Life Sketch of James Higginson Mather and his wife, Mary Ditchfield Mather
Colaborador: Andy Created: 1 year ago Updated: 1 year ago
Life Sketch of James Higginson Mather and his wife, Mary Ditchfield Mather
Written by Bessie Noble Larkin
Original Typist- Elaine Erickson Coleman
Formatted 2004 by Shelly Keller
James Higginson Mather was born 14 Nov 1811 at Bedford, Lancashire, England. He was the son of John Mather, who was born at Pennington, a small town in Lancashire, England. John Mather was christened at Leigh, Lancashire, England on 23 Nov 1777; and Catherine Higginson Mather, who was born 15 Oct 1779 at Newchurch in Culcheth Parish, Lancashire, England. She was christened 31 Oct 1779 at Newchurch in Culcheth, Lancashire, England. James Higginson Mather was christened in the Leigh parish, Church of St. Mary and was Christened as James Higginson Mather on 4 Jan 1812.
Mary Ditchfield was born 28 Oct 1811 in Newchurch in Culcheth, Lancashire, England. She was the daughter of William Ditchfield, who was born 21 Jan 1786 at Bedford, Lancashire, England. He was christened 30 Jan 1786 at Leigh, Lancashire, England. Her mother was Hannah Higginson, who was born 3 Oct 1788 at Newchurch in Culcheth, Lancashire, England. She was christened 26 Oct 188 at Newchurch in Culcheth, Lancashire, England.
Hannah Higginson and Catherine Higginson were sisters, making James Higginson Mather and Mary Ditchfield first cousins.
In July of 1837 England began to register births on a civil basis. Due to the fact at that time the church charged a fee for couples to get married. They had to publish banns, which was an announcement of marriage and also pay the priest a fee to marry them. Many couples did not have this fee, so they could not be officially married.
James Higginson Mather and Mary Ditchfield were not officially married until 3 Mar 1840 at Manchester, Lancashire, England. There were five children born to their union:
John—born 11 Jul 1838
Alice—born 3 Jan 1842
Thomas—born 28 April 1846
Hannah—born 11 Nov 1847
James—born 24 Oct 1851
All the children were born at Bedford, Lancashire, England.
William Ditchfield was a half-brother to the family of James Higginson Mather and Mary Ditchfield Mather. He was an illegitimate son of Mary Ditchfield Mather before she married James Higginson Mather. He was christened 6 Mar 1836. He was living at Penketh Hall, England in 1893, a small hamlet in the parish of Wenick, Lancashire, England. At this time he was visited by a half-brother, Thomas Mather, who was serving a mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints in England. William Ditchfield was a prosperous farmer and managed to see that his half-brother, Thomas Mather, had train fare to visit him while he was serving as a missionary in England.
The situation that existed in England at that time, still exists today. The fact of illegitimacy, permissiveness and seduction were a thing of that day, and still exists as at the time of our ancestors.
James Higginson Mather and Mary Ditchfield Mather were married, as I have already stated, on 3 Mar 1840 at Manchester, Lancashire, England. They were both baptized members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints on 11 Feb 1851 by Samuel Bradhurst. James Higginson Mather was confirmed on 16 Feb 1851 by Richard Booth and Mary Ditchfield Mather was confirmed on 19 Feb 1851 by Richard Booth. They were members of the Leigh Branch, Lancashire, England in the city of Leigh. The Leigh Branch was in the Bolton District.
James Higginson Mather was the first member of the Mather family to join the church, and the man for whom our genealogical organization was named.
Their eldest son John Mather was baptized 2 April 1851 by Peter Butler and confirmed the same day by John Holden. A daughter, Alice Mather, was baptized 7 Jan 1852 by James Hart and confirmed on 10 Jan 1852 by John Holden. Thomas Mather, a son, although baptized, the baptism was not recorded on the Leigh Branch records. The early Smithfield records state that he was baptized in the year 1854 by Samuel Bradhurst in England just prior to coming to Utah. He was re-baptized 3 June 1860 by Dudley J. Merrill and re-confirmed by John Nelson in Smithfield, Cache, Utah.
