John Rowley and Sarah Wright Family Messenger

by Historian, Luella Jones Downard

Historical facts are so hard to find on the life of James Rowley that I am trying to secure a history of each of his four wives, hoping in this way to enrich the few facts that we will be able to find and perhaps add a few new facts and more detail in the history.

Last issue I gave a short history of his daughter, Zuriah Rowley Lyman, to take the place of a history of her mother and James Rowley’s first wife, Mary Shirlock. This filled in nicely the Mary Shirlock Chapter of his life.

Eva Hill a descendant of Hannah Barrows and her first husband, Isaac Nelson, has been a wonderful help to me. She has diligently sought and searched to secure most of the following information (She also gave us a picture of Hannah Barrows, a negative has been mane – anyone wishing a copy, please contact me and one can be obtained).

Hannah Barrows was born, 19 December 1826, in Bolton, Lainshire, England. Her father was Joseph Barrows, and her mother, Marie Besswich.

The next fact we have is that on 4 December 1857 a daughter, Ellen Nelson was born to her at Winter Quarters, (Indian Territory), Iowa. When Ellen Nelson received her Endowments, she gave her father’s name as Isaac Nelson and her mother’s as Hannah Barrows. This is all we know of Isaac Nelson, though a great deal of searching has been done.

In the current Sunday School Genealogical Lesson Book, by Archibald F. Bennett, chapter 41, “Searching in Scotland”, page 243, a partial genealogy is given of Peter Muir Fife. It states that he joined the Church in Scotland and emigrated to America, joining the Saints at Nauvoo, Illinois. In 1846 he joined the Mormon Battalion.

It is said that Hannah Barrows and Peter Muir Fife had known each other in England, however, we do not know when she migrated to be America or when she joined the Church, or what her circumstances were when her daughter Ellen Nelson was born. It appears that she did not raise Ellen, as Eva Hill reports that the Fife Family Genealogist knew nothing of Ellen’s birth.

We do not know the date of Hannah’s marriage to Peter Muir Fife, but she was sealed to him 10 October 1849. The first of their five children, Maria Fife was born 26 June 1849 in Salt Lake City.

Peter Muir Fife and Hanna Barrows were never happy in their marriage – the trouble seems to have originated from the great difference in their ages, he was twenty one years older. She left him at one time, taking all of their children but he overtook her and they all went back to him, later she left him again and returned to the home of her parents in Kanosh, Utah, leaving all of her children. These children were cared for by her oldest daughter, Maria, until their father married again.

Eva Hill states that her father remembers Hannah Barrows, His Grandmother and tells of how she used to visit then and that she always talked broken in an English dialect.

It is not known when Hannah Barrows married James Rowley. They were sealed 16 November 1867. Their first child, James Rowley Jr. was born 23 April 1861 in Deseret, Millard, Utah. Her last child by Peter Muir Fife was born 1 December 1858 at Hamilton’s Fort, Iron, Utah, Elizabeth Fife.

Hannah and James had the following children in addition to James Jr.; Abigail Rowley, born 22 May 1833 in Fillmore, Millard, Utah; Sarah Rowley, born 17 October 1865 in Fillmore, Millard, Utah; Joseph Rowley born 2 July 1868 in Fillmore, Millard, Utah.

She lived in Fillmore for forty years raised her family there and died there at the age of seventy-eight.

Her name is on the rolls of the Relief Society there.

If there are any more stories of her life in Fillmore, we would like very much to have them, surely someone knows of her life there. She must have taken some part in Church, community or social life. Please if any of you know even the slightest thing about her or her life at any time, let me know so that we can tell something of her long life and service to her loved ones.


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