Our Bennett/Simpson Roots

A Distinguished Heritage

Mary Ellen Halliday

MARY ELLEN HALLIDAY (31 Jan 1860 – 3 Sep 1911) was born in St. Louis, St. Louis, Missouri the daughter of Abel Stephen Halliday and Emily Stevens.

Mary’s father, Abel, died while the family was living in St. Louis.  Mary traveled west to Utah with her mother and her younger brother, Stephen, in the summer of 1868 as members of an unnamed Mormon Pioneer wagon company.

Following their arrival in Utah, Mary’s mother, Emily, married Charles Dalton, a widower with several young children of his own.  Mary lived with her new family in Peterson, Morgan County, Utah until the family moved to Hooper, Weber County, Utah in 1870.

Mary Ellen Halliday

Mary married Willard Flinders 29 Nov 1875 in Salt Lake City, Salt Lake, Utah.  Mary and Willard had eight children of record:

  • Willard Samuel Flinders
  • John Charles Flinders
  • George Eli Flinders
  • Clarence Henry Flinders
  • Florence Emily Flinders
  • Mary Ellen Flinders
  • Sarah Elizabeth Flinders
  • Alta Merle Flinders

Mary died 3 Sep 1911.  She is buried in the Hooper City Cemetery.

Life History of Mary Ellen Halliday – (By Great Grand Daughter, Donna Jones Beus)

“This is what we have found about the life of our great grandmother, Mary Ellen Halliday Flinders.  I wasn’t born when she was here on earth; therefore I never had the blessing of knowing her.  I am grateful to be known as one of her descendants.” – Donna Jones Beus, November 2006

Mary Ellen was born 31 January 1860, in St. Louis, Missouri, the eighth of nine children born to Abel Halliday and Emily Stevens Halliday.

Her father, Abel was born 21 May 1826 in Bristol, Wiltshire, England, and her mother Emily was born, 26 November 1825 in Road, Somerset, England.  They were married 24 December 1848 in Melksham, Wiltshire, England.  They were converted to the Gospel of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints by Abel’s brother, John Halliday.  John came to the United States, where he was converted to the church.  He was then sent back to England by the Prophet Brigham Young as a Missionary, taking his wife Emily (Newman) and their children with him.

Mary Ellen’s parents sailed for America, 4 February 1853, on the ship Jersey and came to St. Louis Missouri for a short time before crossing the plains.  At the time they were in England, Mary Ellen’s parents had buried two babies, and brought their only living child with them, John Thomas Halliday, age 10 months.

In order to write Mary Ellen’s history, I have to write of some of the events that happened in her parents lives, prior to Mary Ellen’s birth.

After immigrating to America, Abel and Emily (Stevens) Halliday’s plans were to come west to Utah.  They were registered to cross the plains with the Texas Independent Company.  While gather near Council Bluffs, a tragic accident happened to Emily.

While waiting for others and some outfitters to get there, some of the men went out to shoot some game.  Her mother Emily was sitting by the fire trying to get her little son John to sleep, when her father Abel began showing the group how he missed the game.  He had his finger on the trigger, and it accidently discharged, shooting his wife in the leg.  Needless to say, they were not able to go on with that company.  They had to go back for medical help.  At that time, good doctors were very limited and also unskilled.  Her leg was amputated just below the knee.  I cannot comprehend the pain and suffering she must have experienced during that time.  We believe she didn’t obtain a wooden leg until later on, as the healing process must have taken a long time.  It would be interesting to know if any infections took place, and how long it actually took to heal.

I wish we knew where they stayed when they returned to St. Louis.  Could there have been family that could have helped while she was convalescing and cared for the baby?  Abel surely would have had to find a job to provide for them during the year they were there.

The following spring, they again set out to immigrate to Utah.  They arrived in Salt Lake Valley the year of 1854.  Ellen’s mother gave birth to three more babies in Salt Lake, and all three died.  Two died the day they were born, and one lived 11 months.  They resided in Salt Lake for about four years, when in early June of 1858, they crossed the plains a second time, back to St. Louis.

For reasons unknown, Mary Ellen’s father wanted to return to St. Louis.  Some family members have written that Abel became disgruntled with the church; others say it was due to his intemperance.  (No proof of either).  So again, her parents and the little son, John Thomas who came across the ocean with them, went back to St. Louis, Missouri.

We can’t find how they came back, and we have really searched.  However, there were supply wagon trains going back and forth delivering all kinds of merchandise, and they could easily have gone back with one of then.

A year and a half later, on 31 January 1860, Emily gave birth to a baby girl in St. Louis named – Mary Ellen Halliday, whose history this is.  Visualize if you can, having had seven other babies and losing all but one, then having a baby that lived!  Yes, Mary Ellen did live.  She was most likely named Mary after her grandmother Mary Marshmann Stevens, and Ellen after her mothers’ sister, Ellen Stevens.

