Life for "Little Grandma", as she was affectionately known by a multitude of descendants, began
on 12 Nov. 1834 in Port Gibson, Claiborne County, Mississippi. Her parents. Alien and Harriet
Heath Marler, owned a plantation there in northwestern Mississippi about 10 miles from the
Mississippi River. They owned 20 slaves, yet taught their own children to assist with such
plantation work as picking cotton. Slaves not only received good treatment by the Marlers, but family servants were affectionately called "aunt" or "uncle".
In her youth, Sarah Jane frequently wrote out passes for their slaves who would be riding into
town, so they would not be arrested while traveling alone. When Sarah Jane and her elder sister
Eliza Anne were young children, they were sent to Sunday School at the Methodist Church,
accompanied by a female black servant. Later, when the family moved farther from the church,
they rode horses to church, accompanied by one of their black men.
Sarah Jane received as much schooling as was available in the locality. School, held year-round,
was taken as a serious matter by the teacher. In fact, one time the teacher planned to allow no
Christmas holiday. The Marler children and their father hurried to the schoolhouse early one
morning and locked the door. When the teacher arrived, they refused to let him enter. When he
learned that Mr. Marler was in the school, the teacher agreed to give his students a week's
Plantation life provided some interesting experiences for the Marlers. One time when a party was
held at a neighboring plantation, the white folk ate their meal first, then according to custom the
colored folk had their turn. Reportedly, one old colored man offered this blessing at his meal:
"Oh Lord of Love,
Look from above;
Bless the owl
That plucked the fowl
And left the bones
For Servant Jones. "
At one home where the Marlers lived (called the "Big House") Sarah Jane, her mother and sisters
would pick berries and feed them to birds resembling wild pigeons. When the birds became
"drunk", the women would catch and kill them and make them into pie. Near the Marler home a
haunted house was situated. The children decided to sleep there one night. Accordingly, they
made their beds on the floor near some blood stains. During the night they awakened and thought
they saw a man standing near their bed. When they hurried home and told their father, he forbade
them from staying in the old home again.
At one time a peddler came through the area, selling pins, needles and buttons so he could send
money to have his wife and family migrate from Poland. An older colored man who had heard
him say that he had some money, followed him into the woods, killed him and buried the body. A
posse was organized to search for the guilty person. When the colored man confessed to the
crime, a group lynched him. Allen Marler and his sons witnessed the lynching.
When Sarah Jane was about 11 years of age. Her grandfather, Adolph Heath, while
visiting friends about 40 miles north of their home, heard the message of the
restored Gospel and was converted. When he shared that truth with Allen and
Harriet, she was convinced at once; however. Allen was not receptive. A short
time later on a rainy day Father Heath and a cousin named Sam, who had already
been converted, visited the Marler family. Seated on the spacious veranda of
their home, the visitors discussed parts of the Gospel and read extracts from
the pamphlet "Voice of Warning." Still, Allen Marler resisted the message.
Next day, while working in the cotton fields in mid-afternoon, Allen became ill, stopped all work
at once, and hurried to their house, panting and gasping for breath. He asked for Adolph Heath
and Sam, who had already departed for home. Some colored help was sent to have the men
return. Following their arrival, the two administered to Allen, who felt a tingling sensation
throughout his body and was cured of his malady. Convinced that the power of evil had been
responsible for his terrible illness. Allen earnestly searched the scriptures, believed, and requested
baptism along with Harriet in 1845. Sarah Jane later opined that the Devil had whipped her father
into the Church.
New converts felt intense opposition in the South. The Marlers joined the ranks of those who
endured more than a little ridicule and harrassment. Father Heath tried to persuade Allen and his
family to sell their property and relocate with the main body of the Saints. Initially he was unable
to obtain a satisfactory buyer, but at last he arranged the sale at a reduced price from the real value
of the land.
Early in 1850 a group of 15 Marlers and Heaths formed an independent party and boarded a boat
at Great Gulf, Mississippi, bound for St. Joseph Missouri. There they intended to outfit
themselves for crossing the plains. However, their 800-mile journey up the Mississippi and
Missouri Rivers was hardly complete before cholera struck all the group except Sarah Jane.
Within a month seven of the group of 15 had succumbed to the disease, namely: Allen Marler,
three of his daughters, two nephews and a colored lady who had come with the John Heath
Although Sarah Jane was only 15 at the time of the tragic experience, she bore most of the burden
of caring for the sick. Years later she told some of her descendants that she prepared the bodies of
her loved ones for burial. She recalled that she surely prayed a lot during those difficult times;
only through those prayers was she able to weather the storm of such trying days. Other people
were aware of their terrible plight and sympathized with them, but they were so fearful of
contracting the disease that they dared not come to help.
