History of William Gedge and Rachel Bush Gedge
History of William Gedge Pioneer of 1862 Date born: 31 December 1830 Where: Old Buckenham, Norfolk, England Date died: 30 December 1912 Where: Salt Lake City, S.L. Utah Rachel Bush Gedge Date born: 10 October 1833 Where: Deopham, Norfolk, England Date died: 15 March 1911 Where: Salt Lake City, S.L. Utah ARRIVAL IN SALT LAKE VALLEY 2 Oct 1862 WRITTEN BY Deseret Gedge Johnson, Grand-daughter YEAR WRITTEN 1970-71 CAMP Lydia Schulthies South Davis, Utah CAMP HISTORIAN [blank] COUNTY HISTORIAN Luelle Edwards William Gedge, the son of Reames Gedge and Lucy Kybird, was one of nine children born to this couple. There being four girls: Lucy Elizabeth, Mary (who died as a child) Lois and Mary, and five boys: Reames, George, William, Elias and Robert.
William’s father, Reames, was a farmer and his mother Lucy Kybird, the daughter of a shoemaker.
William was born the 31st of December 1830, in Old Buckenham, Norfolk, England. However, some time before William came to America, he began to use the date of his father’s birth for his own, which was the 1st of January.
As was the custom of the times in England, William was apprenticed as a bricklayer. However, William did not follow this trade for long. Instead he went to work as a labourer on a farm.
It is not know how William first met the missionaries of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, but as a young man of twenty-two, in the year of 1852, he was baptized into this Church and was the only one of his family to join the Church.
It was while William was working on this farm in Old Buckenham, that he met a young woman who attracted his attention. Her name was Rachel Bush. Rachel Bush was the daughter of Daniel Bush and Mary Rush, who at the time of Rachel’s marriage lived on a farm at Attleborough, Norfolk, England. However, Rachel herself was born the 10th of October 1833, at Deopham, Norfolk. The Bush family moved around a lot, When Rachel was a child they lived in a house in the Burying Ground at Great Ellingham, Norfolk. Rachel was later to tell her children and grandchildren about how she played among the grave stones when she was a child. Then the Bush family moved to Besthorp, Norfolk, where Rachel’s father Daniel Bush, worked as a weaver, Norfolk being known in these times for its fine woven material.
It did not matter where the Bush family moved to or where the children were born, they were always taken back to Attleborough to be christened in the parish church there. This was probably Rachel’s mother’s influence, as she remained a member of the Church of England all her life, and at her death was buried in St. Mary’s Churchyard, the parish Church in Attleborough. Rachel’s father, however, left the Established Church and joined the sect referred to as the “Ranters.” They were in reality members of the Primitive Methodist Church, and by 1861 Daniel Bush had become one of the Trusties of this Church.
Rachel was one of six children, though it is doubtful if she ever knew her oldest brother, William, because she always referred to her young brother, Robert, as her only brother. There were three girls in the family besides Rachel: Mary, Elizabeth and Sarah. Sarah and Rachel were close all their lives and kept in contact with each other even after Rachel came to America to make her home.
Sarah married before Rachel did, and as her husband, Thomas Saunders, worked as a farm labourer and did not get paid much for it, they had a hard time getting the needs for their family. To have enough money to buy her children’s clothing, Sarah took a job to clear the rocks off a field so it would be usable for farming. To do this, she spent many hours, day after day, filling her apron with rocks and carrying them off the field. Horace Sider, Sarah’s grandson, wrote that “Sarah and Rachel were tough, they had to be.” By being tough, he meant that they had the courage and self discipline to do the job at hand, even though it might be hard and unpleasant.
Both Sarah and Rachel learned very young to be skilled dressmakers and to do beautiful embroidery. Sarah won a prize for hers. There is sewing that both of these girls did still in existence, and the work is lovely. [A piece is in the sampler collection at the DUP Museum in Salt Lake City.]
When Rachel became old enough, she obtained work as a cook’s helper on a farm in Old Buckenham, the same farm where William worked. Rachel was conspicuous because of the way she dressed. Being very skilled at sewing, she copied the frilly dresses and bonnets of the upper classes, and wore them at a time when plain clothes were considered the proper attire for people of the working class.
William admired Rachel and began courting her. William Gedge and Rachel Bush were married the 22nd of November 1855, in the Baptist Chapel and Kenninghall, Norfolk, England.
After they were married, William, without telling Rachel where he went, continued going to the meetings of the Church he had joined. Rachel’s curiosity was aroused as to where William went so often without telling her where he was going. She began to follow him to see where he went, and finding out, she listened at the window to see what kind of a meeting it was. Later, when he was going to go again, she put a chair in front of the door and objected to him leaving. After talking it over, William asked Rachel to go to the meetings with him and hear what the Elders had to say. Rachel went with the idea of pointing out from the things she heard why William should not go any more, She became interested and recognized the truth of what was taught, and herself was baptized in March of 1856, again the only one of her family to join The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. (Mormon Church).
