Life History of Jane Pittam Bodily

In the picturesque little town of Blakesley, Northamptonshire, England on November 2, 1816 Jane Pittam was born. She was the third in a family of four, she having two brothers William, and James, older, and one sister, Sarah, younger than herself. She was the daughter of Jeremiah Pittam and Mary Bliss. They lived in a farm house near the church and adjoining the church yard. Her parents were very devout people, belonging to the Church of England. They were tender, yet firm with their children, watchful over them and anxious for their welfare, teaching them true religion and the practiful things of life.

At the age of twenty-five in the year of 1841 Jane married Robert Bodily. To this marriage nine children were born. The early part of their married life spent at Woodend near Blakesley, when in 1845 to better their condition they moved their family to Cape Colony, South Africa. They set sail at Southampton England and were sixteen weeks and three days on the water, then they landed at the Cape of Good Hope. Here Robert engaged in mechanical, stock raising, and agricultural pursuits.

He was admirably adapted to frontier life, being a first class mason and stone cutter and worker in wood and iron. Later on he established himself in the dairy business at Dry Fountain, lived there for seven years, but suffered heavy losses because of ticks getting on the cattle. They would crawl into the cattle’s ears and finally killing them, so the family moved again to a place called Bushman’s River where three of their children, Jane, Joseph and Emma were born. Here they lived on a public grant consisting of 300 acres. This was called an accommodation station. Jane’s husband followed the trade of wagon making, receiving seventy-five pounds, English money for each one ($375.00 American money). She was ever at his side, industrious, helpful and encouraging. While he labored at his trade she made and sold bread, butter, tea, cakes and many other things that travellers might need on their way. They loved their religion and though far from the church of their youth kept the Sabbath Day strictly, following continuous advice and encouragement through letters, of which her family still have one, of a kind loving interested father referring to them a scriptural passage and begging them to read, study, live and them not to forget their maker and the giver of all good. Being lovers of nature they often took their children for early Sunday morning walks on the near by hill-sides and studied and gathered flowers of which there were many varieties.

Robert Bodily’s reputation as a wagon maker soon spread through the colonies and in a few years he had accumulated what was in those days considered a fortune. He sent his oldest son William a few miles away to a friends home by the name of John Stock, where he might attend Grammar School, that being the advanced school at that time. Through this friend, Brother Stock, the gospel found them in 1857, comparatively wealthy and widely honored. But they eagerly embraced the truths of the Gospel and from that time dates a career remarkable for its unselfishness, charity and strict integrity. The family anxious to gather to Zion, disposed of their large possessions and on the twenty-second of March, 1860 set sail to America in the sail boat ‘Aclarity’, bringing them with only a few of the treasures of that far away land. They sailed from Port Elizabeth around Cape Town, then over to the Isle of Saint Helena where Napoleon was banished by the English Government. Here a baby daughter named Lucy was born.

They were more than three months on the water in the sail boat, depending of a kind and a wise Heavenly Father to temper the elements for their good that they might land in safety. At one time they stood perfectly still for a week, the weather being too very calm, there being no wind to drive it forth. In storms the waves would rise and dash into the boat. During one heavy storm her son James, then fourteen years of age, was dashed from the railing back against the cabin and for a moment it was feared he could be drowned. In another storm the Captain and crew became very anxious about their condition and feared the storm so much that they begged the Elders, Brother Stock and Robert Bodily and others to pray for the storm to cease. They went on deck, knelt and held fast to the rods or parts of the boat where they could and humbly joined in prayer, upon arising found that the storm had begun to cease and in a short while it had passed over. They encountered both shark and black fish on their trip, which caused great anxiety for fear of being over-turned. They fished for all the meat not being able to carry the provisions necessary with them. After a long and tedious journey they landed in Boston Harbor, coming west to Florence, Nebraska where they remained long enough to fix up wagons to come to Utah. Through that long and arduous trip by sailing boat and ox team, on numerous occasions their generosity was manifest in the aid of others who were less fortunate and there are perhaps many of that company of 400 led by Captain William Budge that holds them in grateful remembrance. They gave practically every thing of value away and on one occasion while in Winter Quarters the contributed $1,000.00 in cash to the Church to help in the emigration of the Saints.

They arrived in Salt Lake City in October 1860 where they resided in the Sixth Ward, moving then to Kaysville, where the following season they located permanently. By this time they had followed literally the Saviour’s instructions “Sell all thou hast and give to the poor and follow Me.”, and now on the downward slope of life, they found themselves with a new home to make under new conditions and circumstances but they went to work with energy and made adobes, and built their home, which at this writing stands in good condition. (Was torn down about 1976) In this home they lived a simple industrious pioneer life. Jane Bodily caring for her large family, washing, licking, carding, and spinning wool to make their clothes, making soap, growing cocoons, decorating the coffins which her husband would make for the dead, and many other things. She was a first class English cook. She often used to roast a small pig over a Yorkshire pudding, and this was a delicious dish. Her English Plum Pudding and English Currant loaf were unexcelled. Among all these activities she found time to serve in the Latter-day Saints Church as first counselor to Mary Ann McPherson in the Primary Organization, as teacher in the Kaysville Relief Society. Their home was always open to friends and travelers and for many years it was a stopping place for those driving north from Salt Lake City. Here at the commodious workshop of Robert Bodily, they would make wagon and harness repairs, replenish their food supply, then continue happily on their journey.

Jane was a brilliant sweet unassuming woman and to the age of 87 years was giving of herself. She died 22 September, 1907 in Kaysville, Utah.

Back to top