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History of Mary Jones Flavel Bona

By her niece Jane Bowen Tuttle (Written at the request of Ruth Bowen Warthen)

Mary Jones Flavel Bona and William Bona

(1838 - 1923) (1838 - ?)

My aunt, Mary Jones Flavel Bona was born in Swansea, South Wales, G.B. Aug. 7, 1838. She was the oldest daughter of Elias and Mary Williams Jones. Her early childhood was spent in Wales. She was one of the few pioneers who had had the opportunity of gaining a higher education. While in Great Britain she had attended an institution of higher learning at Bath, England. The family moved to Utah before the other children were old enough for advanced education. My grandfather was fairly well- to-do and he was deeply interested in the welfare of his children. Aunt Mary was born of goodly parents who were both born in Neath, Wales. Soon after their marriage they moved to Swansea, a small seaport town near the docks and shipyards. At this place nine children were born to them. My grandfather was a baker by trade. He owned a grocery store and was joint owner and leaser in the coal mines there. These mines were called the Saints Pit because Grandpa preferred hiring the Saints to work for him. Brother Elias Lewis, father of the late Post Master, David T. Lewis, was a foreman in the "Saints Pit." My grandfather joined the L.D.S. church in 1849. Grandmother did not join till sometime later--she being converted through the healing of one of her children by administration by an elder from Zion. In the spring of 1854, Grandfather decided to come to Utah. This grieved Grandmother very much. She felt that it was such a great undertaking to come to America with so many little ones. Then another daughter was born to them June 20, 1854, and when the baby was six weeks old Grandmother passed away, and the children were left to the care of their father, and Aunt Mary, then just sixteen years of age. This misfortune altered their plans. Grandpa decided to remain in Wales until the children became older. Two years later he married a widow, his wife's sister, Hannah Williams Hopkins, who was the mother of Aunt Polly Beck. In the spring of 1856, they started for America. They set sail from Liverpool April 19th on the ship called Saunders' Curling. They were on the water six weeks and when they landed at Boston, they took the train for Iowa City, which was as far as the railroad extended west at that time. While on the train May 28, 1856, the baby, Hannah, then two years old, died. She was buried in Woodland Cemetery, Cleveland, Ohio. That fall the family joined Captain Hunt's company to come to Utah. Grandfather was well equipped for the journey. He had two horse teams and two wagons, a horse and buggy, eight oxen, and two cows. Grandpa's brother John came with them and drove a team; and a widow whom they called Nanson, helped with the children who rode in the buggy. Nanson drove the big mare on the buggy. A very severe winter overtook them before they reached Salt Lake City on Christmas Eve. However, this family fared better than many other families in the company, because Grandpa had looked well to their comfort and had bought a number of buffalo robes to keep them warm. From Salt Lake City, they moved to Cottonwood in the spring of 1857, where they bought some land and a small house. They lived there till fall, then moved to Spanish Fork which place was to be their permanent home. Like many others they lived in a dougout the first year. Then Grandpa built a house. He gradually acquired a great deal of land and became fairly well-to-do. He paid for the transportation of six or eight families to Utah from Wales. After the Jones family had settled at Spanish Fork, Aunt Mary went to Camp Floyd to live with a friend, Mrs. Mary Morgan. While there she met Thomas Flavel, a book-keeper in Johnston's Army and was married to him sometime in 1858. My mother was a little girl at this time just eight years old, and Aunt Mary took her to live with them at Camp Floyd. Thomas Flavel was not very well known in this community but my mother admired him greatly. (At this point in our history, it might be well to write a little about him.) Mother always spoke of him as a very refined, well-dressed gentleman. He could keep himself well groomed at the work he followed. He had been raised in a home with a high standard of living. His parents had educated him to become a Catholic Minister, but this was not to his liking, so he joined the army to escape a ministerial life. He was devoted to his wife and liked to see her always well dressed. At Camp Floyd, now Fairfield, on Feb. 12, 1860, their baby was born--a son whom they called William. When the child was less than a year old, Uncle Thomas Flavel's duties called him to Nevada. He wanted to take his wife and baby with him, but shortly before this, Grandpa had lost his second wife and it was deemed advisable for Aunt Mary to come back home to her father for a time while her husband arranged for a home for his family in Nevada. Due to Indian raids and pioneer conditions, the mail was very uncertain in those days and evidently they heard very little from each other. A few months ago, Aunt Mary's daughter, Ruth, found a scrap of torn paper in the old home which was part of a letter from Thomas Flavel written to his wife nearly seventy-seven years ago. The bottom part of the sheet of paper was torn off but we have fragments from part of two pages. The letter was perfect in spelling, punctuation, and grammatical construction and written in a beautiful hand. It reads as follows: Carson City, Nevada Territory, July 22, 1861. My dear Mary, It seems to me almost a hopeless task to try to get a letter from you. I wrote to you by the Pony Express from the station where I found Bill Thomas, and twice from a place called Chinatown where I have been at work for the last six weeks, but to save my soul I could get no answer; and more than likely I could get no word for months to come had I not made a special trip on foot twelve miles to the Post Office and there accidently learned that your Uncle John-- (At this point the paper was torn off and the trend of thought is broken but it is taken up again on the next page saying): will have about $50.00 saved when we are paid off and cal- culate by next spring to have saved enough to bring you to me, and have a little home for you when you come. Your Uncle John desires me to say to your father that he is glad to have heard from him. He is doing very well about seven miles from this place (Carson.) He says he has lost by the grasshoppers about 35 acres of grain, but that the hay and potatoes will pay him well for his whole year's work. The valley he lives in is the prettiest for its size I ever looked at. The land is rich, wood to any amount of beautiful pines within two hundred yards of his house, and although they have to irrigate, they have not half the---- (The balance of the letter was lost.)
