Marianna Crabb (1831-1919)

Marianna CrabbHistorical sketch of the life of Marianna Crabb Stratford.  Written by her son, Edwin A. Stratford, in 1914.  Additional paragraphs added by Guy L. Black.

Little is known of mother’s ancestors excepting that they were English, her father having died when she was thirteen years of age and her mother much earlier, when mother was but five and a half.  Her father’s name was Jesse Crabb and her mother was Ann Chapman.  The Crabb and Chapman families were natives of Essex, England.

Mother was born December 6, 1831, at Danbury, Essex, England.  There were six sons and two daughters in the family, mother the youngest.  After the death of her mother, she was taken care of by relatives until nine years of age, when her sister Ann took her from Danbury to Yarmouth in Norfolk.  One year was spent in Yarmouth, and then she returned to Danbury for two years, lived there with her sister.

“Mother had many times entertained me and the other children, telling about her home and the surrounding country.  [When I visited Danbury] I sat on a hill overlooking the street where she resided when a girl, only a short distance from which was Danbury Common, where she romped with her playmates in her childhood days.  Only a stone’s throw from my position on the hill was the Protestant Church of England, where she was christened as a babe.  I had the pleasure of visiting the church and gazing on her name as it appeared on the birth register of the church.  The little church was a typical one of the country districts of England being almost covered with holly and ivy.  About half way between Maldon and Danbury is Runsel Green, about which mother delighted in telling her children.  She never tired of talking about her home and family and the associates of her children and girlhood days.”

When twelve years of age, she went to live with Naomi Brett, a kindhearted soul, known to all of us as Aunt Naomi, who was a distant relatives of father’s.  This good lady was a dressmaker and to her mother was apprenticed for ten years.  While living there she met Edwin Stratford, who, with Elder Charles W. Penrose (now of the First Presidency of the Church), were traveling missionaries in Essex Conference.

At the age of twenty-four, she was married to Edwin Stratford of Maldon, a small village about four miles from Danbury.  They were married at Chelmsford, Essex, England on December 26, 1855[i] by an Elder.  Mother had no schooling outside of that taught in the lower grades.  Her home was not far from Danbury common where she no doubt spent much of her time as a child.

When I visited her home in 1893, I sat on the hill overlooking the houses on the street where she used to live, and as a panorama her childhood passed before my mind.  There were the meadows, the hills, the little ivy-covered church where she was christened, the holly-lined pathway leading by the church toward her home, all of which she had often rehearsed to me as a child.

It was here that she accepted the gospel; and her baptism took place on October 21, 1851.  Soon after her marriage, she bade goodbye to brothers and sisters and all those who were near and dear to her and with her husband started for the “promised land,” there to take up her abode with the Latter-Day Saints.

On the 18th of February, 1856, she with her husband embarked on a the “Caravan,” a sailing vessel, from Liverpool, and after a voyage of about six weeks duration, landed in New York on March 27, 1856.  Soon after landing father secured employment in Tarrytown, near New York, where the family remained until late in 1856.  Here, on October 17th, their first child was born.  From here the family moved to Iowa City, Iowa, where father worked at gardening, and two more children were born, Eliza in 1859 and Jesse George in 1861.

While in Iowa, Father succeeded John Taylor as President of the Branch of the Church, which position he held until May, 1861, when the family, with a tiny baby, scarcely two weeks old, moved west and prepared to cross the plains.

At Florence, Nebraska, Grandfather Stratford died and was buried.  Here, on June 25, 1861, they commenced their one thousand mile journey across the plains with an ox team in a company commanded by Homer Duncan.

Mother walked much of the way, and when night came and camp was made, she with the children would gather buffalo chips with which to build a fire for the preparation of the evening meal.  Day after day for about three months this program was carried out with little variation until September 15, 1861, the company landed in Salt Lake City.

The family soon moved to Farmington, where a siege of Mountain Fever attacked them.  Here a small log hut was erected, where they lived until 1864.  Then a move was made to Providence, CacheCounty.  Arriving at our new found home, another log cabin was built, and here poverty and sickness was our lot for some time.

A wheat bin occupied one end of this mansion and the balance of the room was used for family purposed.  It was here that four of the children were born.

All who were able had to assist in sustaining the family, and many times mother with the children, carried wood from the hills. During harvest time, after the fields had been cleared of grain, they secured permission to glean the fields of that which had been left scattered about.  The heads were picked up and when a sufficient quantity had been gathered, the grain was rounded out with a flail.  This is the way we secured wheat for our bread, mother grinding the grain in a coffee mill.  Before securing the mill the wheat was boiled whole with sage roots and eaten that way.

While at Providence mother came near dying of typhoid fever.  Here in the early sixties she also taught a school for girls, using that which she had learned as an apprentice at sewing.  A number of women, who were girls then, owe much to mother for the knowledge they have of needlecraft.

