My great-grandmother was Sarah Ellen Kinsman (AKA Ella Milner). Growing up, I didn’t know much about her except that her father Marshall Kinsman died in a logging accident and her mother remarried Joseph Young, Brigham Young’s older brother. Even my dad was too young to know my Great Grandma Milner — she died a year before he was born. I also remember hearing that Ella’s mother was born on the day of the Hauns Mill Massacre but I could never keep track of which relative these stories were about. Really the only thing I remember from my childhood about my great-grandmother was just that we would often visit her gravesite on our trips to Raymond, AB, so learning more about her has been really interesting.
I’m sharing her story for posterity as part of my collection of family posts. If you find this information useful please send me a note, I’d love to hear from you.
SARAH ELLEN KINSMAN, daughter of Marshall Corridon Kinsman and Sarah Jane Snow, was born 19 May 1857, at Provo, Utah. She died 25 May 1943, in Salt Lake City, Utah at the age of 86. She married Benjamin Franklin Milner on 9 June 1886, at Logan, Cache, Utah in the Logan Temple.
Here is a timeline of a few of her life highlights:
|May 19, 1857
|Birth of Sarah Ellen Milner
Provo, Utah, Utah, United States
|June 22, 1887
|Birth of Benjamin Fayne Milner
Provo, Utah, United States
|Birth of Newell Kinsman Milner
Utah, United States
|February 28, 1891
|Birth of John Randall Milner
Provo, Utah, United States
|March 6, 1893
|Birth of Ann Ella Bennett
Provo, Utah, United States
|Birth of Earl LeGrand Milner
Utah, United States
|April 18, 1897
|Birth of Caleb Edward Milner
Provo, Utah, United States
|December 28, 1898
|Birth of Marshall Corridon Milner
Provo, Utah, United States
|May 25, 1943
|Death of Sarah Ellen Milner
Salt Lake City, Utah, United States
|May 27, 1943
|Burial of Sarah Ellen Milner
Raymond, Alberta, Canada
Below is her autobiography from Valiant in the Faith:
SARAH ELLEN (ELLA) KINSMAN was born 19 May 1857 in a small adobe home south of Center Street on Fifth West in Provo, Utah. Her parents were Marshall Corridon Kinsman and Sarah Jane Snow. They had three children. Their first son George Chauncy, born April 30, 1855, died a month after Ella was born. Her father went on a mission among his kinsmen in Illinois and Vermont about 1858 to 1860. Their third child, Emily Wheelock, was born 13 May 1862. Sarah Ellen was baptized and confirmed under the hands of her grandfather James C. Snow, August 4, 1868 in Provo. She has recorded some of her early life’s memories:
One day Mother took me across the street to visit Aunt Polly and Aunt Elizabeth, two of Uncle Dominicus Carter’s wives. I got tired waiting, wanted to go to Daddie, and went. In crossing the footbridge I fell in the flume, and screamed. Father was up in a threshing machine he built, and hearing me scream jumped down from the top, grabbing me just as I was going over the flume into the wheel. He said another five minutes there would have been no little girl. Father was called to go to Manti to do some drafting, and we went there to live for nearly two years. I can’t give much to what he did, as his trunk and all his music and records, and some of my own were burned up accidently, as no one knows how it started… The first time being taken to a theater I was quite young, about 3 years. When they (actors) began shouting, I cried. Father said I would have to stay at home. This was while we were living at Manti, about 1860-1. A man gave me a little black goat with a spot on its forehead. I had to leave it there. Father said it was too young to take away from its mother.
When I was just past five years old my father was accidentally killed while logging (getting logs for fuel, Feb. 3, 1863) in Slate canyon. It was a very sad thing to have happened. All my life I couldn’t forget my father, always missing him. I dearly loved him, always remembered him as very loving and kind.
(Warren Snow on his return from his mission in England came to see his brother, James in Provo. He had not heard of the death of his dear friend, Marshall.) “Uncle Warren hugged Grandma Eliza Ann. It being nearly four years since he had left, he sat down, looking around, and asked where Marshall was. Grandma said, “James, you tell him.” I was standing by his knee. He reached and took me in his arms. “You are my little girl.” While hot tears ran down his cheeks, he cuddled me close. I went to sleep, and he carried me upstairs. I’d been crying every night for my father. I never cried at night again.
