From all I can gather, William Lindsay was the straightest of arrows, a saint. In an attempt to keep his experiences accessible, I'm dedicating a few years of research into William Lindsay and putting it on this blog. Please sign the guestbook. I'd love for this to be a gathering place for discussion on the man and his family.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Father: William Geddes Lindsay

Photos from the William Lindsay Autobiography.
Please let me know if you have a better version of these

Born: Wanlockhead, Scotland. May 15, 1820.

Parents: Robert McQueen Lindsay and Elizabeth Geddes

Christening: ?

Married: Christina Howie - July 19 (or May 14?*) 1844. Coylton Parish *May 14 from HBUM, July 19th from W.L account below

Children: 9 (7 boys, 2 girls)

Occupation: Coal Miner (sinking shafts and opening up coal mines) ,

Conversion: April 3, 1847 (Baptism), April 1, 1847 (confirmation) *according to LDS Church temple records

Death: October 17, 1961 Bonnyton mine near Kilmarnock, Scotland.

Cause: Mining cave in
Burial: St. Andrews Churchyard, Kilmarnock, Scotland


Wanlockhead 1820-1832
Ayrshire (somewhere near Craighall) 1832-1844
Gatehead (1844-1845-6
Chapehall near Airdrie in Lanarkshire (1847-1848)
Hudson bridge (1849)
Plelland near Tarbolton (1851)
Craighall (1853)
Thornton Row (1858-1861)
Kilmarnock (1861)

View William Geddes Lindsay Family Sites in a larger map

1860 map showing Thornton Row, Crosshouse, Gatehead, Kilmarnock and Bonnyton
click on map to enlarge)
Source: http://www.old-maps.co.uk/maps.html (This is where I confirmed a lot of the town's locations that no longer exist)

Early life and Marriage

...Robert McQueen Lindsay and his family moved into Ayrshire probably about 1832, where he and his eldest son, William, engaged in sinking shafts and opening new coal mines. While working there William got acquainted with a young woman who was a dairy maid at one of the farm houses whose name was Christina Howie and in due time they were married at Coylton parish church, July 19, 1844. This I learned from the parish records in Edinburgh some time since.
Coylton Parish Church
Source: Phil Williams.
She was born at Craighall July 3, 1823 and had lived near there all her life up to that time. Her parents names were William Howie and Jane Blackwood; highly respectable people of the working class and their work was on farms, tilling the soil and attending to the horses and cows, and usually a few sheep were kept on each farm...On account of changes in the work and wages of the coal miners they changed and moved from place to place quite often, seeking better pay or better working conditions.

Source: A Brief History of William Lindsay and His Wife and Family. From "The Life and Time of Robert Lindsay, 1845-1911"
Mormon Conversion
From there they moved to a place called Chapehall, near Ardrie in Lanarkshire and while living there their second son was born on the 11th of February, 1847. It was probably while living here that they came into contact with the Mormon Elders. I have heard my father say he attended a meeting held by a Mormon Elder named Crandel Dunn and that he attended that meeting for the purpose of showing this Elder wherein he was wrong. But he listened attentively to his preaching and soon became convinced that the elder was preaching the Gospel exactly as Christ and his Apostles preached it as set forth in the New Testament. Therefore he could not gainsay it. So it came to pass that in April 1848, Grandfather and Grandmother Lindsay and all their family were baptized as members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, including William Lindsay and his wife Christina Howie and all became active, earnest workers in the Church with the exception of James, who had enlisted in the British Army and was then in South Africa, and he too, found an Elder in that country and was baptized when he learned that the rest of the family had all been baptized into the Church.

While the Lindsay family all joined, our Mother, Christina Howie, was the only one of the Howie family to join the Church at that time. Soon after William Lindsay’s baptism he was ordained an Elder and used to go out on the streets and preach the Gospel to people in the neighborhood of his home. He also in time acted as President of at least two branches, one at the town of Ayr and also at Stewarton; and he was very prompt and faithful in attending to all his duties in the Church as long as he lived. He even, when President of the Ayr branch, had to walk ten miles there and ten miles back attending the meetings but he felt it was his duty and he did it regularly.

For some cause, however, they moved back into Ayrshire before our brother James’s birth, which took place on the 17th of February, 1849, at a place called Hudson Bridge, near Kilmarnock in Ayrshire. I think it was while living near Kilmarnock that mother was baptized by John Lyon, the poet, and a prominent man in the Church.

