History of Anna Eliza Jacobson Whiting

Anna Eliza Jacobson was born April 24, 1870 in Bear River City, Utah. She was the third child and first daughter in a family of eleven children. Her parents were James Jacobson and Anne Rasmussen Olsen. Their home life was patterned after a Scandinavian way, her father being Swedish and her mother Danish. The mother spoke Danish until the children spoke English, then she spoke English very brokenly.

Their first home was a dugout close to the Bear River. Their next home had one large room built of weatherboard, lined with adobe. They had a lumber shanty used as a summer kitchen, joined by a slant-roofed cellar for storing milk, meat, butter and fruit. There was a grain cellar, where vegetables were stored, and also a barn for cows in one end and horses in the other. They had summer gardens, growing all their vegetables, beans, melons, etc. There were chickens and pigs, and always at least three cows.

The Jacobson's were industrious and hard-working, though poor, as many early pioneers were. Her mother did all the family's sewing by hand, including underwear, dresses, shirts, pants and men's suits. Eliza and Rebecca usually dressed alike, and they never had more than one best dress at a time, which was worn on Sunday. Eliza's mother sent the wool to Brigham City where it was corded, spun and woven into small red and white broken checked linsey and returned. Their everyday dresses were made of this. These dresses didn't wear out, but were handed down from one to another as they were outgrown--a Danish custom. Eliza's mother had a green and white checked gingham dress she wore for sixteen years and then remodeled for Eliza. They always had nice white handmade stockings and black pernell shoes (leather bottoms and high cloth tops) to go with their nice dress. The everyday stockings were grey, a mixture of white and black yarn, usually worn with clogs. A pair of clogs was made each fall by a clog maker and lasted all winter. Eliza's mother taught her girls to cord and spin yarn for stockings. Rebecca did most of the cording and Eliza did the spinning. They learned to knit and mend their stockings and each girl had the responsibility of keeping up stockings for one of the younger children.

The children played games such as mumble peg, guinea ball, jump the rope, and swing. They liked to play on a large flat wooden waterwheel. They could dig little dug-out houses and farms in the damp earth while they tended the smaller children.

With such a large family it was important for the children to learn to help as much as they could. Mother Jacobson was ill a lot, too, and with so much work to do she was wise in teaching them how to do all that must be done. Eliza, being older than Rebecca, helped more with the housework. Their mother also taught them to make their own clothes and to cook. They did most of the cooking, but their mother made the bread which was baked in a Dutch oven. They had good food, most of which they raised themselves. There were very little pastries and sweets, except on Christmas and special occasions.

When alkali began to raise in the soil and kill the crops, the Jacobsons, along with others, were released from the Bear River settlement.

They elected to go to Arizona; the entire family became involved in the two month preparation for the trip. Eliza, not quite fourteen, played an important role. She learned to skillfully handle the Dutch oven and did most of the baking. The last few days were spent baking quantities of bread, cookies and cinnamon rolls. When provisions ran low on the trip, they stopped and made camp where feed, water and wood were plentiful, and baked, cooked, and washed again.

The Jacobson's left in the fall of 1884, traveling in two outfits, the father driving one and the two older boys the other. Their money was gone, it has been said, by the time they reached Salt Lake City, but people helped them along the way. Eliza felt that the most harried experience of the trip was going down over Lee's Backbone, the drop to the Colorado River. But her sister, Rebecca, said that while ferrying over the Colorado River with the teams and wagons on the flatboat, Eliza enjoyed the first trip so much that she went back to make the second trip. Rebecca, however, was too frightened to attempt it again. Then followed a long tedious trip through the desert, where they found barely enough water for themselves and their animals. Two hymns Eliza remembers singing on the way were, "Oh Thou Rock Of Our Salvation" and "The Parting Hymn."

Eventually, as shown in earlier accounts, the family went through Woodruff and Snowflake and settled in Percheron, now known as Pinedale. Later they moved to Heber, forty miles west of Snowflake.