After [Father’s] death Mother sold everything by advice of her father, James C. Snow, and lived with her parents where her mother could take care of her baby, Emily. Mother went out nursing for a time, then was housekeeper for Gilbert Haws. I lived part time with them until [I was] nearly 11 years old.
I went to school first term to Mrs. Graves in Provo. Wasn’t I proud to walk to school with my teacher? She had such beautiful hair. At recess, sometimes she would let me comb it. The braids were so long, reached right around her head. From then on, went to Wilson Dusenberry and his sister Martha. Every morning he taught us a song, “Never be late for school.” Every Friday we had a program, and Annie McCauslin, a grown girl, and little me, sang. I sang treble and she sang alto. Every time I passed A G. Haws’ home, Nancy, his wife, called me in to tend her twins. One morning as I walked over the foot bridge, I fell in. Wilson Dusenberry took me to their home to get dried off, and there was Mother doing the washing all ready to hang out. My, but it was [a] cold, snowy morning. That evening he went to Grandma to have her put a stop to Nancy Haws calling me in.
I never had a doll. Uncle Cale sawed length of quaking aspen pole, turned them into dolls for Lida (Haws) and me, getting old Brother Silk to paint them. We had these dolls for years. I never had a whipping in my life, perhaps not because I didn’t need one, but I was not a very strong child, couldn’t run far or fast because of asthma.
Aunt Eliza (Haws) always went to Relief Society held in the adobe ward or school house, used for all purposes. One Relief Society day Aunt Eliza took me with her. I was quite clever. If I saw anything done I could do it. Mrs. Merissa Baron Wents, used to bring her lace to meetings but wouldn’t show how she knit it. Aunt Eliza said, “Ella you sit by Mrs. Wentz and watch her, and if you can knit it I’ll give you a prize.” This was in 1865 before her second child was born. I did. You will understand how a youngster asks questions. Well I went home and got knitting needles and knit the lace. It was called blown lace, now called rose leaf. Uncle Cale freighted for Kimball and Lawrence store once a week. He looked up some knitting needles and brought home a small box of different sizes from 3 to 4 inches (for me.)
Mother rented two rooms of her house and also did sewing and some nursing. She was quite frail and was ill quite a bit. I lived with Mother’s sister, Eliza Ann Snow Haws. I washed the dishes and tended the little children. Uncle Cale always had so much grain, and they kept lots of chickens and had lots of eggs. One day Aunt Eliza said, “You can take this pail of eggs to the store (that Dusenberrys had on Center St.) and I could get one yard of print calico for me some bottom pantelets, and three yards of factory (muslin). And if there was any over I could get some candy, (yum, yum, candy!) I picked one yard of green with little yellow sunflowers. Aunt Eliza smiled when she saw what I got—and three pounds of candy! I heard her tell Uncle Cale she thought Warren Dusenberry must have been drunk. All children wore white tops and colored bottoms for their pantelets. That was the style. I wore the calico for pantelets for some time, and Auntie got tired of seeing it. After I’d worn them a while, she said she would put some white and I could make Mary aprons out of the bottoms. She cut patterns and I made aprons for baby Mary.
Mr. Pope was milking his cow one evening when came a bolt of lightning killing a cow, but didn’t hurt Mr. Pope. Aunt Liza was quite sick. I was so little I had to stand on a box to wash dishes, had to ring out dish cloth, no dish towels in those days. One night she told me how to make yeast bread. I did, and the bread was good. Aunt Eliza bought one of the first sewing machines that came to Provo. I learned to sew on it and did quite a lot of sewing for the family. Eliza Ann’s husband, Caleb Haws, went to England on a mission and took the black smallpox and died there. He was the first L.D.S. missionary to die while on a mission to a foreign country. He was buried in England. The people in that place were very prejudiced against the missionaries and someone plastered over the inscription on his tombstone placed at his grave. Years afterward two missionaries found it and dug out the cement, clearing the inscription.
