The Story of Ellen Breakel Neibaur

Transcribed by  Marolyn Cross



This contains a brief history of the life of my great-grandmother, as it was told to me by my grandmother, Ellen Neibaur O'Driscoll, a daughter of Ellen Breakel Neibaur.

by Ellen Wilde Carpenter


Ellen Breakel was born at Preston Lancashire, England on February 28, 1811. She was the daughter of Richard Breakel and Alice Bannister Breakel. The Breakel family were Church of England people.

When Ellen Breakel was just a young girl, probably 12 years old, she started to work at spinning in a large factory. This was not necessary, however, because her father was a very wealthy English farmer. His wealth was estimated at about 3-B's, in the way they counted money in those days. But Ellen wanted to work, because her friends and associates were working.

On September 16, 1833, she married Alexander Neibaur, a French and Polish Jew. He also belonged to a very wealthy family and had been educated to become a Rabbi in the Jewish faith. To this union 14 children were born.

When Alexander Neibaur heard the LDS gospel preached by Elders Heber C. Kimball, Willard Richard, Orson Hyde, and Joseph Fielding, he was one of the first to receive it, and although he was a trained Rabbi, he was baptized at once into the church. But Ellen Neibaur could not see that it was right until later, and then she had a vision, and the truth of the LDS Gospel was revealed to her so that she joined the church in 1937. In her vision she saw the sky covered with small white clouds. These clouds formed round in the shape of a man's face: All the clouds repeating the face of just one man. After gazing in wonder at them for some time, the clouds all dropped down to earth; Ellen awoke. The face she had see was that of Willard Richards, one of a second company of Elders to visit England. Ellen Neibaur knew that he had come to bring the Gospel message to her.

In 1841, the first organized company of Saints left England on the ship Sheffield, and they were among the Saints on the ship. At that time they had three children, whom they brought with them. They had lost one baby and buried it in England.

They were 7 weeks crossing the water, and Ellen was never up on deck once during the whole voyage. She was sick all the way over. They landed at New Orleans, March 30, 1841. From there they went directly to Nauvoo. There Alexander Neibaur met the Prophet Joseph Smith and he taught the Prophet Joseph the Hebrew and the German language.

They were in Nauvoo at the time of the great persecution of the Saints and in 1946, when the mob made the raid on the Saints, Ellen Neibaur, with a 10 day old baby, and 6 other children, was driven from her home. She was sick with chills and fever when she was driven out. With the small baby in her arms, they walked to Winter Quarters. She was ill with fever when they reached the camp and there, one of the good sisters put her to bed and cared for her and the baby until she was well.

She was a woman of great faith and knew that the spirit of the Lord had been with her during her illness. She used to say, when she first started on her pioneer journey, that if there had been any way for her to have given it all up, and go back to her home in England, she surely would have done so, but before she had been many weeks with these brave pioneers, nothing could have turned her back.

In December 1847, due to hunger, cold, and hard work, she gave birth to a still-born child. In May 1848, they left Winter Quarters in the Brigham Young Co. and arrived in Salt lake City, September 20, 1848.

All through their journey, Ellen Neibaur guided a pair of lead cows, waling beside them most of the way. For several days she walked carrying a sick baby in one arm and guiding the cows with the other. When evening came, it was her job to wash the cows, to cool them, and milk them.

Their journey across the pioneer trail was during the hot summer months, and the animals, as well as the people, were near exhaustion, as each long day came to its close.

After their arrival in the Salt Lake Valley, during the Fall and Winter of 1848, the family lived in a tent. The family at that time consisted of 7 children and the father and mother. This was the Winter before my grandmother, Sarah Ellen, was born; and it was the hardest times their parents ever suffered. Often the children went hungry. One time, when they were starving, the family assembled in humble prayer, and when they had finished, a kindly neighbor came to them with food.

When Spring came, the father built a small hut, 12' by 14,' and they moved into it just before Sarah Ellen was born, May 12, 1849. She was the 10th child. Four other children were born after her.

Ellen Neibaur was a very quiet woman. She didn't have much to say to anyone and very seldom went anywhere, except when she was working for someone. She assisted Doctor Anderson a great deal and did lots of nursing among the sick.

She was a very pretty woman. When she was living in Lancashire, England, she won a beauty contest. Again, when they were living in Nauvoo, she won another beauty contest and after they moved to Salt Lake City, she won a third beauty contest and received certificates for all three.

When they got settled and began to make a little money, Alexander bought his wife a nice pair of shoes and then she knitted herself some stockings that were blue and white stripped. She was very proud of them and thought they were very pretty. She had only had them for a short time when the Brethren came around collecting clothing to take back with them to meet another company of pioneers, and when they came to the house, Alexander said he had nothing to give them, but Ellen answered, "yes, we must give something," and she took them from her feet, the pair of new shoes and stockings, and gave them to the Brethren, binding her own feet in rags.

When that next company of Saints arrived in Salt Lake, the people turned out to welcome them, and among them was an old friend of Ellen's that she had known in England, and she was wearing Ellen's shoes and stockings. Ellen never heard again from any of her people in England until my own grandmother was 20 years old, and then they heard only through a missionary who had became acquainted with the family.

As soon as the Neibaur family could, they added two adobe rooms to their home. After that they continued to add to it until they had built it into a nice 10 room home. Two of these rooms they rented. One room was used as a match factory. (Alexander was the pioneer match maker of Salt Lake Valley.) The family lived in 7 rooms. The house was completed just before the mother's birthday, so on her birthday, February 28, they had a big party for all the people who had helped them to build their home.

Soon after that, Ellen became ill and was sick for 10 years. The first 10 months of her illness she was bed-fast and a complete invalid and lived entirely on a diet of buttermilk and corn meal mush.

During her early motherhood she was very little and the people of Salt Lake City nicknamed her "Fine-Bones," but at the time of the beginning of her illness, she weighted 200 pounds. She died of a hemorrhage, December 14, 1870, just a short time before her 60th birthday.

All but three of her children (who died as babies) lived to be grandparents, and have large families of their own. Two of them lived to be 91 years old, and the baby of the family, Nathan Neibaur, lived to the age of 84. My grandmother died at the age of 96.

The names of Alexander and Ellen's children who grew to man and womanhood are as follows: Joseph, Hyrum, Isaac, Nathan, Margaret, Alice, Bertha, Leah, Rebecca, Sara Ellen, and Matilda.


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