In England, James Higginson Mather originally was a farm laborer, but after his second child, Alice, was born, he purchased 50 acres of land called “Crompton Farm”. He and his wife and four children lived here. (The last child was not born yet.)
James Higginson Mather and Mary Ditchfield Mather, after having joined the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day saints, decided to immigrate to Utah. They left England on the ship “Juventa”, on 16 March 1855. “This information came from the British Mission records of the Liverpool Office.)
ON the United states Customs Records of Passengers arriving at the port of Philadelphia on the ship “Juventa”, James Higginson Mather and his family arrived on 7 May 1855. From the time they left Philadelphia they went by train to the end of the line, which at that time was Council Bluffs, Iowa. From there they traveled by ox-team to Salt Lake City, Utah. According to Andrew Jenson’s book “Church Chronology” page 54, the Noah T. Guyman Company, which was the second company of emigrants of the year of 1855, having 58 wagons, landed in the great Salt Lake City, Friday, 7 Sept 1855.
Between the time they left Philadelphia and the time they arrived in Salt Lake City, Utah, their daughter Alice died. Shortly after arriving in Salt Lake City, their daughter Hanna died on 7 Dec 1855 and she is buried in the Salt Lake City cemetery.
Johnston’s Army was in Wyoming about to attack Utah. Due to this fact, Brigham Young sent all the people out of Salt Lake City to Provo and Lehi. He also buried the temple foundation. At the coming of Johnston’s Army in the year 1857, James Higginson Mather and his family were sent south to Lehi and from there to Cedar Valley and settled at Cedar Fort. By this time, 24 July 1857, Johnston’s Army was besieging Utah.
Upon their return to Salt Lake City, James Higginson Mather became very discouraged and remembered how lush and green England, his homeland, was and wanted to return to his native country. At this time, their eldest son John made the decision not to remain in Utah, but went to California with the gold seekers. He built a flour milling business at Santa Rosa which was destroyed in the earthquake of 1906.
During the year of 1856 their son James Mather died. “Although no proof, it is felt that he was buried in the old Lehi cemetery. Fire burned the Lehi sexton’s shack in which the records of the old cemetery were kept, so there is no proof of this.) In reality, their son James Mather was not old enough to have his temple work done, but it has been completed.
I have already stated that James Higginson Mather wanted to return to England, but his wife Mary Ditchfield Mather would not go. He went back to his homeland of England while his wife stayed on in Utah.
Mary Ditchfield Mather, assuming she was a single woman, and being left alone with her son, Thomas Mather, acquired an acquaintanceship with John Oldfield and she was sealed to him on 27 December 1857 in the president’s office. (our genealogist, Wayne Noble, cannot find out more about this sealing.)
Mary Ditchfield married a man named Ezekiel Hopkins. They moved to Smithfield, Utah. They, with her son, Thomas Mather, lived in the old original fort. Thomas Mather was the first boy to live in the old original fort in Smithfield, Utah.
The following information came from Gaylard Sorenson, which he found in the “Kimball Decree”, as he was researching and writing up data on the “early irrigation in Smithfield”, for the Smithfield Historical Society: On 1 May 1860, Smithfield filed with the territorial government of Utah, and it is found in the territorial records that Smithfield filed for 33`/1 second feet of water out of Smithfield Creek to irrigate 3300 acres of ground. From this decree Gaylord ascertains the pioneer came to Smithfield in the fall of 1859 and planted crops and then went back to Maughan’s Fort at Wellsville, Utah for the winter, returning in the spring of 1860 to build a fort here in Smithfield and take up permanent residency. The next filing for water in Smithfield was in 1876 by the North Bench Irrigation Company. The Territory of Utah began to file and keep records in the year 1896.