Source: A Brief History of William Lindsay and His Wife and Family. From "The Life and Time of Robert Lindsay, 1845-1911"
My parents were both religiously inclined as nearly all of the Scotch people were at that time. But early in the year 1847 the Mormon Elders came into the part of Scotland father went to hear them preach thinking he was able to show them wherein they were wrong but Crandell Dunn the Mormon Elder opened up the scriptures in a way that surprised him & at the close of the meeting father could see that Mormonism was strictly in accord with the Bible...

So in May 1848 my parents were baptized & both became very zealous & earnest workers in the church & both continued true & faithful to the end of their lives. Father held the office of an Elder & was President of the Ayr branch of the church & preached as a local Elder on the streets of Kilmarnock & other places & was always ready to bear testimony to the truth of the Gospel & to defend its doctrines. And for that reason he was scoffed at & scorned by his work mates.

Source: Autobiography, Pg 268


The next move they made was to a farm house named Plelland (?), Near Tarbolton. Father was working at a mine some four or five miles off and could not be at home and while mother and the rest of the family were living in this out-of-the-way place our dear mother gave birth to twin boys. This was on March 4, 1851. Father had, however, engaged an old lady to come and care for mother at the time of her confinement, which she did and mother and the twins got along wonderfully well considering everything. The twins were named Samuel and George and not long after their birth father got the family moved to Brnbrae, near where he and grandfather were sinking a new shaft, and we were all happy to be together again.

I can remember we had scarcely enough to eat when living at Plelland (?) and perhaps not much to wear either. It was hard times for some cause. We soon moved again, this time to Craighall, where our good brother George died and was buried in St. Quin Churchyard, and brother Andrew was born on April 14, 1853. And it was while here that the men working in the mine with father, on account of pure prejudice on account of his being a Mormon, called a meeting and decided to have father discharged. A committee waited on the mine owner and stated their case. Mr. Dixon asked if Mr. Lindsay had interfered with any of them in any way and they admitted he had not but he was one of those Mormons and they would not work in a mine where he was. “Well,” said Mr. Dixon, “I have noticed that Mr. Lindsay is one of the best miners in the mine. He is steady and dependable and can be trusted to do any kind of a job in the mine and I am not going to discharge him just because he is a Mormon. You men work or quit, just suit yourselves but Mr. Lindsay can work anyhow.” So, of course, the men went back to work and were a little more careful in their actions towards the Mormon.

Our father being a very steady man, always sober and dependable, always had the respect of the managers of the mines and the better class of the miners. But we boys had to stand the scoffs and scorn of the more ignorant class of men and boys; sometimes hard to bear.

One little circumstance I will relate. When the men called at the office to get their pay, as each man’s name was called he stepped up to the office window and his pay was handed out to him. Father’s name was usually called among the first. One time he was not there when his name was called. An ignorant fellow named Lindsay answered. “The Mormon Lindsay’s not here but I’m here.” Mr. Gilmour said, “Well, even if he is a Mormon, he’s a much better man than you are.”

Father used to tell us boys to seek no quarrel with any of the boys and be sure not to try to abuse them in any way and if they try to abuse you, defend yourselves the best you can and then if you can’t maintain your rights, report to me and I will see that you get justice. But don’t ask me to interfere if you can get anything like fair play. So, of course, we learned to stand up for our rights when quite young in a coal mine.

Wages were very small and father’s family kept increasing so it took practically all we could to make ends meet when we all had regular work and all were well and able to work. Father tried hard to save a few shillings to put in the emigration fund in the hope that some of the family would be able to come to Utah and in time send for those who were left behind. But very little could be spared for that purpose. Finally, we moved right into the town of Kilmarnock early in 1861 and worked in a coal mine near the town.
Source: A Brief History of William Lindsay and His Wife and Family. From "The Life and Time of Robert Lindsay, 1845-1911"

Kilmarnock Cross, 1840.
[My parents] had quite a hard struggle to support their large family as wages were yery low never more than one dollar per day & yery often much less.

...my father took a contract to open up a coalmine and as there was a great amount of water to contend with he needed some one continually to dip the water into a water wagon & take it away so the men could work without being right in the water. So he decided to take Robert & I out of school just while this job was on as he could not afford to hire & of course it was expected that we would get back to school as soon as the job was done. So of course we went in the mine. When that job was finished, the mine was opened up father could see that we could by his working a little harder be a great help to him as the two of us could take away the coal in 
the little cars or hutches as we called them. The family was getting larger & he needed more means to support them. So of course we were kept at work in the mine & that finished our education as far as school was concerned.

