David Russell Creer's Paternal Great Grandmother
Ann Morris Creer
Thomas Morris, paternal grandfather of Ann Morris was born in Chorley, Lancashire, England in 1751. His parents were farmers. He followed that occupation for fifty-three years. He died in 1846. Nancy, his wife was born in Chorley, Lancashire, England, in 1765, and died at the age of eighty-six in the year 1850.
William Morris father of Ann Morris Creer was born in Chorley, England in the year 1790. He also was a farmer by occupation, but he spent considerable time in the employ of a cotton manufacturer. He married Mary Hargrave, who was born in Orage, Lancashire, England.
Ann Morris, the daughter of William Morris and Mary Hargrave, was born in Chorley, England, December 27th, 1813. As a child she worked as an apprentice in the silk and lace trade. After several years of service in this vocation she accepted employment as a glazier. This work required skill and experience. She became expert in glazing the costly articles of trade. Her experience in fashioning silk and lace patterns rendered her services of special value in decorating and designing dishes for the high class trade. While employed as glazier her acquaintance with Edward Creer developed into intimate courtship. Just prior to their marriage she returned to the silk and lace factory, where her experience as designer in the lace trade proved of unusual worth to her and to her employer. She continued as skilled designer of the laces and silk products until her marriage to Edward Creer, June 21st, 1835. She was twenty years of age at the time of her betrothal. The following year their first child, William, was born February 18, 1836. The second child, Ellen, born May 7, 1837 in Preston, England, died in 1845 as a result of burns sustained in a singular accident.
The year 1837 marks the opening of a very eventful period in Ann Creer’s life, the arrival of the first Latter-day Saints Missionaries in England to open a mission. Ann and her husband were among the first to hear and to embrace the Gospel. She told with pride how deeply she was moved by the sermons of Orson Hyde and Willard Richards. After listening to one of his first addresses, Ann invited Orson Hyde to take supper with the Creer family. From that time on her home was open to the Elders. Orson Hyde, Willard Richards and President Brigham Young were numbered among the numerous missionary guests of Ann and Edward Creer. It was in the Old Rag Shop in Preston that Ann and Edward first heard the Gospel message proclaimed. It was in the Old Rag Shop that they heard Brigham Young expound the message of the restoration of the Divine Will and the mission of the Latter-day Saints. The following year, 1838, Edward and Ann were baptized into the Mormon Church. Because of this action, the young couple were severely ridiculed and denounced by both friends and relations. The Morris family even denied them privileges of the parental household. The Morris prejudice is illustrated by the following incident. Edward Morris, builder of the first railroad in England and uncle to Ann, came to their home just prior to their departure to America in 1847. He did not know they had joined the Mormon Church, but had learned indirectly that she and her family had intended to migrate to the United States. As contractor he had become very wealthy, and being philanthropic in spirit, he came to offer Ann material assistance on the trip. She often told how well he treated her upon his arrival at Preston. But the story changed after his visit with the oldest sister of the family, Peggy, who was a pronounced enemy of the Mormons and lost no occasion to poison the mind of any who approached her upon the subject of Mormonism. Uncle Edward was no exception. Evidently, he too was influenced by the highly colored tales of Peggy, for he never returned to carry out his promise of assistance for the emigrants. Nor did she hear about or from him again until after his death, when the report come to her that she had been made heir to part of his estate. But this good fortune never materialized. It may have been true that Ann had inherited part of the wealth of her uncle, but she never realized anything to substantiate the report.
For a considerable part of the time, 1838-1842, Willard Richards, a physician of some repute, lived with the Creer family. From him, Ann learned the things that qualified her for the great mission, which she performed in ministering to the sick and afflicted in Zion. In the meanwhile the family treasury was sufficiently strong to permit the Creer family to sail for the promised land of their dreams. The father and mother had gone into the factory to make the way possible. The parents of the husband had been kind enough to care for the children during the working hours, thereby making it possible for them to go into the factory.
