History of James Bodily
We will begin the life history of James Bodily by giving a brief sketch of the life of his father Robert Bodily.
Robert Bodily, the father of James Bodily, was born 30 December 1815 at Blakesley, Northamptonshire, England. His mother, Jane Pittam Bodily, was born 2 November 1816 in the same town.
Robert Bodily was born about the time the Napoleionic War ended. Robert Bodily belonged to the middle class of people in England and like most of that group was ambitious to advance his family in society. When Robert and his wife were about 30 years of age, with their two sons, left England about the year 1845 - 1846 for the Cape of Good Hope, South Africa. They set sail at Southampton, England and were sixteen weeks and three days on the water before they landed at the Cape of Good Hope.
About that time 1845 - 46, the government wanted mechanics and stone masons to fortify the Cape. Robert saw a chance to better himself by accepting the call of the Government in South Africa, as he was a brick layer, mason, stone cutter, and plasterer.
At Cape Town he did masonry work and brick laying until about the year 1848. The town then had a population of about 10,000. On the 6th of May 1847 James was born at the Cape of Good Hope. His Father moved from Cape Town to Port Elizabeth. Port Elizabeth had a population of 5,000 to 6,000 people and was situated in the extreme South of Africa at the point of Table Mountain, just north of Cape Town, and when the winds blew the clouds settled down on the mountain so it looked like a table cloth spread over a table. During the short time they lived in Port Elizabeth his father worked at his trade as mason. He moved from Port Elizabeth to a small place called Dry Fountain and remained there for about six months. Each move he made he went to a smaller community with less advantages but a better chance for one who is interested in the welfare of his family. His wife was willing to go where he went and she encouraged him in his work.
Robert Bodily took a Government Grant consisting of 12,000 Morgans, (a Morgan contains one and one fourth acres) which required him to maintain a public house for the accommodation of travelers, and also a wagon and Blacksmith Shop so the travelers could repair their wagons as they traveled through the country. This grant was situated on Bushman’s River, about midway between Port Elizabeth and Grahamstown, a small town with a population of 3,000 people. Grandfather and Grandmother Bodily were very staunch members of the Church of England, and Grandfather like many pioneers that went into rough country, loved culture and music and now he was out in the world away from his Church. Before leaving England he had been a member of the choir of the church.
Bushman’s River was a very sparsely settled country with not many neighbors, but Grandfather and Grandmother were a prayerful people and the taught their family to observe and respect the principles of the Church of England.
They became acquainted with John Stock, (who became a dear friend) about Christmas time who lived in Port Elizabeth. He made a practice of visiting them yearly. He affected their lives more than anyone whom they had ever met. Brother Stock had met the Mormon Elders and became converted to the Mormon Church. He endeavored to convert Grandfather and Grandmother to his faith, but was unable to do so at this time.
The first Mormon Missionaries sent to Africa were Jesse Haven, and Leonard I. Smith, and William Walker. They were sent to Africa about 1855 - 56. About 1857 the Elders were sent by Brother Stock to Bushman’s River to meet Grandfather Bodily. The Elders stopped over night with the family and they talked until a late hour about the scriptures. Grandmother Bodily, a great Bible student, produced many scriptures in support of her own faith, but the Elders took the same scriptures and used them in defense of their own cause. The Elders left the next morning on horse back, as that was the way they traveled, and upon their departure Grandfather Bodily presented them with a purse of money.
He was now considered a rich man, he had accumulated wealth rapidly while he lived at Bushman’s River. He had large herds of cattle and many acres of land.
The Elders were gone for about a month, then returned and stopped again over night with the family. This time Grandmother had lots of Scripture to present to them and they talked until late in the night.
Grandfather Bodily employed a number of hands, and they with their family studied and pondered over the instructions of the Elders. The result was that about the latter part of 1857 Grandfather Bodily wrote to his friend, Brother Stocks, who was at this time President of the Port Elizabeth Branch, to come up and baptize him along with his wife, and their sons, William, Robert, and James as well as some of the work hands. Grandfather Bodily was put in charge to the Little Company. They were baptized by Brother Stocks in the Bushman’s River. Grandfather Bodily’s family immediately began to make preparations to come to America and to the Land of Zion in Utah.