Tragedy struck the family again the following year!  Their son John Thomas, who sailed with them from England, and who crossed the plains two times, died 30 August 1861, at age 9 years and 7 months.  We found his death record while we were in St. Louis doing some research in 2003.  It states that he died of something called Marasmus – emaciation (wasting away of the body).  He is buried in the Holy Ghost Cemetery, in St. Louis.

On the 1860 census record of St. Louis, Missouri, Mary Ellen is listed with her parents Abel and Emily Halliday, as age 5 (actually she was 5 months), and her brother John T. was age 8 years and Mary Ellen’s grandmother, Mary Stevens, was age 50.

Mary Ellen’s mother again gave birth one year and 3 months later, and amazingly, this baby lived also.  They named him Stephen Eli Halliday.  He was born 2 November 1862.  Stephen is Grandfather Stephen Halliday’s name and Eli is his father’s brother’s name.  Now…Mary Ellen has a brother again.

In the Dry Hills Branch records 1847 – 1932 page 151 and dated 30 October 1863 in St. Louis Missouri, we found Mary Ellen and her brother Stephen Eli listed on the church records, as Blest (blessed) members.  No other information was written.  Her mother Emily was on the branch record, but nothing at all of her father, Abel.

It is unknown, if Mary Ellen’s father had died in St. Louis, as no records have been found.   Some say he died 3 October 1867.  Others list his death as 3 October 1868.  One history we found states that Mary Ellen was but two years old when her father died, another said she was 7 years old.  We have searched death records for both dates and all the months in between, and have been unable to find him.  There are no recorded death records for the period of 1 October thru 9 October in 1867 in St. Louis.  Those 8 days were missing.  Therefore, it is very possible her father could have died during that period of time.  It is also possible that her mother left him, and immigrated back to Utah with her two children and he died after they left.  (Some histories did say she did leave him.)

In one brief history, it mentioned that she later got a divorce, which is not proven, and no divorce records have been located as of this date, in St. Louis or in Weber County, Utah.  On an older family group sheet, there was a film number of the divorce record.  When we checked it out, it was an England film number.

In the later part of June 1867, Mary Ellen, her mother Emily and her little brother, Stephen Eli, left St. Louis Missouri to immigrate back to Utah.  This making the 3rd trek for Emily (with one leg), and the first for Mary Ellen and Stephen Eli.  This time we have found two different sources telling how they came.

It a history written by Mary A. Halliday Fowers and Lithia Halliday Dalton, great granddaughters of Emily, I insert the following paragraph:

“In the latter part of June 1867, the George Dunford Company with a train of 22 wagons of merchandise, a mess wagon drawn by mules or horses, and 4 carriages for the families, left St. Louis for Utah.  Emily Stevens Halliday was a cripple, having had her right leg shot off and later amputated below the knee.  She did all the cooking for the company and rode all the way as she couldn’t walk.”

We also found a record of that Company written by George Dunford, and it said; “A Sister Halliday and her two young children came with us as the cook.”

The Halliday and Dunford families were together in England, in St. Louis, and also in the Salt Lake Valley, and must have been very good friends.

They arrived in the Salt Lake Valley, where they were met by Brother John Rich from Morgan, Utah.  John Rich and his wife, Lydia Pond Rich, witnessed the accidental shooting of Emily’s foot, near Winter Quarters, and she wrote about it in her journal.  They apparently stayed with this family for a time.

Again, little is known of Mary Ellen’s life in Morgan as a little girl of seven years.  She most likely attended a school there, but again, no record.  Mary Ellen was baptized not the church 1 Jul 1898 in Morgan, by Elder Charles Turner and confirmed the same day by Elder Richard Frye.  (Found in the Morgan Ward records.)

Her mother got a job at a mercantile store in Morgan.  Records say it was a ZCMI store and was managed by a Mr. Rich.  The Dalton story says this is where Charles Dalton met Emily Stevens Halliday, the mother of Mary Ellen and Stephen Eli.  The story goes on to say that Charles was a widower and the father of six little boys.  He also had an older son John Luther, from his first marriage.  John’s sweet little wife had mothered and cared for those six little boys since their mother, Eunice Danials Dalton passed away at the age of 34.

Mary Ellen’s mother Emily married Charles Dalton, 3 October 1868 in the Endowment House in Salt Lake.  (This is the same date some family members have of her husband Abel’s death.)  Dalton histories say he married a widow with two children.  (This could well be true.)

Mary Ellen had a big adjustment to make in her life at this time.  First, having a step father, but the hardest adjustment had to have been – having six more boys to adjust to.  I wonder how she liked being the only girl in the family.  I’m certain they teased her as boys will do.  We have no idea how big Mr. Dalton’s house was in Morgan, but with ten people in it (2 adults and eight children – under 13 or 14 years of age); it had to be very crowded.  Can you imagine laundry day?  I wonder how all of them got into one wagon when they went to church and other places.

