Mrs. Harriett Weaver Taylor, oldest daughter of William and Ann Watkins Weaver, was born in Market Drayton, Schropshire, England, on March 15, 1859. Her parents were converts to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and left their native land to gather with the Mormons in Utah. They sailed from Liverpool April 30, 1866 on the ship John Bright. There were about 750 Latter-day Saint converts on board under the direction of C. M. Gillett.
Mr. Weaver and his oldest son, John, did the cooking on the boat for the company of Mormon immigrants, in return for this work they were to receive a pass to Utah for their entire family. They had paid their fare to New York. The ship was six weeks on the ocean, and when they arrived in New York, Mr. Weaver went in search of the captain of the company, in order to complete the arrangements for the pass that would transport them from New York to Utah. "Father couldn't find the man at first," said Mrs. Taylor, "but he did see another man who told him where the captain was, but he also told him that he was afraid he would be disappointed about the passes because he was certain they had been given to someone else. Father just couldn't believe that anyone would be so dishonest, but nevertheless when he found the captain, such was the case. Father felt pretty badly to think that he had put so much trust in this man, and he had betrayed him. My brother was so angry, of course he was quite young, that he apostatized from the church. Father said there was no use feeling that way about the whole church just because [p.1] of one dishonest man, but my brother refused to see things that way. He said if that was a sample of Mormonism he didn't want anything more to do with it. He stayed in New York, married and raised a family.
From the minute my mother had set foot on the boat she became very sick and lay in her bed the entire six weeks of the trip, getting up only long enough to have her bed straightened. I was the oldest girl in the family and it was up to me to help look after Mother and care for the younger children. It was pretty big job for a girl my age, but I did the best I could. When we reached Castle Gardens, (now Ellis Island), mother was taken from the boat on a stretcher. They had to clean the boat and get it ready for the return trip. Father was away looking for the captain of our company, and I sat on the side of the stretcher with mother and waited for him to return. Mother looked more dead than alive.
When father came back and told us about the passes being given to someone else, he decided to stay in New York and work at his trade as a stone mason until he could earn enough money to make the trip across the plains to Zion. We lived at Williamsburg (Brooklyn). Mother had been so sick on the boat that she was put under a doctors care for a year while we lived in Williamsburg.
I guess it was the hand of the Lord that kept us from trying to come across the plains at that time. Years later when Father was visiting with me, and the incident of the passes was mentioned, I told him he should be thankful for it, because we were the ones that were blessed. He asked me how I figured, and I told him that mother's mission on earth was not completed at that time, and as sick as she was she could never have made the trip across the plains. People much stronger and more able to travel than she, had died and were buried on the plains, but she was able to regain her health and by the time we came to Utah [p. 2] the railroad had been completed and our trip was made easier. She had one child born while in Williamsburg and four more after we reached Utah. Altogether my mother had fifteen children. Father said when we looked at it that way, he guessed I was right, and that instead of it being so bad as it seemed at the time, it was really a blessing in disguise.
While we lived in Williamsburg I went to a good school. I had the grandest teacher, she was very musical. It was a free school, but we had to pay rent on the school house. In order to raise money for the rent, the teacher got up a program, and we were the entertainers. We used to have to stay after school to practice, and sometimes I didn't like to have to stay every night. Mother made me a nice new dress for the entertainment. When we got to the school house it was crowded with people. I was so little I had to stand on a stool so I could be seen, and when I saw all of those strange people, I was terribly frightened. The teacher told me not to be afraid, that the people wouldn't hurt me, but I just stood there until I finally saw my father and mother. Mother waved to me, and then I felt better and sang my song. When I was through, they clapped so loudly I had to sing the chorus again. Most of the children who were in the entertainment got big bouquets of flowers, but I didn't get any flowers, I got a lovely big doll. I was always quick to learn and father would often say that if we'd have stayed another year or two in New York where there were good schools, this girl would have known something.
When we came to Ogden the train didn't come clear to the depot where it comes now, it stopped out at Taylor's Mill in Riverdale. We arrived in October 1869. We had to take our lunches on the train. When we came to a river we had to get out and be ferried across and take another train because the road wasn't all finished yet. [p.3]
BIB: Taylor, Harriett Weaver. Pioneer personal history. (Ms B 289), bx. 10, pp. 1-3. (Utah State Historical Society).