Kings Somborne W.I. met on 11th May with the President Sarah Pennington in the Chair.
The evening started with a short business meeting during which we heard about the adventures of eight members who had just returned from the Hampshire W.I. holiday to Norfolk.
‘New Forest to Salt Lake City’ was the title of a most interesting talk then given to the Institute by Mrs Gill Southwell who spoke about her great great grandfather, George Light , and his brother who were converted to Mormonism by a missionary who lived in their New Forest village and had emigrated to America to live at the centre of their faith in Salt Lake City.
In 1852 George and his brother, with their wives, sailed from Liverpool in a Mormon boat and arrived in New Orleans ten weeks later. During the voyage George’s brother`s wife died after child birth and the baby died six weeks later when they were on the second stage of their journey sailing up the Mississippi river to join the wagon trail to Salt Lake City. The trail first crossed the prairies and then the Rockies, pilgrims had to walk beside their loaded wagons 13 miles a day for over three months to reach their goal and Joseph’s wife gave birth to their first daughter two days after they arrived.
The families set up their homes and cultivated their land but had to follow the teachings of the Mormon faith. They had to gift 10% of any earnings to the church, complete certain tasks allocated to them and agree with the policy of polygamy. Soon the time came when (partly due to financial and other difficulties in the Church) families that were less committed to following the strict rules were expelled from the church and later records show that George and his family then returned to the New Forest and joined the Church of England. Meanwhile his brother remarried and lived in California.
Throughout her tales of the journey Gill added many interesting facts about the history and tenets of Mormonism and introduced us briefly to many other members of her family including one who was hanged for murdering his mother in the 1930s!
A most informative and entertaining talk !
Before going home members were encouraged to support the Jubilee Market on Friday 4th June and to note that our visit to Rookley Farm on 8th June will start at 7.00pm with an introductory talk and be followed by a tractor and trailer drive round the farm.