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Written by Gertrude Doxey, Granddaughter
We always understood that my father, William Doxey, was born March 18, 1872 in Manchester, England and that he came to this country at age 11 and never attended school here, although he was in fact a brilliant man and very adept in arithmetic and mathematics. He was, in fact, born on the above date but came here at age 13. According to a certified copy of his birth certificate he was born to William Doxey, a stonemason, and Agnes Woods Doxey at 34 Woburn Place in the sub-district of Chorlton, this information being registered on April 10, 1872. He was the second child.
William and Agnes were parents of Sarah Louisa, born May 22, 1870 at Cuckney, Nottingham; my father, William; Frederick born August 18, 1874 at 3 Erskine Street, Hulme, Manchester; Walter born February 17, 1876 at Manchester; Thomas Albert born August 11, 1878 at Manchester; Elizabeth Agnes (Aunt Lil) born February 14, 1880 at 2 Fletcher Square, Hulme, Manchester; Joseph born April 12, 1883 at 2 Eastnor Street, Stretford, Lancashire (died July 19, 1885 in Ogden, Utah); and Violet Annie born February 5, 1887 in Salt Lake City, Utah (died July 12, 1887 in Salt Lake City, Utah.
The family was converted to the Mormon religion by two missionaries, one whose name was a Brother Taylor, in England and urged, as was the practice at that time, to emigrate to Utah. For reasons unknown to me they settled in Ogden but I believe there must have been other distantly related family members already there as there are many Doxeys in Ogden and there is a street there named Doxey Street. They were very poor and lived under such unfavorable circumstances that each time Mother Agnes saw the missionary, Brother Taylor who converted them, on the street, she would rail at him for persuading them to uproot in England and come here, until when he saw her coming he would cross over to the other side of the street.
The father of this family, William Doxey, was born April 4, 1847 at Ashford, Derbyshire, England to Abraham and Bridget Hiscock Doxey.
The mother, Agnes Woods, was born February 29, 1844 at Firbank, Westmorland, England to Thomas and Margaret Seddon Woods.
This couple, William and Agnes, was married August 23, 1869 at Middleton, Westmorland, England. She was 25 and he was 22. They emigrated to Utah May 16, 1885 on the steamship Wisconsin. Agnes had a club foot. Before she left England, her father, Thomas Woods, a shoemaker and cobbler, made her special extra shoes for that foot, requiring a heavier sole and raised heel. The following was taken from LDS Church shipping files on January 4, 1962 and forwarded to me by Dorothy Ruth Heermance Oram of Pleasant Hill, California. (Mrs. Paul R. Oram - 719 Charlton Drive, Granddaughter of Elizabeth (Agnes), sixth child listed below.)
William Doxey Age 39
Agnes Age 41
Agnes Age 19
Sarah Louisa Age 11
William Age 9
Frederick Age 7
Walter Age 6
Thomas A. Age 4
Elizabeth A. Age 3
Joseph Age 2
Villamena Violet Infant
These are incorrect ages but were shown as being younger undoubtedly to take advantage of lower passage fares. The girl, Agnes, Age 19, is a mystery. No one now living ever remembers even the slightest mention of her or her identity in family history or reference. Could she have been an illegitimate child of Agnes, born before her marriage; or of William?--or she may have been a single friend traveling with them to help with the children, as often was the case--I don’t know. It is as if she never existed.
The family moved from Ogden to Salt Lake City, and according to Dorothy Heermance Oram lived at 80 M Street in the 20th Ward, previous to February 5, 1887 as this is the date the last child, Violet Annie, was born in Salt Lake City. Grandmother Bridget Schofield lived in a small house in the rear. The father, William, was a stonecutter and cut stone for the Salt Lake City and County Building steps and stone for the Cathedral of the Madeline. However, he was shown on the birth certificate of Villamania Violet, registration district of Barton upon Irwell, sub-district of Stretford on March 4, 1885, as a Porter.