(Ed. Note. In 1963 the compiler, in company with his sister Zesta Geisler and brother Nolan
Taylor contacted personnel in the public library in St. Joseph to inquire whether the old pioneer
cemetery might contain the bodies of the deceased Marler pioneers. The staff specialist indicated
that because of the cholera plague, the deceased persons very likely would be buried along the
river. Since the course of the river has changed since 1850, those graves most certainly are under
water now, hence inaccessible.)
During the time that he was so ill, Sarah Jane's father advised his wife to return to Mississippi if
he should die, reasoning that their relatives would be a source of strength to her. However, as
soon as the surviving members of the family had recuperated, they resumed preparations for their
journey westward. Purchasing a wagon, oxen and supplies, they traveled to Florence (Omaha),
Nebraska, where they joined Captain James Lake's Company of 50 and started the journey to the
Salt Lake Valley in May 1850.
Traveling in the same company with the Lakes and Taylors, Sarah Jane associated with her two
future husbands and two future sons-in-law. She was especially attracted to William Bailey Lake,
a handsome young man of 24, who had dark hair and dark eyes. In the evenings she danced
around the campfire with him. People who were associated with their family in the journey spoke
of Sarah Jane as "the rich widow's daughter" (but not in her hearing, lest she might become
She was baptized in the Platte River by Joseph Taylor while crossing the plains in 1850 (exact
date not available).
The James Lake Company arrived in Salt Lake City during General Conference, which was held
6-8 Sep. 1850 (Lake). The Lakes moved northward, the Marlers south to Pleasant Grove. Sarah
Jane later recorded her impressions of their new home, as follows: "When I contrast the climate,
the barrenness and the living conditions in Utah with those in Mississippi where the air is warm
and the grass is green the year round, and knowing my father's disposition as I did, I recognize the
hand of the Lord in his death, for I have often thought that he could not have withstood the
temptation to travel on to California with my mother's brother.
William Bailey Lake kept in touch with his sweetheart through correspondence until he could
travel to Pleasant Grove to claim 16 year old Sarah Jane as his bride. They were married there 26
The newlyweds lived the remainder of that winter in Farr's Fort in Ogden (located just east of
Monroe Blvd. on Canyon Road). In the spring of 1851 Sarah Jane and Bailey moved to North
Ogden (now Pleasant View). The parcel of land on which they settled is situated north of 2550
North, bounded on the east by 600 West and on the north by Pleasant View Drive. There they
built a two-room log home and began farming. Their home was said to be the last one between
Ogden and California. Large flocks of ducks came near their home, so they obtained plenty of
feathers for feather beds. Sarah Jane had never learned how to spin wool; she had only worked
with cotton, so her mother-in-law taught her this new skill.
Four children were born in North Ogden, namely: Mary, born 15 Dec. 1851 (first white girl and
second child born in North Ogden); Philomela, born 9 Aug 1853; Sarah, born 16 Aug 1855 and
William Bailey, Jr., born 4 Oct. 1857. Bailey and Sarah Jane were sealed in eternal marriage 13
Oct. 1855 in the Salt Lake Endowment House.
When Bailey was called by Pres. Brigham Young in the spring of 1856 to be a missionary among
the Indians in the Salmon River Mission at Fort Lemhi, Idaho, he persuaded Sarah Jane's mother
to move to North Ogden and be near her daughter. Sarah Jane was left with the responsibility for
care of their small family and farm when Bailey departed with 21 other missionaries 28 March
Bailey's missionary service was not a continuous thing. Missionaries traveled back and forth to
Utah to bring mail, obtain supplies and sometimes to spend the winter in Utah to conserve the
food supplies on hand at Fort Lemhi. On one of these trips to Utah, Bailey was sealed to two
additional wives, Louisa Ann Garner and Lovina Jones, on 20 Mar. 1857 in Brigham Young's
Office in Salt Lake City.
Sarah Jane's fourth child arrived 13 Oct 1857 just after Bailey had left with other missionaries to
return to Fort Lemhi. A rider was dispatched from North Ogden to take the news to the father.
Reaching him in Willard, the rider told of Bailey's newborn son. He came back to North Ogden to
see his wife and first son and stay briefly with his family. That was the last time they would see
When the Salmon River Mission was closed because of Indian troubles in early 1858, Bailey Lake
was assigned with a a small group to precede the main company and bring mail to Salt Lake City.
