Charlotte Burridge and the Copper Washtub


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Hannah Burridge was alone with her two children, Charlotte, 5 and Thomas, 2. George, her husband, was away for several days taking care of the duties that had been assigned to him by Mr. Rockwell.

She looked around at the dugout that was home for her small family. She reflected on the fate that had brought them to this hovel in the middle of the Utah desert, with little food to eat and almost no worldly goods.

When she had married George, he had been an officer in the English army with a long career ahead of him. Their home had been comfortably appointed, George was 15 years her senior and at the time they married, his frugal character had ensured that there was enough money to take care of his family.

The gospel had entered their lives and all of their values, hopes and dreams were changed. George, with her full support, had resigned his commission after 21 years and 10 months in His Majesty's service. Without any means of support, they had freely given to the Church and used the rest of their means to emigrate to Utah. Even their beautiful furniture had to be abandoned along the side of the Missouri river.

Hannah's thoughts continued to reflect on their condition and the Scottish home she had left to be with George. Suddenly she was startled from her reverie by the sight of two large Indian braves approaching the small dugout.

Her mind flashed to the warnings and gossip she had heard about the savagery of the Ute Indians, which she was sure these were. The Utes were known to kidnap children from other tribes and sell them into slavery and there were rumors that they had stolen white children as well.

The only idea she had to buy her children's safety as well as hers was to give the Indians something, but what? There was certainly no food to spare, they had been reduced to eating nettles and pigweeds, and their clothing was nearly as destitute. There was simply nothing to give the Indians that they wanted.

Desperately she prayed for help, guidance and inspiration. Turning around her eyes came in contact with a large object and she became conscious that she was gazing at a huge brass kettle that was used to wash clothes, which was sitting on the floor. She immediately tipped it upside down. She grasped Charlotte by the shoulder and shoved her under the kettle while she hastily whispered for her to be a good girl and keep very quiet. Quickly she went to the cradle, gathered sleeping Thomas up and crossing the room, sat down on a chair near the overturned kettle with the sleeping baby on her lap.

Shortly, the two Indians reached the door and strode into the room demanding food, bread, meat or clothes. The brave pioneer mother who had faced many things in her life, now with a show of calm bravery, told them she had none to spare and to please leave her home. The Indians became angry and refused to leave with their demands not being granted.

Little Charlotte, cramped and doubled under the kettle was too small to realize the seriousness of her situation and to her mother's consternation became restless under the kettle and tried to raise it up for fresh air. In her useless striving, she squirmed about and started to move the kettle


across the floor to find her mother.

When the Indians saw the kettle moving without anyone near to make it move, they lost all their bravery and fear seized them. They were frightened to death of anything that seemed supernatural and they could not understand. They turned and fled from the house and continued running until they were out of sight of the haunted dugout. Later they told others that the house had an evil spirit in it.


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dennis@heartslinked.com