Life History of Jane Lancaster Munday

Children: Millard, Josephine (Thompson), Heber, Newton, Robert

Most everyone knows that women are often more sensitive to spiritual truth than many men and that they will often sacrifice more for what they believe is right. Of such character was a certain young girl with straight brown hair combed back, parted in the middle, and bobbed at the back. Her shoulders were square; she needed them to be to bear the burdens that were placed upon them. She was a person of extreme integrity, very neat in her dress, and very sociable. She was not gossipy, and she spoke kindly to all with whom she mingled. She was blessed by nature with a distinctly beautiful singing voice, which was transmitted to many of her children and posterity. It has been (and is) a blessing in their lives and to those who listen to the members of the family who have this heaven-given gift. Being a person of great faith, she especially enjoyed singing the songs of Zion. After she died, two of her grandsons wrote, “At her funeral, three people, Father, Aunt Vinnie, and Joseph Starkey, heard her voice among the others in the choir.”

This young lady, Jane Munday, was the eldest of a family of three children. She was born in Coventry, Warwickshire, England on 4 October 1832. Her parents were Thomas and Harriet Lancaster Munday. Jane’s father died before she was ten years of age, and her brother and sister departed this life during her childhood.

Jane learned the tailoring trade and was skilled in making men’s and boy’s clothing. But because of the Intense prejudice and persecution raised against her and the members of her family when they joined the Mormon Church in Coventry, they left their native land to go to Zion, in February 1851. They sailed on the Ellen Maria, which landed in New Orleans on 6 April 1851. Three days later, the company departed for St. Louis, where they arrived on 16 April 1851.

On 19 April 1853, Jane was united in marriage to Samuel Brown about whom little is known, except that he was born about 1830). The wedding ceremony was performed by Horace Eldridge.

Great sorrow came to Jane when a plague of cholera broke out In St. Louis. Her mother and stepfather perished with the disease, and her husband, Samuel, died on 1 July 1854. Just one month after her husband’s death, Jane gave birth to a son, who died two days later.

Jane’s intense and lingering sorrow can hardly be imagined. She had lost all her loved ones and was alone in a strange land. For the most part, she was left alone among strange people. But battling against the cruel grief and loneliness that had come through the circumstances of her life, Jane turned her face to the West.

In St. Louis, Jane met Milo Andrus, who was then president of the St. Louis Stake of Zion. He had the responsibility of preparing the Saints for their move to the Great Salt Lake Valley. After explaining her plight to Milo, Jane received his sympathy and words of comfort. He made it possible for her to join his wagon train. She pulled her weight by driving a team of mules hitched to one of the wagons and by assisting in cooking meals for the company.

Jane left St. Louis in the spring of 1855 and arrived in Salt Lake City on 24 October of that year. She drove the team of mules, cared for them, and came to feel that they were her friends. Once she shared her own bread with a mule “so he would have the strength to pull the load.”

The dust, stirred up by the rolling wagons and plodding animals, was suffocating. Loneliness, apprehension, and discouragement filled Jane’s days as she crossed the plains and the mountains to the western Zion. And yet this noble young lady sang hymns of gratitude each evening as the Saints gathered around the campfire. She derived strength to endure by ride singing the hymn by Eliza R. Snow, “Though Deepening Trials.” Particularly meaningful to her were these words: “Lift up your hearts In praise to God; Let your rejoicings never cease, Though tribulations rage abroad, Christ says, ‘In me ye shall have peace.” (Hymns p. 122.)

Without money or other resources, and without any close friends, Jane drove her mules Into Salt Lake City. But she found a true friend In Milo. A month after her arrival in the Valley, she accepted his proposal of marriage. On 22 November 1855, she became his eighth wife. Milo, forty-one years of age, and Jane, twenty-three and blushing with joy and excitement, were joined together in holy wedlock for time and eternity by President Brigham Young in the Endowment House; Heber C. Kimball, a counselor to the Prophet, and Newel K. Whitney, Presiding Bishop of the Church, served as witnesses.

Between the years 1856 and 1873, seven children were born to Jane and Milo at Cottonwood. Her two youngest sons, Newton and Robert, were born at Dry Creek, now called Crescent. She was kept busy with the vital tasks of motherhood. (By the year 1973, she would have 849 descendants.) Jane was president of the Young Ladies Mutual. It was said that “She was the best Young Ladies Mutual president they had in the Big Cottonwood Ward.” And she taught school to all the Andrus children, “moving from family to family during the year.”

When Milo moved part of his family to the Half Way House at Dry Creek, Jane was among them. This hotel (run by Mibo’s wife Lucy) later served as an auxiliary Pony Express Station to the main stations at Travelers Rest at 6400 South State and Porter Rockwell’s Station, a few miles south at the point of the mountain. Jane’s great cooking skills contributed to the success of the enterprise. One of her granddaughters wrote: “After a life of isolation, Jane Munday suddenly found herself in a communal lifestyle, in which several wives took responsibility for their part of the family comfort. One wife, with helpers, did the cooking, and another washed the dishes. The serving fell under the supervision of a third, and a fourth milked the cows.”

For a number of years, Jane managed the Half Way House and cared for travelers, stage coach passengers, and Pony Express rider. Besides their duties on the farm, her sons took care of the horses and Pony Express ponies. Like Milo’s other wives, Jane walked to and from Relief Society in the Draper Ward, a round-trip of eight miles.

When Jane’s youngest son, Robert, was four years old, Milo was asked to move with some of his family to Utah’s Dixie, located along the Virgin River. Jane was among his wives who elected not to go. She desired to raise and educate her children in the Salt Lake City area. Her decision brought great trials and hardships, but she later declared, “The Lord was good to me.”

During this period in her life, Jane’s children were a great help joy and to her. Her sons saved money and purchased a parcel of ground me and on which they built a one-room adobe house with a lean-to. Jane, being an educated woman, taught school in the home of Philander Bell in South Jordan. She went to school for training as a nurse and worked in the only hospital in Salt Lake City. There she assisted in obstetrical cases, for which work she was paid five dollars a week. In time, she became a graduate midwife "and carried a special blessing of the Church.” When a doctor was not available, she delivered babies by herself.

Few excelled Jane in the art of sewing and knitting. For years, she ran a knitting machine in the Draper Relief Society. She bought a loom, with which she made rugs; she also owned one of the first seven sewing machines brought across the plains. Being a capable seamstress, especially in tailoring, she made her children coats, suits, and dresses. During the winter months, the ward Relief Society held two work meetings per month, one of which was on sewing. Jane was appointed to read each month from the Woman’s Exponent during these work meetings. It was said that “she did very well.”


2 Responses to “Life History of Jane Lancaster Munday”

  1. Laura Anderson on September 2nd, 2008 1:31 pm

    Laura’s gedfile has the latest information on it!

  2. Laura Anderson on September 2nd, 2008 1:32 pm

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