Autobiography of Elizabeth Haven Barlow
(Sister of Mary Ellen Haven Palmer)
I, Elizabeth Haven Barlow, was born in Holliston, Middlesex, Massachusetts, 28 December 1811, the fifth child in a family of seven. The house in which I was born had belonged to my great-grandfather, John Haven but at that time it was owned by my grandfather, John Haven and his wife Betsey Howe. The first Havens, Richard and his wife, Susanna Newhall, came to America in 1645 from West England, twenty-five years after the Pilgrims. They settled in Lynn, Massachusetts. The Howe family came to America from England twelve years before the Havens. My forefathers on both sides of the house, being land owners and proprietors, were not mortgaged to the shipping companies that brought most of the early settlers and kept them in bondage for a score of years. In physical make-up both the Howes and the Havens were exceptionally sturdy in build, many of them being somewhat beyond the average in size and weight. My mother weighed over two hundred pounds and the menfolks were counted as some of the finest built in the neighborhood. I may as well be frank in telling you that my grandmother, Betsey Howe, when a girl and throughout life was a model for form and beauty, possessing dark eyes and hair with intensely rosy cheeks_growing almost pink during periods of merriment. My mother was after the same fashion and when I was younger, I was often accused of painting my cheeks.
Let me go back in our history and I'll show you how we are related to President Brigham Young and Willard Richards. My grandmother, Elizabeth Howe had two sisters, Abigail and Rhoda, who were courted and won by John Young and Joseph Richards. Both Abigail and Rhoda gave birth to eleven children. Abigail's ninth child was Brigham Young and Rhoda's eleventh child was Willard Richards. The other sister, Elizabeth, had seven, mother being the fifth. Willard was three years younger than Brigham. Mother was eleven years younger than her cousin Brigham. So you see, the grandparents of my mother were also the grandparents of Brigham Young and Willard Richards, making them my second cousins.
Mother was the fourth daughter and fifth child in Grandma's family. When mother was nine years old, her mother died. Although Grandfather and his wife's sisters Abigail and Rhoda, did all they could for this motherless family, still I have heard my mother tell how she wept and refused to be comforted, until Grandfather married again. Two of the oldest girls, Pamela and Mary, had kept house and made things as pleasant as possible. When the new mother came into the house, however, both of the girls hired out to work. More sorrows then came to mother. When finally only the three youngest children were left, mother's baby brother took sick and died, leaving Jesse and Elizabeth [p.319] with heavy hearts. Mother says that upon returning from school she would finish her allotted work then steal upstairs and delve into a large chest filled with her ancestors' relics, especially ancient books and old English letters with queer stamps. Then, too, the chest contained papers a century old. Mother says that for several years she spent many an hour reading all by herself. The book she liked the best and spent the most time with was an old English Bible that her Haven ancestors had brought from England in 1645. Since her folks were Puritans of the purest type, most of the letters and papers were of a very religious nature. Mother said she didn't mind that for she, too, was very religious. The bible was referred to as the Sacred Book or the Holy Bible. Since Grandfather Haven was a Deacon or a preacher in the Congregational Church, he encouraged bible reading and discussions in the house and was greatly surprised at Mother's knowledge of the scriptures. Because Mother knew the life of Christ so well, she was called to teach the Sunday School. Since Mother was preparing to teach school and loved to tell Bible stories, she enjoyed this work in the Sunday School very much.
My mother's folks kept the Sabbath day holy, and no work that could be avoided was allowed. If the bread, meat, pies, cakes and vegetables were not cooked on Saturday, the family went hungry. Such a thing as making bread on a Sunday was never known in Deacon Haven's household. Everyone went to Sunday School, then went to church in the afternoon, and following a short walk in the woods, came home for more instruction or the reading of the scriptures or some other religious books. No play or gossiping with neighbors was allowed.
Mother's cousins, Brigham and Willard, were raised strict observers of the scriptures and the puritan teachings as they understood them. If you will read the first sermon that Brigham Young preached after entering the Salt Lake valley, you will find that he admonished the pioneers to keep the Sabbath day holy, telling them that if they worked upon that day, they would lose five times as much as they made. He and Willard Richards, being cousins and both in the First Presidency of the Church, continually admonished the Saints to live careful, religious lives. In early days before joining the Church they were like Mother's folks, believing that dancing and playing the violin were evil. Of course they changed greatly after joining the Church. At one time I heard Brigham Young say that to listen to the sound of a violin was an unforgivable sin in his father's household. Later President Young became a wonderful dancer and loved all sorts of art and music.