Country houses in Africa were all built with shed roofs on account of terrible winds that visited the country. In Port Elizabeth there were no large blocks like we have today and along the Bushman’s River the houses had thatched roofs.
Several black tribes lived near Bushman’s River. The Hottentots, a short people worked as teamsters and most any kind of work. The Kaffirs, a hardy stalwart people and hardly ever shorter than six feet, herded cattle and sheep, but they did not engage in farming. They were a good deal like the American Indians only better looking and they did differently. They gathered seeds of different kinds. They had a flat and round rock which they used to grind the seeds and make a dough, then they made a fire on the ground and when it had been long enough for the ground to get hot they scraped away the coals, put the dough where the fire was, then pulled the coals over the dough and made another fire and in this way they cooked their dough.
The Hottentots ate their meat where they killed it. When they killed a cow they tied ropes on its hind and front legs and stretched it out. Then cut a hole in its stomach while it was still alive and tormented it to death and made it bawl as much as they could. After they had tormented it to death they cut a strip off, gave it a shake to get part of the blood out and ate it.
There were no sawmills or flour mills, and only one grist mill in Africa. The people ate brown bread made by the grist mill until later when flour and bread were imported from America. Some of the more able financially bought white flour to have what they called white bread on Sunday. The white flour was very expensive. They made meal bread from sour dough and baked it in a bade oven as they had no stoves until Grandfather Bodily made a brick oven. Inside of this a fire was made and when it was very hot all the coals and ashes were scraped out, and the bread put in, it was then closed tight and the bread was then baked from the heat. The other cooking utensils such as pots and pans were made out of cast iron.
Nearly every kind of vegetable was grown by the people, they did not have much fruit until later years, then there were plenty of oranges, lemons, pears, peaches, and apricots but not many apples and what there were was of poor class. The Africans cultivated their crops but little and harvested it with a sickle. The clothing was all imported from England and the styles originated there. The clothes were made of English broadcloth, calicoes, and the like, some plain and others plaids.Before Grandfather Bodily’s family left Africa the hoops were introduced there from America.
Young people had little chance to get an education unless their parents were able to give the private tutors, fortunately Grandfather was able to do this for his children. As for amusements the youth had to provide their own. The younger hunted birds nests among trees. Wild animals abounded in the jungles near where James lived, monkeys, baboons, goatspeci, little blue buck, a little goat, a goat about twice as large as a common hare, another one a little larger called they grey-stem-back, yet a larger one, an exceptional runner is the Diker, one still larger about the size of deer is the Bush Buck. Wolves, tigers, jackarts and snakes of all kinds. Some twelve to fifteen feet long. The large black ones were not dangerous. One yellow variety climbed in a tree over a trail and watched for deer, when they came along the trail, the snake dropped down and wraps himself around the deer’s stomach and pulls him into the tree, they squeeze the life out of the deer and eat what they want of it. Other varieties of snakes: Puff-Adder, Recles, Big black snake, and the Boa Constrictor. The latter when coiled is as big as the hind wheel of a wagon. As long as a person is the head or front of the Puff-Adder there is no danger as their teeth are hooked and they have to throw themselves backwards to hook their teeth into anything.
The old English money was used in Africa, and for common labor the people would receive three shillings a day, (this was about seventy-two cents) while mechanics received five or six shillings a day.
Grandfather Bodily was considered a wealthy man when he joined the Mormon Church and decided to come to Zion. He, with his family, spent one month in Port Elizabeth before sailing for America. Most of their time was spent in fishing.
They started for America in a sailing vessel called the Aclarity, under the charge of Captain Cooper, 22 March 1860.
There were few Saints in Africa, but what few there were gave the Little Company who were leaving for America, a farewell. Farewells were not the custom then, as they are now.