I was very quick to learn. I attended Benjamin Cluff’s school but had to stay out a great deal to help with the work at home.
Uncle Dominicus was always good to me. If neighbors gave their children a party, and I would be up to Aunt Eliza’s, he would come and get me. Nearly all the neighbors gave children dances. When we went, Roswell Ferre showed us how to polka.
Mother was very sick and the doctor said she’d have to have some ?grafenberg pills. They were 50 cents a box. Neither Mother nor Grandma had a cent. I felt so bad and was sure Mother would die. I was crying. They told me to go back up to Aunt Eliza. It was so warm when I got up by the ward school house, I pulled off my shoes and stockings, sat down on the foot bridge, with [my] feet in the water. As the rubbish, papers, rags came floating down I had a stick, pushing and throwing them out. All at once a piece of paper came along that looked different. When it came near the bridge I grabbed it. It was a greenback. It was almost faded out. I never stopped for shoes or stockings, but ran.
“Here’s the money!”
“Where did you get it?”
“Up by the school house.”
“Where are your shoes and stockings?”
“Up by the bridge.”
“You hasten back, if they are gone you will have to go barefooted.”
And away I went to get the pills. The bill was hardly dry then.
In the tithing yard the granary was one of those big long buildings with lots of grain bins built close together with braces about 2 ft. apart. Mother always kept lots of hens and chickens, and not being any fence between, they had full run of yard. We lived on north comer, the granary coming near middle of [the] lot. As I went through the big gate a short way to Grandma Snow’s, I heard a hen cackle. She came out from under the granary. I was then coming 12, nothing daunting, I crawled under. There was a nest of 11 eggs. I couldn’t turn around, had to back out. I had [a] heavy dress, petticoats, underwear. Oh yes, I backed with all my duds coming over my head, fetching eggs one at a time near me, getting finally out, then gathering them all in my dress, flew to the back door, and when I told Mother, she sat down and didn’t she talk? I might have died and no one would ever know what had become of me. For a wonder, I didn’t try that again.
Using our granary to store things in, one morning early everything was frozen. A man came to get some things. Mother sent me to open the door. I unlocked the door putting padlock in my mouth, then I couldn’t get it out and had to go into the house and put my mouth in cold water. How the man laughed and Mother too.
In June 1870 the Ringling Circus came to Provo. Uncle Warren had built his wife Sarah Whiting a home in Springville. The girls and boys came over to the circus and at evening performance the girls didn’t want to go so they had supper and spent the evening at our home. Ed and William Tew went to see the Educated hog or pig. They had Beloan (?balloon) the darkey filled with gas, and a man sat in a basket and it soared away as far as James E. Daniel’s place and caught in the cottonwood trees and came down. The mayor let the traveling circus use the east square for that purpose. Sister Douglas had taken my sister Emily and I to see the Educated Pig, but we could go upstairs at Grandma’s and see it from the window.
In a day or two after the circus in June at sundown came a horseman on horse through the big gate. Mother [was] getting supper and the man kept coming. It looks like Uncle Warren. Mother came to the door. Why it is! He rode up [and] said the deputies are after me (for polygamy). He was quite grey. I said Ed Peck has some batchelors hair dye that makes your hair brown. So over to Peck I went and I rubbed it on Uncle Warren’s hair, and the more I put the stuff on the greyer it looked. But lo and behold in the morning Warren went out early in [the] sunshine. The brown hair and beard were as brown as brown could be. Mother had one of my stepfather, Joseph Young’s high crown hats, and put it on him, (and he was not recognized.)
When 13 years old my friend Victoria Hodgett and I went out to the fields east of Provo to pick ground cherries. We heard a baby constantly crying for some time. It sounded as if it was coming from Aunt Mary (Hallet) Snow’s home, so we went to investigate and found Aunt Mary had a newborn baby only a few hours old. The midwife had gone home and no one was there to help care for the mother or baby. I took the baby in my arms and thought the band was put on too tight. Aunt Mary told me how to fix it. Right away the baby went to sleep, and I stayed for a while and tried to make Aunt Mary comfortable. I came every day and stayed with them until she was up and around again. This was my first nursing experience. From that time on I began to go out nursing and continued to go for many years after I was married.