While still in Percheron, Eliza helped the family by hiring out to do housework in Snowflake. She was a beautiful girl and popular among both old and young. Joseph Hawkins, Mr. Mortensen's hired man, liked her very much. A Mr. Hans Nielson, age 65, and his wife tried to get Eliza to marry him, but she would not. John Scarlet started keeping company with Eliza and proposed to her. Her father objected to him because he broke the Word of Wisdom. Scarlet tried to get Eliza to elope with him, but Father Jacobson prayed earnestly about this matter and was told that Eliza should become the wife of Charles Whiting. (She had only met him once previously at a conference in Wilford.)

Charles Whiting, who was later to become Eliza's husband, was the son of Edwin Whiting and Mary Elizabeth Cox, born at Manti, Utah, December 16th, 1853. He moved to Springville when a small boy. He married Verona Snow in 1876. He was then called, three weeks later by Brigham Young to settle in the Arizona Mission. He was also called to take a second wife, Amy Porter. They were married and sealed in November, 1880 at the St. George Temple.

In the summer of 1878, Charles Whiting and Sylvester "Vest" Perry visited Springville, Utah, and for awhile worked with Edmund Richardson, cutting timber for the mines at Park City. While they were thus together, they persuaded Edmund to go back to Arizona with them.

Because Charles' sister, May was not well, he felt she would also feel better in Arizona. After consideration by their 71 year old father, Edwin Whiting, he gave his consent.

In October of 1878, Mary Elizabeth Cox Whiting, with her sons Charles, Arthur Cox, Edwin Marion, John Clarence, Frederick Walter, her daughters May Whiting and Harriet Lucinda with her husband, Joseph Henry Curtis left for Arizona along with Vest Perry, Sully and Edmund Richardson. They travelled through Manti, Utah, where Edmund and Sully met their blood father, Frederick Walter Cox (Mary Elizabeth's brother). He gave them consecrated oil to take with them. May's health did improve. She had a few happy years before she died on a trip back to Utah. Eventually Mary Elizabeth Cox and some of her sons settled in St. Johns, Arizona.

When the Jacobson's came to Arizona the Whitings' were living at Wilford.

When the persecution because of plural marriage became great, Charles and others were sent on to establish a colony in Mexico, where they would be allowed to live and take care of their families. He left his mother and his brothers and sisters at St. Johns, Arizona and went on to help colonize Colonia Diaz, Chihuahua, Mexico. After the death of Amy Porter, his second wife and their two children who died in infancy, Charles had no need to stay in Mexico, but friends persuaded him to stay.

Father Jacobson became discontented in Heber, Arizona (only seven families there) and decided to follow those who had moved to Mexico. They arrived in Mexico on January 11th, 1888, where they lived in a tent until July.

The account of their first year of hardship, ending in the death of their mother at Colonia Diaz July 1, 1888 is given elsewhere.

By now Eliza was 18 years of age. She was pretty, with dark hair and blue eyes. She was 5 ft. 3" tall and had a beautiful complexion. She was shy but friendly and had a beautiful singing voice.

One day, while Eliza was singing in the bowery at Colonia Diaz, Charles said it was as though he heard an angel singing. He later proposed to Eliza and they were sealed in the Endowment House at Juarez on January 7, 1889, by Alexander F. MacDonald, who held the Sealing Authority given him by President Woodruff. Eliza became his third wife. (Ten years later, October 10, 1899, she and Charles traveled 1000 miles to the Salt Lake Endowment House, where Eliza was Endowed and their marriage re-affirmed.) They took their 3 year-old daughter, Iris with them to be baptized for her health.

A miracle of healing occurred at Wilford, just before the Whiting family made the move to Colonia Diaz, Mexico. Because of a serious illness, Charles became pale and emaciated, too weak to stand. Conference visitors were there from Salt Lake City. They administered to him. By the power of the Priesthood which they held, the brethren administered to him and sealed him to health and strength. Then leaving him and his wife Amy alone, they held a well-attended meeting. The Spirit of the Lord was there. Among them were H.M. Tanner, J.J. Adams, John Bushman and J.H. Richards. The people felt they had attended a good meeting, but the best was yet to come. As the choir finished the last hymn, ready for the benediction, in walked Charles Whiting and his wife Amy, with faces aglow with light. They walked to the stand and testified to the blessing which he had received. He had been healed by the Priesthood and knew that the Gospel was true. Amy testified that after the Elders left, Charles asked her to pray, then he prayed with great power. They then sang "God Moves In A Mysterious Way" and "We Thank Thee O God For A Prophet". While singing, heavenly voices filled the room, so that they could not hear their own. A most glorious light filled the room, their faces shone. They dared not look up. They both testified they had experienced the most glorious feeling, rejoiced and praised God.

