PHEBE ABIGAIL ABBOTT BROWN FIFE - 1831- 1914
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|Mother of Orson Pratt Brown
Wife of Captain James Brown and later of Colonel William Nicol Fife
Born: May 18, 1831 at New York, Steuben County, New York
I was born in New York, Steuben County, New York, May 18, 1831, the daughter of and . When I was five years of age, my father moved to Illinois, Pike County. Father and mother joined the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints in 1843, and moved to Nauvoo. I was baptized when I was eight years old, in the Mississippi River by William McWinteres, and led out of the water by the Prophet Joseph Smith. What joy I felt! My whole body was filled with joy.
In 1844, my father died, leaving mother with eight children, the oldest being fifteen years and the youngest three months. They had to endure all the hardships of that period. I was the third girl in the family. I had to go to work for my living among strangers. I attended Relief Society meetings with mother and heard the Prophet speak to the sisters. I saw him after his martyrdom. Then the Saints were driven from Nauvoo. I started out with Brother Church, but was taken sick and came near dying.
My mother and family, including my oldest sister, who had been married, had come on as far as Garden Grove. My sister came with me expecting to have a home with our married sister . My brother-in-law, had joined the Battalion and had to go to meet them. My sister was heartbroken.
I soon went to live with a Sister Baldwin. Sister Charilla went with a friend to Missouri. Mother and the rest of the children came in the fall and then our joy was full. I had to work out of doors in the snow. I came down with the pleurisy and was sick for three months. Mother taught school and it was necessary for her to cut wood to keep us warm. I came near dying and was just able to walk when my sister, Mrs. Bunker was confined. We had hard work to save them. Sister Charilla came in the spring. We cleared off three acres of land; planted it; and raised a good crop.
In the fall, we moved to Winter Quarters. In January Brother Bunker came in hungry and ragged. We soon got him some clothes and fed him. I worked out all winter. Went to Kimball's farm and while there, the family moved to Willow Creek, thinking I would get a chance to follow. One of Captain James Brown's boys and I started and had to walk all the way, twenty-five miles, carrying my bundle.
In the spring I helped Mr. Bunker on the farm. In the fall, I worked for Mr. McCenny, an Indian agent, and cooked for forty people three months. I then went home and started to work for a Mrs. Hammers. The Indians were having an epidemic of cholera. Father came to me in a dream and said, "Phebe, go home quickly." I told Mr. Hammers, but could not tell him why. I got the Indians to take me over the river and then had four miles to walk in order to reach home. The Hammers family was taken with cholera. Mrs. Hammer and her babe, little girl, and hired man died that night, so you see how father and the Lord watched over me.
On the 7th of July we started across the Plains in Brother George A. Smith's company. We had a good time until we reached Sweetwater. Then we had snowstorms and lost many cattle. We had to throw away trunks and baggage to make the loads lighter. I took malarial fever. We had to burn buffalo chips for wood. We saw many buffaloes.
Helped to care for John Henry Smith while crossing the plains. Reached Brown's Fort or Ogden on the 17th of October, 1849.
I worked for and went to school. My sister Charilla taught school that winter. In the spring the flood came. Our calves, goats, chickens and everything else were swimming and we ourselves were almost waist deep in water. The neighbors came and helped us out. We camped under some trees. Brother Brown made a stockade and milk houses. The boys and girls did the milking; made butter and cheese; made straw hats for the family. When the emigrants came, we made hats for them.
I was treasurer of the first Relief Society. My husband, James Brown, was called on a mission for two years. I lost my little baby boy [Stephen Abbott Brown, born August 22, 1851, and died December 22, 1853]. My husband's son lived with me. We worked in the garden. I had fifty pounds of wool. Got it carded and went to spinning. I found plenty to do. I had the wool spun and seventy pounds of carpet rags sewed. When my husband came back, he brought me some warp. It had to be doubled and twisted. I got it all done and wove a carpet.
Captain James Brown returned from his mission to England in 1852. He brought a black silk shawl beautifully embroidered and fringed for his dear wife Phebe Abbott Brown. Phebe gave this shawl in 1882 to her daughter Mrs. Snyder. Phebe's shawl is now a part of the D.U.P. Treasures of Pioneer Heirlooms exhibit on display at the State Capital. --Heart Throbs of the West, Vol. 8, DUP 1947, Page 11.
