Martha Taylor Little

Martha Taylor was born in Spilsbury, Lincolnshire, England, August 5, 1843, the daughter of George Edward Grove and Ann Wicks Taylor. Her parents adopted the Gospel in England, through the preaching of Latter-Day Saint missionaries. They were baptized when Martha was six years of age; she was baptized at the age of eight. Her father was called to preside over a branch of the Church. Although the family had eight miles to walk each Sunday, they always attended faithfully.

In 1851 Martha's father was married in polygamy to Jane Baxter. Soon after this her parents separated, and in 1854 Martha, with her mother and sister Maria, set sail for America. The father brought the other sister, Margaret, at a later date. The brother, Joseph Edward, had preceded the family to Salt Lake City, to make a home for them.

Martha and her sister and mother remained one year in St. Louis, Missouri, working at anything they could get to save enough money to take them to Utah. The mother did practical nursing; the two little girls did housework, spinning, knitting, acting as nursemaids or any work they could do. Many times Martha told of working for a man and his wife who had her digging a garden. She was given a certain space to dig and care for, but was not equal to the task. Being under-nourished and not strong, she fainted before her task was done.

In 1855 they started across the plains with ox-teams. Martha, being delicate, was permitted to ride most of the way, but the girls had to walk. Although the journey was long and tiresome, they never lost faith or regretted leaving their home and friends in England. Supplies were meager and often they were hungry. Martha has told of lying on her stomach and crying, many times, because it pained so much for want of food.

She was living in Salt Lake City at the time of the Cricket Plague, when those pests devoured the young crops of the hard-working pioneers. The saints would surely have perished had not the seagulls been sent by Divine Providence to devour the crickets. The faith and prayers of the saints had been rewarded. Although many of their crops were destroyed, enough was left to subsist upon.

One day Martha was sent to the home of Heber C. Kimball to borrow flour. There was a pan of biscuits sitting on the table. She wanted one so badly that she left the house with tears in her eyes. All her life she feared famine because of passing through these times of severe want.

When Johnston's Army came into the Valley. the family was again separated. Martha went to live with strangers in Provo who did not treat her very kindly.

From there she went to live with Emmeline B. Wells, who treated her as a daughter. One day she was washing outside. As she rubbed the clothes upon the board her long, golden curls would bob up and down, making quite a picture. On this particular day, Harriet Hanks and her son, George Edwin Little, were visiting with Emmeline B. Wells. Harriet noticed Martha washing and asked who the pretty girl was. Her son, George, became interested and inquired further concerning her. They were made acquainted and their courtship began. George and Martha were married January 5, 1862, at the home of Emmeline B. Wells. Later they were sealed for time and eternity in the Salt Lake Endowment House.

Martha was a devoted wife to George and became the mother of fourteen children -- eleven girls and three boys. All lived to maturity to raise families of their own, except one daughter, Fannie, who died at the age of fourteen.

The family moved around a great deal until 1890, when they made their final move. This was to the Teton Valley in eastern Idaho. At last they seemed to find the place they really belonged. They helped to pioneer the Valley and loved it dearly. George A. Little owned and operated the first sawmill in the Teton Basin. They built a log home in Haden, Idaho (later called Tetonia). They also kept a Travelers' Inn.

The nearest railroad was 80 miles and the nearest store was 40 miles from their home. They were very resource-ful, either making or growing most of their necessities. They even made soap and candles.

Martha Little lived a useful and busy life. Besides caring for her large family and keeping the Inn, she was also the Postmistress. People came for their mail day or night or Sunday, whenever convenient for them, making it nesessary for some one to be there at all times. In addition to her business responsibilities and home, she was very active in the Church. For fifteen years she was a teacher in the Sunday School. After acting as President of the Ward Relief Society for twelve years, she was called to act on the Tetonia Relief Society Stake Board, which office she held an additional twelve years.

She was ever willing and anxious to lend a helping hand to others going out amongst the sick and needy. Whenever death visited a home, she was the first to be called, helping to prepare the body for burial as well as consoling the bereaved family.

She made many Temple clothes, specializing in the making of Temple aprons, one of which she presented to each of her thirteen children. Most of her children who have passed on were buried wearing these very aprons. (At the compiling of this history, November, 1948, only five of her fourteen children are still living.)

While President of the Relief Society, Martha Little was instrumental in obtaining the only organ known to be donated to the Church by Andrew Carnegie. The Relief Society was trying to raise $50 to buy a small organ. They sewed carpet rags, made quilts, sold suppers at dances, charging 25 cents per plate, and in numerous ways endeavored to raise the stipulated sum, which at that time seemed enormous. A friend of the family, a Mr. Morris, suggested that a petition be made to Mr. Carnegie to furnish them with an organ. In due time they received as a gift from Mr. Carnegie, not a $50, but a $500 organ. A more particular account of this acquisition is related in an interesting article by Estella Little Pehrson.

On the 5th of January, 1911, George and Martha Little celebrated their Golden Wedding Anniversary, at which time each was presented with a gold watch and chain. George E. Little died of pneumonia at the family home in Haden, Idaho, nearly five years later, December 27, 1915.

In September, 1924, Martha Little left Teton Basin for the last time in life. She went to Salt Lake City with her grandson, Clifton Bevan, to witness his marriage in the Salt Lake Temple. Soon thereafter she became very ill and was taken to the home of her daughter, Marcia Paul. For seven long weeks prior to her death she suffered intensely, but met it bravely and cheerfully, with the same heroic spirit she had exhibited throughout her life. She knew the summons had come and she was prepared for it. Her husband was waiting to welcome her to the other side. Just prior to her passing, she spoke his name and said that she was ready to go with him.

She died November 24, 1924, at the age of 81 years, having lived a colorful and useful life. She was taken to the Teton Valley, where she was buried beside her beloved husband. In her declining years she had become almost blind, but never ceased to be active. She still did much needlework, feeling rather than seeing the stitches.

We, as her descendants, might well emulate her exemplary life.