Mary Ellen moved to the Peterson Settlement with her mother and step father, her little brother, Stephen Eli and the six step brothers.  Her mother cared for and nurtured this large combined family of eight children with her peg leg, and often would just hop on one leg without the artificial stump.

It was written that Mary Ellen’s mother taught her and the other children, the true and correct principles of the Gospel. Her mother did all the sewing by hand for the family.

In March of 1870, Mary Ellen moved to Hooper Territory with her mother and step father and the other seven siblings.  South Hooper is now known as West Point, and is in Davis County.  Here, they purchased an 80 acre farm.  They built their home of boards straight up and down, with cane squeezing for the roof.  (Every history has this description of the house.)  The ground was most difficult to work, as Hooper was nothing but sagebrush and greasewood.

Her step father, Charles Dalton, farmed and opened another blacksmith shop.  Mary Ellen most likely helped with the feeding of the thousands of ducks, chickens and geese that were raised on this unfertile ground.  But then again, with all those young boys to help feed the animals, she probably spent most of the time helping her mother with the daily house keeping and preparing the meals.

The Great Salt Lake was lower than it had ever been to the knowledge of the white man.  They were able to walk out on the wide stretches of white, and gather their salt.

It has been written that Mary Ellen’s education was considered as fair, and that she walked 3 ½ miles to school with her other siblings.  There were three or four small schools in Hooper, and we have no idea as to which one or one’s she attended.

It her mid teens she fell in love with a special man, Willard Flinders, also from Hooper.

Mary Ellen was but 15 years old, and Willard was age 22 at the time they were married.  We don’t know how long he courted Mary Ellen, but he won her love, and they were married the 29th of November 1875.  The marriage was performed in the Salt Lake Endowment House, where they were sealed for time and all eternity.

Willard was born 11 March 1853 in Sutton Bonnington, Nottinghamshire, England, to John Flinders and Elizabeth Bexson.  Willard immigrated from Liverpool England, on 30 April 1866 on the ship “John J. Bright” at age eleven.  The Flinders family also made their home in Hooper and began farming there.

Ten months after Willard and Mary Ellen were married, she became a mother to a baby boy whom they named Willard Samuel (named after his father).  Two years later she gave birth to another baby boy who was given the name of John Charles who only lived for thirteen days.  John Charles was buried in the Hooper Cemetery.  His names in on the back side of the big Flinders monument, of which a picture is in this history.

Altogether, they were blessed with eight children; four sons and four daughters.  The two sons listed above, plus George Eli and Clarence Henry.  Their daughters are; Florence Emily (my grandmother), Mary Ellen (Nell), Sarah Elizabeth, and Alta Merle.

They resided in Hooper where Willard continued to farm and raised poultry of many varieties.  They sold eggs, and they always had cows to milk for drinking and making butter.  Willard had spent long hard hours in helping to bring the canal 17 ½ miles from the Ogden River into the Hooper ditches – for irrigation for their crops.

Their home and farm are located about 2 ½ miles west of where the Hooper school is now.  This is where they raised their family.  They were active members of the church.

Hooper Ward records recorded Mary Ellen and Willard were re-baptized on 25 September 1877 in Hooper, by Charles Parker.  They were re-confirmed the same day – Willard by Bishop Gilbert Belnap and Mary Ellen by C.M. Jorgensen.  It was common in those days to be re-baptized to re-confirm their commitments to God and to the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  It is also interesting to note; the Hooper ward was organized in May of 1877, the same year of the re-baptisms.

Mary Ellen was a faithful worker in Primary and Mutual, where she was a counselor in both organizations.  She served as a visiting teacher in the Relief Society for many years, and was a member of the ward choir for several years as was Willard.

Mary Ellen’s husband Willard, worked many long hard hours in bringing the canal 17 ½ miles from Ogden into Hooper for irrigation for their crops.

Mary Ellen was a faithful worker in Primary and Mutual, where she was a counselor in both organizations.  She served as a visiting teacher in Relief Society for many years, and was a member of the ward choir for several years.  She was a very compassionate woman, and performed many acts of kindness.  She performed the ultimate act of love, when she took care of her mother (Emily) and Willard’s mother (Elizabeth) who were both invalids for several years before they passed away.  They both died at her home in Hooper.  Mary Ellen’s mother Emily died 10 November 1895, and Willard’s mother Elizabeth died 13 September 1902.  They both died with a seven year time period.

