Mary Goble Pay - a Noble Pioneer

By Evelyn Goble Steen

Mary Goble Pay is connected to the English tree of Richard Goble and Ann Winter of Fernhurst, Sussex, England. Descendants migrated to Utah in the mid 1800s. This is her story.

I, Mary Goble Pay, was born in Brighton, Sussex, England, June 2, 1832. My father was William Goble, son of William and Harriet Johnson Goble, and my mother Mary was the daughter of John and Sarah Penfold. When I was in my twelfth year, my parents joined the Latter-day Saints. On November 5th, I was baptized. The following May we started for Utah. We left our home May 19, 1856. We came to London the first day, the next day came to Liverpool and went on board the ship Horizon that evening. It was a sailing vessel and there were nearly nine hundred souls on board. We sailed on the 25th. The pilot ship came to tug us out into the open sea. I well remember how we watched old England fade from sight. We sang "Farewell Our Native Land, Farewell."

While we were in the river the crew mutinied, but they were put ashore and another crew came on board. They were a good set of men. When we were a few days out a large shark followed the vessel. One of the Saints died and he was buried at sea. We never saw the shark anymore. After we got over our seasickness we had a nice time. We would play games, and sing songs of Zion. We held meetings and the time passed happily. When we were sailing through the banks of Newfoundland we were in a dense fog for several days. The sailors were kept night and day ringing bells and blowing fog horns.

One day I was on deck with my father when I saw a mountain of ice in the sea, close to the ship. I said, "Look, father, look." He went as white as a ghost and said, "Oh, my girl." At that moment the fog parted and the sun shone brightly till the ship was out of danger, when the fog closed on us again. We were on the sea six weeks, then we landed at Boston. We took the train for Iowa City where we had to get an outfit for the plains. On the first of August we started to travel with our oxen unbroken, and we did not know a thing about driving oxen. My father had bought two yoke of oxen and one yoke of cows, a wagon and a tent. He had a wife and six children. Their names were Mary, Edwin, Caroline, Harriet, James, and Fanny.

My sister Fanny broke out with the measles on the ship and when we were in Iowa Camp Ground there came up a thunderstorm that blew down our shelter, made with handcarts and some quilts. The storm came and we sat there in the rain, thunder, and lightning. My sister got wet and died the 19th day of July 1856. She would have been two years old on the 23rd. The day we started our journey we visited her grave.

We traveled through the states until we came to Council Bluffs. Then we started on our journey of one thousand miles over the plains. It was about the 1st of September. We traveled from 15 to 25 miles a day. We used to stop one day in the week to wash. On Sunday we would hold our meetings and rest. Every morning and night we were called to prayers by the bugle. The Indians were on the war path and were very hostile. Our captain, John Hunt, had us make a dark camp. That was to stop, get our supper, then travel a few miles, and not light any fires; but camp and go to bed. The men had to travel all day and guard every other night. We traveled on till we got to the Platte River. That was the last walk I ever had with our mother. We caught up with the handcart companies that day. We watched them cross the river. There were great lumps of ice floating down the river. It was bitter cold. The next morning there were fourteen dead in camp through the cold. We went back to camp and went to prayers. That night my mother took sick and the next morning my little sister was born. It was the 23rd of September. We named her Edith. She lived six weeks and died for the want of nourishment.

We had been without water for several days, just drinking snow water. The captain said there was a spring of fresh water just a few miles. It was snowing hard, but my mother begged me to go and get her a drink. Another lady went with me. We were about half way to the spring when we found an old man who had fallen in the snow. He was frozen so stiff we could not lift him. So the lady told me where to go and she would go back to camp for help, for we knew he would soon be frozen if we left him. When she had gone, I began to think of the Indians and looking in all directions I became confused and forgot the way I should go. I waded around in the snow up to my knees and became lost. Later, when I did not return to camp, the men started out after me. My feet and legs were frozen.

They carried me to camp and rubbed me with snow. They put my feet in a bucket of water. The pain was terrible. The frost came out of my legs and feet, but not out of my toes.

