Life Histroy of Ellen Bridget Gallagher
Colaborador: Thorsted Created: 1 year ago Updated: 1 year ago
BIOGRAPHY: Very few of our pioneers have had a more eventful life than Ellen Bridget Gallagher Cottam. Ellen Bridget was strong in character from a small child. She passed through extreme poverty, sickness, loneliness, danger, and sacrifice, with faith in herself as well as in God.
Bridget's Irish father, John Gallagher, loved his wife enough to lose both fortune and title for her. She was Ellen Duffy, and was employed as a maid in the home of the Gallagher's. When John came home to Dublin to visit his parents, he fell in love with this beautiful Irish girl, and in time persuaded her to consent to a secret marriage. John could not imagine his parents resisting her charms for long, but in this he was mistaken. His father and mother wanted him to desert Ellen, this he firmly refused to do and was made a stranger to his parents. John and Ellen were taken in by some of Ellen's mother's people, who were wealthy and very kind of heart, and made them to feel welcome. They remained there until a little daughter was born on December 22, 1831. Her name was Ellen Bridget, the subject of this brief biography.
After Ellen Bridget's birth John and his young wife made their way to England where there were better advantages to making a living. They were blessed with four more children, Ann, John, and twin sons James and Thomas. Shortly after the birth of the twins, John contractedf cholera, and died December 17, 1847. Ellen Duffy Gallagher was left to care for five children.
Life was very hard for Ellen and she remarried hoping to better her condition and find companionship. This second husband was a tailor, Thomas Jenkins, who was by nature selfish and disagreeable. As soon as the little ones could wind a bobbin they were forced to work by their stepfather. Ellen Bridget earned a penny a day, doing this for two years. In time Bridget rebelled against her stepfather and was determined to meet life on her terms, not her stepfathers. She worked as a nurse maid for a time and then went back to the linen factory where she found her brother Thomas. She had not seen any family member for several months. They fell into each others arms and wept for joy. Thomas tried to persuade Bridget to return home but she firmly refused. She did however meet with her mother secretly.
In her upper teens Bridget met a handsome young Englishmen by the name of William Cottam. Although there was a strong attraction between them they lost track of each other for a time. While still working at the linen factory Bridget contracted a serious problem with her knee. The manager of the factory was very kind, and arranged to send Bridget to a hospital in Manchester where she received excellent treatment. Upon her recovery she was invited to stay in the fine home of the factory manager, but instead chose to apply for a position at the hospital, where she could pay for the care she had received. She worked in the maternity ward of the hospital for two years, where she learned a great deal about babies and delivered many women. These skills would become a lifelong blessing to Bridget and the hundreds of people she would assist.
Just before entering the hospital Bridget first met William Cottam. Now at the age of twenty-one she once again met the now twenty-three year old Latter-day saint. They were married September 21, 1851, in Makersfield, Lancashire, England. Although Bridget was a devout Catholic, she in time was converted to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. They both desired to come to Zion and be with the main body of Saints. They seemed unable to get means enough to come together and the years passed. Their first born child was a daughter named Eliza. They then lost twin boys, Thomas and Samuel. On April 1, 1854, their daughter Eliza was tragically drowned.
They then lost another son named Peter. On March 30, 1858, they were blessed with a son that would grow to adulthood and be a great blessing to the family. His name was James Moroni Cottom. The following year they lost another baby daughter named Hannah. On August 5, 1861, they had triplets. George and Betsy survived about three weeks. John Cottam would grow to adulthood and be buried in North Ogden, Utah. On August 6, 1863, their daughter Margaret was born. John and Bridget finally decided that he would go to America where he could earn enough money to send for his family. Only three of their ten children were living, James, John and Margaret. William arranged for his parents to care for James and John and he would first send for Bridget and his young daughter Margaret. Bridget consented to this plan but in her heart had no intention of leaving any of the children.
Early in 1865 William came to Pennsylvania where he worked at his trade as a miner. As soon as William left Bridget worked as a midwife and also stocked a small store, walking seven miles for her wholesale goods. In this way she earned enough money to take herself and the children to America. Bridget delivered her eleventh child, Ann Ellen on December 5, 1865, an event that was kept secret from William. One can only imagine William's surprise when he saw not just Bridget and Margaret, but James and John and the surprise child Ann Ellen.
