Question: Where did Thomas and Margaret Bassett live before immigrating to Utah in 1876?
Answer: Thomas Bassett story as he may have written it: I am Thomas Bassett. I was born 7 June 1827 in Canton, Glamorgan, Wales, to Richard Bassett and Mary Miller. I was a Baptist. I married Margaret Edward in January 1851. I was a farmer and worked hard to provide for my family. I grew tired of the meager income from farming and decided to go into the business of hauling building materials. I was dependable and honest in all my dealings and was chosen as foreman for a large coal shipping company, which position I held for twenty years.
Canton, Glamorgan, Wales
One day I heard that a prophet had been killed in America, and it touched me deeply. I decided to find out more and was taught the Gospel by two Mormon missionaries. I was anxious to tell my family that the Gospel had been restored to the earth. My father-in-law had always told us that the true church was not on the earth, but that it would be some day. I thought he would be happy to hear I had found that church, but he had listened to the rumors about the church and refused to listen. I and my oldest son joined The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and later my wife and other children all joined the Church. We were all baptized in the River Tuft.
I was called to preside over the Cardiff branch of the Church, which position I held for three years. Our home was always open to any of the traveling Elders in the vicinity. Despite our relatives telling us we were extremely foolish, we decided to move to Zion to be with the saints there. My oldest son and his wife immigrated first. Then we sent our two daughters, Mary and Rebecca with one of the missionaries. My wife and I and my other two daughters and one son immigrated in 1876 on the ship “Idaho.” [Thomas Bassett and his wife Margaret, and two daughters, Margaret and Sarah, and one son, Thomas Bassett, Jr., boarded the steamship “Idaho” on 28 June 1876 from Liverpool, and arrived at New York on 10 July 1876.]
We traveled by train to Ogden, Utah. We then moved to Mendon, Utah, where we lived in a two-room log cabin with a dirt roof. I dug a well and made other improvements around the home. I also went to work on a threshing machine for twelve hours a day for a wage of one and a half bushels of wheat per day, worth fifty cents per bushel. The next spring I secured employment as a section hand on the Utah Northern Railway at a salary of $1.50 per day for ten hours work.
Later I learned I could file on 80 acres of land under the Homestead Act about two miles from Mendon. I purchased a one-room log cabin for $15 and then tore it down and rebuilt it, to comply with the law in obtaining ownership of the land. I was able to purchase a twelve-inch hand plow for $12.50 on credit. I carried the 125 pound plow from the railroad station to the homestead on my shoulders, about two miles distant. That was the only bill I ever had. I never wanted to be in debt for anything.
When Idaho opened up for homesteading in February 1883, and Thomas E. Ricks asked for families to help settle that area, I moved my family up there in 1884. Our family was one of the first families to help settle that area. I was 56 years of age. I worked hard on my 160 acres of land and built a nice home. I worked this farm for twenty years and made a nice living for myself and family. I had a faithful testimony of the divinity of the great Latter-day work. I always tried to live with integrity, and never swayed from my convictions.
[Thomas died 23 May 1903 at age 75 in Rexburg, Idaho, and was buried in the Rexburg Cemetery.]
Margaret Edward Bassett history as she may have written it:
I am Margaret Edward. I was born in Leckwith, Glamorgan, Wales on 1 November 1827 to William Edward and Rebecca Williams. My father was a Baptist minister and was the author of a book of poems in the Welch language. Our family loved music and loved to sing. I married Thomas Bassett when I was 23, in January 1851. We had eight children, but my last two children died as children. We had a very comfortable home, four bedrooms upstairs and four rooms below. We also had a beautiful garden which supplied vegetables for the table and flowers for the parlor.
When Thomas told me about the Mormon missionaries, I didn’t want to hear about a new religion. Thomas invited the missionaries to our home and when I heard them sing the songs of Zion, my heart was touched, and I listened. Our family loved music, and we loved to sing. I wish that my father and other family members would have listened, but they would not.
I moved to Zion with my husband in 1876 and endured all the hardships of pioneer life. I missed our nice home and garden in Wales, but I knew the Gospel was true and that our posterity would be blessed for the sacrifice we made to move to America. When we arrived in Utah, we lived in a small log cabin with a dirt roof until my husband could build a better one. My husband was able to obtain some homestead land and build a better home for us.
We lived there until 1883, when my husband heard about land opening up in Idaho. He and my son, Thomas, went to look over the land and decided to sell out in Mendon and move to the Rexburg, Idaho, area which we did in 1884. All of our children moved to Idaho and helped settle that area, except our oldest son, William and our daughter Rebecca, who remained in Utah. Our daughter Margaret, and her husband Walter Muir, moved up to Idaho in 1886 and homesteaded some land in the Salem area.
When we moved to Idaho, it was hard for me as I was in my 56th year. My daughter Mary (May) was a great help to me, as she never married. My daughters Margaret and Sarah were always kind and willing to help in any way. I had many grandchildren, as Margaret had ten children, Sarah thirteen, Thomas E. six, William eleven, and Rebecca five children.
Our children were a great support to us through the years, and we appreciated their help very much. Life was not easy in this unsettled land of the Snake River Valley. There were no roads, fences, canals, bridges, churches, schools, or stores, and water had to carried from a creek or pulled out of the wells by hand. The only fuel we had was wood, and lights were obtained from homemade candles. Money was unobtainable. My husband had no farming equipment except his plow. Our children brought horses and wagons and an ox team, and slowly we were able to get some land under cultivation. We had to deal with mosquitoes, flies, gnats, rabbits, and ticks from the sage brush. Cooking and washing of clothes took much of our time. We had no doctors, and caring for the needs of our families each day was a challenge. We all worked hard together and soon had a nice home and farm once again.
Our family has been blessed because we were willing to leave our beloved Wales and join with the Saints. We wanted our children to enjoy the blessings of the Gospel in this new land, and the Lord has blessed us. I pray the Lord will continue to bless all of our families as they strive to be committed to the Gospel which brought us to this land . [Margaret died at age 82 on 13 November 1909 at Rexburg, and is buried in the Rexburg Cemetery.]