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Ann Boyack Ririe


by Maxine H. Williams

Although her husband, James Ririe, left a detailed history of his life, Ann Boyack Ririe was too busy being the pioneer mother of twelve children to record her story. Her history is written in the good lives of each of the nine children she reared to maturity. To her can be given a large share of the credit for the thrift, honesty, prayerfulness, and dependability demonstrated in those lives.

Born in Dundee, Forfarshire, Scotland, May 15, 1830, Ann was the second child of James and Elizabeth Mealmaker Boyack. Her thirteen brothers and sisters are recorded as being born at Maines, Forfarshire.  Both of her parents were born in the parish of Maines and it was here, also, that they were married.  The Boyack family lived on a small farm near Dundee and sold milk from their farm to many of the families who lived in the town.  The children delivered the milk and also herded sheep along the banks of the streams.

The family was converted to the LDS Church. in 1842 when Ann was twelve years of age. It was not until she was twenty­ five, some twelve years later, that they were able to leave Scotland and join the Saints in Utah. During this time Ann worked in a delicatessen shop and became a very good cook. In addition to caring for her needs and helping with the needs of the large Boyack family, she was able to purchase some items of excellent quality with her earnings.   When the family left for Utah, she took with her several nice shawls as well as a beautiful black dress. Sadly, however, she was forced to leave behind her sweetheart. He had refused to join the Mormons and her father would not allow her to stay in Scotland with him.


It was nearly seven months after the Boyack family left Scotland before they were finally on their way to Utah. The Deseret News of October 17, 1855, states that  "James Boyack, wife, and nine children, crossed the plains under the leadership of Milo Andrus, Captain, as he was on his way back to Utah after serving a mission to England."  Apparently three of Ann's brothers had come with another company. Two of the children had died before they left Scotland.

Although the journey across the plains was very difficult, Captain Andrus used his previous experience in crossing to good advantage because, even though his group was the last to leave Mormon Grove, he overtook the others and arrived in Salt Lake at least five days ahead of those wagons which had an earlier start. An earlier issue of the Deseret News reported that "the Milo Andrus Company took the lead'' and that "while they were at the fifth crossing of the Sweetwater snow had fallen during the night and lay 3 inches deep. . Another quoted letter from Brother Andrus, dated October 12, stated that many men, women, and children were almost barefoot and very destitute of clothing. 

The family settled in Spanish Fork and lived in very humble circumstances that first winter, especially because two thirds of the grain in Utah had been destroyed that summer and a large black bug was devouring the potatoes.

Ann Boyack met her husband, James, under unusual circumstances. She was twenty five years old and James was twenty eight. He, too, was an emigrant from Scotland, having arrived in Utah in 1853.  Ann's sweetheart had been left in Scotland; James had sent to Scotland for his sweetheart to join him in Utah. She came to Utah (on his funds) and married a returning Elder at St. Louis, never coming on to Utah at all. James wrote in his journal that "About November I had to go to Salt Lake City. A brother asked me to take up some foodstuff to his sister-in-law who had just come in.  His wife had died on the Plains the year before.  I did so and found that I had been acquainted with her [Margery Waterhouse -- the sister­ in-law] in Dundee. She wanted to go to Springville with me . and take her intended sister-in-law, Ann Boyack (sister to James Boyack, the fiance) with her....Margery Waterhouse knew of the disappointment I had had about Helen Mitchell, for they had come in the same company to St. Louis. Margery proposed that I should marry this Ann Boyack, but she was an entire stranger to me. I asked, 'Is she a Mormon?'" "She replied, 'She has been baptized, but she has been in service most of the time and has been unable to attend the meetings.' Margery said she was a good women. The outcome of it was, I proposed in three weeks and was accepted by Ann Boyack."

Ann and James Ririe were married by Bishop Aaron Johnson on November 23, 1855, in the Endowment House.  (Her brother, James and Margery Waterhouse were married the same day.) Ann had been in Utah less than two months so James paid her emigration fund.

The newly married couple began their married life in a house that James had built in Springville. They had a difficult time because, not only was James learning much about farming in Utah,
His new wife was learning everything about life in this strange new land. Food was so scarce that the first winter they lived mostly on cornmeal. James says they would have done well if they had not been so scared to eat their fill for fear they would be right out. "Everything was new to my wife,' he said, "Our way of living was different and more difficult than in Dundee. But we were no worse off than many others. In Spanish Fork where my wife's folks lived, many had little else but fish and greens to live on.