When I was between 13 and 18 I used to comb girls’ hair. They came for me to fix it in all the latest styles, first was waves, then French rolls—that was a bit hard to do but managed to get it right. Then last was the horseshoe. I would have sometimes seven and eight girls if a grand ball or anything special going on, and never received a cent. I would be so tired, but it pleased them. Nowadays they have to pay a good price.
When I was 14 we had a cat with one kitten. A window in the back room came exactly over the well, one night it was dark and the window had been left open. The kitten jumped through and fell in the well. The mother cat kept mewing, and finally when I went to go out she ran just ahead of me, purred, mewed, then jumped on the curb (of the well). I went and looked in and then heard a meek mew. As quick as lightning the cat followed. Amos Holdaway and wife had rented a couple of rooms of Mother’s. I called, “Amos come quick—the little kitten is in the well! I’ll get in the bucket if you let me down to get it.” “Alright.” “Now Amos don’t let the handle slip.” I got in the bucket. All the family and his wife came to see if I dared. Even the old cat sat on the side curb. I told her I would get her baby. I went down 50 feet! The folks had several candles. When I looked up they looked like stars. Well, I got the kitten, called up, and then it was I got scared! It seemed every crease was snakes and demons peering at me, holding out their claws. That was a terrible sensation. I could hardly hold on, but the end came at last and Amos and Mother grabbed me. She said, “Can you walk?” “Yes, and Amos will thank you tomorrow.” Into the house I went, cat, kitten and all. Mother gave me a towel. I laid the kitten down. Mamma cat licked its little mouth and purred. It could open its mouth and the old cat purred and sang. Our well was always low in January.
When the (Black Hawk War) was over, the State gave a military dance. I was 12. Uncle Dominicus Snow said if I’d iron his shirt without yellowing, he’d take me to this ball. Mother objected saying there be no children there. Uncle Mink said there be plenty of them. Men wear their shirts fastened in back. When ironed, the gloss you could almost see your face. Mrs. Sheets had bought me white lawn with blue stripe for me a dress for milking and churning. Uncle Mink belonged to orchestra dance music. There was Jim Wheeler, Thad Flemans, John Snow, Dominicus Snow. Uncle Dominicus’ girl was Emily Potter. He said, “You girls sit here and if anyone better looking than me (asks,) go dance, as I can’t until recess.” They called a plain quadrill. General Burton & wife, General Pace and wife, Captain Haws & wife, General Snow, Aunt Mary Ann didn’t come. So Uncle Warren came looking for a partner. When he spied me I introduced him to Emily, and he said, “I’ll dance with you next.” I was so little, only came to his knee. He had on his uniform, gold epaulets on shoulders, gold around neck band. Their hats all black turned up on left side, black ostrich feathers, not quite so many ostrich (feathers) on each. And could he dance, light as a feather. The committee had ordered supper at Isaac Bullock’s tavern and Uncle Warren took me. A lady said, “General Snow, you have a nice looking daughter.” He said,”But she isn’t half so handsome as her father.” About half (the people) knew who I was, and the lady thought how conceited he was.
Uncle Warren was my father’s bosom friend and while he was on a mission in England, Father was hurt so bad he died. Because it took a week to get and send mail, he didn’t hear about it until he came home. That was on November 2nd, 1864, and it nearly broke his heart. That was one reason why he loved me. I spent a part of a winter with him and Aunt Mary Ann at Manti. They were building the Temple there in February. Oh, he (Warren) was such a loving and kind husband, father and uncle. While I was on that visit he was the main one in building the Temple. One morning Aunt Mary Ann was pounding something on the hearth. The mantle was very high and she kept her flat iron up there. The jar caused the iron to move and fell off striking her on the head. My, but blood did run. I got a teacup of salt and poured it right on cut and told Jennie to give me piece of cloth and tied it on. She called the Dr. and he said, “Did she put salt on.” Ella did. “She done right. Nothing I can do more, and salt good for hair. Be careful in getting salt off so as not to start bleeding again.” When salt was all off hardly any hole, just comer the iron had struck. After that anyone getting a scratch put salt on the sore. I believe he caught a wild cat, lassoed it, brought it home, put in box, but it got away. That was a very pleasant winter… No dances, all shows, not one dance while I was there. I couldn’t show off my dexterity in dancing, but plenty shows and mutual parties.
