|Zurviah Gleason Fuller and James Eardley
St. Louis, Missouri, 1852
With our daughter gone on handcart trek this week, my thoughts have turned to her pioneer heritage.
My wife and daughters are descendants of Zurviah Gleason Fuller and James Eardley. For those of you who know my wife, you will see a resemblance between her and Zurviah, especially if you knew my wife as a teenager. This engagement photo of James and Zurviah was taken in St. Louis, Missouri in 1852. The photo of us was taken shortly before our engagement in 1979.
|Cristi Montgomery and Mike Fitzgerald
West Linn, Oregon, July 1979
Zurviah was 17 years old when she got married; my wife, 18. I was 12 (just kidding, but I look like I could pass for 12 in the photo).
Zurviah was a direct descendant of Edward Fuller who crossed the Atlantic on the ship Mayflower.
When Zurviah was 16, she wanted to get an idea of who she would marry, so she applied a “sure fire” method for finding out, which I don’t recommend. One night, she swallowed a thimble full of salt, and without drinking any water, walked backwards to her bed. The procedure was supposed to produce a dream wherein her future mate would offer her a drink of water. Zurviah had a dream, but could only see the ulster (coat) of the man who offered her the drink. I suspect other girls she knew were doing this.
The following spring, she saw a man at a church meeting who was wearing the identical ulster she saw in her dream. That man was James Eardley. They married on March 15, 1852.
The couple was anxious to travel to Utah. They had next to nothing, so James urged that they cross the plains by handcart, as their faith would yield more blessings. Zurviah—ever practical—responded that she would receive all the blessings that she could desire if they crossed by ox and covered wagon.
They finally were able to travel to the Salt Lake Valley in 1854 in the James Brown Company. James Brown was a member of the Mormon Battalion and the founder of Ogden, Utah.
James (Zurviah’s husband) actually was delayed and came with a later company. A woman by the name of Turpin was widowed, and the captain of her company advised her to return to St. Louis because she was slowing down the train. James knew it would be too dangerous for her to travel alone because of Indians, so he volunteered to drive her wagon to the valley.
Zurviah and her husband lived in Salt Lake City, between 600 and 700 South off Main, at 21 Eardley Place. James died in 1914, and Zurviah passed away in 1928 at the age of 96. Up until her death, she would travel by streetcar several times a week to the Salt Lake Temple to work there.