When the baby Villamena Violet, born in England just a little more than a couple of months before the family emigrated, died in Ogden and was buried there in July of the same year, there seems to have been no record kept of her name. She was buried simply as an “infant.” When Violet Annie died and was buried in the Salt Lake City Cemetery at little over five months old, her father cut a headstone for both babies showing their full names, birth and death dates and placed it at the grave of the last named baby, buried in Salt Lake City Cemetery. He also made the casket for one, and most probably for both babies. Elizabeth Agnes remembered the burial of one of the babies, probably the last one, and the casket being carried down the steps.
Some 63 years later, although a birth certificate was secured from Somerset House in England for Villamena Violet, this engraved sandstone headstone seemed to be the only place the complete information on these two babies existed and it was from this headstone I took the information to complete a genealogical record and family group sheet for this family. The next time I visited the cemetery a few weeks later, the surface of the stone had crumbled and lay in chips at the base of the stone monument.
Little more is known to me about the early history of this family except that “William Doxey, a British subject, was ‘naturalized’ June 6, 1890" (according to a letter mailed from Salt Lake City--sender not identified--dated April 9, 1935 to Frederick Doxey, General Delivery, Baltimore, Maryland), and that a divorce occurred, probably in 1891 or earlier because February 8, 1892 Agnes Woods (Doxey) was married to William S. Davis in Salt Lake County in the Territory of Utah. In March 1892 this couple negotiated for property at 5936 Fremont Street in Oakland, California. March 24, 1892 is the date of a bond from the former owner of this property. On November 4, 1892 an indenture for purchase of this property lists Agnes Davis, wife of William Davis. Then on February 10, 1904 title of property was vested to Agnes Davis, wife of William Davis. Dorothy Heermance Oram has these papers and supplied this information. Sometime before her Will, dated May 31, 1911, in which she, Agnes, refers to herself as a widow, William S. Davis either was divorced or separated from her and it is believed he had been previously involved in some questionable business affair. Agnes died at 76-A Waller Street in San Francisco, California at age 67 and was buried in Mount Olivet Cemetery in the same grave in which her son, Walter, a bachelor, had been buried at age 33 whose death occurred August 17, 1909. His death was caused by cancer of the rectum. Mother Agnes died of chronic bronchitis (asthma) and exhaustion on June 26, 1911.
Walter worked for a safe company and used their big trucks, most probably horse-drawn, to haul the family’s household goods to Golden Gate Park after the April 6, 1906 earthquake. The home of Walter and his mother burned in the ensuing fire and they were given a refugee cottage out by the beach. Walter’s sister, Elizabeth Agnes, and husband, Robert Eccles, and daughter, Anita Gertrude, were able to move back into their home. While camping in the park, Anita Gertrude stepped on the handle of a boiling food pot and scalded her leg. She carried the scar on the back of one leg to her grave. They made a trip by train to Ogden to Robert’s people (Robert being Gertrude’s father) and Gertrude’s leg was very painful, wrapped in olive oil and gauze. It had been raining when they left San Francisco and Elizabeth Agnes put her hat to dry--arriving in Ogden next day the hat had shrunk and sat barely on top of her head. Robert went to buy a pair of shoes and the salesman would take no money for them when told they had just arrived in Ogden from the San Francisco earthquake. There is still in existence a scrap of wrapping paper on which Robert wrote to his folks from San Francisco telling them the family was alright. Mail was sent without envelopes and written on anything available from the area to families anxious about their kin.
As Walter’s life had ebbed away word was sent from San Francisco to his brother, William, my Father, in Bountiful, Davis County, Utah and William left immediately by train for San Francisco. Upon his arrival he approached the house and with joy in his heart at the thought of seeing his own dear mother and family again, he took the steps up to the house--suddenly joy faded and he was overcome with profound grief and confusion at the sight he beheld through the front window--the casket--and he realized that his brother, Walter, had died. His unassuaged grief is evidenced by the following letter he wrote to his mother on December 21, 1909, four months after his return home. This was the last time William had seen his mother, Agnes.
December 21, 1909
I ought to be ashamed of myself for not writing to some of you before, but I have tried several times and it seems that each time it has been harder to write as the memory of my trip to California brings back sad regrets, not that I was not pleased to see you all but the sad memory of our dear Son and Brother Walter has been impressed so strongly on my mind that I will never forget.
I have always had a desire to live near you all but I do not believe I could live in California as the remembrance of its claiming two of our family makes me hate the name.
