Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Elizabeth Gabbitas Clements

Elizabeth Gabbitas Clements

Elizabeth Gabbitas is my third great grandmother and was born 21 December 1829 in Mansfield, Nottingham, England. She was the daughter of George Gabbitas and Ellen Harper Gabbitas. The Gabbitas family lived in a comfortable home in the town of Mansfield, Nottingham, England. Her father was employed in a hosiery factory. The industrial revolution was very strong in the area of which the Gabbitas’ lived.

Elizabeth had the desire to earn her own and help her parents, and so she started working in a thread factory at an early age. She would walk two miles to work in the morning and then back to her home at night, making four miles altogether.

It was in her young womanhood that she first heard the gospel of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints preached. This was in the home of Thomas and Harriet Humphries. The message appealed to her very much. She felt the truthfulness of it, and soon after she was baptized a member of the Church. She was the first one of her father’s family to be baptized. Elizabeth had a great desire to come to America, but her parents were very opposed to her coming since she was single and would be alone.

Elizabeth earned money for her journey to America by working in a factory all day, and after work she would sit up until one and two o’clock in the morning making hats and bonnets to sell. She earned her own money to bring her to Zion.

Elizabeth left her home in England on 9 February 1854 and boarded the ship Windermere. On the morning of the 20th of April 1854, the ship entered the mouth of the Mississippi River. When they arrived in St. Louis, they were quarantined with smallpox and not allowed to land. On the 22nd of April 1854, they sailed for Council Bluffs and from there they started on the perilous journey across the plains.

Elizabeth was assigned the company [unofficially] known as the Ten Pound Company. They were called the Ten Pound Company because they had ten pounds of flour when they started across the plains. [Other companies crossing the plains were also called the Ten Pound Company.] A short time after they left Council Bluffs, the company was attacked with the dreaded disease, cholera. Many died and had to be buried on the plains; the remaining trudged on and arrived in Salt Lake City in the latter part of November.

It was nine months since Elizabeth had left her home and family. Not knowing where she could go, she was sent to the home of Bishop Winters where she stayed for some time. She then went to live in the home of Heber C. Kimball. It was while there, she met John Moon Clements and they fell in love. Only having known each other for a short time, they were married on the 5 January 1855. John Moon Clements was originally of Deal, Kent, England and had been a seaman since the age of 13 or 14. John was baptized into the Church while in New Orleans on 8 April 1851.

John and Elizabeth struggled while living in Salt Lake City to provide food for themselves and the two children they had while there. John often walked from Salt Lake to Farmington and well beyond to try to find work for pay—often finding none. On one occasion while walking back to Salt Lake, he stopped from house to house asking those who had food to share their bread stuffs.
In the year 1859, they sold their little home in Salt Lake City and moved south. They stayed a short time in Springville then moved as far south as Nephi. They returned soon to Springville where they made their home the rest of their lives.
Elizabeth and John had seven children:
  • Elizabeth, 1856
  • John Gabbitas, 1858
  • Thomas Gabbitas,  1859  
  • Ellen, 1862
  • Mary Ann, 1864
  • Charlotte, 1866
  • Sarah Ann, 1869
On 1 November 1871 Elizabeth’s parents George Birks and Ellen Harper Gabbitas arrived in New York City from England settling in Springville, Utah.

Elizabeth was very devoted to the Gospel of Jesus Christ. She made a wonderful trip with her sister and brother-in-law, Emma and Francis Beardall to Manti, Utah to attend the dedication of the Manti Temple in May of 1888. This was not a small task. The following year in October of 1889, Elizabeth and Emma along with other family members, went to the Manti Temple to do temple work for the Gabbitas’ family members including their departed father and mother.

Elizabeth and John were very socially active. They had many visitors and invited dinner guests in their home, and they called on relatives and friends too. Elizabeth’s sister Emma Gabbitas Beardall accompanied her on many daily visits to friends and “connexions” [as John Moon Clements would record in his journal], and the two sisters went back and forth dining at each other’s homes.

John Moon Clements made his living from his gardening and small orchard. The family enjoyed all of the varieties of fruits and vegetables of which he grew. They had a cellar in which to store fruits and vegetables through the winter, and Elizabeth certainly took advantage of her cellar. In the late 1800s they preserved fruit by making them into jams and jellies. The Clements also dehydrated many hundreds of pounds of fruit to sell and for family use.

The Clements’ were a close family. As their children grew and married, they were in their parent’s home often and those who lived away exchanged letters regularly with their siblings and parents. Several grandchildren were born in John and Elizabeth’s home of which John stated “kept them quite busy."

Elizabeth’s husband, John Moon Clements, died on 16 August 1897 in Springville, Utah at the age of 74. Elizabeth outlived her husband by nine years—passing away of Bright’s disease on 11 September 1906 in Springville, Utah.

I was contacted recently about Elizabeth Gabbitas Clements. A group had done some research and found in the 1860 census that she claimed she was deaf. I had found that she did have hearing loss, but I had no idea how much. This research group was trying to find stories of pioneers who were deaf so they could use them with a deaf group doing a pioneer trek reinactment in the summer of 2011.

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