At Bannock Creek in Arbon Valley (Power County) the group was ambushed by hostile Indians
and Bailey was killed. His body was recovered by the main group of Saints returning from the
Salmon River Mission. After being packed in snow in a wagon, it was hurriedly brought to the
widow in North Ogden, the arrows still in his body. She prepared him for burial, put the body in a
covered wagon, and took her children with her to the North Ogden cemetery in a rainstorm to
bury her husband. She barely had time to bury her husband 's body before she had to evacuate her
home and move south with approximately 30,000 other Saints in anticipation of the arrival of
Johnston's Army in the territory. Weber County residents relocated into the area west of Provo,
called the Provo Bottoms. (They had all been instructed to leave piles of straw in their log homes
so they could be "torched" if Johston's Army failed to live up to his commitments.)
In the saints' temporary abode in Utah County President Brigham Young inquired of Pleasant
Green Taylor (Sarah's brother- in-law) how the Widow Lake was faring. When he explained that
she was doing reasonably well and that family members were trying to assist her as necessary.
President Young said, "Brother Taylor, you should marry her and take care of Bailey's family."
The Prophet's words were accepted as the Lord's will. Pleasant Green brought Sarah Jane to the
Prophet's office and married her as his fourth wife on 20 June 1858. The marriage was witnessed
by George A. Smith and Clara Lake Taylor.
On I July 1858 Lorin Farr, President of the Weber Stake, approached President Brigham Young
about letting the people return to their homes. The president then gave directions for the people
camped in Utah County to return to their homes in the northern part of the territory. Sarah Jane
and her children returned with Pleasant Green and his families to make her home in Harrisville. At
that time she lived in a home on the east side of Harriville Road. (Years later when a large light
brick home was built across the street to the west, Jane Narcissus lived in the north apartment and
Sarah Jane lived in the south apartment. )
An intensely interesting fact about those early days in Harrisville was recalled in an interview on
23 Jan 1990 with Ada J. Taylor, who lived in the north apartment of Sarah Jane's home for some
time before her death. Sarah Jane had told Ada that in the days when she came to live in
Harrisville, only 13 log cabins were built in the Harrisville area. All were visible from her home--
nothing obstructed her view. She remarked that springtime was a beautiful sight in those days.
After a rainstorm, the tall grass growing out of the dirt on the houses' roofs made a lovely sight
(Ada Taylor, p. 2).
Sarah Jane and Pleasant Green had six children, as follows: George Alien Taylor, born 26 Aug
1859; Josiah Taylor, born 3 Nov. 1861; Eliza Ann Taylor, born 15 June 1864; Loren Green
Taylor, born 12 Oct 1866, Alexander Taylor, born 15 May 1869; and Walter Taylor, born 18
In later life Sarah Jane mentioned that Pleasant Green was very good to her children after they
came to live with him. He never said a cross word to them. If they needed to be corrected, he let
her take care of the matter.
A biography of Sarah Jane's son William Bailey, Jr., contains a few interesting details of life in
Harrisville in those early years. " I remember there weren't many matches to be had and we very
often had to borrow fire back and forth (between neighbors). "There wasn't much cash and
everything was usually traded. If one worked, their pay was usually in produce or supplies.
Mother was a hard worker and she would card the wool and spin it and weave it into material to
make our clothes. She would also cut and dry peaches and lay them on scaffolds in the sun to dry
and then take them to the store and exchange them for groceries. She never got much for them
though as they were small peaches and not like those we have now.
"We had one pair of shoes a year and I recall the good care I tried to take of mine. Went
barefooted a lot but I would keep my shoes greased up to preserve them. I herded sheep and
would pick my way around the spots of snow in the early spring as I was barefooted and the cold
snow didn't feel so good on my feet. "My brother and I used to go up to Wheeler's Basin in the
fall of the year and haul our winters wood back. It took us a couple of days to make the trip up
there. Mother had one of the first stoves around Harrisville. It was called a step stove and had one
place that was quite high and then a step down was another place and still further down was
where the coals were or the fire box.
"We had many good times though at our dances and parties. I shall never forget too when I saw
the first train. It was moving along slowly and I got on the roof of our house in order to see it. I
yelled and told Mother that there was a whole lot of houses moving along down west of our
home. That was what it looked like to me. One time I was out after the cows and the engine let
out a beller that scared me so much I fell down. I wasn't expecting to hear anything like that.
"During the construction of the railroad the men were camped down at Farr West where they were
grading and we used to go down there and trade their cooks some eggs for a little sack of sugar.
