Gathering to Zion: Albert James

I once saw my great grandfather, Albert James Mackley (1873-1967), when I was about 6 years old. He had come to America from Norwich England with his parents in the early 1880’s. I have had the pleasure of visiting Norwich, seeing St Andrews Hall, Magdelene Street and as it crosses the Wensum river where he was likely baptized. Here are excerpts from his story:

… I was the only son alive of James Goodwin Mackley and Martha Holmes. My grandmother took care of me as my mother worked in the factory. Women had to work as it was tight picking.

One day when I came home from school I saw a placard in the window. It was a 10×12 light as far as I can remember. On this card it said: “The Elder William Budge will preach at the St. Andrews Hall Norwich.” I can’t remember when I couldn’t read. The Elder that I mentioned before that left the placard in the window [and] that preached at St. Andrew hall was William Budge from Scotland. He was a convert to the church and came to Utah. He was called on a mission to England. Later, when he filled his mission he was put in [as] President of the Logan Temple.

We was always glad to see the Elders. We would go across the city and hold meetings at each others homes but after so many left to come to Zion the harvest was poor. I and my father was baptized the same night in the river Wensum. The elder that baptized me and father was named Joseph W. Vickers. He lived in Nephi, Utah [and was a] very good man. He treated me like a son. As the mobs were on the Elder’s heels, that was the reason we was baptized at night.

My grandma was skin and bones but she traveled like a streak. One night after dark a mob gathered and was going to mob the Elders. I went in the house and told Grandmother some men was after the Elders. She had a large wash basin full of boiling water and she throwed it in their face and she told them if they didn’t go she would give them another. They left. I seen them. She was a real Latter-day Saint. She would stand up for the Gospel. She was one of the first that joined the church in that part. My mother says she [grandmother] was baptized by Apostle Benson, grandfather of Ezra T. Benson.

I remember my grandfather, I heard him say to my mother just before he died (my mothers name was Martha); “Go and get my vest coat (they say, ‘west cut’) and get the money for that boy as it will be the last I will ever give him.” I was five years [old] when he died. I seen him put in the grave and there was room for another but she was not put in there. When my grandfather died they dug it deep enough so grandma could be put there too, but she fooled them. She was about 90 years old when we got word we was going to America. People says, “Mrs. Holmes, you’ll die on the way.” She says, “I don’t care, I’ve been looking for this opportunity for a good many years.” She came and was buried in Spanish Fork, Utah.

We was bent on going to Zion. It would be if we lived right and kept the commandments. The Lord has been good to us. …

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