While living in the White Mountains, 35 miles east of Snowflake, Charles Whiting' and J.J. Adams' families engaged in cattle raising. It was good cattle country but again the problem of theft confronted them. One day they missed seven of their best horses. Charles and J.J. followed the tracks. Some places the horses had been led over solid rock, but they continued to follow. They camped for the night on top of the mountain. Down the other side they came to a log cabin by a spring. They were eating a turnip from the garden there when two armed men rode up and demanded to know what occasioned the visit. The co-op store at Woodruff had been robbed earlier that year. One of the tough looking strangers was carrying a pair of field glasses, and they carried other articles which looked like articles stolen from the store. Adams and Whiting told the strangers they were looking for a man called Martin Sanders. The men offered to show the way. One rode ahead, one behind. When the desperados had ushered them out of their hideout, they told them not to come snooping around again.

Three weeks later, Whiting and Adams returned over the mountain with four other men. A search ensued and the horses were found. The horses were staked out. The brands had been defaced with a hot iron. The gang of thieves later got to fighting among themselves and in the feud all of them were killed but one. That served as the plot to the Zane Grey novel "To the Last Man".

As has been pointed out, there was at this time trouble with outlaws, robbers, and cattlemen fighting sheep men. the Blevens' and Coopers', cattlemen who had been driven out of Texas, and the Tukesberrys' who were sheep men, fought each other. The Hashknife Outfit built up their herd by branding other people's calves. Cowhands were given a commission on the calves they branded. They tried to drive the sheep men out. They also stirred up the Indians, from whom they had stolen. The Coopers' or Blevens' ran their cattle in the Tonto Basin and another family of outlaws by the name of Tukesberry fought among themselves until most of them were killed off. Because of all the trouble, Wilford was eventually evacuated.

Twelve days after Eliza's marriage to Charles, Rebecca Jacobson married Edmund Richardson. This left their father with Mary, age twelve, as his only help within the household. Eliza and Rebecca took the responsibility of helping all they could with baking, washing, ironing, mending, etc. Her father was left with nine un-married children. Eliza and Rebecca also worked doing house-cleaning and washing for others whenever they could, received fifty cents a day. It was always hard work.

The family missed their mother very much. Eleven-year-old Serepta felt the loss very keenly and seemed to take sick the day her mother died and kept pining away. At the cemetery, she asked to be placed beside her mother. A terrific rainstorm arose while the family was at the grave and they were all drenched. After the burial, the family was taken to different places. Serepta continued to fade and waste away; she couldn't eat though she was hungry all the time. Father Jacobson watched over his little girls like a mother, never resting day or night. He became ill and bedfast. About this time, Rass came home sick with the quinzy, so there were three sick ones for Eliza and Rebecca to care for. James, being older, was in Arizona. Rebecca was sixteen, Mary thirteen, Serepta eleven, Ransome about seven, and Jessie five. Serepta lingered on until November, and when she died, she wasn't allowed to be buried by her mother as she had requested. The Mexican officials ordered her to be buried in the new cemetery. She was the first one. All the graves in the old cemetery had to be leveled.

Eliza lived close to her father. She did his laundry and brought him food. Some of his favorites were little pots of soup, rice pudding, sweet soups made from dried fruits and spices when they were available, Danish beer (a non-intoxicating drink which he used almost in place of water). The art of making yeast for this beer served a very useful contribution to the pioneers. They learned to use the yeast for making lighter bread, yogurt and cheese. These things gave a greater variety in an otherwise small assortment of foods and their uses.

