Stories of Thomas Condie (1806-1887)
Helen Sharp (1811 — 1883)
This is the story of Thomas Condie, who was the son of Gibson Condie, who was the son of George Condie who lived in and around Clackmannan, Scotland. He had three wives, each bearing seven children. These women were Eppie Simpson, Mary Patterson, and Mrs. Miller (probably Jean Miller.)
One of these children, named Gibson Condie, married Jean Russell, who bore several children, among whom was Thomas Condie, born September 27, 1806, and Gibson Condie, his younger brother, born June 1, 1815.
Gibson married Cecelia Sharp, a widow, and came to America on the ship Zetland in 1849, came to Salt Lake Va11y in September 1850 and settled in the Sixth Ward.
Thomas Condie (1806 — 1887) at the age of 24 married Helen Sharp, age 19, August 21, 1830. She was a daughter of Luke Sharp and Janet White. They lived in Clackmannan, Scotland and kept a store, The Crown Inn, and had considerable rented property, buildings and pasture land. This is a mining section of the country.
Thomas had blue eyes and dark hair. He is remembered as being a tall gentlemanly sort of man, possibly six feet in height. His wife, Helen, had blue eyes and dark hair, rather straight and she was tal1. Some their chil4reri had dark hair but others, red and blond. So, apparently, the red hair in the Thackery — Condie strain comes from the Condie side of the family tree. From pictures of Margaret, Helen and Cecelia, the girls seemed to have curly hair.
In 1847 the “Gospel” was preached there by Elder William Gibson, John Sharp and others. Helen was baptized but Thomas objected to her being confirmed for about six month. In fact, he was so unhappy and determined that he turned his wife out of the house. However, his feelings changed toward the Mormon doctrines because in the fall of l848 he was baptized by Alexander Dow and confirmed by Wm. McMaster who presided in the Dumfirmline Branch.
Thomas was a student of the Bible, and when once he began to investigate the doctrine and compare it with the Bible he could see his good old Presbyterian ideas were incorrect.
But he often said that the Lord gave him a testimony in a remarkable way. One night a voice repeated to him, “Trice sundry times,” said he, the scripture found in Isaiah, 34th chapter and the last three verses. After this manifestation he always had a testimony of the truth and had a better understanding of the Scriptures.
Young Gibson (1835 — 1911) tells that when the Elders came to Clackmannan they made inquiries about a hall they might rent to hold their services in and were directed to Thomas Condie who leased a large store room and hail to them. It was because of this that he lost his business and other property.
Soon after he failed in his business he was anxious to gather to the body; of the church in America. He went to Glasgow and ma short time was joined by his family composed of his wife Helen and their children; Janet, Gibson, Helen (1837 — 1923), Margaret, Thomas (1842 — l92l) and Mary. From there they went by steamer to Liverpool, England, arriving Christmas day, 1849, after – a cold, rough unpleasant journey. While waiting in Liverpool for the ship to be made ready to sail, Thomas was cleaning his shot gun with vitrol and while he was not looking, little Mary took the cup and drank the vitrol. The two eldest children, Janet and Gibson, were sent to find some Mormon Elders. – They found Orson Pratt, then President of the Mission, who sent two Elders who administered to Mary. They rebuked the poison and promised her she would live. No sooner had they taken their hands away than she began to vomit and the poison was cast upon the floor. So strong was it that it burned the floor and it took the skin off her throat and tongue.
When the ship was ready, over 400 saints from England and Scotland went aboard. The ship was named the Zetland.
Elder Orson Pratt came onboard and organized the company. Elder Orson Spencer was appointed President and Brother James Ure and Brother Mitchell, counselors.
About January 29, 1849 the vessel was towed out to sea. The first mate got drunk and neglected his duty and the vessel was nearly dashed on the rocks in the Irish Channel. During the voyage the fireplace got afire and it seemed the vessel as doomed, but the Lord again preserved them. The vessel arrived in New Orleans about nine weeks later. From there the family took a steamboat for St Louis. One night while sleeping, someone cut the chain and took Thomas’ watch.
At St. Louis, Thomas thought he would take – a box of his goods ashore. While going down the gangplank, he lost his balance and fell into the water and no one saw him, lie saw some rope hanging down the side of the steamboat and seized this to pull himself upon deck.