William and Rachel worked hard, and by saving, established themselves in a comfortable home in Old Buckenham. Two children were born to them, one that efforts have not been able to identify as yet; the other was little William, who was born 13 March 1857 and died three weeks later, 3 April 1857. Then to their joy a third child came that lived, a little girl they named Leah. William especially adored this child. Rachel was told, however, that another child would cost her her life. As William and Rachel grew in the Gospel, they felt the spirit of gathering to Zion, and began talking of making the long trip to the Rocky Mountains to make their home. Rachel was expecting another child, and her family and friends were very much against their going. They felt her condition alone was dangerous enough with the added difficulties of a long journey. William, too, was fearful for her. One morning Rachel told her husband that during the night someone had come to her and told her not to fear to go to Zion because, if she went, she would not even need a doctor again when her children were born. This comforted William very much.
One night, in a vision, William was shown the land that was to be his new home in the land of Zion. With unwavering faith they set about making the arrangements to leave England for their new home in western America. Before she left, Rachel walked twenty miles to bid her mother goodbye, as she felt she would never see her again. When her mother opened the door and saw Rachel, she shut the door in her face without even speaking to her. Imagine the aguish of the mother’s (Mary Rush-Bush) heart to know that not only was her youngest daughter leaving her native land and going to a new land of hardship, but to know along with this that her very life was involved because of the expected baby. That there would be no medical help for her. To the mother it must have seemed as though she was only going to her death.
With the deep concern of their families behind them, and with courage and faith in the Gospel of Jesus Christ in their hearts, they set out for the new land with little Leah, who was now about two years old. They sailed from Liverpool on the 23rd of April 1862, on the ship “John J. Boyd” and arrived in New York the 1st of June, after six weeks on the ocean. When they arrived in New York they had enough money left to buy a wagon and a yoke of oxen, with a supply of beans, flour and molasses to last the trip, expecting to hunt along the way for other food they would need.
On the 28th of July, 1862, they left Florence, Nebraska, in the James S. Brown Company to come to the Salt Lake Valley. Four days later Rachel took sick and William hurried to the next wagon to get help for her, but before he could return she had already given birth to twin girls, on the 1st of August, 1862, literally fulfilling the promise that had been given to her before leaving England. They named the twins Mary and Lois.
As they traveled along, William became so ill he had to ride lying down in the back of the wagon, and his life was feared for. Rachel had to drive and take care of the work that was his. Because of his illness, William was not able to hunt to provide a good part of their food as they had planned, so they did not have enough to eat. Little Leah suffered most, and died two weeks after the twins were born, on the 13th of August 1862. She was buried beside the trail. Two weeks later, on the 30th of August, 1862, both the twins were also buried beside the trail, making five children this couple had already lost, but still they went on with faith in the Lord their God.
On the 2nd of October, 1862, William and Rachel reached the Salt Lake Valley. The first winter they were offered employment on an island in the Great Salt Lake, at that time called Church Island. Before and after this time the island was known as Antelope Island. At that time it was called Church Island because of the horses and cattle that had been turned in by the people for tithing being kept here. On the island William and Rachel lived in a tent, and it was their job to keep fires going day and night under the big kettles of salt water that were being boiled down to get just the salt for the use of the people who were settling the valleys. The fires were kept going by burning sage brush. This was very cold and hard work.
When the winter was over they returned to the valley and settled in a home on the southeast corner of 33rd South and State Street. This was in the Millcreek Ward. It was while living here that their next daughter was born on the 30th of August, 1864, and they named her Emma.
The Church was digging a canal from Little Cottonwood Canyon to carry the rock to build a Temple. William applied for a job and was asked if he could dig. With the question, he got into the ditch and began digging to show them. When the time came for him to be paid, he was given fifty cents more a day than the other men. The man at the head objected, saying that he had not authorized this. His boss told them to pay him, as he had done that much more work than the rest. This was characteristic of William in whatever he did. Even when one of his sons, some years later, visited Old Buckenham and talked to people who had known William, this was the thing they remembered about him, that he had been a very hard worker.
The next home William and Rachel had was in the vicinity of 123th South and 22 West, in the area that was called Brighton. It was planned to build a city here and was laid out in ten acre lots. The planner of this was a man from England, and he called the area Brighton after the Brighton in England. William and Rachel’s home was a very crude dwelling, and was made of adobes and willow. Their next two children, Anna, born the 5th of September, 1866, and William Reames, born the 30th of June, 1868, were added to the family while living here.
There was a swale near here that was a nesting place for all kinds of wild fowl. This was certainly a blessing to the families in the area, as well as the Gedge family, to help with the food problem. The Indians were also attracted to the area, seeking food.
