Pioneers in our families: From the Welsh coal mines to Bountiful’s farmland

Jane Anne Morgan Lewis’ home served as a railroad rest stop for many travelers over the decades

Some Latter-day Saints have pioneer ancestors going back almost 200 years. Other Church members are themselves the pioneers in their families. In the weeks surrounding Pioneer Day July 24 — the annual celebration of the first wagon company entering the Salt Lake Valley — Church News staff members share stories of pioneers in their families, some from the 1800s and some from the 1900s. This is the 19th in the series.

One year after they were married, Jane Anne Morgan Lewis, who is my fourth-great-grandmother, and her husband, Enoch Lewis, were baptized in a well on their family property in Swansea, Wales, in 1849.

Nellie Duncan Amott, Martha Jane Lewis, Jane Anne Morgan Lewis and Maxine Amott.
Nellie Duncan Amott, Martha Jane Lewis, Jane Anne Morgan Lewis and Maxine Amott — four generations of Jane Anne’s family. | Darlene Amott on

Enoch’s family was in the coal industry. Jane Anne’s was in the railroad industry. In a way, the families’ work supported each other. The two were among many in their families to join The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints around that time. They emigrated with other family members across the Atlantic Ocean, then across North America’s Great Plains to Utah in 1856. The journey lasted six months. 

Jane Anne and Enoch settled in Bountiful, Utah. It would be more than a decade before railways would arrive, and mining wasn’t an option where they lived. So Jane Anne took up baking, and Enoch took up gardening. 

Proud of his wife’s baking skills, Enoch was reported to have said, “My wife’s bread is better than most women’s cake,” according to their granddaughter, Leone Amott Rose. 

Enoch was keen to talk about politics and religion. Jane Anne was prim and proper. Following Enoch’s death at age 76, Jane Anne sold her baked goods, jams and flowers out of their home near the train station that now ran through Bountiful. She baked bread through the final week of her life in 1912. 

As I read their stories, I kept waiting to see the challenges they overcame. But they didn’t write about them. Enoch was thankful to have joined the Church and have the “great blessing and privilege” of “coming to Zion.” 

Thinking on their journey, I felt that perhaps what I needed to learn from Jane Anne and Enoch was a lesson of joyful obedience. They didn’t complain. They accepted the gospel, left comfortable lives, crossed an ocean and a continent, they learned new skills, they raised a family, they acted with exact obedience. 

And I am one of hundreds of descendants whose life has been blessed by the gospel of Jesus Christ because they were willing to do everything they were asked once they joined the Church.  

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Pioneers in our families: Church News staff shares stories of their families’ pioneers
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