Ellen Bridget's mother was a devout Catholic and was very much opposed to her daughter going to America. Words were spoken by Bridget's mother that were harsh. Instead of being offended, Bridget tried to reassure her mother that she was joining her husband, uniting her family, and doing what was right. The Lord many years ago promised blessing to those who would be spoken evil of for His names' sake. Bridget was richly blessed for her devotion to Jesus Christ and the cause of Zion.
On the long trip to America some were washed overboard during a great storm. Bridget however knew in her heart that they would arrive safely and be reunited with their husband and father. On one occasion James said, "Ma, cover us up, so we won't see ourselves drowned."
William continued working in the mines until he was sorely afflicted with boils, seventeen of them on one arm, making it impossible to work. Their resources were very low and Bridget resolved to sell her beautiful hair for forty dollars to Mr. Blackburn, the foreman of the mine. When this kindly man noticed her swollen eyes, he asked her why? Bridget said they were without food. The foreman told her he would give her the money, but she was to keep the hair on her head and take care of it. As soon as she was able, Bridget paid him back.
That part of the country was invaded by a band of lawless men called "The White Caps." They would entice people from home under false pretenses and mistreat and kill them. One night a man came to her, seeking assistance for his wife in childbirth. Among her gifts was the spirit of discernment and she felt he was an evil man. They talked a few minutes and she turned into the house as though to prepare herself to go. Bridget picked up a pistol, and shot it over the mans head several times. He left very quickly. Bridget found out later that the man was a member of this band.
On March 24, 1868, in Coleraine, Luzerne, Pennsylvania, Bridget gave birth to her twelfth child. His name was William Cottam Jr. It is interesting to contemplate that William and Bridget only had one of their first eight children reach adulthood. Their last eight children, beginning with John, the only surviving triplet, all reached adulthood and lived to a goodly age. The Lord showered blessings upon this faithful couple that would bless hundreds of faithful descendants yet unborn.
William and his oldest son James went to work as soon as his boils were better. Bridget took in boarders, and continued practicing her profession as a midwife. They soon had enough means to come to Utah. Their friends from England, who were living in Utah, told Bridget to bring clothes, shoes and such items as they could instead of money. They came on the first train that carried cars, mail and passengers. There were no extra men to receive the crew, and when they reached a station at night fall the engineer, fireman, brakeman and conductor rolled up in their blankets in the station house and slept until morning. They arrived in Ogden, Utah on October 6, 1868. They were met at the station by a Brother Deardon and several of their friends from England.
They settled in Porterville, three miles east of Morgan, in a house with a dirt floor. Quilts were used for doors, and burlap bags for window coverings. They were the first people in Porterville to have a stove and a lamp. Bridget traded a revolver and a suit of clothes for them. Being a miner, William was very anxious to settle in Eureka or Wyoming. But Bridget was determined to raise her children in a better environment. William went to Eureka to work but came home at intervals. While he was away Bridget acquired a farm. It was a very happy surprise for the husband when he found them all settled on "an honest to goodness farm" as his daughter expressed it. How thankful Bridget was for her experience in the hospital in England. She earned many dollars as a midwife to help pay for the new farm. Part of this farm had a large meadow five miles up the canyon. On one occasion Bridget went there to help James pitch hay. The sound of a cougar caused them to quickly retreat in their loaded hay wagon. When they arrived home, they did not have a spear of hay left. They had come so fast they had lost it all.
Bridget often took the children to pick up potatoes for the winter. She white washed the school house, which also served as a church and town hall. She took in washing, and did everything possible to help. One child was born after reaching Utah, a girl, Elizabeth Jane, on August 6, 1870. The children's clothes and shoes were so shabby that she felt ashamed to send them to Sunday School, and at times felt very discouraged. She called at the home of Henry Bowering, a Patriarch of the Church, when Elisabeth was born, and received a wonderful blessing. Bridget was promised that as long as she remained faithful and trusted in the Lord she would be equal to all occasions.