As Mother grew older she learned the millinery trade and became an expert in the fads of those days, that of braiding and making various shaped bonnets and hats of straw. I have seen her braid fifteen strands at a time and then handle forty-five strands while designing beautiful diamonds and other figures for trimmings. All her life art proved very valuable, especially while crossing the plains and after reaching the valley. She not only made women's hats but men's as well. She was also exceedingly clever at sewing, becoming a dressmaker and making beautiful pin laces and other delicate trimmings which she handled in her trade. Finally, after a number of years of the strictest economy, and by her own handicraft, she sent herself to the Amherst and Bradford Colleges. Here she received a teacher's diploma which fulfilled one of her heart's greatest desires.
As I have told you, she was very religiously inclined. She says, "While I was attending College, several of us girls, all of the same mind, held a sort of Sunday School or meeting at regular intervals all by ourselves. We would sing and pray and read the scriptures, and have lengthy discussions regarding our various religious beliefs and the churches we belonged to. Since I had had more experience than the rest, I was appointed the lady minister. Sometimes our discussions became rather heated for none of us could agree on various themes taught by our local ministers. But since we were very anxious to obtain a religious experience, as the minister called conversion of the soul, we all went forward one Sunday to the 'Mourner's Bench' trying to get the spirit. This so pleased the minister, seeing us college students seeking for the truth, that the moment he closed his sermon, down he came from the pulpit, asking, 'Have you got the spirit?' I then spoke up for the group telling him we hadn't, but that we believed if he would consent to baptize us by immersion as the Saviour was baptized, that we would get it. 'Oh,' said he, 'that's altogether unnecessary. Then, besides, it would make a lot of talk in the village to baptize after that fashion.' This ended our seeking a religious experience."
Soon after Mother returned from college, her two cousins, Brigham Young and Willard Richards, came to her in 1837 from Kirtland, Ohio, bringing a new book called the Book of Mormon and preaching a strange gospel, based on angels and revelations. My grandfather, John Haven, received his nephews with considerable doubt, especially when Brigham professed to be an Apostle of the Lord and one of the leaders of the new church. This was a few years before Willard was made an Apostle. After the brethren had held several meetings and bore their testimonies they left. Grandfather shook his head, being sorry that his relations had been led astray. Mother, however, being of a curious nature, shut herself up with the strange book and within a week of reading and praying, announced to Grandfather that she had received a religious experience for sure, knowing for herself that the Book of Mormon was divine and that her cousins taught the true Gospel.
Mother was then twenty-six years of age, well schooled in the scriptures, and if father tells the truth, for he met her about a year later, was charmingly proportioned, rosy complexioned and had a natural queenly appearance. Her training had led her, to think for herself, and this she had to do, for her father and stepmother were set against her recent views about Mormonism. Seeing no chance to convert her father, she turned her attention upon her twenty-one-year-old brother, Jesse Haven. Hour after hour they discussed the Book of Mormon and Joseph Smith, the Prophet.
Within a few weeks after Brigham and Willard left, Apostle Parley P. Pratt called at Mother's home and baptized her. Mother's older sister, Nancy, and her husband, Albert Rockwood, had been baptized shortly before this time. During the next few months, Jesse was also baptized. Then in the spring, 22 April 1838, Mother with Jesse and their nine-year-old niece, Ellen Rockwood, bade farewell to the old home in Massachusetts and struck out fifteen hundred miles for Far West, Missouri. Thirty days later they joined the main body of the Saints. Although it was a long, hard journey, they were still happy and willing to sacrifice everything to have the privilege of shaking hands with the Prophet of God and to hear his words of counsel in the Church gatherings. Since Mother had been diligently searching, studying and praying for years, striving to find the true church of Christ, and now that she had found it and was among the Saints and Apostles, let come what may, she would be happy. Then, too, her heart was made glad at hearing the Saints talk about returning to Jackson County across the Missouri River southward and building the New Jerusalem and the Holy Temple. Although the Saints had been mobbed and driven from their inheritances in Jackson County for five years, still they fully expected to return in the near future and fulfill all the promises regarding the land. Even though Jackson County was held by the mob force, no Saint would sell his property. The Prophet and other Church leaders continued to say that the time would come when the Saints would return and build a wonderful city and a glorious temple.
Brigham Young, who knew of Mother's college training, soon had her and Jesse teaching school. Just prior to the beginning of the fall term at an election in Davies County, August 1838, trouble with the non-Mormons began; the Saints were all driven from the State of Missouri; great excitement prevailed. During these days many staunch men left the Church, including one of Joseph Smith's counselors, Frederick G. Williams, the three witnesses to the Book of Mormon and many others. We all felt more sorrowful at seeing Apostles leave the Church than we did over our trials and persecutions.
I remember well the trouble at Gallatin. Word was brought to Far West, calling for aid, saying that two or three of the Mormons at that place had been killed and their bodies mutilated and left lying on the ground in the sun, and that with an oath the mob had defied anyone to try and bury them. The Prophet and about fifteen others armed themselves and were soon galloping off to the scene. On their way, however, they learned that although there had been difficulties, no one had been killed. Some Missourian, nevertheless, anxious to make trouble, spread the word on every side that the Mormons had raised an army and were driving out the old settlers from their homes. Several ruffians even set fire to their tumbled down cabins and claimed it was done by the Mormons. Some of the papers took up the story causing great excitement all over the country.
