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Grandma was a Pioneer

Life Sketches of Twelve Pioneer Women

Matthew Mangum

Copyright 2017 All Rights Reserved

Published by The Keeper’s Universe Publishing Group

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Table of Contents:


1: Polly Peck Knight

2: Julia Hills Johnson

3: Anna Nash Gifford

4: Ellen Briggs Douglass Parker

5: Elizabeth Haven Barlow

6: Rachel Smith Ross

7: Harriet Hollis Blake

8: Fanny Parks Taggart

9: Mariah Pulsipher Burgess

10: Susan Leggett Clark

11: Hannah Smuin Harvey

12: Kezia Chapman Watson


In Utah there is a state holiday on July 24th commemorating the arrival of the first pioneers in the Salt Lake Valley. In explaining the holiday to my five-year-old daughter I told her that some of her great great grandmas had been pioneers. She spent the rest of the day telling everyone that her grandma was a pioneer. I decided that I needed to learn some more of those stories of our pioneer grandmas and put them together in a book for my daughters. These strong women of great faith sacrificed everything and the legacy they have left for their posterity can never be forgotten.

Dedicated to my daughters Kate and Chloe

Polly Peck Knight

My name is Polly Peck Knight. I was born in Vermont in 1774. It was an exciting time to grow up witnessing the birth of our country. I met and married a good man by the name of Joseph Knight. We made our home in Colesville New York and had a large and successful farm and a happy life.

In the fall of 1826 we hired a young man by the name of Joseph Smith to help with our harvest. He was a hardworking and good boy. Some of the folks around us accused him of being a gold-digger and using peep stones but I paid them no mind. He befriended my children and was especially close to my boy Newell.

Joseph told us about his visions and our family was deeply impressed with the truthfulness of his statements.

During the winter of 1827 we loaned Joseph our sled and a horse, so he could go off courting and to see his girl. We were thrilled to hear when he and Emma were married. In 1828 we again loaned Joseph a horse and wagon. This time he was going to go and fetch the gold plates.

I wasn’t really sure what to think of these golden plates. My husband took me to see Joseph and we spent a few days as Joseph told us all he knew. The Spirit of the Lord witnessed the truth to me and I was a believer in his prophetic call from that day on. I was even supportive of my husband when he went out to spend some of our money on supplying Joseph with paper for the translation as well as quite a bit of food.

On April 6th, 1830 I sat with my husband and many of our children as we witnessed the organization of the Lord’s church on the earth again. It would be another two months before my husband and I would have the opportunity to be baptized but we were firm believers. It was wonderful to see all of my children, and their spouses embrace the restored gospel as well. Even many of my relatives were baptized. There were so many of us in Colesville that the prophet organized a branch of the Church there.

In December of 1831 the Prophet Joseph received a revelation that the Church was to gather in Ohio. We sold our farm, but didn’t get very much for it and moved to Kirtland. We arrived there in May. For a short time we stayed on some land owned by Leman Copley, but when he left the church he made us move on.

It was then that the Prophet received the revelation that Zion was to be built in Jackson County Missouri. My greatest desire was to see this land and my children there. All of the Saints who had been baptized in Colesville left as soon as we could for Missouri. I was very sick and weak and had to ride in the wagon most of the way, but my heart was light, I was going to Zion.

We arrived on July 25th, 1832 and settled west of Independence Missouri. We found the country to be beautiful, rich, and pleasant and made ourselves as comfortable as we could. I was thrilled when my sons worked side by side with the prophet to lay the first logs to build in Zion. My son Newel was one of the seven selected to dedicate the temple site.

My health never recovered from the long trip and I died surrounded by my family in Zion on August 7th, 1831.

Joseph Smith preached at Polly’s funeral. “This was the first death in the church in this land, and I can say a worthy member sleeps in Jesus till the resurrection."

Julia Hills Johnson

My name is Julia Hills Johnson. I was born on the 26th of September in 1783, I have black hair and eyes and was always very energetic. I grew up in Massachusetts and had a happy loving family. My father died when I was four years old. It was a hard few years, my mother married again, and our family grew as Enoch had several children from before his first wife had died. I loved all of my brothers and sisters dearly.

