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Biography of Grandmother Ann Boyack Ririe
By LaVerna Burnett Newey

"Behind every good man is a good woman." These words are applicable to James and Ann Boyack Ririe.

James Ririe left for his descendants an autobiography of his life but his good wife, Ann Boyack Ririe, was too busy being a pioneer mother of twelve children to record her life. Her history is written in the fine lives of each of the nine children that she reared to maturity. To her can be given a good share of the credit of teaching thrift, honesty, and prayerfulness for at a mother's knee are these things learned.

I, being the 6th youngest of the seventy-five grandchildren, did not personally know my grandmother. I was but two years old when she passed away at the age of eighty-four. The following information has been gleaned over a period of years from Boyack family records, biographies, letters, and from recollections of her children and grandchildren who survived her.

Ann Boyack Ririe was born in Dundee, Farfarshire, Scotland, May 15th, 1830. Some of her sisters were recorded as being born at Mains, Farfarshire, now Angus County, Scotland.

She was the daughter of James and Elizabeth Mealmaker Boyack. James Boyack was born August 25th, 1805 at Mains, Farfarshire, Scotland. He died February lst, 1888 at Spanish Fork, Utah. He was married to Elizabeth Mealmaker in 1827 at Mains, Farfarshire, Scotland. They were later sealed in the Endowment House in Salt Lake City, 8th March, 1862.

Elizabeth Mealmaker was born April 30, 1805 in Farfarshire, Scotland and died December 14, 1886 in Spanish Fork. She was the daughter of Peter Mealmaker and Janet Robertson of Tealing, Scotland.

James Boyack Sr. was the son of William Boyack and Catherine Moody of Farfarshire, Scotland.

Ann Boyack Ririe was the oldest of twelve children of James and Elizabeth Mealmaker Boyack. There were five girls and seven boys. They lived on a small farm in Dundee and sold milk from their farm to the many families in the town of Dundee. The children used to deliver the milk and also herd sheep along the ditch banks and streams.

The Boyack family was converted to the gospel in Scotland in the spring of 1842 when Ann was twelve years old. They didn't leave Scotland, however, until the spring of 1855 when Ann was twenty-five years of age.

Before Ann left Scotland she worked in a delicatessen shop and thus became a very good cook. She had done quite well for herself and brought with her a beautiful black dress. She once had a lot of beautiful hair but, due to a fever when still young, she lost most of it.

The Boyack family crossed the ocean in a small sailing vessel and were three months on the water. They came across the plains in the Milo Andrus Company and the older Boyack children walked most of the way as there wasn't room for them all to ride.

The Boyacks are shown merely as "James Boyack, wife and nine children," in the Deseret News of October 17th, 1855 on file in the Church Historian's Office. This company of saints crossed the plains under the leadership of Milo Andrus, Captain, as he was on his way back to Utah, after serving on a mission in England. They left Mormon Grove near Atchison, Kansas, on August 4, 1855, as the third company sent by the Perpetual Emigration Fund which was established to assist those needing help in making the long trek to Utah, with the provision that they reimburse the Fund as soon as they were settled and able.

These are notes taken from Robert and Elizabeth MaKell family book:

In some historical reports, we read, “The Milo Andrus Company arrived in Salt Lake City October 24, 1855 and were the last of all the companies of emigrating Saints leaving to come to the Valley that season. Captain Andrus used his previous experience in crossing to good advantage because, even though the last to start, he overtook some of the others and arrived in Utah five days ahead of some other companies which had an earlier start.”

An earlier issue of the Deseret News, October 17, 1855, apparently had some advance information of the immigrants brought in by a man who had a faster and more adequate transportation. David Wilkin reported at a meeting in the Bowery that of several companies, “The Milo Andrus Company took the lead,” and that:

“While they were at the fifth crossing of the Sweetwater, October 4th, snow had fallen during the night and it lay three inches deep. It lay three inches deep and it snowed quite hard trough that day but since then the weather has been warm and pleasant. Grass is good and plenty between here and Fort Bridger and if teams are taken back all the companies can arrive before inclement weather and much stock can be saved that otherwise would be lost.”