It was truly an eventful day when they left their old home to go to the docks. There were no old friends there to say goodbye, to bid them God speed on their perilous voyage. Of her folks she saw little or nothing. They looked upon her with scorn. Her sister Peggy was the sole relative there at the boat to bid her farewell. And she ridiculed, she argued, she criticized and warned, but to no avail. The kingdom of God with its powers and its blessings was worth more to the emigrants than all of those untrue relatives and friends who frowned upon her and her adopted faith.
It was in 1847 that the eleven-week voyage took place. In the party were Edward Creer’s mother, his four sisters and the family. The mother, seeing that the son and his family were determined to carry out their plans decided to join them and throw her lot with theirs. Edward’s father continued in his old course (being an addict to the use of liquor) and declined to follow the others. At this time the family of Edward and Ann consisted of six children. The seventh member, Ellen, the oldest daughter, died prior to their sailing.
The emigrants went directly to St. Louis. While at sea the measles epidemic broke out on board. All of the Creer children contracted it and suffered considerably. Mathias, the fifth child of the family was very ill when orders came from the officer in charge that the children should be dipped in the sea. This measure was adopted for the purpose of disinfection. As a result the child grew seriously ill, the contracting of the muscles of the leg as a result of the immersion, causing severe rheumatism and lameness. He was a cripple the rest of his life.
The party, as stated before, settled in St. Louis, where the father took employment in the coalmines. During their seven years residence they were called upon to pass through a severe cholera epidemic, which was eventful in the lives of so many St. Louis emigrants. It was here that Ann received much experience as a nurse and doctor. In St. Louis, Edward’s mother and one sister, Margaret, died. In addition to this loss two children, Ellen Ann and Robert succumbed to the terrible malady of cholera. Fortunately, however, two new ones, Alice and Edward were sent to grace the fireside of the severely tested parents.
The various scenes while crossing the plains need not be repeated here. It is pleasing, however, to recall the incident of the brown medicine chest, which Ann prized so highly. She had brought it from England with her. Late in the journey across the plains, when the oxen became weakened and tired, the captain of the company issued orders that all surplus articles be left. The men went through the wagons and unloaded all the things that could be possibly spared. The old brown medicine chest was unloaded with the rest. A prompt protest was registered with the captain. When he insisted that orders be followed, Ann balked. If that chest could not be taken to the mountains then she would be obliged to stay with it. Needless to say, they were both taken on the journey. This chest was instrumental in saving lives after the arrival in Salt Lake City in September 1854. From this time forth Ann ministered to the sick in accordance with her blessing, and succeeded in getting into the homes of the leaders of the community. Her practical knowledge of herbs and medicines made her the friend of the people of the city. Many have borne testimony to the service, which she rendered to the poor and needy. For her services she generally took whatever the patients could spare. Some gave flour; some food, some cloth and others were able to give her only their blessings. But that was sufficient for she was in the service of the Master and material things were subordinate to that dedication and purpose.
It is of special interest in family history to recall an incident connected with the reception and accommodation of the first handcart emigrants. News was spread that the train of handcarts was nearing the valley. Among those valiant pilgrims were many friends of Ann and Edward. Mary Riley mother of Tom Riley and grandmother of Mrs. Morris Martell, was in the company. Mrs. Riley was baptized in to the church the same time as Ann Morris Creer. Being baptized together, and having worked in the lace factory together, the arrival of the handcart company was of special concern to Mrs. Creer. Fired with enthusiasm, and sympathy, Ann and Edward went out to meet the newcomers. They met the historic train in Emigration Canyon. Warm greetings were exchanged. Among the emigrants still other acquaintances were found. Sixteen altogether were taken to the Creer home for care and shelter. Among these were the
following: Tom Dobson, Alice Dobson, Henry Dobson, Thomas Riley and his mother, Marjorie Summer. The Dobson’s were among those converts who entered the church when Ann Creer was baptized. Truly there was a happy reunion of the saints from Preston. As the emigrant train moved down the slopes of the valley of the Great Salt Lake, those merry Englanders sang with spirit and thanksgiving.