughter Jane Elizabeth Layton until her death 22 Sept. 1904.
The last time I saw my grandmother, was 21 July 1901, as I was returning from my mission to Great Britain. Grandmother always impressed me as a person of unusual strength and ruggedness. She was above average size with unusually large hands and long arms with a body which at one time must have been as tough as a raw hide string for there was not an ounce of surplus flesh. Bone and sinew were as self evident as the strings on a bass fiddle. Yet she was one of the most considerate, unselfish and nonself-centered aged persons I have ever met.
PAF - Archer files = Orson Pratt Brown + (2) Jane Bodily Galbraith < William Wilkie Galbraith + Sarah Emma Bodily < Robert Bodily Sr. + Jane Pittam or Pittnum.
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