Grandfather Bodily was financially well off and he assisted several of the Saints in crossing the sea. The company on board the ship numbered about forty. They sailed from Port Elizabeth and went by way of Cape Town and St. Helena. They stopped at Cape Town over night and the boys went fishing for shark. They caught several but the largest wasn’t more than two feet long. There were so many sharks in the bay of Cape Town that it was very unsafe for them to go in swimming.
St. Helena Island, the place where Napoleon was buried was their second stopping place. A baby girl was born there the night they stopped. The Malay people of the Island fished with a harpoon and used shrimp for bait to catch the mackerel. A harpoon is a little steel with a hook on the end, it will go into the fish but will not come out.
After they left St. Helena, James got his fishing line and sat on the back of the ship fishing for shark that had been following them. One day as he was trying to get a bite the Captain came out and called, What ya’ doin’ here ya’ little brat? James told him and the Captain called the sailors. They got a piece of fat pork and put it on a sharp hook, immediately Mr. Shark grabbed it, and the sailors had a big rope and as they pulled the shark aboard they sang their song Pull away, pull away. The shark flopped and jerked and kept knocking against the cabin with his tail making it very hard to get him on board for he was a big fellow twelve feet long.
The steward on the ship did all the cooking. He cooked such food as we have today: pork & beans, salted and pickled beef, potatoes, vegetables and sea biscuits. The sea biscuits are about 1/2 to 3/4 inch thick and the size of a plate.
They are very hard until dunked in milk, coffee or tea, they resemble soda crackers only much larger. They keep them in a barrel until they cross the sea. The steward fried fish for those who caught them. James enjoyed himself sitting fishing, one day he was fishing, a man by the name of William Stokes, who before joining the Church was a sailor, asked what he was doing out here alone. James told him he was trying to catch a fish. Brother Stokes took the line and put a piece of white cloth on the hook where the bait was, he put it into the water, gave it a jerk and he had his fish, he soon had eight Dolphin, which are choice fish.
One morning when they awoke, as far as the eye could see, whales bounced and played in the water. The captain said if one hit the ship with its tail he would sink it.
They encountered storms at sea and some were severe. Once they came near running into a large rock hidden under water. They were doing fifteen or twenty knots, the captain saw the rock and went running out shouting About ship! which means to turn the ship about. He later explained of they had gone on for fifteen minutes longer there would have been a big wreck.
The passengers watched the Paupose, a sea animal which is a good deal like a clumsy pig and the size of a yearling calf. They live in the ocean and go in droves. They bounce up and down showing nearly their whole body.
The flying fish also went in droves like black birds flew until their wings got dry they would drop into the sea again. Some of the alighted on the ship and James’ father dried two or three of them and brought them to Utah with them to show the people.
Their voyage lasted for three months and for one week of that time they had a calm sea and stood still, not a breath of air was on the sea. From the time they left Port Elizabeth until they reached Boston they crossed the Mediterranean, and Caribbean Seas and the Atlantic Ocean.
When they left Port Elizabeth the sun was in the North, but the night they crossed the equator, the sailors brought a lot of water and filled some tubs, they had everyone who had not crossed the line, and especially the young people, sit on a board that had been put across the tub. Neptune was supposed to appear to them and they should see this when they crossed the line, then they were introduced into the other part of the world by having the board pulled from under then and being dunked into the water. Some took it as a joke and others got very angry, therefore the sun was to the South of them. There was a very sick woman on the ship, her name was Sister Sandle. The Captain said the shark that had been following was a sign that she was going to die before they landed, but the fish was caught and she lived. She came to America and to Utah and some years later died in Kaysville, Davis, Utah.
Three nationalities are represented in Grandfather Bodily’s family, the English, the Africans, and the Americans. Lucy Matilda, the baby who was born when they stopped at St. Helena has been declared American because she set foot first on American soil.