Mary Ellen’s health began deteriorating at the age of forty, and she suffered for many years.  She died 11 years later at age 57, on 3 September 1911 at 6:45 pm in Hooper, Utah.  Her death certificate lists her cause of death as disseminated cerebral spinal stenosis that she had for many years.  (Spinal stenosis is arthritis of the spine.) The Morning Examiner Newspaper listed her cause of death as paralysis.  The funeral was under the direction of the Lindquist Mortuary in Ogden, Utah.  She was laid to rest in the Hooper Cemetery 6 September 1911, next to her infant son, John Charles, and Willard’s parents John and Elizabeth Flinders.  There is a large light gray monument in their memory, located south of the flag pole in the east end of the cemetery, and west of the pine trees.

May I add that we feel certain that Mary Ellen’s mother Emily Stevens Halliday Dalton is buried in the Flinders plot.  This would be the most likely spot of her.  We know she died at Mary Ellen’s home in Hooper and her funeral was held in the Hooper church house, and she is buried in Hooper.  However, the cemetery has no record of her burial.  There are 131 graves that are either unknown graves or don’t have headstones, and two of them are in the Flinders plot.  One grave we think is Willard’s brother, Alvin’s baby.  Alvin and his wife, Mary Flinders are buried there and have a large dark gray headstone.

With permission from the Cemetery committee, they allowed us to place a headstone in the Flinders plot, in lot # 21 for Mary Ellen’s mother Emily.  The headstone was placed in front of Alma and Mary Flinders headstone.

When Mary Ellen passed away, her youngest daughter Merle was still living at home and helped her father until she married James Edward Simpson in November 1912.  Willard stayed at home for several years and is listed in the 1920 Census in Hooper.  He was age 66 and living alone.

Later on, he stayed at the homes of all his daughters for a week at a time. Willard had been staying with his daughter Nell (Mary Ellen) and her husband Clarence Bybee in Clinton, when he passed away 7 June 1927.  His death certificate lists the cause of death as “Myocarditis” a chronic auricular fibrillation, of 6 months.  A contributory factor was bronchial pneumonia and respiratory failure of 2 days.  He was 74 years of age.  Lindquist undertakers cared for the funeral and burial, both held in Hooper.

The best way I know, to pay tribute to my great grandmother Mary Ellen Halliday Flinders, is to write her life story and keep her memory alive in the hearts of her descendants.  I am grateful for her endurance as a 7 year old pioneer girl, and for her mother who was determined to come to Utah and endured so many tragedies in her life time. I look forward to get to know her in future years.  I am proud of my Halliday and Flinders heritage.

Patriarchal Blessing of Mary Ellen Halliday

Given by Lorenzo Hill Hatch

9 January 1905 in Logan Utah

Born 31 January 1860

St. Louis, St. Louis, Missouri

Daughter of Abel and Emily Stevens Halliday


Agreeable to the desires of thy heart and in answer to thy prayers, I have laid my hands upon they head, and in the name of thy Redeemer, seal upon thee a Patriarchal and a father’s blessing.

Behold, I say unto thee, rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for the providence of God and His watchful care hath been over thee from thy youth, and shall continue to be over thee, until thou has finished thy work upon the earth.

Thou shall continue to have, the confidence of they children and of thy neighbors, for thou art dearly loved by thy compassion and offspring.

Cheer up and fear not, for thou shalt be blessed, and thy heart full of joy, for thou hast been called to pass through many trials, by which thou shall be prepared for the Celestial Kingdom.

Thou are the mother of Prophets and men who shall go forward and fulfill a great destiny, taking part in the development and the building up of Zion, and thy name shall be perpetrated by them, through all generations, while the increase of the wicked shall be cut off.

Continue to call upon the Lord in secret.  Speak words of encouragement and live, bear testimony to the young and rising generation.  Verily, I say unto thee, thy guardian angel hast watched over thee, and thy name is written in the Lambs book of life.  And, in as much as thou art faithful, it shall not be blotted out, saith the Lord!

Thou shalt be a source of great comfort unto thy children, and thy children’s children, and no good gifts shall be withheld from thee.

The blessing thou hast received in the House of the Lord, shall be verified unto thee, and thy days shall be lengthened out, until thou are art satisfied with life.  Thy lineage is of Ephraim, and the work for thy kindred dead shall be carried forward and they shall be redeemed, and the keys of the Priesthood shall be made perfect to the days of Father Adam.

The Lord will remember thy fathers and mothers house, and thou shall make thy calling election sure.

The Lord has blessed thee with an abundance, and thy table shall continue to be spread with plenty, and the poor and the needy, shall rise up, and call thee blessed, and thou shall reign as a Queen and Priestess in connection with thy husband and posterity – in the Celestial Kingdom, and thou shall come forth in the morning of the first resurrection, and no power shall hedge up thy way.

And I pray that thou mayest be fully restored to thy normal health.

I seal all these blessings upon they head, with all former blessings that thou hast received in the House of the Lord, by the Authority of the Holy Priesthood, and in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.

P.A. Jackman – Recorder


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