Eliza Cusworth Burton Staker was born January 19,1824,
in Lockwood, near Huddersfield,
At the coronation of Queen
About this time, Mormon Elders Joseph E. Young and Cyrus H.
Wheelock came to that part of
After retiring to her bed one night, she could not sleep. It
was very dark and as she lay there thinking and praying about her trouble, the
room suddenly began to get light and the light increased until the room was as
light as noon day. Then the light disappeared as it had come until all was
dark. After seeing this, she could never say a word against the Mormons and it
was a testimony to her that their Gospel was true. Soon after this, she and her
husband were baptized and then began saving money and making preparations to emigrate to
Joseph was what they called in
Sometime before this her father had died, and her mother and
brother, who did not believe in Mormonism, were very much opposed to her going
and tried every way possible to persuade her not to go. They promised to take
care of her and the children and that they would never want for anything as
long as they lived, if they would only stay with them. Her husband's people,
who were in the mercantile business, were also very much opposed to her leaving
and tried hard to get her to give up her foolish journey, as they called it.
They promised to care for her and the children and give her any amount she
would name, to live on with them, but not one cent to help her leave
These were trying times for Eliza, but she knew the gospel was true. She had made promises to her dying husband and was determined to fulfill them. So, in the spring of 1856 she packed her trunks and left her home, relatives and friends and started on a journey of six thousand miles with her two little children. The only one of her relatives who would go and see her off was Benjamin Burton, her husband's brother, who carried her little girl Martha, to the depot and bid them good-bye. This was the last she saw or heard of her relatives for twelve long years, during which time her mother died.
The first part of the journey was accomplished by train to
I do not think they realized the great distance it was nor
the time it would take them to get there, it being 1300 miles
On July 15, 1856, Captain James G. Willie and a large
company of hand-cart immigrants left Iowa City for Salt Lake Valley, and about
two weeks later Captain Edward Martin led a similar group out toward the West,
despite the fact that both had been warned that the season was too far advanced
for such a lengthy journey. With hearts filled with high faith, eager to reach
The Martin Company, which Eliza and her friends were in,
When the hand carts were ready, the people were told they would have to leave most of their belongings, as they could only bring necessities on the hand carts. Her trunks containing silverware, linens, bed sheets, and lots of her valuable clothing had to be left behind and she never received a cent for it. Eliza pulled the cart and her little boy, Frend (Joseph) aged seven walked all the way and helped his mother pull the cart part of the time. The little girl Martha, four years old, rode.
The company was composed of five hundred men, women and children, one fourth of whom died on the way. The first part of the journey, they got along quite well, but after awhile their food began to give out. The women stood it better than the men. Thus they plodded on day after day, and month after month, trying to encourage one another and at night they would gather around the camp fires after supper and sing songs. Come, Come Ye Saints, was one of the favorite songs.
Eliza waded the
They were advised not to travel on Sunday, but on account of it being late in the season they did not heed this advice. But when they traveled on Sunday they nearly always had some trouble and many of them felt that they were doing wrong by not obeying counsel. Towards the latter part of their journey they were told their food was almost gone and were put on very short rations, one fourth of a pound of flour for each person a day. Mother had gold in her pocket, and she and her children were starving. At one time there were nine persons died in one night of cholera, caused by drinking alkali water.
President Brigham Young heard of these poor hand-cart people
marooned in the snow at Martin's Cove and immediately sent teams and food to
assist them to
When Eliza reached
Then she and her children were taken to
Their first child, James Benjamin Staker,
was born February 7, 1858. In 1859 they came to
Eliza lived until 1914. She was visiting her daughter, Eliza
Jane Day, in
Eliza was a faithful Latter-day Saint. She always attended her meetings, paid her tithing, was a good Relief Society worker. She taught her children to be honest Latter-day Saints. Her living descendants at the time of her death numbered ninety-six: two sons, four daughters, forty-five grandchildren, and forty-five great grandchildren.
Written by Eliza Jane Staker
Day - a daughter. Written in
A poem written by Mary Farnsworth to her stepmother Eliza Cusworth Burton Staker, 19 January, 1909. [This would be a sequel to the poem she wrote for her father, Nathan Staker. See his history.]
And like dear Job of ancient fame
He bore with patience every ill.
Poor, lonely, sorrowful and lame,
Father was mindful of him still.
And gave to him another wife
Who bore a son, and daughters three,
To comfort his declining life,
Beside the twain (two children) brought o'er the sea
To whom he proved a father kind,
In lieu of one laid low by death
In new made grave left far behind
Who blest them with his latest breath.
And said, "Go on my babes and wife,
For you shall reach the promised land
With no more loss of precious life,
For God will hold you in his hand."
And so, this lonely widow sailed
With son and daughter o'er the sea.
As other means of progress failed,
She pulled a handcart cross the lea..
But they had started much too late,
And winter found them on the plain.
From lack of food their suffering great.
Their feet were sore with many a blain.
The frozen sod was often turned,
And this poor mother, where was she?
Her limbs were poisoned, frozen, burned.
But husband's words fulfilled must be.
Her babe in death-like stupor lay.
Her starving lad in frozen plight.
Oh shall we see another day
Or must we die, this cold dark night.
But ere there dawned another day,
Help came to them with food and cheer;
God's servants met them on the way,
Among whom I had a brother dear.
I dwelt with him on
He went with others who were sent
To shield these suffering saints from harm,
And they were saved by help thus lent.
I now recall the happy day
I saw with merry childish glee
Those wagons wend their homeward way
Unmindful of their gift for me.
My thoughts were with the one restored
To the little home on Canyon stream.
Of one to fill a father's board
My mother's place I did not dream.
But she was led to Pleasant Grove
Where, lonely with his baby boy,
There dwelt a servant of the Lord
Who welcomed her with purest joy.
To love and cherish her through life.
For they were very shortly wed.
He prized her as a faithful wife
With no desire to rob the dead.
For he was also good and true
A loyal saint of Latter-day.
Vicarious work was soon performed
To prove for him the heavenly way.
And she still lives to tell the tale
Of many long and happy years
With one now past behind the veil,
Beyond all earthly hopes and fears.
And we are grateful to the Lord,
That still his precious life was spared
To see the lot of each dear child,
By wife, or husband shared.
19 Jan. 1909. To Mother on her birthday with love Mary
Day, Eliza Jane Staker. History of Eliza Cusworth Burton Staker.