We get some idea of the courage of these pioneer forebears and some specific references to the hardships and dangers they faced in this same issue of the Deseret News. In a quoted letter dated October 12, George W. Boyd reported:

"That two men had just come from Brother Andrus in quest of animals to assist them for his company was at Greenriver and unable to “roll.” Brother Andrus also wrote to Brother Boyd that many of the men, women, and children were almost barefoot and very destitute of clothing.”

Indian attacks and thievery were common enough at that time according to the 1855 news item.

The Boyack family settled in Spanish Fork that Fall under circumstances which were likely quite disheartening. Leland H. Greer, in his book, “The Founding of an Empire”, page 341, quotes a letter of George A. Smith written June 20, 1855 to a Mormon Church publication at that time as saying:

"About two-thirds of the grain in Utah County is destroyed and a large black bug is devouring the potatoes. All the farms south of this city, Salt Lake, are nearly a desert. This is a dark picture but I regret to say it is not overdrawn.”

Spanish Fork was merely in process of getting started when the Boyacks located there. Most of the families lived in "dug-outs.” The "dug-outs" were places dug in the ground, usually four or five feet deep, with steps leading down into the room from one end and a roof usually made of willows and mud. The dug-outs were quite warm and comfortable during the winter, there being a fireplace in the end opposite the entrance. They were generally without windows, so in order to get light, the door had to be left open, or the open fire was depended upon for illumination.

It is said that these dug-outs were so commonly used as homes in the early days of Spanish Fork that the settlement was sometimes in derision called "Gopher Town."

The children of James Boyack Sr. and Elizabeth Mealmaker were as follows:

James Boyack Jr. B. 14 Sept. 1828, Mains, Farfarshire, Scotland
D. 19 Dec. 1893, Spanish Fork, Utah
M. 23 Nov.1855, to Margary Waterhouse
Ann Boyack Ririe B. 15 May 1830, Dundee (or Mains) Farfarshire, Scotland
  D. 7 Sept. 1914, Ogden, Utah
  M. 23 Nov. 1855, to James Ririe (Endowment House)
Margaret Boyack Cleveland B. 24 Dec. 1831, Mains Farfarshire, Scotland
  D. 10 May 1910
  M. 5 Jan. 1861, to Henry Cleveland
(All their children were girls except one.)
Alexander Ririe Boyack B. 16 May 1833
  Endowed 26 May 1949 and Sealed to Parents Sept. 29, 1949.
(He never married. Went away when a young man in Scotland and was never heard of again.)
Hannah Boyack McFarland B. 12 March, 1835, Mains, Farfarshire, Scotland
  D. 31 Jan. 1915, West Weber, Utah
  M. 6 Dec. 1862, James McFarland
Elizabeth Boyack McKell B. 15 April, 1838
  D. 30 Jan.1916
  M. 29 Oct. 1856, to Robert McKell
(Of her thirteen children, three girls were triplets born Jan. 1, 1860. Two of these triplets died within three months. Louisa survived and married William Bowen Hughes of Spanish Fork. Two of Elizabeth's grandsons are the two Doctor McKells who practiced in Ogden.)
Mary Boyack Robertson B. 3 Feb. 1840, Mains, Farfarshire, Scotland
  D. 27 Sept. 1915
  M. 18 Oct. 1856 to John Robertson
(Mary was married when she was sixteen and it was said that she was always full of fun. She used to run with her children behind the wagons, catch on, and then walk back just for the fun of it.)
William Mealmaker Boyack B. 24 Sept. 1841, Mains, Farfarshire, Scotland
  D. 1 Jan. 1879
  M. 12 Dec. 1863 to Susan Duncan
Joseph Gibson Boyack B. 1 July 1842, Mains, Farfarshire, Scotland
  D. 21 Oct. 1924
  M. 6 Dec. 1861 to Jessie Archabald
Peter Fenton Boyack B. 15 May 1844
  D. 3 April 1924
  M. 5 April 1869, to Rachel Emiline Hicks
Robert Matthew Boyack B. 21 March 1847
  D. 19 Jan. 1855
M. to Emily Jane Stoker
David Douglas Boyack B. 21 March 1847
  D. March 1931
  M. 10 Feb. 1879, to Orilla M. Brimhall
Jessie Boyack B. 1848
  D. 1851
Thomas Boyack B. 1849
  D. 1850