I have wished several times that I had stayed longer with you when I was out there, and I must have been stupid to leave so soon but while I was there I did not seem to have my senses, and I have thought since that the shock of not realizing the condition of Walter and then walking up them steps with a smile on my face that I was with you again and glancing in that window, and the sight that met my gaze seems to have stunned me and paralyzed my brain so that I was unconscious of what I was doing.
While we have for many years been separated I believe that our family has always loved one another and I hope that I may never again (be) compelled to go through such an ordeal.
Upon my return home I found Nell and Ruby fine but broken-hearted, and they have tried to comfort me and have tried to get me to write to you all but although I have tried I have had to give it (up) as I know that this letter from me will make sad recollections and make you all think over the time when we were called upon to mourn the death of a very dear one.
Shortly after my return we went to see Father and I told him all the details and he seemed to feel bad but I tried to get him to assist with the expenses but he said he was unable.
Ruby is enclosing to you a slight amount for Xmas and we would have done more sooner if it had been possible but a little later we will try to write you again and show our affection.
I believe I remember that I told you that while I was away the company had sent a man to take my place and when I returned they asked me to go and take charge at several other places, and offered me more money to work for them but I absolutely refused, so they asked me to take the same place and I refused to work for them in any capacity until finally a man was taken sick so I went to work in the Auditors office and the first day this company sent after me to go to work as Manager.
We could not come to terms as to salary for some time but finally they offered me any salary I asked if I would take charge so I accepted.
I have been unable to locate Fred yet and don’t know if I will be able to find him but I will let you know if I do.
I will close this time hoping to hear from some of you soon.
Give our love to all the Family and tell them I will write one of these days.
With Kind and affectionate love to your self
From your loving son and daughter
Will Nell and Ruby
Most of her family seems to have moved to California with the mother, Agnes.
The firstborn, Sarah Louisa, had three marriages to (1) Aquilla (Quill) Truelock whom she married in Ogden, Utah, (2) Marion Rolph whom she married in San Francisco, there being some children from this union who died in infancy, one living several months (none identified) and there were unfortunate miscarriages, and (3) Dave Davis. I remember my mother telling of husband, Marion Rolph, who had a restaurant and was a cook--a temperamental fellow whose temper would flare and he would walk out and leave Aunt Louisa with the full responsibility of meal preparation, cashiering, etc., until he’d return a few days later in a better mood, tie the big white apron on and go back to work! This was in San Francisco near the old “Chutes” in the Golden Gate Park area where the Cliff House was built and I believe in the near proximity to the car barns. Dorothy Heermance Oram still has the plain white crockery platformed egg dish that always sat on the counter full of free hard-boiled eggs. Sarah Louisa Doxey was born in Cuckney, Nottinghamshire, England on 22nd of May, 1870 and died at age 33 on 21st of April, 1903 in San Francisco.
My Father, William Doxey, the second child, is referred to in the beginning of this history.
Frederick Doxey, a bachelor, was born 18th of August, 1874 at 3 Erskine Street, Hulme, a section of Manchester in Lancashire, England. He eventually became a cigar maker in New York and once rolled a small cigar from a big leaf similar to or from a rhubarb leaf once while visiting us in Bountiful. He stayed with us several weeks and enjoyed to the fullest a bountiful Thanksgiving dinner which he compared so very favorably with the meager restaurant Thanksgiving dinners he had eaten in New York. He ate to his stomach’s full capacity, arose from the table for comfort, held his stomach and walked the floor smiling contentedly and saying over and over: “I ate three slabs of turkey--Oh, my God, I’m in misery.” He later threw a nice leather stationery kit which my Father had given him as a gift on his visit, on the dresser and left in a huff, and we never heard from him again. He had been a dapper fellow and a fancy dresser, fair with blue eyes, and as he would adjust his derby hat to the correct angle on his head, would chide my father and tell him and my mother that “Will should dress up more.” This infuriated my mother which must have been the cause for his leaving. My father had a wife and was raising a family, and Frederick had no responsibilities, having never married. He died about 1944.
It was Aunt Lil (Elizabeth Agnes) who was notified, in Oakland, California I am almost sure from New York, of his death. She had not seen him in years and was not in a position to send for his body. She seemed to have gained the impression he died a pauper and that his body probably was given to science.
