Grace Millicent Major – (1879 – 1917)

Grace Millicent Major is my 2x great-grandmother. Grace is the mother of my great-grandfather Ralph Sutton Naylor whose son is Ralph Veldon Naylor my grandfather, whom I have previously written about in My Grandfather the Spy.

She was born in Salt Lake City, Utah Territory on September 15, 1879. She was the daughter of William Duncomb Major and Virginia Faithful McMaster. She was the eldest of eleven children.

Early Life of Grace Millicent Major

Her father, who worked in Brigham Young’s flour mill in City Creek Canyon, had a good offer to run a mill in Hooper, Utah. So the family moved there when she was a young child. They lived there for 1 year, then moved to Kaysville, Utah where her father bought a mill. They lived there for several years, then her father sold out and bought the Heber C. Kimball Mill in Bountiful, Utah. Here they had a nice home, where she spent her young womanhood. She learned to sew and became a fine seamstress. She was a great help to her mother, in sewing for her young sisters, and later when she had a large family of her own, always kept them well dressed.

While visiting relatives in Salt Lake City, she met Thomas G. Naylor, a barber by trade, whom she married on June 4, 1893, and they resided in Salt Lake City, Utah.

They were the parents of twelve children. Their first child a boy died at birth from strangulation (I presume the umbilical cord was wrapped around his neck or something like that), he was buried in Salt Lake City. When their second child Clarence was about two years old, her husband Thomas was called on a mission to the Central States Mission, Chickasaw Nation in Oklahoma. Grace and Clarence moved to Layton, Utah to live with her parents (who had moved there from Bountiful) until his return. Here her daughter Grace Naomi was born on the 3 May 1897.

Thomas and Grace lived in Salt Lake City, Utah after he returned from his mission until the church called them to go with President Andrew Kimball to help settle the Gila Valley in Arizona. They arrived in Thatcher, Arizona with their three children where her husband Thomas set up his barber business. She lived here until her death on 19 January 1917 at 46.

Hail and Electrical Storms

After they moved to Thatcher, Arizona, the family lived in a little house. One day while they were living in this house and their father wasn’t home, a big hail storm happened. The storm broke a great big window. Grace dragged a mattress from one of the beds and put it in front of the broken window. She was always scared to death of electrical storms. Whenever a storm arose, she would gather her children like a hen gathers her hatchlings under her wings, in one bed until the storm was over. One night she even got all the children up and took them to one of their relatives’ homes.

Hard Working

Her oldest daughter, Naomi, described her mother as very hard-working. Naomi said that all her mother ever did was work. She was never idle. Whenever she would sit down to rest, she would mend socks and tear carpet rags. She kept her family well-dressed. Her hands were always busy. There was always so much to do. Her daughter, Naomi, picked up the habit too. She said that she was the happiest when her hands were busy.

The Old Kitchen Wood Stove

She would cook their food on a wood stove. When they built a fire in the stove it made such a rumbling sound that Grace and the children would run off to get out of there. Grace would say, “Get out of here-the thing’s going to blow up!” Later someone came and told them that the stove was perfectly safe. It was natural for it to make that kind of noise.


Grace was a good cook. She baked her own bread. Grace and her daughter Naomi, would take turns mixing the bread dough when they made bread. Grace used to bake about ten loaves of bread every other day and ten pies every Saturday night. She made all different kinds of pie, like pumpkin. When it was Sunday, her children would all bring their friends in and they’d have a piece of pie and a glass of milk.

Another thing that Grace did in the kitchen was to make the ice cream for her husband’s confectionary store. She would make it on a wood stove.

Washing Machine

Grace never had a washing machine. She always used a scrubboard. She made her soap. She used to boil clothes outside in a tub to get them clean. They always had such big wash loads.

She was a good wife and mother and strived to live her religion to the best of her ability, a true Latter-day Saint.

Premonition of Death

She died very suddenly at the age of 46, of a cerebral hemorrhage, after a few hours of illness, leaving her husband to raise their large family, the youngest being twin girls, Marjorie and Millicent, 18 months old.

Two weeks before Grace┬ádied she told Naomi that she was going to take a trip and was going to wean the children (the twins). She told Naomi that she had some black Taffeta in a trunk and wanted her to make a dress for herself. She told Naomi, “I will never live to wear it myself.”

