History of Mary Susanna Higgs Sleater

(Written on her 81st Birthday, February 11, 1930 as dictated to her son. Mary was the wife of

Robert Gibson Sleater (b:9/30/1840; d: 3/26/1914), brother of Louisa Avelina Sleater Mills)


Was born in Utica, New York, in 1849, February 11th.

Came to Salt Lake City in 1856. Went to see the first performance in Salt Lake Theatre the Pride of the Market. Later on went on the stage with other girls to sing and dance, some of them being Brigham Young’s daughters with whom I went to school in their own home. Belonged to the Tabernacle Choir for several years. It was during that time that I met Robert G. Sleater. Went with him about a year and was married to him in 1867. Had ten children, eight of whom are living. Have seen lots of changes through my life. Have 29 grandchildren and two great-grandchildren who are my husbands and I also call them mine. I have tried to be mother and grandmother to them all. They are mine.


I also saw the last performance in the Salt Lake Theatre through the courtesy of my son and daughter, Mr. And Mrs. R. S. Sleater.


Some day I will write all the funny little things in my life and what I done as a girl much different from what it is now. Have done things that the girls of today would not do – dug garden, planted and watered with the water up to my knees; milked cows, fed pigs and chickens and stripped sugar cane until my hands bled, helped take it to the mill, spun yarn to help make our own clothes, cut wood.; I used to play a trick on your grandfather when he came to see me. We had to have wood to keep us warm so I used to go out to the wood pile when it was time for him to come to see me and start to cut wood and then he would cut enough for that night and the next day. I used to entertain him in the kitchen, not like we have today. We had nothing but the commonest kind of furniture them days.


There was one thing about my folks – they were honest, hard-working people and religious and were respected by everybody.


I am proud of my children – they are very good to me and of my grandchildren and all and hope your children will be as good to you all as mine are to me is the wish of your grandmother.


The first two or three years of my married life everything was very high; flour was $25.00 a hundred, butter $1.30 a pound, sugar 50cents and meat was very high but so many raised pigs of their own that pork was the cheapest and calico and all dress goods was almost out of sight as it had to be brought here by team from the east.  This was just after the Civil War. The only thing that was cheap was rent and you could not get very nice places to live in then but in a few years things began to pick up and things got cheaper when the railroad came in.


I have seen most of the rock that built the Salt Lake temple hauled by ox team. The truck was built low and long and the rock was hauled one at a time suspended by chains underneath and that was why it took so long to build the temple. After the railroad came they built a branch road and then they could bring more rock at once and the work went on more rapidly.


 Remember very distinctly when Brigham Young died. We were living in Provo then and some of the folks cried. It was like a Church without a head and the whole place was in mourning.


We lived in Provo about four years as your Father started the first paper there with Joseph McEwan and then John C. Graham bought them out and then he started the shop with Culmer Brothers and later on with Grimsdale in Salty Lake City and then he went into business with a Mr. Willis. Then Mr. Willis sold out to Romney and Ryan and Mr. Sleater also sold out to them a year or two before he died.