I have been blessed with an experience few people have had. When I was at Frisco I went down in a silver mine 600 feet. Mrs. McBride went down too. My sister wouldn’t go.
They held a leap year dance. Girls had to take partners. I took John McEwan, and furnished supper. Those were the days, waltzed with Henry Maben until my eyes and ears were cold.
I have seen different stages of communication. When a young lady I learned telegraphy and operated at the train station for over five years.
(When Ella was 23 her Uncle Richard Snow’s wife died and left a family of four little girls — Amelia, Pearl, Lucinda and Eliza. It seemed quite natural that she should be called on to assist in taking care of them, which she did until after she was married. Then she took the youngest with her to her own home, and Eliza stayed with her until she was about eleven. Lucinda, Amelia, Pearl, and Eliza always regarded Ella with great affection and as a second mother.)
After Aunt Mary died, Uncle Dick asked me if I would stay with him. I said yes, and do the best I could. He was yard clerk at East Co-op, Reed Smoot, the Superintendent. He was nearly always home by 8 o’clock, but one night he was late in coming. The children and I were in bed. There was a funny noise, a fussing and grunting at the door. I said “Who’s there?” No answer, just a grunt. So I got a pistol, 45 caliber, held it to the key hole, and said, “Whoever you are say quick, or I will shoot!” Then Uncle Dick laughed. “I didn’t think it was in you.” “If you ever try that again you can get someone else to stay with your children.” But when he put his arm around me, the dog Bose jumped on him and growled, and that made the children laugh.
One time while at Uncle Dick’s my friends, Hannah Stubbs, Zella Webb and Victoria Hodgett came to supper. Afterwards we walked through the cemetery not far away, at 12 o’clock midnight to visit our “friends.” There was a full moon. We had visited quite a number and were standing by Emma Daniel’s monument talking about how sad it was that she had always said she wouldn’t live to be 20, and she hadn’t. We just said that, when down the road from the east gate came a great clatter of steps! “Believe me, we all stood close together. It was my two lambs that heard us talking and came after me. It was about 1:00 before we left the cemetery and the lambs followed us home.”
I bought material for a quilt, red, white for the blocks, called Washington Church Steps, set together with white. Also scrap print pieces for a second one. The girls who helped me were, Otilla Maeser, Victoria Hodget Pace, Sarah Marie Smith (daughter George A. Smith). We got permission of the President of the Relief Society to use the Relief Society house to make it in. We made those quilts to sell to aid the Young Women Society, now called M.I.A. (Mutual Improvement Association.) Helen Alexander was president. We had all the best quilters in Provo, Aunt Hannah Smith, Sarah Clark, Sarah J. K. Young (my mother), Eliza Ann Carter Snow, Isabell Smith, Margret Foster Cluff, Jane Foster, Sister Maeser, Sister Sutton, Aunt Mary, Sister Haws, Sister Bunnell, Aunt Eunice Billings Warner Snow, Aunt Eliza Snow Haws. I can’t remember all, but enough to quilt both quilts in one afternoon. I should say there were as many young girls helped quilt as the older sisters. Believe me, we had a jolly time, and Pres. Helen Alexander didn’t know we were doing this for Young Ladies Association. We girls furnished the luncheon in Relief Society room. Then we asked Bishop Booth if we could use the school house to sell them as well, by 10 cents a number. He said we would have to see the school trustees to get permission. After we explained, telling him what it was for he gave his consent, and we invited him to come and buy one or two. Otillio Maeser made numbers. Victoria and Sarah Marie took in cash while I sold numbers. Bishop John E. Booth picked the winning number. None of us girls knew the number picked. John R. Twelves laughing had told us if we sold George Smart a number, he wins. Well he (Bro. Smart) bought 5 numbers; his sister bought five. The quilts were so pretty that everyone wanted them and the house was packed. At 11:30 p.m. all numbers were sold and number on each quilt was in view. No. 114 was the one that took the white and red quilt. When the number was called out—of all things, George Smart held the number. Then the other one was number 20, and low and behold, Ann Smart held that. The two quilts brought us $70.00. We turned it over to Young Ladies Society president, Helen Alexander.