I remember when I was six years old and my mother taught me to read. We read from the Bible as well as from newspapers whenever we could get them. I remember when George Washington became our nation’s first president. We loved learning and one of our most prized possessions was my father’s dictionary. We studied from it and learned to spell properly.

When I was seventeen I fell in love with a handsome man by the name of Ezekiel Johnson. Ezekiel was stalwart, proud and high-spirited. He was strong, and his eyes were a beautiful blue. We loved each other dearly and made a happy home.

I belonged to the Presbyterian faith and took all of our children to church each Sunday. Ezekiel rarely went with us though. I taught my children faith and a love of God and Ezekiel taught them the habits of hard work and helped them acquire skills in carpentry and agriculture.

We moved many times, Ezekiel had a pioneering spirit and loved to turn raw land into productive farms, but once everything was established he sold it and we started over.

We eventually settled in New York in a small town called Pomfret. We built a house on a rise of land that gave us a view of the surrounding countryside. It was a pretty place and we would stay here for the next seventeen years.

We continued to attend the Presbyterian church and I purchased for each of my children a small copy of the New Testament that they would have it with them always. It was a happy home where most all of our children were raised to adulthood.

In 1830 we began to hear reports of a strange new religion and a new Bible that had come from golden plates. And some boy claiming to have visions and see angels. At first I dismissed it. Not too long later my boys Joel and Seth sent us a copy of The Book of Mormon and begged that I read it. They had met Joseph Smith and had been baptized. I was very afraid that they had been led away by a false prophet, so I began to study the book to point out the delusions of my sons.

But I could not find the errors I expected. I marveled at the book’s simplicity and purity. When two Mormon missionaries came calling I received them and listened intently. They taught with such conviction that the Spirit of the Lord filled my heart and I joyously received baptism. Ezekiel was not interested and made the younger children wait till they were older before they could be baptized.

Our neighbors began to persecute us for joining this new religion. It became so bad we soon felt that we must leave our home behind. In 1833 our family sold our farm and moved to Kirtland Ohio. My desire to be with my children who had moved to Kirtland to be with the Saints upset my husband and he became bitter towards the Church. I knew the Church was true and I would do what the Lord asked of me. For a time, Ezekiel separated himself from us.

I had to support the family myself in Kirtland. I made a comfortable livelihood making men’s neckwear and hats. I also found much joy in doing what I could to help build the Temple, the house of the Lord.

Over the next few years my heart would break over and over. Four of my adult children, Seth, David, Nancy, and Susan would all die from different illnesses. Burying my children who I had loved and worked side by side with for years was the hardest thing I have ever done. But I know that they have been taken home to the God who gave them life.

In the Spring of 1838 mobs were forcing us to leave Kirtland. My son Joel had been called to the Presidency of the Seventy and he had the responsibility of helping the poorest of saints to leave Kirtland. There was about five hundred and twenty of us. It was a hard and trying time and we were often without food and there was much sickness in the camp. I was extremely sick with fevers, almost unto death, but the Lord saw fit to spare my life and measurably restore me health. Others of my loved ones he has taken. How can I express my feelings? “But the Lord giveth and the Lord taketh away and blessed be the name of the Lord.”

The Saints in Missouri were driven out while we were on our way to them. We stopped in Illinois and Joel with the other Elders chose Commerce to begin a new settlement. Later it would be renamed Nauvoo. My family banded together and soon we were living comfortably and working to sustain ourselves.

In July of 1842 I celebrated when Ezekiel came home to us and our family was reunited. His feelings for the church had not changed much but he was willing to change to be with us.

Living near Nauvoo we had the great privilege of spending time with the prophet Joseph and his wife Emma. Emma honored me by selecting a poem that I wrote to be part of the first hymn book she was compiling for the Church.