Some of James' grand-children, while living in Mexico had the privilege of hearing him tell of celebrating the Festival of Light. Because of the long winters, Swedish people loved the sun and staged many of their celebrations around it. In this festival each family staged it's own celebration by appointing a daughter to play the part of Saint Lucia. She would wear a white dress and a crown of evergreen leaves topped with seven candles and carry an evergreen bough. On Christmas eve she would hand out gifts to the family members and they would sing the song "Santa Lucia" together. She would arise early on Christmas morning and prepare breakfast of a hot drink and special 'lucia buns' to serve her family before they were out of bed. Christmas season was celebrated from December 13th to January 13th. The celebration called Mid-Summer's Eve was from June 19th to the 25th and was almost as important as Christmas. The time was spent dancing around may-poles decorated gaily with flowers and flags, with much singing.

Eliza adored her husband, Charles. To them were born six children, three boys and three girls.
  1. John Lucius,
  2. Myrtle Ivy,
  3. James Albert,
  4. Iris Esther,
  5. William Verland,
  6. Mary Estelle.

Charles was a fairly successful farmer and a good provider. He loved animal husbandry best, but when the life of the cowboy was so rough and careless he gave it up. He sold his horses and many head of cattle in order to protect his sons from this life-style. He built Anna Eliza and Verona each a nice brick home on Colonia Diaz city lots. Sullivan Calvin Richardson' and Charles Whiting' families were very close since their serving together on calls to settle the Little Colorado. They lived side by side in Diaz. When Edmund Richardson's family came to Colonia Diaz all the town-lots were taken, so Charles and Sully gave him one-third each of their lots to settle on.

At Diaz the soil was alluvial, rich and fertile. Some of the time the river would overflow and bring it's top-soil over the land. Sometime, on the other hand, there was drought.

In 1891, a drought struck. Sully and Teressa, Charles and Eliza went south-ward to the mountain area beyond Colonia Juarez. The ranch of Helaman Pratt, son of Parley P. Pratt, was east of them. They built a joint home for their two wives. A porch in the middle divided the family's living quarters.

The pastures were lush and the cows produced well. The women milked the cows and began to accumulate butter which was made into butter lard, by heating it and straining out the milk particles. This helped to preserve it. They then loaded it into barrels.

Charles and Sully Richardson loaded their wagons with lumber from the mountain saw mill and started the trip to Colonia Diaz. They left two young boys, Charles Whiting and Will Donaldson to help the women with the work.

At Cave Valley, Charles and Sully learned that an Indian outlaw called "The Kid" had been seen heading in the direction of their wives. They combined both outfits and Charles, being an excellent teamster went on with the two wagons. Sully borrowed a rifle, bought cartridges and started back. About midnight, on top of the first mountain, he was seized with cramps. He camped with a Turley boy until near morning. Soon after he tried to shoot a deer and found the gun had no firing pin. He borrowed another gun and took a short-cut toward his destination.

He met little Annie Thompson with her dog. He got off his horse to warn her about the Indians. Through her sobs he learned that the Indians had killed her grand-mother and shot her brothers. They had looted their place and had stolen everything they could carry away, including 15 valuable ranch horses, considerable money and even two suits of Temple clothes. Had not his cramps delayed Sully, he might have arrived at the Thompson Ranch with his useless gun in time to be killed.

Going back with the little girl, Sully met a posse of men who went with him to the Thompson Ranch and found an awful scene. one boy still alive. He was cared for and lived. Sully carried on to find all was well with his family, who were unaware of the events happening so nearby. The ranchers did not know the direction the Indians had gone, so they all moved away at once. Charles and Sully decided to sell out and move their families back to Diaz. They preferred drought to the Indians.

As they moved to safety, the women took turns riding with the children. After about four miles travel down a ravine, they were motioned to stop and the women and children to go behind trees. Eliza was among them with her children John and Myrtle. Although she was very frightened, she showed self control as she hid her children. The alarm proved to be false. It was only three horsemen coming to help them. For years, however the awful scene at Thompson's Ranch haunted them.

Iris remembered that their food was usually very basic, plain and coarse, for a long time. Corn bread and beans, beans, beans! Later, others learned to provide better foods, such as molasses and honey for a little sweet, vinegars from over-ripe fruits, mills to grind lighter flour from both corn and wheat, meat from beef, chicken and pork. Occasionally they would be treated to bear meet, which tasted sweet. Summer's vegetables were a treat when new peas and potatoes, carrots and onions, beets and greens and turnips showed up on the tables. The longing for a little taste variety caused Eliza and some of her children to sip vinegar. They thought it a real treat. Sugar was hard to get. It was used by sprinkling it into burns, cuts, boils and other wounds to help healing instead of in the diet.

