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
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
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
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
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
The children of James Boyack Sr.
and Elizabeth Mealmaker were as follows:
|James Boyack Jr.
||B. 14 Sept. 1828, Mains, Farfarshire,
|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,
||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
|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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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