THE NAY FAMILY IN UTAH AND THE WEST
Togetherness was the way of life for these enterprising early saints. Their moments of fun were the “get togethers” of dancing, singing, molasses candy pulling in the winter, horseback riding, swimming in the Virgin Narrows and dancing in the moonlight in the summer. It may have been a moon drenched, star-studded night after a lively romp around the dance hall with Nancy that William succumbed to her charms. And, as Frank Tyger would say, “he made his hitch-pitch.” They were married June 9, 1861 in Salt Lake City and sealed July 15, 1865 in the Endowment House in Salt Lake City, Utah. They were blessed with five sons and two daughters.
There may have been a tiny twinge of envy pulling on Mary’s heartstrings when her sister, Nancy, married William. Was there a soft flutter of youthful love when Mary gazed upon William’s face? Did he look at her and in his heart say “You are my lovely little sister, Mary, and you will always have a part of my love?” As Mary grew and matured, did this love unbidden softly steal into their hearts? Possibly through obedience to priesthood direction, William took Mary for his bride when she was a young 19. They were married and sealed April 1868 at the Endowment House in Salt Lake City, Utah.
From the personal history of William’s daughter, Lucy Nay James, we learn that not much was written about Nancy and William’s married life. We do know that when Nancy died March 25, 1877, William and Mary took both families and moved to Gunnison, Sanpete County, Utah. They were living there at the time of the Black Hawk War. (See chapter 2 about the Black Hawk War.) William fought in the war and wounded Chief Black Hawk. Ironically, after the war they actually became good friends.
During the next few years, the family moved from Gunnison to Circle Valley and then to Kingston. They farmed and raised milk cows. Mary made cheese and butter. Later, they moved to Monroe, Sevier County. William had a meat market and would take fresh beef in a wagon to Marysvale and Circleville where he sold it. He also freighted a great deal from Salina after the railroad reached all towns south of Salina.
Lucy Nay James writes in her personal history that “family night was not a once a week but every night. Father was a great hand to play with his children. In wintertime, he always got us together in the evenings and played games, sang songs and had me recite the poems I loved to learn. He had us all dance jigs. I could only make one foot do the right step and he would laugh at me. Mother always had some little treat for us. Then after family prayers, Father would say ‘off to bed.’ Then he and Mother would play a game of cribbage.”
Lucy continues, “Mother and Father loved to dance. Many times they traveled on horseback to a dance where they danced all night. Then they rode back home and worked all day.” (Can’t you see them ‘sashaying’ around the floor?) These little remembrances by his daughter leave us with an image of William Edwin Nay as a kind, generous, and loving father. In addition, he was definitely family oriented and a devoted and faithful husband.
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