Thomas Albert, born 11th of August 1878 in Manchester, Lancashire, England, fought in the Spanish American War precipitated by the insurrection in the Philippines of Aguinaldo against the United States. He married Maude Holliday. He was a cook and also at one time drove a water wagon that sprayed the street for street cleaning. He died of a cerebral hemorrhage 14th of October, 1938 in Ventura, California. He had been baptized at Sutro Baths in San Francisco, California.
Elizabeth Agnes Doxey was born on Valentines Day, the 14th of February, 1880 at 2 Fletcher Square, Hulme, Manchester, Lancashire, England. She worked for a time in sister, Sarah Louisa’s restaurant in San Francisco where she met her future husband, Robert Eccles. He came in one day and asked her if she liked his red tie. Then he asked her for a date, and their courtship began. They were married 16th of February, 1898. In 1915 they built a home on the property on Fremont Street in Oakland after tearing down the old house where Mother Agnes lived. They were the parents of Anita Gertrude who married Hadley Russell Heermance. Their daughter is Dorothy Ruth (Heermance) Oram. Uncle Bob (Robert) worked for the Southern Pacific Railroad on Drumm Street in San Francisco which entitled him and Aunt Lil to railroad passes and they would take an annual month’s trip always in May, always ending their trip by a week’s stay with us (her brother, William) in Bountiful, Utah. Great were the joys on the day of their arrival when we would take the red wagon down to the Bamberger Depot where they would arrive from Ogden, to haul their baggage home. We’d stand and watch up the tracks northward and wait for the whistle and sight of the train as it rounded the bend a couple of blocks away, and we could hardly contain our excitement and joy in our eagerness for the train to come to a slow stop, and see them, all smiles, alight. Everyone would stay up late that night and next morning there would be a late breakfast of bacon and eggs, toast, tea and coffee, and jokes told by Uncle Bob, on until almost noon, when William would finally get on his way to work at Bountiful Light & Power Company which he helped organize. The sadness in our hearts on the day they would take leave was somewhat alleviated by their gift to each of us sisters upon their departure of a silver half dollar. We were rich! Elizabeth Agnes died of myocardial infraction and thrombotic occlusion [basically old age] in Pleasant Hill where the three [four actually] generations lived at Dorothy’s home, on 20th of June, 1969 less than a year short of being age 90.
Joseph Doxey was born 12th of April 1883 at 2 Eastnor Street, Stretford, Lancashire, England. He was expert in laying hardwood floors in intricate and interesting designs. He married Maude Johnstone and had one son, Bill. His second wife’s name was Myrtle. He spent most of his life in southern California, living in Ojai, Ventura and that area. He died the 2nd of July, 1948 in southern California (Ventura), ten years after the death of my Father, William.
Villamena Violet Doxey was born at the same address in England as Joseph on 4th of March 1885 and died 19th July, 1885 in Ogden, Utah and was buried there.
Violet Annie Doxey was born 5th February, 1887 in Salt Lake City, Utah and died 12th July of the same year in Salt Lake City and was buried in the Salt Lake City Cemetery. Reference is made above in this history regarding these two infants.
In 1953 I had the parents of this family, William and Agnes Woods Doxey, sealed to each other, all adult family members endowed, and all family members, as children, sealed to their parents on 31 August, 1953, in the Salt Lake Temple, except Elizabeth Agnes, who had been endowed and sealed to her husband, and who was still living. She has since been sealed to her parents under date of 6th of March, 1974, in the Oakland Temple by Dorothy Ruth Heermance Oram, although the record shows 6th of March, 1973.
This family sacrificed so very much to leave their own country, and many were the heartaches and homesick days of Grandmother Agnes, to come to this country in hostile and unyielding circumstances of destitution that it is hoped these ordinances for immortal family solidarity will prevail as a token of reward for their sincerity and courage.
