Home > Histories > McBride Histories > Janetta Ann McBride (Ferrin) Biography
Source:
"My Heritage", compiled by Ann Wheelwright Johnson,
digital copy received from Kay Roberts Barlow

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Janetta Ann McBride Ferrin

Information taken from "Against Great Odds" The Story of The McBride Family by Bruce L. McBride and Darvil B. McBride

Janetta, born December 24, 1839, in Churchtown, Lancashire, England, the third child of Robert McBride III and Margaret Ann Howard, filled a void in her parents’ lives.Their first two children had died in early childhood, leaving the couple childless for nearly a year before Janetta came along.

Blessed by Brigham Young, then the President of the Quorum of the Twelve on a mission to England, Janetta always cherished the knowledge of the spiritual event.

The family moved to Southport where she lived until about five or six years old then due to some serious health problems her father took her to Scotland.They made their home in Rothsay on the tiny island of Bute, a short distance off the mainland, the place of Robert’s birth and where Janetta’s paternal grandparents lived at the time.Her mother came the next year.While living there her grandmother, Janet Sharp McBride, died 11 August 1853 in a tragic accident.

There was no Branch of the Church there but they belonged to the Glasgow Conference.They were the only Mormons on the island, but the Elders from Glasgow came to them often.Janetta used to go to Glasgow with her parents to Conference.She was in Glasgow at the time that the Cholera was so bad and slept in the house where there were four or five cases and got up and waited on them although she was only a little girl but the Lord blessed them and they did not take it.

Beginning at age eight, Janetta attended school on the mainland of Scotland in Glasgow which was under the Presbyterian Church, but the studies were from the Bible.Her father would always instruct her if she formed any wrong ideas.She had to learn the catechism.The missionaries were headquartered there where she often went with the family to attend conference meeting.

When nine years of age she tells of her baptism in the River Clyde on New Years Eve, December 31, 1848."There was ice on the edge of the river for we had to go in the night.Brother William Budge and others were baptized by Elder McEwen.I do not remember his first name."

She tells of a visit she went on from Scotland to England.

"We went on a Steamer from Greenock to Fleetwood and from there to Preston on the cars and that was the first railroad I ever rode on.While I was in Preston I went to meeting in the old "Cock Pit" (a large building of some renown in early Church history in England, often served as a meeting place for the early missionaries) where the Saints held their meetings.From there we went to Churchtown, then back to Scotland where we stayed until about thirteen years old."We then moved back to Southport and there was a branch of the church and we were in the Liverpool Conference.We had to go several miles along the shore to a house to hold meeting.I went to school for about a year and myself and some of the girls used to spend Sunday mornings taking tracts where they would receive them.My father was secretary of the branch and our house was the home of the Elders."She also tells us that she went to a lady and learned the dressmaking trade which became very useful in her later years.

The family had long looked forward to coming to America and to Utah and in the spring of 1856 received word that they could go by the Emigration Fund if they would go with the Handcart Company.They took passage on the ship Horizon at Liverpool.Captain Reed was captain.

Janetta, being sixteen at the time of landing in Boston, May 30, 1856 gives this account of events preceding the handcart trek to the West.

"Came from Boston by rail.While traveling from Boston to Iowa they (we) passed through Buffalo on the 4th of July.The people were celebrating (along the way) while we poor emigrants were crowded into box cars.While at Chicago, we went swimming in the lake.When we arrived in Iowa (Iowa City, Iowa) everything was to be ready for us to travel on, but through some mistake nothing was ready.We walked in heavy rain and waded creeks in mud.Three weeks later the handcarts were ready.There were seven of us, my father, mother, and five children.We traveled from Iowa City to the Missouri River with handcarts, three hundred miles, crossed the river by ferry and camped at Florence.

"While there we had to dispose of all the bedding and clothing that we could spare.Each handcart had to haul one sack of flour.We started from Florence on August 25, on a thousand-mile trip with our handcarts.We had a very good handcart and the road was pretty good part of the time.My mother got sick and we had to haul her in our cart part of the time.

"As we neared the mountains the roads got worse and provisions scarce.The people began to die of hunger and fatigue.We had to wade the rivers and creeks and it was getting cold.The people were getting discouraged so we did not have our good times singing and dancing.

"Some of the young men stopped at Fort Laramie, that was the only place we had seen anyone, only those who were in the company.

"One of the men in our tent died at Chimney Rock and William Barton died a few days after we left there.When we got to the upper crossing of the Platte River it was freezing and the river was very wide.I crossed it with my handcart and had to go back and haul my mother and the children across.It was getting dark and very cold and my clothing was wet.We were a mile from the campground.We had very little to eat, one half pound of flour and nothing else.It snowed that night and my father and mother were very sick.My brothers and I gathered some wood and made a little fire and cooked what we had.

"We started next morning through the snow and mud.We could not travel far.When we camped that night my father was very sick and said he was very cold and asked me if it was snowing and asked me to find him some snow.He revived a little and began to sing the hymn ‘Oh Zion’.I think he sang it through then we led him to the wagon.That was the last I saw of him.He died in the wagon that night and was buried with thirteen other men the next day or morning.