It was very much against our parents wishes that us boys had to go in the mines so very young but circumstances were such that it could not be helped. I have often seen the tears in my Dear Mothers eyes as she used to get us up & help us get dressed to go to the mine early in the morning usually before daylight in winter time & we seldom got home till after dark. So were sure glad when the Sabbath day came around & we could go to meeting even if we had to walk about 3 miles to get there. It was a great deal easier & more pleasant than going to the mine which was very hard work for boys as well as men. We were usually so tired we were glad to go to bed as soon as could after coming home. This will give an idea of our condition which continued up to the time we came to Utah.

Source: Autobiography, Pg 268, 270

I want to say right here that I was born of goodly parents. Although of the poorer class they were strictly honest & very hard working industrious people. As I have good reason to believe their forefathers also were highly respectable people. From my own observations & all I can learn from history the Scottish people for generations back have been noted for their strict honesty in business. Their love of liberty & religion & their love of country. It thrilled my heart when as a boy only ten or 12 years of age I read a book my father bought for me entitled the Life of Sir William Wallace...

Source: Autobiography, pg 267

Rare days off of work

I only remember 2 occasions that we got off from work to visit for a day or so away from home. One time the whole family went on the train to Dumfries where Burns died & was buried. I sat in his chair & visited his grave.

Another time father took Robert & I with him to Wanlockhead where he was born. We visited at the home of Thomas Dalziel whose wife was my father's aunt. They seemed to be very honest good people & quite religious. Every evening or especially Sunday evening they read a chapter from the Bible sang a hymn & had prayers. Similar to the description given by Burn's in the Cotter's Saturday night. A very fine custom in my opinion & worthy to be emulated. Us boys had a splendid time while there for only one day. Our cousin Wm Dalziel went with us over the heather hills gathering blueberries and visiting the lead mines. While there I first saw galena ore.

The people of the village were practically all related to each other most of the families having lived there for generations back. There is no growth of heather in Scotland only on the higher hills.

Source: Autobiography, pg 271-2

Soon after his father was baptized, he was ordained an elder and presided over the Ayr Branch of the Church. Every Sunday they walked three miles to church and three miles back, and the mother often carried a little child fastened on her back with a shawl. William Lindsay, Sr., had a great desire to raise his family properly, and to bring them to Utah to help build Zion.

Source: James and Mary Murray Murdoch Family History, pg114

Church Service
...Father Mother & all the family were very punctual in attending meetings & we had Elders come to visit at our home. I was baptized by my father when eight years of age. And I have went with him at times on the Sundays when he went to different places to preach the Gospel on the streets. We were taught the principles of the Gospel in our home by example & by precept.

Source: Autobiography, pg 271

My father was a very examplary man. Not a man of many words but always ready to do his part in whatever he deemed to be his duty. He had a great desire to come to Utah & to get his family here also. He was saving every penny possible for that purpose for sometime before he lost his life in a coalmine at Kilmarnock Ayrshire Scotland leaving his dear wife a widow & his 8 children without his loving care. This was a terrible blow to us all especially our Dear Mother...

Source: Autobiography, pg 269
No man was better respected and loved by those who really knew him. John Lyon, the poet said, “He was a man in whom there was no guile.” A kind and considerate husband to our Dear Old Mother and a very affectionate and patient father to his children.

Source: A Brief History of William Lindsay and His Wife and Family. From "The Life and Time of Robert Lindsay, 1845-1911"


By this time there were four of us boys working in the mines – James and I were mates and Robert and Sam made a team to push the coal cars and things seemed to be going along smoothly when the 17th day of October, 1861, our dearly loved father was accidentally killed by a large stone falling on him while at work in the mine.

Brother James and I were working with him taking the coal away in the little cars. We were the last to see him alive and were gone with our car of coal about half an hour and came back to find him dead. Of course, we were almost frantic in our endeavors to get the stone removed but it was impossible, even when we ran to other parts of the mine and got men to come and help remove the stone, they were some time in getting him out from under it.

That was a sad and sorrowful day for us and especially for our dear Mother, who, with him, had been hopefully looking forward to the time when he and all the family might at some future time have the blessed privilege of coming to Zion and making our home. The last words our Dear Father said to James and I when we left him alive and well were, “Pitch in boys and help me all you can for I have not long to be with you.” I believe he had in mind his expected coming to Utah in the spring of 1862, when he intended to come and bring James with him and leave Robert and I to support the family until he could send for us. Of course, the men got his body and took it to our home.

