Elizabeth George Labram Janes

by Julie Ireland


Elizabeth George was born in Mursley, Buckinghamshire on 4th May 1818 and married Thomas Labrum about 1837. They had seven children. She was baptised into the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints in 1849 by William Reed of North Crawley, but her husband did not join the church. Nevertheless, they decided as a family to emigrate to 'Zion', with Thomas to go first and prepare the way for the family. He departed from Liverpool on the Olympus on March 4th 1851, and somewhere along the way was converted and baptised. One wonders quite how a baptism is conducted in the middle of the ocean! He arrived in New Orleans and went with the saints to St. Louis, Missouri, where he contracted cholera and died, May 1851.

What of Elizabeth? They had acted in such faith, but her circumstances were difficult even prior to the news of her husband's demise. The 1851 census, taken on 30th March finds her in the workhouse in Winslow with 5 children, possibly where she would have been 'returned' under the settlement laws. Because of her decision to join the church she had been rejected by her family, and they would not support her.

Winslow Workhouse
Winslow Workhouse

Elizabeth stayed faithful to the restored gospel, and in 1853 married Thomas Janes (or James, on some records); they had one son whom they named Hyrum, then Thomas died, leaving her again a widow. She had moved to Luton to be with the Saints there and worked as a straw plaiter to support her family


of straw plaiters

Eventually she was able to emigrate, 'Before she sailed she went to bid farewell to her folks although they had not spoken to her since she had joined the Church. Her father had said, 'Betsy, don't go to America with those awful Mormons. If you don't go I will educate your children and give you anything you want.' He gave her a half crown but he said if he thought it would help her to go to America, he wouldn't give it to her.'

On the 14th May 1862 she departed with some of her children on the William Tapscott and arrived in New York after six weeks at sea. 'From there they went to Florence, Nebraska by train, part of the way in cattle cars, dirty and not cleaned out, and then by steam boat. It was during the Civil War, and they saw thousands of soldiers and the woods on fire.”

They had to lay over for about three weeks for the teams and wagons to come and get them. They started for Salt Lake City about July 25 1862 and arrived October 1 1862 enduring all the hardships of crossing the plains. Elizabeth walked all the way and carried little Harry most of the way. “Little Harry was ill most of the time and died just after they arrived in Salt Lake City. He was Mary [Elizabeth's daughter] Cowley's child.'

Lace maker

Thereafter life for Elizabeth was still full of hardships and hard work, including losing almost all of her  meagre possessions in a fire in the dugout they were calling home. She taught millinery and the pillow lace work which is particular to Buckinghamshire - laborious, detailed and beautiful

'She did many other things to help the family get along such as sewing, washing, making butter, raising chickens, braiding rugs, etc. They raised fruit such as apples, green grapes, plums, black currants, gooseberries, pears, and strawberries which were very scarce at the time. Besides this they raised vegetables and other things. '

She lived to the age of 89, and was survived by her husband, four sons, 57 grandchildren and one hundred sixteen great grandchildren.

Her obituary included these lovely words:


'In England, her home was always open to the Elders and though she passed through hardships and trials incident to pioneer life, she was a true Latter Day Saint and maintained her integrity to the end.'