ELIZA HURD 1858-1938

  Taken from Spendlove family account compiled by Dewey Spendlove with quotes from the diary of Joseph Spendlove, brother of James

 

Eliza was the third child of Martha and John Hurd.  She was born in Middleton, Yorkshire, England on 24 Apr 1858.  She would have just turned 18 when the family set sail en route to Utah.  Eliza met her husband, James, while she was working as a cook for the railroad at a camp near Brigham City.  Before proceeding with their story let me share the early life of James leading up to his meeting Eliza.

            James was the 9th child born to John and Mary Slawson Spendlove.  They lived in Stanion, Northamptonshire, England.  His brothers and sisters were John, Edward, Mary, William, Susannah, Rebecca, Hannah, James (died in infancy and who James may have been named for) Joseph, Benjamin and Ann. 

            After the birth of his youngest sister, Ann, James mother complained of pains in her back and side.  She never seemed to get her strength back and passed away on 31 Dec 1836 at 42 years of age.  This left his father a widower with 10 children from ages 20 years-7 months.  James would have been only 6.  This must have been a sorrowful time for the family.  James younger brother, Joseph, later wrote in his journal that his father would stand for hours looking at the spot where his mother was laid to rest believing that he would never see her again as he had known her in this life.  The minister of the church had told him this.  Mary had been a faithful member of the Church of England.  She had taught her children from the Bible.

            James oldest brother, John, was the first member of the family to hear the restored gospel in 1848.  He was baptized and then brought the news to his father.  William, his father, John, James, Joseph and Ann all accepted the gospel.  Of those just mentioned, James was the last to join.  He helped pay the way for William (his brother) to sail to America and go with the saints to Zion.  After his arrival, William must have become disaffected.  He wrote to his father in 1852 and told him and the rest of the family to stay in England. He told him that the church had been set up in truth but the people had all gone from it.  He told him that he was heading to the gold fields and would write later but nothing more was heard of William.  This must have troubled James.

            Joseph recorded an experience that must have made an impression on James.  He said, "Now when I was so ill I could hardly walk, I was able to get my brother, James to go for the elders and he was a witness to the healing powers that took place under their hands."

            James father, John, passed away 16 Mar 1860 and was laid to rest next to his wife.  Joseph writes, "Now after my father died my brother James was baptized on 24 Jun 1860 by Job Pingree, in Stanion.  He was confirmed there also.  He was not a preacher but he went many miles with me to hear me and the Elders preach in the villages near where we lived.  He was faithful in the gospel and would stand by the Mormon religion at all times."

            After his conversion, James decided to go to the Land of Zion with his family.  James wanted to go with John but when he found that Joseph couldn't go until the next year he decided to wait.  Shipping records show that James, Ann and Joseph with his wife Harriet, as well as 7 year old Mary Ann and 11 year old William (perhaps a niece and nephew) boarded the "General McClellan" from Liverpool with just under 800 other saints on 21 May 1864, arriving in New York 23 Jun 1864.

            James stayed in Salt Lake until after the October General Conference.  He commented to his brother Joseph that Brigham Young and the other apostles spoke as men of God and were all that he expected them to be.  James and Ann went to southern Utah to stay the winter with their oldest brother, John, and his family.  Ann stayed with another family, as it was rather crowded in John's dugout home.

            James obtained a small log hut in Virgin that first spring, and stayed on in Virgin for about 5 years.  During this time he farmed, herded sheep and worked in the sawmills. He felt rather alone after Ann married.  He was so shy and reticent in nature that he did little courting.  Some of the town boys thought it fun to play pranks on James.  His nephew Joseph recorded two of these unkind ‘pranks’.  "One spring morning James got up intending to go to church.  He built a fire in the stove to cook his breakfast.  Smoke began to roll out into the room.  He tried to open the door only to find it wired shut from the outside.  The windows had been tied down too.  He nearly suffocated but finally pried the door open with a short pole.”  He found that the chimney had been stuffed with rags.  He was very upset at this not so funny prank and said, “What if I had died?”  Another time they stacked wood up to the top of his door during the night.  The next morning when he opened the door all the wood came spilling in on him, breaking his pipe and injuring one leg.  This may have been one of the reasons he tired of Dixie. 

            On 5 June 1869 Joseph wrote, "Today my brother James came to see me from Dixie.  He will stay with me for a few weeks until he receives word about his work in Virgin.  He wanted to know all about the railroad I had been working on."  Joseph and Harriet made their home in Morgan County.  He and his family appear in the 1870 census in Morgan City.  Joseph's occupation was listed as a farm hand.