Mary Ditchfield Mather was sealed to Ezekiel Hopkins on 16 Nov 1861 in the Endowment House at Salt Lake City, Utah. After they had moved to Smithfield, Ezekiel Hopkins was excommunicated from the church. Mary Ditchfield Mather appealed for a bill of divorce and was granted it on 5 Aug 1867.
When James Higginson Mather arrived in England, he found things strange and disappointing and so did not stay long but returned to the United States. He sailed on the ship “Monarch of the Seas” on 16 May from Liverpool, England. At that time he brought Elizabeth Barton, 21, spinster. “She was originally going to come with the Mather family at age 13.) After coming to Salt Lake City, Utah, no further information is known about her. Possibly she was a house servant when James Higginson Mather was living in England originally, or an acquaintance of the family.
On the United States immigration records of passengers arriving at New York, James Higginson Mather arrived on 19 June 1861 After James Higginson Mather arrived in Salt Lake city, Utah he tried to locate his family but was unsuccessful. For the next four years he helped ferry immigrants and freight good across the plains, driving the wagons. While working at this, he encountered sand storms that injured his eyelids severely and did serious eye damage. He finally had to give this work up, but he bore the marks of this until the day of his death. He finally found out that his former wife and son, Thomas, was living in Smithfield, Cache, Utah. He came to Smithfield and took up a homestead next to his son, Thomas Mather. He and his son owned three city lots north of center street on first east street in Smithfield.
James Higginson Mather was a medium sized man, blue eyes and brown hair, rather slow of speech, industrious. He was a horticulturist by vocation, kept the orchard and garden that he raised on the city lots in very good shape. This furnished his son Thomas’ family with the greater part of their living. There were summer, fall and winter apples, strawberries, boysenberries, tame sage, sliver and purple prunes, red and blue plums, sour and sweet cherries, a watermelon patch, a large patch of sugar cane, and a large vegetable garden.
James Higginson Mather read his Bible on Sunday, went to church occasionally, was thrifty, and was clean in person. He had his own home, a one room house in which he slept, but took his meals with his son Thomas and family.
Mary Ditchfield Mather lived out her life with her son, Thomas and family.
Thomas Mather was the only son of James Higginson Mather and Mary Ditchfield Mather to marry in the church. He married Mary Ann Cantwell 8 Dec 1870 in the Endowment House in Salt Lake City, Utah. Eleven children were born to them.
Mary Ditchfield was sealed to James Higginson Mather 18 June 1897 in the Logan Temple in Logan, Cache, Utah. This work was done by their son Thomas Mather. She was sealed to John Oldfield 27 Dec 1857 in the president’s office and was sealed to Ezekiel Hopkins 16 Nov 1861 in the Endowment House. They were divorced 5 Aug 1857. Her sealing to James Higginson Mather of 18 June 1897 is the one that is valid today.
James Higginson Mather died 17 Nov 1893 at Smithfield, cache, Utah. He was buried 20 Nov 1893 in Smithfield.
Mary Ditchfield Mather died 25 Dec 1892 at Smithfield. She was buried 28 Dec. 1892 at Smithfield.
Bessie Noble Larkin chose the following song as a tribute to James Higginson and Mary Ditchfield Mather. It is so applicable to their lives.
Come Ye Sons of Utah Pioneers
Music written by Betty spencer of Logan, Utah
Words written by Nephi Bott of Logan, Utah
Come ye sons of Utah pioneers, sing aloud your Father’s praise. Thank your God for their great courage Thru those dark and dismal days
For they left their homes and love ones in a far off distant land
To redeem a burning desert
It was part of God’s great plan.
They endured the burning deserts
fiery breath and desolate waste
and they toiled without complaining
on the barren rocks there placed.
With their naked hands they labored
While they fed at famine’s breast
Desolation all around them
In those valleys of the West.
Stars of Heaven were their covering
and their alter drifting sand.
But God tempered soil and climate
For it was the promised land
Now we live in peace and plenty
Rich in treasures of the earth
But the richest of our blessings
Is our heritage and birth.
May their names, their deeds and courage
Ever I our memory be
As a beacon light to guide us
Throughout all eternity.