Ann Owen, it would seem, was destined in another world to perform a life of usefulness and devotion, as a lady's maid to those who took her in when she was alone; to her husband; to her children; and to a very unpopular cause which she accepted with the faith of a person born to endure all of the hardships life and Satan can propose. It is, to the viewer of her life, as though a calculated plan had been devised to rob her of life's most precious companions and to destroy her as well. The plan, if so devised, went awry, however, and she has become the progenitor of many worthy sons and daughters of the priesthood of God--men and women devoted to the cause of the gospel and plight of our fellow men.
Ann Owen was born in Shinefield, Berkshire, England, on 3 April 1809, the daughter of Charles Owen and Ann Baker. When but nine years old, she lost the comfort and companionship of a living mother and father. Death even robbed her of the joy and affection of a brother and sister who both died young. Many great men and women of the world have suffered similar heart-rending experiences in their lives and have risen above them with a strength and knowledge that has given them the courage to accomplish the things which made them great.
Ann Owen grew to become an efficient and capable young lady. She gained the confidence of a well-to-do lady and her daughter and served them as a lady's maid. She gained a valuable and liberal education traveling with them through France and England for seven years. Doing this she had an opportunity to learn much about the world and the people in it. Then Ann gave up the comfortable life of a lady-in-waiting and all that it had to offer in the way of security and took up the more exacting life of becoming a wife and mother.
Without the counsel and advice of a mother or the companionship of a sister, Ann married William Hobbs. William Hobbs and Ann Owen had seven children born to them in Cheltenham, Gloucestershire, England. When thirty-six years old, William fell victim to pneumonia and died. Thirty-six years old, a young man in the prime of life, he was not to have the privilege of raising his family and supporting his young wife. With two young twin girls only a few months old and five young boys, the oldest fourteen, Ann was again left to face the burden of life with no one to turn to for comfort and support. How lonesome and distraught she must have been. How her mind must have dwelt upon the principles of eternity, searching for an answer to her dilemma. When the events in a person's life become adverse, it takes strength of character and real courage not to become cynical, not to find fault and criticize the ways of God when the reasons and causes for the events in life are not to be fully understood by man.
Ann Owen eventually overcame her grief and heartache, as all widows must, and took up the process of providing for her children's needs--both as a mother and as a provider. With her skill as a seamstress, she was able to provide a few of the necessities of life. How meager must have been their fare. When the boys became old enough they began to work and were able to help and relieve somewhat the burden of their mother.
Thomas was the youngest boy, and as all parents do she must have shown a great deal of love and affection for him--giving him what little care and time she had. When he was only nine years old, he fell from a bed and injured his back. When she saw that he was becoming round-shouldered, she immediately took him to a doctor. When the doctor told her that the boy would be hump-backed, the shock was so great that she fainted. A mother whose heart is pure and whose love is unbounded can never become calloused to the deprivation of a loved one or to the shock of knowing that a loved one will be crippled for life. When Thomas grew worse and died, Ann was required to sustain the effects of both.
Ann Owen's boys must have been very sober-minded and quite mature beyond their years; but not unlike other fellows of their time, they were ready to enjoy a joke at some other person's expense. When some young foreigners their own age came through Cheltenham speaking of a young boy prophet, of some ancient gold plates, and of other new and strange unheard-of things, they could not contain their urge for a little entertainment and fun. In company with other exuberant fellows of the town, they went to meet these two strangers from America. How little they realized that the course of their lives was to be changed because of the events of that evening. Full of fun and ready for anything that might happen, they mingled with the crowd which had gathered. As the meeting progressed, the air of frivolity and excitement which deluded preachers frantically ranting trite and meaningless phrases from the scriptures. These were not boys but men, and they were not to be prodded into a frenzy by catchy little quips from the crowd. The message of the two LDS Missionaries was borne on the wings of truth and carried with such conviction to the heart of Charles and William Hobbs that they were denied their little fun fest. They joined the Church, and the rest of the family did the same.
Ann Owen Hobbs' life took on a new pattern now. It began to have substance and meaning. The cravings of the soul had something to look forward to. Her husband, her boy, her brother and sister, her mother and father--they were all God's children, and she would see and know them again. For this, she would do what the gospel required.
The sons of Perdition began to work immediately in an effort to destroy the faith of Ann. She developed a felon on the finger where she wore her thimble. It was impossible, for three months, for her to use that hand in an effort to support her family. It got worse, and finally the first bone fell completely out. While in this helpless situation, the "visiting dads" came to call on her quite often. Pretending the benevolence of true benefactors, they would come offering her help to clothe and feed her family. The mockery of it all! All Ann had to do was give up an eternal kingdom near the throne of God, and these men in exchange would give her children a few rags for their backs and some potatoes for her pot. The vision of eternity never left Ann, for she told the men that she knew the message which she had heard was true and that she could not give up her new-found church.
Ann made preparation to come to Utah during the winter of 1863-1864. She left England in May 1864 sailing on board the Monarch of the Sea. While making the crossing, the ship was tossed about for two days and nights by a terrible storm. The captain said that if the saints in the company had never prayed before, they had better start now, for the ship was in danger of going to the bottom. Parley P. Pratt was in charge of the company. He was in charge of one thousand saints speaking four different languages. Most of them were Scandinavian converts. They all assembled together and petitioned the Lord that their lives might be preserved. The storm passed, and following a crossing typical of the times and conditions, they landed in New York. Due to conditions, they landed in New York. Due to conditions incident to the Civil War, no coaches were available on the train out of New York. The only means of transportation were cattle cars. One elder in charge of a group refused to let his people take passage in a cattle car and remained in New York until coaches were available. So after enduring a terrible storm at sea, a two-month voyage on a crowded and otherwise uncomfortable ship, she now found herself on a cattle car with no more privacy or conveniences than the bovines who had preceded her.
Arriving on the banks of the Missouri River, at Florence, Nebraska, Ann's family was given passage with Captain Murdock's mule train. Her boy, James Thomas, got a job driving a team for a Mr. Merrick. He received $50.00 a month in greenbacks. As paper money was only worth fifty cents on the dollar, the money did not go very far. In spite of the hostility of the Indians and the smoking remains of victims to the Indian depredations, their train was not molested. This can only be attributed to the policy of those who had gone before. The Indians came to the camp several times. They were given beads and other trinkets as well as food. The Indians thus treated went away and did not return in larger numbers to ravage, despoil, and burn the wagon train. The only death occurring on the trip was a woman who was sick and a careless guard who accidently shot himself.
Ann reached Salt Lake City in September, and her two boys, Henry and William, met her. They took her to Cache valley by oxen team. While on the road, they had as a passenger a pig. It got out somehow, and then they had to chase it through the brush before they could catch it.
Ann lived with her son Charles in a little one room log cabin in Franklin, Idaho. The cabin had neither windows nor floors, and few prospects for either. All of the cooking was done in a fireplace.
Ann had reached an age in England where she could have lived comfortably. Her children had grown old enough to care for themselves and her too. Living in England in 1864 was not so unbearable and uncomfortable that a log cabin was to be desired. Ann left many conveniences and accommodations in England that she was never to have in Idaho. Her daughters often thought that they would like to be back in England, but they never once heard their mother complain.
Ann had reached the end of her journey. It mattered not if she could not enjoy the comforts of another land. She knew that her adversity should be but for a small moment, and that if she endured it well, she should come forth in the resurrection of the dead reunited with all those whom she loved.
Ann Owen Hobbs died 25 July 1894. She had served her God and her fellow man without guile or malice, and had remained true to every principle that she espoused.