What a sad home coming that was. He had left home that morning well and strong and full of hope and cheer for the future. Now all our hope seemed blasted forever. A few of our friends came to our aid and did all they could to cheer and comfort us and prepare his body for burial.
He was buried in St. Andrews Churchyard in the town of Kilmarnock, Ayrshire, Scotland.

Source: A Brief History of William Lindsay and His Wife and Family. From "The Life and Time of Robert Lindsay, 1845-1911"
As before stated he was instantly killed by a large stone falling on him Oct. 17th 1861. And Dear Mother's words came true as by the aid of the Church we were brought here in the spring & summer of 1862. Of course we boys Robert, Myself, James, & Samuel still had to work in the mine all that winter & do all we could to support the family while in Scotland working with other men as none of us were able to dig coal so we pushed the little cars of coal from where the coal was dug to where it was sent to the surface up the shaft & got a small amount of pay for that labor. At the time of father's death a few good true friends came to our aid & did all they could to help & comfort us in our sore affliction & our Dear Father was laid in his silent grave in St. Andrew's Kirkyard in the town of Kilmarnock & we were left without his loving care & wise counsel to guide us. Our home where peace love and happiness reigned supreme was turned to one of real sorrow & mourning. But our Dear Mother was strengthened for the trial & was made equal to the task that devolved upon her & us boys did all we could to help her. So we managed to get along fairly well considering the sad change in our affairs.

Mr. Ostler the mine boss took a kindly interest in our welfare & in some instances prevented some of the larger boys in the mine from abusing us & did all he could to get us work along with men who would treat us fairly in what we earned. My brother James & I had been working with father & only left him for about half an hour to take our car of coal to where it would be sent up the mine & returned to find him lying dead under a large stone. Of course we were in a frenzy of excitement & we had to go to other parts of the mine to get men to remove the stone & get his body taken home to our sorrowful home.

Source: Autobiography, pg, 269
The Millenial Star was published in England for the Latter-day saints and reported William Lindsay's death on October 17, 1861 calling him "a faithful man and much respected by all who knew him." [as editor, was this written by George Q. Cannon?]

The mine he died in was the Bonnyton in the area of Kilmarnock. He was buried in St. Andrew's churchyard in Kilmarnock.

Source: Janice Lindsay Lloyd photograph, taken around 1960.

As William Geddes Lindsay was a known Mormon in the community and given some animosity towards the religion, the family had a hard time securing a plot in the city cemetery. His brother in law, John Hughes, then allowed his body to buried in a plot that he owned (citation needed, I read this somewhere but cannot find it again).

Crandall Dunn

This posts allows descendants to eulogize the missionary, Crandall Dunn, that drastically altered the life course of the William Geddes Lindsay family.

Crandall (Crandell) Dunn served in England and Scotland for 5 years (1846-1851) alongside his wife. He was missionary responsible for converting William Geddes Lindsay (see conversion details here) and his family. [However, William Geddes' brothers, sister and parents also joined and I'm uncertain who joined first.]

Dunn's patriarchal blessing was received on 16 October 1841 from Hyrum Smith and a copy exists.

Dunn's European edition of the Doctrine and Covenants is in the possession of the LDS Church with bound in brown morocco with wavy patterned endsheets.

Source: Descriptive Bibliography of the Mormon Church Item 442

Also, Dunn's diary exists, which is in the possession of LDS Church Archives.

Dunn's preaching style is perhaps best capture in the proselytizing tract that he prepared entitle To the Seeker's of the Kingdom of God (copy available in the L. Tom Perry Special Collections at BYU) It is uknown whether William Geddes Lindsay received this actual tract.

Dunn notes in his diary that he composed To Seekers of the Kingdom of God on June 28 and 29—midway through his stay in Edinburgh, about seven months before he left Great Britain to return to America. A proselytizing tract intended to convince the unconverted of the validity of the Mormon message, it consists largely of biblical quotations leading to the conclusion on the fourth page that Jesus is the king of the kingdom of heaven, that apostles are the officers of the kingdom and the gospel is its laws, that this gospel is faith, repentance, baptism by immersion for the remission of sins, and the laying on of hands for the gift of the Holy Ghost, and that miraculous signs follow those who have obeyed the gospel. Nowhere does the tract mention the Latter-day Saints; one knows it is a Mormon piece only because of Dunn’s name at the end. Thus it is the reciprocal of Orson Pratt’s series the Kingdom of God (items 373–86): terse, without philosophical argument, and without reference to the Saints.