Word had gone out that a ship load of Africans were going to land in Boston Harbor, the impression among the people was that the Africans were all colored people. The docks were crowded with people who had come to see the colored people land, but to the surprise to some people in America the Africans were all white but of different nationalities.
From Boston they went by train up to St. Joseph on the Missouri River. This was the first times James had been on a train and soon after he boarded it two stalwart Indians boarded it also. They were the first Indians he had ever seen also, James had many pleasant experiences as he had no responsibilities because he was only a boy, but just the same he was glad to be on the land again.
The Little Company went from St. Joseph by boat up to Florence, Nebraska where they stopped and fitted out a train to cross the plains.
As James had been reared with cattle and understood them he was given the responsibility of driving two yoke of cattle across the plains and he had a very enjoyable time while crossing. Every night the wagons were circled to form a corral, the tongues on the inside, and the Little Company always hay prayer night and morning.
They travelled in two trains, one under the direction of President Budge, this company was called the Independent, and the other a Scandinavian train was an immigration or church train. James traveled with President Budge’s company and as the Little Company came up the Platte River a Nation of Poinic Indians traveled with them for a week. The company killed several cows for the Indians to eat. They said they were coming to fight the crow Indians. The company had no trouble with the Indians and to furnish amusement Grandfather Bodily put up a stick in the ground about one hundred paces from the group, he put a dime on the stick and the one who could shoot it off got it
Grandfather Bodily, being financially well off, fitted out five families to cross the plains, and James drove for two old maids. The company saw Buffalo, Elk, Deer and a lot of other wild game while crossing the plains.
At this time the Church was in need of funds to aid in immigration and unless funds could be raised the immigrants would have to stop over until spring. Grandfather Bodily gave George Q. Cannon $2,000.00 to aid in the immigration and he brought forty head of cattle and five head of horses to the Valley. Brother Cannon promised him he would get his money back when they got to the Valley, but they didn’t have money at the tithing office to let him have and they didn’t have flour so he could get his winter supply so he had to look somewhere else. In the Spring he went to see President Young and he made the Church a present of the money.
President Young asked him if he was giving it with good feelings and his reply was that he dared not give it any other way. President Young slapped his hand on his shoulder and said, God bless you Brother Bodily, but you’ll go down to bedrocks but you’ll never see the day when you shall have no bread, and your children after you shall have bread. A few days after this Grandfather Bodily met Apostle Cannon, and Apostle Cannon asked him if he had got his money, he told him what he done and Brother Cannon slapped his hand in the same place the President had done and said exactly the same words the President had said. Grandfather Bodily marveled at them saying the same thing. James’ first experience with snow was the night they camped at Little Mountain, East of iSalt Lake City, Utah. They came down Immigration Canyon into the Valley and landed in Salt Lake City the 5th of October 1860. They had travelled nearly a whole year.
When James first entered the Valley flour cost $6.00 per hundred pounds, and after the mines opened in Montana flour sold for $24.00 per hundred pounds and for wheat they got only $5.00 per bushel.
James had been engaged in brick laying, stone masoning, plastering and farming. He followed the trades of his father. Grandfather Bodily sent his cattle to be wintered at Grantsville and the next spring when the cattle returned he had seven head out of forty.
They used to meet in March to prepare to send boys back after immigrants. Grandfather Bodily always sent a team and sometimes he sent a team, wagon, and boy. Three times in the Spring he had only one ox but he had faith and always managed to send a team back and have a team to do his farm work.
They lived in Salt Lake City until June 1861, when he sold his place and moved to Kaysville. He left Salt Lake City because he had a large family and only a small place and he had a chance to buy the place in Kaysville cheap. Grandfather and Grandmother Bodily spent the rest of their days in Kaysville. Grandfather Bodily died of pneumonia 15 April 1892 and his wife Jane died 22 September 1904.
On 13 December 1869 James was married to Mary Louisa Hyde. James always went to see Mary when her folks were home, never when they were away. He had to go on horseback or in a wagon or a home made sleigh. They went to dances, shows, circuses and once in a while sleigh riding.
