Born May 10, 1841, daughter of Elisha Barrus Keyes and Joanna Case Worden
My parents joined the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints when I was six weeks old. They were baptized by Elder John Huse.
The first thing that I can remember was being driven by the mob. The next thing that I remember is about the Prophet Joseph Smith. I was then about 3 years old. I must have been well acquainted with him yet all I can remember of him alive was that I was playing in the street in front of my father’s house when I heard horsemen coming and on looking up, I saw a large company of Indians. They were the first I had ever seen. I started to run screaming to the house when I heard a familiar voice call, “Come here, Celia”. It was the Prophet Joseph. He took me up in his arms and said, “Look Celia, these are Indians. Now remember as long as you live, an Indian will never hurt you”. I believed him. I have never been afraid of them, although I have been in several Indian fusses. I saw an Indian draw a knife on my baby sister, but my father was quick and saved her life.
I saw our dear Prophet and Patriarch after they were laid out. Oh what a sight! My father lifted me up so I could see them plainly, but I was too young to realize what death really was, but that sight is plain to me yet. But I hope to live so that I can meet them where there is no death. For I know that Joseph Smith was a true Prophet of God and I do know that this is the true gospel of God into Salvation to everyone that will obey it and stand true to the end. I wish I could sound my testimony to the ends of the earth and make it strong enough to convince every honest person.
When I was about four years old, we lived on a place called McQueens Mills. We had a good place and were getting quite comfortable, but the mob wanted our place. Our family at that time consisted of father, mother, two of mother’s little brothers, my baby sister and myself.
My dear father was so sick with fever that he did not realize anything he said. He answered “yes, yes” to anything. One of the little boys was sick, also our baby. One of the mob, Cherokee Walker by name, came to the house and ordered us to get out. Mother said we could not for father was sick. With an oath, he said he would make us glad to get out then he went away. The next morning he came with about 300 more of the mob on to a hill in front of the house and fired off their guns towards the house. This they did several days. Then walker came to the house and said we had to get out or they would kill us all the next day. Then he went to my sick father and asked him if he would sell his place and as father kept saying, “yes, yes” all the time, Walker said father was willing to sell. So he said he would give five dollars for the farm and everything on it. Then mother spoke up and said that father was too sick to know what he was saying. Then Walker drew his gun and put it within six inches of mother. He said, “Damn your black heart, if you say another word, I will blow you through.”. Poor mother looked at her sick and helpless family and kept still. Then Walker said he would be very liberal- -he would move us to Nauvoo and let us have one cow. Next day he brought a small ambulance. They put a bed in it and put father and the two sick children in the bed. That took all the room.. Mother, her little brother and myself had to walk. I don’t know how far it was, but we were one night and two days on the road. And the night we got to Nauvoo, Walker stole the cow and took her back with him. The last I heard of Walker he had murdered a man and got away.
My little uncle that was sick died after Walker had moved us.
The next I remember plainly was father standing guard when the mob was trying to get into Nauvoo after the first Saints and left. Now there were only the old and sick left. Next we were on the west bank of the Mississippi River. There we suffered terribly. The ground was nearly level with the water of the river and it rained all the time. Father was sick again and we had no shelter except a sheet stretched over some sticks. There were several hundred families in the camp. The food was all gone and we were starving. Many died. Then the Lord sent quail into camp, so gentle we could catch then by hand.
I don’t know haw long we were in that camp. Then President Young sent back teams. We were too or three families to a wagon. The teams were weak and the roads muddy so we could only go a few miles in a day.
One night, our team gave out and it was raining hard and there was no cover on the wagon and only one house in sight. Father started to go to that house to see if they would let us sleep in their house. The man of the house came to meet him. When father told the man what we wanted, the man said, “I thought so, but my wife is so bitter against the Mormons, she would kill every one of you before morning. But out there is my corn crib. You can go in there if you will go after dark and go away before daylight, so she can’t see you.” We went and slept on the ears of corn and went on before daylight.
The team took us as far as Bentonsport. There we found some very kind people. We stayed there two years and a half. Father and mother both got work and we soon began to get some of the comforts of life around us.
