History of Robert Shaw and Flora Jane Smith


                Robert was born in Garnkirk, Lanark, Scotland, just a few miles out of Glasgow on December 6,1852.  Just a year or so before his family had moved to Garnkirk.  They had been contacted by the Mormon missionaries and had accepted the Gospel of Jesus Christ and had been baptized.  He had four older siblings, Jane, Elizabeth, Christina and James F.  (It would have been five but Agnes died as a baby in 1850).

                During the next few years, they endured lots of persecution from relatives, old friends and neighbors.  Then on October 24, 1853[1] his father Alexander was involved in an accident and died in Kilsyth.  He was only 35 years old. Then about a year later, his sister Christina died on September 28,1854[2].  In 1864, he got his turn to be baptized.  He was twelve years old and was happy to join the true church.  They did not have very much.  But they did survive.  Jane, the oldest had to go to work at an early age to help the family budget.  They wanted to go to Zion(Utah), but did not have the money.  Because they were thrifty they were able to save some money.  Finally in 1868, because of their own thrift and also generosity within the church and the push from the church to help the poor saint of Europe, they were able to go to Utah. 

                This trip started with the long journey to Liverpool, England.  They were given passage on the packet ship "Constitution"[3][4].  William Hatten was the Captain of the ship.  He was easy to get along with and thus made the trip fairly enjoyable.  He even went out of his way to help the Saints celebrate July 24th.  This was the last sailing ship to bring a large Mormon emigrant company across the Atlantic.  There were 457 Saints on board.  Elder Harvey H. Cluff was the President of the company.  Some were from Switzerland, Bavaria, Wurttemberg, the Netherlands and of course the British Isles.  It took 42 days to cross the Atlantic.  No one died on the journey, but some were sick.  The food wasn't exactly the best.  Some tell about the "hardtack" they had to eat rather than good old bread.[5]   Elizabeth's son especially makes comments.  He was so seasick, that he promised the Lord if He wouldn't ask him to go across the ocean again, he would do all he could to further the cause of the gospel and live its laws.  He was 21 years old at this time.  The records verify that he fulfilled this promise.

                They arrived in New York on August 6, 1868.  The next leg of the journey was by rail.  Immigrants traveling west set up housekeeping in crowded railroad cars, sometimes called "Zulu cars".  They travel by rail to Benton, Wyoming.[6]  In Benton, they were assigned to Capt. John Gillespie's ox train of 54 wagons.  They left Benton on August 15th.  Many appreciated Elizabeth because she was always cheerful and happy.  They arrived in Salt Lake on August 24th.[7]

                They first settled in Coalville.  They lived there eight years.[8]  During these years his older brothers and sisters  married.  Agnes married Leaviett Munson November 24, 1868.  Also the young Elizabeth married Samuel Fletcher on October 31, 1870.  Jane became the plural wife of John Allan.  Also James F. fell in love with Margaret Robertson. They went   to Salt Lake and were married in the Endowment House.  His mother Elizabeth came with them also.  She was able receive her endowments.  This occurred on September 5,1870.[9]    This was a very special occasion.   In 1876, Elizabeth, James F and his family and of course Robert moved to Richfield, Utah.  While they were there they lived the United Order. 


                Flora Jane Smith was born 29 May 1860 in Springville, Utah, the daughter of William Smith and Polly Marie Perry.  She was the fifth child of eleven.  Her father  had built the first adobe house with a board floor in  Springville and her brother William Riley Smith was the first child born in Springville.  Her parents had no stove so they cooked over a fireplace.  They rarely had matches in those days, so at night they would cover the coals with ashes to hold them until morning.  But if the coals went out in the night, they would have to watch to see whose house had smoke coming from the chimney, then the children would be sent to borrow some live coals to start the fire again.  Their home had two rooms on the main floor and one on the second or in the attic.  Their chairs were made by her Uncle Stephen Perry.  They had a table, cubboard, three beds and a wash stand made out of a box, a lounge they had bought from Jane Packard and a sewing machine which they had bought on an installment plan.  To pay for the machine they took in washings and hired out to wash and do house cleaning for those who could afford these services.  They money they earned went to pay for the machine and other important items for the family.  Flora says that she remembered picking wool from fences and washing it, then her mother would card it and make her a dress out of it.  As soon as Flora was old enough, she hired out for work to help support herself and her  family.  Others in the family did the same. 

                Her first school teacher was Aaron Johnson, who was also her Bishop.  They attended school in one room of his house.  They used slates to write their lesions on and only the teacher had books.  They were taught reading, writing, spelling and arithmetic.  If anyone got into trouble on the school grounds or in the classroom the teacher would take us on his lap and cut our fingernails with his pocketknife. 

                Their dresses were mostly made out of calico and their stockings were mostly cotton or hand knit out of wool yarn that her mother used to spin after the children had been put to bed.  Their shoes were very course and only one pair per year.  They went barefoot during the summer.  Her father made her first pair of shoes. 

                One year they had a fire.  They lost the house and hay.  They managed to save a 1/2 load of hay.  Her older brothers and sisters worked for hay the rest of the fall to feed their two cows and two horses.  The younger children (this included Flora Jane), who were able, gleaned wheat and grain in the fields.  They did this while herding cows.  One day her and her sister Lucy were gleaning grain.  They wore oil cloth aprons and when they got these full, they would empty them into a seamless sack and carry it back home.  Then they would wait for a windy day, then they would tromp the grain and let the wind blow the chaff  away.  Also this the winter that the house burned down, they lived on cornbread and molasses and peach preserves made with molasses and some milk. 

