Life History of Mathew Bezzant

Life History of Mathew Bezzant

by Emily Wright, granddaughter—Oct. 1987

Mathew Bezzant was born in Broadtown, Wiltshire, England on august 10th 1826.  He was the son of Robert and Sarah Loveday Bezzant.

Mathew was reared a member of the Church of England.  While still a small boy he moved to Wales where he was employed for fourteen years by Squire Surrage.  He married Ann Savior and they were baptized members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints on March 16th 1851 by Elder John George.  They became very active church members.  In the 1860’s Mathew was President of the Cogan Hill Branch and later, after moving to London he was president of the Goswell Road Branch.  He conducted many street meetings.  His oldest son, Mark, usually accompanied him to the meetings.  At one time they were rotten egged and driven from the street.

Mathew and his wife, Ann, had one desire and that was to take their family of three children to America.  The money for this venture was to be secured from the Perpetual Immigration Fund into which they had been paying.  Just before they were ready to leave England, however, their daughter died.  This delayed their plans to leave.  Not long after, Ann gave birth to another daughter.  Ann died at the birth of this child, who also followed her mother in death.  Years later, on January 11th 1869, Ann was endowed and sealed to Mathew in the Salt Lake Endowment House with Maria Ann, his second wife, standing in as proxy.

In 1862 Mathew sent his son Mark on ahead to America.  In 1863 his son Samuel emigrated to America.  Mathew planned to follow his sons as soon as money was available.  He also spent much time in Church work as the Goswell Road Branch President.

When the ship Hudson sailed for America on June 4th 1864 there were 1100 passengers, 1000 of which were Mormon immigrants.  The names of Mathew Bezzant and Maria Ann Cook were on the passenger list.

Many of the immigrants were seasick and a measles epidemic started among the children.  Many people died and were buried at sea.  There were three births.  The voyage was long and full of miseries.

After six week on the ocean they arrived in New York on July 18th 1864.  From there they went by railroad to Nebraska.  They encountered many hardships along the way.  They crossed the plains in wagon trains drawn by oxen.  They were supplied by express wagons from Salt Lake City and also given directions from them.  After experiencing many of the hardships and trials common to pioneer ancestors, they arrived in Utah on November 11th 1864.  Mathew, being a large, strong man of 35 years, must have been a great strength to the company in getting many of the members safely to Utah.

In the spring of the next year, April 21, 1865 Mathew married Maria Ann Cook, whom he had met in the Goswell Road Branch in London.  Five children were born to them.

Conditions at this time were far from good.  Many people had barely enough to eat  one day Mark accompany his father to Brother Jensen’s, the harness maker.  They invited Mathew to dine, explaining to Mark that they would like to give him food also, but couldn’t afford it.  Mathew and his family became members of the United Order.

In 1868 and 1869 he worked for the Union Pacific Railroad in Echo Canyon.  The railroad company was building the cross-country railroad from Omaha to San Francisco.  The contracts for this work were let out to different groups.  The grading of the road through Echo and Weber Canyons, together with the cutting of ties in the mountains was done by Utah people.  Building of this railroad brought prosperity to Utah.  It brought money into circulation.  Later on it transported immigrants who came to the new country where land was so plentiful.  The country at this time was so wild that men carried firearms at all times.

The workmen at this time used to sing this song:

At the head of the great Echo the railroad begun,

The Mormon’s are cutting and grading like fun,

They say they’ll stick to it until its complete

When friends and relations they’re hoping to meet.

Hurrah, Hurrah, the railroads begun

Three cheers for the contractor, his name is Brigham Young.

Hurrah, Hurrah, we’re honest and true,

And if we stick to it, its bound to go through,

Now there’s Mr. Reid, he’s a gentleman too,

He knows very well what the Mormons can do.

He knows they will earn every cent of their pay

And are just the right boys to construct a railway.

Mathew first owned a piece of property in Pleasant Grove.  Later he traded this property to Oscar Winters for a larger piece in Lindon.  He was an excellent farmer and bundle-tier and pitcher.  He built a two room frame home for the family on the Lindon property.  today the address of where the frame house stood would be about 753 West Lakeview Drive in Lindon.  I remember this house, with the porch across the front when Grandmother lived alone as a widow.  I remember the smell of strong spices that came from her cupboard.  I remember the hollyhocks that grew at the side of the house.  As a small child I loved to pick the hollyhock blossoms and make hollyhock dolls by turning the pedals down and tying a thread around to form the head and neck.  My mother, Mary Jane, often spoke of the happy family life Mathew and Maria Ann made for their children.

Mathew died of pneumonia on February 14th 1891.  He is buried in the Pleasant Grove City Cemetery.

Mathew Bezzant’s descendants, today, honor him for the courage, faith and steadfastness he showed through his life and for the many blessings they enjoy today because of his sacrifice and struggles.


Addendum: by Mildred Sutch

The packer ship “Hudson” was a sailing ship.  On this ship Mathew Bezzant and Maria Ann Cook came to America.  John Lyman Smith was the organizer of the group of immigrants that came on the ship.  He presided over the Switzerland and Italian Missions.  He did extensive traveling between these missions and England.  He visited Liverpool. London and surrounding areas.  On his visits to England John Lyman Smith enjoyed the Marlebone Theater, the museums, the parishes namely Paddington and Sun Court.

Most of the immigrants that sailed on the ship were from Holland, I suspect they were originally from Switzerland as Holland was a place of refuge for the Swiss people.  The company boarded the “Hudson on May 28th 1864.  John Lyman Smith was kept very busy seeing to the loading of the provisions and seeing that all papers were in order.  The ship was towed down the Thames River by tug boat and out into the open sea where the sailors rigged the sails.  The ship left the docks of London on June 1, 1864 after a 3 day wait aboard the ship from the time of boarding.

The company of immigrants the John Lyman Smith was responsible for was divided into 14 wards with a President and two counselors in charge of each ward.  (It is my own feeling that our Great Grandfather Mathew may have been one of the leaders of the wards as he had been President of the Goswell Road Branch in London, however his name was mot mentioned in the diary of John Lyman Smith.)  another group of immigrants was also on the ship but Captain Pratt of the Hudson kept them separated.  Captain Pratt was very good to the immigrants, making them as comfortable as possible.

Just a few days at sea, they witnessed their first death and sea burial—a 54 year old man from the other company died of heart disease.

On their journey across the sea, they encountered many ships crossing either to America or going back to Europe from America.  They would cheer and greet each other as they met.  Many of the immigrants became sea sick, many developed diarrhea, and a measles epidemic started among the children.  Many people died and were buried at sea.  The voyage was long and full of miseries.  They docked in New York July 14, 1864 and were immediately transferred to another ship going to Albany, from there they went by boat and railroad to Illinois.  They encountered many hardships and persecutions along the way.

They crossed the plains in a wagon train drawn by oxen.  The journey was extremely hard.  They were supplied by express wagons and also given directions from the.   In Wyoming they had to wait for Brother Snow’s group due to Indian problems—for safety the two groups joined together.  They arrived in Salt Lake Valley in September 1864.  A long and tedious and harrowing journey finally ended.

The full account of John Lyman Smith’s diary or journal is not given, I just took the highlights of the journey.  It was exciting to read and to get to know more about my Great Grandfather Mathew Bezzant.  It was quite an experience getting into the Archives.  I had to go through a guard station, show my temple recommend and drivers license then when I got to the Historical Archives I had to lock my belongings in a locker with the exception of some paper and a pencil.

[From the files of Mary Jean Caldwell.]


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