Bridget practiced the profession of midwifery for fifty years in England, Pennsylvania, Porterville and Snowville, Utah. In Porterville, she usually went to the patients on horse back, wading streams, and sometimes riding on the running boards of wagons. If she was not able to get a horse, she walked through the snow for miles. The night was never too dark or the way too far when she was needed. After moving to Snowville, where the people were scattered, she often went twenty-five or thirty miles. Bridget would put hot rocks in the sleighs to keep from freezing. She seemed to bring an atmosphere of faith and hope with her. She also treated contagious diseases. It seemed a gift with her. She did not know how to read a thermometer, in fact, she could neither read nor write. She usually charged three dollars for the whole illness, and if the people were in poor circumstances she returned that.
William and Bridget heard some encouraging remarks about Promatory country. William and James, with a company of other settlers, went to Curlew Valley and took a plot of land, and spent the winter plowing. In the spring Bridget and William considered the advisability of taking their family out where there were no schools, no churches or organizations of any kind, and very few people. The Cottam's felt it was not wise to take the family to Promatory country at this time. Previous to this, they had taken up a homestead in Hooper, Utah, and they decided to move there. But when they prepared to move, they found out they had waited too long and lost the rights. Someone else had taken it. William had already sold the home in Porterville, so there remained nothing else to do but go to Curlew Valley. They packed up and started with two head of cattle, two oxen, two horses and a wagon. Of this wagon the family was very proud, as it had a spring seat and was drawn by a span of horses. One night they camped in Corinne, and Bridget would let the children get only so far away from her, for fear she would loose them in the tall wheatgrass. They arrived at their new home the first of May. The journey took three days.
Their new home had a dirt floor, no doors or windows and the stock wandered all over at random. Bridget had gone through so much hardship and was so weary and overworked, she became ill. Three of the children got lost and she sent three of the other children to find them. She worried so much before they finally got back that she was delirious when they told her they were all right. When she was improving, she determined to think more of her blessings and less of her own hardships. Bridget remembered the blessings she had received with her husband, when they received their endowments and were sealed in January of 1873. The trip to the endowment house in Salt Lake City was very cold and stormy. They traveled in a lumber wagon without a spring seat. The wagon was drawn by oxen, and the roads were very bad. Bridget had to walk for two miles through Devils Gate in Weber Canyon through deep snow. She was very anxious to go at this time as she was expecting another baby, very soon. Daniel H. Wells performed the ceremony and called her back and gave them a second blessing, saying it was a very rare thing to see an Irish Catholic converted to the faith and receive her endowments. When they returned home twin girls, Mary and Martha, were born to them on April, 10. At this time a very dear friend lost her baby and asked Bridget to give her one of the twins, thinking one would be all she could provide for in these hard times, but Bridget knew that the Lord would provide.
Two years later, on November 12, Bridget gave birth to a baby girl. The snow was two feet deep and it was a bitterly cold day. There was no one near to help her, and only an ox team to go for help. Bridget felt she didn't want to be left long enough for anyone to go out in this bitter cold weather to find help. So the baby was born with the help William. They said they felt so much like they imagined Adam and Eve felt, that they named the little girl "Eve." Eve lived until she was 34 years old, had a family of four children and went as a pioneer to Big Horn, Wyoming. Bridget, having delivered her sixteenth child, thought as she lay in her bed how the Lord had blessed her and the Cottam family. She felt that in the new world Heavenly Father would open the way for her to overcome any difficulty and give her strength and knowledge to help her husband and others in distress. Bridget so much appreciated the great faith that had been exercised for her by the family and the elders. She particularly felt the spirit of the Lord when Brother Hansen, a kindly and faithful Dutch convert came to minister to her. She quickly began to be herself again, full of hope and love, always looking for opportunities to help others.
William and his oldest son cut cedar posts and hauled them sixty miles to sell them and through this enterprise provided for the family. As soon as they were able, they stocked a store in Snowville, they had two-thousand lbs. of flour and three barrels of syrup of which sold very quickly. They had bought out the co-op store. They were very thrifty and soon had a better house. It was a two-room log house. Bridget was now able to practice her profession and her husband started to petition to get a mail route. He got the contract to carry mail to Kelton, Utah, twice a week. Later he freighted from Kelton to Haily, Wood River Country, Idaho.