When James was first married they amused themselves with corn husking and peach peeling bees, the young people cut the peaches to dry they would have an enjoyable time making molasses candy and pulling it.
After James was married he lived in Kaysville until the year 1872 when he and his wife moved to Cache Valley and of the flat, which was afterward called Lewiston, later it was divided and subdivided and since that time he had been living in one of the divisions called Fairview, Idaho.
He never had the privilege of going on a foreign mission but he traveled as a home missionary for about twenty years. He was called into the service of the Priesthood soon after moving to Cache Valley and has been an active worker in the Church since. He was the first Presiding Elder in Fairview, the first Sunday School Superintendent, the First Counselor in the Bishopric when Fairview was organized as a Ward, about 1883. He was one of the first directors in the Cub River Canal, and he served in Franklin County as a Probate Judge for six years. He was ordained a High Priest in 1884.
Soon after Fairview was organized as a Ward James was coming home from Franklin, Idaho and one of his neighbors came running out to the road and stopped him and wanted him to administer to one of her boys who had been run over by a wagon, he did and the boy was restored almost immediately. About the year 1880 James with eleven other Elders, was called to go and cast the evil spirits out of Sister Sallie Stephenson, one of the Sisters in the Church. They baptized her for seven days and on the seventh day they baptized her seven times. It took four of them to baptize her and they had to exercise all the strength they had to immerse her. Almost invariably she would come up out of the water mocking them, until the last day when they baptized her the seventh time. On the seventh time she came up as limp as a ‘dish rag’ and said, O dear, you have left them. She was taken to her home and administered to and she lived for several years.
Just a short time after the other incident, when he was acting as Ward Teacher one of his neighbors had a little boy who was very sick. James visited them often and one night when he went to see them he found the father with his little son on his lap, and the mother kneeling at his side. They were both crying when he went in and the father looked up and said, Oh dear, he’s dead. James was impressed to call the man by name and ask why he didn’t exercise the Priesthood that God had given him. He asked them if they had any oil, the Mother got the oil and took the boy. James handed to oil to the Father and told him to anoint his son, the father seemed very reluctant about it. James then sealed the anointing and promised the small boy he would eat breakfast with his parents the next morning. As soon as it became light James went, before doing his morning chores, to see how the little boy was and he found the boy, just as he had promised him, eating breakfast with his parents.
Sometime during the year 1886 James and some of his friends were putting in a foundation for one of their neighbors when a woman close by came and wanted them to go and bless a tiny baby that had been born to Brother and Sister Taylor. The baby appeared to be dead, but when they were blessing it and naming it before burying, it caught its breath and became well and lived for several years. In 1889 just after Brother Pratt had been put in as Bishop, Brother McLanis’s children had the diphtheria and four of them had died, now his last son had it and the midwife said it was just a matter of time. James was called in on Saturday to Administer to him, and the following Tuesday when he was on his way to Franklin he saw the boy playing in the creek bottoms.
James entered polygamy in 1886. His second wife was Mary Eveline Stephenson. She died in 1889. She had three children, two of them died while infants, the third is still living.
His wife Mary Louisa, had eleven children, six boys and five girls. Their first baby died of diphtheria, the next two boys, being the third and fourth died of typhoid fever. The other eight children are still living.
James testifies that polygamy was a God given principle and that the power of the Priesthood is with the Church today.
On March 20, 1929, James while in the Logan temple doing Endowment work, met the youngest daughter of John Stock, his old associate before he moved from Africa. She made herself acquainted with him.
During the remaining years of his life, James was an active church worker, and several years served as a ward teacher until called from this life by death. He was a constant Temple worker and seldom missed an excursion to the Temple.
The day he took sick he attended Sacrament meeting so to be there to hand in his teachers report and to do his duty, never again was he able to attend any more meetings.
His illness lingered from 12 July until 13 October at the time of his death he was 84 years, 5 months, and 7 days old.