The next word to reach our ears was that the Governor had raised an army of three thousand men to drive us out of the country. The first attack was made upon De Wilt and after several people had been killed, the remainder fled fifty miles to our city at Far West. Other battles then took place. I remember the awful, ringing call of the bugle at night that jumped us from our beds in a tumult. It was the call that took the brethren to the battle of Crooked River where Apostle David W. Patten was killed with several others. Apostle Patten lived for several hours until his wife arrived. His last words to her were often repeated during our days of trial. He whispered, "Whatever else you do, Oh do not deny the faith." This was one of our daily slogans and Sister Patten always stayed firm and steadfast to her testimony.
It seems that Mother's being a school teacher helped her to get all this early history in her mind. Soon after the Crooked River Battle, the most terrible massacre in our history took place. About 4 o'clock in the afternoon, 250 men on horses dashed up to the little village at Haun's Mill and opened fire upon the defenseless Saints_killing seventeen men, women and children and wounding a dozen more. The soldiers then galloped away promising to return and finish their awful work. Great excitement prevalied when the refugees brought the terrible news as they hurried into our city some twelve miles away. While this was going on Mother continued her school teaching. By the last of October, Far West was surrounded by almost three thousand soldiers. News came that cannons were being brought to bombard the town_fulfilling the declaration of the Governor that the "Mormons must be driven from the State or be exterminated." Word was passed into the city that anyone who would deny Mormonism would be protected; otherwise, sorrow awaited them.
George H. Hinckle, who was in command of the Mormon troops and a man whom the Prophet trusted in the greatest of confidence, turned traitor and secretly signed a treaty with General Lucas which delivered all the leaders of the Church, about [p.323] seventy-five in number, over to the army to be tried and punished. Regarding these events I shall let you read a few words of Ellen Whitney, daughter of Heber C. Kimball. She says, "I well remember the morning the mobbers came into Far West to take the Prophet and other brethren. I was at the school taught by Jesse Haven and his sister, Elizabeth. She was a very sweet woman beloved by all her scholars and all who became acquainted with her. As the mobbers passed the schoolhouse they sounded their bugle causing excitement so great that the teachers allowed us children to go to the windows and look out. Some of the Prophet's children were there."
Mother on various occasions read us Apostle Parley P. Pratt's journal describing the terrible scene among the soldiers when the traitor Hinkle turned the brethren over to the army. Here it is: "These all set up a constant yell_like so many bloodhounds let loose upon their prey. If the vision of the infernal region could suddenly be opened to the mind with thousands of malicious fiends all clamoring, like a troubled sea, then could an idea be formed of the hell which we had entered." Little did these brethren realize what awaited them, not knowing that their lives were actually sought. Mother's cousin, Brigham Young, told her that Major General Lucas had signed papers ordering the Prophet Joseph and a number of others to be brought to the public square at Far West and be shot to death the next day at 9 o'clock in the morning. They were to be executed in the very heart of town as a warning to all those refusing to flee from their homes. The Lord heard the prayers of the Saints, however, for Joseph's life was preserved for another six years.
From October until April, the six months that Joseph and the brethren were in the Richmond and Liberty jails, were days of strife and turmoil, better to be imagined than described. Sometime in November, right in the midst of the most severe persecutions, Hyrum's wife, Mary Fielding Smith, gave birth to her first son, late President Joseph Fielding Smith. During these days the mob army would rush into the city at night without restraint and on the pretext of searching for government arms, would force themselves into the houses, tear up floors, ruin furniture, and otherwise wreck things. Some of the brethren were whipped severely while some of the women suffered brutal attacks. Some of these border outlaws were known as squaw killers. A few days after Mary's son was born, the mob rushed into her home and turning the bedding up-side down upon the infant Joseph F. suffocating him almost to death before being rescued by attendants. With three thousand ruffians upon their trails, the Saints were glad to leave the state; sacrificing everything but what they could load into wagons and carry away.
This move seemed a greater trial than the Pioneer migration from Nauvoo. When the Saints left Nauvoo they had the Rockies as a gathering place, but at this time they didn't know exactly where they were going. While confined in jail, Joseph directed the brethren to flee eastward toward Kirtland but to remain together until he was free and could help direct them to a settling place, awaiting the day for Zion's redemption at Jackson County. Everyone seemed to feel that no matter where we stopped, it would not be our permanent home.
