Several of the right most columns of this document were truncated. Most of the words I was able to guess. This document came from LaRae Mathews. Ben Mathews
Benjamin and Edwin Eyre were the sons of James Eyre and Ann Naylor Eyre. Benjamin was born August 22, 1840, and Edwin was born April l6, 1845 at Derby, Lincolnshire, England.
Since their father was a farmer and shepherd, it was natural due to custom a: conditions at that time that the sons became tillers of the soil. They worked on their father’s farm and surrounding farms during their early teens and up to the time of their leaving England.
When Benjamin was 12 years of age and Edwin 8 years of age, Elders from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormon) called at their house. The father, mother, and children John, George, Benjamin, Edwin, Sarah, and Charlotte joined the church. Ellen, an older sister, had joined the church and moved to Utah before Edwin was born. Sisters Ann and Elsie in later years joined the Church. They never knew if their brothers James and William ever joined or not. James, William, Ann, and Elsie stayed in England. They never came to America. Benjamin was born a twin. The other twin, a boy, died at age three months. They were next to the last of the family. Edwin, four years younger, was the baby. Eleven of the children lived to be 70 years old or older; the other five died when babies.
The boys were always classed as most efficient farmers wherever they tilled.
Their mother, Ann Naylor Eyre, was a faithful, diligent farmer’s wife and mother in the broadest sense of the term. Her life was spent doing the many daily duties of a farmer’s wife. Her high hopes were to see her sons and daughters faithful and serviceable in the cause of Jesus Christ. We shall find evidence before reading many pages of the lives of her sons that her ideal was realized. Her Soul has rejoiced and praised the Lord for the noble work and unceasing fight of her children in the defense of truth.
Educational conditions of England in the latter part of the 19th century were only favorable to the privileged classes. It was utterly out of the question for boy or girl of a farmer or herder to receive training in the institutions. The days spent in the school room in England and America were none.
In the year 1855, James Eyre and wife and family were turned out of their home by a Minister of the Church of England because they belonged to the Mormon religion The Minister told them they could live in one of his houses if they would give up this religion. The father replied in these words: “My religion is a pure and undefiled religion. It is a religion of the Lord Jesus Christ, and I would not give it up for your house or this town or all that my eyes ever beheld.” Such was the faith of their father.
William, their oldest brother, was away from home for 15 years. No one knew where he was; he was thought dead. One day their mother, looking up the street, saw a man approaching the house. She ran to meet him, crying, “My son! My son!” Will had been in the British Army in India for 15 years. There was great rejoicing on his return home.
Benjamin was engaged to marry a very nice and beautiful girl named Eliza. The wedding dress was made. Everything was ready for the wedding to take place the next day. A few of Eliza’s girl friends came and asked her to go swimming. She didn’t want to go. They teased and coaxed, but still she didn’t want to go. Her mother said, “Tomorrow you are going to be married. This will be your last chance to be with the girls, I wish you would go.” She went, but never came back. She was drowned. Benjamin was heartbroken over the loss of his sweetheart. He worked several years after the accident, His jobs ware very hard. At times he would carry two sacks of grain weighing 50 pounds each at one trip all day long. They were placed on his back for him. What education they got, they got themselves outside the school room. Their humility of soul and always interpreting questions in the light of the revealed word of God won for them, as it would any man, a position to. demanded respect. Their knowledge of the gospel of Christ will favorably compare with any of our great church leaders.
It was their privilege to attend, after maturity and settling in Utah, what was called the School of the Prophets.
Edwin filled a mission to England. He brought many souls into the Church, and also obtained many names of genealogy work in the Temples of our God.
They were never afraid to state what they knew to be the truth. They were both God-fearing men. They both received the blessings of the gospel that are obtained in the Temples of our Lord They did not have wealth as money is counted, but they had far more—the wealth that mortal man may receive; the knowledge that God live; that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter day Saints is the true Church of God.
About April 20, 1865, they, with their father and mother, set sail on the sailing vessel Bellwood for Zion. Keep in mind that the ship was not equipped as a modern vessel is found today with all the comforts of this age. But rather, it depends upon the winds and the forces of nature to drive it to the new and strange land. to the food and bodily comforts afforded by the ship, the food was not the best, especially for old people. Salt pork, dried peas, poor water, bad tea, and hard tack were their foods. They called them Bellwood crackers, and they were sure hard. this was not bad enough, a few weeks after leaving the shores of Liverpool, England they went through the saddest and most trying trial of the journey. Their mother whose age and health could not endure the food and the toss of the sea, died, This was in the latter part of May. Because of the conditions, she was wrapped in a canvas bag, weights tied to her feet, and was placed to rest in the mighty deep. few days after this sad event had passed, their father related to his sons the return of the recently departed wife and mother. His testimony was that she touched him the arm and cheek, He knew it was his wife. It was a great comfort, for he knew that she, though gone, was near and interested in them and their great journey. 1 also gave evidence to them of the life after death and the close relationship of departed spirits to earthly beings. This lightened the burden and was a ray of sunshine in the sorrow of the journey. When asked why they left their native homeland friends, and all that seemed near and dear to most mortals to come to Zion, the answer was by both, “I wanted to comply with the word of the Lord. He said gather my people together that they may make covenant with me, I want to receive the blessings of the gospel that were to be obtained in the Temples of the Lord.”
