ALLAN McQUARRIE (1800-1887)
By Larry E. Bunker
Allan McQuarrie was born the 22nd of October 1800, at Kildalton Parish, (Islay), Argyll, Scotland. He was the fourth child of Hector and Ann Agnes Nancy McQuaig McQuarrie. His brothers and sister were Betsey, Mary, John, Janet, Catherine, Anne, and Marion.
Allan and Agnes were born in different parishes. Allan born on the Isle of Islay and Agnes was born in Knapdal Parish. As a young man Allan had been in an accident with a horse and cart and his right leg had been run over and the strain of saving that leg caused his left leg to be injured.
No history is recorded about Allan before 1831 when he married Agnes (Ann) Mathieson. After he and Ann were married, Allan was hired as a farm servant to Robert Holm. Robert was a farmer and his wife, Mary, was Ann's aunt. The farm Allan was fired to work was located at Castle Hill, Kilmolcolm Parish, Scotland. It is assumed that they went to live and work on the farm because Mary and Robert Holm were related to Ann and the Holms were getting older and needed help with the farm. While living at Kilmalcolm the McQuarries had seven children: Robert born August 17, 1832; Hector born October 2, 1834; Mary Graham born January 20, 1837; Neal born May 12, 1839; Agnes born December 8, 1841; John born March 9, 1844; and Mary Mathieson born August 23, 1846. In 1844 Mary Graham died. She was only 7 years of age.
Allan worked for Robert Holms for 16 years. The last three of those years he suffered severely with a pain in his right leg (Lame knee). When he could take the pain no longer he head his right leg taken off above the knee with a knife and meat saw, without the benefit of an anesthesia. This disability was a great hardship on him and his family. He being no longer able to support his family, his wife, Agnes, she had to work and take in wash to support them. The sons were older then and helped with the farm work.
In 1850 the McQuarrie family were still tenant farmers at Kilmalcolm in the highlands of Scotland. About this time a family council was held. There were then eight in the family. They were too many for the small farm to support. Allan had only a "peg leg" and it was difficult for him to do the farm labor. It was necessary for at least one of the boys to leave the home to go out on-his-own. Although Hector, his second son, had never been more than twenty miles from his country home, he recognized that his father's handicap placed Robert, his older brother, as the responsible head of the family. Hector suggested that Heal and John were old enough to assist with the farm work, but too young to go out into the world alone. He concluded that he was the logical one to leave. Beyond what Hector could carry in a knapsack, the family had nothing to divided, not even a donkey to carry his bedroll.
From this separation of the family came the means whereby the family would eventually hear the Gospel of Jesus Christ. As Hector ventured out into the world, it required courage, principle, and sacrifice for a country boy of about sixteen to cut himself loose from all his boyhood moorings, not knowing where or when he could find new attachments. He had neither: means, experience, training, or mature judgment. If we can partially visualize the scene and sense the conflicting emotions as he walked away from home and family and the security of his childhood, we could pronounce the action noting less than heroic.
Hector bound himself as an apprentice in a blacksmith shop. His wages at first would be a mere pittance. But when he became a journeyman he would have a trade, and opportunity to manage his own business. His decision was wise. His future experience proved that whether being in an industrial center or on the last frontier, he would never be without gainful employment. In conquering the West and the establishment of Zion, he became one of the important factors. In this decision he displayed both courage and wisdom.
During the late 1830's and early 1840's, some of the greatest men of the Church, like Brigham Young, Wilford Woodruff, John Taylor, and Erastus Snow, opened up the British mission, which spread to the Netherlands and Germany. The people were ripe for religious reforms. The restored gospel was so logical, so scriptural, so like the primitive church in organization and ordinances that early missionaries had phenomenal success.
By the early 1850's their very success in gaining converts became a challenge and a menace to priests, ministers, and office-seeking politicians. The storm of opposition resulted in the martyrdom of Joseph and Hyrum Smith. The news of the expulsion of the Saints from Missouri and Nauvoo spread to the missions in north Western Europe, especially to the British Isles. The same classes of opponents used the same vicious propaganda that had been used in Kirtland, Independence, and Nauvoo.
In 1852, Hector heard the gospel message from elder Robert Baxter. Hector was a man without guile, and like the Apostle Andrew of old he knew the Master's voice and followed Him because the index of the Gospel was in him. He followed the Elders in their street meetings, read and distributed their tracts. Soon after this association commenced, he applied for and was baptized on May 4th, 1852.
