Eliza Jane Hancock Perkins    -- Mini Bio




                                                     Eliza Jane Hancock Perkins

Eliza Jane Hancock “Janey” was born 28 Mar. 1864 at Harrisburg, Utah (not farm from St. George).  Her parents were Mosiah Lyman Hancock and Margaret McCleve.  She was the sixth of thirteen children born to this couple.  Her birth occurred just 17 years after the first pioneers arrived in Utah, and during the depths of the American Civil War.

Her early life was filled with the constant worry of mere survival in the harsh environment of the desert of southern Utah; her teenage years were filled with worries of all the miners coming into the area in search of gold and young girls; and then the persecution of the Mormon polygamists by the US Government, one of which was her father, Mosiah.  Jane tells a part of her own story, as follows:

“We moved from Harrisburg, Utah to Leeds, when I was six years old.  My father set out an orchard and vineyard here.  Father went out to Moen Copi Village (AZ) and brought back some pits from there.  They produced lovely clingstone peaches.  He got those before I was born and we had some of the loveliest peaches I ever ate.  Those were some of my happiest evenings, when I would go down in the orchard and load my arms with those peaches and lovely grapes that father raised for us to eat.  I would go upstairs to our little room and lie on the bed and eat fruit. 

“But times change.  When I was about twelve the miners began to come in among us, and father became worried about his daughters and began to look for a safer place for them.  He decided to take us over to Long Valley for a time to see how he and the “Order” (United Order) would jibe.  We only stayed through the summer, but when we left, our older sister stayed there.  She (Margaret Clarissa Hancock) went to St. George Temple and was married to Joseph Fackrell before we went back to our home in Leeds.  After we reached home, sister Rebecca was born.  It was a trial for mother to leave our sister when she so badly needed her help, but we got through the winter an next summer all right…

“Father had gone to Arizona {on account of the persecutions in Utah of the polygamists}.  The next Fall, father sent for his family…

“We sold our home and lots for a team and wagon.  Then sold our field for another team and wagon, and we had several head of cows.  Father met us on Buckskin Mountain, but the boys had loaded the team so heavily they almost gave out and (the boys) began to drop tables and furniture along as they went up the mountain. 

“We left Leeds the second day of November and drove into Taylor, Arizona the first day of January (1880).  There came almost two feet of snow on the ground after we got to Taylor, and the creek was frozen over so we could cross on the ice with our wagons.  Our cows and horses all died that winter in the cold and with no feed.  Mother saved one little heifer that she petted around and fed the peelings and scraps to.  She lived, and from her mother got a start of cows, and that summer mother raised a good garden of green beans and potatoes. 

“Father had made a dug-out, or hole in the ground, which we lived in for a while.”  [Actually, this was a horizontal digging into the bank of Silver Creek that flowed through the town.  It was in this mud room where they spent their first winter in Taylor.]  “One day mother had gone to help her brother, Joseph McCleve, take care of his meat and earn a little meat for her family while he was butchering an animal.  My brother, Levi—just younger than I, and I were home alone.  He became hungry so I made him some pancakes out of corn meal and water.  I didn’t even have any salt to put in them.

“One evening while I as caring for my older sister’s children, a young man with blue eyes and dark curly hair walked up the path in the moonlight and asked me if I would care to go to a party with him.  H is name was Reuben Perkins, and he later became my husband. 

“In August, of that year (1880), my sister Annie was born.  My brothers got work in the sheep camp and worked for one dollar per day.  That helped mother and the children.  Father had gone to Utah and couldn’t help us much.  The next summer the Indians broke out and the men and boys had to get out and guard the town.  My brother, his intended wife, and myself and my intended husband, were all expecting to go to St. George, Utah to get married.  We couldn’t get cloth nor thread to sew with.  We finally got some size 90 thread.  They got the Indians under control, and father came from Utah and brought me a bolt of muslin that I made into underclothes.”

Jane and Reuben were married in the St. George Temple on Nov. 2nd, 1881.  They raised a family of 13 children, all of whom grew to adulthood.  Their oldest child was a daughter, Rhoda Jane Perkins, born Oct. 12th, 1882 in Taylor, AZ.  They spent most of their time near Taylor, but homesteaded a place about twenty miles to the west that was originally called Perkins Springs (but today is called Clay Springs, AZ).  They were a very kind and close family.  Reuben died in 1919 and Jane spent her remaining years helping her children to raise their families, and also working in the Mesa Temple.  She died at about age 76, on Jan. 4th, 1941 in a car wreck near Tucson, AZ.  She had gone on a weekend trip into Mexico with her daughter, Rhoda and her husband Ira Wakefield.  Jane was buried in Taylor.