During that long, cold winter of 1838_39, some twelve or fifteen thousand homeless Saints were on the move, struggling through snow and winter blizzards, traveling a hundred fifty miles eastward_then across the Mississippi on the ice or by ferry to Quincy, Illinois. Many births and deaths took place and had it not been for the relief work of the people of Illinois, hundreds of Saints would have died. Potatoes, cornmeal, flour, bedding, and even clothing were supplied in great quantities, these things having been raised throughout the state by public subscription. Many of the Saints were given employment on the farms and elsewhere. The Saints learned that it was the political parties that gave most of the aid, striving to gain the confidence of the Saints so as to win their vote and secure the next election. Anyway, the Saints appreciated this kindness as much as though messengers had suddenly appeared along the banks of the great river scattering food and clothing among the suffering.
Mother's twenty-seventh birthday, coming three days after Christmas 1838, found her struggling at Quincy to help provide food and shelter. She declared that never had she really fallen in love and seemingly as yet she had not met the right one but believed firmly that he would come. That very summer, while at Quincy, mother met Israel Barlow, a stalwart man of thirty-three years. He had been with the Church since 16 May 1832, and had proved himself true during the trying days of Zion's Camp movement. Then, too, he had recently helped select and secure the property site for the City of Nauvoo. The next year on 23 February 1840, Father and Mother were married by Patriarch Isaac Morley. They soon moved to their new home in Nauvoo. That coming winter Mother taught school, having the Prophet's and Hyrum's children as well as Brigham Young's in her classes. That summer, 1841, her first baby was born but it lived only a short time.
Before her baby was born and while she was teaching school, February, 1841, Mother saw the Prophet and others, including her husband, begin the work on the Nauvoo Temple. Every man in Nauvoo was asked to give at least every tenth day. Hundreds turned out and on April 6th, to the salute of guns by the Nauvoo Legion, the four cornerstones were laid. Father continued to work on the temple until enough rooms were finished to begin the baptism and endowment work. After Father, Mother and Jesse received their blessings, they were called by the Prophet to [p.325] help officiate in the ordinances, taking several companies through a day.
From the time Mother left Grandfather's home in 1838, she continued to write her folks, bearing testimony regarding the Mormon Church. Then, too, the missionaries lent their aid and Grandfather and his wife and two children joined the Church. They soon moved to Nauvoo and had a happy reunion with their children. They were doubly joyful, having not only found their children but the true church as well. Not long after this they did their temple work, having Mother sealed to her parents.
Mother was present and became a member of the first Relief Society organized in Nauvoo, 15 March 1842. It was then called the Female Relief Society and started out with eighteen members, but before the Prophet was killed two years later, it had over twelve hundred members. Mother had the privilege of associating with many noble women including Emma Smith, Eliza R. Snow, Zina D. Young, Mary Richards, Mary Fielding Smith, Alvira Holmes and many others who managed the affairs for the women in Nauvoo and gave such wonderful instruction. Many and many a time have I heard Mother bear testimony of their greatness. Shortly before the Prophet and Hyrum were martyred, Mother and the other sisters having cookies and crackers stored up, often took their lunches and babies and met together at some home to discuss conditions. Then, too, they all wanted to be together in case of mob violence. They soon learned, nevertheless, that it was God's servants that the mob sought and no one else.
I have heard Mother say that she would never forget how terrible Emma and the rest of the people felt when word reached Nauvoo that Governor Boggs of Missouri had been shot and severely injured and that he had sworn out papers against Joseph Smith and Porter Rockwell declaring that they had done the awful deed. Since a reward was offered for the capture of the brethren and officers were searching Nauvoo, Joseph had to go into hiding. Although Porter left for St. Louis, he was captured and suffered all but death in a filthy Missouri prison for over nine months. I have heard Mother say, "I saw him soon after he returned and heard him tell how the officers threatened his life, then almost starved him to death on filthy food, then offered him his freedom and a huge reward if he would get Joseph Smith to go for a little horseback ride outside of Nauvoo to give the Missourians a chance to capture him. It was a common phrase in Nauvoo that Porter in his rough style said, 'I'll see you all damned first, and then I won't.' It was at this time that the Prophet Joseph promised Porter that he should never die by the hand of an enemy.
It was about this time, August 6, 1842, that the sisters began discussing Joseph's latest prophecy to the effect that the Saints would continue to suffer much affliction and would be driven from Nauvoo to the Rocky Mountains, that many would apostatize, others would be put to death or lose their lives on the plains, but that many would live to see the Saints become a mighty people in the midst of the Rocky Mountains. Since that time all our hopes were upon the New Jerusalem in Jackson County, some of the sisters and the leading brethren as well, even Joseph's counselors, Sidney Rigdon and William Law, thought the Prophet had made a great mistake by promising the people in the Church homes in the Rocky Mountains instead of Jackson County. From this time forward the Prophet and Brigham Young and other leaders continued to discuss the matter of moving from Nauvoo to the valleys of the mountains. During these trying days William Law turned traitor to Joseph. Sidney Rigdon was little better for he left Nauvoo and went East to live at Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, five or six hundred miles away. Because so many of the brethren were turning against the Church, Joseph often remarked that he hardly knew whom to trust.
