Sarah Ann Mathis Holman


By Dahlia R. Walker  

Sarah Ann Mathis, daughter of Isaac and Elizabeth Ross Mathis, was born 7 December 1876 at Carroll County, Tennessee.  She was the fifth child in a family of thirteen.  Little is known of her childhood days, but needless to say, her time was undoubtedly spent in household duties and assisting in the rearing of the family.  She was taught to knit and sew and became very expert in both, and at the age of eight years knit herself a hair of hose.  Her hands made pieces of clothing were specimens of beauty and rare skills.

The Mathis family began their journey west in the early summer of 1852 in the Charles C. Rich’s company.  Unlike many of the other pioneers who left their homes on very short notice, this family began the year before to make provisions for their journey.

In the woods near their home they gathered wild honey, grapes and plum, which her mother made into preserves.  Their meat from the winter’s slaughter was salted, smoked and much made into sausage, their wagons were made to order and the trip began in much more comfort than many of the others.  The journey was quite an enjoyable one due to the fact that the company composed of many of the relatives and provisions were plentiful.

Cholera, a little later, made its appearance.  Sarah brother’s wife was the first victim.  She left a baby girl three months old; this baby girl was Elizabeth Driggs of Pleasant Grove.  Then Sarah’s father died next.  His death was very sudden.  When the family retired at night, he was apparently well and the next morning was ready for burial.  His casket was a huge piece of bark taken from a tree; he was buried as quickly as possible and the march resumed.

They arrived in the valley on 12 October 1852.  The first winter the family lived at Provo and later on moved to Payson, where Sarah became acquainted with James A. Holman.  The marriage followed in November 1855.

They made their home at Payson for a short time, and then moved to Santaquin, where James, Jane and John were born.  They were forced to go back to Payson and fort up due to the hostility of the Indians, later they moved back to Santaquin.  From there they moved to Fort Green, where they were among the first settlers.  Three more children—Dave, Zilpha, and Frankie—were born.  They were soon obliged to leave and advised to go to Moroni or come north.  The decision was made to go north, but before they could get started Zilpha, age three, was taken suddenly ill.  She was missed one afternoon and for several hours was searched for, she was found under the bed asleep.  When she awakened, she complained of a severe pain in her head.  She died a few days later and not daring to bury her on account of the Indians, the little body was prepared for burial, put in the wagon and the trip north was begun.  She was buried at Santaquin in the Holman plot.  They then moved to Pleasant Grove, where in the month of June, a little baby was born, when they called Nancy.  In October of the same year, they were again called to part with a child, Frankie, two years old.  James was away at the time and Sarah, with her little ones, was forced to bear the burden alone.  They made their home at Pleasant Grove for ten years, where Parley, Warren, Elmer and Naomi were born.  To Sarah must be given much credit in the rearing of the family.  James’ work took him away from home much of the time.  Her responsibilities were many but complaint was not part of her nature.  They later moved back to Fort Green where they resided for twenty-five years, where their last children—Robert and Ray were born.

Death made its visit to their home again, this time their grown son, Elmer, was the victim.  This was a very sever blow to Sarah; in fact she never fully recovered from its effects.  He was twenty-three years old, unmarried and a great comfort and support to the family.

Bear River was their next home, where James engaged in farming.  He had the misfortune to break his leg, which necessitated their moving to Brigham City, where their son, Jim, requested they come so he might assist in caring for them.  They made their home at Brigham City until 1910, when at the death of their son-in-law, Ben (A. B.) Walker, they moved to Pleasant Grove to live with their daughter Jane.  Sarah’s last years seemed very happy; she was relieved of money worries, household cares and her time was her own to do as she pleased.

Her health was splendid for a person of her age and her death from a paralytic stroke, 12 October 1919, was very sudden and a shock to her family in spite of her advanced years.  She never became childish; her mind was always clear and bright.  Her life was a life of sacrifice and a life well spent.  May it be a light and example to the numerous posterity and friends.

(from the files of Mary Jean Caldwell)

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