|Birth: ||Mar. 26, 1814|
County Antrim, Northern Ireland
|Death: ||Oct. 3, 1882|
Bear Lake County
Son of Barnabus McCann and Jane Ravenhill
Married Sarah Johnston, 11 May 1835, Stockport, Lancashire, England
Married Elizabeth Betsy Sant, 30 Jan 1873, Salt Lake City, Salt Lake, Utah
Our Pioneer Heritage, Vol. 13, p. 338
Thomas Ravenhill McCann
by Mary Ann McCann Merrill
contributed by Sherry M. Smith
Thomas Ravinhilll McCann, born at Silver Stream, County of Antrim, Ireland, on the 26th of March, 1814, was the son of Jane Ravinhill and Barnibus McCann. His father died when he was still a child, and later the family moved to England. With the help of his younger brother, he supported his mother and two sisters. He served as an apprentice to learn the printing of calico, after which he worked at this trade for another seven years. He would lie under the trees and watch as the zephyrs blew the leaves, and the different colors of nature would give him new ideas for patterns on the calicos.
On May 11, 1835, at the age of 21, Thomas married Sarah Johnston in the Stockport Parish Church, Lancashire, England. She too was supporting a widowed mother by working at the calico factory. After their marriage they were both employed in the factory, he at printing the calico, and she at weaving. On March 10, 1836, Sarah left work long enough to have their first daughter, Elizabeth. She returned to work at the factory, leaving her daughter in her grandmother's care. On June 10, 1838, another daughter, Caroline, was born. The young couple were happy in each other's love, but they were not satisfied with life. They were ambitious and hoped for better things than to have to work in a calico factory all their lives. Finally an event happened which changed the whole course of their lives. They were baptized into the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints on March 26, 1839, by Elder Joseph Fielding. Soon after this, Thomas was ordained an elder in the Stockport Branch by Parley P. Pratt. He was soon called to act as president of this branch, which office he filled with honor for four years.
During 1840 their first little girl, Elizabeth, died, and their first little boy, Thomas, was born. He lived fourteen months. On January 1, 1843, they completed their preparations and embarked on the ship, Swanton, for the new world and their new religion. There were two hundred fifty Saints on board, with Apostle Lorenzo Snow acting as captain of the company. After a tedious trip of six weeks on the high seas they landed at New Orleans; thence to Nauvoo where they arrived April 9, 1843, in good health and with hears full of thanksgiving for their safe arrival. When their ship docked, many Saints were on shore waiting to welcome them, among whom were the Prophet Joseph and his brother Hyrum, with their wives.
Their first year in the new world was hard, and they got along on little more than cornmeal and shorts. They all eventually caught the fever and ague, and death deprived them of their only remaining child, Caroline, then but five years old.
On April 1, 1844, a son was born who was a great comfort to Thomas and Sarah. Influenced by their new religion, they named him Joseph Nephi. At this time they were living in Des Moines, Iowa, where they remained until the Temple was nearly completed, at which time they went to Nauvoo to receive their endowments.
Thomas loved the Gospel more than life itself, and became a good friend of the Prophet. They often went together to visit the sick and to administer to them. Thomas had great power in healing the sick which was very pleasing to the Prophet. Joseph Smith promised Thomas that as long as he held fast to the faith he would have this power to heal the sick through prayer, and this seemed to be his life's mission.
They had purchased an eighty-acre farm in Des Moines, and when little Joseph Nephi was nine months old they moved to Warsaw to find work and raise money to buy farm implements. Thomas obtained farm work from a Mr. Johnson who tried to persuade the McCanns that Mormonism was foolishness, but they got along together for some time without an open argument. One night, however, at a meeting of several persecutors of Mormons, Mr. Johnson was told that Thomas McCann, his new hired hand, had been denouncing Governor Ford publicly. Mr. Johnson became enraged. He rushed home and summoned Thomas to his parlor. Johnson angrily asked him if these reports were true and threatened the loss of his job unless he would forsake his religion. When Thomas refused, a heated argument followed. Johnson's pistols were on the table and he picked one up. Fortunately they had both been fired and left unloaded. Johnson, realizing they were empty, threw the gun down and picked up a heavy paper weight. In the act of throwing it at Thomas, Thomas grabbed his employer by the collar and dragged him from the house. He gave him a thorough thrashing and left. Johnson rode for the sheriff and Thomas, knowing his life was in danger, ran to hide in the timber. A storm arose and Thomas finally asked at a remote farm house for shelter. The old couple living there were suspicious but did let him in. As he was eating a bowl of bread and milk, a large party of men rode up. Their fright was allayed, however, when the men proved to be from Nauvoo recruiting men for the Nauvoo Legion. After a hasty farewell to Sarah, Thomas joined the Legion.
Thomas wrote to Sarah, who had remained in Warsaw, to come to Nauvoo and they would make ready to go to their farm in Iowa. When she arrived, she and Thomas went to the Mansion House. The Carthage Greys, soldiers and policemen, were already there to accompany the Prophet and his brother, Hyrum, to Carthage Jail. Their horses were fed and cared for and dinner was courteously served to all of them. After dinner, Sister Emma introduced some of these men to Mother Smith and exhibited the Egyptian mummies. After witnessing the Prophet bid his family and the members of the Legion farewell, Thomas and Sarah, with sad hearts, departed for their home in Des Moines, Iowa.
