Why does a young girl with a rare chance to dress up and have her photograph taken look away from the camera? Who is this intense woman? Where did she come from? What reasons would she have to appear so deep in thought?
These are the questions that come to mind as I study this photograph of my great-grandmother, Sarah Ann Barber.
Sarah started life in Ripe, East Sussex, England on July 23, 1869. The family lived in the farming community of Chiddingly, very near Ripe, for most of Sarah's years in England.
The parish church was the hub of the farming community. At Easter time, the cemeteries and lawns were brilliant with daffodils. According to the parish pamphlet, ". . . wherever you live in the parish, . . . you can still see the Church spire pointing to heaven."
A thousand years earlier there were woods everywhere, because this was the southern edge of Andredsweald, the great Wealden Forest.
Sarah's parents Benjamin Barber and Olive Crowhurst were also born in or near Chiddingly. In fact, their families both lived there for generations.
In Sarah's family's time, people did not travel so often or so far as people do now. Families usually lived close to one another for generations.
Benjamin Barber was born in 1828, married at age 23. Olive was born in 1832, and was only 19 years old when they were married.
Evidently, Benjamin was a man of good character and skilled at many tasks on the estate where he worked. Here is a reference written for him in May, 1872.
"Benjamin Barber has lived with me nearly twenty four years and I have always found him strictly honest, steady, sober, industrious, and trustworthy; he has a thorough practical knowledge of all kinds of farm work, management ofhorses; and other stock. I have also always found him strictly correct in all his accounts as my farm Bailiff.
May 22 1872
VallanceElam, FolkingtonHawkhurst, Sussex, England"
Benjamin and Olive and their family were baptized into the Mormon church when Sarah Ann was 9 years old. In England, the latter-day saints as they were called, were persecuted. Sarah felt the effects of that persecution as a young girl.
on a cold night in May 1878, Benjamin and Olive took their family to the river with what belongings they could carry, broke the ice on the river and were baptized by the missionaries. [Sarah Ann confided to her granddaughter years later that she wondered if she would be brave enough to let the elders put her beneath the water.] The family went immediately to the boat to sail to America."
With her parents, 4 sisters and 2 brothers, Sarah Ann set out on a steamer to America.
They borrowed money from the Mormon church's perpetual immigration fund and boarded the steamer, "Nevada". They departed from Liverpool, England, to Queenstown, Ireland, and crossed the Atlantic, arriving in New York June 5, 1878.
The family travelled all the way across the United States to the Salt Lake Valley in what was then the Territory of Utah.
Sometime between 1878 and 1896, Sarah met a young Utah native, David Wallace Glover, her future husband.
David was born into a polygamous family in Farmington, Utah, growing up in a home with all 3 of his father's wives and their children. All the family ate at the same table at night. According to one of David's brothers, the mothers loved each of the children and cared for them. He said he could hardly tell which one was his mother.
David was a kind, cheerful man.
Sarah Ann married David Wallace Glover, on January 17, 1894 at the age of 24. They married in the "Endowment House" in Salt Lake City, Utah.
Sarah Ann and David settled in Farmington, Utah.
Besides raising a family of 9 children, 7 of whom survived to adulthood, Sarah kept a large garden, canned and stored the produce in a root cellar, sewed the clothes for the family and managed to maintain decorum in the home. It was not easy.
There was sadness in Sarah Ann's life.
When twin boys were born on Christmas day, 1898, Sarah lay in her bed caring for the surviving baby while the funeral of the other took place in an adjacent room.
Afton Bryson Smith, one of Sarah Ann's granddaughters wrote about Sarah Ann in her journal:
"She was pleasant but always sad. . . . There was a feeling of resignation and strong self control. Once I asked her why she was sad and she said, 'When you grow up you will find out.' She also inferred that being a woman had disadvantages."
Although Sarah Ann didn't have much to make her life easy, she made her home as attractive as she could. She was an expert seamstress.
In 1905 Sarah Ann transformed the worn doll of her daughter, Corrilla, by making it a beautiful white dress, petticoat and pantloons.
Corrilla was stunned, not expecting her busy mother to notice her concern over taking her ragged doll. She spoke of that wonderful day to her children and grandchildren.
Sarah's grandchildren say that she was a quiet woman who liked orderliness.
Her victorian upbringing must have been frustrated by the rowdiness of the western frontier, but she persevered in the way she kept her home and dressed and cared for her children--even with meager means.
The intensity of Sarah Ann's look has not diminished at any point in her life.
The events of her life suggest hard work, religious persecution, a foreign land, and loss.
Her life also included a large, close family, and people of her faith. She was sure enough of herself to maintain standards and patterns of her early life in her transplanted home.
She is a woman of depth.