It seems my father, William, did not go to California with the family, but worked for a Mr. J. B. White in his real estate office on Second South between Main and State Streets in Salt Lake City and there became acquainted with a fellow named Matt Stimson whose mother had been seeing my other divorced Grandfather, William Francis Neslen with whom my mother, his daughter, Eleanor Neslen, lived. Matt Stimson invited William Doxey to come with him saying his mother intended to entice and marry William Francis Neslen and he was going to marry the daughter, Eleanor. My father, William, accompanied his friend to meet the Neslens, and became attracted to the daughter, Eleanor, and on April 10, 1893 they were married. William was 21 years old; Eleanor was 19. Matt Stimson went to Grass Valley, California, to live. His mother was never invited to marry Grandfather Neslen.
The father, William Doxey, divorced from Agnes, entered into a second marriage with a woman known to me only as “Mama” (the “a” being pronounced as in “Bambi”). I never knew my Grandmother Agnes, and saw my Grandfather William only twice that I have recollection of: once in old St. Marks Hospital on Second West where we all went to visit him where I remember his bed being in a big dormitory-like room on the south end of the building in which were many beds--probably 20 or more, half on each side of the large room with the heads to the wall and the foot facing the center of the room; his bed was on the east side; and another time when his wife, “Mama,” sent him supposedly to live with us in Bountiful, along with some of his soiled underwear. We had dinner in the dining room that day and I remember now the position at the table where he sat, across the table and to the left facing north. I remember him as being very quiet, probably as a result of having been ousted by his wife. Next day my mother (who had young children to raise and care for) bundled up the soiled underwear and sent him and the bundle back to his wife, “Mama.” He died July 28, 1916 of uremia and nephritis and is buried in Salt Lake City Cemetery. He was 69 years old. I was six years old when he died. He had built a home and lived with “Mama” there at 920 Princeton Avenue in Salt Lake City, Utah. “Mama” had some daughters by a previous marriage, one of who was “Gertie” who married a nephew of her husband, William Doxey, by the name of James (Jim) Doxey son of James Doxey who had a sister Lydia and they had a daughter Lydia.
Agnes Woods Doxey (Davis) was the daughter of Thomas Woods and Margaret Seddon Woods who were married April 8, 1837. He was from Killington, Westmorland, England and she was from Middleton, Westmorland, England. He was born October 23, 1814 and died February 28, 1888. She was born (baptized) June 21, 1818 and died January 12, 1882. Daughter Agnes was the fifth of 14 children; she had five sisters and eight brothers. She was born at Firbank, sub-district of Grayrigg, Westmorland, England, February 29, 1844. Having been born in Leap Year she had a true birthday only every four years!
Father William Doxey, husband of Agnes, was born to Abraham, and Bridget Hiscock Doxey on April 4, 1847. They were married June 6, 1841. Abraham, a widower, was from Middleton by Wirksworth, Derbyshire, England, born August 11, 1808 and died in April 1861 in England. Mother Bridget was from Kendal, Westmorland, England and was born August 21, 1822 and died in September 1904 and buried October 2, 1904 in Salt Lake City, Utah. There is a record of her being rebaptized 29 April, 1890 by Joseph Keddington in the 16th Ward in Salt Lake City. (Minnie Margetts file Film 5426, Part 4) but she was married the second time to William Schofield, date and place unknown, and had two children by him, Mary Ann and William Saville. There were six children by the first husband, Abraham Doxey, who was a widower when they were married. He is not shown in the 1841 census in his own locality because on that day, June 6th, he was over in Kendal, Westmorland, being married to Bridget. Their children were Robert, Sarah, William (my Grandfather), George, Elizabeth Alice and Abraham. Bridget Doxey Schofield was 39 years of age when husband, Abraham, died at age 53. Bridget’s son, William Saville, by her second husband, Schofield, married a girl named Rose, then deserted her, and when she died she was in such restricted financial circumstances the neighbors and friends contributed articles of clothing for her burial.
I have no detail of the following but I remember 2nd Cousin, Graham Hayes Doxey, (son of Pearl Hayes and Thomas Graham Doxey) (Thomas Graham Doxey who came to Utah at age 16 with Grandmother Bridget, being the son of George Doxey who was the son of Bridget and Abraham) telling me that George and his mother, Bridget were in the same Salt Lake City hospital, County Hospital, I believe, at the same time and died within hours, or at least a day apart in 1904, neither knowing the other was in the same hospital, and neither having seen the other for some period of time. It seems George had returned to Salt Lake City in poor health and within a day or two was admitted to the same hospital where his mother was, unknown to her, and he not knowing of her being there also. This 1904 death date coincides with the death dates of the two, in my records.