When they arrived, John Cartwright, whom they had left in charge in their absence, informed them that he now was the owner of the farm. He had come to them penniless, begging for help for his family, and now he had taken over their property. They begged Cartwright to at least give them the cows and chickens and some of the produce. After much persuasion, he finally gave them back two of their own cows. This left them destitute, for what money they had had previously was spent to buy the farm, and the trouble with Mr. Johnson in Warsaw had caused Thomas to leave before he had a chance to save any more.
A kind friend, Brother Royal Durphey, took them in. They had been there one day when news came that the Prophet and the Patriarch had been murdered. Thomas and Brother Durphey left at once for Nauvoo to see the martyrs before burial.
After this sad visit, they returned home and Thomas rented an old log shanty, thinking it useless to buy any more land in that country. They remained there that winter. Thomas was obliged to be out of doors at night most of the time to watch the house and stock, as the mobs were continually burning the homes of the Saints. Also, the sheriff from Warsaw had issued a new warrant for his arrest, so Thomas had to be careful where he went. This was hard on Sarah who was expecting another child. Her mother, Sarah McGee Johnston, came from England to be with them. However, she was of little help to Sarah at this time, as she became very ill. On April 3, 1846, Sarah gave birth to a son. She had to take care of herself and the baby during the birth. A neighbor happened by and Sarah told her to look in a barrel that stood in one corner, which was full of clothing. She found a small bottle of brandy and gave it to Sarah who drank some, hoping to relieve the pain.
Thomas had attended the conference at Nauvoo when Brigham Young was chosen to lead the Church. Thomas, along with many others present, testified that when Brigham spoke from the stand a mantle of light fell over him, and his voice and face were those of the Prophet Joseph. Thomas and Sarah named their new little son, Brigham, in honor of the new Prophet.
As spring drew near, they made preparations to leave Iowa to seek a home in the west, as the other Saints were doing. They started in May 1846 with one wagon easily carrying their few possessions. Their team consisted of a yoke of oxen, and a yoke of cows. They had one bottle of camphor, their only medicine left, which was soon spilled by the two-year-old boy. They made the trip to Garden Grove in good health, but found the company of Saints there low on provisions, and when the people came crowding around the new wagon, many being old friends, they cheerfully divided their scanty supplies.
Thomas now planned to work in the harvest fields so they could travel on when spring came. He built a temporary house and fixed it as comfortable as possible with what little material he had. It was built of logs with neither floor nor windows. Before the house was finished he was taken ill, and was sick most of the winter. Sarah was compelled to do all the heavy work and feed the stock. The snow was deep and her baby became sick with ague. In the spring they again started westward, and arrived in Council Bluffs in time to put in a crop and settle on a farm which they called the Cottonwood Farm. They took no time to build a house, so eager were they to put in the crops, but camped in a tent under the cottonwood trees. They used bark to make the tent and bark for flooring. Their cupboard was a hollow tree. In felling trees, Thomas cut his foot badly and for weeks could not walk. He went about on his knees to do what little he could. Again Sarah had to take over. They raised a good crop of vegetables, mostly corn. Thomas' brother, Newell MeCann, had arrived from New Orleans, bringing flour and plenty of groceries. He was there all winter and was of much help. He gave them money to buy the Cottonwood Farm, but they wanted to go west with the Church. They all fell ill from bad water in the area the next spring, so felt doubly sure their decision to move on with the Church was a wise one.
On June 20, 1850, they left Council Bluffs, or Winter Quarters, in Stephen Markham's Company and arrived in Salt Lake Valley October 1, 1850. About 1854 or 1855 they moved to Ogden, and in 1860 were called to help settle Franklin, Idaho, which was then inhabited only by Indians. The first winter they lived in a sort of fort made by placing their wagons in a circle and keeping men on guard all the time. Even young Joseph and Brigham, now 16 and 14, had to take their turns on guard. They lived in their wagons all winter. About 1868 they moved to Smithfield, living there but a short time when they were called to settle Bear Lake County, Idaho. They made Fish Haven their home.
Thomas became very active in Church affairs. He was ordained a patriarch, he traveled up and down the Bear River Valley praying for the sick, giving patriarchal blessings, and helping the Saints in every way he could.
He and Sarah were the parents of ten children, seven of whom grew to adulthood. Their names give some idea of the closeness the McCanns felt for the Gospel. There were: Joseph Nephi, Brigham, Hyrum, Sarah, Mary, Emma, and Deseret. Thomas died in Fish Haven on October 3, 1892, and his wife, Sarah died at Garden City, Utah, on April 2, 1892.
Sarah Johnston McCann (1819 - 1892)*
Betsey Sant Winterbottom -McCann (1842 - 1903)*
Joseph Nephi McCann (1844 - 1889)*
Brigham McCann (1846 - 1868)*
Sarah McCann Wamsley (1849 - 1903)*
Mariah Jane McCann Pope (1853 - 1946)*
Emeline Lena McCann Odekirk (1855 - 1891)*
Deseret McCann Hobbs (1857 - 1916)*
Hyrum Johnston Mccann (1860 - 1910)*
Sarah Theresa McCann (1878 - 1880)*
Charles William McCann (1883 - 1883)*
In Memory Of McCann-Winterbottom
Fish Haven Cemetery
Bear Lake County
Created by: Terry C. Smith
Record added: Jan 26, 2005
Find A Grave Memorial# 10376058