“Please Pardon Momma from Jail”

Genealogical research often takes you down many paths, sometimes just because they are so interesting.  After several hours of reading interesting documents, this series of documents remained in my memory. […]

Genealogical research often takes you down many paths, sometimes just because they are so interesting.  After several hours of reading interesting documents, this series of documents remained in my memory.

Dear Sir, Would You Please Pardon Momma?

18 Mar 1895 | Logan, Utah

Thirteen year old Polly Beardall found herself raising her siblings due to unfortunate events in the lives of her parents.

Apparently, her father John Gell Beardall left home in 1891 or 1892 saying the was going to Oregon to look for work and was never heard from again. He left his wife, Eliza Richards Beardall and four living children to fend for themselves in Logan, Utah.

Polly was the only daughter in the family. On 18 March 1895, she wrote a letter to the legal authorities asking them to release her mother from jail because Polly had been raising her siblings for over seven months and was worn out.

Her mother, Eliza Richards Beardall had been incarcerated for involuntary manslaughter in the county jail in Logan, Utah. The details of the case aren’t revealed in the pardon documents.

Read Polly’s poignant plead in this letter asking for her mothers release from jail so she could come home and care for her family.

Beardall Eliza Pardon Letter 1.jpg

I Scarcely Know What To Say

27 Mar 1895 | Logan, Utah

U. S. Attorney, J. W. Judd was asked by Judge W. C. Maginnis for his opinion in Polly’s pardon request.

Judge Maginnis was at a loss of words as he started penning his letter to Judd.  The impact of young Polly’s letter on both of them was obvious in their letters.

Maginnis stated that he didn’t think it was good for the children to be put in the care of their mother.

On the surface, this would seem to say that she was an unfit mother, but there is little doubt he meant that due to the indigent circumstances of the family, Eliza would struggle to support, feed and clothe her children.

Beardall Eliza Pardon Letter 2.jpg

Governor Vest …. The Decision Is Up To You

29 Mar 1895 | Logan, Utah

U. S. Attorney, J. W. Judd was asked by Judge W. C. Maginnis for his opinion in Polly’s pardon request.

Judge Maginnis was at a loss of words as he started penning his letter to Judd.  The impact of young Polly’s letter on both of them was obvious in their letters.

Maginnis stated that he didn’t think it was good for the children to be put in the care of their mother.

On the surface, this would seem to say that she was an unfit mother, but there is little doubt he meant that due to the indigent circumstances of the family, Eliza would struggle to support, feed and clothe her children.

Governor Vest …. The Decision Is Still Up To You

29 Mar 1895 | Logan, Utah

U. S. Attorney J. W. Judd, wrote a letter to Utah Governor, Caleb W. Vest stating that he couldn’t provide a recommendation for pardon, placing the decision on Governor Vest.

Beardall Eliza Pardon Letter 3.jpg

Release and Marriage

May 1895 | Logan, Utah

The pardon was granted on 1 Apr 1895 by Governor Vest and Eliza was released to go home and care for her family.. On 18 May 1895, Eliza married Azial Litchfield Riggs of Logan, Utah.

Two children, Fred and Maud, were produced from this union. Azial died when the children were in their teen years and Eliza again faced the difficult task of working a farm to provide for her family as a single mother.

Eliza died on 21 Oct 1936 in Wellsville, Utah.

Beardall Eliza Pardon Letter 4.jpg

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Family history research is a favored avenue of relaxation. It is a Sherlock-like activity that can continue almost anywhere at any time. By leveraging a lifetime involvement in technology, my research efforts have resulted in terabytes of ancestral data, earning me the moniker of Lineagekeeper. And yes - We are all related to Royalty.