I have researched and completed family group sheets on all of the direct line families mentioned here and I believe I have made and furnished copies to all family members who would have an interest in this record. However, they are to be found in my genealogical record.
Further, regarding Bridget’s rebaptism, this must have been the custom to rebaptize immigrant converts because my own father used to say he had been baptized three times, (then jokingly) none of which “took” and they were going to baptize him next time in hot oil.
At the time the son, William, my father, was becoming acquainted with Eleanor Neslen, my mother, it became steadily apparent to him that Eleanor’s childhood and early womanhood had been very trying and much less than happy. Her parents had also been divorced and the eight children divided between the two parents, and Eleanor being the next to the last living child was assigned to live with her father. She was only 10 years old. The mother, Eleanor Ann Mitchell Neslen, being anxious to keep the youngest, a four-your old boy, gave up the daughter Eleanor to the father. The separation was so bitter and the void so great that the children were not allowed to visit the parent they had been separated from, thus Eleanor was not allowed to, nor did she have any association with her mother until after her marriage, and then only a few visits.
Grandfather William Francis Neslen had been a buyer for S. P. Teasdale store (located where the Kearns Building now stands on Main Street between 1st and 2nd South on the west side in Salt Lake City). The faithful mother stayed close to home concerned with raising her family. Slowly Grandfather Neslen outgrew Grandmother Neslen, becoming more gallant with each buying trip to New York City, until the situation became untenable, and they were divorced. It is told that Grandmother had evidence of his unfaithfulness and became so disgusted with the situation that she put some unsavory agent to his demijohn of whiskey and Grandfather became very, very ill as a result. In his bitterness he did provide a home for her elsewhere and gave her $10.00 a month for support. Son Samuel was allotted to the mother, son William being the oldest went both places and I believe my mother’s older sister, Eunice, was with the father also for awhile until she married Isaac Broberg.
As Eleanor matured and came into womanhood and her monthly periods appeared, she was stunned at what was happening to her physically, and secretly soaked the blood-stained cloths in cold water until it became apparent to her that this was the biology of womanhood. Then came into the home the stepmother who resented Eleanor and did nothing to enrich her life, but who made Grandfather’s life idyllic. She bore him two daughters, Pearl who lived only six months, then Ruby, born at 7:35 a.m., 1 Oct 1889, three months after the death of the first child. Eleanor loved the baby half-sister, Ruby, born when Eleanor was 15 years old, and cared for her with devotion. When baby Ruby was three years old, her mother died and it fell my mother, Eleanor’s lot to steady the feet of her corpse while she was being dressed for burial and in Eleanor’s heart she rejoiced at her passing. She had caused Eleanor much unhappiness by lying about her to her father, and the father taking his beloved wife’s word against his daughter’s.
So grieved was Grandfather Neslen over the loss of the wife he had truly loved that he decided to take a trip to Europe. Although William and Eleanor’s courtship had been enriched by the care and close association of baby Ruby, she, Ruby was given to the care of her Father’s sister, Phoebe Neslen Ottinger while her Father sojourned and grieved in Europe, and Eleanor was given the choice of going to boarding school or getting married, and together she and William Doxey chose marriage. They were married by R. G. McNiece, Pastor, First Presbyterian Church in Salt Lake City on April 10, 1893. Her father and William’s cousin, Thomas Graham Doxey were witnesses. This is taken from her marriage license certificate.
Expecting her father would take them to dinner after the marriage ceremony, they had neglected to provide groceries in the little apartment they had rented on M Street, in Salt Lake City, but he did not, but left them at the church, so they went home to their apartment alone and with no food and without dinner.
