SPRINGVILLE — More than 150 descendants of Catharine Houtz Boyer recently gathered in her adopted hometown of Springville and included those who trace their ancestry through all six of her children.
The gathering on July 28 included sharing photos of her life, family history, music from a family ad hoc orchestra and other family members who played fiddles, a picnic lunch, outdoor games and a slide show of Boyer’s and her children’s lives.
Also, there was a display from Jay Boyer from the American Boyer Association from Pennsylvania, along with a display under glass of a treasured piece of linen spun on a spinning wheel and woven on a hand loom by Catharine Boyer herself, which is now in the possession of Catharine’s great-great-granddaughter, Carol Hjorth Franklin.
In May of 1853, Catharine Houtz Boyer, the first Boyer to immigrate to Utah, gathered her six children and departed from Pennsylvania to go to Zion. She left family and friends and two lonely graves of her husband, Augustus, and daughter, Bregetta. As yet, Boyer and her children were all unbaptized, but that did not alter her desire to gather with the members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints already settled in the Salt Lake Valley.
Traveling first by team, railway and steamboat to Council Bluffs, Iowa, they would ultimately travel in a very unique independent wagon company consisting of only 24 persons with only seven wagons, five of which were pulled by ox teams and two lighter wagons pulled by horses. Thirteen in the company were under the age of 20.
There were nine females and 15 males. Only two of the females were adult women, and one of those was Boyer. Her six children were Philip Henry, John Sell, Francis Christian, Emma Elizabeth Huntington, Lydia Maletta Johnson and Mariah Catherine Mendenhall. They left Council Bluffs on Thursday, July 28, 1853. The reunion was on the 159th anniversary of her departure.
More information about the reunion, including pictures, handouts and family history, is available at the Catharine Houtz Boyer blog at catharinehoutzboyer.blogspot.com, which was created to promote family understanding, unity and possibilities for further cooperative efforts.