Wee Granny Memorial Service
June 24, 2001
Some 450 or more descendants of Mary Murray Murdoch, "Wee Granny" and their guests participated in a wonderful "Wee Granny Memorial Service" on June 24, 2001 at an LDS Chapel in Scottsbluff, Nebraska. The motels and campgrounds in the area all enjoyed an invasion of her descendants. Cars came waving "Wee Granny" flags. All of the participants had "Wee Granny" fever and enjoyed a rich spiritual feast.
The memorial service was held to honor her, who at age 73, left her home and family in Scotland to join her son, John Murray Murdoch, his wife Ann Steele, and their family in Utah. She was accompanied by John's brother-in-law, James Steele, along with James's wife, Elizabeth Wylie, their two sons, James and George, and Elizabeth's mother, Mary Ann George Wylie. She passed away on Oct. 2nd, at 4:00 PM, 10 miles east of Chimney Rock. Her last words were, "Tell John I died with my face toward Zion". The memorial service included the following highlights:
I. SACRAMENT SERVICE.
It was presided over by Thelton Spencer, the Stake President of the Cheyenne Stake, and conducted by Dillon Feuz, the Ward Bishop. Under the direction of Dick Heinz, the husband of Judy Murdoch, daughter of Thomas Hammon Murdoch, some 14 deacons passed the sacrament and 4 priest blessed it. They came dressed in a white shirt and tie were wonderful in the way they conducted themselves. The main speaker was Dennis Ray, our "Wee Granny" tour guide. To see a complete text of his remarks, click Here.
The opening prayer was given by John Murray Nicol, a grandson of John Murray Murdoch and Isabella Crawford and son of Hyrum Chase Nicol and Isabella Crawford Murdoch. The closing prayer was given by Catherine Gauchey, a great-granddaughter of William Murdoch and Janet Lennox through James D. Murdoch and Lizzie Lindsay. She is a daughter of Ruby Hooper, a great family genealogist.
II. WEE GRANNY MEMORIAL SERVICE.
It was conducted by Bob Lee, a great-great grandson of John Murray Murdoch and Isabella Crawford through Rue Murdoch, the son of Brigham Murdoch and Mary Blanche Alexander. The opening Song, "Faith in Every Footstep" was sang by Gwen Lee, accompanied by her daughter-in-law, Pamela Lee. The opening prayer was given by Bill Mair, a past president of the James and Mary Murray Murdoch Family Organization. He is a great-great grandson of Allen Mair and Mary Murdoch Mair through their son Andrew Mair and Mary Ann Thompson.
The opening address was by Dallas E. Murdoch. It was entitled, "The past, present and future of the James and Mary Murdoch Family Organization. He is a past president of the James and Mary Murray Murdoch Family Organization and a great-grandson of John Murray Murdoch and Isabella Crawford through Brigham Murdoch and Martha LuAnn Hammon. To access his remarks, click Here.
The audience next enjoyed a talk by Desiree Wheaton. She was dressed as Wee Granny and spoke to us in a scottish brogue as Wee Granny, conveying to the audience those things that Wee Granny would want to tell us. She is a great-great granddaughter of John Murray Murdoch and Isabella Crawford through Brigham Murdoch and Martha LuAnn Hammon. To access her talk, click Here.
We next enjoyed a talk by Phil Rasmussen, a past president of the James and Mary Murray Murdoch Family Organization. He is a great-great grandson of John Murray Murdoch and Ann Steel through Sarah Jane Murdoch and Thomas Heber Rasband. He reviewed the history of the painting and included thoughts from the artist, Clark Kelly Price, as he went through the process of conceptualizing the doing the painting. To read the comments by Brother Price, click Here.
Clark Kelly Price, a noted LDS artist, has created a wonderful painting showing the last moments of Wee Granny at Chimney Rock. She is surrounded by James and Elizabeth Steel, their two sons, James Ephraim and William George, and Elizabeth's mother, Mary Ann George Wylie. She was a traveling companion of Wee Granny and the mother of Elizabeth Steel. It includes the caption, "Tell John that I died with my face towards Zion". Brother Price is a great great-grandson of James and Elizabeth Steel. He has already done a number of paintings about the hand cart pioneers. Among these is one depicting the burial of James Steel and another one that shows angels helping to push the handcarts. He has had a great deal of personal interest in doing this painting of Wee Granny. To see a copy of the painting, click Here.
Next Joanne Doxey lead us in singing a special song, "Face toward Zion" that she and her granddaughter, Betsy Stevens, composed especially for this occasion. She is the great granddaughter of John Murray Murdoch and Ann Steel through David Steel Murdoch and Mary Emily Van Wagenen. The song was accompaniment by Susan Murdoch. To access the music or hear a recording of "Face toward Zion", click Here.
Jan Stock, an official of the Mormon Trails Assn., spoke to us (click Here). Their group is in the process of developing a plan to emphasize different locations along the Mormon Trail. Included in this plan will be a visitors center that will be build near the Wyoming, Nebraska border. She has requested that a copy of our Wee Granny painting be placed in the center after it is built. The Wee Granny monument in the cemetery near Chimney Rock will be one of the places they will highlight. Following her remarks, President Thelton Spencer of the Cheyenne Stake spoke. He congratulated the family on the memorial service to honor Wee Granny and challenged us to live our lives in such a way that we honor her memory and we also keep our face toward Zion.