We praise Thee, O God, for the joy and the song

Which unto us this beautiful season belong;

We love and adore Thee, for light and for love,

And for all the rich blessings that come from above.

The gates are wide open, and they beckon us all.

Each to follow and serve at the sound of Thy call;

Thro' portals of praise and thro' Zion's fair gates

We will pass on with songs to the work that awaits.

At last in that city, with its glories untold,

With its gates all of pearl and its streets of pure gold,

We'll give to the Savior, who dwelleth in light,

All the power and dominion and wisdom and light.


Hallelujah! Hallelujah! O the joy of the song!

With happy hearts and merry voices

We the glad strain prolong.

Our family worked hard in Nauvoo and I again with my daughters made a living making men’s fine neckwear and hats. In 1842 grief struck our family again as our youngest son Amos was taken ill and called home to our God. And then with the martyrdom of the Prophet Joseph in 1844 it seemed the foundations of our world were shaken. But these heart-breaking tragedies, appearing so cruel at the time were but the means of disciplining, polishing and perfecting - drawing our family closer and closer into an insoluble bond with our Maker.

After the tragic death of the prophet Ezekiel’s rebellion melted from his soul and he became a defender of the Mormon’s as earnestly and spiritedly as he had before denounced them. At seventy-five years of age he single handedly turned back a mob from coming into Nauvoo. But they beat him badly. My dear husband who had changed in his old age, given up alcohol, and accepted the gospel died in Nauvoo January 13th of 1848.

Shortly thereafter I left Nauvoo with my children and headed west. We stayed in Council Bluffs for a few years, our finances and my health not letting us go further west.

I wrote a letter to my sister in my old age, and I want all my children and grandchildren to know it too. “I beg, I pray and entreat you as one who loves you, to search into these things, ‘prove all things, and hold fast to that which is good.’ Study the scriptures the prophecies and then you will learn that the Lord in the last days will bring forth His work, His strange work, His act, His strange act, that truth shall spring out of the earth and righteousness shall look down from Heaven. That Zion will be built, the Saints gathered and possess the land promised to their fathers and build Jerusalem again. Recollect that the Lord's work was always a strange work in the eyes of the people, that he chooses the poor, the weak, the illiterate of this world, to confound the wisdom of the wise and bring to naught the wisdom of the world. Therefore, I will close by begging you to inquire into the truth of these things. Ask the Lord in sincerity to show you the right way.”

I died on May 30th, 1853 and was buried in Council Bluffs Iowa. My son wrote, “Such a God-fearing, patient and loving mother, few others ever could have known."

Anna Nash Gifford

My name is Anna Nash Gifford. I was born on the 17th of February 1800 in the small town of Butternuts in the middle of New York State. I had a happy childhood and when I was seventeen I married Alpheus Gifford. He was a handsome and good man and soon he was ordained as the Methodist Minister in our local church building. We had nine children and our home was a happy place where we worshipped God.

In 1831 we heard rumors about a man who said he was a prophet. My husband was curious, and he went off to meet Joseph Smith. When he came back he taught me all about this young man who God had called to restore the true church on the earth again. The spirit swelled in my breast and I too knew that God had once again called a Prophet. My heart was full of joy and thanksgiving. We were baptized and my husband in his zeal set out throughout the regions round about preaching to everyone he met. Alpheus baptized many, among whom was Heber C. Kimball who became a dear friend.

In the spring of 1833 we headed the Lord’s call to go to Zion and we traveled to Independence Missouri, I was pregnant with our eighth child and it was a long journey. We were only there a few months before mobs drove us from our home and we had to settle in Caldwell County.

In the winter of 1839 I was pregnant with our last child when the mobs came again, and we were forced to leave. We had to travel without tent or wagon through mud and snow with no one to take us in until we reached the State of Illinois. We were welcomed in Quincy and some of the prominent families donated clothing to us, for which we were very grateful.

We settled in the Morley Settlement and stayed there a couple of years.

