Life Story of Martha Webb
By David Ririe
Martha Webb was one of the many
early converts to join the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day saints,
many others she
was not "one of a city and two of a family" to accept the
gospel for two brothers and three sisters joined the Church and emigrated
Martha was born in Litlington, Cambridgeshire, England, October
11, 1820. She was the daughter of DeGrass Webb and his wife, Mary
Jackson. Martha married Isaac Campkin on February 13, 1847, and they
located in Biggleswade, Bedfordshire, England where most of their
six children were born. Isaac was a shoemaker and with his brother,
George, had established a thriving business. They made excellent
shoes. Martha assisted with the lining and binding.
When the gospel message was brought to them by the Mormon Elders,
they accepted it and began to save money to come to Zion. They left
England early in the spring of 1856 with five small children: Wilford
George, age 8; Francessa, age 6; Harriet, age 4; Martha, age 2; and
James Isaac, about six months. The oldest girl, Rebecca, was born
on June 27, 1849 and died on April 21, 1852. This was shortly before
they left England. She died from diphtheria.
They sailed from Liverpool, February 18,
1856 in the ship "Caravan".
There were 454 Saints on board under the direction of Daniel Tyler.
After five weeks on the ocean they arrived in New York on March 27,
Before leaving their home in England a missionary approached Isaac
Campkin for a loan of $600.00. He promised to return the money by
sending it to the Church Headquarters in New York or to personally
have the money ready for them in New York when they arrived. The
missionary failed, however, to keep his promise and never returned
it. Years later Martha said she had only sympathy and pity for an
Elder who would do such a thing, and that she would much rather be
in her position than in his.
From New York they journeyed on to St. Louis, the gathering place
for the European Saints on their way to Utah. Just two years before
this a Stake of Zion had been organized in St. Louis. It consisted
of six wards with a membership of 1810 persons.
Following is a paragraph from the St. Louis Luminary, a small L.D.S.
paper dated February 3, 1855:
"St. Louis is a fine, large and flourishing
city and has been a gathering place for our people from 10 to 15
years. There are few
public buildings of any consideration in this city that Latter Day
Saints have not taken an active and prominent part in creating or
ornamenting. There are few factories, foundries or mercantile establishments
but they have taken or are taking an active part in establishing
or sustaining, either as employers, as artisans or as customers and
there is probably more business done in this city than any other
of the same magnitude in the world. Probably no city in the world
where Latter Day Saints are more respected and where they may sooner
obtain an outfit for Utah than in this city."
Isaac probably thought of establishing stores in St. Louis to replenish
the funds lost by the Elder not returning the money he borrowed.
Whatever his plans for the future, they were sadly changed for he
contracted a severe cold which developed into pneumonia and in three
days he passed away at the age of 33. He was buried in St. Louis.
Martha was a brave, courageous woman, full of faith and determined
to be united with the Saints in Salt Lake City, Utah. With five small
children she left Iowa City on July 15, 1856, in one of the famous
handcart companies under the command of James A. Willie. Progress
was slow, due a great deal to the breaking down of handcarts. The
cold weather came early in 1856 and it was soon necessary to ration
the food supply. As the weary days passed the food supply was reduced
until only one half pint of flour was allowed for each person a day.
John Chislett, a member of this company, who later became a prominent
merchant of Salt Lake City, tells this incident:
"We traveled on in misery and sorrow
day after day. Sometimes we made a pretty good distance, but at
other times we were only able
to make a few miles progress. Finally we were overtaken by a snow
storm which the shrill wind blew furiously along. But we dared not
stop for we had a sixteen mile journey to make on the Sweetwater,
and short of that we could not get wood or water. As we were resting
for a short time at noon, a light wagon was driven into our camp
from the West. Its occupants were Joe A. Young and Stephen Taylor.
They informed us that a train of supplies was on the way and that
we might expect to meet it in a day or two. More welcome messengers
never came from the courts of Glory than these two young men were
to us. The captain went on ahead to meet them.
"One evening just as the sun was sinking
beautifully behind the distant hills, on an eminence immediately
west of our camp, several
covered wagons, each drawn by four horses, were seen coming toward
us. The news ran through camp like wildfire and all who were able
to leave their beds turned out enmasse to see them. A few minutes
brought them sufficiently near to reveal our faithful captain slightly
in advance of the train. Shouts of joy rent the air; strong men wept
till tears ran freely down their furrowed and sun-burned cheeks;
and little children partook of the joy which some of them hardly
understood, and fairly danced around with gladness.
"The brethren brought flour, potatoes,
onions, and warm clothing, with quilts, blankets, etc., which were
divided and given where most
"That evening, for the first time in
quite a period, the songs of Zion were to be heard in camp and
peals of laughter issued from
the little knots of people, as they chatted around the fire. A change
seemed almost miraculous, so sudden it was from grave to gay, from
sorrow to gladness, from mourning to rejoicing. With the craving
of hunger satisfied and with hearts filled with gratitude to God
and our good brethren, we all united in prayer then retired to rest."
They reached Salt Lake City on November 9, 1856. Martha and her
children found a home with her brother in law, George Campkin and
his family. She was proud and independent and in return for their
kindness she shared with them her fine linen which she had brought
In the spring of 1857 she married Thomas
Young. They lived first at Bountiful, Utah. They took part in the "move South”,
going as far as American Fork where they remained for three months,
then returned to Bountiful. Later they moved to a farm north of Willard,
Box Elder county, and in 1860 to a farm in Three Mile Creek, now
Perry, where members of the family still reside. Their home for many
years was a camping place for travelers.
Martha was a good cook and housekeeper and did all work incident
to pioneer life. She made straw hats for her family, and also for
sale. The oldest girl, Francessa, did most of the spinning. Martha
did most of the dyeing. The girls did the washing, ironing, scrubbing,
etc. Generally Martha washed dishes in the morning, Harriet at noon,
and Francessa at night.
Most of Martha's time was spent in her home with her family, though
she took part in public and religious affairs. The people would take
turns in giving dances, pay for the fiddlers, and taking them home
for supper at intermissions, which was usually midnight. On one occasion
when they were giving a dance the mother had prepared most of the
supper before going to the dance. She told the children to stay up
and cook the potatoes. Francessa was reading to the children to keep
them awake when suddenly there was a tap, tap, tap on the window.
The children were so frightened they did not want to move even to
prepare the supper. When the parents returned the potatoes were not
cooked. They assured the children it was only some boys playing pranks.
Since Francessa was the oldest she was allowed to go back to the
dance. Harriet and Martha did the dishes, and were glad to go to
bed after the dishes were finished.
A great sorrow came to this brave woman in the accidental death
of her oldest son, Wilford, who met his death by being run over by
a team of horses while taking a load of hay to Corinne in January
After Martha’s marriage to Thomas Young
she became the mother of three more children, a daughter, Fannie,
and two sons, Thomas
Harvey and Albert Herbert.
The last years of Martha's life were spent with her daughter, Harriet
and family. Martha died on January 31, 1898, at the age of seventy
four years. Her funeral was held on February 3, 1898, at the Perry
meeting house. She was buried in the Brigham City Cemetery.
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