Cedar Street Times 1-29-2016
by Patricia Hamilton and Joyce Krieg
Local resident Lois Standley discovered first-hand the power of family stories when she delved into the life history of great-grandmother Elizabeth Holbrook Shaw, a pioneer in 1800s Utah. In doing so, Lois became fascinated by the traits, tendencies and talents passed along from generation to generation.
Lois recalls that her grandmother, Elizabeth Shaw’s daughter, was known for her independence, strong work ethic and wit. She’s been told by relatives that her own intelligence and sense of humor is a mirror of her grandmother’s, traits that she now sees flourishing in her nieces. Lois now realizes she can trace it all back to one remarkable woman—the great-grandmother she never knew.
Meeting a Remarkable Pioneer Woman
Elizabeth Shaw was born in 1845 in Nottingham, England. Like many children of the Industrial Revolution, she was working in factories by the time she was seven. At 16, the family immigrated to the United States and made their way by wagon to Utah. Elizabeth later recalled that while “our stomach could go short,” her mother was a proud woman and always kept the children well-dressed.
At age 20, she married the schoolteacher in Paradise, Utah, Henry Albert Shaw. They built a log house and planted wheat. Henry died in 1884, three months before their youngest child was born. Elizabeth continued to homestead 160 acres, raising cows and selling the butter. She studied nursing and obstetrics in Salt Lake City, and also learned to make powders to treat nerves, teething and cancer. When she returned home, she was a sought-after “doctor.”
Like many Mormon men in early-day Utah, Henry had a second wife. When that wife died, Elizabeth agreed to care for the other wife’s offspring. At age 65, she took on the task of raising her youngest son’s two young children. She was known as a talented seamstress, the first milliner and dressmaker in Paradise, always dutiful about completing “her stint”—one hand-pieced quilt block every day—regardless of what else might be going on in her life. One granddaughter remembers her as having “sparkling black eyes, a ready smile and a quick answer.”
Elizabeth Holbrook Shaw lived to be 83, dying in 1928.
Her Legacy Lives on in Today’s Generation
Lois says, “The females in my family can thank Elizabeth for their traits. None of us would be who we are without her influence. Besides the independence, work ethic and her wit, her dedication to public service through medicine and the nurturing of children also got passed on.” Lois notes that her mother was a public health nurse and three of her four daughters chose the nursing profession, two of them focusing on the needs of children. The youngest Lois says, became a teacher and “did nursing with hugs and Band-Aids.”
The tradition continues with two of Lois’s nieces: one is a pediatrician, and the other has a PhD and works with public health issues around the world. “Strong, no-nonsense women all!” she concludes.
Patricia Hamilton and Joyce Krieg urge you to explore your own family history and put it on paper—like Lois Standley, you never know what treasures you might discover! To find out more about the editing, book design, publication, and marketing services offered by Park Place Publications, and for a free consultation, contact Patricia at 831/649-6640, email@example.com.