"I'll never forget these trying days at Nauvoo," Mother would say. Even our Stake President, William Marks, joined with the Laws and Higbees and other apostates holding secret meetings and plotting the downfall and death of the Prophet. Francis Higbee, a Justice of the Peace, required all members attending their meetings to sign the following oath: "You solemnly swear, before God and all Holy Angels, and these your brethren by whom you are surrounded that you will give your life, your liberty, your influence, your all, for the destruction of Joseph Smith and his party, so help you God." From this time forward things moved swiftly toward the martyrdom. Never since the Church was organized, seemingly, was the Prophet needed more than he was at the time he was martyred. When word reached Nauvoo that Joseph and Hyrum were dead, a pall of grief swept over the city. Almost twenty thousand people wept aloud. Then when the bodies were brought home the next afternoon in crude boxes covered with Indian horse blankets jolting along in two old dusty farm wagons borrowed from the mobbers in Carthage, the gathered thousands fairly groaned aloud, weeping on one another's shoulders, giving vent to their pent-up grief. Since the brethren had lain in their blood-soaked clothes for twenty-four hours in the hottest of weather, it took stout hearts to perform the work of washing and laying out the bodies. The next day, in company with more than twenty thousand others, I passed through the Nauvoo Mansion and saw our beloved leaders for the last time. All day, from morning until night, the weeping procession passed along. I am sure that not one person in that twenty thousand will ever forget that awful scene. Due to the extremely hot weather, the muscles of the dead bodies relaxed, allowing the blood to trickle onto the floor and form in small [p.327] puddles beneath the caskets. Tar, vinegar and sugar were kept burning on the stove to enable persons to stay in the apartment. It seems that our very souls had to be tried to the fullest degree.
Only one of the Apostles, cousin Willard Richards, was in Nauvoo at this time. The wounded Apostle, John Taylor, was still at Carthage, and the other Apostles were scattered over the United States on a political mission campaigning for Joseph Smith to be the next President of the United States. As soon as the Prophet was buried the big question before the Saints was, who should be the next leader? To the surprise of everyone, Sidney Rigdon returned bearing solemn testimony that he had received a vision calling him to preside. Cousin Brigham and the rest of the Apostles now returned and held a great conference to decide the question. Although Sidney Rigdon was allowed to put forth his claims for more than an hour, still only a few wanted him. Mother said, "When Brigham Young, the President of the Twelve, began speaking I saw a change come over him_saw him take on the form of Joseph Smith and heard his voice change to that of the Prophet's. Thousands in that assembly testified to the same thing. From that moment forward I knew whom the Lord had chosen. So did all the true Latter-day Saints. The great crowd felt that the Lord had not forsaken them."
During the six years that Mother lived at Nauvoo prior to the expulsion of 1846, she gave birth to four children, the first one living but a short time. Although Mother never neglected her family, she found considerable time for duties in the Church. At this time, too, Father having been taught the principle of plural marriage, was instructed to take another wife, Sister Betsy Barton. She and Mother were like fond sisters, true to each other and Father, believing sincerely that they were obeying a divine command. About three months after the Prophet was killed, Pamela Elizabeth was born 6 September 1844.
The winter of 1845_6 was another testing period. Governor Ford and his associates joined with the mob_demanding the Mormons leave the State at once. Hundreds of representatives met and drew up expulsion resolutions which were printed in all the nearby papers. If you will turn to the Rise and Fall of Nauvoo by B. H. Roberts, you can learn the particulars regarding these days of suffering. I quote one verse: "A few days after this, twenty-nine houses were burned down, while their occupants were driven into the bushes where men, women and children lay drenched with rain." The Quincy Whig wrote, "The Anti-Mormons from Schuyler County and the adjoining counties are flocking in, and great distress of life and property may be expected. Heaven only knows where these proceedings will end. It is a settled thing that the public sentiment of the State is against the Mormons, and it will be in vain for them to contend against it; and to prevent bloodshed and sacrifice of many lives on both [p.328] sides, it is their duty to obey the public will and leave the State as speedily as possible. That they will do this, we have confident hope_and that too, before the last extreme is resorted to_that of force."
