Catherine McCleve

Catherine McCleve, was born September 17, 1836, in Crawfordsburn, Down County, Ireland. She was the second child born to John McCleve and Nancy Jane McFerren. Her parents were married June 27, 1833. They had a family of nine children when the Latter-day Saint Missionaries brought them the Gospel of Jesus Christ. After holding meetings in their home for a while, the parents accepted the Gospel and were baptized in June 1841. When Catherine was fourteen she, with her sisters, Sarah, Margaret, and Mary Jane, were baptized in the Irish Sea, after dark on August 26, 1850.

After accepting the Gospel, the McCleve Family had a strong desire to come to America, the land of Zion. The father had a good job, but it would cost too much to take the whole family to America in one trip. It was for this reason the Elders advised them to send their two oldest daughters, Sarah and Catherine, on ahead and the rest of the family would follow as soon as they could save enough money.

On March 28, 1853 Sarah and Catherine sailed for America from Liverpool, England. After arriving in Utah Sarah married John Young on October 3, 1853. John Young was a brother to President Brigham Young. Catherine married Phineas Wolcott Cook on December 18, 1853.

The day Catherine married Phineas W. Cook, he also married Amanda Savage. Because Amanda was six weeks older than Catherine, she was the second wife and Catherine was the third. Phineas had previously married Ann Eliza Howland. They had several children at the time. Before he married Catherine and Amanda, President Young advised him to go into polygamy. He prayed over the matter and the Lord revealed the principle to him. They were married in the Endowment House in Salt Lake City.

On April 21, 1855 while living in Salt Lake City a son was born to Catherine in a house that was about a block east of the Eagle Gate. He was named Joseph Wolcott.

When Sarah and Catherine left their loved ones in Ireland in 1853 it was with the understanding that the rest of the family would follow as soon as they had the money to do so. After three years, they received word that the family was coming. The girls were both married and had children of their own. Sarah had two, Lydia and John McCleve Young, and Catherine had a son, Joseph Wolcott. They looked forward with great anticipation to seeing their family. The McCleves were anxious to see their daughters and husbands and their first grandchildren. The family was with the Second Handcart Company. On September 24, 1856 when the Handcart Company was within two days travel of their destination, the father was severely injured in a handcart accident. After suffering greatly for a few hours he passed away and was buried on the bank of the Weber River.

When Catherine's son was two years old Phineas moved his family south to Payson. It was at this time that Catherine divorced her husband. Catherine and her son lived with some of Catherine's family who were also in Payson and later with others who had moved to southern Utah near Harrisburg.

In the fall of 1862, Catherine married a man by the name of David Dudley Russell. Russell had no home of his own so the family lived in rented houses in Payson and Salem, which was then called Pontown. In the spring of 1865 Russell moved his family, with several other families, south to Salina just as the Blackhawk Indian war broke out.

Early one morning in April Catherine went up the steps of her dugout where they were living and heard a man from across the street call out, "Into the house, women and children, the Indians are on us!" She looked to the East, and there they came - a dozen or two of them, some on horses but mostly on foot. The town sheepherder had just passed with the herd and was hardly out of sight, when she heard the guns fire that killed him. They killed several others in the attack and drove off the cattle. The Indian attacks continued and soon teams from the northern settlements came and moved the people north. The Russells returned to Payson.

In the fall of 1868 Catherine's husband went to Henefer, Utah and worked in the timber, making ties for the Union Pacific Railroad, which was then building through Echo and down Weber canyon. He returned to Payson for his family and the next year moved them to Henefer. At the time of the move Catherine had three more children, Hannah Jane, David Riley and Margaret. The latter was only a few months old. She lost a little girl named Sarah Catherine Russell in the fall of 1867 making a total of four children born to Catherine and David.

In November 1869, Catherine became very ill. Her son Joseph recalled that she was out of her head and seemed to have a high fever. There were no doctors in the country so her husband made preparations to move her south. He fixed up a bed in a covered wagon and put Catherine and the children, and what few things that could be hauled, into the wagon and started for Salt Lake City. They were two days and part of the night on the way. The weather was extremely cold. They stopped in Salt Lake a day or so at Catherine's sister's (Sarah Young) home, then with the same outfit they again started south. At American Fork, they stopped a day or two at a friend's place. While there, Catherine spoke her last sensible words. Her son Joseph was at her bedside and she said to him, "Joseph, would you be a good boy and help take care of my children?" Joseph promised her that he would. After being there a day or so, David piled Catherine and the children in the same rig and they reached Spanish Fork about dark. Catherine died that evening at the home of her sister, Isabell Mott, On December 19, 1869 at the age of 33. She was buried in the Payson cemetery.


Thanks to Don Cook for submitting this history.