Life History of Ann Brooks

By Ruth C. Andrus, wife of Clarence Loyal Andrus, who was the oldest son of Orson Andrus, the son of Ann Brooks and Milo Andrus. (Much of the information for this history is copied from a Daughters of the Utah Pioneers publication compiled by Kate B. Garter. See pages 248 through 251 of Our Pioneer Heritage.)


Ann Brooks, sixth wife of Milo Andrus, was born in London, England on Dec. 7, 1889.. She was the only child born to her mother, Elizabeth Brooks, and her father, lames Simpkins. Her mother, Elizabeth Brooks, also later became a plural wife to Milo Andrus.

From the Caner Publication. we read, "She (Ann Brooks) studied music in London and became a fine pianist. While living in St. Louis, Missouri, she made her living by teaching music. Here Ann met Milo Andrus, who was president of the St. Louis Stake. Ann and her mother made plans to bring their possessions including a piano which Ann had purchased in St. Louis in 1854.

They joined the Milo Andrus Company in 1855. The lack of space in the small covered wagon prompted the company captain many times to order the piano discarded by the wayside. Each time he yielded to Ann’s pleading, but finally the situation became critical, and the piano was removed from the wagon. It was not until the company had traveled on for some distance that it was discovered that Ann was missing. Returning down the trail, they found her sitting on the piano, and she would not go on with them until the decision was made to reload her prized possession."

Ruth C. Andrus explains at this point that, "It was when they crossed the Missouri River that Ann’s piano was taken from the wagon. When they were on the other side, they saw Ann seated on her piano and Milo came back, and took her and the piano across the Missouri. Such determination and dedication had to be rewarded." This piano today at this writing in August of 1972, is a museum piece in Salt Lake City, Utah.

Ann married Milo Andrus in December of 1855. To this union were born five children who were: Alwilda Nancy, born: March 5, 1857; Charles, born: April 19, 1859; Orson and Parley, twins, born: Oct. 6, 1862; and Clarence Eugene, born: April 6, 1870. All these five children were born at Holladay, Utah. Parley and Clarence Eugene died while still young as a result of a diphtheria epidemic. Their deaths were only weeks apart. Parley died on Jan. 17, 1876, and Clarence Eugene died in early February of 1876. The other three children grew to maturity and married. Alwilda Nancy married Franklin Brinton on March 3, 1880. Charles married Karren Marie Larsen on Aug. 10, 1879, and died Jan. 30, 1899. Orson married Mary Alberta Williams on Dec. 31, 1885, and he died March 17, 1927.

While Ann Brooks Andrus was raising her family, they lived at Cottonwood, Utah which was just south of Sa It Lake City, Utah. While her children were growing, Ann helped to support them by teaching music and playing for dances and other entertainments.

The Carter publication continues on page 248, "Alice Brimon Casto, granddaughter of Ann, wrote the following:

Ann Brooks was a dignified woman who won the respect of old and young, rich and poor. She was at ease in almost any environment, but she could be very stern at times and yet she was so kind. I remember one occasion when she was teaching school, the children had built a bonfire during noon hour and after it had burned down to gray ashes, some of the older boys dared one of the little boys to run through it with bare feet. He, not knowing it was still hot, ran through it and blistered his tiny feet. Grandma bandages his feet in damp soda, hitched her horse to the buggy and with him on her lap drove the mile to his home comforting him all the way. When she returned, the older boys were punished so severely that they never tried that trick again.

When Ann wished to teach a rule of etiquette or some of the rules of good behavior, she didn’t do it by preaching but when the opportunity arose, she drove the point home so forcibly that one never forgot. Here are one or two incidents: One afternoon mother and grandmother were entertaining some ladies in the parlor. I wandered in and sat down on the piano stool. One of the ladies asked me to play. I had always been taught that I should play my simple pieces the best I could whenever asked, but instead of doing this I commenced twisting around on the stool and with a silly laugh said, "I can’t play anything." Grandmother was sitting clog by, she didn’t tell me to play, but in her quiet way she reached her arm our and brushed me off the stool like you would brush a fly from you~ face saying, "If you can’t play, get off the stool."

I fell in a heap on the floor, not hurt at all but terribly embarrassed as I ran from the room, The memory remained with me through life and I have never refused without good reason when asked to do my part.

One afternoon at a children’s dancing party a gentleman asked me to dance in the plain quadrille, the men did this in kindness to teach us children the different calls. I had made up my mind to dance with one of the girls, so I told him I didn’t want to dance, I then got my girl friend and went on to the dance floor and found a place in one of the sets. Grandmother had heard my refusal so she came over to me, led me quietly off the floor saying, "When a young lady tells a young man she doesn’t want to dance she sits out that dance." Again the memory stayed with me, and unless a man was intoxicated or otherwise unfit to dance with, I never refused one, even if there were others I would rather dance with.

Ann worked as a nurse in maternity cases. She went into many homes of the wealthier class of people, and wherever she worked she was always welcome to Come back as a friend. One such family was named Gary and I often visited the Gary home with grandmother, there were two other girls near my age and we had lots of fun together. One time we were there to stay over night, in the evening a crowd of young folks called to take the girls with them to a party. Mrs. Gary suggested I go too. The Gary girls didn’t treat me too well, but the crowd showed me a good time. But I was hurt and I told grandmother I would like to get even with the Gary girls for their ignoring me. She said, All right invite them out to the Costume Ball in the Ward next week and show them the time of their lives, prove to them that you are a lady even if you are poor." I followed her advice and the two girls had a wonderful time, and they were greatly embarrassed when they tried to thank me for it.