As we were going to Logan Temple to get married in 1885, along in the afternoon we came to a place where on the left was a large orchard, on the right a row of tall trees, and water so clear. Mother said, “Let’s eat lunch.” We stopped, let the horses rest. An old gentleman came and asked questions: Where we lived?—”At Provo.” “Your maiden name?”—”Snow.” “Do you know Warren S. Snow?”—”Yes, he’s my uncle.” He related this to me June 8, 1886, as we were going to Logan Temple to get married:
At time Black Hawk Indian War was on I was with General Snow, and the shot that broke his shoulder. I undressed him. He had on his garments. There wasn’t a bit of powder smoke on his garments. That proved to me General Snow was a clean minded man. When you see him ask if he remembers old Bill Green.
Ella Kinsman Milner and Benjamin Franklin Milner were married for time and all eternity June 9, 1886 by President Merrill in the Logan Temple. The marriage was witnessed by her mother, grandmother Eliza Ann Snow, and her Aunt Arietta. Frank was the eldest son of Judge John B. Milner and Esther Elizabeth Yardley, born 19 September 1855 at Provo. Their first home was on Frank’s father’s farm, where the Columbia Steel operated on State Road between Provo and Springville, and here their first child, Benjamin Fayne, was born. They moved to the McPherson home, east of the Provo Cemetery, and two sons were born there, Newell Kinsman and John Randall. They welcomed their only daughter, Ann Ella, at the red house on Frank’s grandmother’s lot at 320 East 1st South. Earl LeGrand, was born at a ranch when his parents moved to Charleston. After they came back to Provo Caleb Edward, arrived at Ella’s mother’s home, 34 W. 1st East. Marshall Corridon, their sixth son, was born at 320 E. 1st South in Provo.
Ella K’s daughter, Ella [M Bennet], wrote more about her mother:
Several women have related occasions where Ella K. was instrumental in saving their lives. The young doctor attending her sister-in-law, Alice Thurman, stated he could not go any farther with the birth of their youngest child, without sacrificing either the mother or child. Her husband, Tom, was to make the choice of one or the other. Tom sent for Ella K. to come quickly.
Mother was in the process of washing her clothes out in the summer shanty, and I was about six years old, and was making a cake under her direction. She told me to push the boiler aside and to let the fire die down, that she had to go to Uncle Tom’s across the street… She ran… to Uncle Tom’s… and was gone a long time. The next day she told my father: “When I got there the house was full of relatives and friends, all crying… Poor Uncle Tom was beside himself.” Mother went up to him and told him to clear everyone out but the doctor… Then she consulted with the doctor and showed him how to take care of a breech birth. The doctor grew calm and performed under her instructions, and in a little while the 12 lb. baby was born. She stayed until everything was under control and the mother and baby were resting peacefully. Every morning she went over to see that the right treatment was given, and in ten days Aunt Alice was up and around the house again.
Uncle Jesse Knight, knowing Frank was an expert in growing sugar beets in Provo prevailed on him to go to Canada to be in charge of the sugar factory fields of beets. In the spring of 1903 Frank and his three older boys left for Canada. He was to be Field Superintendent, but when he got to Canada the manager had already hired a relative. Even though this was a great disappointment, Ella and the younger children took the train in the fall to rejoin Frank and the boys. They took up residence in Raymond, where they built their home and helped in community life.
