History of Robert Bodily
Robert Bodily was born 30 December, 1815 at Blakesley, Northamptonshire, England. He was a son of Daniel Bodily and Ann Page. He married Jane Pittam, December 1941. She was born 2 November 1816 at Blakesley, a daughter of Jeremiah Pittam and Ann Bliss. About this time the kingdom of Great Britain was developing a colony in South Africa. They were encouraging English tradesmen and skilled artisans to go to the colony and teach their trades to the natives. Some of these natives belonged to a religious organization that were practicing some extreme forms of worship. They killed off all their livestock, destroyed their homes and assembled themselves on top of Table Mountain to await the coming of the Saviour. Their fields were neglected, their livestock gone, resulted in severe poverty and starvation.
It was into such a colony that Englishmen were asked to go and introduce English civilization to the natives. Robert Bodily was one who volunteered for this venture. He was a skilled stone mason and wheelwright, with a working knowledge of the blacksmith trade. With his wife and their two children they landed in Cape Town, South Africa on Easter Sunday in 1846. Here he acted as engineer in the Royal Service, helping to complete the fortifications at Cape Town. This held him for two years. During this time all the guns in the fort were reset and the buildings strengthened.
From there the Bodily’s moved to Port Elizabeth, where Robert worked at his trade for five years, as mason and wheelwright. He then bought property at Bushman’s River, about half way between Port Elizabeth and Grahmstown, a place of entertainment called the Country Inn. In addition to operating the Inn he worked his trade as wheelwright. He also bought a farm and entered the sheep business.
In April 1855 a mission of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was opened up in South Africa. The missionaries experienced a lot of opposition and some mob violence. But after some time they gained a few converts. The Bodily family were baptized in Bushman’s River in 1857 by John Stock. Soon thereafter they got the urge to migrate to Zion. Prior to their baptism Robert Bodily was contented to stay in South Africa. But now he felt he must come to Utah. Their home had been a rallying point for other members of the Church, many of whom enjoyed their hospitality. Their home was sold, as was all their holdings for a fair price. In addition to his own family he sponsored five other families of emigrants. Their names were Sandall’s, Talbot’s, Wiggle’s, Dawson’s and Hemcoyhite’s. He paid their way and made all the arrangements for their passage. They sailed on a boat named the Electric, with Captain Cooper in command.
The voyage form Port Elizabeth to Boston, Massachusets took sixteen weeks. At times they were stalled for days without enough wind to move the vessel. At other times the boat was tossed by storms that threatened to destroy it. At such times the Captain would ask the passengers to pray for divine help. On April 12, 1860 they sighted the Isle of Saint Helena and on this date a daughter was born to the Bodily family. A three year old girl fell overboard, but was rescued by the boat crew. From Boston they travelled by train to Florence, Nebraska, where immigrant trains of ox teams and wagons were being outfitted for the long trek across the country to Utah. Robert Bodily was appointed Captain of the African group and a man named Nephi Johnson was in charge of the entire train, with William Budge as Chaplain. (He became the father of the Doctor’s Budge of Logan, Utah.) The company arrived in Salt Lake City October 5, 1860.
Throughout the long and arduous voyage and overland trip by ox team Brother Bodily showed his generosity on numerous occasions by aiding his poorer brethren. There were few if any of that company who did not hold him in grateful remembrance. When at Florence, Nebraska he donated one thousand dollars to the emigration fund. Later on the Church offered to refund his money, but he refused it, though in needy circumstances at the time.
The Bodily family stayed in Salt Lake City through the winter of 1860 - 1861. In June 1861 Robert bought a farm at Kaysville, Davis County, where he resided until his death on 5 April 1892.
His character was beautiful in its rugged simplicity and honesty; stern and uncompromising in the presence of evil. He was always pleasant and congenial in the society of friends. He was a man who to know was a pleasure and to possess his esteem was an honor. One of his characteristics that harmonized with the beauty of his life was his love of flowers. He often said if he could not have a flower garden in heaven he did not care to go there. He had the first real flower garden in Davis County, drawing water from his well to nourish it. He encouraged others to raise flowers by giving them seeds and starts from his own garden to all who were interested. He enjoyed sharing their beauty and fragrance and explaining their features to neighbors and his grandchildren. He also sang and accompanied the choir on his Base Violin for many years.
After joining the Church, Robert Bodily followed almost literally the Saviour’s injunction ?Sell all thou hast and give to the poor, and follow Me.? After he became an old man he met with financial reverses and had to make a new home under conditions of hardship. But he went to work with phenomenal energy. The whole history of his life was one of great labor under conditions which to many others would have been discouraging. But through it all he remained constant. Prosperity could not spoil him and adversity did not change him. He was the father of twelve children, all honorable men and women.