Life Shetch of Sarah Ann Dunsdon Bird…

Written by Zelda Bird Heninger.

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Sarah Ann Dunsdon Bird

Sarah Ann Dunsdon was born 8th May 1835 at Steeples, Ashton, Wiltshire, England. She was a very beautiful child with large brown eyes and dark hair. She was the daughter of James and Mary Ann Dunsdon and the fourth child of a family of seven. The children were: John, Hester, Jane, Sarah Ann, Annie Marie, Lucy and Thomas. Her parents were among the first converts to join the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day-Saints in England. Lucy died in England, but the rest of the family came to America on a sailing vessel and were six weeks of the water. When the family was on its way from Missouri to St. Louis, many of the Saints were stricken with the dreaded disease, Cholera. James Dunsdon helped dig graves for those who died. He contracted the Cholera and he, his wife, Mary Ann, their oldest son, John, and his wife, Ellen, all died with the disease and were buried at Missouri. The five remaining children were placed in separate families and came west in different companies of Saints.

Sarah Ann’s oldest sister, Hester, married John Broom in 1850 at St. Louis, Missouri. They came to Utah in 1861 in the Alfred Cardon Company and settled in Ogden, Utah. They built and operated the Broom Hotel in 1882. It was the largest and most comfortable hotel west of Denver. Sarah Ann came to Utah with the Milo Andrum Company. This was the first company of emigrating saints for the season of 1850. They left Missouri in June of 1850. The company consisted of two hundred and six persons and fifty-one wagons.

This was the company that the Charles Bird family and other Birds’ came to Utah in. Sarah was fifteen years old when she crossed the plains and walked all the way to Utah. Part of the time she went barefoot to save her shoes. Her sister, Anne Merie, was thirteen years old and came to Utah with the James Pace Company. They arrived in Salt Lake City the 20th of September 1850. Sarah Ann had never found any of her family since their separation at the time their parents died in Missouri. At an early conference held in the bowery at Salt Lake City, Sarah Ann attended, wearing a beautiful plaid shawl. Her mother had made plaid shawls for all of the girls before leaving England. The sisters were also at the conference wearing their shawls and it was through recognizing the shawls that the girls found each other. They later located their youngest brother, Thomas. On 15th February 1853, Sarah Ann was married to Charles Bird by President Brigham Young. They lived at Cottonwood until the spring of 1859, when they were called to help settle Cache Valley. They settled in Mendon. They lived in their wagon until their house was built in the fort. The Bird home was on the south side about in the middle of the fort. Their home was a two-room log house with a lean-to and a balcony. It was the largest house in the fort and many meetings were held in their home. On June 10th, 1860, Sarah Ann’s fourth child, a girl, was born. She was the second girl and the third child born in Mendon. At the time of her birth Sarah Ann was very ill and unable to nurse her baby. She had a good friend, Margaret Forster, who had a son born the 29th of March. So she took Sarah Ann’s baby and nursed it along with her own. Sister Forster always called them her twins.

One day while living in the fort, Sarah Ann was busy with her housework when someone knocked on her door. She opened the door and saw an elderly man standing there, a stranger to her. He asked if she would give him something to eat and let him rest a while. She invited him in and while preparing his food she was amazed at the things he told her. When he was ready to leave, he thanked her for her kindness and then gave her a blessing. He told her among other things that she would never want for bread and that her flour bin would never be empty. After he had gone she noticed that the food she had prepared was not touched. She inquired about him from the neighbors, but none had seen him. The blessing was realized not only for her family, but many of the families in Mendon which would have gone hungry for bread, for if Sarah Ann knew their supply of flour was gone, she would take them a pan of flour from her bin which was never empty. She was a fine seamstress and made many clothes for her family and friends. She was also a good nurse and was always willing to help those in need of care.

On the 29th of September 1884, her husband died in Mendon. At this time, her three older children, Mormon, DeRoss, and Mary Jane were married. She still had a family of five home. Her youngest son Heber, was eight years old. They had a few cows and chickens besides the farm. They had a large orchard of apples, pears, prunes and plums; also a good vegetable garden. She and the girls made butter to sell. Her children were active in the church. Her daughter Adelia was the President of the Young Ladies Mutual at the age of twenty years. Their home was always open to friends and neighbors.

When the visiting sisters came from Logan and Salt Lake City to visit Mutual, they always stayed at the Bird home. On the 7th of July 1898 her grandson, Mormon Delbert Bird was called on a mission for the Latter-day Saints Church to the North Western Mission. She was staying at her daughter’s Marie Sorensen’s home because her health was very poor. She cried and told him she would never see him again. Six months later, he said the Lord revealed to him that she had passed away. He also said it was revealed to him of the passing of aunt Adelia who had married James Q. Quale. He saw her and the baby lying in a casket together. Later when he read in the Desert News of Adelia’s death, it was just as it had been make known to him. A short time after, Mormon Delbert left for his mission, Sarah Ann went to Ogden to live with her daughter, Mary Jane Tracy. She died in Ogden, the 5th of December 1898 and was buried in the Mendon cemetery.1

Zelda B. Heninger


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1. Sarah Ann Dunsdon Bird, Zelda Bird Heninger, unpublished manuscript.