Then one night she woke up Thomas and asked him if he had heard her mother calling. She said she had heard her mother calling “Grace” three times. She died suddenly one week later with a cerebral hemorrhage. Naomi (18) was left with twins babies not quite 2 and not yet weaned to raise.

The Day of Graces Death

The day she died, she sewed all day, cooked a big supper that night, and helped Naomi get ready for a dance. When they were sitting on the porch waiting for Naomi’s friends to come by, Naomi said she wanted to go to the bathroom. The bathroom was outside and clear to the back of the lot. She was afraid to go there by herself because it was dark. Naomi asked her mother if she would go with her. Grace told her that she didn’t want to go. Naomi told her that she was afraid to go by herself. Then her mother went, sat down, and started screaming.

Grace told her daughter, Naomi, that she had a terrible pain in her head. Before they got back to the house, she started rubbing her head. She was also having trouble walking. Naomi almost had to carry her. Naomi ran and got the closest doctor, Doctor Hayward. The doctor told Naomi that her mother was just constipated. He gave Grace a shot in the arm and left. He told Naomi to tell her mother to take a dose of salts when she came out of it.

Thomas was still working at the barber shop about three miles away in Safford and hadn’t come home yet. Naomi said she was glad when her dad drove up. She was really scared. When Tom saw Grace, she raised her head, and said, “Tom, I am dying,” laid back down, and was gone.

Her funeral service was held in the Thatcher Meeting House, and she was buried in the Thatcher Cemetery.

Obituary and Funeral Services of Grace Millicent Naylor

A newspaper article tells us that Grace Naylor died at her home in Thatcher at age 46 at 11:00 p.m. on Friday, January 19, 1917, after a short illness of several hours with a concussion of the brain caused by a bursting blood vessel. Funeral services were held the following Wednesday at 2:40 p.m. at the Church in Thatcher. The church was crowded with people from all parts of the valley. The newspaper article describes the funeral as follows: “The spacious edifice was beautifully decorated with white bunting, myrtle, ferns, carnations, and pampas grass. Bishop Frank Tyler officiated. The beautiful white casket covered with floral offerings was placed in front of the pulpit.”

“The services began with the hymn “O, My Father” very sweetly rendered by the Thatcher choir, led by Prof. H. L. Payne.”

“Prayer by Patriarch Samuel Claridge was followed by the choir singing: “O Grave, Where is Thy Victory?”

“John F Nash then spoke in glowing terms of the good life of the deceased, how she had kept her first estate, had lived her second estate and passed from it in glory and triumph.”

“Mrs. Adelia Tyler spoke next by special request. She told of Mrs. Naylor’s great worth as a Relief Society worker and as a kind, loving, and faithful mother and wife.”

“The song, “When We Meet There Together At Last,” was beautifully rendered by a male quartet, consisting of Prof. H. L. Payne, Alma Sessions, Wesley Taylor and Joseph H. Larson.”

“President Andrew Kimball followed with a a very touching talk of the good life of Mrs. Naylor, as a girl, and as a wife and mother. He told of his acquaintanceship with the parents of both Mr. and Mrs. Naylor and that neither family ever had the taint of sin to mar their record. He spoke of how, on Friday, Mrs. [Naylor] was in perfect health and was planning to chaperone her daughter to the dance, when about 4:00 o’clock she became suddenly ill and knew death was near. Her death was a great shock to her family and her many friends, who had known her as a noble, brave, and true woman. She was the mother of twelve children, the youngest, little twin girls, aged two years. Death had claimed one little one, years ago, and eleven remained with their father to mourn her loss.”

“At the close of President Kimball’s talk, Bishop Tyler expressed very feelingly the thanks of Mr. Naylor and family for the many acts of kindness shown them by friends during the sickness and death of their beloved mother and wife.”

The news of Grace’s death was even published in the Davis County Clipper in Bountiful Utah.

Grace Millicent Naylor’s Family

At the time of Grace’s death only her son, Clarence was married. The rest of her children were still living at home.


  1. Copy of a story written by Leona Major Van Epps updated and provided to me by Pauline Naylor, my mother.
  2. Premonition of Death – beverlyjeanmcadams1 – FamilySearch (accessed 16 March 2024)
  3. Family History #6 – Jay Naylor, Grandson – FamilySearch (accessed 16 March 2024)
  4. Thomas George Naylor – Pat Larter – FamilySearch (accessed 17 March 2024)