Sunday, November 25, 2012

William Craig Burt and Margaret Gilmer (Gilmour) Burt

William Burt
William Burt, only child of William and Janet Craig Burt was born 18 February 1832 in Pulteney, Wick, Caithness, Scotland.  His father was a “master” plasterer.  The 1851 census said he employed five men and three boys.  The son was taught the plastering trade, serving five years as an apprentice.
 In December 1850 (or 1851) he married Margaret Gilmour (Gilmore) born 23 June 1831 in Beith, Ayrshire, Scotland, daughter of Thomas and Jane Patrick Laird Gilmour.  This marriage took place in Glasgow, Scotland.
On 5 October 1851, at the age of 19 William Burt was baptized into the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.  Margaret had been baptized in December 1850.  For the sake of the gospel they came to America and on to Utah in 1868.  William Burt crossed the ocean on the ship, Constitution, and landed in New York 6 Aug 1868.  They brought their seven children with them:  William, John, Willard, Margaret, Jean, Agnes and James.  Their next and last child, Peter McKeith was born in Salt Lake City.

At the time of the family’s arrival in Salt Lake City the old Salt Lake Theater was just being built.  There was a 120 foot ornamental cornice to be run, but no one had been found who could do it.  Someone who had heard of grandfather’s coming here told the contractor of this plasterer from the “old country”.  He was contacted to see if he were able to do this intricate work.  This was his first job in Salt Lake City.  He and his helper ran the cornice in one day.  He was paid $100.00 for himself and $20.00 for his helper.  To earn $100.00 in one day in 1870 must have meant that he was a good plasterer.  Later he did plastering in the Lion House.

 He bought a home on E. Street and 4th Avenue.  He sold this home and moved to I Street and 1st Avenue.  Disagreement arose in the family, and he left and went to Beaver, Utah to work on Fort Cameron.  Soon his sons went to Fort Cameron to work with him.  William built a small home for his wife and she lived there for some time, but they didn’t live together.

 William Burt went to St. George to work on the Temple.  He was put in charge of all the plastering of this temple, doing all of the ornamental molding and casting throughout the temple himself.  The book “Temple of the Most High” states that William Burt was a master plasterer.

This book also tells that when the site for this temple had been dedicated, as President Brigham Young took the first shovelful of dirt from the foundation he made this statement, “There will not be any persons who will lose their lives on any of the works of this temple.”  William Burt’s son, John, was plastering one day at the top of the temple nearly 90 feet above the ground.  A man with him stepped off the scaffold causing the plank on which John was standing to tip.  He jumped onto a scaffold 3 or 4 feet below but the plank broke and he went right on through, falling 84 feet to the ground on scattered rock and dirt.  The workmen rushing to him found him still conscious.  In just ten days he was walking around the streets of St. George!  The fall did not disable him in any way and he was soon able to be back at work on the temple.  For a man to fall 84 feet onto rocks and be able to be back to work in a few days was certainly a direct fulfillment of President Young’s promise.

During the time of the building of this temple Louisa Willden, daughter of Charles and Eleanor Turner Willden, went to St. George to cook for the temple hands.  Here she met William Burt, the plasterer.  While working together they came to know and love one another.  William and Louisa were married; we do not know their marriage date but they came to Salt Lake City and were sealed in the Endowment House 7 January 1874.  William’s first wife objected to this plural marriage, nevertheless she went with them to the Endowment House and was sealed to him when he was sealed to Louisa, but she, Margaret Gilmour Burt, never lived with him afterward.                                             

William and Louisa had six children, all born in St. George, for William worked on the temple until it was completed.  The father loved the gospel and taught his children of it.  One of the oft-remembered things he taught them was to never speak against the leaders of the Church.  He cautioned them to always seek good company, and to do good to others just as they would wish to be done by.  He was a good public speaker, and often spoke in church meetings.  He knew the scriptures and found joy in teaching from them.  He had great faith in administration, and was often called to go to administer to the sick.  He must have had a special gift in this because he could sometimes invoke the healing power of the Lord when other good men’s efforts had gone unrewarded.  He administered to his own children, instilling great faith in their hearts.

Singing was important in their home.  Lou (a daughter) remembers that her father’s favorite song was “Joseph Smith’s First Prayer”.  Both the father and mother sang in the ward choir.

William’s second wife, Louisa, grew sickly.  Heart trouble took this sweet mother on the 28th of May, 1883, when she was just 29 years of age.  The family then had to be divided among relatives.

In 1884, William Burt went to Provo, Utah, to plaster on the Brigham Young Academy and the State Hospital.
Sometime in the 1880’s William sent to Scotland for his father and his second wife, Euphemia Fortune Burt, to come to Utah.  The father, William Burt Sr. had finally embraced the gospel in 1879.  When he came to Utah he lived in Salt Lake City.  William’s mother, Janet Craig, had died 10 November 1871.

  In 1885 when the Manti Temple was ready to be plastered, William Burt went to Manti with some of his children by Louisa, where he was the head plasterer on that temple.  William became acquainted with a woman named Mrs. Emma Peterson Cox Clawson, a widow with seven children.  His children needed a mother and her children needed a father, so they were married 17 February 1886.  William’s children were so happy for this marriage; they thought it would be like heaven to have a mother again, but it just didn’t work out that way.  Thirteen step-brothers and sisters brought such complications!  William and Emma had three children born in Manti.  This marriage certainly wasn’t a very happy one, so the father left this wife and took his children by Louisa Willden to live in a very humble abode in Manti.

Daughter Lou remembers that her father was an ardent reader—always choosing good books.  He loved to read the scriptures and lives and works of the Church leaders.  Many nights he read until 1:00 or 2:00 am.  Nevertheless, he always arose early.  In the summertime he was usually working in his garden by four or five o’clock in the morning.

William Burt lived in Manti and did plastering work until the fall of 1899, when he went to Salt Lake City to live with daughters Nell and Lou.  There he worked with his son (from first wife, Margaret), John.  Two of the buildings in which he plastered were the Deseret News Building and the Studebaker Building.  He had been asked to do the head plastering on the Salt Lake Temple years before, but had work contracted in Manti and was too long in finishing it.

In August 1902, William had a stroke as he was walking along the street.  The family didn’t know about it, but began a search for him when he didn’t come home.  Lou’s husband found him and took him to their home where he died a week later 26 August 1902.  He was buried at the side of his father in the Burt lot, on the south side of 180 N and just west of Cypress Street, in the Salt Lake City Cemetery.

 --Excerpts from history compiled by Ruth Love Turner, granddaughter, July 1955.

1 comment:

  1. Would you be approving to have the blog information to be included I Family You would be identified as the researcher posting the info.