History of Edwin Bodily, Sr.

(Received from Allie Bodily)

Edwin Bodily was born 12 December 1851, at Port Elizabeth, South Africa. He lived with his family in South Africa until April 1860. At this time he was just 8 years of age. Latter-day Saint Missionaries had opened a mission in South Africa in 1853 against much persecution. For some time it was almost impossible to hold public meetings because of mob action. After some several attempts they were successful and eventually several converts joined the Church. Robert Bodily and Jane Pittam Bodily and three children were baptized and soon after became anxious to migrate to Zion.

In the spring of 1860 they disposed of all their property and got every-thing in readiness for the voyage to America. Edwin’s father had a very good farm and had prospered. He had enough money to sponsor five families besides his own and brought them all to America.

They left Port Elizabeth in a sailboat named The Aclarity, with Captain Cooper in command. They were sixteen weeks on the way, sometimes being stalled for want of wind to fill the sails. At other times severe storms threatened to destroy the boat. During these spells the captain would beg the passengers to pray for their safety.

There was a baby daughter, Lucy Matilda, born to the Bodily family on the morning they sighted the Island of St. Helena in the Atlantic Ocean. This was on April 12, 1860. It was spring time when they left South Africa and still spring time when they arrived in Boston, Massachusetts sixteen weeks later. This was due to the difference in the seasons of the two ports.

They left Boston by train to the Mississippi River. Then by boat to Florence, Nebraska, where the wagon trains were outfitted for the trek across the plains to Utah. In their company were fifteen wagons under the command of Captain William Budge, father of the Doctors’ Budge of Logan, Utah. On the 5th of October 1860 the company reached Salt Lake City, where they lived for about a year.

In 1861 the father Robert Bodily bought a farm in Kaysville, Utah. Here the boys grew to manhood and set out to establish homes of their own.

On 25 Jan 1875 Edwin married a lovely little girl named Matilda Roberts from Kaysville. She was the daughter of Levi and Harriet Ann Hefford Roberts, born at Kaysville, Utah on 2 Jan 1854. She was really small and very reserved. Edwin was over six feet tall and slender.

They came to Cache Valley and filled a homestead claim on a farm in Fairview. It was dry and barren sand hill, wild and unproductive.

The dangers and hardships of the frontier were many and serious; seasons were unfavorable to their early efforts. Houses and other buildings had to be erected under great difficulty, often interrupted by hostile Indians. At times they were doubtful if they could remain. But at length they were able to reach a condition of comparative comfort, and from then on the progress and development increased.

On 23 Oct 1875 their first child, a boy, was born at Fairview, Oneida, Idaho. They named him Henry James. In June 1877 a baby daughter, Effie, was born, but lived only two months. Four other children were born about one and one half years apart. Then in October 1885 Edwin was called on a mission to the Northeastern States. While he was away a nephew lived at the home and helped out as he could with the work of the farm. On 29 Apr 1886, while Edwin was in the mission field his wife gave birth to a baby girl, Harriet Matilda.

From a journal which Edwin kept we learn of many interesting experiences, some of which were very interesting and trying. For instance while they were holding a meeting in Fayette County Pennsylvania, in a school house, on Apr 22, 1867, they made it know to the audience that they were with out purse or script and needed a place to stay. The weather was cold and it had been raining for several days. The roads were muddy. No one offered to give them shelter. They asked for the privilege of sleeping in the school house, but this was refused. They were even refused the shelter of a barn. They left the school house, wandering through the mud to a near by farm house. The owner would not let them in, not even to sleep in a chair in his kitchen. Travelling on they saw a light. They reached the house where the light came from but were turned down again. However, the owner gave them a light to help them find their way. At the next house they found, they were taken in. One occasion they applied for shelter at seventeen places before being accommodated. There they were permitted to sleep in the barn without any supper. One of the places they tried that day was a hotel, but the owner would not let them stay because they were Mormons. Once they were accused of murdering a man.

Edwin’s entire mission was full of such experiences. He was released and returned to his family in Jan 1888. Records show that Edwin, his sons and grandsons spent a total of three hundred thirty months in the mission fields of the Church up to Aug 1939. Many of his prosperity have served missions since that time, not counted in this total.

Edwin was a very hard working man. He spent the first seven summers of their married life away helping to build canals to bring water to their farms. His wife spent these times alone with their small children. She walked several miles to and from the pasture, taking care of the cows, caring for the milk, churning the butter to use and to sell, for this was about their only source of income. Later on Edwin went into the sheep business which took him away from home a great deal of his time.

In the fall of the year they would take the trip to Kaysville in their wagon to get fruit and vegetables for winter use.

Edwin was a leader and a manager all his life. He served in many positions in the Church, among which we might note the following: A Deacon 12 years of age. Counselor to a Bishop for 12 years and a Bishop of the Fairview Ward for 17 years. After being released from the Bishopric he decided to stay closer to his home as his health and that of his wife was not good. The Stake President asked him to be President of the High Priest Quorum of the Franklin Stake and promised him that when his time should come he would not suffer. This promise was fulfilled, for he collapsed in the barn a short time later and died on 24 March 1923. His wife Matilda died on 22 Feb 1925.

Edwin & Matilda Bodily Wedding Photograph.


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