"The captain of the company called the camp together and told us that there was only flour enough left to last a few days at ¼ pound a day for each person.We were 360 miles from Utah and the snow was getting deeper and everyone was almost ready to give up trying to go any farther but the next day Joseph A. Young rode into camp and told us that Brigham Young had started some teams from Salt Lake with some provisions but he did not know how soon they would get there.He said for the company to start on again and get as far as Willow Springs.There were several died on the way.We met four wagons at Greasewood Springs then we traveled until we got to Devils Gate and the snow was very deep.There was no wood to make a fire.They pulled down some old log cabins and burned them.There were many sick and not much to eat.

"The snow was so deep and the people so weak they could not take the carts any farther.They moved the camp over to the mountains.They had to cross the Sweet Water River and the brethren from Utah carried the women and children over the river.Brother David Kimball was one of them.I do not know the names of the others.

"We had to wait there until help came and a great many died there.As soon as help came the survivors of the fearful journey were taken to Salt Lake arriving there November 30, 1856."

After the family arrived in Salt Lake City, they were taken immediately to Ogden City where they found a welcome haven among the Saints.Their association with the family of Samuel Ferrin gave rise to an early romance between Janetta and the son, Jacob Ferrin.She now seventeen, married Jacob, March 29, 1857, and the pair moved to be by themselves.

Janetta’s married life with Jacob Ferrin was one of thrift and industry, coupled with a devotion to church affiliation.Not unlike others in those early days in Utah, they struggled together at farming and related occupations to raise a large family.During the next twenty-four years their family grew to eleven children, six boys and five girls.These first years of marriage, spent in Weber County, Utah, found them living in several different towns; first in Ogden City, then Huntsville, then in Pleasant View, the latter a small settlement a few miles north of Ogden; records of the Ferrin family tell of their work and recreation; raising livestock, harvesting crops of grain, fruits and vegetables, making cloths, fun trips into the mountain canyons, and evenings around the fireplace at home.

Soon after the birth of their last child, Charles Ether, the Jacob Ferrin family started their move to Arizona.By this time the three older children had married and they remained in Utah.Jacob and Janetta made the arduous journey by team and wagon with eight children.Janetta drove a team with six-month-old Charles Ether in her arms, arriving at Pima, Arizona, in the Gila Valley, January 2, 1882.

The family journeyed south with three wagons and teams and two milk cows.Beds were made up each morning ready for sleep when the night chores were completed.Each wagon carried a barrel of water and a barrel of apples.The tent was pitched each night and the family was at home with a kitchen step stove for warmth.Light yeast bread was baked each day.

There were many anxious moments with hazardous and frightening experiences along the way.The most hazardous was the crossing at Lee’s Ferry and the climb up Lee’s Back Bone to the mesa above.All of the family except the drivers had to walk up the steep incline.They did have fun times also like riding the saddle horses and driving cows.The children ran ahead of the wagons as far as they were allowed to go and sat down in the sandy road to play jacks (with rocks) until the wagons overtook them.

They arrived in Pima, then called Smithville, on January 2, 1882.Jacob located an empty stockade and moved his family into it.Ten people lived in one room.The floor was just plain dirt.This place was indeed a wilderness, mesquite and more mesquite trees.They obtained their water from the one well – and all they had to do was follow a "lizard" trail through the mesquites to find it. (A "lizard" was a horse drawn sled used for hauling.The passage way through the mesquite thickets were called Lizard trails.)

Shortly after arriving in the Gila Valley Jacob began a freight hauling business.The project, to haul coke from Bowie, Arizona, to the mining and smelting operations in Globe, Arizona, could have been a profitable one.The future looked bright as he and a friend, Oliver Lewis, made their first trip with their teams and wagons, a distance of some 150 miles.The two men successfully delivered their loads in Globe.On the return trip an altercation with Indians on the San Carlos Reservation resulted in Jacob’s tragic death.

The event occurred July 19, 1882, barely six months after the Ferrin family had arrived in a strange, new land.Though already inhabited by a colony of Latter-day Saints, that section of Arizona was yet isolated and untamed.The struggle for survival now became intensified.This determined mother, a widow with eight children, the oldest eighteen, and youngest barely one year, now set about to raise her family.They had a few acres of land, on which the men in the town helped the boys build a small adobe dwelling, where they lived for many years.

An experienced seamstress from her youth, Janetta found much sewing to do.As the children became older and more capable, each found work.Through much thrift and industry the family did very well.The children remained true to the gospel and married.Janetta received much joy through a worthy posterity.

Though only forty-three years old at the time of her husband’s death, Janetta lived a long and productive life in Pima Ward, serving her church and community.She held the position of President of the Primary Association for many years and also taught the Women’s Relief Society.With a pleasant voice she sang in the ward choir.In her tidy house, always open to visitors, tasty food was readily served to welcome guests.

Several times Janetta made the trip to Utah to visit her children and their families, and to do temple work.Beloved by all, Janetta died December 29, 1924, at 85 years.The little girl who pulled a handcart hundreds of miles across plains and mountains was finally laid to rest in Pima, Arizona, with a blessing of ‘well done’ pronounced upon her head by all who knew her.