About seven miles from St. Louis were coal mines, Grove Diggings, where good wages were being paid. Many old friends who had come from Clackmannan the previous year were here, the Sharps, Fifes, Wilsons and others. So in early April of 1849 the family moved there and Thomas and Gibson worked there for several months. Goods were very cheap. Thomas purchased two cows for $11 and pork was one cent a pound, sugar five cents and whiskey twenty cents per gallon.
During the season cholera broke out, a real plague, many died. Then the great fire destroyed more property in St. Louis. The fire seemed to clear the atmosphere and the disease cleared away. But, fever and ague were prevalent and attacked Thomas and he thought often he would die.
August 28, 1849 while at Grove Diggings Janet married Joseph Sharp. Little Mary died. A son, Robert, was born but he died also. Thomas was very desirous of moving up the river to Council Bluffs. Grove Diggings was an unhealthy place. Helen has a miscarriage and came near dying. She was so low when they left St. Louis on the first of March, 1850, that it took four men to carry her aboard on a bed. They started by steamboat to St. Joseph. From there the journey was made by ox team through the mud and bad weather, a very trying journey indeed.
Arriving in Kanesville, Thomas began looking for a place. He purchased a farm located on Mosquito Creek from an Enos Curtis. It had several houses on it. He then bought a cow and calf and began to plant corn, it being cheap, ten cents per bushel. The weather was dry and prices went up. Summer continued to be very dry and church history records the condition when Orson Hyde prophesied rain would be sent from the Lord and it came. The family lived three miles from the mill. When the corn ripened so it could be made into meal, Thomas would take a sack on his back, Gibson, Helen, Margaret, and little Thomas the same. The children had a smaller sack to carry. They had no team or wagon. In due time the calf they had purchased with their first cow had become large enough to do a little work. Thomas traded for another calf and made a wagon and a yoke. Then the calves were broken so they could do some of the farm work.
From a book, Church Chronology, a record of important events pertaining to the Church History and compiled by Andrew Jenson, published in 1899, gives the following account of conditions at:
December, 1846— Winter Quarters, afterwards known as Florence, Nebraska, consisted of 538 log houses, 83 sod houses, inhabited by 3,483 souls, of whom 334 were sick and 75 widows, 814 wagons, 145 horses, 29 mules, 38 yoke of oxen and 463 cows, The place was divided into 22 wards each with a Bishop.
This might give some idea of the conditions that still prevailed in the towns along the Mississippi River from: 1849 to 1852, at the time the Condies arrived.
Their tenth child, Orson Hyde Condie, was born 14 August 1851 at Council Bluffs. He died, soon after they arrived at Salt Lake, the 13th of November 1852.
In early 1852 preparation for the journey west was made. Young Helen Condie (1837- 1923) being 11 years old was lucky in that she came west in the Isaac Russell Company driving a team most of the way, Russl1 brought the machinery for the first sugar factory. He arrived in the Salt Lake Valley September 2, 1852 and established a home on the corner of 1st West and 7 South streets in the Fourth Ward in Salt Lake City.
Young Helen remembers the laying of the corner stone of the Salt Lake Temple, April 6, 1853, her father and brothers helped build it and to break ground. She often told of – the grasshoppers and famine and the suffering that was endured.
Thomas (1848-1921) 6th son of Thomas and Helen Sharp Condie
This part of the story is told by young Thomas
About himself and his parents and brothers and sisters.
Young Thomas was 6 feet tall, had jet black hair and auburn whiskers. He worked at various job as times afforded. He was handy with tools, especially the ax and could hand1e ox teams very skillfully. Many summers were occupied getting timber from the canyons. During a few of the winter months he attended school.
When the Johnston Army entered Utah and established Camp Floyd, west of the city, Thomas Condie, George Thackery, and Gibson Condie were engaged in making adobes to erect the barracks for the soldiers, They earned big wages.
Young Thomas had a thirst for knowledge and attended meetings where lectures on various subjects were given. At that time 1ectures were given in the “Social Hall.” In the autumn of 1861 young Thomas went with Charles Richins of Henefer to Lost Creek to get cattle for a man in Salt Lake City. This was the first time he had seen Lost Creek Valley. In 1862, settlements were being made along the Weber River. Thomas located on Lost Creek and built the first house in Croydon, Morgan County, Utah. He walked to Henefer to attend meetings and dances. Several times he walked to Salt Lake City.