There were no doctors. Illness or injuries became very serious indeed. Golden Seal, a very bitter herb, was used for soothing the mucous membranes. It was packed into hollow grass reeds and blown into the back of the throat of people with diphtheria or sore throat.

Once when one of the children was bitten by a rabid skunk he asked his mother to tie him down so he would not bring harm to anyone when rabies drove him mad. Hydrophobia was a horrible illness and always fatal until a much later date.

Eliza was neat and clean in her humble home. She had a gift for making pretty things from very little. Rag rugs were her specialty, with heart designs and flowers. She was skilled in making simple foods taste excellent. Iris recalled that her mother would give thanks in prayer for even the slightest snack, so great was her gratitude for her blessings.

She helped her sister-wife, Verona in suit making. They would work at one or the other house while Charles entertained the children at the other. He told them stories and sang songs and read to them the stories of Horacio Alger and Ragged Dick. One little song he taught them was: "Thank you pretty cow that makes lovely milk to soften our bread. Every night and every day, warm and white and sweet and good."

James Albert, Eliza and Charles' third child, died at 15 months of age. Iris Esther was born 10 months later to fill her mother's grieving arms. At this time Eliza was 26 years of age. She suffered an injury and began having seizures which would render her unconscious for a short period of time, but she would not fall down nor faint. Once while caring for a new mother and ironing a fancy leg-a-mutton sleeve blouse, to be worn when guests arrived to see the new baby, Eliza put her hand directly on the hot iron handle instead of using a hot pad as she started a seizure. This left a terrible burn which left her hand twisted from that time. Because of her seizures, Charles, Verona and Eliza held a counsel and it was decided that Eliza should have no more children. As a result, Iris was the last baby for 13 years. Later, Sullivan Richardson spoke to Charles and advised him that it was not right for him to live apart from his lovely wife, Eliza. She should have the right to choose if she should have more children.

August 12th, 1909, William Verland Whiting was born. This was cause for great rejoicing.

At age 21, Eliza and Charles' son John Lucius Whiting left Mexico to work at St. Johns, Arizona, for his uncle Edwin Marion Whiting in the lumber mill. Soon after starting, while working with his cousin, Herbert Berry, he slipped and fell across the circular saw. Because of a lack of antibiotics, he died of blood poisoning in a few days. His father, Charles, left immediately upon hearing of the injury but arrived at St. Johns too late. John's body was just being brought to town when he arrived. John died August 12th, 1911. This was a cause of great mourning to all the family, to lose this outstanding young man.

On July 5th of 1912, Mary Elizabeth Cox passed away at St. Johns, Arizona. Because of great unrest due to the Mexican Revolution against Presidente Diaz, Charles was unable to leave his family to attend her funeral. This period of time was filled with a multitude of sorrows.

Only a few days later suddenly on July 12th, 1912, the Saints were advised by Stake President Romney to pack in a hurry and leave Mexico. Obediently, Charles Whiting, his wives and children and their families took only the barest essentials and wearing their oldest clothing. They traveled 17 miles to the closest border of New Mexico, believing that they would soon return to their Mexican homes.

The Exodus in 1912 was a sad and traumatic experience, one they never forgot. All but one of the children were born there. They had many happy times there. They thought they might be able to return for their good clothes, silverware and dishes, their cattle and many other things, but it was not to be.

According to May Whiting Cordon, Charles and his sons, Bernard and Charlie Jr. did return to Mexico at different times to bring out some of their stock and household goods. This was a dangerous and most difficult thing to do.

Verona Snow Whiting arrived in St. Johns on the 5th of August, 1912. At that time, Eliza was expecting her 6th child, Mary Estelle, who was born in Hachita, New Mexico in a temporary United States government tent provided for the exiles. After a short time, Verona and her married children went on to St. Johns, Arizona, while Charles and Eliza and other children and their families went to Franklin, Arizona in Greenlee County. Charles worked by plowing and helping others. Eliza did washings and anything else to earn a little money to replace all their lost goods.