Two incidents I remember my mother speaking of in her very young childhood while the family was all together are: her carrying her father’s lunch to him at the store where he would give her a hard round sugar cookie which she would sit at the gutter on South Temple on her way home and dip the cookie in the cool fresh water coming down from City Creek Canyon to moisten it before eating it; and of the time the wash woman at their home hoisted her upon her shoulders and took her to see the lynching of the negro who had shot Sheriff Burt! The negro had ordered a meal in a Salt Lake restaurant on 2nd South, west of Main Street, and then refused to pay for it and they sent for the sheriff. As the sheriff walked into the restaurant the negro asked him if he were Sheriff Burt. When he replied in the affirmative, the negro shot him dead. The crowd took the negro up the street on 2nd South about a block and a half east of Main Street, and as word spread of the happening, a rope was thrown over a rafter in an old building near the old City Hall, and the negro strung up. The negro held on to the rope above his head with his hands, so they took a buggy whip and whipped his hands until he was forced to let go and he dropped where he hung until he died.
While Grandfather Neslen was in Europe the baby Ruby under her Aunt Phoebe’s care became very seriously ill and lay for days on a pillow hovering between life and death. Her father was sent for and the baby finally recovered, to live only until age 28 when she died of tuberculosis, or consumption, as it was known in those days in a sanitarium in Albuquerque, New Mexico, 5 December 1917. She was brought home to Salt Lake City for burial. She had been a school teacher and we remember her as a very dear and lovely Aunt and beloved always by my parents who had cared for her as a tiny baby. Having some knowledge of her consumptive condition, whenever she kissed us children it was always at the back of our neck.
After Eleanor’s marriage she took her husband and went to see her mother, which incurred the wrath of her father and he took her to task for the visit until the husband, William, reminded him that she was his wife now and they would visit whenever they pleased.
Soon after Grandfather Neslen had returned from Europe he took up residence for a little while in a hotel where he summoned Eleanor and William saying he had something to talk to them about. No sooner had they been received and small talk out of the way when a tap-tap came at the door and there appeared a lady-friend of Grandfather’s. She was cordially received and the visit for Eleanor and William terminated. A second time they were summoned and a second time there appeared the lady, and again they were dismissed. When they were summoned a third time, they disregarded the invitation and it never came to their attention that which her father had in mind to present to them. I believe the lady-friend was the woman whom he made his third wife, “Aunt Polly,” as we were to know her, or Mary Marie Evans. They had only one child, Ethel. Grandfather Neslen subsequently met with an accident in his horse-drawn buggy on South Temple; the buggy tipped over and a serious arm injury took the attention of those in attendance, neglecting attention to a sprained back which ultimately paralyzed him from the waist down and he sat for the rest of his life in a wheelchair at home with a robe over his lap, his feet always swollen out of his slippers--little or no control of his bladder, all of which proved to be a great burden for Aunt Polly. Of course there were no more children for them. My mother asked one time if she could not buy him a urinal so that he would not have to sit with his bladder draining into cloths placed at his groin. He said, “My girl, I couldn’t use one or I would have had one before now,”--his genitalia had receded into his body cavity.
In less than a year after Eleanor and William were married a baby girl was born to them on January 29, 1894, and she was named Agnes after William’s Mother. These were depression years, food was scarce and the baby lived only five days simply because she had not received sufficient nourishment in the womb.
In another year on February 3, 1895 another baby girl was born to them and they named her Ruby after Eleanor’s lovely baby half-sister, Ruby--Ruby Grace she was christened. Times were still hard and the depression of the 1890s was in full swing, so William and Eleanor took two-year-old Ruby and moved to California in 1897 to be near his own people in San Francisco. I am sure they lived for a time at or very near the restaurant of his sister, Louisa, near the car barns (at first drawing a curtain and putting a cot in the kitchen) and William secured work at the Playland on the Beach where was built a high water chute where persons were drawn to the top by cables, then rode down the chute in a boat which splashed into the water and along until it lost momentum and came to a stop. This play land area was called “The Chutes” and when this chute was finally finished, William took Ruby and they were in the first boat to take the ride down the chute into the water.
Then William secured employment with the San Francisco Railway as a motorman and was paid one dollar a day and received his pay of one dollar at the end of each day. He worked and Eleanor took Ruby and day after day they roamed Golden Gate Park, here and there, up Strawberry Hill, and into every area of the park which she came to know so well. It was a joy in later years to hear her tell of it as we younger children sat at her knee and listened in wide-eyed wonder. My sister, Rose Mildred, has the brass buttons from the San Francisco Railway uniform my father, William, wore. He once found a tiny gold heart locket with a very small diamond in the center on the car and took it home to Ruby and she wore it on a chain around her neck until her death.
