Matilda Barton


m. John Wiley Whitmore
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Life of Matilda Barton Whitmore

By her daughter Katherine Whitmore Harley  in 1961 and modified by her granddaughter Linda Harley Smith in 2006

Matilda Barton was born August 23, 1877 in Salt Lake City, the daughter of William Bell Barton and Ellen Birchall at 157 "B" Street, the youngest of nine children.  Five months later her half sister, Nora Barton, was born.  Matilda was named by her father for a wealthy woman in England whom he had known  while serving his mission there.  Her family always called her Tillie and most of her friends knew her as Tillie.  Her memories of childhood were of carrying milk to her mother's customers, of walking many blocks to school in the snow and the wonderful play times she had with her sister Nora who was so close to Matilda's age.  Matilda's mother was the Relief Society president of the Salt Lake City 18th Ward .  Many times she accompanied her mother as she addressed the needs of Brigham Young’s widows, living in the Lion House which was in the Salt Lake City 18th Ward.

Matilda probably attended the schools provided by each Ward. It wasn't until later that the state provided the schools instead of the church. Matilda enjoyed school and enjoyed studying the Book of Mormon.

She had many good times as a young girl. Her older sister Bell was a sewing teacher.  Bell also made clothes for Matilda and taught her to sew.  This made Matilda feel like she was always well dressed.

After finishing school, Matilda worked as a sales girl in a store in Salt Lake. It was here she meet Edith Whitmore from Nephi. Edith invited Matilda to go to Nephi and visit her family.  She met and later married Edith's older brother John Wiley Whitmore.  John was known as Bud to his friends.  They were married January  27, 1904 by Bishop Orson F. Whitney at Matilda's home in Salt Lake.  They had a very wonderful honeymoon to Los Angeles, Monterey and San Francisco and then made their home in Nephi, Utah.

Matilda gathered a few friends together in her home in Nephi, on January 18, 1905 and they organized a Ladies Literary Club.  She was the first president of the club and some years later she again acted as president.  It became a federated club in 1910.  Through the years the club exerted great leadership in civic, cultural and social affairs in Nephi.  The club members worked hard to get a library for Nephi, after which Matilda served on the Library Board for many years.  The club also organized a memorial for those Nephi citizens killed in wars.  Until Matilda died she loved books and learning new things and having good thoughts.

All her life she worked in the church.  An early position was that of President of the Religion Class.  She taught the Religion Class and was a class leader in the Relief Society Organization and a counselor in the Young Women's MIA organization. 

She continued serving in the church when the family moved to Los Angeles in 1924.  She and her husband built a lovely home at 890 S. Bronson Avenue in Los Angeles.  In Los Angeles Matilda became active in the Utah Club. 

Tillie was blessed with 3 children all born in Nephi -  Katherine, Alice and George.  She was busy making jelly, sewing and cooking  for the family, in addition to writing letters and studying lessons.  She was a Relief Society visiting teacher until a few years before her death.

On February 14, 1938, her husband John passed away suddenly of a heart attach.  She was never quite the same after this.  Her life now centered around her children and grandchildren.  Tillie’s son George was drafted into the army during World War II and sent to serve in the Pacific Theater.  This was a great worry to her. He did return safely which she considered a great blessing.  She enjoyed helping Katherine with her four children.  She came to Katherine's house often to help baby-sit, mend and iron. Later when George and his wife had a child Tillie also enjoyed helping her son. 

It became necessary in 1950 for Matilda to move out of the Wilshire Ward area that she had lived in for about 25 years.  Her family home was traded for a small double home.  It was a trial for her to leave her home ward and her friends after so many years.  However, she made the change bravely and dutifully tried to find a place in a new Ward.  She did very well in this and again became a Relief Society teacher, making friends in the ward who became dear to her.  As her health failed she had to give up this job, but always enjoyed the visits of members and friends.  We feel she was blessed with good health until the day of her death, November 13, 1957, when she died of a Heart Attack after only a few hours illness.  After her death a friend said " She was always a lady." and I (Katherine) know she was.