There were about us as many Indians as whites when we went to Cache Valley, and they were very annoying to the settlers.  They made it their business to come to the homes when the men were away and beg for food.  If their demands were not complied with, they would become very angry and ugly.  On one occasion, a number of them came to our house and tried to break in.  Mother, myself and smaller children were in the house, so when they came, mother locked the door.  The Indians, in order to open it, took screw s out of the lock, pushing the knob through into the room.  When they found this would not open the door, they left and proceeded to gather stones with which to break the door.  While they were on the outside of the fence picking up stones, we left for the nearest neighbors.  They returned but did no damage.  On another occasion a number of Indians came and demanded potatoes.  Mother told them we had none, one of them seized her by the arm and drew a revolver, but did not fire.

I wonder how the boys and girls of today would enjoy grinding wheat in a coffee mill before bread could be made, or grating corn on a tin grater, or sewing their clothes by the light of a tallow dip, sweetening food with molasses, eating lard and salt on bread instead of butter, and being constantly in fear of the Indians.  All of these experiences the family had while living at Providence.

After the grasshopper scourge, the family did a little better, but at no time while living in CacheValley were we able to live in anything but a log hut.

In the month of October 1872, we moved to Ogden where father had accepted a position of manager of a paper called “The Ogden Junction.”  The first winter here we lived in three small rooms on the old homestead.  Several years later, father organized the firm known as E. Stratford & Sons Furniture Dealers, which continued in business until father’s death in 1899.

Not many years after coming to Ogden, father was made Bishop of the 4th Ward, which position he held until the time of his death.  On January 4, 1879, seven years after coming to Ogden, the Relief Society of the 4th Ward was organized and mother was chosen as one of the counselors.  In this capacity she served until May 8, 1883, when she was sustained as President of the Relief Society.  For twenty-four years she occupied this position, and it was her desire to serve for a quarter of a century in this office, but owing to the increase responsibility and labor placed upon officers of the Relief Society and the fact that she was advanced in years, it was deemed advisable that she be released.  Therefore, on April 29, 1907, she was honorably released and a note of thanks tendered her for her long and useful service in this work.

The last seven years she spent principally at her home, and only on special occasions has she been off the grounds of the old homestead.  She is the mother of nine children all of whom are living and working in the various church organizations.  She has fifty-nine grandchildren, and thirty-two great grandchildren, and is now eighty-three years old herself.

Marianna’s granddaughter, Thalia, remembered her grandmother’s button box.  She said, “At that time, fancy buttons must have been very fashionable, because Grandma had a collection of fancy buttons.  A box maybe five times as large as a shoe box was full of big, beautiful buttons for children to play with.  Those buttons would keep us entertained for hours.  All the cousins have fond memories of Grandma’s button box.”

Marianna Crabb Stratford died September 26, 1919 in Ogden, Weber County, Utah.[ii]

[i] History originally listed December 25, 1855 as the marriage date, but the marriage record from England indicates that the marriage occurred on December 26, 1855.  Edwin Stratford-Marianna Crabb marriage, 26 December 1855, Register Office (Chelmsford District, EssexCounty), England.  Certificate supplied September 30, 2007 by General Register Office, England, Entry 177 for 1855.  Copy in the possession of Guy L. Black.

[ii] Vital Records, Cemetery, and Obituary Sources:  Birth Certificate:  No primary source found.  Secondary sources, including death certificate, grave marker, patriarchal blessing, and known histories of Marianna Crabb, all consistently indicate she was born December 6, 1831 in Danbury, Essex, England.  Marriage Record:  Edwin Stratford-Marianna Crabb marriage, 26 December 1855, Register Office (Chelmsford District, Essex County), England.  Certificate supplied September 30, 2007 by General Register Office, England, entry 177 for 1853.  Copy in the possession of Guy L. Black.  Death Certificate: Marianna Stratford, Death Certificate, State Board of Health File No. 373 (363 handwritten below and 1905154 is stamped on the certificate), Utah Department of Health, Office of Vital Records and Statistics, Salt Lake City, Utah.  Also available at: Marianna Stratford, Death Certificate, Series 81448, Entry 72022, Utah  State Archives Digital Collection, <> accessed 23 August 2007.  Electronic image in the possession of Guy L. Black.  Grave Location and Cemetery Directions:  Grave locations for Edwin Stratford and Marianna Crabb are:  Annex 17-16-1E and 2E in the Ogden City Cemetery.  The cemetery is located on north Side of 20th Street in Ogden, Utah, and runs west to east from Adams Avenue to Monroe Blvd.  The cemetery office is at 1875 Monroe Blvd (northeast corner of the cemetery).  Once inside the cemetery look for the corner of Martin St. and 6th Ave.  The gravesites are located slightly southeast of that street corner.  See <> for more information and a cemetery map.  Obituary:  No known obituary.