The time they spent aboard the vessel between England and America, the land of liberty and opportunity, the heaven to the Europeans, was six weeks, They landed at Castle Gardens, New York, on June 1, 1865. A few days were spent in exchanging their English gold for U.S. greenbacks. By train the father and two sons traveled westward to the city of St. Joseph, Missouri. They then went by boat a few miles a small place called Wyoming, the place where ox teams and freight trains were made up for the hardest part of the great journey to Zion. It had been a practice of previous years for teams from Utah to meet the saints at this place and take them to Valley of the Mountains, For some unknown reason, it was not done the season these saints arrived. It was only a matter of a few weeks until Benjamin and Edwin each obtained a chance to drive an ox team from three to five yoke in a freight train to Utah for $5O per month and the free transportation of their father. The boys had never seen an ox team work before. We can imagine the experiences that two young green Englishmen fresh from the old world would have crossing the great desert with its unbridged streams, savage redmen, and roaming wild animals. They started the desert journey from the city of Omaha, which is in the southeastern part of Nebraska just west of the Missouri line. It seems that some unpleasantness was had with some of the wagon masters of the freight train. They were vile, corrupt, ungodly men; hence, one can easily picture the trials of these two clean, God-fearing young men. One young man had his head split open with a revolver in the hands of one of these characters, and an old man of about 60 years of age received a broken nose. Benjamin was whipped by one of them with a loaded back whip.
The first night out, Edwin was given as an introduction to the business of night-herding the cattle. Although he was twenty, we find he was true to the ???? habits, for before morning he lost not only the cattle, but also himself in a grassy spot in the land of sleep hollow. Before many days of the journey had passed, he was transferred to the position of cook for seven men. There was more work connected with the new position, but he readily agreed that to be captain of the frying pan dish rag was more in keeping with his English experience than driving five yoke of oxen over the great American desert.
Each man was given a slicker and rifle. These two lads had hardly seen a rifle before; yet perhaps their safety and lives would depend upon the use of the weapon. before they reached their destinations, so these Mormon lads readily became efficient masters of any situation that arose. They succeeded well in their new experiences.
The company came upon the remains of a train or two that had been captured by the wild redmen of the desert, taking that which they wanted and leaving the remainder in the ashes as a warning to new-coming trains. They circled their wagons up on two occasions and prepared for battle with the Indians, but each time the Lamanites disappeared, leaving the company unmolested. Considerable difficulty was encountered by the company in crossing the Platte River, All day was required, and more than once in crossing the river many teams had to be hitched to one wagon to through. The drivers would usually cross the streams with shoes off and pants rolled up. It often happened that the roll would not go high enough, for the water was to and past their waist. Sore feet and legs were the result and added much to the many discomforts of the desert. These were just a few of the many trying experiences that these Mormon youths endured that we might enjoy that which we do.
In the midst of Indian attacks, sore legs, empty stomachs, etc., the boys would sing this song, which revealed their spirits:
We may get wet a little when it comes a shower of rain,
The heat may skin our noses, but t’will soon get well again.
For when we think of Zion land, we forget all wet and pain.
So ghee up my lads, ghee, Whoa, push on my lads, ho.
There’s none can lead a life like the jolly Mormons do.
In the early part of September as the company was traveling up what was called Bitter Creek, a heavy snow storm hindered their progress. It was there that the father of the boys took sick and in a few weeks died. During his sickness, a special wagon was provided for him. The sons had to do their regular labor and when able spare a few moments, they spent them in giving what comfort and aid they could to their dying father. James Eyre, their father, had great faith in the gospel. He expressed many times after becoming a member of the church that he never knew what real joy was until he became a Latter-day Saint. One of his favorite songs, which he loved to sing at the fireside was;
A Mormon father loves to see
His Mormon family all agree
With, the prattling infant on his knee
Cries, “Daddy, I’m a Mormon.”
Ha! the merry,
Ho! the merry,
Ha! the merry Mormon,
Having prepared their father after his death as best they could, they buried him by the roadside on Hornfork in Wyoming not far from Fort Bridger. Thus, the old pioneer road from the hard-hearted East to the Valley of the Mountains has been made sacred, having held the remains of many of the dear faithful followers of Christ. It is a mark of unique distinction for us to be the descendants of such noble character After the death of his wife and the boys’ mother, their father seemed to loose interest in everyone and everything. He died with a broken heart.
October 11, 1865, the company beheld before them the city of Salt Lake. They were very happy, for this had been their heart’s desire. Having traveled four months on the plains, they entered Salt Lake City October 12, 1865.
There they met their brother, John, who was expecting to see his father and mother. Here he learned of both of their deaths. On arriving they were met by saints and friends who brought to the hungry new-comers the ripened fruits of the once desert, that now began to blossom as the rose. Having lived upon hard bread, bacon, and dried apples, the food of the desert traveler, they had a few minutes of stomach discomfort. They made pigs of themselves. A short time was spent at Salt Lake City, and then they moved to Parowan, Iron County, Utah. Here they met a sister Ellen Eyre Banks, that Edwin had never seen. She left for Utah before he was born They also met at Minersville a sister, Charlotte Eyre Banks a brother, George, at Beaver City; a sister, Sarah Eyre Meyers,
They lived in Parowan two years, then moved to Minersville, Beaver County, Utah where they made their homes.
