Susannah Catherine Knell Gillies history
Susannah Catherine knell, first child born to Robert and Mary Crook Knell on November 24th 1855 in Kaysville,
Davis County [Utah].
The extracts from Grandfather Knell's journal that Kay Palmer so wisely prepared for us tell of the Knell
family's move to Pinto in June of 1862. Mother was seven years old at this time and she well remembered this
When Johnson's Army was coming to Utah, grandfather was among those who left their homes. Mother often
told of this incident. as their covered wagon drawn by the ox team moved slowly along the hot, dusty, rutted
road they met a contingent of this army. Some fo the soldiers lifted the canvas to look into the wagon. She
remembered her terror and screams as she was so afraid they would harm her tiny new sister, Rhoda Ann, who
was just en days old.
Her life in Pinto was filled with the usual great demands required of all who lived in those rugged pioneer
days. She spent much of her time in the fields with Grandfather as she was the oldest and he needed her help.
But her stories of those days were always thrilling. The young people's contacts with Brother Joseph E. Eldridge
and others who had fine cultural backgrounds in Europe, instilled in them a heritage that was priceless to them
and to us, their children. There were choir practices for the approaching visits of President Young and other
dignitaries. Dramatics, elocution, debating were all parts of their activities. then there were quilting bees,
cording and spinning the wool for clothing, soap making, drying fruit and vegetables, and the very special
occasions when a new dress was to be made. All of these homely duties gave variety and set such meaningful
goals for each days accomplishments.
She loved to tell of a very special Sunday evening. It was in the spring when she was about eighteen years
old. She and a girl friend came to the door and grandmother was sitting in the dusk. She looked up and said
to mother, "Your Father has sent the wool to the mill in Beaver." Her heart stopped! What would she do all
summer with no cording or spinning to do?
Great anticipation was felt for the completion of the St. George Temple and she, Aunt Rhoda, and Grandmother
were among the first to work in it. Sister Rhoda says Mother worked two weeks for names of the Young family.
She had the privilege of attending school in Beaver parts of two years. She also taught school a year or two
as most girls did, if they had finished the eighth grade.
It was in Beaver that she met our Dad. He was Daniel Sin Clair Gillies born in New Castle-OnTyne, England
on May 3, 1849. His parents were from Scotland as the Gillies name indicates. Mother and Dad were married in
the St. George Temple March 27, 1877, by Erastus Snow. They made their first home in Beaver. Clara Jean, their
first child, was born in Pinto and Dan and Rhoda were born in Beaver.
Mother loved Beaver and when Dad decided that the fertile valley of Circleville afforded greater potentialities
for a home, she was broken hearted because of their leaving. They moved in April 1882.
In Circleville they acquired one hundred sixty acres of fine land in the very heart of that little town. It
is known on the deeds today as the Gillies Quarter section.
My source of information concerning their lives in Circleville comes from my sister Rhoda and my memory of
the stories mother told.
From 1878 to 1900, while living in Circleville, ten children were born to them, nine boys and then Una. Here
again she put forth the greatest efforts to meet her responsibilities. She was the first Relief Society President
when Circleville was a part of the Kingston ward. Kingston was living the United Order at that time. The hardships
and poverty that most of the people suffered were great and she shared her meager fare with many.
A 50 cent piece was dropped through a crack between two boards of the floor. It was left as a bit of security
until spring, then the board was taken up, the 50 cents retrieved and Brother Rone felt it was a terrible thing
that the last cent was spent for seeds. Those seeds provided the fine garden for which she was so well known.
Beside the garden path grew a sturdy dandelion, tall, with a huge golden head. As Dad raised the hoe to destroy
it, she caught his arm. He, in an emotional outburst said she would seed the whole place with dandelions. She said,
"No, I won't. It is picked each day before it goes to seed." Travelers told her she had the only flower garden
between Richfield and Panguitch. today in our Green River yard there is a lilac bush and four varieties of old
fashioned roses she brought from Circleville.
She was post-mistress in Circleville for more than seven years. A stranger came for mail one evening and he saw
the flock of children gathered around a table with books and slates and a tall, dignified lady helping them. When
he returned to his place of loading he asked if that lady was conducting a night school. She was always required
to read the Declaration of Independence on the Fourth of July program. She was the source for help in so many
fields, aid to the sick, wise counsel and a fine skill with the needle.
One night she was awakened by the sound being made by a precious mild cow in distress. Old Red was saved to
provide mild for that hungry brood.
How she longed for the finer things, a window sill deep enough for plants, a rag carpet with well planned colors,
a friend who knew something to talk about other than gossip and family problems.
An organ was provided for this growing family and Clara, Rhoda and Dad sang beautifully together. How she longed
for better advantages for her family.
She always said that when civilization caught up with Dad he moved. A terrible drought bore down upon Circleville
and the men were so discouraged. What should they do? Dad joined four men and they traveled to Green River to see
what it had to offer. There they found the largest river they had ever seen with fine soil stretching along it's
banks and a warm climate. Thundering trains were rushing by each hour and the little town teemed with oil well and
mining men all engaged in exploration activities, high on the wide open spaces. What more could they ask? This was
These men returned to Circleville and prepared to move their families to Utopia. Another heartache deeper, more
poignant than before engulfed her. Theirs was such a beautiful little farm. Her boys were at such impressionable
ages. How could she leave this bit of security?
Dan and his horse in Circleville
Thirteen long hard days they traveled and mother shed tears most of the way. They arrived on June 9th 1900.
A little cabin and a tent near the river was her home the first year. She often told me of the feeling of kinship
she had for the lonely morning dove she listened to all summer.
1901, the next summer, dropsy struck her down and she thought it was the end. She was fortyseven years old and
she knew she must not leave her big family. She recovered and carried on. Clara, Rhoda, and Dan were married.
A land boom struck Green River and the farm on the river was sold and plans were made to develop San Rafael ranch.
The rambling old house was built and her boys became railroaders.
Our dad died in December of 1909. We never knew the heart aches she suffered at this time. Her emotions were
always deeply hidden.
Through the years she had been "Mother", "Ma", or "Mama" to thirteen. Then in 1915 she and I went to Cedar City
to visit Grandfather. To my amazement she was Aunt Sue to a wonderful group of people, many of them my own age.
It was so nice to find you all liked her as your Aunt Sue and I know she loved you.
At that time we had traveled from Circleville to Cedar City in a car. The trip had taken four hours. She told
the boy driver to "just go on a jog-trot". Many times in the years to come it was natural for her to reach for
the lines when a driver stopped. She couldn't realize that that distance could be covered in less than two days.
Then came 1917-1918 and War! Her health was gone. It was difficult for her to work. What would the war mean to
her family of boys? Three were called to leave at the same time, Bruce, Dunc and Ebb. She bid them goodbye with
a smile on her face as they left to board the train. I unexpectedly returned to the house and found her slumped
in her chair, sobs wracking her body.
She knit for the Red Cross and received a special award from President Wilson. She raised a victory garden.
She wrote cheerful letters to her soldiers overseas. She said in her prayers, "It is up to you, Lord, if my boys
are to come home." They all came home and she could smile again.
The last seven years of her life she was confined to her chair. Her cheerfulness and keen interest in world
affairs amazed all who met her. Her suffering was never mentioned.
One of the last things she said to her family as they gathered about her bed was, "Don't change the principles
of the Gospel, stay true to them." She left us in July of 1931.
Her dear friend in Circleville said to me, "If I had been a jealous person Sue Gillies was the one person I would
have been jealous of because of her intelligence, integrity and wisdom."