Mother says that during winter Nauvoo resembled a huge work shop. Hundreds of wagons were built. The blacksmith anvils rang out night and day. Everyone made ready to go as soon as possible. But the opposing forces wouldn't wait. By 4 February 1846, the ferrying over the great Mississippi River began. Since the flood season was on, it was done with great difficulty. There was almost a mile of water to cross. In order to go with Brigham Young and Willard Richards and her brother Jesse, Father and Mother sold their nice house for a song, as it were, and made ready to leave. Deep snow fell. Winter settled down with the cold so crisp that the river froze from shore to shore within a few nights. Although this intense cold caused great suffering, still it became a blessing. Thousands of people who had been waiting to ferry across a mile of rushing water, now crossed upon the ice, driving their loaded wagons and animals with them. The very first night that this crowd camped on Sugar Creek, nine little babies were born, coming into this world under all sorts of conditions. Shortly after this Orson Spencer's wife died leaving six children under thirteen. Just before she passed away, the little folks were all called to her bedside. When she looked upon them for the last time, she sobbed saying, "Oh, you dear little children! How I hope you will fall into kind hands when I am gone." Soon after this she whispered to her husband, "A heavenly messenger has appeared to me tonight and told me that I had done and suffered enough and that he had now come to convey me to a mansion of Gold." She then asked to kiss each child good-bye. Then turning to her husband she said, "I love you more than ever, but you must let me go." As soon as he consented, she was gone. One of these girls, Aurelia, eleven years old, later became the Aurelia S. Rogers who organized the first Primary Association of the Church.
Mother says that we were camped near Brigham Young two or three months later on the Missouri River when the United States Officers came requesting 500 able-bodied men to join the Mormon Battalion. Mother and Father attended their great outdoor farewell testimonial and heard Brigham Young and Willard Richards instruct them. It was a sorrowful parting when they marched away. Soon after they left we crossed the Missouri River and father helped build the seven hundred homes and dugouts that made up Winter Quarters. Our own log house was not very comfortable but we managed to live through the long winter. In April, 1847, Brigham Young and his scouts bade Winter Quarters goodbye and struck out for the Rockies_seeking a place for the rest of us among the distant mountains.
Due to the lack of supplies and equipment we stayed in Winter Quarters and farmed during the summer of 1847. We were there with thousands of others when Brigham Young returned in the fall. I have heard my parents say that they took me to the conference when Brigham Young was made president of the Church 27 December 1847. I was then but three years old. Brigham Young chose Heber C. Kimball as his first counselor and Willard Richards as second counselor.
In June, 1848, almost three thousand people left for the Rockies. They were divided into three large companies with one of the Presidency in charge of each group. We came with Brigham Young. At Horseshoe Creek, Nebraska, Mother gave birth to her fifth child, John. Uncle Joseph Palmer and wife Mary stopped a day or so with us, then we hurried on and soon caught the large company. Father's outfit was made up of two horses and a wagon and several oxen and cows. The cows furnished milk and butter. Many a time when we baked bread, since no wood was to be had, we made our fire of buffalo chips. Although I was just four years of age I can remember many incidents of the plains, especially the herds of buffaloes and a scare or two from the Indians. I also remember a terrible storm which blew our tent down, giving us a midnight soaking. I have heard them tell how the guards, wet and dripping, faced the furious rain never daring to leave their posts for Indians generally did their stealing during the fiercest storms. Once we had a stampede. Several hundred of our frightened oxen, cows and steers raced away at full gallop bellowing into the darkness with the men on horses after them. We all hurried into our wagons fearing that the terrified animals might turn and come smashing into our camp. The terrors of a stampede are not soon forgotten.
When we reached the valley on the 23rd of September, 1848, we learned regarding the cricket plague and of how the gulls had come. We brought two orphans with us across the plains, David Turner and Marion Burgess. David later went to California. Marion died in Salt Lake City.
Our first winter was spent in the old Pioneer Fort where Pioneer Park now is. Later we moved to a city lot in the Eighth Ward, just southeast of the City and County Building. In 1849, Father moved his second wife to West Bountiful. I have heard her tell that while sleeping in a wagon the wolves came close and howled around and several times had to be driven out of the corral by father, David and the dogs. In the spring of 1850, mother also moved out. That summer the family planted their crops and built a double log room house. Mother had no sooner moved in than her sixth child, Mary, was born. President Young, Heber C. Kimball and Willard Richards often came visiting us, especially at watermelon time. On such occasions we all gathered in the shade of the trees in the hollow west of Perrigrine Sessions' home. Bountiful at that time was called Sessions Settlement.
The Indians, seemingly professed friendship, and for awhile gave us no trouble. Since we believed in following President Young's advice that it was cheaper to feed them than fight them, we gave them watermelons and flour, and sometimes milk and butter. On our farm back of the spring, I have seen as many as fifty wickiups at a time. The squaws with their papooses strapped on their backs came and sat in the door yard and even on the doorstep. A few of them could talk a little English but not very much.
When I was six years old we had an experience with the Indians which I have never forgotten. My eight-year-old brother, Israel, and I were about a mile from home. We were following through a tall forest of sunflowers on the trail toward the village, a little below the place where my sister Mary Willey later lived, when all of a sudden I was seized by several Indians and carried through the sunflowers and they covered me with a blanket, put me on a horse and off we trotted. Although I kicked and screamed and struggled and shouted, away we went. I thought I was gone for sure. Israel says that when they grabbed me that he jumped into the sunflowers, bent low and ran like the wind toward home where he found Father and one or two other men who jumped on their work horses and started off at full gallop. Three hours later, along the bench toward the mountains, I was rescued. They still had me covered with the blanket and held firmly by one of the buck Indians who, no doubt, wished to raise me for his squaw. I'll never forget how I sobbed and cried as I sprang into Father's arms from under that blanket.