Young Thomas relates that after he had finished the log house to shelter his meager supplies, he went to Salt Lake for a brief visit and when he returned he found his house had peen entered and his goods stolen, Very early the next morning, with but part of a loaf of bread he started on Loot, following the old emigrant trail over the mountains. It began snowing and before he reached the Big Mountain ridge the snow was knee deep. Tracks of bear and other wild beasts were numerous. A few occasional bits of the crust of bread were all the food he had on the tiresome long journey.
In the early spring of 1863 he returned and established his bachelor home, It seems he brought with him a choice yoke of oxen, called Dick and Lion, and he often spoke of them as a fine team.
By the year 1864 fifteen or twenty families were settled on the Lost Creek. Young Thomas chose his life companion, Hannah Swami, from one of these families. They went with ox team to Salt Lake City and were married July 15, 1864.
Brigham Young advised the young people to take up land in new sections. Until 1863 the family had lived in Salt Lake City. Young Helen (1837 — 1923) now at the age of 18 married George Thackeray (1836 — 1890) on May 129 1855. George was a convert who was the only one of a large family to join the church and come to the United States in 1853.
Both Gibson and Thomas Condie ha secured farms and lived there during the winter. The snow came early and deep, feed was scarce and many of the cattle starved and those that survived until spring were too weak to get on their feet without assistance. The boys practiced, and learned to lift a cow onto its feet. They went on the bare hillsides to pull the dry bunch grass, fill a bed tick and carry it to feed the animals.
The families had little meat but were healthy on coarse grains, pig weeds, nettles, sego lily bulbs and many other greens. Helen says of the twenty families who lived there, there were no deaths for the first 8 years.
In the spring of 1865 Thomas and Helen Sharp Condie were determined to move back to their home in Salt Lake City, Thomas and Gibson Condie and George Thackeray joined in the task of moving their parents. The wagons were loaded and the journey via Echo, Coalville, Wanship, Silver Creek and Parleys park was started. The melting snows had increased the waters of the streams to the overflowing of the banks. Since there were no bridges then in going from Croydon to Morgan, teams forded the Weber River 16 times.
When the folks arrived at the ford on the Weber a short distance from Wanship, it looked rather hazardous. They decided to hitch two yoke of oxen on one wagon and try to cross the stream. Gibson had a yoke of young oxen and thought they would be fine leaders. This proved disappointing, the crossing led upstream and followed a sort of riffle. As soon as the lead team got in water above their knees, they refused to face the current and turned to the right, going down stream. As the water got deeper they tried to reach a low bank on the west side but before the leaders could get footing, the swift current carried the wagon and rear team so fast it swung the outfit around and the oxen turned sharply to the left making efforts to return to the east side of the river. This caused the wagon reach to break, the oxen took the front wheels to the starting point, the hind wheels were left in deep water and the wagon box, minus the cook stove and boxes of articles that were tipped out, floated down stream. Thomas was thrown into the water with the stove but his son, Thomas, caught him. They grabbed some overhanging brush as they floated by and got safely out of the water. Young Thomas stayed with the wagon box until a place where the river turned to the west and the water was more shallow so they could pull the wagon box to the bank. Young Thomas could swim so he thought it best to stay with the wagon box. He then walked a mile upstream to the ford to join others of the party. Young Thomas then striped off most of his clothes, took his team, Dick and Lion, and got on the back of one of the oxen and with chain in hand went out into the deep water to get the hind wheels. The oxen swam and in some places their feet touched the river bottom. As they passed near the wheels, he hooked the chain over it and soon had the wheels on bank. The wagon was put together for another attempt to cross the river. When ready for another start, Dick and Lion were put on lead and with Young Thomas on Dick’s back, led the outfit across the river. His ox team saved the day. People spoke often of the high water of the spring of 1865.
Thomas and Helen had real pioneer experiences, the Indians, grasshoppers, the killing frosts in mid — summer. Implements and tools were scarce. All kinds of makeshifts were used. Men and women made articles they needed to get along with. Son Thomas made ox-yokes and ox — bows, ax handles, wooden rakes and wooden forks to handle unbound bundles of grain. He made spokes and fellows for wheels and fitted tires on the wheels. He had a set of blacksmith tools and made ox shoes and horse shoes and nailed them on. He even made a wooden plow with a steel point.