As the children married and left the home, the elder Boyack couple were left alone. Hyrum Ririe knew a man who used to cut and haul in their wood. He had a room next to James and Elizabeth Mealmaker Boyack and he could hear them blessing him in their prayers for his thoughtfulness.

James Ririe and Ann Boyack were married November 23, 1855, after a three-week courtship. Ann's brother James was married to Margary Waterhouse on the same day. The two couples were married in the Endowment House. James Ririe had recently been disappointed when his sweetheart from Scotland had married someone else as she was crossing the plains. Ann had also left a sweetheart in Scotland who had refused to join the Mormons.

James and Ann Ririe first settled in Springville where two of their children, James B. and Margaret were born. She worked hard with her husband to help harvest the grain on a little farm.

Nettie Hogge Charlton, a granddaughter, tells us that Grandmother Ann was frightened many times by Indians. At times they would hold a pistol to her head, threatening to kill her if she did not feed them. During those times they had little to do with. They kept a few sheep and sheared them to spin the wool. She made all their clothes by hand. She helped to drive the grasshoppers off the crops into ditches in large heaps and then set fire to them. At times they were so thick she could hardly see the sun.

They lived mostly on bread, molasses, and potatoes. Her husband, James, sometimes dug sego lily roots which she boiled in milk.

When Johnson's Army came, Grandmother Ann baked pies and Grandfather James sold them to the Army for fifty cents each.

They later moved to North Ogden for a short time and then to west Weber where the rest of her twelve children were born. Two of her children, William and Mary, a twin to Aunt Isabelle, died shortly after birth. Another baby, George, died at twenty-one months. All of the other nine lived to have families of their own. Three of her sons filled honorable missions. Her children were always kept neat and clean and they learned obedience, respect, and love for their parents and the gospel.

In West Weber they had a farm of eighty acres where they worked hard to better themselves.

She had six children under the age of eleven when her husband brought his plural wife, Betsey Hendry, daughter of Matthew Hendry, home. These were trying times for Ann as well as for James and Betsey. In 1945 Isabelle and Hyrum, the surviving children, said Grandmother Ann had always taught her children to call her Aunt Betsey and to show her respect. Aunt Betsey had no children of her own and it was told by some that Betsey would liked to have had one of the twin boys to raise as her own.

Later, they sold out in West Weber and the big rock house at the east of Ogden Canyon was built. It was just a little ways northwest of the Artesian Wells. The site on the north shore of Pine View Dam is now covered with water. The stones were hauled from near-by canyons by the boys and Grandfather James was very particular about the size, shape, and color of each one.

While they were digging in the side of the hill for the cellar, they struck what looked like a vein of gold. One of the boys said, "Let's mine it,” but Grandfather said, "No, a cellar will serve us much better.”

This rock cellar in Eden had a spring running through it. Grandmother Ann used to kneel on the cold wet stones day after day to pat the butter into shape. As a result, she developed rheumatism so badly she could hardly lift her hands to her face or flick a fly from her forehead in the latter years of her life. Her hands were twisted and gnarled and for twenty-seven years she suffered but never complained.

Uncle Hyrum Ririe once said you could put your hand against the inside walls of the rock house and it would leave the mark of the warmth of your hand.

Uncle Hyrum also reminisced that when he was a little fellow in West Weber, the Weber River in the spring was so high they couldn't get into Ogden to buy products. Often they had to borrow from a neighbor to tide them over. When Grandmother returned her cups of sugar they were always rounded out fuller than what she had borrowed. Grandfather James was the same. When necessity forced him to borrow a plow, he insisted that the boys sharpen the shears and return it in better condition than when borrowed.

