Sarah Ann Mathis, daughter of Isaac Mathis and Elisabeth Ross was born in Carol County, Tennessee, 7 Dec, 1836. She was the firth child in a family of thirteen. Her father was a veteran of the War of 1812. He was born in South Carolina about 1796. Not being old enough to enlist in the army in his own state, he ran away from home, made is way to Tennessee and enlisted with their troops. Her mother was born in North Carolina. Her mother’s people were slave owners but refused to barter and trade their slaves and treated them as though they were human like themselves. Some of the habits formed while she was a girl went with her throughout her life.
The Mathis family moved about over the state of Tennessee as if in search of something always heading west. At last they heard the Mormon Elders and were converted to the doctrines of this church. Sarah Ann grew up under these conditions. She learned to do all kinds of work, household duties, to sew and knit, at which she showed much skill. When she was eight years old, she knit a pair of stockings. Her handmade clothes were specimens of beauty and rare skill. All these things fitter her for the pioneer life ahead of her.
The Mathis family started their journey west in the spring of 1852 in Charles C. Rich’s company. She had been baptized about 1845. Unlike many of the pioneers who left their home on short notice, this family began preparations a year before they were to start on the journey.
In the woods near their house they gathered wild honey, grapes, berries, plums, that were made into preserves. Their meat from winter’s slaughter was salted, smoked and made into sausages. Their wagons were made to order by Shadrack Briggs, father of B. F, Briggs. The trip began in greater comfort than many enjoyed. The journey was quite a pleasant one, due to the fact that in the company were many near relatives and provisions were plentiful.
As they journeyed along, other families joined them. And with the summer heat came up, cholera made its appearance. It seemed to be a very hard time, very contagious and spread rapidly through the company. Allen Mathis’s wife was the first victim. She left a little girl about two years old and a baby boy about three months. The baby died soon after. The people were so afraid of the disease and being without [knowledge] of the present day method of disinfecting and caring for the dead; they prepared the bodies for burial, laid them away in Mother Earth by the side of the road and hurried on. Some of the victims were laid away in the bark of a tree or wrapped in a blanket, anything to cover them.
On the night of July 22nd, 1852 the company camped at Fort Laramie, Wyoming. Everyone was tired and retired as normal. During the night, the father, Isaac Mathis, became violently ill. The older members of the family rose to offer every assistance but before the sun’s rays had crept over the eastern horizon, his spirit had taken its flight to the great beyond.
Perpetrations were made at once for burial. A top board was taken from one of the wagons and made into a coffin and he was laid to rest by the road side on the morning of July 23rd, 1852 at Fort Laramie, Wyoming.
What had started a pleasant journey, now seemed tragic. This was a bitter trial for the family. Sarah Ann was fifteen and a half years old, old enough to realize how much they needed the guiding hand and protecting care of their father. They journeyed on, reaching the Valley October 12, 1852 on the 8th birthday of their youngest child. They moved to Provo soon after their arrival and spent the winter there. Later they moved to Payson. Here Sarah Ann met a young man by the name of James Alonzo Holman. The two families became well and intimately acquainted and remained the best of friends throughout their lives.
The Holman family moved back to Santaquin but James A. stayed in Payson and on November 1, 1855, he and Sarah Ann were married. The following year they moved to Santaquin. Here on September 1, 1856 their first child, a baby boy, was born. They named him James Isaac for his two grandfathers. The baby was thin and frail and the mother had only enough nourishment to keep him alive, due to privations and hardships, and none to make him plump and rosy.
They remained her till after the birth of Sarah Jane 13 June 1858 and John Alonzo, 7 November 1859. Due to the hostilities of the Indians they were forced to go back to Payson to fort up for protection.
Later, when the Indians became more peaceable; they moved back to Santaquin and later to Fountain Green, where they were among the first settlers. Three more children were born here, David William, 29 May 1861; Zilpha Ann 19 September 1862; and Willard Franklin, 12 August 1864.
Indians again became treacherous and they were advised to go to Moroni, or farther north. They decided to go north, but before they could get started, Zilpha, age three, was taken suddenly ill. She was missed one afternoon and gone for several hours. She was found asleep under a bed. When awakened she complained of a severe pain in her head. She passed away a few days later, May 14, 1866.
Not daring to bury her on account of the Indians, the little body was prepared for burial, put on the wagon with their household effects and the trip north began. She was buried in Santaquin in the Holman Plot. We in these days of peace and plenty, kind friends, cars, beautiful flowers and fine caskets, can but taste in part the bitter dregs of such an experience.
The family remained her for some time in the home of their parents where they were sustained and comforted by loving parents, relatives, and friends. They moved to Pleasant Grove when on June 28, 1866, a baby girl, Nancy Melissa was born.
In October of that same year, they were called to part with little Willard Franklin, age two, who died with the croup. Her husband was away from home at the time and Sarah with her family of little ones were forced to bear this great sorrow alone. They made their home in Pleasant Grove for ten years, living across the street, just west from Bishop Henson Walker’s home. Here their next four children were born: Parley Thomas, 10 Dec. 1868; Warren Mathis, 29 April 1971; Elmer, 3 April 1873 and Naomi Elisabeth, 21 April 1875.
About 1864 or 5, while they were living in Fountain Green, her husband broke his right arm hear the shoulder. There was very little in the way of medical help to be had. He lay nearly all one summer with his arm in splints, of course, there was no such thing as a cast then. Sara Ann and her little boy took care of the crops, the home, and the man with the broken arm.
Much credit must be given to Sara Ann for the rearing of the family. Her husband worked on the railroad, at sawmills, freighted, or did anything he could do to provide a living for his family. These things kept him away from home most of the time and the care and responsibility of the family rested on her shoulders.
In 1876, they moved back to Fountain Green to make their home the property they had left. Here their last two children were born, Robert Ross, 10 March 1877 and Ezra Bay, 15 Sept. 1879. For the next 23 years this was their home. Here most of the children married, left the home nest, and started new homes for themselves.
On March 17, 1896, their grown son, Elmer, passed away. He had been a great help in the support of the family. He spent much time on the range as a sheep herder. He took sick while at the herd and gradually became worse. There were no railroads in those parts and he was brought home more than three hundred miles on horse back and in a wagon. Evidently he had an attack of appendicitis (though little was known of this trouble then). It ruptured while they were getting home and he lived only a few days after his arrival home.
His passing was a great trial to his mother, one from which she never fully recovered. He was only 23 years old, unmarried and a great comfort and support to them.
In 1902 several of the young families decided t move to Bear Lake in Box Elder County to engage in farming. Here land could be more cheaply obtained. James and Sarah Ann gave up their home and went along and began to farm. They were there only a short time when James broke his leg. This made it necessary for them to move to Brigham City where their oldest son could help them.
They lived here until February 1910 when their son-in-law, A.B. Walker of Pleasant Grove passed way and they came to make their home with their daughter, Sarah Jane. Her last days were among her best. She was relieved of financial worries, household cares, and her time was her own to do the things she had always hopes some time to do. Her health was splendid for a woman of her age, and her death from a paralytic stroke on Oct. 12, 1917 was very sudden and shock to her family and friends in spite of her advanced age.
She was a splendid type of woman, a wonderful wife and mother. She mixed well with either young or old. She was kind and sympathetic. To know her was to love her. She never became childish — her mind remained clear and bright. She always found time to read. She could see the humorous side of life and enjoyed a good joke. Hers was a life of sacrifice, a life well spent. May it be a light and example to her numerous posterity and friends. She was the mother of thirteen children and a host of grandchildren.
(From some loose papers my grandma found)