logo Thomas Quirk + Mary Ann Cowley


See Introduction for some general background

Our Pioneer Heritage, Vol. 1, p.211

"The Boughten"

Measured by the wonders they performed and the outstanding courage they manifested we are likely to think of our revered pioneer ancestors as fashioned of some superior material which made it possible for them to endure as they endured and achieve more than we can ever comprehend.

Consider Brother Thomas Quirk. He was born on the beautiful Isle of Man in 1806, where he lived through a normal, lively boyhood, expecting to spend there all of his days working in the local steel mills [sic ? there never was any steel mill on the Island though there was a foundry in Douglas in the mid 19th century, was the trade a blacksmith], raising a family as the other inhabitants were doing, paying his way through this mortal existence and, in the end, receiving a decent burial.

But in the early 1850's he found himself with his young wife, Mary Ann Cowley Quirk, and two daughters preparing to cross the great Western Desert, a performance filled with doubts, fears, dangers and anxieties beyond his most imaginative apprehension. This gentle soul was troubled. How could it be otherwise when stories of the journey as made previously were in the air and on every tongue? The great cholera epidemic was at its worst and the horror of it shocked his fine sensitive English [sic !] being.

The most repellent thought to him was that of the essentially crude roadside burials of which he was told. Of course, he or his own might not die on the way-many lived to gather to Zion-but, alas!-some were less fortunate. His impressive emotions strained until he could not endure the contemplation. However, any thought of giving up the trek did not enter his mind. At last he found a way of pacifying his anxieties. He would purchase a proper burial coffin and take it along with him. Always burials on the plains were in rough-hewn containers, if any. His would at least be a bought-one or "boughten" as he called it. Nor would it be a burden to carry as, carefully wrapped to preserve it from defacements and injuries, it could be useful as a container for carrying delicate goods safely.

So it was; and peace of mind settled in the midst of the little family.

In 1852, Brother Quirk, his good wife, his two children, and the "boughten" arrived safely in Zion. After a few years in Salt Lake City, Grantsville was selected as a permanent family home, where he resided at a location named after him "Quirk Street."

The only proper place for storing the precious, shiny black "boughten" was under a bed where it, carefully wrapped in a protecting quilt, remained quietly awaiting the inevitable. This came at last when the good people of Grantsville were permitted to actually behold the highly esteemed possession which had the distinction, in 1888, of being the very first "boughten" placed in the Grantsville Cemetery, a honor for which it had waited patiently for thirty six pioneer years. -Annie Kimball

Manx Note Book      [Genealogy Index]

see Mormon Converts

Any comments, errors or omissions gratefully received The Editor
HTML Transcription © F.Coakley , 1999