One day when William had gone to the canyon to get a load of wood and Rachel was left home alone, two Indians came into their yard and were letting their horses eat the corn fodder that was in a shock. Rachel told them to take their horses and go away. When their was no response, Rachel picked up the axe and started for the Indians, telling them again to take their horses and go away., This time the Indians took the horses and left. Courage? Yes, Rachel had it. Home alone with two small children and ready to fight for the small amount of feed they had for their own animals. William attended the School of the Prophets. This was held on North Temple just east of what they called White Bridge over the Jordan River. Brigham Young gave the brothers of the Priesthood many teachings and instructions at this school. One that had great effect on William was Pres. Young’s advice: “If anything comes up, if it is a necessity, get it. If a want, turn it down”. The men who attended this school also drilled, and William along with the rest, bought a gun and large bake kettle. The kettle was on legs so a fire could be built under it, so it could be used outside. The advice here was to keep their guns bright and their powder dry. William later gave his gun and kettle to one of his neighbors who was called to help settle Arizona.
While living on this ten acres William bought a few sheep, but as the children were not old enough to watch them and he was away from home so much, they were always straying, so he sold them.
About 1868, the southwest part of the valley was opened up for Homesteading. There was a road that went through her called the Bingham Road that was east of what was later to become Redwood Road. This road ran a ways south of 21st South and then out in a diagonal line southwest. William being interested in these homesteads, went out to look at the ground. As he went south of 21st South, he recognized the ground he had seen in his dream before leaving England. William made application and was granted this land. He built a log cabin south of the ditch that ran through it. This log cabin had one larger room and an attic where the children slept. It was here in this log cabin that the last two children, both sons, were born. Nathan, the 10th of February, 1871 and Herbert, the 10th of November, 1872.
It was at this time, too, that Williams’ training as a bricklayer came to his aid. When a new house was to be built, he made his own adobes by digging a pit and filling it with water, clay and straw. When this had been mixed, he put it into forms to make the blocks, then turned them out, After they had baked in the sun they were piled up until there were enough to build a house. William set about building his own house for their use. His family, his children and grandchildren were to live in this house for many years.
A new road was surveyed and was to run north and south through the valley. Four by four redwood stakes from California were used to mark it out, and the road was referred to as the Redwood Line. The name of the road came from these stakes, and it became the Redwood Road. This road went through William and Rachel’s place, and after the old road was closed down it left their neighbors with no way of getting out of their places, so the ground to the east of Redwood was sold to them to give them a right-of-way to the road.
Once more William and Rachel began the work of building a home and farm. William dug irrigation ditches and part of the Brighton Canal by hand with a shovel. He sank his own wells with a sledge hammer. Even the weeds under the fences were kept out by hand. William worked early and late to build his farm.
When William started to farm he had a pair of oxen. One was lazy and the other one had to be held back or it would try to run away. Not being very happy with them because he had to walk beside them, holding one back and whipping the other to make it go, William took an offer that was made to him to trade his oxen for a pair of mules. In the winter it was the practice for the pioneers to brand their stock and turn them out to fend for themselves in the southwest part of the valley. As William was trying to brand one of these mules, it kicked him in the head. This made him most unhappy, and he traded them for a team of very skinny horses. These were the first of a long line of horses that belonged to the Gedge family over the years. In the early days of the valley, money was hard to get. For the most part the needs of the family that they did not produce themselves they would trade with someone else what they had for the goods that the other men produced, thus by this trade they were able to provide for most of the needs of the family. Those who were farmers, as was William would take their grain to the mill to have flour ground and pay the miller in grain, which in return he would trade to someone else for his needs. At one time William traded a whole load of corn for just one pair of overalls for his youngest son, Herbert.
However, there were things that they needed money for, such as taxes and goods that were brought the long miles from the east. To obtain this much-needed money, William would leave his home and go up on the foothills in the southwest part of the valley and make camp. Then he would cut the long grass called wild hay. His only way of cutting it was by hand with a scythe. When he had a wagon load he would return the long miles home again. The next day he would start the even longer distance to Fort Douglas on the east foothills above the city and sell his hay to the army for their horses. This money would be carefully kept to be used only for those things that could not be traded for. Eggs and butter were also traded at the stores for other things that were needed.
Rachel was to write back to England to her sister, Sarah, and her brother Robert, telling them of her life in the valley. How in the winter they would cut blocks of ice and pack it in straw to keep for summer use. Of being snowed in so deep that for weeks at a time they could not leave their home. That when a new family would move into the area all would ge together and help put the house up so the family could have some place to get in out of the storms. That during the harvest season neighbors would work together to get the crops in so no man was left to work alone,’’ The harvest at this time was so different to our days now. All the grain was cut by hand, then would be hauled to where a big canvas was spread out and put on it a little at a time. Then everyone, including the children, had a willow branch that they beat the grain with After this it was put into th large sieve and shaken until the grain fell through and was separated from the chaff.