Our closing song "Wee Granny, Our Granny" was under the direction of its composer, Joanne Doxey. It is a song in tribute to Wee Granny that she composed especially for this occasion. A beautiful solo in a Scottish brogue was first sang by Joseph Clark. Then the audience joined in and sang it again. Accompaniment was by Susan Murdoch. To access the music or hear a recording for "Wee Granny, Our Granny", click Here.
The closing prayer was given by Gilbert Murdoch, a grandson of John Murray Murdoch and Ann Steel through Thomas Todd Murdoch and Sarah Ingeborg Hansen.
III. MONUMENT FOR WEE GRANNY
Under the direction of Bob and Gwen Lee from Rexburg, Idaho, a stone monument in memory of Wee Granny was placed in a cemetery near the Chimney Rock Visitors Center adjacent to Chimney Rock in western Nebraska. Bob is a descendent of Brigham Murdoch through his son Rue and Mary Blanche Alexander. Brother Lee obtained an impressive plot on the right side of the main path close to the cemetery entrance and adjacent to a juniper tree.
As you know, Wee Granny died near here on Oct. 2, 1856 as a member of the Martin Handcart Company. The front side of the monument contains her name, Mary Murray Murdoch, the words, "Wee Granny", and her birth and death dates. A handcart symbol appears at the top of the stone and just below that are the words "Mormon Martin Handcart Company". The bottom line has the words, "Tell John I died with my face toward Zion". On the backside of the monument, it has the name of her husband, James Murdoch, and each of their eight children. The monument is set on a granite base that has the words, "Dedicated by the Murdoch Family - June 24, 2001. A sealed metal canister containing the names and amount of all those who contributed to the monument was placed under the base. To see a picture of this monument, click Here.
Because of the large number of persons wanting to attend the dedicatory service for the monument, two sessions were held. At the first session, Dallas E. Murdoch conducted and Pat Wodskow gave some remarks about the monument and the items that went into the sealed canister. Bob Lee gave the dedicatory prayer. To access a copy of the dedicatory prayer, click Here.
Following the prayer, David Barclay, dressed in traditional Scottish clothes, played the traditional lament to the tune, "Amazing Grace", on the bagpipes, adding a marvelous flavor to the occasion. To hear a recording of his music, click Here. To see a picture of him at the monument, click Here. The second dedicatory service was a repeat of the first, except Robert Murdoch gave the dedicatory prayer.
This was an opportunity for members to gather together to socialize and to enjoy an evening reflecting on the legacy of Wee Granny.
Gary Lloyd, a great-grandson of John Murray Murdoch and Ann Steel and a grandson of David Steel Murdoch and Mary Emily Van Wagenen conducted the fireside. The opening song was sang by Susan Murdoch and was entitled, "O Scotland, My Country", written by John Murray Murdoch just before he left Scotland. She sang it to the melody of "Flow Gently, Sweet Afton". To hear the song as sang by Susan, click Here. The opening prayer was given by Ruth Schulz, the past editor of the Murdoch Messenger. She is a great-granddaughter of John Murray Murdoch and Isabella Crawford through Brigham Murdoch and Martha LuAnn Hammon.
The first speaker was Ken Merrell, who has been a professor of psychology at the University of Iowa. His topic was, "The historic highlights of Wee Granny's journey to Zion", with special emphasis on the challenges she faced during the handcart period. He based his talk on an article he wrote about Wee Granny's trek entitled "The Long Way to Zion".
To access a copy of this article, click Here. Brother Merrell is a great-great grandson of John Murray Murdoch and Ann Steel through Janet Osborne Murdoch and Henry Lufkin McMullin.
We next enjoyed a medley of Scottish songs familiar to Wee Granny that were played by David Barclay, using the bagpipes. Dressed as a scotsman, he added a special color to the occasion. To hear a recording of his music, click Here.
The final speaker was Gaylen Young, a descendent of John Murray Murdoch and Ann Steel through David Steel Murdoch and Mary Emily Van Wagenen. He is also a descendent of Brigham Young. His talk was entitled, "The spiritual aspect of Wee Granny's Journey." To review a copy of his talk, click Here. Brother Young is a TV anchorman from Bakersfield, California and has been assigned to write an article for the church news and other newspapers about this Wee Granny Memorial Service. To see this article, click Here.
Following the remarks of Brother Young, Dallas E. Murdoch, one of the family members involved in planning this memorial service was asked to give a few remarks. He mentioned the importance of family councils and expressed the feeling that our ancestors meet in family councils on the other side and plan many things in our behalf. He reminded the audience that the present meeting was a family council meeting and proposed that the next major project for the family of James and Mary Murray Murdoch was to have a similar program as this one to honor John Murray Murdoch and his two wives and place a new monument in the Heber Cemetery for them. The audience unanimously approved the suggestion.
The closing song was "Israel, Israel, God is Calling. The closing prayer was given by Tom Moulton, a great-great grandson of John Murray Murdoch and Ann Steel through Janet Osborne Murdoch and Henry Lufkin McMullin. He is also a son of Maybell Moulton.