22 March 2011

A Precious Journal

Next grandma in my "mother line" is Elizabeth Zimmerman Lamb. I know her fairly well even though she died almost 36 years before my birth. She wrote her history. Bless her heart. She wrote a history for me. Elizabeth was not a woman with a lot of leisure time. She had 10 children. She came west by wagon train as a girl. She lived a life of hardship and hard work. But in 1900, when she was 69 years old, she took the time to write her experiences and her feelings. She described herself this way: "Am not large, brown hair, blue eyes, light complected. Am the daughter of George Gotlieb and Julianna Hoke Zimmerman, they were both natives of Germany, they came to this country in 1804."

Elizabeth described the buffalo they saw on the Great Plains as her wagon train traveled west.

It was a wild country--thousands of buffalo could be seen. One day we could hear them make a roaring noise when they were miles away. They came straight for our train. We could not get out of their way so half of the teams stopped and the others went on. As they came up the hill and passed the wagons--ours was the second one that stopped--it was a fine sight to look at. We had to give them room or they would have run over our teams. There were about five thousand of them. It took such a long time for them to pass. The men put ropes on the oxen horns and loosened them from the wagons. The women and children got in the wagons. It was a scary time for our cattle were so afraid of them. We had some of their meat. It was fine. We could cut it in slices, salt it, and string it on sticks and jerk it over the fire then let it dry. It was sweet and good. 

When Elizabeth and her family got to Utah, they settled in a little town called Lehi. They built a fort for protection from the Indians, but Elizabeth enjoyed the sociality of living in such close quarters with her friends. On her birthday in 1901, Elizabeth wrote an entry specifically to her granddaughters (including me).

Elizabeth Zimmerman
I want to write some to my granddaughters and tell them how the girls spent their time in Lehi after we moved into the fort. It was built in a square with the doors inside and a mud wall on the outside of the houses. The houses were close together most of them joined. We all had one room so you can see we did not have much room to work in. All the girls in Lehi could spin. We had a large log meeting and school house. The Bishop told the girls they could take their wheels there and spin. Sometimes more than a dozen would spin at a time. I think I hear you say they done lots of playing, but I tell you we did not. 

In April of 1905 she recorded the death of her daughter Myra. Daughter Libbie had already died and she would write about the deaths of two more daughters before the end of her journal. I have had a daughter and a son die and I relate to Elizabeth's feelings about these tragedies.

I have had the saddest news of my life to record. It is the death of my daughter, Myra Daines. She died April 5 and was buried the 7th 1905 in Hyde Park. She was sick about 6 weeks and it turned to blood poison and brain fever. She had 2 good Dr. and we all fasted and prayed. The Elders had all the faith they could get but we could not keep her. She left 6 children, her babe about 16 months old. All her brothers, sisters, their husbands, wives, her Father, Mother and her husband, children were at her bedside when she passed away in the house.

I love reading Elizabeth's history and subsequent journal. She started writing and kept recording her memories and her current life, making some interesting reading. Elizabeth didn't think her writing was very good. She apologizes for it in some places, but it is gold to me. The original journal has been lost, but two of her granddaughters made a typescript that is now digitized. What a gift she gave us. Thanks Grandma Elizabeth. I love you.


  1. Wow, what a precious gift. She writes so well, too. It must be in the genes:)

  2. What a sweet compliment! Thank you.

  3. I really enjoyed reading this post. I can't believe that you, too, have lost children. I can't even imagine the pain.

    I was attracted to the picture in the post that came after this one because I have an ancestor dressed in similar garb. It looks pretty severe to me.

    We can all be thankful to the ancestors who left us a record. With a maiden name of Jones, I'd be lost without one.

  4. Thanks Kathy, Is your ancestor early US or German? I have wondered about Julianna Hoke Zimmerman's clothing. I wish we had a picture showing more.