In October, my baby girl () was born [October 24, 1855."Addie"] She later married Henry Theodore Snyder (see photo) in 1877. [They had eight or more children: Sarah Ethel Snyder [Toller], Phoebe Abigail Snyder , Frank Henry Snyder [Evans], Leona L. Snyder [Dignau], Harrison Blaine Snyder [Snyder], Leon Ogden Snyder, Orson Joseph Snyder, Austin Joe Snyder] Phoebe Adelaide Brown Snyder died June 11, 1930 in Venice, California, buried in Ogden, Weber, Utah].
We always had a great deal of company and had the privilege of entertaining all the apostles except one; Brother George A. Smith; President Brigham Young; Heber C. Kimball; Parley P. Pratt; ; Daniel H. Wells. We always enjoyed it and always had something to give them to eat. They are all on the other side now.
Then came Johnson's Army. My husband James had received some flax. We fixed it and I spun and wove three table cloths; three long roller towels while he was moving some of his family south. Then I drove the horses and made two trips. I had the privilege of returning home. My husband had three hundred bushels of volunteer wheat, but had no one to help him to harvest it. I went in the field, helped to bind and haul until it was done. We saved our bread.
The next excitement was Connor's fight with the Indians at Bear River. It was very cold and the Indians had shot and wounded many of our people. We had to bring them in on sleds. We had to give them beds and something to eat. We were up all night and what terrible suffering they had to endure! When the rest came, they were so badly frozen that they could not feed themselves. Several died that night. This was in winter of 1863.
In the spring, May 22, , my baby boy () was born. There was seven years between him and my daughter Addie (Phoebe Adelaide). On the 30th of September  my husband James Brown died (on his birthday) through an accident that happened while grinding sugar cane. [Phebe was 32 years old when Captain James Brown died.] Mother Abigail Abbott came to live with me and helped to pass away the time. (After James died I wove cloth and carpet to make a living, took boarders.)
In the fall of 1866 [October 9, 1866] I married [as a plural wife to] Colonel [Colonel of the first Regiment, First Brigade, Weber Military District. Colonel William Nicol Fife, was married to Phebe's younger sister. married WNF on 2 November 1867. Members of the Layton family say WNF had up to 13 wives.] In July 22, [1867,] my little girl was born . In two years another girl was born, but died at birth. In another year another came, but it was taken with smallpox and died. I had many trying times and I worked hard (and) felt as though I could not live long.
(See http://students.cs.byu.edu/`heath/family/white/c2943.htm for more WNF info)
In 1880, we moved to Sulphur Springs Valley, Arizona. There were several Mormon families to haul lumber from the Mill to Tombstone mining camp. My health became better, than it had been for years. We lived in a tent for eleven months. Then we built a nice frame, four-room house. We had a great deal of company between rustlers and Indians and prospectors; altogether it was an exciting time. The Mormons all moved away, leaving us the only Mormons there, but always had company. Our teams were busy; our house like a boarding house. The third year, my sister and her husband came and were there all summer. In the fall, Mrs. Fife [ and her 13 year old daughter, ] came and I went to St. George to meet mother and work in the Temple. There were mother, three girls, one son, and three grandchildren to have their work done.
My daughter my sister , and I went by team to the Wah Wah Springs [Beaver,Utah] to our sister, . We stayed two days and then went on the train to Ogden, where we met my daughter ; and also many of my old friends. What great joy I felt! I had lived there for thirty years and made many friends. I stayed at my daughter's for eleven months. I had never spent such a pleasant time. Word came that Mrs. Fife [Diana Fife] had been killed by the Mexicans. I had to hurry home so that Mr. Fife could come with his son William Fife to Ogden. Oh, the sorrow and confusion.
On arriving home we found my husband and my son Orson there alone. Made arrangements for Mr. Fife to go with his daughter, , to Ogden. I was to stop on the ranch. Cynthia Fife and Sarah Brown came later, then it was not so lonesome. Nothing happened but a few Indian scares until the brethren on the underground came. It was a good place to hide and be safe. They were very welcome. After two years they went home.
My daughter was married to Joseph Layton [18 September 1886 in Safford, Graham, AZ. They had six children: Joseph Christopher Layton, Glenna Selina Layton, Edna Cynthia Layton, William Walter Layton, Iretta Layton, Phoebe Caroline Layton].
Orson came to Thatcher to get some land and we were alone. Brothers Snow and Thatcher came and advised me to go to Mexico; Mr. Fife was to sell out and come down with family later on.
Orson was called on a mission. He and I went to Juárez. We arrived there May 30th. Orson was taken with chills and fever and was very sick for three weeks. Some of the boys rented his team; he went along; killed some deer. He began to get better. We plowed the garden. The neighbors were very kind and let me have garden stuff until mine grew. I had some beautiful Plymouth Rock chickens.