Sugar was one thing that we never had much of and they were glad to get the fresh eggs. Our
food was just ordinary, we always seemed to have plenty though. Mush and milk were served a
lot and potatoes and what was known as 'Mormon' gravy, made of milk. My step-father was a
good provider and had lots of cattle and many nice horses too." (Manful)
Sarah Jane achieved a measure of fame; her name appears in a published article about the cotton
industry in Weber County, as follows: "Possibly the most successful effort at raising cotton was
made by one of the pioneers of Harrisville, Mrs. Sarah Jane Taylor, from Virginia (Mississippi).
She brought the cotton seeds with her to Weber County, planted them, and raised a good crop.
After picking the cotton, she separated the seeds by hand, washed and carded it, and then spun it
into thread. This she 'wove into cloth and made dresses, sheets, tablecloths and underclothes as
well.' Of course the cotton industry in Weber County was hardly more than a novelty. The climate
was not suitable to making its culture profitable." (Hunter, p. 330)
Sarah Jane was faithful in the Church. When the Harrisville Relief Society was organized, 17 Apr.
1868, she was chosen to be a teacher. On 31 Mar. 1872 she was sustained as a counselor to
Melissa Shurtliff. On 20 Feb. 1893 she was sustained as president of the Relief Society, but later
resigned. Again on 6 Feb. 1897 she was sustained as a counselor to Johannah Agren, then released
4 Feb. 1900.
Some little personal incidents reveal what the real Sarah Jane was like. She had learned to be very
frugal through her life's experiences. She did her part to contribute to the family income; she
schemed, sewed and mended, and she raised a garden. In her late years she scolded Ada (Mrs.
Nephi) Taylor for buying strawberries out of season. She coaxed, "Wait till the strawberries come
on the vines in our garden, then you can have some. You shouldn't spend that money."
That frugality stayed with her to the end. When P.G. made final arrangements for management of
his estate, he directed that none of the families of his wives could touch the estate until the last
widow had died. Sarah Jane really had possiblities of living in comfort as the last surviving
spouse; however, she seldom spent any of the money. Even after she broke her hip and the family
bought her a wheelchair, she scolded them for buying something she didn't need. For awhile she
refused to use it, then finally relented.
She was appreciative of the simple things in life. One summer when the song "It Ain't Gonna Rain
No More" was popular, no rain fell in Harrisville for an extended time. On the day that the clouds
began to release some of their moisture, Sarah Jane ran out of her home, across the porch, and
down the steps to her lawn. Letting down her hair, she turned her face heavenward and let the rain
fall on her face for the longest time. "Oh, I'm so grateful for that rain," she remarked.
Sarah Jane defended polygamy vigorously. One day when Ada Taylor had a smile on her face
when she mentioned polygamy, Sarah Jane rose to the occasion. "Ada, polygamy is right when the
people live right. Now.they say that the old men chose young women. Not Grandpa Taylor. He
chose a widow with four kids." Then she proceeded to tell how kind and wise he was, how
wonderful he was as a husband and father. She believed in polygamy implicitly.
Sarah Jane always seemed to carry a generous portion of Southern hospitality with her. No family
member ever passed by her home without coming in for a visit. Groups of relatives would come
from Idaho and drop by to see her. She thrived on company.
She was an avowed Democrat. In her final years when she took Ada Taylor into the voting booth
with her to help her vote, she directed, "Just put a cross under the rooster!"
While her early life was filled with hardship, Sarah Jane had many more trials later in her life. Her
daughter Philomela was left a widow at age 39 with eight children still at home (after having lost
three small children with diphtheria). Then her eldest son William Bailey Jr. lost his wife Ida after
she bore him a son named Bailey. Sarah Jane became foster-mother to the boy and helped raise
him to maturity.
After Bailey moved to Idaho, married, and had a fine daughter, he was drowned while fishing on
Snake River; his body was not recovered for several weeks. Sarah Jane grieved constantly during
the period of waiting. Years later she related, "I walked around my yard in the night-time and
looked up at the stars and asked the Lord, please, to let us find his dear body."
Prior to this tragedy her daughter Eliza had married a cousin, Edmund Taylor, and moved to
Southern Utah. After three children were born to them, Edmund was called to go on a mission to
the Southern States. Eliza, who came to stay part of the time with her mother, shared news with
her mother about her missionary-husband's great work. Then word came that he was ill, then that
he had died. Left with no means of support, Eliza and her children were invited to live with her
Sarah Jane's second son Josiah married Abigail Arilla Smith and had six children. Living just
across the creek from Sarah Jane, the children were like her very own. Then Rilla died, leaving a
young family who needed their grandmother's special attention. Then while those children were
still young, Josiah developed a tumor on the brain. Again Sarah Jane had daily torture as she
watched her beloved son struggle to delay his death so he could care for his family. Sarah Jane
stood by to help Josiah's older children take care of the younger ones.
