THE NAY FAMILY IN UTAH AND THE WEST

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During their first year as a family, between their marriage and sealing in the Endowment House, Amanda and Joseph Brigham’s first little baby girl, Amanda Ellen,[27] was born-6th of October, 1869 in Springdale, Kane County, Utah.[28] Census records in 1870 list Joseph Ney [sic], a farmer of 23; Amanda, 14 [sic] and Amanda, 8 months, living in Pine Valley, Utah, next door to Amanda’s father, mother, brothers and sisters.[29] Their second baby, Joseph Brigham Jr., was born 14th February 1872 in Gunnison, Sanpete County, Utah,[30] followed two years later by another boy, Oliver Hale Nay, born 4th April 1874 in American Fork, Utah County, Utah. This baby boy only lived four months and died on 8th August 1874.[31] Mary Elizabeth Nay (known as Flora Mary on her marriage certificate) was also born in American Fork, two years later, 5th January 1876.[32]

The family life of Joseph Brigham and Amanda seemed marked with change, and typically, this stay in American Fork was not to last too long. The family was next found in Kingston, Piute County, Utah. J. B. Nay and Amanda E. Nay are listed among others (including Amanda’s brother-in-law, J. W. White, Jr.) as members of the Kingston United Order, 1877.[33] The Nays were also in Kingston for the 1880 census on the 5th of June. Brigham, 34, is a laborer, living with his wife, Mandey [sic], 29, and their children, Ellie, 12, Joseph, 10, Mary, 8, and John, 6.[34] The ages listed in the census for the younger three children do not match the birthdates on the family records. According to the family, John Eugene was born just two years before in Pine Valley, on 23rd April 1878.[35] The family dates are validated by an 1884 list of children in the Kingston School, which includes Amanda Ellen, Joseph Brigham, Mary Elisabeth [sic]; and John Eugene, along with their birthdates.[36]

Family records show two more daughters, Thirza Angeline and Rowena, born in Utah-Thirza in Circleville in 1881 and Rowena in Grass Valley in 1883.[37] Another boy, George Melvin, was born and died shortly thereafter in Circleville, Piute County, Utah.[38] We may interpret their many moves as a family lifestyle of always seeking a better place or more success. They were often found where extended family members were also living. Perhaps these family members or friends may have recommended new living circumstances that may be more to their liking. We know that they had little money. A poignant description of the family is included in a letter written to Governor Thomas of Utah by an inmate of the state penitentiary, E.K. Fisher. Mr. Fisher wrote in regard to the case of Joseph Brigham Nay, Jr. who was serving a sentence for complicity in the robbery of a train in 1889.

Joseph Nay and myself were arrested in Ogden of the seventeenth of September 1889 for train robbery. The officers in whose charge we were practiced on the fears of said Nay, which caused him to admit we were two persons who perpetrated said robbery, but of the fact of his being forced to commit said act of violence he never spoke, because he felt his life in danger by the admission of the true facts.

As he is only a boy I take this opportunity of informing you that I did force the said Nay to assist me in committing this robbery. He was at this time but seventeen years of age. I persuaded him to leave home in order to find employment with the view of assisting his parents who were and are in very straitened circumstances. He had until this meeting lived at home working on a farm. In fact he had never left the parental home before. When I proposed this robbery he objected, but I finally obtained his consent by threats and promises of money which would enable him to assist his parents in lightening the cares of this life; at the last moment he again refused; then I told him if he refused I would kill him which he believed I would do, as I had instilled in his mind the desperate character he thought I was.

I fear I not only caused this young man to leave a humble but happy home, but have forced him to do that which has caused him, and his, such distress, even though it was committed in opposition to his better judgment. My intentions for the future are to reform, and as this is the only way I can in a measure make reparation to one whom I have so greatly wronged, I hasten to do what is left in my power.[39]

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