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Susan Eliza Savage


Susan "Eliza" Savage (Angell)


Susan Self-portrait


Susan Eliza Savage (who usually went by her middle name) was born January 1, 1825, Skowhegan, Maine to Jacob Savage Jr. and Eliza Cates. Her paternal grandfather, Jacob Savage Sr. (1751-1826) served as a mariner on the Hancock during the American Revolution.

She was a dress maker, school teacher and artist. She became a Mormon about 1844 and was disowned from her affluent family because of her new religion. To survive on her own, she moved to Lowell to became a mill girl, and her "experience in that portion was very severe." Eliza grew quite close to several of the other Mormon mill girls in Lowell and in fact, named her oldest and her youngest daughters after Zelnora S. Snow and Hannah Elida Baldwin. Susan's sister Hannah Savage (born in Maine in 1832) also came to the Lowell/Boston area. Hannah married Moses M. Young and they lived in East Boston. In 1857, after completing a mission to Europe, Susan's husband, Truman O. Angell, visited Hannah and Moses in Boston.

In the meantime, having saved enough of her salary from mill work, in 1846 she sailed from New York on the ship Brooklyn with Samuel Brannan, and landed in San Francisco. Unfortunately the miscreant Mormon Elder turned her life into a nightmare while she remained alienated in California, far from the protection of her family, and from the protection of direct church oversight. In the summer of 1848, the unhappily married Brannan turned his attentions to the young woman and Eliza was either seduced into sex by Brannan, or he may have even raped her.

Although Eliza had fallen in love with Miles Weaver, a 22 year-old private in the Mormon Battalion, now stationed in San Francisco, John Borrowman's contemporary diary reveals that by August 1848, he believed that Eliza Savage had been "seduesed" by Elder Samuel Brannan, and she begged to "throw herself on [Weaver's] protection" to avoid further affronteries from her seducer.

However, when Miles Weaver was about to depart California for Utah, the jealous Sam Brannan followed him for a while, having sworn “by the great Jehova [sic] that made him that he would drink a quart of Miles Weaver's blood.”  Miles Weaver’s brother Franklin found out about the plot to attack Miles and got a small company of men to ride with Brannan to “watch him closely.” This group of men from the soon-to-depart Ebenezer Brown migration company went to find Eliza and “when they came to the [gold] mines they found Eliza out of her reason and anxious to go to the lake [Salt Lake City] and wanted Miles to take her there and seamed to be in great distress.”  In a pre-emptive maneuver, Brannan accused Weaver of seducing the young woman, although clearly she was extremely anxious to get away from Brannan, not Weaver.  Miles Weaver denied having seduced her but unfortunately “had no way prepared to take her [so] he was compelled to leave her” with Brannan. Franklin Weaver asked the very distraught Eliza Savage “what was the cause of her trouble” but she “would not tell him now for he would hear it soon enough.”  This led the men to “believe that Brannan had seduesed her and then wanted to turn her [seduction] off on Miles Weaver.  Unfortunately the men still left her there with Brannan rather than taking her with them. (John Borrowman journal, August 6, 1848, quoted in Will Bagley, Scoundrel’s Tale: The Samuel Brannan Papers, pp. 274-5.  This same passage from Borrowman’s journal is also online at lds.org.)

The distraught Eliza had to wait another year before traveling to Salt Lake in the Thomas Rhoades “Gold Train” company.  While Brigham Young officially discouraged the Mormons from going to California to participate in the California gold rush, he secretly sent a group of trusted followers to go find gold to help the impoverished church struggle with its huge and mounting debts. Although the gold mission was a bust, they did manage to collect quite a bit of gold as tithing paid by the California Mormons who were discovering gold on their lands. Eliza joined this company as it returned to Salt Lake City.

On April 20, 1851, Eliza married Truman O. Angell (1810-1887), famed architect of the Salt Lake Mormon temple, as his first plural wife. She mothered six children:

  1. Truman Osborn Angell Jr. (1852-1933); assistant architect (to his father) of the Salt Lake Temple
  2. Charles Edgar Angell (1855-1910)
  3. Zelnora Eliza Angell (1858-1924)
  4. Alice Cates Angell (1860-1911)
  5. Leonard Cates Angell (1863-1908)
  6. Susan Elida Angell (1867-1933); she died just two weeks after her brother, Truman, died.

Truman O. Angell died October 17, 1887 and Susan Eliza Savage Angell died July 19, 1893 in Logan, Utah and was buried in Salt Lake City Cemetery (Burial No. 19351 Plat C Block 13 Lot 10).

Deseret Evening News, July 19, 1893:

Mrs. Susan E. Angell, of this City, passes away.

At 7 o’clock this morning, Sister Susan E. Angell, widow of the late Truman O. Angell, Church architect for the Salt Lake Temple, died at the residence of her daughter, Mrs. Serge Ballif, in Logan. The lady was a resident of this city, and ten days ago went to Logan to visit her daughter. She was then in the enjoyment of unusually good health. About a week ago she took ill, with the result stated, the cause of her demise being dropsy of the heart. Her funeral will take place on Friday.

Sister Angell had an interesting history, and in her life experienced many sever trials for the Gospel's sake. She was a native of Skowhegan, Maine, and was sixty-eight years of age on the first of last January. When about eighteen years of age she heard the Gospel and received it. Her family was very much averse to the position she had taken, and as a consequence she had to leave home. She had been reared in comparative affluence, and given such advantages of education as the time afforded, so when she left home and had to engage as a factory girl in Lowell the experience in that portion was very severe. She saved up money enough to take passage in the ship Brooklyn, and was one who made the famous voyage on that vessel to California in 1846. She was in the Golden State at the time of the discovery of gold there. In 1849 she came to Utah, having traveled most of the way from California on foot. In 1851 she became the wife of Elder T.O. Angell. She was a woman of most excellent qualities and attainments. She leaves six living children, three sons, and three daughters.

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