These paintings of our ancestors are in the Daughters of the Utah Pioneers Museum in Salt Lake City, Utah; 2nd floor, south wall, above the display cases. L-R. Elizabeth Thompson Groesbeck, pioneer mother 1820-1883, presented by Nicholas G. Morgan (negative #1794). Nicholas Groesbeck, pioneer business man 1819-1884, painting presented by Nicholas G. Morgan (negative #1795), Helen M. Groesbeck Morgan, pioneer of 1856, painted by Roscoe A. Grover (negative #1863). John H. Morgan, pioneer of 1866, painted by Roscoe A. Grover (negative #1864. You may order copies of these pictures by contacting the Daughters of the Utah Pioneers Photo Department.
During her early life in Utah Elizabeth spun the yarn that made her children’s clothes. She made the dyes to dye the yarn, and practically every evening was devoted to knitting. Her hands were never idle. She was a member of the first Relief Society organized in the 17th Ward, and the first president of the Primary Association in the 17th Ward.
According to a granddaughter, Elizabeth was prone to say, the rich can take care of themselves, but the poor I delight in assisting.
She was noted for her great generosity. It was her custom to meet the immigration wagon trains at the old Immigration Square, where the City and County Building now stands [4th South and State Street]. She took food and clothing there for those without necessities. Sometimes she employed them as domestic help and companions for her children. She was instrumental in the emigration of a number of Saints into our country. One of them, Sarah Blood, became her daughter-in-law.
Elizabeth was a woman of intense religious convictions. And she was ever ready to defend them. She had no schooling, but learned to read the Bible and other church works.
She always wore her hair crimped but her family never saw her with the crimping pins in, nor did they see her face without it being powdered.
The floors of her home were covered with fine, English velvet carpets. The furniture was made of the old solid walnut of those days. Her finest china was imported from France and she enjoyed buying the very best silver, jewelry and glassware.
She had exquisite taste and her dresses were very distinguished. An immigrant that she met at Emigration Square, Miss Mary Hansen, was an exceptional dressmaker, and apparently made many of Elizabeth’s dresses.
One particular dress was made for the wedding of Priscilla Paul Jennings and William W. Riter, which took place in the early 1880s [Priscilla Paul Jennings married 11 Apr 1883, Endowment House, to William Wollerton Riter, familysearch]. Grandmother and her eldest daughter, Helen Melvina Groesbeck Morgan, assisted Mary Hansen in its completion.
The material is mainly heavy black satin over a foundation of heavy black lining. It is a two-piece costume, with a caught-up bustle effect at the back of the short train skirt. The skirt is decked with two draped flounces of satin trimmed black velvet, and edged with jet bead and chenille fringe. The velvet was purchased by Grandfather Groesbeck while in England. He paid $25.00 a yard for it. The back of the skirt is draped and caught into the side seams to give a tucked draped picture across the back. There is a short train which is lined with black lining laid into wide box pleats to hold the velvet train away from the feet and the floor.
The jacket is made with a shirred V-shape vest which extends to the waistline. It is edged with wide black lace. Open reverse of the jacket below the waistline are trimmed with a facing of black velvet. It is also edged with black lace around the bottom of the jacket. As grandmother always wore a watch and chain, there was a small velvet pocket placed at the left front side on the waistline for this purpose.
(To be continued.)
Pioneer Women of Faith and Fortitude, Daughters of the Utah Pioneers. Daughters of Utah Pioneers and their Mothers, Jas. T. Jakeman, p. 219, Heart Throbs of the West, vl. 8, p.44, Arzilla Smith, History of Elizabeth Thompson Groesbeck, DUP History Dept., by Barbara Rex Wade, Jan 28, 1999, sources family history by granddaughter Arzella Smith. Family portrait sheet from Helen Rex Frazier collection.