It wasn’t long before Ella K. was involved in nursing, as there was only one doctor and no trained nurses, and several children had died. Mrs. Knight and her sister Mrs. Brimhall knew of Ella’s reputation in Provo, and it wasn’t long before she was called constantly to help. For a number of years she went because she was needed, without charging, but the Canadian doctors told her it wasn’t fair to those who really needed the work and money for her to not charge, and suggested she charge $15 a week. Nursing in those days involved taking care of the patient and doing the housework, besides washing the patient’s clothes. In this little town she lost only one mother out of all the cases, and this one died of a heart attack when the baby was ten days old. Numerous times the doctor and nurse had to go out in severe weather to homes several miles out, with no modem facilities or supplies in the homes. She packed a suitcase with clean sheets, which was kept in readiness when needed. She had many experiences, sometimes being called out in the middle of the night, and in stormy blizzard weather, under all kinds of conditions, and during the flu of 1918. She won the respect of all the doctors she ever worked with because they could rely on her following their instructions, and they in turn learned of her experience and knowledge. After working with her, one young doctor wanted her to get a statement from the doctors she had worked with both in Utah and Canada, and let him send the information back to McGill, Canada, and he would recommend her for an honorary certificate of nursing. She was a very modest person and didn’t pursue the issue.
Ella had a great faith in the healing of the sick—a marvelous gift. She had great faith in prayer and in the power of God to alleviate suffering and save Uves of mothers and babes. Ella K. belonged to the Retrenchment Society, the first organization for young ladies, which afterwards became the Mutual Improvement Association (M.I.A.). Later on she belonged to the Relief Society. She was a Visiting Teacher for years and Chairman of the committee for making burial clothes and laying out the dead, and nursing the sick. W. Clark Scott remembered Sister Milner visiting those who were ill, and when he was sick with typhoid fever she came over and stayed several days to help. His mother was an invalid, but she and Sister milner were great friends.
In her home Ella K. was most efficient reading about ways and means of managing. She could put a meal on the table the quickest of anyone. She raised poultry, mostly turkeys and chickens, and supplied turkeys for some of the hotels in Lethbridge every year. She was an expert at making butter, and many were the prizes she received at the fairs for her butter and turkeys, and also for her handwork. Her Aunt Eliza Ann Haws had taught her to sew, and she also could tailor, as she learned from an English tailor who rented part of her mother’s house. She made a suit for Frank which he always said was the best one he ever had and wore it for ten years. She also tailored suits for her six sons, when they were young in Provo, making them from remnants. Ellen could turn her hand to many things, such as knitting, crochet work, trim wedding cakes, make quilts, embroidery and tatting. One sewing experience in her young life was never forgotten. A well-to-do lady in Provo brought some lovely silk and asked her to make a dress for an important function during Christmas festivities. Ella sewed and fitted the dress very carefully and finished it in good time, all the time planning what she would buy with the money for making it for her mother, half-brother and sister, to make them happy for Christmas. The lady was most pleased with the dress. But imagine Ellen’s great disappointment when the woman told her she couldn’t pay her until after Christmas!
Ella and Frank always had a fine garden and shared it with others. Ella taught some of her English immigrant friends how to cook and sew. She taught a little Japanese woman how to sew and make butter, and for years, she and her husband showed their appreciation by sending her flowers, oranges, Japanese sweet cakes and candies, and vegetables from their garden. She had a sweet singing voice and a wonderful memory, always singing while she worked, never in public, but a few times at parties of relatives and old friends, always unaccompanied. It pleased her when her children took part in school and Sunday School programs. In Canada during the long winter evenings they used to take turns reading books aloud to the family sitting around the coal heater. She taught her boys to help in the house to make bread, cakes, and pies and take care of the milk properly. Her home was always open to her family’s friends and relatives. The boys worked on the farm and also worked for others.
There were sad times for the Milner family. A few years after arriving in Canada, the family grieved at the loss of little Eddie, age 10, who died from diphtheria Jan. 29, 1908. They were quarantined, and he was buried in a snowstorm. In 1915 Newell enlisted as a mechanic in the war and left for England. Mechanics were under great pressure to keep up to the needs of the army repairs. Newell came down with the flu and continued to work instead of going to the hospital. He died 14 November 1918 and is buried in me British Cemetery in Douai, France. Fayne served a mission in the Northern States, then married and had five sons. When he died Aug. 15, 1939, he left his widow and four young sons.