We traveled in the snow from the last crossing of the Platte River. We had orders not to pass the handcart companies. We had to keep close to them so as to help them if we could. We began to get short of food, our cattle gave out. We could only travel a few miles a day. When we started out of camp in the morning the brethren would shovel snow to make a track for our cattle. They were weak for want of food. When we arrived at Devil's Gate it was bitter cold. We left many of our things there. There were two or three log houses. We left our wagon and joined teams with a man named James Barman. We had a Sister May frozen to death. We stayed there two or three days. While there an ox fell on the ice and the brethren killed it and the beef was given out to the camp. My brother James ate a hearty supper, and was well as he ever was when he went to bed. In the morning he was dead. My feet were frozen, also my brother Edwin and my sister Caroline had their feet frozen. It was nothing but snow. We could not drive cold from our tents. Father would clean a place for them and put snow around to keep them down. We were short of flour but father was a good shot. They called him the hunter of the camp, so that helped us out. We could not get enough flour for bread as we got only a quarter of a pound per head a day, so we would make it like thin gruel. We called it "skilly."

We did not know what would become of us. One night a man came to our camp and told us there would be plenty of flour in the morning, for President Brigham Young had sent men and teams to help us. There was rejoicing that night. We sang songs, some danced and some cried. He was a living Santa Claus and his name was Eph. Hanks. My mother had never got well; she lingered until the 11th of December 1856, the day we arrived in Salt Lake City. She died between the Little and Big Mountains. She was 43 years old. She and her baby lost their lives gathering to Zion in such a late season of the year and my sister was buried at the last crossing of the Sweetwater. We arrived in Salt Lake City at nine o'clock at night. Three out of the four that were living were frozen. My mother was dead in the wagon.

Bishop Hardy had us taken to a house in his ward (2nd) and the brethren and sisters brought us plenty of food. Early next morning President Brigham Young and a doctor came. The doctor's name was Williams. When Pres. Young came in, he shook hands with all of us. When he saw our conditions, our feet frozen and our mother dead, tears rolled down his cheeks. The doctor wanted to cut my feet off at the ankle, but President Young said, "No, just cut off the toes and I promise you you will never have to take them off any further. The pieces of bone that come out will work out through the skin themselves." The doctor amputated my toes, using a saw and a butcher knife. The sisters were dressing mother for her grave. My poor father walked into the room were mother was, then back to us. He could not shed a tear. When my feet were fixed, they carried us in to see our mother for the last time. That afternoon she was buried in the Salt Lake City Cemetery.

We had been in Salt Lake a week, when one afternoon a knock came at the door. It was Uncle John Wood. When he met father he said, "I know it all, Bill." Both of them cried. I was glad to see my father cry. Uncle said for him to pack up and we would start right away. That night we got to Centerville where Aunt Pennie was waiting for us at Brother Garn's. The next morning we went to Farmington and stayed until the following April. My father married again.

Instead of my feet getting better they got worse. The following July I went to Doctor Wiseman's to live, but it was no use; he said he could do no more for me unless I would consent to have them cut off at the ankle. I told him what Brigham Young had promised me. He said, "All right, sit there and rot, I will do nothing more until you come to your senses." One day I sat crying, my feet hurting me so, when a little old woman knocked at the door and said she had felt that someone needed her. When she saw me crying, she came and asked me what was the matter. I showed her my feet and told her the promise Pres. Young had given me. She said, "Yes, and with the help of the Lord we will save them yet." She made a poultice and put on my feet, and every day, after the doctor had gone, she would come and change the poultice. At the end of three months my feet were well . . .

I went home to my father. When he saw how my legs were, we both cried. He rubbed the cords of my legs with oil and tried every way to straighten them. One day he said, "Mary I have thought of a plan to help you. I will nail a shelf on the wall and while I am away at work, you try to reach it." I tried all day and for several days. At last I could reach it. Then he would put the shelf a little higher and in about three months my legs were straight. In the spring, the people all moved south. My father and family moved to Nephi. I stayed at Spanish Fork until the spring of 1859, when I came to Nephi.