The Mormon missionaries called from time to time and were always welcomed in the home by Eleanor and William. Eleanor’s hair had always been thin and fine and she had had made up for dress occasions a “switch” consisting of a long strand of her own hair which she had saved as it came out, with a loop at the top end through which a hairpin secured it to the hair in her head. Braided in with her natural hair and entwined in a bob atop her head it gave the appearance of a full head of hair.
On one of the missionary visits as the Elders sat visiting with Eleanor, young Ruby came prancing out of the bedroom holding the switch to the top of her own head and showing off her talents to the missionaries, much to the embarrassment of Eleanor and which earned Ruby a much-deserved spanking. Eleanor tells of another time when there was a party to which the missionaries had been invited. They spied an attractive and luscious-looking cake and decided to hide it for themselves later on, so quickly opened a bureau drawer and deposited the cake inside. The cake sat too high and as they hurriedly closed the drawer the icing and the top of the cake was sheared off and adhered to the outside front of the bureau just above the line of the top of the drawer.
In December 1901 as the Christmas holiday season approached, Eleanor received word that her older sister, Margaret Grace Neslen Meyer had died December 12th as a result of infection after childbirth, the baby, Henry Margetts Gray Meyer, being born December 3rd and she being alone with only a hired girl. The baby had survived. Eleanor and daughter, Ruby, tearfully left husband and father in San Francisco and came back home to Salt Lake City for the funeral; William confessed to Eleanor--long before this time she had become known to her own people as “Nellie” and to him as “Nell”--that after they had departed by train he found a secluded spot in the Ferry Building and cried hard and long at their very first separation.
Christmas came and there were gifts for six-year-old Ruby in Salt Lake City while in San Francisco her father had assembled a few gifts for her return and a friend had delivered a gift for both Ruby and her mother for their return, and a bottle of whiskey for William.
When Eleanor returned to San Francisco she found she had become homesick for her Salt Lake City family, having enjoyed being with them so recently, so after a time she and William sold their possessions and returned home to Salt Lake City, after eight years in California, in 1905, missing by one year the great San Francisco Earthquake in April, 1906.
William secured employment with the telephone company in Salt Lake City and was soon sent to Bountiful as Manager of the Bountiful Exchange where he worked for a year or two. They rented a house south on the west side of Main Street set deep in the lot, the house having no inside toilet nor water and all water had to be carried in buckets from a stream a long way from the house. Here they lived and Eleanor often worked at the switchboard along with the telephone operators. Ruby was always with her parents. They told of east winds so strong in those days in Bountiful that it was impossible to walk the two blocks from home to the Telephone Exchange and on one occasion they stayed for three days at the telephone office unable to get home in the wind. They told of a building where the furniture store had caskets stored upstairs and the wind blew the roof off and the caskets along the street. Furniture store owners in small towns always cared for the dead bodies and prepared them for burial at the back of the store, and sold the caskets.
On July 3, 1907 the Bountiful Light and Power Company was organized by seven outstanding Bountiful residents, including William Doxey, and he was made Manager.
[Two handwritten inserts from the end of the manuscript--unclear where Gertrude wanted them added]:
Of her days in San Francisco, as we children sat at her knee years later, mother Eleanor told us of a Madame Tadje who would undress in a cage of lions (probably an attraction at Playland at the Beach). One night the lights went out, the lions roared and all was confusion until workmen inserted crowbars through the bars of the cage separating the animals from the Madame until she could be removed from the cage. It was said her nose had been completely bitten off in previous encounters with the lions and a false one fashioned for appearance. Then she told of the story of Emil Marksburg who would make a daily balloon ascension, suspended from the balloon by a leather strap held in his teeth. The day came when the worn strap broke and he fell to the ground to his death before his wife and the crowd, and every bone in his body was broken.
Bridget came to Utah early in 1890 bringing with her her grandson Thomas Graham Doxey (son of George Doxey), age 16, whose mother had died in England. And there is record of her being rebaptized 29 April 1890.
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