At the time when the Walker Indian War broke out in 1853, Father was called to England on a mission. President Young advised us to tear down our log house and move it to Salt Lake City. Soon after it was rebuilt and Father had gone, Mother gave birth to twins, Willard and Wilford. Willard lived nine months and died. Wilford was also very sick. As if our trials were not sufficient, the oldest boy, Israel, about ten, had a terrible swelling come on his leg, which continued to grow worse until through our faith and Doctor Hugh, both he and Wilford got better. When Israel was strong enough, he and Aunt Betsey hitched up the oxen and went up City Creek Canyon after winter wood. The next summer the women and children got the ground plowed and the crops planted, but the harvest was small. The next year all the children had the measles_Jonathan came nearly dying and was seriously affected for several months. With all these sorrows we managed to struggle through looking forward to Father's return in 1855. Then, too, the mails were so slow that sometimes letters would be five or six months on the way. One letter I wrote [p.331] him on Christmas day brought an answer the next harvest time. The mails traveled by freighting teams and sailing ships.
There was in the company that Father returned with a young lady named Lucy Heap. Since she was full of faith and had come to Zion at a great sacrifice, Father, with Mother's consent and that of the authorities, brought her also into the family that winter. The next year we all moved back to West Bountiful and put up a couple of log houses at the farm. Although bread stuff was very scarce, forcing us to go for days at a time without so much as a corn cake, still we found plenty of mushrooms and pit-weed greens along with the potatoes that came later. We also had our milk and butter so we got by until the wheat headed. As soon as some of it was hard, we picked it and flailed it out and made wonderful whole wheat bread. Only those who have had such experiences can appreciate how happy we were at having bread for every meal. After the main harvest was over, the whole group of us scattered over the fields gleaning. Each night we thrashed out our grain and used it for bread for every meal. Since we had to work so hard, we were exceedingly careful not to lose a kernel. Some of the most delicious mush I ever ate was made from wheat that had been soaked in water over night then boiled and seasoned with salt and eaten with milk or cream. Since we had no sugar in those days, we gladly ate without it. A little later, however, we got molasses or honey for our bread and mush. When the railroad came about fifteen years later we bought sugar, but not until I was a woman 47 years old did the first sugar factory begin running at Lehi. That was in 1891. The people were then advised to cease using imported sugar and buy the homemade product.
On April 11, 1857, Brigham Young called a conference at Sessions Settlement and named the town Bountiful. The name came from the wonderful crops we were raising and also from the Book of Mormon. President Young and Bishop John Stoker and his counselors organized our first Relief Society_making mother the president; Louisa Grant, first counselor; and Hanna F. Holbrook, second counselor; with Phoebe C. Sessions, secretary; and Lucinda Sessions, treasurer. The Relief Society soon had seventy-five active members holding meetings and doing a wonderful work for the needy. The records show that during the summer they gave sixty dollars in cash to help a poor widow in South Bountiful who had a sick son. Before the society had run a year, it was discontinued due to the coming of Johnston's Army and the "Move South".
In July, 1857, Father and Mother were invited by Brigham Young to join him and the Saints in a grand celebration to be held July 24th in Big Cottonwood Canyon. We all loaded our bedding and provisions into the farm wagon and went along. It was about twenty-five miles to the party. During the time for the [p.332] greatest rejoicing, two messengers, Mayor Abram O. Smoot of Salt Lake City and Porter Rockwell, who had gone East with the mail, came riding into camp announcing to President Young that the United States Army, fully equipped for war, was marching toward Utah, and that many of the mobbers from Missouri and Illinois were in the group. At the head of the army rode General Albert S. Johnston and the great scout, Jim Bridger. President Young and his counselors received this message with surprise and dismay. They could hardly believe their ears. Then when they were told also that the army was bringing an Eastern, non-Mormon Governor to replace Governor Young, they gazed at one another in silence. Here was a nation of twenty-five million people declaring war on the Mormons. What should be done? What could they do? Toward evening Brigham Young called the celebrators together, thousands of them, and told what was happening. A mighty hush fell over the merrymakers. President Young in a very bold manner predicted that God would fight the battle for the Saints and that the army should not possess our land. He called upon every Saint to put his trust in the Lord. That night around the campfires the Saints reviewed their former drivings and sufferings and made solemn covenants with themselves and friends that the army, bringing a Gentile Governor and other officers, should not enter the valley. Far into the night the campfires burned, and by daybreak the outfits were on the move home.
