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History of Sarah Ann Oakey

1852 - 1947

Sarah Ann Oakey, daughter of Ann Collett and Thomas Oakey, was born in Eldersfield, Worcestershire, England, on May 9th, 1852. My parents were converted by Apostle Wilford Woodruff in the same year he converted one thousand people to the Mormon religion. We left Liverpool, England on the sailing vessel, Thornton, May 4, 1856.

After six weeks journey, we landed at New York City and immediately started our journey to Salt Lake City. At Iowa City we stopped for three weeks to prepare handcarts and provisions for our journey across the plains. Our company was under the direction of Captain Willie.

When we left Iowa City, everyone was walking except babies and children under six. I, being the youngest child and only four years old, was permitted to ride in a cart but my brother, Reuben, who was seven, had to walk. There were eight in our family and we had two carts of personal belongings; one was pulled by the boys and one by the girls. The provisions were taken in wagons pulled by oxen and mules.

Each night when we camped, father, or the head of each family would go to the provision wagon for bacon and rice, etc. and then each member of the family was allotted one pound of flour a day. Toward the end of our journey this was cut to almost nothing.

When we had traveled for two days we missed my brother Joe, who was sixteen. When father inquired back through the companies, no one had seen him. We continued our journey without him, but later learned of his safety. He had stopped at a farmhouse and obtained work and a place to stay.

The first Indians we met came to our carts and pushed them into camp for us. I became very frightened having the Indians push me. Mother came and took me out of the cart. The Captain told her there was nothing to fear, so I was put back in the cart to ride the rest of the way into camp. The Indians left our camp but soon returned with fresh buffalo meat, which they traded for clothing and salt. We saw many buffalo and upon two occasions, the train of carts had to be split to let them through.

One day we came upon a camp where there had been a massacre and found the bodies of a woman and child that apparently had escaped only to die of hunger and thirst. There were many people who died, but our greatest hardship began when we reached the deep snows in Wyoming. One morning fifteen members of our camp were found dead. It was so cold the men took turns digging graves. There were fifteen buried in one and two in another.

My father's health was poor for the most part of the journey and his feet were frozen. Mother stayed up nursing him through the night and when she came to call us, she found my eleven-year-old sister dead. She had walked the entire distance and without proper food, was unable to stand the severe cold. She died Nov. 9, 1856; the same morning we entered the Salt Lake Valley. We arrived in the Valley after having been helped in by relief wagons.

Sarah Ann Oakey was the polygamist wife of William Wilson Sterrett and the mother of Simeon Ralph Sterrett. She passed away July 2, 1947, at the age of 95 years. She was a resident of Paris, Bear Lake, Idaho.

Sarah Ann Oakey was barely 15 years of age when she became the second wife of William Wilson Sterrett, who was at the time of their marriage 42 years of age. (She was sealed to him June 15, 1867, in the Endowment House in Salt Lake City.) She was guided by a mother anxious to have her daughters marry good and faithful men. She came to live in a home with a middle-aged man and his first wife, Mary Jane Crandall, who was 40 years old and to whom William had been married 16 years. These people were old enough to be her parents and yet Sarah was called upon to be a second wife and bear four children. So it was not surprising that this young girl, who possibly had other dreams in life than the one she was called to fulfill, should fall in love with a younger man and finally leave her little family to join him. She was only a little over twenty at the time.

So the children (2 boys and 2 girls, along with an adopted brother, Charles) were cared for and raised by Mary Jane Crandall, who never had been able to have children of her own. It was later that the temple marriage of William W. Sterrett and Sarah Ann Oakey was cancelled and Simeon was sealed to Mary Jane Crandall. Later in life, Sarah Ann, his real mother, became a beloved grandmother to Simeon Sterrett’s children and fulfilled a rich and serviceable life. She became the mother of other children than those she left behind for Simeon and Mary Jane Sterrett to raise. William Wilson Sterrett died 20 December 1912 at Thatcher, Bannock, Idaho.