From there we went to Mt. Pisgah. We stayed with Brother Dukes family while there. Their little son, two years old, fell into Grand River. The banks were ten feet perpendicular and the water about four feet deep. My mother saw the child fall and jumped in after him, below where he fell. She got hold of some willows and as he floated down to her, she picked him up and held him in one arm and held to the willows with the other hand until I could run a mile to where the men were at work. When father got there, he let a rope down to her. She put it around the child and they drew him up, then let it down and drew mother up.
While we were there, one of the mob came to Mt. Pisgah. One day he was in a crowd and in a bragging way said he was going to plow up the Mormon Burying ground and see if the G..D. Mormons wouldn’t raise good corn. One of the men in the crowd, a Mr. Lock, said, “Sir, before you put a plow into that graveyard, you had better buy your coffin, for I will shoot you so full of holes that your hide won’t hold shucks.” Needless to say, the mobercrat did not put a plow into that burying ground. Mr. Lock was not a Mormon and was very rough in his talk, but he believed in fair play. He didn’t believe in persecution.
` The last year we were there, the water was very high from so much rain. One day a cloud burst just above our house. The water rushed down onto us so sudden that we barely escaped with our lives. We lost everything except the clothes we had on. My baby brother died from the affects of the cold and wet. That same Mr. Lock took us into his house and gave both father and mother work and helped us in many ways.
The next spring we moved on to Kainesville, (now Council Bluffs). While there, my father was breaking wild steers. One of them hooked him in the side, causing an abcess. He died from it two years later.
The winter and spring that we stayed in Kainesville, mother and I sewed for a merchant , a Mr. Voris, to help obtain means to come to Utah, and in June of 1852 we started for Salt Lake City, Utah. Oh, how we rejoiced to think we were going to gather with the Saints where we could live in peace. My little brother was very sick when we started and people told mother that it would surely kill him to take him out. But, he gained in health everyday and lived to be 60 years old.
My dear father was very sick mot of the way. Like all of the pioneers, we suffered many hardships. My mother was run over. One wheel ran over her breast, then she rolled over to try to get out of the way and the hind wheel ran over her back. She lived many years after, but she was very sick a long time; then I had all the work to do and our captain was very cross. The snow was six inches deep some of the way before we got through. It was the 27th of October when we reached Salt Lake City. We had a great deal of sickness that fall and winter.”
Celia met and married Alma Taylor on the 8th of December 1856 at Fort Supply, Utah. After their marriage they moved to Eden, Weber, Utah, where they settled. Ten of their thirteen children were born there. Two of the children died in infancy and were buried in Eden.
In 1874, they moved to Brush Creek, Uintah, Utah. Places were far apart and all materials they needed had to be hauled 60 miles. Alma worked at a saw mill until he could get his farm paying. This left Celia alone with the children a great deal of the time. Neighbors were far apart. The Indians would steal or commit other crimes. They often made nuisances of themselves and harassed people in isolated places. Alma had to walk to work, so he was gone from early morning until late at night.
On time, shortly after they moved to Brush Creek, Celia was working in her garden. She looked up and there were several Indians coming toward their little sod home. She hurried to the house because she had a small baby in the cradle. The Indians came in without knocking. They kept saying, “Beeskit! Beeskit!” meaning bread. Celia had very little bread, and when she refused. The leader of the group threatened the baby with a knife. For a minute she thought she would throw a kettle of hot water. Then she remembered what the Prophet Joseph Smith had told her when she was a little girl. Celia gave them the bread she had and they left in peace. Celia also remembered that Brigham Young said, “It is better to feed the Indians than to fight them.” Many times the Indians came to their home, but they never bothered her family.
Three more children were born to them in Brush Creek. One of those died in infancy. A few years later, they moved to Vernal, Uintah, Utah, the town closest to their farm. Their last three children were born there, and one of them died in infancy also.
While they lived in Vernal, Alma let the actions of men in authority in the Church embitter him against the Church. He Quit going and refused to allow his children to be taught the gospel. Celia remained true but could not teach her children as she would have liked. Only three of their thirteen children joined the Church.
Alma was hurt in a haying accident when he was seventy-six years old. He died on the 10th of August, 1910, in Vernal and was buried there.
Celia had remained faithful all those years. She visited her children in several states. It made her feel bad that so many of her children did not belong to the Church. She died at home in Vernal, Utah, on the 9th of September, 1913. She trusted her Heavenly Father to understand and give justice to those she loved.