On the 26th of June I was married to Richard Pay. My husband, I first saw at Liverpool. He and his wife, Sarah, sailed in the ship Horizon; we traveled together. At Iowa Camp Ground their little girl was born July 11, 1856. The mother took the mountain fever. The baby died October 4, 1856, at Chimney Rock. Bro. Pay could not get anyone to dig the grave so he started digging it himself, when my father came and helped him. When my little sister died at Sweetwater, Brother Pay helped my father when she was buried by the roadside. Brother Pay's wife died at Bridger, so he was left alone. He arrived at Salt Lake City the 13th of December. He came down to American Fork and stayed all winter. In the spring he started with all he owned tied up in a handkerchief, and walked to Nephi where he lived at Jacob G. Bigler's, who was the bishop, and worked for him for two years. Bishop Bigler was the one who married us at Nephi.

My husband bought a one-room adobe house; for the window we had a sack. Glass we could not get, so we greased some paper and put over the sack. That did alright until one day it rained and spoiled our glass. We then put up factory. We had a bedstead, three chairs, a table and a box for our flour. We had two sheets, two pillow slips and one quilt. For dishes we had three tin plates, three cups, a pan or two to cook in and a spider to bake our bread. After awhile we bought a bake kettle and a brass kettle. We grew squash, let them freeze, and then boiled them and made molasses of the juice. We would make preserve by cutting up carrots and parsnips the size of dice and boiling the fruit in the juice. We saved the bits of fat and bones for our soap. To make the lye we would burn hardwood for ashes then put them in a leach, which was made by putting three or four boards in a v-shape, then adding some straw, then the ashes. When we had enough we would pour boiling water on and the lye would run slowly out. This we would boil and then make our soap. My husband made adobes, for which he received eight sheep. I washed the wool, spun and dyed it with weeds and leaves. I learned how to spin and knit so I could knit our stockings, mitts and ties. My husband made our shoes.

The people all lived inside a large mud wall with a north and south gate. At night our cattle and sheep were brought home and we were all locked up inside the fort for safety from the Indians. Guards were at both gates to see that no one came in or went out of the gates. They were locked at eight o'clock every night. If you did not get in by then you were locked out. My husband took his turn on guard and when the Black Hawk War broke out he was a Minute Man, called out any moment night or day. He had to furnish his own gun and ammunition and had to keep rations on hand. These were always ready so he could go at any moment. He belonged to Company B.; Benjamin Riches was his captain. Many a time he was called out to march after the red men, and would take his gun and 40 rounds of ammunition. I got to know the rap of Brother Peter Button. He would say, "Brother Pay, I want you on the march as quick as possible." He would kiss his wife and babies and be gone. We did not know if we would ever see each other again. All we could do was pray.

There was a small tribe of Indians called Pagwats that stayed around Nephi. Their chief's name was Pawania. He and his squaw were very friendly to the white people. Many a time she brought letters for us and we would send them by her. She would help me wash and pick wool and she taught me their language. She would tell me she had seen my husband and little son and they were well. She was very honest and would often bring back things that her papoose had taken. One day she went to my husband's camp to get something to eat. He did not have anything to give her so she went to her wickiup and cooked a meal of deer meat and beans and made a cake of ground sunflower seeds. She then called him to eat with them. Of course he had to go, but they ate with their fingers . . . Black Hawk was a fine-looking chief. He and his squaws would come in the fall to get us to hire them to husk corn. He would come with them but he would not work. He would make a bargain for us to pay them so much corn and the best dinner we could get them, which was not very rich, I assure you. Black Hawk looked different from the other chiefs. He was tall and wore long feathers. His nose was long and he had a moustache. He could talk English quite well. He had three nice-looking squaws. It was fun to see them try to use their plates and knives and forks like the whites . . .