During the summer the Saints were advised to store everything possible against the day when we might have to burn our homes and follow the leaders to another resting place. In order to get fruit for canning, hundreds of people went into the canyons gathering serviceberries. A large crowd of us also went to Weber Canyon. Sister Grant, Mother, and we children went along. Since I was then a girl of thirteen, I can remember the details and anxieties expressed regarding the approaching army. Many of the children along with myself were fearful that the soldiers would come marching down the canyon, catching us unawares. You shouldn't blame us, for the coming of the army was the general campfire topic. Since Mother and Father had already been driven from Missouri and Nauvoo, they could only suggest what terrible things were certain to happen if the army once got into the valley. Soon after our return home from getting the berries, President Young called a solemn day of fasting and prayer unto the Lord that would He aid the Saints in holding the army from coming into the valley.
I remember of hearing President Young declare, "If the Army breaks through, they will find Utah a desert, every house will be burned to the ground, every tree cut down and every field laid waste. We have provisions on hand for three years, O [p.333] which we will cache, and then take to the mountains. If the Government persists in sending an army to destroy us, in the name of the Lord we shall conquer them." I remember seeing the Mormon Militia of a thousand men or more under General Daniel H. Wells, President Young's counselor, hurrying into the mountains. My, but those were thrilling days. None of us knew what would happen next. Our men met the Army on the Green River, burned the grass on every side and also some of their trains of supplies. The Lord sent an early winter that choked up the mountain passes with deep snow. It was soon evident that the soldiers couldn't get through before the next May or June, and by that time it was hoped that peace could be made.
Towards spring some United States Officers visited Governor Young and it was agreed that the new Governor should be allowed to come and replace President Young and that the Army should move forty miles south of Salt Lake City. When Governor Cumming came into the valley and took charge, he threw the people into panic by disbanding the Mormon Militia and sending them all home. President Young issued a call for everyone to get their homes ready to be burned if necessary. He then said to follow the leaders south, for the army was coming through the mountains, headed toward Salt Lake City down Emigration Canyon. Governor Cumming tried every way to quiet the moving thousands but to no use. They had seen too many persecutions to be caught in a trap. Regarding this event Governor Gumming wrote, "The people, including the inhabitants of this city are moving from every settlement. The roads are everywhere filled with wagons loaded with provisions and household furnishings, the women and children often without shoes or hats, driving their flocks they know not where. Young and Kimball and most of the influential men have left their commodious mansions." All were moving south. All the Church Leaders had hay and straw piled ready to set fire to their homes.
I remember that Provo Bench resembled a forest of tents and wagons after we had camped there a week or two. We learned that the army had passed through Salt Lake City and had moved forty miles south to Camp Floyd. Sometime in July we all moved back to our homes, thankful indeed that the trouble seemed past. I remember that the grass was tall around our house and things looked as if we had been away for a year. While we were on the trip, each one of Father's three wives had an outfit of her own. I drove ours at times and will never forget the sand and dust south of Murray to the Point of the Mountain. Later, they rightly named it Sandy.
Soon after our return, Sister Eliza R. Snow came out to Bountiful with some of the brethren. The town was divided into three wards: East, West, and South Bountiful. Mother was made [p.334] President of the East Bountiful Ward Relief Society with Lucinda Sessions and Mary Jane Crosby as counselors; Mary Carter, secretary; and Cordelia Carter, treasurer. For thirty-one years Mother served well and faithfully, rendering aid to a multitude of needy. It was during these years that the Society built the Relief Society Hall and equipped it.
While Mother lived in Bountiful, I was married and had nine children. On 30 August 1878, my husband died, and in 1883, Father died also. Five years later, 1888, Mother was released from the Relief Society at the age of 77. The next year she and her brother Jesse and I went to the Logan Temple and did considerable work. Three years later, at the ripe age of 81, on Christmas day, Mother died at East Bountiful, loved and respected by all who knew her. Many were the words of praise given by the authorities of the church at her funeral. East Bountiful Tabernacle was packed and the procession that followed to the cemetery was an unusually long one.
To Mother the Gospel had meant everything. No sacrifice was too great in order to send her husband or kindred into the mission field. She dug sego roots and thistles and went to the canyon for wood while her husband was on his mission and she would have done it again had it been necessary. Nothing stirred her soul more than repeating the events she had passed through in Missouri and Nauvoo. The Gospel, coupled with seeing her family live righteously, was the joy of her life.
She bore eight children, six sons and two daughters, and at the time of her death had 49 grandchildren and 11 great-grandchildren. Let me close this biography by quoting from Revelation, 7th Chapter, "... What are these which are arrayed in white robes?... And I said unto him, Sir, thou knowest. And he said to me, These are they which came out of great tribulation, and have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.... They shall hunger no more, neither (shall they) thirst ... and God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes."
Source: Our Pioneer Heritage, Vol. 19, p.318-335 “Autobiographies of Six Pioneer Women”