            James had worked on the railroad in England and maybe he wanted to be closer to his brother, Joseph.  He decided to hire on with the railroad that was rumored to be extending lines from Utah into Idaho.  Both brothers tried to talk John into moving to Ogden and joining them on the railroad but he felt that he was too old for a job that required such hard physical labor.  James spent the next 10 years working on and off for the railroad.  He also purchased some land and a log house near his brother, Joseph, where he lived during off times.  One of his nephews, William lived in his cabin for a time.  James lived in the various campsites that the railroad set up and it was at one of these sites where he became acquainted with Eliza Hurd.  She was working as a cook at one of these camps and was a very good one.  One favorite was a potato pudding that she made.  James took every opportunity to compliment her cooking.  He was 28 years older than Eliza.  But that didn't seem to pose a problem for Eliza who must have enjoyed his shy ways and good nature.

           Ephriam Wright performed the marriage ceremony for James and Eliza on 22 Mar 1881 in Brigham City, Utah. They continued on with the railroad for a time.  Their names appear in the church records in Milton Ward and James was made an Elder while there.   They were sealed in the Endowment House on 27 April 1882.  Littleton near Morgan became their permanent home.  James owned 20 acres of land called the Steed place and he bought another 20 acres near the Olsen home on the south side of Deep Creek.  Joseph, a nephew, says of his Uncle James, “his favorite food was bread, butter and preserves”.  He had a fine garden and raised many choice vegetables that he shared with friends and family.  James took great pride in this garden.  He often visited with his brother to plan his work and what he intended to grow.  One time his horses got out and into the prized garden, trampling and eating most everything up before morning came.  James was so upset, he planned to starve the horses nearly to death to punish them but his brother talked him out of that idea.

Eliza and James didn’t have children of their own.  They enjoyed nephews and nieces.  Some stayed with them for several weeks at a time but this didn't entirely satisfy their longing for a child.  In 1904 Ellen, the wife of a good neighbor, John Ekstrom, died. This left him with a family of small children to care for and he was not well.  James and Eliza offered to adopt and care for a little daughter 3 years old.  Her name was Blanche.  She was born 12 Nov 1900.  This was not a formal adoption but just an arrangement between the two families. The other children were taken into other friend’s homes for care.  Having a child was a very cherished blessing and brought them great joy.    (Photo was in album of John Hurd but did not give the name of the child Eliza is holding.)         

            Blanche said that her mother, Eliza, said of her parents, John and Martha, "They were poor hard working people.  They taught all of us children to be honest and respect the rights of others."  Eliza was very vexed whenever she met someone who complained of his or her lot in life.  "Make the most of it," she would say, "and be thankful for what you have."  The divorce of John and Martha was not a happy event for James and Eliza.  James always said that it never should have happened. 

            Though James didn't take an active part in the church, he always supported every cause he was asked to help in.  He would go at times with his brother to meetings to hear him preach but he was content to listen.  When Joseph went to England on a mission, James supported him by taking care of his farm while he was gone.  This was how he felt he could share in the missionary program.  Joseph considered his brother, James, as the "Good Samaritan" of their family.  He was always there to lend a hand when needed.  His sisters spoke of him as the trusted one of the family.

            James was 81 and one half years old at his time of death.  The death certificate states that his birth year was 1832 but his headstone and information from the Spendlove family give the year as 1830.  At any rate the chief cause of death is listed as senile decay and it stated the duration to be 7 years.  (In the Spendlove account it stated that he also had diabetic problems.)  His occupation was a farmer and his place of residence was Littleton.  He is buried in the Milton Cemetery, Morgan, Utah.

            Eliza was 53 at this time.  She and Blanche continued on in Littleton.  She met a good man, George Payne, who had lost his wife.  All of his children were grown.   They obtained a marriage license in Salt Lake City on 9 Oct 1912 and were married.  They lived in Eliza's home for several years but then decided they wanted to move to the city.  Eliza sold the farm to her nephew, Joseph Spendlove, and they moved to Idaho Falls.  They lived on Basalt Street, in Idaho Falls, Idaho in the 1920 census.  Eliza was listed as 62 and George as 81.  George passed away the following month on 17 Feb 1920 and was buried at the Rose Hill Cemetery.  That same year, Blanche married Frederick Drewes, in Idaho Falls, on 1 July 1920. 

            Eliza was 80 years old when she suffered a stroke.  She died in Idaho Falls where a funeral was held at the First Ward, but her body was laid to rest next to her first husband and eternal companion, James Spendlove, in the Milton Cemetery.  Her nephew, Billy Hurd took the train to Idaho Falls to bring her body back to Morgan to be buried.