They had never been able to help bring any of their people to this country, and now they felt that they could, so they sent money for William's oldest brother. They also saved for Bridget's brother, whom she loved very dearly. But he died before the money reached England.
Their oldest daughter, Margaret, having had the advantages of some schooling, started teaching school and among her pupils were many older than herself. The school house was built near the foothills and a mile from the house. The coyotes and wild cattle made her very uneasy. In fact she would wait until the young men came to open the house. Her little sisters and brothers and neighbor children attended. There was no money for this labor, but she received cedar posts, meat and flour for her services..
The following summer there was a ward organized in Snowville, and all the family became active members. Bridget was a Relief society teacher, something for which she was particularly fitted. Margaret was Secretary of Mutual. Bridget's visiting teacher companion was Ellen Goodlife, a deaf lady who used a horn. Aunt Ellen, as the children called her, would come and have lunch with the family before leaving their house. They would also kneel in prayer with the family, they couldn't talk together without shouting so they would counsel together before leaving home.
There was a very wealthy man, Richard Crocker, who came out where they lived, who had fourteen thousand head of cattle. Mr. Lamgan owned fifteen hundred head of cattle and Mr. Crocker wanted to buy them. Finding out that Crocker had a great deal of money Lamgan asked a great deal more than the cattle were worth. William acted as agent for Crocker, and negotiated a fair price. William was paid five-hundred dollars, which looked like a fortune to William and Bridget. Mr. Crocker also owned a large interest in the railroad and was in a position to help anyone whom he had confidence in. He planned to have the ground fenced and gave William the contract. This was a large undertaking for William, but it brought work for many men and was a great help to the small community. William and Bridget also had a large salt contract. She also ran the store and cooked for the men, while he managed the salt business. Always trying to get ahead and the same time helping others.
Store keeping seemed to be one of Bridget's vocations. Remember she could neither read nor write. But she kept track of everything anyone brought along with prices in her head. She had a system of her own keeping the money straight by using whole or half and fourth circles. Bridget had a wonderful memory. When she came to Ogden for a bill of goods from Scrowcrofts, having known them in England, she never used a note, she just relied on her memory.
Snowville by this time was much more active than it is today. They used to buy hides and pelts and pine nuts from the Indians in the spring of the year. At one time Bridget and two of her daughters were alone. All the men were away working on the farm, and a band of Indians came loaded with wool and hides to trade. She bought their hides and wool and gave them money, which they then used to purchase provisions. Bridget stocked all kinds of goods, including calico, that the Indians had a particular liking for. Connected with their store was a hotel where they met people of all kinds who remembered them for their honesty. At one time a discouraged fruit peddler brought a load of fruit to Snowville, only to find three peddlers had preceded him. Bridget had a load of empty soda water bottles, which she exchanged for the fruit. Bridget knew the fruit peddler would have no trouble selling the bottles which would meet his expenses. She took the overripe fruit off his hands and risked getting rid of it. He was a poor man and could not afford to lose this money. Later he said he blessed the day he met her. Bridget was very thoughtful and generous. She had been helped in England and Pennsylvania when she was in dire need. Bridget felt it a privilege to return kindness with kindness. At one time the town was sending a delegate to a convention, but no one seemed to think he needed money to pay his expenses, so she gave him ten dollars to help. At one time in England her brother-in-law came to work in the mines and needed a lamp to wear, but had no money. Bridget pawned her petticoat to purchase the lamp. Another time a convert from England wanted to go to the temple, and didn't have clothes so she helped her get them. Before leaving Porterville, she presented the church with a pretty red and black tablecloth for their altar. This was in 1871 and they used it until 1908, when they rebuilt.
William and Bridget had been sealed in the Endowment house in 1873. The twins and Eve were born under the covenant, and now the rest of the children had the opportunity to be sealed to William and Bridget in November of 1895. Their living children, John, Margaret, Ann Ellen, William Jr., and Elizabeth Jane, were sealed to their parents in the Logan Temple. And their must have been joy in heaven as Eliza, Thomas, Samuel, Peter, Hannah, George and Betsy were also sealed to their parents. On June 24, 1897, James was sealed to his parents, completing the chain. The Cottam's became a forever family. This marvelous event took place the same day, November 13, 1895, that Lars Peter and Elizabeth Jane Jensen had their marriage sealed in the Logan Temple. Most reading this history are descendants of Elizabeth Jane, the thirteenth child.
