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SAMUEL & ELIZA WEBSTER (nee SMITH) Two Pioneers And Later Day Saints

Eliza Webster (nee Smith) was born in Griffydam on the 2nd of February 1856. She was the daughter of William Smith (1820-1908) and Eliza A Handford (1823-1869) who had 7 children :-


Elizabeth (1847-1932), Ann (1849-1889), Mary (1851-1931), James (1853-1884), Eliza (1856-1945), Mary Ann (1857-deceased), Louisa (1858-deceased).


Eliza A Handford was born in Griffydam c.1823. Her father, Joseph Handford, was 34 and her mother, Jane Hodges, was 26 at that time.


Eliza's parents, William & Eliza A, came to live on Elder Lane, Griffydam after 1851, as they are not included in the census of that year. The 1861 census indicates that their cottage on Elder lane would have been the third or fourth in from the junction with the Rempstone road.

Eliza's mother, Eliza A, died in Griffydam in 1869 aged 46.


None of the family appear in the 1871 Griffydam census and in that year Eliza's father, William Smith, is shown to be living in Swannington. He died in 1908 in Hugglescote at the age of 88 and is buried in Hugglescote cemetery.


Eliza's father William Smith


Eliza Webster.jpg

Eliza Webster (nee Smith)


Naomi on the card was Eliza Smith's daughter, hence  the reference to 'my grandmother'

At the age of 16, Eliza met her future husband Samuel Webster and two years later, on the 12th October 1874, they were married at St. Georges Church, Swannington, Leicestershire, Eliza being 18 years of age.


Samuel Webster was born at Limby Hall, Swannington on the 9th of April, 1854. His parents were John Webster and Sarah Ann Southwell. He went to school in Swannington and at 10 years of age left school to work in the local coal mines with his father, from 6:00 am to 6 pm for one shilling a day. At the age 16 he began to work as a regular miner and by 18 he was drawing full pay with the other miners.


Following Eliza's marriage to Samuel, the problem of making a living saw them moving 4 times; from Swannington to Hucknall Torkard to Swannington and again to Whitwick.


In 1876 Samuel joined the Latter Day Saints(LDS) church that he had always attended with his mother. Eliza followed him in baptism in Dec. 1877. Soon after Samuel was called as a second counsellor in the LDS branch in Whitwick. It is likely that they worshiped at the LDS branch in Hucknall also.

By 1879, Eliza and Samuel had 3 children: Levi (b. 14th Sept 1875), Alice Ada (b. 22nd Apr 1877) and John William (b. 10th Apr 1879).


On the 5th June 1880, Samuel left his native England and sailed on the ship Wisconsin from Liverpool for America, leaving behind his young wife Eliza and their 3 young children while he worked to prepare things so that they might join him.

His ship arrived in New York on 16th June 1880. There were 334 passengers on board, mostly Latter Day Saints (Mormons). His destination was to be in Utah, where he was to work in the coal mines, initially for about 4 months in Coalville, Utah before moving to Grass Creek, Utah. Whilst there he saved enough money to send for his family. They arrived in New York, America in 1881 on the ship Wyoming from Liverpool.

The family made their home in Grass Creek before moving back to Coalville, Utah in the early spring of 1882. Their 4th child Sarah Ann Southwell Webster was born on the 4th March 1882 and they bought a little home in Coalville. They continued to live there where their daughter Eliza was also born on the 4th June 1884.


Later they moved to Alma, a mining town in Wyoming. Following a gas explosion at the mine killing 13, they moved again, this time with Samuel's mother, Sarah Ann Webster and a brother William (who had travelled from England in 1883), into Auburn, Wyoming. Here they started ranching in a small way and they had 2 more  children, Samuel on 7th July 1887 and James on 3rd February 1890.


In 1891 the family were tragically stricken with diphtheria and their little boy Samuel died on the 22 April 1891. The year following, Bertram was born on the 18th April 1892 and their daughter Naomi 2 years later on 21st April 1894.


Early in 1894, Samuel Webster and his brother William, having heard of the homestead land in Canada decided to move, their destination being 'Mountain View', Cardston County, Alberta).

They sold their small holdings and with their mother and families and a few cattle they possessed, they set out by wagon train for Canada. The trip took them about 8 weeks. Times were hard without much work and they moved for a short while to Lethbridge, where Samuel and the 2 older boys, Levi and John, worked in the mines. They later moved back to Mountain View, located land, and built a home on the ranch, west of Mountain View. It was there that their 10th child, Martha Elizabeth was born on  the 3 May 1896. This gave them a total of 9 living children.

They made a living but life was not easy. They milked cows, made their own butter and cheese, killed and dressed their beef and pork, made their own soap for washing, did their own sewing, knitted stockings, sweaters and caps and many other tasks that went with pioneering a country. The boys were very handy at building and could fix anything that could be done with their hands.

In 1902, Samuel, Eliza and the family went to 'Salt Lake City'  to complete their temple work and in 1906, Samuel was called by the Latter Day Saints on a two and a half year mission to his native England. This left the family to care for themselves whilst he was away. The photograph was taken at the Nottingham Conference on August 11th 1907 with Samuel on the 3rd Row 4th from the left. On his return from England to  'Mountain View',  Samuel resumed an active life in the community.

Samuel died on the 12th April 1939 aged 85 and Eliza on the 18th September 1945 aged 89.

His grandson described Samuel: 'In spite of his meagre schooling, he was well informed, having had a wonderful and full life of experience, and being of a studious nature, he became a fluent speaker. During his life in Utah, Wyoming and then in Canada, he proved to be very capable and most willing in times of sickness and in death, always rendering service when and where it was needed. He was a devoted husband and father, and was a lover of music and possessed abilities in that line. This latter quality was passed on to his posterity, and has been a gift that has meant much to their family and the communities where they lived. Highlighting Grandma and  Grandpa's declining years were the parties held by the whole countryside on their 50th, and 60th wedding anniversaries. Had Grandpa lived from April to October of the year he died, there would have been a great  party for their 65th anniversary. No day in the year was happier for them than one in which all of their beloved children's children would come to call. After their family had all married and had homes of their own, they built a little home in the town of Mountain View, where they spent most of their declining years'



Samuel Webster


The Wisconsin 


The Wyoming


Top Row L to R:Eliza, John, Sarah Ann (Sadie), Levi

Front Row L to R James (Jim), Naomi, Father Samuel, Martha (Mattie), Mother Eliza, Alice, Bertram (Bert)


Missionaries of the Nottingham Conference 1907 with Samuel Webster on the 3rd Row 4th from the left


Samuel & Eliza's Graves In Mountain View Cemetery, Cardston Alberta

Extracts and photos taken from Samuel T Stewart's publication:

'A Remarkable Story Of Two Local Pioneering People Who Became Latter Day Saints'  with the author's kind permission.

To view the full publication click here>

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