Sarah Jane's youngest son Walter lost his wife Mary in her prime, so Walter returned home to live
with his mother for a time. Her son Alexander's wife Sally became a hopeless invalid with arthritis
and lived next door.
Sarah Jane outlived Pleasant Green and all of his other spouses. In all of these experiences, as well
as in the tragedies outlined above, she remained cheerful and optimistic. Her positive attitude no
doubt helped; however, one of her nephews related an experience that demonstrates where she
looked daily for help: When he was invited to stay overnight with her son Walter, at the end of the
day Sarah Jane had the children move the chairs together and she led them in family prayer. There
is the key to her strength and endurance.
When she was 87, her daughter Philomela came to live with her. A short time later Sarah Jane fell
and broke her hip. Many feared she would never walk again. However, her determination carried
her through the healing process. Before long she used a wheelchair and crutches, then a cane, then
finally walked alone. One day shortly after she found she could walk alone, her grandson came to
visit her. As he came in the door, she said, "Look, Riley!" and threw her cane the full length of her
living room, then walked alone (although with a definite limp) to meet him. He almost fainted
Sarah Jane's 90th birthday anniversary proved to be quite a festive occasion. While all of her
birthdays later in life were celebrated by her family and friends, number 90 was outstanding. Her
family arranged for her to have a large, three-tiered fruit cake, frosted white and decorated with
90 white candles in blue rosebud holders. All who came had an enjoyable time. One of the most
unusual facts mentioned about the event was that Sarah Jane had four generations of eldest
daughters still living: Mary Lake Taylor, Mary Jane Taylor Owen, Harriet Emily Owen Crane
and Florence May Crane.
During the days when she was quite ill, Sarah Jane had one son on whom she leaned heavily.
Alee, a big, strong, handsome fellow, had built a home south of his mother's, so he lived nearby.
When she needed to be moved from her bed to a chair or vice versa, he picked her up in his arms
and carried her so easily. His kindness endeared him to his mother and half-sister Millie.
On the day she passed away, quite a few relatives stood around in the room visiting with one
another. Nephi and Ada Taylor's son Junior, still a fairly young baby, began fussing. Ada, afraid
he would disturb the others, hurriedly started to leave. Sarah Jane raised her voice, "Ada, bring
that baby back in here. He never bothered me when I was all right, and he's not bothering me
now." A little later Sarah Jane appeared to be slipping away. The numerous relatives who stood
about in the room gathered a little more closely about her bed in the southeast corner of the room.
Suddenly a loud crack sounded, much like the firing of a shotgun, and the southeast corner of the
floor fell several inches.
Loving and caring for her dear ones, as well as living the Gospel, brought joy into Sarah Jane's
life. Because of several deaths in her family, she really helped raise several of her grandchildren.
She loved to tell about her pioneer experiences and relate the stories about the settling of
Harrisville. Although she had been warned by the doctor when she broke her hip that she would
never walk again, she danced a jig on her 92nd birthday.
She boasted that she probably had one of the largest posterities of any living woman. At 92 years
of age she had 310 descendants, including ten children, fifty grandchildren, 189
great-grandchildren and sixty-one great-great-grandchildren.
She made her exit from this life on Friday, 18 March 1927. She was buried two days later beside
her first husband in the North Ogden Cemetery.
"Little Grandma," as she was known to her great grandchildren, was five feet two inches tall,
weighed 115 pounds, and had dark brown eyes and hair.
Compiled in June 1998 by Brian L. Taylor, using material from the following references.
1. Franson, Leora L., "Sarah Jane Marler (1834-1927)", compiled 1988. (From
the book History of the James Lake, Jr. Family by Janet Franson Jeffery. )
2. Geisler, Zesta T., "Sarah Jane Marler Lake Taylor".
3. Hunter, Milton
R., 1944, Beneath Ben Lomond ' s Peak, Salt Lake City: Deseret News Press, p.
by compiler with Ada Jensen Taylor (granddaughter-in- law of Pleasant Green
Taylor), who lived in an apartment adjoining the one where Sarah Jane resided
prior to her death. 1988
5. Manful, Elvera,
Personal Interview with William B. Lake, Jr., 1939.
6. Pardoe, T.
Earl, 1953. Lorin Farr, Pioneer. Provo: Brigham Young University Press.
7. Taylor, Fred
G., ed., "Our Aunt Sarah Jane", 1944