|Birth: ||Jul. 3, 1826|
South Lanarkshire, Scotland
|Death: ||Oct. 20, 1883|
Salt Lake City
Salt Lake County
aka Mary Rennie
Born at Glenhead, Kilpatrick, Lanark, Scotland
Daughter of Hugh Rennie & Elizabeth Croelman
Married James Laird, 20 Aug 1847, Glasgow, Lanark, Scotland
Children - Mary Laird, Edward Laird, Sophia Lois Laird, Elizabeth Laird, Sarah Jane Laird, Hugh Alexander Laird, Harriet Ann Laird, Almina Russell Laird, Joseph Smith Laird, James Laird
History - Mary Rainey was sixteen when she joined the church in 1842. She and other members of her family were among the first in Scotland to become members. Three years later, with the help of her brother, Michael, she was instrumental in the conversion of [James Laird], her future husband, who had been reared in a staunch Methodist home in Ireland.
James, the sixth child in a family of nine, served a stint in the King's navy, then went to Scotland to work in the coal mines where he could make more money. There, James met Mary's brother and with his help came under the influence of the gospel.
James and Mary were devout believers in God and His Son, Jesus Christ and in the divine mission of the Prophet Joseph Smith, after whom they named their first son—Joseph Smith Laird. When their second son, Edward, was little more than a year old, James accepted a mission call to Scotland, where he traveled without purse or script. Mary and the children went home to her parents.
A special gift of healing by the power of the Priesthood was given to him which he exercised throughout his life. One day while tracting, he and his companion were invited into a home. They were given the opportunity to tell the Gospel message. Family was interested until Satan inspired the father that it was Mormonism. He became angry and drove the elders from his home.
In a few days, [James] was impressed to return to this home and give their crippled child a blessing. The mother, grateful for their interest in her child, invited them in. The Elders administered to the child and she was healed. Weeks passed , and they returned to this home to see how the father felt about the blessing of his child.
The mother said that when her husband returned home and saw his child, he screamed. "Those __ Mormons have been here again. I will kill them if they ever return. The wife was afraid and warned the elders to go and not return.
[James] said "just let us talk to him once more." When the father returned, there sat the elders. He ran for his gun, declaring he would kill them.
[James] raised his arm and said "I command you in the name of Israel's God and by the power of the Priesthood, put down that gun!"
The angry man laughed, but the gun fell to the floor. He was helpless. The Elders administered to him and commanded Satan to depart. The man became normal again. James filled an honorable mission and returned home.
In 1856, James and Mary with their two sons and a daughter, Elizabeth, sailed on the "Thorton" arriving in New York City on June 14th. Anxious to move on to Salt Lake City, they travelled to Iowa City, where they joined the Willie Handcart Company.
James was called as an assistant to Captain Willie. One of James' tasks was to bury those who died during the night. One morning when Captain Willie came to say that there were more to lay away, James was concerned. He was losing strength. He had never refused to help before, but he told Captain Willie he was "afraid to use the shovel this morning."
Captain Willie gave him a handful of corn to give him strength. [ James] was about to eat the corn when he looked at his family. [Mary] said, "Eat that corn, James, to save your strength. I can never make the trip with baby nursing." Often after nursing, the baby's mouth would be streaked with blood. [James] put the corn into her lap. He then picked up the shovel and strength came to him that remained with him throughout the journey.
The ensuing trek to their destination lasted almost four months, with much hardship and suffering and almost a fifth of the company dying. The entire company, in fact, trapped in the deep snows of Wyoming without food and shelter, would have perished had it not been for the heroic efforts of Captain Willie in finding the relief wagon train in time to save them. James and Mary with their three small children, Joseph almost seven, Edward four, Elizabeth just over one—fortunately made the journey safely.
When [Mary] left Scotland, among her luggage were three special articles: A pretty set of baby clothes, a new suit for [James], and her new green satin dress. At Fort Laramie, [Mary] found a Captain's wife with a baby. [Mary] traded the set of baby clothes she had carried from Scotland for a quart of sugar. Baby Elizabeth was weaned and lived on sugar and water until food was available. When the rescue supplies came from Salt Lake "shouts of joy rent the air, strong men wept. Food was immediately doled out, yet nine or fifteen died that night. [James] and his family were all able to enjoy the food. Elizabeth was off her sugar diet that night. The Willie Company arrived in Salt Lake City on November 9, 1856.
Praising James for his courage and help on the plains, President Brigham Young offered him care for his family for the winter. "President Young," this proud, independent-spirited man responded, "I do not want to be a burden on the Church. Please give me work".
The summer of 1857, James moved his family to Spanish Fork, Utah...While at Spanish Fork, on July 2, 1859, James and Mary went to Salt Lake City and received their endowments and were sealed by President Brigham Young in the Endowment House. Now the green silk dress Mary brought from Scotland was used for temple aprons.
James and Mary had seven children in Utah, of whom only two, Almina and Hugh, lived to maturity…[the others, and Joseph] became casualties to diphtheria. Although life was sad and difficult, James and Mary lived in Spanish Fork and Heber City, helping to settle these two communities before they settled in Mountain Dell, Parley's Canyon. With the discovery of silver in Park City, they built a home enabling them to provide overnight lodging and meals for wagon freighters hauling ore and supplies to and from Salt Lake City.
James and Mary remained close to the Church and when a branch was organized in Mountain Dell in 1878, he was appointed the presiding elder. The community was small and close-knit, with about ninety-five members and only a few non-members. Four years later, when a ward was organized, James was made Second Counselor.
Mary lived a useful life. After the death of her six children, she broke in health. Neuralgia of the heart caused her such pain and suffering. At the age of 57, she passed away.
In faraway Scotland, the Gospel message found Mary and her family waiting. Then she helped to convert James. They married, filled a mission to give the gospel to others, and emigrated to America, walked almost 1,000 miles across the plains with handcarts. Her baby was strapped to her back most of the way. She was on food rations for almost three months, traveling much of the time in snow and cold weather. She helped to build a home, gave birth to ten children, six of whom died early in life. Five sons and daughters, through her careful training, were married in the temple and raised families. Her reward is sure.
[James] and his eleven year old son spent a year alone. Then in September, 1884, [he] was suddenly called home to a well-earned rest, to join his companion and six children who had preceded him in death; a happy reunion, because he had accepted the Gospel and lived its principles.
Sarah Winmill, a granddaughter records: "Just prior to Mother's death (Elizabeth) I said, "I wonder Mother, what I would do if called to endure such hardships for the gospel as you did." She meditated for a few minutes, then raising her head quickly said, "Oh, you will have plains to cross, yes, but in a different way. Will you come through as we did? I will give you a key. No matter what comes to try your faith, stand by the president of the Church. God will never allow a fallen Prophet to lead this Church. All will be well with you if you remember."
Mormon Pioneer Overland Travel, James G. Willie Company (1856); Age at departure: 30
James Laird (1825 - 1884)*
Joseph Smith Laird (1849 - 1874)*
Edward Laird (1852 - 1925)*
Elizabeth Laird Winmill (1855 - 1932)*
Almina Russell Laird Christensen (1857 - 1923)*
Mary Laird (1859 - 1871)*
Harriet Laird (1864 - 1871)*
Sophia Lois H. Laird (1868 - 1871)*
Sarah Jane Laird (1870 - 1878)*
Alexander Hugh Laird (1873 - 1902)*
Salt Lake City Cemetery
Salt Lake City
Salt Lake County
Created by: SMS
Record added: Feb 06, 2008
Find A Grave Memorial# 24430178
James G. Willie Company|
Added: Feb. 6, 2008