While there, they met with another misfortune. When they were away one day from their little rented home, it burned down so they again lost everything they had. Iris later recalled that kind friends consoled Eliza as she told of doing many washings to earn money for new curtains which had just been purchased and not yet put up, when they were destroyed in the fire. The bishop gave them a hundred dollars to help with all their loss, for which they were very grateful. Charles and Eliza had always been full tithe payers, and this was the only time they ever needed help from the Church.

Charles' brother, Edwin Marion gave him a job in St. Johns hauling lumber and supplies to and from the saw mill in the White Mountains. Charles' mother, Mary Elizabeth Cox had owned two city lots there and Charles' brothers felt that she would want Charles to have them, so they were deeded to him. Lumber was available from Charles' brother Eddie's Saw Mill. Two lumber houses were soon built on them, one for Verona and one for Eliza.

On December 20th, 1917, Charles was killed instantly while with his son Bernard, each with four horses and two wagons, were freighting grain to St. Johns from Nutrioso, Arizona. He had a spirited team and, when passing a dead horse by the road, the horses bolted, throwing him off the wagon. His head was crushed by the wheels. This terrible tragedy was hard to bear.

Bishop W. D. Rencher officiated at his funeral December 22nd. Other speakers were Pres. D. K. Udall, John Plumb, Marinus Christensen and M. H. Peterson. Each spoke of his good and honorable character and enduring patience and faithfulness, which characterized his life. The opening prayer was offered by Charles P. Anderson and the benediction was by Patriarch J. W. Brown. A Sketch of his life was given by Judge George H. Crosby. Beautiful music was furnished by the ward choir, with a special selection by Josephine Patterson. There was a large attendance.

The accident left his two wives, Verona Snow Whiting and Anna Eliza Jacobson Whiting without support. Verona's children were all married. Eliza had two little children, Estelle, age 5, and Bill, age 8, besides her two married daughters.

Charles was remembered for his love and kindness. He always lived within his means and when he left Mexico, had no debt. He never complained. He was always a peacemaker and disliked bickering and trouble. He was modest about his talent of storytelling, singing and joking. He read to his children often when they were young.

Two years after Charles' death, Anna Eliza died of influenza on January 20, 1919, at 46 years of age, in Iris' little home in St. Johns, Arizona, while her husband George Brown was in France during World War I. At that time Myrtle was expecting a baby. Iris' mother-in-law, Thurza Berry Brown helped her nurse Eliza and as her death became imminent, had Iris leave the room. She did not want Iris to live with those memories, with her husband, George, being away in the war. Funeral services were held at the St. Johns Academy on Wednesday, January 22, 1919. She was buried in St. Johns cemetery beside her husband, Charles. Only a small service was held by family members because of the influenza epidemic. Few gatherings were held during this time.

Bill was 9 years old and Estelle was 6 years old at the time of their mother's death. Iris cared for them for some time. Later, Bill went to live with Myrtle and Arch Isaacson.

A niece, Madge Germaine, recalls that her Aunt Eliza was a wonderful woman, very warm, thoughtful and kind. Whenever there was a death in town, she would go into the home and clean it nicely while the family was away.

Myrtle said this of her mother: "Anna Eliza was a very generous person and very religious. She taught her children early in life to take their problems to our Heavenly Father and to share whatever they had with those less fortunate. She set the example for her children to live by, and they are all grateful."

Iris said of her mother: "She was humble and grateful to Heavenly Father for every blessing. She would not so much as eat a snack before first giving thanks to Him for it and ask a blessing upon it."

  1. Myrtle Ivy Whiting Isaacson
  2. Iris Esther Whiting Brown
  3. George A. Brown
  4. Before and After Mt. Pisgah- Clare B. Christensen
  5. Lorraine King Isaacson
  6. Beverly Brown Killpack
  7. Kathleen Brown Wilson
  8. St. John's Newspaper articles
  9. Annie Richardson Johnson
Compiled by Lorraine King Isaacson and Beverly Brown Killpack.