Everybody wanted eggs and gave me garden stuff in exchange. The people were very ragged, but I had some overalls and coats, together with tread, needles and pins. The sisters worked them over for their boys. I was not idle, but helped many babies come into the world; took care of their mothers; and nursed many sick. I took care of my garden. Orson went to work. He sent me some wheat. I marketed it and browned and ground it in my large coffee mill. It made good bread. That fall, I had a good deal of dried corn and beans; made a lot of pickles. Orson was married to [10 October 1887] and built an adobe room in front of my tent. We went along fine.
The sisters had no stocking for themselves nor for their children. I was appointed Relief Society President. We had some wheels made and got some cards; spun and carded wool that we bought of the Mexicans. We soon had some yarn made. The sisters were united and worked with a will. Several raised cotton and had that for summer. In October, on the 30th, Mattie's baby was born. In February, I went to Thatcher to take care of my daughter in her confinement. I stayed there eleven months. Then I returned home. In May, Mattie's little girl died. She gave birth to a boy not long after.
In January, 1890 I went to St. David [Arizona] to attend Cynthia. In May I went to Ogden to be with my daughter Addie and stayed there two years. Orson came to go to the Logan Temple. I went with them and did some work. Was present at the dedication of the Logan Temple; also the dedication of the Salt Lake Temple in 1893. Then went to Mexico to live where my son Orson lives.
(Edna Cynthia Layton, (born Jan. 24, 1891 to Cynthia) went to Mexico in the year 1896 remained there one year with my mother.)
[Please note what follows is on a separate page attached to the first five, and is apparently typed by Phebe's daughter, Cynthia Fife Layton:]
Mother left Ogden Utah, with Orson to go back to Mexico, after the dedication of the Salt Lake Temple. While living in Mexico she spent her time in helping the sick, taking care of the needy, brought many babies, was president of the Relief Society for several years, was a pioneer of Utah, Arizona, and Mexico.
Phebe Abbott Brown Fife, sitting on porch at the Mormon Colonies home of her son Orson P. Brown
and his wife Martha Diana Romney Brown, and two of their children, c. 1895.
In the year 1905 Phebe moved to Thatcher Arizona to live with her daughter, Cynthia Layton; she was much afflicted with rheumatism, that she had contracted in Mexico, she walked on crutches for some time, then had a wheel chair, was always cheerful, and happy, although she suffered much pain from her afflictions, she lived and died a true Latter-day Saint, and taught her family to do the same.
She died January 9, 1914 , in Thatcher, Arizona, at the age of 84 years. [Headstone at Thatcher Cemetery states date as January 9, 1915]
President Andrew Kimball, Brigham Stowell, and Caroline Eyring, were the speakers at her funeral services; she was buried in Thatcher, Graham, Arizona.
Phoebe Howe Coray Abbott
Mother of Stephen Joseph Abbott
Phebe Abbott Brown Fife
Daughter of Stephen Joseph Abbott
A.K.A.: Phebe Abbott; Phebe Abbott Brown; Phebe Brown; Phebe Brown; Phebe Fife; Phebe Brown Fife; Phebe B. Fife; Phoebe Abbott; Phoebe Brown; Phoebe Fife.
PAF - Archer Files = Captain James Brown Jr. + Phebe Abigail Abbott > Orson Pratt Brown
Autobiography of Phebe Abbott Brown Fife, by Phebe Abbott Brown Fife. Thatcher, Arizona. Contributed by granddaughter, Leona Layton Kiessig, 1979.
Photos and bold, [bracketed] words and information were added by Lucy Brown Archer.
Brown Book of Remembrance written by Hattie Critchlow Jensen and Loella Brown Tanner prior to 1948
Phebe Abbott Brown Fife signature is from a letter she wrote from Colonia Juarez on September 1890.
The Four Abbott Sisters photo is courtesy of Sherry Zundel.
http://www.pcma.ca/recent.htm -2002-010 Fife Cemetery Company -created 1845 in Otonabee Township, Petersborough County, Ontario, Lower Canada.
Copyright 1994 www.OrsonPrattBrown.org
"I once read that love is like a rose; we fixate on the blossom but it's the thorny stem that keeps it alive and aloft. ... the things of greatest value are the ones we fight for. And in the end, if we do it right, we value the stem far more than the blossom."
--"Finding Noel" by Richard Paul Evans, Chapter 36.