Alfalfa was introduced on the farms about this time. William obtained a very small amount of seed and planted it in the garden where it would receive better care and be kept weeded. The seed was carefully gathered and saved until there was enough to plant a field.
Rachel worked hard to teach her family and still did beautiful sewing. She still loved to make her special dresses, especially for Sunday wear. All her clothes were kept neat and clean .
They both, with their children, attended the Church meetings. William was the Elders Quorum president. As there was a branch in Pleasant Green (Magna) as well as the home chapel in Brighton, it was necessary that William go to both. After his horses had worked all week, he felt they should have a rest on the Sabbath, so he would get up early and walk to his meetings. He lived about four miles from one chapel and twelve from the other. When it was his turn to take wood to heat the buildings, he would fill a gunny sack with wood and carry it on his back.
One year the grasshoppers had stripped his fields one by one so there was only one small patch left to the north of his house that was a yet untouched William called all his family together and they went out into this patch and knelt down. William poured his heart out unto the Lord and told Him if this one small patch could not be saved, his family would starve. The Lord did answer Williams’s prayer, and that patch was not eaten by the grasshoppers. They had that one very small patch of grain for the winter and had to save part of it for seed for the coming year. There wasn’t much to eat in their home that winter, but hey all survived the hardship.
Rachel had strong faith in the Lord. Many times during their life she was given inspiration through His spirit. One day she had been warned that her son, Natham should not go out this certain evening. When she asked him to stay home, he refused. She waited up for him and as soon as he came in the door she asked, “Well, what happened?” The horse that he had been riding had acted up and lunged into a barbed wire fence, and his leg was torn open all the way down. Another time Rachel drank some milk that had formaldehyde in it to poison the flies. This could have meant instant death for her, but through a blessing given her, the Lord healed her and she suffered no after effects from the poison.
Rachel taught her granddaughter Lorilla, to sew, knit and read before she started school. Lorilla was placed in the third grade and did well all through school. Rachel spent much time, especially as she grew older during the winters, knitting socks for her grandchildren.
On Saturdays William would make the drive into Salt Lake to take the eggs and butter. Also to go to the newspaper office to get his copy of the Deseret News. Then back home where he would read the paper. When any disease was described, William would imagine that he had it. Then it was back to Salt Lake in his buggy in the afternoon to buy some medicine to treat it. The next time it would be different disease. By the time of his death he had almost enough medicine to stock a drug store.
As William became older and could no longer put in the long hours of work on the farm he once did, he kept the wood cut for the fires. Then he would spend long hours reading his Bible. He had always studied it, but now he had time to read and study as he wished. When the days were warm enough, he took a chair out into the sun to do his reading, and also to be able to see the crops.
On the 1st of August, 1863, William Gedge and Rachel Bush Gedge went to the Endowment House to be sealed. William also began to gather a record of his family to have the Temple work done for them. William was ordained a High Priest the 27th of February 1897 by George B. Wallace. On June the 10th, 1902, he was ordained a Patriarch by Apostle Reed Smoot.
Sorrow was again to come into the lives of William and Rache Gedge. Their son Nathan was sent home from his mission to the Southern States, very ill. He was not to live for long after this, and death claimed Nathan in June of 1902. He left his wife with three small daughters. Then their daughter Emma too became ill. Though she was taken to St. George thinking a warmer climate might be of help, she, too, died in December of 1906, leaving seven children. Of the ten children that had been born to William Gedge and his wife, Rachel Bush Gedge, only three were to live to survive them: Anna, William Reames, and Herbert.
After the Poplar Grave Ward was organized, it was becoming difficult for William and Rachel to drive the three miles, in all kinds of weather, to attend the meetings that meant so much to them. Their son, Herbert, with whom they had lived since his marriage, obtained a home for them about half a block west of the chapel to make it easier for them. While they lived here their oldest grandson, Herbert, a boy of nine, died, Rachel Bush Gedge followed her grandson in death two weeks later, passing away 15 March 1911.
Wiliam Gedge and Rachel Bush Gedge left an heritage of which their descendants are proud. Through their accepting the Gospel, and having the faith and courage to come to this western land and face the hardships that were here has been a great blessing to their family.
Rachel told one of her granddaughters that the Gospel had been worth all the trials and heartaches, and she had no regrets.
Mary, Lois, and Leah were sealed to their parents the 1st of May, 1933. Baby William was sealed the 25th of October, 1967. It is to be hoped that one day research will reveal the identity of the other child so it, too, can be sealed to its parents. [Note: An unnamed child was sealed to William and Rachel 15 September 1995.]