One might wonder what my husband used to fix his shoes with. He had to work to make everything himself. There was a tannery where he could buy the leather, paying for it with wheat, corn or potatoes. For the pegs he would get maple and saw it into different sizes, cutting them with his knife. For the wax he boiled tar and put grease in it. For the shoe thread some of thee sisters spun the cotton and greased it with wax. For soda we would skim saleratus from the top of the ground, clean it and use it for cooking. For whitewash, we would bury a rock of plaster of paris in hot ashes, make a fire and burn it until it crumbled. Our salt we got out of a cave; we had to boil it to get it clear. We made our starch out of potatoes. To grate the potatoes we used a piece of tin with holes punched in it. We would make enough in the spring to last a year. For fruit we gathered ground cherries, serviceberries, chokecherries and wild bullberries. My husband was a teacher in the first Sunday School in Nephi. Thirteen children were born to us, ten sons and three daughters. Two died in infancy, and one little son when he was two years old. The rest lived to manhood and womanhood. We lived in Nephi twenty-two years, then moved to Leamington. On January 5th, 1882, our oldest son died of pneumonia. He was 21 years, 3 months old. Richard an I were called to sing in the choir. He was a teacher in the ward, and clerk and president of the Seventies. I was called as second counselor in the Relief Society to work with Sister Ann T. Walker. She moved away and I worked under another sister until the fall of 1893, when I moved back to Nephi. I was called as president of the Primary in Leamington. I labored in the Relief Society ten years, and in the Primary twelve years.

My husband died April 18, 1893, at Leamington and was buried at Nephi. I was left with nine children; two were married. It looked pretty dark with nothing coming in. I had to depend on my boys, and being strangers they did not get much work, so I started to nurse the sick. In this I had good success. The first of September 1894 my son George died of typhoid fever. He left a wife and five children. When he died, my son William was very sick. On November 12, 1898, my daughter Sarah Eliza died.

It is now October 1896. Fifty years ago we left our homes over the sea for Utah. Quite a few of us who are left have been to Salt Lake City to celebrate our Jubilee. We met in the 14th Ward Assembly Hall. We held three meetings. President Joseph F. Smith presided and the Relief Society furnished the banquet. I stayed with Anna Pay Kimball. We met the captain of our company, John Hunt, and some of the people who came in our company. We were happy to see one another and talk of the times that are gone. My sister Carrie and her husband went up to the city with me. Her husband came in Captain Ellsworth's handcart company. We went to conference two days, and then went to the cemetery to find my mother's grave. It was lot 2, plot C. It was the first time I had seen it, for when she was buried, my feet were so I could not go to the funeral, and later I moved south. No one knows how I felt as I stood there by her grave. Alma, his wife, myself and Ethel, one of George's daughters, and Anna, her mother, were with me. There were three generations, and our mother was a martyr for the truth. I thought of her words, "Polly, I want to go to Zion while my children are small, so they can be raised in the gospel of Christ, for I know this is the true church." Now there are 31 grandchildren, 26 great-grandchildren living, and 15 are dead. There are three of us living, my brother, sister, and I.

Later I went to Farmington, and visited with my cousin Ellen Pierce. I saw a number of my cousins. I came back to the city and went to the Temple and saw my son Alma married. I worked in the Temple two days. Anna Pay Kimball went with me to all the places. My brother and three of my sons have filled missions, and her grandsons and daughters are workers in the church. They are all members of the church. I now have six sons and one daughter living, four sons are married, and I have eleven grandchildren, and I am proud of them all. In September 1902 we had a jubilee to celebrate the fifty years of settling Nephi. I was in the parade as a Gleaner the first day, the next day as a Braider. We rode in Brother Nephi Jackson's wagon. There was Aunt Bird, my sister Carrie Bowers, Eliza Bowers, Cynthia Downe and myself. I hope in fifty years that I will have the opportunity of having a representative of my family in the parade.

October, 1908: I have been to our handcart reunion and met quite a few old friends. We went to conference in Salt Lake and my brother, Anna Pay Kimball, and I went to see mother's grave. It has been re-numbered. It is now Plot F. Lots 8 and 12. October 24, 1909: I went to Sunday School and was asked to relate a few incidents of our journey across the plains. I told them we had the first snowstorm the 22nd of September in 1856. There were fifteen who died through the cold and exposure while crossing the Platte River. Sister McPherson sat by me and said that her mother was the fifteenth to die. They were all laid side by side, and a little dirt thrown over them.

NOTE: Mrs. Pay died from a stroke at the age of 70.


  • Carter, Kate B. Our Pioneer Heritage, vol. 13. Daughters of Utah Pioneers; Salt Lake City, Utah: 1970. F 826 .D375x page 430 - 437. Provided by Jamie Brocco.

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