Look at a little settlement of two dozen families, who were strangers to each other, coming from England, Scotland Sweden and other places, some had been coal miners, sailors, factory hands, workers in bakeries and butcher shops but who now must dig ditches, make roads and to cultivate the soil with so very little to work with. The men tried to build homes according to ideas and traditions inherited from other countries. About three horse teams, two teams of mules, ten or twelve yoke of oxen and about half as many worn out wagons had made the trip across the palms and bad stood the winds and rains of several winters.
The women had little more to work with, a cast iron pot, frying pan, brass kettle to carry water and to milk the cow, two or three chairs, a homemade bedstead to sustain a tick filled with dry grass or straw, a tin candle stick or tin plate holding a saturated rag in some meat drippings, no machine for washing, or sewing, but they made a home.
Young Thomas, who married Hannah Swann, describes the first house that he remembers. This description is so similar to many homes built at this time around 1865 to 1875 in Croydon, Utah,
“It was built of logs, the cracks daubed with mud, a white clay hauled from a nearby hill which stuck pretty well to the logs. The floor was lower than the level of the ground. As we entered, a step down of about six inches prevented drifts under the floor and thus prevented cold feet. The roof was covered with soil but sometimes the rain leaked through. A fireplace was in the west end. A small six light window in the south, a nine light window in the east near the entrance door. A lean — to was added to this large room and Father used this for a work shop. A two room house, two rooms upstairs stood near but was never roofed and never finished.”
“We lived here until May. 1873 when the smallpox afflicted us and a move was consented to in order to appease the frightened neighbors.”
Among the first buildings in Croydon was a church and school house built in 1875. The school was a log building, dirt roof and perhaps 18 x 30 feet. This was meeting house, recreation ball as well as school. Near it were three walls of a fort. The walls were built of sandstone laid up with mud. School was held a few months of the year. The teachers were John Wainwright, William Chapman, Hiram Storer, Charles Bunting Jr., John Toone and George K. Bowering. A new schoolroom was built of lumber and shingled roof in 1876. The teachers were George K. Bowring, John S. Barrett and James Mason.
Mr. Bunting was the first postmaster and John London was the second postmaster, and held the position until September 1916 when, at the age of 76, he took a trip back to England.
The first Sunday School was in charge of William Chapman, Joseph Blackwell and John London. John London served as Superintendent for more than 20 years. Solomon Edwards and William Wagstaff were choir leaders. No music books were then used. The old L.D.S. Hymn book contained the hymns.
Croydon was organized as a branch in October 1863 with a Presiding Elder. The Croydon Ward was organized July 11, 1877.
Ephraim Swami built the only brick house in 1873. George Thackeray built a house of rock in 1874 (still in use in 1961 after many additions and alterations) Thomas Condie built a two room log house in 1875. This was added to in 1884 and 1888 and it was standing when sold in 1940.
Their means of conveyance and for work were held in high esteem. John London owned Pete and Dime, an ox team; Kackarony and Brandy (dark red) owned by Gibson Condie, and George Thackeray had a mule team. Joseph Blackwell had mules. Gradually the oxen were rep1aced with horses or mules.
Eliza R. Snow organized the first Relief Society on the 14th October 1875 with Helen Condie Thackeray as President and with a membership of 25. She held the position for 33 years.
Feb. 12, 1883, Helen Sharp Condie died of pneumonia at Salt Lake and was buried in the Salt Lake Cemetery. She was 72 years old, had borne her husband 12 children and had raised 7 of them to adulthood. They all received their endowments in the Temple and remained active church members.
Thomas Condie at the age of 82 died November 9, 1887, at Salt Lake City and is buried at the Salt Lake Cemetery.
The material for this story has been taken from the writings of Gibson A. Condie (1866 — 1958) who was the second son of Thomas, who was the second son of Thomas, who was the second son of Thomas.
Also from notes dictated to Mrs. Ada Blanche Thackeray Rees (1886 — 1958) by Mary Jane Thackeray in March 1955 in Salt Lake City.
These writings have been edited by Helen Thackeray Rees Berger in August 1961. She writes:
“In reproducing the stories of the life of these great pioneers and early converts to the church, it is hoped that their spirit and testimony will help to and further instill a greater testimony of the truthfulness of the Gospel in the lives of their descendents and anyone who reads these inspiring stories of hardships, devotion and love.”
“Someone has said, ‘Why tell about all the hard work our parents did.’ I do not agree, hard work made them what they were and we grandchildren and great — grandchildren benefit today from their hard work. Our own children possibly would be better if we could instill this concept into their lives.”