Grandmother Ann loved flowers and her children had recollections of lilies, snowballs, hollyhock, and iris surrounding the big rock house. She also had a nice garden and she gathered berries to make delicious jellies. She milked the cows, made the butter and her own cheese. From the sale of it, she helped buy the necessities.

When her son Alex was growing up, he wanted very badly to own a pair of high heeled boots to go dancing in. Grandfather thought it nonsense. But Grandmother understood. She said Alex had been so good to stay home and help he deserved them. She saved enough money from her butter and cheese to buy not only the boots but also some nice sporty shirts.

She was very devoted to her children. As each one married she gave them a lovely wedding supper in the big rock house. Many times over a hundred guests came.

My Mother said of her, "I never heard Mother speak an unkind word to anyone or about anyone. She never interfered in any of her children's lives after they were married."

Uncle Hyrum said of her, "She was one of the kindest and sweetest dispositioned women I had the pleasure of knowing. She was always ready and willing to help someone else in any way that she could."

Myrtle Ririe Barker, Mabel Ririe Wheelwright, and Clista Burnett Knight, each told how they loved to go to Grandmother's home because she was so kind. They used to slide down the big bannisters. Great Aunt Agnes Norvel would want them to stop making such noise but Grandmother would say, "Tut, Tut, let them play." She always had orange marmalade with crackers or cookies, fruitcake, or peppermints for a treat.

They also remembered the many snakes around the rock house and how brave they thought Great Aunt Agnes Norval was as she killed them with a pitch fork.

When the children were young, the road in Ogden Canyon was so narrow that the children would have to run ahead in certain places to see if anyone was coming before they would go on with the team. Aunt Lizzie Farrell said the mules could smell an Indian miles away and would certainly kick up a fuss.

All their lives, Grandmother and Grandfather shared. If the Indians came she fed them. If it was a drunk, no matter the time of night, Grandfather fed him and gave him a bed in the barn.

Aunt Lizzie once told Clista, my sister, how Grandfather would kill an animal and, in cutting it up, would say: "This part goes to widow so-and-so and this part to neighbor so-and-so, who might be poor or old." It looked sometimes as though there would be nothing left to feed the family and Grandma would quietly say, "And what part will be ours?"

Others in the home were always welcome. Grandfather's brother, David Ririe came from Scotland and stayed about ten years. Once my mother said, "Uncle David, why didn't you ever marry?" He replied, "Lassie, I loved a girlie once in the Old Country. She took a fever and died. I've never loved another."

Grandmother also accepted willingly into her home a sister of Grandpa's, Aunt Agnes Norval. When her husband and two children died she had no one to care for her. Grandfather sent for her to come from Scotland to Utah. Grandma often said how appreciative she was of having Aunt for a companion in their old age. Aunt was seventy-one when she came and ninety-two when she died. She is buried also in the Ririe family plot in Ogden city cemetery.

After Grandpa's death June 17, 1905, the rock house was sold and Grandma and Aunt went to live in a little home in the rear of Uncle Alex's and Aunt Lizzie Ririe's home between twenty-two and twenty-three Adams in Ogden.

Grandmother gave every one of her grandchildren a dollar at their birth. First it was from her butter money and later it was from the estate.

Grandmother Ann Ririe died in her home in Ogden, Sept. 7, 1914. Aunt Agnes died a few months later March 24th, 1915.

Ethel Ririe Batten said of Ann Boyack Ririe. "She was so appreciative of visits and gifts from her children and grandchildren. I can see her now, sitting in that old easy chair with her twisted and gnarled hands in her lap and wishing she could do more for everybody. She never complained. To know her was to love her."

After her death, Uncles Joseph and Alex Ririe acted as administrators of the estate. When the property was disposed of each son and daughter received $2,768.90 (That would mean that her estate was worth about $514,000 in 2003 dollars).

We, her descendants, revere her memory.

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