I think the reason Grandmother stayed young in spirit until her death at eighty-one years was because she kept up with the interests of the day. She knew the name of the most popular song and ‘the style of the latest dress, and enjoyed going to the theater. Many wonderful plays and operas I enjoyed with her in the old Salt Lake Theater. She would take me to the matinees, we couldn’t afford the high priced seats, so we would climb to the third gallery or "nigger heaven" as it was commonly called. Another experience I shared with her was to go to the dedication of the Salt Lake Temple, which was dedicated by President Wilford Woodruff, April 6, 1898. As I was very young at this time, the thing that impressed me most was the beautiful singing of the Hosanna Anthem, written by Evan Stephens, and the huge crowd all joining in the Hosanna shout.

I used to go to town with Grandmother, with horse and buggy. It was a cold trip in the winter. It took one to one and one-half hours to make the trip. We had hot bricks to put our feet on and hot bricks in our lap to warm our hands. We would leave them in some kind friend’s oven while we were in town so they would be hot for the return trip. For lunch I always wanted a Morrison meat pie. There was only one place in the city where they were made and that was in a basement care at Main and Second South. The Morrison meat pies of today don’t taste like those.

Grandmother came to my home often after I was married. She took care of me with my first two babies, and I think she was somewhat hurt that we got someone else when the third one came, because we thought it was too hard for her.

She had many interests right up to three days before her death. I don’t think she was ever bored with life. She knew quite a bit about medicine and always kept a good stock of home remedies on hand so we seldom needed the services of a doctor. She also believed in following the rules of heath so that one could keep well instead of having to cure sickness. I must have been born with weak ankle bones. My mother noticed when she stood me up on her lap that I stood on my ankle bones instead of the soles of my feet. I don’t know whether there were bone specialists in those days like we have now,, but my folks had very little money to spend for doctors so Grandmother went to work. She put strips of stiff cardboard on each side of my ankles and bound them securely to hold my feet straight. That worked for awhile until my weight bent the cardboard. Then she fixed iron braces and these were removed only at night. These caused me some pain and I cried. Some neighbors called her a cruel old woman for torturing me, but she knew my ankles had to be straightened so she paid no attention to their opinions. By the time I could walk my ankles were strong enough to support me.. How grateful I am to her for keeping me from being a cripple.

I don’t think Grandmother was ever bored with her own company. She had too many interests besides her  music and she wasn’t dependent on the other persons for diversion or amusement. I think it must have been arthritis that she had the last few years of her life, and if she had given into it she might have been bedridden. Sometimes it would take her an hour in the morning to massage her limbs and get them limber enough to walk downstairs, but she wouldn’t give up nor would she have a bed fixed downstairs, nor let anybody wait on her. These are just a few of my memories of a Grand Lady.

Ann Brooks Andrus died Jam 25, 1913, and her body was buried at Holladay, Utah.


Here at Milo and Ann Brooks Andrus’s adobe home during the mid-1850s and a decade thereafter, before any form of electronics existed, was the cultural and social center of Holladay, due to Ann’s musicianship and piano. Ann studied music as a youth in London and taught music 5 years in St. Louis, where she bought an expensive, large walnut piano.

In 1853 at age 22, she came west with the understanding that her piano come also. But the heavy square instrument slowed the wagon train and was burdensome for the oxen, so decisions were made to jettison the piano. Ann’s pleadings prevailed until the wagon train came to the Missouri River and an order was given to leave the piano. After the caravan crossed over, Ann could not be found until she was seen across the river sitting on her piano, refusing to go unless her piano go also.

Ann’s piano was again loaded, becoming the second or third piano in Utah, the first in Holladay. For years Ann taught music, hosted parties, and taught school. Schoolchildren who had not whispered all week were invited to her home to hear her play. She also became a midwife, one who helped mothers give birth, assisting in the health of mother and baby. Today Ann’s piano is in Salt Lake Citys Daughters of Utah Pioneers Museum.


4 Responses to “Life History of Ann Brooks”

  1. Laura Anderson on September 2nd, 2008 1:29 pm
  2. Laura Anderson on September 2nd, 2008 1:55 pm

    Please on this history go to the link provided and read the notes. There is historical documentation that Ann and Elizabeth were on the Hindley company not the Milo Andrus, the company left from the West side of the Missouri River they never crossed it arriving by paddle wheel boat. The incident with the piano must have happened at that time. Milo seeing a piano he had probably told her to leave refused to pull it the 4 miles to Mormon Grove and the rest has come from the retelling of the story. My documentation is talked more of on my web site. Sorry if this is not the way you heard the story! Laura

  3. kathrine bowthorpe on December 29th, 2008 6:03 pm

    I need to know how to get into pedigree sheets for the Andrus family. More recent ones on my cousins if possible
    thanks, Kathrine

  4. Sierra-Ann Gammell on April 25th, 2016 9:28 pm

    This is my super great grandma (not sure how many greats) but my great grandma was Maureen Adams who lived in Holladay Utah. Before she past away she told me about Ann Brooks Andrus and her piano across the plains. How cool I am writing a Utah history fair report about her.

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