This scrap of paper is of great significance to Aunt Mary's relatives of the generation succeeding her, for there has always been a doubt in the minds of many of us as to Uncle Tom Flavel's intentions. We are happy to have this doubt dispelled. Among the effects that Aunt Mary treasured was a letter of recommendation for her husband written by a superior officer in the U.S. Army. I have copied it that we might learn more about Uncle Tom Flavel. It follows: Camp Floyd, Utah Territory, Aug. 20, 1860. Campt. J. T. Turnley, Ass't Quarter Master U.S. Army, Sir: Having been requested by Flavel to give him a recom- mendation to you, I have to state that he was underr my charge on extra duty as a clerk both in the Commissary and Quarter Master's Department for over two years; that I always found him to be faithful and attentive to his duty; and that at the time the Quarter Master Sergeant of the Second Dragoons, and his laborers, were dismissed from the Dragoon Commisary for pilfering, Flavel was the only man left of the old hands retained on extra duty. I believe Flavel to be perfectly upright. He was the most correct clerk I have ever had under my charge. Respectfully, Your Obedient Servant Jno. Buford Cap't. 2nd Dragoons. The grandchildren of Thomas Flavel will likely appreciate the above letters. Aunt Mary's happy married life came to a sad ending. She never saw her husband again after he left Utah. No one seems to know what happened to him but it was reported that he was drowned while crossing a river. The sad little widow waited longingly for nearly eleven years for his return, then she married William Bona Nov. 16, 1870. He was born April 8, 1838. He had been in love with her since before her former marriage. Seven children were born to this union, four of whom are living today. During their early married life they lived in a small two-room adobe house on main street between 5th and 6th north streets. Later they built a four-room brick house next door. Most of their children were born and raised here. Uncle William had poor health as far back as I can remember him. He suffered a great deal from rheumatism. He was a plasterer by trade but he owned and worked a farm on the new survey. He had acquired this splendid farm but was not able to care for it long. As the boys grew older they took over the land and are now farming it. Aunt Mary was deeply interested in church work during her earlier married life. She was president of the Relief Society for several years. My grandmother, Jane Foster Bowen and Karen Hansen were her counselers. In the early days of Utah, sewing machines were very scarce and nearly all clothing was made by hand. Aunt Mary was very adept with the needle and did much fine sewing. She had a pleasing personality and was very thoughtful and kind. She had been a "mother" to her younger brothers and sisters. My mother was her youngest sister. A bond of deep affection grew between us children and this dear old aunt, that was akin to that of grandchild and grand-parent, and we loved her as would a grandmother. For many years we lived on the farm and when we came to town, Aunt Mary's house was home to us. Her keen sense of humor and her sound judgement helped to carry her over the rough places in life. When she was about sixty years of age she had a severe sick spell, and during the time that she was dangerously ill, her oldest daughter, Anne Wyler, gave birth to a baby girl and died five days later. The doctors said Aunt Mary must not be informed of the death of her daughter until she became stronger. This was a trying ordeal to all concerned. Someone was at her bedside constantly for nearly a month, at the end of which time, her son-in-law, Fred Wyler, broke the news to her. A cousin, Hattie Beck, cared for the infant for about six months then Aunt Mary took the little girl, Annie, and her brother Freddie to raise. Aunt Mary's family is musically inclined. I have happy memories of sitting on the lawn in front of their old home listening to them sign together. Willl Flavel, Elias, Thom, John, Ruth, and Arthur. Their voices blended beautifully as they sang in the summer evenings. One of my earliest recollections is that of listening to Uncle William Bona sing and watching him dance. He entertained with singing and step-dancing at many socials during his earlier life. He had been to California and anticipated another trip there to see his sister Elizabeth and her sons. His dream was realized in part. He visited with his sister for a short time then left for the home of a nephew not far distant. When he didn't return to his sister's place in due time, she became concerned about him and upon investigations learned that he never reached her son's home. Word was sent to his people here and a search was instigated but to no avail. He was never found. Strange that two such similar incidents should happen in the life of one woman. More long hours of anxious waiting which grew into days, weeks, months, years. No trace of him has ever been discovered. It might be well to mention here that my aunt's two youngest brothers Elias and Thomas went to Nevada prospecting while they were young men. For nearly thirty four years the folks at home heard nothing from them. Then Uncle Tom died and his brother wrote home to inform his relatives. Later Uncle Elias came back to Utah for several years and made his home with his sister Mary. This was great solace to her. He was there at the time of her death, Sep. 14, 1923. He died a short time later and is buried by her side. Aunt Mary believed in record keeping. While she was seriously ill she requested me to copy into her large Bible the record of her family which she had written on pieces of paper. I believe she would approve of my writing a history of her and appreciate the interest of my sister Ruth in requesting to have it written.