Ella K. has lived in a log cabin, adobe, lumber and brick houses. They were lighted with candles, oil in an open can with a wick, coal oil, gas lamps, and those with electricity. She experienced different modes of transportation from ox team, wagon, buggy with a jump seat, surrey, trap, automobile, and at the age of 70, had the privilege of riding in an airplane over Utah county.
After the death of her husband in 1926 she stayed with Jack and Earl in Livingston, Montana, with Marshall in Raymond, and with Ella in Salt Lake City. In later years she enjoyed reading, sewing, crocheting baby shoes, and making quilts, one for each of her grandchildren. She lived a useful and happy life. On her 80th birthday, relatives and friends visited her in Salt Lake. At the time of her death in Salt Lake City, 25 May 1943, age 86, she had a posterity of 20 grandchildren. She was buried beside her husband in the cemetery at Raymond, Canada.
—From the writings of Ella K. Milner and her daughter Ella Bennett
Brother Heber F. Allen in speaking at her funeral said:
As Florence Nightingale administered so tirelessly to the sick and needy in the Crimea, so Sister Milner has administered to the sick and needy of this community as many of the people in this audience can testify. She had a special gift in her Patriarchal Blessing which promised her that she should have power in the sick room. This gift was manifest to such an extent that a number of women in this town can testify that it was almost magical. Even some doctors whom I could mention … were astonished at her results. She was indeed an angel of mercy in this pioneer community…
Next to our father, your mother (Ella K.) has been the nearest and dearest person in our lives… She has been such an unselfish person, so understanding, useful and resourceful; even when she was not well enough to do, she persisted in doing. She had strength of character and moral fortitude to do the right no matter how much opposition she met with… Her faith was as strong as steel, she had implicit faith in God our Eternal Father, his Son Jesus Christ, and in the mission of the Prophet Joseph Smith. Doubt never entered her mind. What a heritage she has left us! More than gold or silver or lands or goods. A spotless name and a life of unselfish service to her fellow men that will never die, because it lives on and on in the hearts of those she has ministered to and they will tell it to their children and so on down. May we all have the strength and courage to follow the fine example she has set.
—Tribute by Pearl Snow, one of the “daughters” she helped raise.
When Ella K. and Frank moved to Canada, at that day they didn’t have any conveniences that we now have of doctors, hospitals, etc. Sometimes it was a mighty tragic thing when a baby was to be born. Stories are told of how she and the doctor traveled in a raging blizzard over miles of prairie to some little hut, which they were able to find only by holding to die fence posts; but they got there and saved the life of the mother and child. She used to take real joy later in meeting a fine young man or woman, perhaps a missionary, who was fiUing an important life, and to recall it had been her blessed privilege to have helped save that life for a mission of service in this world. She enumerated about 65 babies at whose birth she had officiated and whom she had washed and dressed for the first time. And those of us who knew her in those days know that over a period of years she was always on hand when the dead were laid to rest. The doctors had great faith in her ability. And what was more still remarkable, she had the blessing of faith in connection with the healing of the sick. More than once the doctors, who had done all that they could, were ready to give up, but, she would not. She didn’t give up, and in more than one case mothers have come into our home and said, “Sister Milner, I owe my life to you.” She gave the credit to her Father in Heaven, of course.
Sarah Ellen Kinsman Milner had various experiences in her life. Her early years were cast among the leaders of the Church. Her stepfather was Joseph Young, brother to Brigham Young. Naturally Brigham Young was often in their home. Her grandfather, James C. Snow, was president of Utah Stake and that brought her in contact with many leaders. She received in those early days a testimony of the Gospel that went with her all her life. There was never a time when she doubted any part of the Gospel in the least or questioned the rulings or teachings of any leaders of the Church. Never once have I seen any wavering in that faith. That gave her a wonderful foundation for what would ensue in the future life.
—Tribute by Archibald F. Bennett, her son-in-law, at her funeral