Things gradually got better and after Johnson's Army came to Utah and settled at Camp Floyd, James was able to sell some of his surplus potatoes and wheat at the camp. He also sold watermelon pies, made without sugar, which Ann baked "The pies went like hot cakes at fifty cents a piece," a tribute to the skill and experience Ann received at the delicatessen in Dundee.

Ann helped James harvest the crops on their little farm and was frightened many times by Indians. Once they held a pistol to her head and threatened to kill her if she did not feed them. James kept a few sheep and sheared them to spin the wool. Ann made all the family clothes by hand. She told how she helped drive the grasshoppers off the crops into ditches in large heaps and then set fire to them. At times they were so thick she could hardly see the sun.

After Johnson's Army left and the Saints who had moved south began to return to their homes, some of them decided that they would prefer to stay in the Utah County area. As a result, James traded his small home and land in Springville for five acres in North Ogden. He later bought more land there, but water was scarce, and it was difficult to make it into a productive farm.

Thus, when the opportunity came to buy some open prairie land west of Ogden, he took it and they moved to West Weber. Ann and James lived in West Weber for many years. By 1868, when they had seven children, James hired a Scottish spinster to come and help Ann in their home for a time.  When James thought to take her as a second wife, Ann objected, and Betsey was terminated. However, On October 9, 1868, James, and Betsey (Hendry) were married anyway.

This was not a happy time.  Although Ann and Betsey were not compatible, Ann taught her children to be always respectful of Betsey. After seven years and no children for Betsey, she asked for a divorce.  Regarding this experience, James would say: "some say that polygamy was a great comfort to the men, but hard on the women.  I can say I never lived nearer to the Lord and prayed to Him harder than I did then, to help me, and with His Spirit dictate to me what to say and what not to say. 

Soon after the divorce, the Ririe family sold out in West Weber and moved to Ogden Canyon. James and his sons built a big rock house at the east end of the canyon. It was painstakingly built and was a beautiful home. 

The property in Eden (Ogden Canyon) had a spring around which James built a rock cellar. Ann would kneel on the cold, wet stones day after day to pat the butter into shape. As a result, she developed rheumatism so badly that she could hardly lift her hands to her face. In the latter part of her life, her hands were twisted and gnarled, and for twenty-seven years before her death she suffered, but seldom complained. Ann and her husband were both people of integrity. If they borrowed anything it was returned, full measure and a bit more. If a tool was borrowed, it was returned sharpened and in better condition than when it was taken.

Ann loved flowers and beauty. Her children often recalled the lilies, snowballs, hollyhocks, and iris that surrounded the big rock house, as well as the nice vegetable garden. She gathered wild berries from the hillsides for jams, jellies, and pies. She milked cows, made her own -butter and cheese. From the sale of some of it she was able to buy necessities and give her children a few of the ''wants" that exceeded, perhaps, the absolute needs of this pioneer family.

Ann and James had twelve children: Margaret, James Boyack, David, William, Alexander, Elizabeth, George, Isabelle, Mary, Joseph, Hyrum, and Agnes. Included among these were two sets of twins.  None of the children were raised to their maturity.  The eldest son, James Boyack Ririe, went to Southern Alberta when the Saints were- sent to colonize that area.  Another son, David, settled in the upper Snake River valley. It is for him that the Idaho community of Ririe is named. Alexander was active in the Democratic party of Utah.

Ann Boyack Ririe’s legacy was not one of fame and glory as the world gives, but she left a family of good, stalwart people who loved and respected her. One daughter said, "I never heard Mother speak an unkind word to anyone or about anyone. She never interfered in any of her children's lives after they were married,"

Another son commented: "She was one of the kindest and sweetest dispositioned women I have had the pleasure of Knowing She was always willing and ready to help someone else."

Her kindness extended beyond her own family, and she was known throughout "the valley," for these same character traits.


Her husband's brother, David, had never married. He came from Scotland to visit and stayed for ten years. He was made welcome if he wished to remain in the United States. James’s sister, Agnes Norval, also came from Scotland to see her brother. She decided to stay and remained in Utah, living with her sister­ in-law even after her brother had passed away. In their later years James and Ann moved to Ogden to live.  James died June 17, 1905; Ann passed away on September 14, 1914, and James' sister, Agnes, died six months later. All three are buried in the Ogden City Cemetery. 

Information taken from: "History of Ann Boyack'' written by her granddaughter, Laverna Newey; "James Ririe Autobiography"; James and Ann Boyack Family Records; personal knowledge of my mother (daughter of David Ririe), Elizabeth Ann Ririe Hogan.

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