left to right: Annie Bona Wyler, David J. Bona, William Bona, William Flavel, Arthur Bona, Ruth H. Bona Patten, Mary Jones Flavel Bona, Thomas L. Bona, Elias J. Bona

1870 CENSUS

Name: Flavell, Mary
Age: 31
Sex: Female
Household: 2
Occupation: Keeps House
City: Spanish Fork
County: Utah County
Birth Place: Wales
Source: 1850, 1860, 1870 Censuses of Utah by J.R. Kearl
p. 119
BYU Library CS 49 .Z99 U8


1880 CENSUS

NAMERELATIONMARITAL STATUSGENDERRACEAGEBIRTHPLACEOCCUPATIONFATHER'S BIRTHPLACEMOTHER'S BIRTHPLACE
Wm BONASelfMMaleW40WalesFarmerWalesWales
Mary BONAWifeMFemaleW44WalesKeeping HouseWalesWales
William BONASonSMaleW20UtahLabourerWalesWales
Anne BONADauSFemaleW8UtahAt SchoolWalesWales
Elias BONASonSMaleW4UtahAt HomeWalesWales
David J. BONASonSMaleW1UtahWalesWales
Thomas BONASonSMaleW1UtahWalesWales
Stephen EDMUNDSOtherSMaleW50WalesWalesWales
Census Place: Spanish Fork, Utah, Utah
Family History Library Film: 1255338
NA Film Numbr: T9-1338
Page Number: 191A

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Dennis Larsen

utahdlarsen@sisna.com
10890 Bohm Place
Sandy, UT 84094
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