Years after the family left England, they received word that the two other brothers, William and James, and their two sisters, Elsie and Ann, had joined the church; but William had never married.
At the age of 27 years, Benjamin met Lucy Ann Wood. They were married January 1, 1868. To this union were born five girls and four boys.
- Lucy Ann Eyre, born October 24, 1868.
- Mary Ellen. Eyre, born January 2, 1871
- Alice Wood Eyre, born January 29, 1873
- Elsie Ann Eyre, born July 30, 1875
- Benjamin Eyre, born April, 1877
- William Eyre, born July 24, 1879
- Herbert Chester Eyre, born June 27,1883
- Robert Ernest Eyre, born December 22,1886
- Frances Myrtle Eyre, born November 1, 1891
Benjamin and his wife worked hard to help settle Minersville. They homesteaded 16 acres for several of their friends; and for this they received 14 acres of land and a lot in town with a four-room, adobe house on it. They rented one room to a school teacher to help pay for his girls to go to school.
Their fifth child, their first boy, died at six weeks with pneumonia. The father was working on the Manti Temple at the time.
After he returned home, he ran his farm. Many times all he had to take with him for his lunch was a piece of dry bread, which he would soak in the ditch. After his crops grew, he was never without food again. He built a large rock cellar, and it was always filled with good things to eat. Fruits, vegetables, preserves, pickles, meats, milk, and butter were always found there. When the frost was expected in the fall, he would pull the tomato vines that were filled with green tomatoes and hang them on the walls in the cellar. Many times the family had ripe sliced tomatoes from these vines for Thanksgiving dinner.
Three of the girls and two of the boys lived in Minersville after their marriage Every morning for 30 years, he got up and went to visit each one of them to see if they were all well. After these visits, he would return home, have his breakfast, do his chores, than go to the field. He now had 11 more acres, which gave him 25 acres to care for.
He enjoyed taking his children to dances, socials, and meetings with him,
At one meeting the family was together. His brother, Edwin, was talking and bearing his testimony of the truthfulness of the gospel. The door opened and a man entered. He was dressed as a cowboy, had a khaki colored suit like a boy scout, and wore a red handkerchief at his neck. When he entered, all eyes were turned to the door. After Edwin had finished speaking, the man arose and said, “Brothers, I bear testimony to the truthfulness of everything the brother has spoken.” He talked just a few minutes more on the gospel and then, without sitting down again, left the church. He was followed right out of the church, but he was no where in sight. It had snowed since the meeting had begun and the people had come in. His tracks would have been the only ones. The church house stood in the middle of the block with no other buildings on the entire block. There were no footprints. While he was in the meeting, there was such a peaceful feeling. Everyone felt sure that this man must have been one of the Three Nephites, who are still living upon the earth today.
One day a couple of men were going to Milford from Minersville. They saw an army of worms, all sizes and colors, making straight for the green fields of Minersville. All the people in town, old and young, were armed with sticks and clubs and went to kill the millions of worms. Every day for a week they killed worms. Herds of sheep were driven over the infected territory. Benjamin was there to work from dawn to dusk. When the worms were killed, the Saints met and thanked God for the safety of their crops.
Benjamin was always helping those in trouble and those who were sick. He spent many hours administering to them and working for them. He always said, “Faith without works is dead.” He combined the two.
He was a very good singer and sang because he loved to. After he went to bed at night, he would sing the songs of Zion, His favorite song was. “Come Oh Thou King of Kings.” He was always very cheerful, happy. and friendly.
For fifty years he helped to wash and prepare every man who died in Minersville for burial. At one time he was called to help a Mr. Cooley prepare a man for burial. While they were at work, Mr. Cooley said, “Uncle Bennie, life is surely funny, isn’t it. We never know who will be next.” This was at 5 p.m. At 11:30 p.m. Benjamin was called from his bed to wash and prepare Mr. Cooley’s body. He had just passed away.
Benjamin was “Uncle Bennie” to everyone who knew him. His was one of the greatest spirits God ever sent to this earth.
He was ill six weeks before his death. Host of this time he was unconscious, but he would still sing by the hour. His brother George came from Lyman, Wyoming to see him. He and Edwin would sit by his bedside with tears running down their faces and sing to him. Although he did not know those who came to the room to see him, he could sing and never miss a word of the songs. George was then 78 years old Benjamin 75; and Edwin 71. They had great love for each other.
At the time of his death he had eight living children, 40 grand children, and 12 great-grandchildren. All of his children but Elsie were at the funeral. Elsie had new Baby. All of the grandchildren except three were present. Most of these grandchildren marched from the home to the church and carried flowers. They remembered him as a kind and loving grandfather. Hid good wife also survived.
Benjamin died September 13, 1915, at Minersville, Utah. He was buried in the Minersville cemetery.