                Lucy, Joe and Flora Jane gathered potwattmy plubs and took them to Heber City, Utah by Wagon to sell them for twenty five cents a peck.  They sold enough to buy shingles for their house.  They slept on the road going to and from Heber City.  The girls slept in the wagon and Joe slept on the ground under the wagon. 

                Also they shucked corn for a neighbor and he gave them the shucks to make ticks for their beds.  Another time they gathered milk weeds for the ticks for the beds.   Another thing they did to help out was to gather ground cherries and scald them in lye, then they were ready to be sold. 

                What did they do for light at night.  Flora explains that they would dip a rag in tallow and place it on a tin dish.  This kind of light was called a bitch light.  Flora related that many a night she held this light till twelve and one o'clock in the morning so that her mother could see to quilt.  Her mother did this to get cloth to make the children clothes.  How happy they were when they could afford candles for light.  Her mother had bought these candles after she had made a quilt and sold it.  Flora tells the story, "This is the way we got the third light.  I helped an old lady, one of our neighbors take her cows to the pasture and when we returned back home, we stopped at her house.  She ask me to come in .  She said that her mother and sent her a present and she wanted me to have it.  When she gave it to me (it was a coal oil lamp), I cried and cried because I was so happy to get such a gift."  From that time until the time this sweet neighbor died, Flora's mother let her take a loaf of homemade bread to her every week.[10]

                When Flora was sixteen years old, she went to work for her Uncle Andrew Ross.  She lived with them for several years.  It was here that  Robert Shaw and Flora Jane Smith met.  After a wonderful courtship they decided to get married.  They drove from Kanosh to Springville to tell her parents.  Her Uncle Andrew and Aunt Sack Ross went with them.  In Springville her parents joined them and they went all the way to Salt Lake City where they were married in the Endowment house on December 27, 1876.[11]  What a thrilling Christmas that must have been.

                This young couple moved with the Shaw relative to Elsinore, Utah.  They homesteaded a farm just across the Sevier River from Elsinore.  Later, he ranched in the mountains between Elsinore and Kanosh.  Robert loved ranching.  He raised horses and cattle (especially horses).  His oldest son, Robert William would often help him on the Ranch, in fact he grew up riding the range with his father.  This union was blessed with seven children.  However two children died in the same night from Diphtheria, Alexander and Henrieta.               

                Robert was a good father, but about 1897, he separated from his sweetheart and went to live in Kanosh.[12]   It looks like he continued to ranch in the Mountians, possible for a widow named Margaret Ann Hall Dorrity.[13]  He also went into business with Ann Dorrity, establishing the Konash Cash Store.[14]  Then, sometime in August, September or October of 1901 he married Ann Dorrity.[15]  Ann had previously been sealed to James “Lem” Dorrity to whom she had bore him nine children before he died in 1890.[16]  Then a tragic event took place.  Robert died in Salt Lake City on November 12. 1901.[17]  He died of Hodgkins disease.[18]   They had only been married for a very short time.

Meanwhile back in Elsinore, Flora, in order to support her family took care of the sick and traveled many miles to take care of a mother and baby.  She helped many a baby to come into the world.  She also took in washing and ironing and cleaned houses for fifty cents a day. 

                Then on December 21, 1910 Flora married her husband’s brother James Ferguson Shaw in the Manti Temple.  They lived in Elsinore for several years, then they moved to Joseph to take care of her Uncle Andrew Ross at his home.  When he passed away, they continued to live at his home until James took a stoke and for twelve years was unable to work until he died.  A year after James died, Flora fell and broke her arm, some ribs and the collar bone.  After this happened, she went to live with her youngest daughter, Ora Warnock in Idaho Falls.  She also made some visits to her oldest daughter who lived in Victor.  She lived with Ora for eight years.  She complained of being tired and wanted to lie down.  She passed away in her sleep at the age of eighty one January 3, 1941 at her daughter Ora's home in Idaho Falls, Idaho.[19]

Compiled by John Shaw, 4589 W. 1650 N. Ogden, Utah 84404, 801-731-7674

[1] LDS CHURCH, SLC, UTAH, Fam.Hist.Ctr.,Records of members of LDS Church - Elsinore Ward, 1800'S ed.: Microfilm

[2] ibid

[3] LDS Passenger List, Family History Library, Film # 025692

[4] Our Pioneer Heritage , p. 13. (Can be found at Fam.Hist. Ctr. SLC, Utah).

[5] ibid

[6] Various History Books telling the history of 1868 and pioneers.

[7] Our Pioneer Heritage , p. 13. (Can be found at Fam.Hist. Ctr. SLC, Utah).

[8] Personal Family history of James Ferguson Shaw.

[9] Family Search - Ordinance file;  Also personal records.

[10] Taken from the a history written by Flora’s daughter, Ora Shaw Warnock.

[11] Ibid

[12] Taken from a history written by his grandson, Ivan Robert Shaw.

[13] Court Clerk , Millard County, Filmore, Utah, filed in Probate under Margaret Ann Dorrity.  This file contains numerous documents that Ann Dorrity had to file after her first husband’s death in 1890.  (Example:  Robert Shaw as a Surety)

[14] ibid

[15] ibid, also note that in July 1901, was the last document showing Ann Dorrity signing as Dorrity.  After his death, all records show that she signed as Dorrity-Shaw.

[16] LDS Church, Salt Lake City, UT, "Entry," Ancestral File of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, 1998 ed.:

[17] Court Clerk, Millard County Utah, Probate Records.  File #163 Petition for letters of administration – Estate of Robert Shaw, deceased.  Filed November 20, 1901 by Margaret Ann Dorrity Shaw.

[18] Salt Lake County Register of Deaths, #3139 Utah Archives, Salt Lake City Utah

[19] Taken from the a history written by Flora’s daughter, Ora Shaw Warnock