Source: Descriptive Bibliography of the Mormon Church Item 497

Crandall Dunn and his wife Mary Ann are buried in Box Elder County.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Sources of information

Almost all my information for William Lindsay came from the following sources:

The Autobiography

The autobiography is publicly available at the BYU special collections, and I believe that the Church History Archives as well as the Utah State Historical Society have versions as well.

Utah Digital Newspapers (The Wasatch Wave)

This was a great resource that brought out some details about William Lindsay that weren't necessarily in the autobiography including some poetry, the descriptions of the many social events that William and Mary Lindsay were a part of.

The James and Mary Murray Murdoch Family History

This book is the work of a lot of people committed in the Murdoch Family History organization. It is widely available, either through the digital .PDF version available on CD from the above link, or hardbound, or in a newly released paperback version.

How Beautiful Upon the Mountains

An extensive history over 1100 pages, this book was published in 1963 and Unfortunately is out of print and thus expensive to purchase. Hopefully soon there can be a searchable e-version. It is such a valuable resource. It seems that almost anyone who even passed through Wasatch County has a biography written about them therein. I might be exaggerating, but it has been that useful, with a lot of pictures.

Utah State Historical Society Website

This has been a great place to see photos from the day and get better context of the times. There were some documents as well that I found through this site.

Family History Archives

This is a great site to look up family history books generated by other families, some of which have information or photos that our particular branch of the family hadn't seen before.


William Lindsay met Mary Mair soon after her arrival from Scotland at the home of John Murray Murdoch in the fall of 1866.

I became quite interested in them especially in the girl of which I shall have much to say as I write the story of my life.

Source:Autobiography pg 283

The following is William Lindsay's description of Mary when he first met her:
"Mary was then fourteen years of age, and she attracted my attention more than any other girl I had seen, and I visited her quite often. She had been ill crossing the plains, but soon got well and strong and was a very fine looking girl. Her cheeks were red, her eyes blue gray, and her hair was a very light yellow. And above all, she had a smiling face and a kindly sociable disposition, and a winning way that won my heart, and I seemed to win hers. There were two or three suitors who tried to win her affection, but they gave it up as they saw I was her choice. We were very happy in each other's company always, which in time, was very frequent; at meetings, Sunday School, dances, concerts and theaters. She had to work at different homes to earn her living and I used to visit her there at times. We never had any lover's quarrels as some do. Of course, I had to go off at times to work here and there, but I always got a welcome home from Mary."

Source:(The James and Mary Murray Murdoch Family History, page 113-114) *where did this originally come from, not found in journal

One of those times he had to work "here and there" was the entire summer of 1868 returning halfway across the plains to pick up fellow Mormon immigrants who could ride the railway as far as Rawlings, Wyoming. William had been dating Mary prior to leaving and at some point between finding out from Bishop Hatch that he would lead a wagon back to Wyoming (December 1867) and actually leaving (June 1868), he asked Mary to Marry him.

However before I started on that trip I had a promise from from my Dear girl that she would marry me when I returned in the fall. Source: Autobiography, Pg 284
After 4 months separation and upon safe arrival back in Heber, William said "And my Dear Mary seemed to be as glad to see me as I was to see her." (Source: Autobiography: pg 289)

There wasn't much time to continue the courtship as William felt pressure to quickly return to work. Luckily for him, he was able to find an arrangement where he could work in Echo canyon and bring his bride to be along.
Not having had a chance to earn any means all summer & still making calculations on getting married before the years was out I as quickly as possible I went out to the head of Echo canyon where most of the Heber men were working to earn some money. But they were all very much in need of someone to cook their food in decent shape. All expressed a desire that I should go back to Heber & bring two women cooks & stove & dishes. They were living in dugouts on the side of a hill & they agreed to build an extra dugout for the women & pay me for my time going after them. So on these terms I went & got my mother who had a stove & dishes & my intended wife to go also. We lost no time in getting back so we could all get to work.
There was 20 men to cook for so the women folks were kept busy & they gave good satisfaction. The men were made comfortable & got their food in good shape & I of course worked on the grade every day. We enjoyed ourselves although the night were cold it being in the month of October. Another thing we had a large dugout called Scientific hall where we gathered in the evenings & entertained each other in singing songs, reciting, speech making & reading to fill in the time. In this way we got along very nicely all being friends & neighbors & well acquainted with each other. We were there about 2 months from Oct. 1st to Dec. 1st. Of course it was very cold towards the end of our stay. The women folks were paid about $90.00 each for the 2 months work. So we loaded all our outfit into wagon & started for Heber it took 3 days to get home. As soon as we arrived we began making preparations
for going to the Endowment House in Salt Lake city to get married.

Autobiography, pg 289