When the laws of the state required a midwife to have a certificate from some school of training, hundreds of letters were sent, petitioning them to allow Ellen Bridget Cottam to continue her practice. When Bridget became too old to practice, she would take Margaret, her oldest daughter to assist her in the work. Later she paid for the professional training of Margaret in midwifery. One of her patients moved to Salt Lake and died leaving seven children. There were plenty of relatives to care for the children but none wanted the responsibility. Bridget went to Salt Lake in a covered wagon and brought all seven children to Snowville, and found homes for them. She kept one of the boys and raised him as her own. Imagine Williams' surprise when she came home with seven children, when they already had nine of their own. William said "I thought I sent thee for a load of goods, and thee brought back a load of kids" but he was as anxious to help them as she was.
Bridget was the only member of her family to join the church, and only saw one member of her family again. Her brother John came to America and settled in Mexico. He wrote that he was coming to Utah to se her and she sent a team of horses to Ogden to meet him, but he failed to arrive and her husband read of an explosion in the mines where he had worked, and so she mourned him as dead. He was a giant of a man and became a wrestler and thinking that his sister would think his profession objectionable for a Christian woman, decided not to come. He traveled in the United States for twenty years, finally married and became the father of many sons. He now longed to see his sister, Ellen Bridget, so he came to Utah and went to the Governor of the state, Governor Wells, who sent him to President Kelly's home in the Box Elder Stake. This man entertained him for two days and before he left President Kelly's home had a different idea of the Mormons. He went to Snowville with the mailman and posed as a salesman selling Bibles. When he approached his sister, she told him she didn't need a bible, as she had plenty, and anyway she herself couldn't even read the ones she had. He said, "You must have come from Lancashire, England from you dialect." She replied that she had. "Did you know certain families there by the name of Duffy or Jenkins?" She told him that she was relatives of those families, and then he asked her about her brother, John. She sadly told him of the mine explosion and that she thought he was dead. He could not resist it any longer and taking her in his arms told her that he was her brother, John. She had been kneeling at the stove talking care of bread (she was noted for her good bread, all around the country, needless to say her bread was neglected that day). This brother has since died leaving a family in New Mexico, where they have ranches. He was a leader as well as his sister, and at one time had a very important position in the courts. Bridget's mother died at the age of ninety in Wiggan, England. When Bridget heard of her younger sister's death in England, she had her temple work done and had her sister Anna sealed to her husband William, on September 21, 1895. It is interesting to note that September 21 was Bridget's marriage to William in 1851.
The store in Snowville was in the hands of some members of the Cottam family for a good many years. Bridget died at the age of 71 years. It was so hard for her good husband and children to part with their wonderful wife and mother, but they were surrounded with loving friends and neighbors, who all had some noble deed to tell of her. William lived 10 years after his wife's passing. He was 84 years old and his mind was still as alert as ever when he passed on.
Ellen was buried in linen brought from Ireland by Joseph Scrowcroft. The pall bearers were boys she had helped bring into the world. Just a week before she died the Relief Society held their meeting in her home and she bore a wonderful testimony.
Once when a daughter met Joe Scrowcroft on the street in Ogden, he spoke of the great likeness between she and her mother, he also told her then what a wonderful mother she had. The daughter answered and said, "If mother could have had the advantage of an education she could have done wonderful things." He replied, "Education, why your mother was the best educated woman I know, she could have run a railroad, if she had the money."
Ellen Bridget Gallagher Cottam has completed her mortal probation with the assurance from her Heavenly Father that she will enjoy the blessing of a Celestial life forever with her dear companion William. May her memory live forever in the hearts of her posterity, and keep them striving after the noble and good.
BIOGRAPHY: Information was gathered by Margaret, Bridget's older daughter, and by Ada Taylor, a grand-daughter.
BIOGRAPHY: Rewritten by Charolette Johnson Taylor–August 12, 1924.
BIOGRAPHY: Rewritten again by Jerry W. Baker, a great, great grandson-August 28, 2000