Public sentiment was so strong against the Church that quite often the converts kept their baptism a secret from even their own families and neighbors. Although Hector knew his parents were Calvinistic Scots Presbyterian, he invited Elder Baxter to accompany him to his Highland home so that his family, too, might hear the warning message. This message proved good news to the family. Robert, like Hector, recognized the truth right away. The two other brothers and the two sisters followed the example of Hector and Robert and were also baptized in 1853.
In the 1850's, American was still the New World. It was a land from which few travelers ever returned. The trip from England by sailing vessel was still hazardous, even to reach the Atlantic seaboard. It required the crossing of the ocean, trekking of a thousand miles beyond the Western frontier, and scaling the Rocky Mountains, for their destination to the "Promised Valley" in the heart of the American desert. A journey of this magnitude required an "urge" of great purpose to cause the McQuarrie family to leave relatives, friends, and also "Bonnie Scotland," for which they had a patriotic love, to strike out on a journey into the great unknown. This family was not adventurers, seeking gold, farm land, or virgin range. They desired to take part in establishing a Zion and to build a House of the Lord in the tops of the mountains.
The spirit of the gathering took hold of the family. Again it was Hector that was the one to blaze the trail to find "The Place" to make the beginning of a new home.
When Robert and Mary Holm died, they left their property (the farm and home) to the McQuarrie family. What a great blessing this was, it provided financial help to this poor family. Hector, now 21 years old, was given some of the money from the sale of the property and sent to Utah to build a home and get ready for the family to come later. He left Scotland on February 13, 1855 with Elder and Sister Baxter and their four children. They sailed from Greenock to Liverpool and then across the Atlantic arriving in Philadelphia. They took a steamship to St. Louis. They crossed the plains with the Ballantyne Company and arrived in Salt Lake City on September 26, 1855. Hector settled in Ogden, Utah.
On the 19th of March, 1857, the rest of the family left Greenock, Scotland, and sailed to Liverpool, England on the steamship Vanguard. Also traveling with the McQuarrie family were Hamilton Garric and Agnes Gray. Agnes Gray became Hector's wife after they reach Salt Lake. They stayed in Liverpool eight days and then sailed on the ship "George Washington" for Boston with 816 souls on board. The fair for crossing in those days was $18.00 for an adult and $12.00 for a child.
The second night at sea, a storm arose and the noise of boxes and tin cans was terrible. The sea was very rough; the ship was rolling from one side to the other and upset some of the cooking stoves. The ship was set on fire. With the help of passengers and crew the fire was soon put out. One of the cooks was scalded about the arms and head. Another brother got his hands scalded, but soon got well. They arrived in Boston after 23 days sailing. The first mate said he had sailed the seas for 32 years but never had better winds to take him into Boston.
On Tuesday, April 23, 1957, the family left Boston by rail. They traveled to Albany, and then to Buffalo, New York. From there they went to Cleveland, Ohio; Toledo, Ohio; Chicago, Illinois; and arrived in Iowa City in a wagon with the Jesse B. Martin Company and headed for Salt Lake City.
They crossed the plains with other pioneers from Scotland. Many of the family walked part of the way across the plains. After a long, weary journey, they arrived in Salt Lake on September 12, 1857. Elder Baxter had met them at the top of little mountain and they stayed at his home for the first week in the Salt Lake valley. Robert went ahead of the family to Ogden, Utah and purchased a farm for $1,000. When the family arrived the next week they bought a home and a City lot from John L. Child for $700. When they arrived in Ogden, how happy they were to greet their son and brother, Hector, whom they hadn't seen for two years. The sons, Robert, Hector, Neil and John, built a comfortable home for their father and mother on the lot in town.
Allan did not accept the gospel as readily as his children. He like many of the Scots people could not easily give up their ties to the Presbyterian faith. He did not yield his fixed opinions about the church until some time after the family had immigrated to Ogden, Utah, in 1857. There he was baptized on April 4th, 1858 by James S. Brown and confirmed by Edward Bunker.
February 1st, 1959 he was ordained a High Priest by Chas. R. Dana. He continued to live a godly life, being peaceable, quiet and affable, setting a good example to all around him, and was beloved by all who knew him.
Allan and his wife lived there until their deaths in the 1880s. Agnes (Ann) died March 3, 1882 and Allan McQuarrie passed away on March 19, 1887. Allan was confined to his bed the last three years of his life.
Allan provided a great posterity. His children were stalwarts in the Church and were leaders in building the communities and in pioneering the west.