Jessie Bell Stirling Pack Written by Wanda Pack Clayton for D.U.P., January 1958
Yes, I remember Grandma Pack. She was a small woman, with the loveliest blue eyes I have ever seen—eyes always sparkling with good humor and friendliness. Those little black pioneer bonnets, with lots of ribbon—they were made for women like Grandma Pack, and she always wore one, as well as a black-fringed cape.
I remember well those winter afternoons when I was yet too young to go to school. My older sisters would be away at school, and my mother and I would watch to see that familiar figure coming down the road. Her home was in West Bountiful, Utah, about a mile from our place, but she walked up to see us and home again nearly every day, even when her age was 70-plus. Very often she would have walked to Bountiful first, another mile each way, to do a little shopping before coming to our place.
She had a large black purse with a gold clasp opening. When she would come in the house, I could hardly wait for her to open that purse and give me a handful of jellybeans. Somehow, there was always a paper sack of them in that purse. She called them “pigs,” and as children, we would make “pig pens” for them out of clothes pins and be pleasantly occupied for some time before giving in to the temptation to eat the “pigs.”
The picture I have in my mind of Jessie Bell Stirling Pack, my father’s mother, in her later years, is a picture of contentment and cheerfulness and the gift of enjoying life. These traits I know, now, were a great blessing to her, for without them her life could have become a little lonely and a little sad.
She was born in Scotland in 1845. Altho her whole family were converted to the L.D.S. church and became devoted members, Jessie Bell was the only one to come to Utah at the time she came. She was a girl of 16 and came with 800 other converts. The hazards of that journey are told in another history.
Ward Pack was assistant Captain of the company in which she travelled to Salt Lake, and Jessie Bell had great admiration for him. It was quite natural, then, that upon arrival in the valley she should go into his home as a helper for his wife, Laura. Jessie Bell says, in her own words, “Ward Pack was assistant Captain, but before we got in here, Ward asked me to come and stay with them—with Aunt Laura and him— and I came and stayed with them at his little house on the corner. While I was there, John Pack, Ward’s father, came to see the family and to see this girl who was staying with them, and in the spring he said he would like to get someone to help his wife with the cows, etc. And I went over to Kamas to work for him that summer. I had left all my people in the old country, you see. Later I married John Pack.”
And so this girl of 17 was married to a man many years her senior; in fact, he had many children older than she. Jessie Bell Stirling was either his fifth and sixth wife.
John Pack was a substantial citizen in the community. He had been one of the first five men in the valley. The first university in Salt Lake was in his home, and he figured prominently in early Utah history. Here, then, was security for my grandmother and a chance to raise a family in the church she loved so much.
Her husband established a home for her in West Bountiful, and there she raised their seven children. When John Pack died, the children were still quite young, but thru her industry and that of her five sons, they were able to maintain themselves on the farm they owned. My father was 15 years of age when his father died. He was very devoted to his widowed mother and was a great help to her for the next 20 years, not marrying, himself, till he was past 35 years old.
The testimony she had of the truthfulness of the gospel that first brought Jessie Bell Stirling to Utah never wavered throughout her life. I still remember her telling me about one time when her prayers were surely answered. She had lost a small coin purse containing a $5 gold piece. This, of course, was a considerable amount of money to her, and she needed it very badly. That night she prayed about it and in the morning, she said, she knew right where it was, for she had seen it in a dream. She went outside down the walk from her house to the road, and there on a little bridge over an irrigation stream, was, indeed, her lost purse, completely covered with fallen autumn leaves.
Yes, I do remember Grandma Pack, and she did have a good and happy influence on me when I was young. I am happy to recall these incidents of her life and record them with what else has previously been written of her life.