I had a most unusual experience in how my faith was tested. “I took my families clothes and went down beside the stream to wash them. All along the banks beside the flowing stream were many holes. I had to set my baby down upon the ground beside me while I washed. Soon up from one of these holes came a snake, which I killed. Then came another and still another. Finally after killing so many snakes I became sickened with the job. I knelt down upon the ground and prayed to our Heavenly Father, promising Him that I would never kill another snake as long as I lived if these snakes would never harm me nor mine. The Lord was mindful of my pleadings. None of my family was ever harmed by a snake, and I never killed another.

A few years later I had a fearful experience which was given to me as a test of my faith. When I walked into my bedroom one day I saw there lying between two of my sleeping children a huge Cottonmouth Moccasin. I was terrified, but remembering my promise to the Lord and knowing I must not awaken the sleeping children, I shook my finger at the snake and whispered fiercely, "Now you go away from here. Go on, Go on." The snake looked at me a moment then slowly crawled away ahead and out of the room.

Later in life when my family was in Utah and we came across many rattlesnakes my family was always left alone.

Tragedy struck our family on Christmas day in 1841 and my dear Alpheus was taken home to our Heavenly Father. Over the next couple of years two of my little boys would also die. My heart was heavy, but I trusted in God and carried on.

I left with my oldest son Samuel and his family for the Rocky Mountain in 1850. We made good time over the plains and only stayed a few days in Salt Lake City before leaving to settle in the new town of Manti. I stayed there for thirteen years before moving south with some of my other children. I spent my final years near St. George.

After my husband had died I made a living for my family by working as a midwife. I helped deliver many babies and attended to the sick and discouraged my whole life. I always tried to be gentle yet firm and to be a source of strength and inspiration to others. I went home to my Heavenly Father and my loving husband Alpheus when I was seventy-nine years old.

Ellen Briggs Douglass Parker

My name is Ellen Briggs Douglass Parker. I was born on November 9th, 1806 at Downhan, Lancashire, England. My family was very religious. We belonged to The Church of England and attended every Sabbath day. We were taught to pray and to be strict observers of the Sabbath.

My parents were poor farmers who had to rent the land they worked from the wealthy landowners. I and my brothers and sisters all had to help work to earn a living for our family. My family were honest, industrious and thrifty people but working the land owned by others felt like slavery.

I met George Douglass and was very impressed by him. We married and had eight children. In 1838 we met a man named Heber C. Kimball who was preaching a new religion. Hearing him speak felt like the shackles of slavery was lifted from our souls and our entire family was baptized.

As soon as we could we sold all we had and sailed to America. It was nine long weeks in the spring of 1842 crossing the Atlantic Ocean. We arrived in New Orleans and quickly found a ship sailing up the Mississippi River. We arrived in Nauvoo Illinois on April 16th, 1842, with not a penny to our name.

George was a mason and quickly found work building homes in Nauvoo, he even worked on the temple. The tragedy came to our home. George was suddenly taken ill on the 12th of July 1842 he died leaving me a widow with seven children under sixteen.

I was a stranger in a strange land. My older boys went to work, and I would wash and do whatever work I could get to support my young family. Two years later during one bout of sickness I was laid up with chills and could do no work. God bless the Relief Society sisters who came and ministered to my needs mending my children’s clothes and providing for us. Such a present I had never received from no place in the world.

In 1844 I became reacquainted with John Parker. He was also from Lancashire and recently widowed. We were married on January 23rd, 1846 in the Nauvoo Temple. We were blessed to receive our endowments the same day. Right after that the mob violence became worse and we had to flee. Our family did not have any money to go west and so we went to St. Louis to look for work. John started work at a Root Beer factory for 75 cents a day. But because he was honest and hardworking he was made a partner within the year.

Our children continued to grow and marry, and our family grew bigger and bigger. The Lord blessed us in St Louis and in the spring of 1852 we sold our Root Beer business and set out west to join the Saints in Salt Lake. We were well supplied and traveled in the company of family and friends, what a jolly crowd we were. We came without accident and the trip across the plains almost seemed a pleasure. We arrived in Salt Lake City August 28, 1852.

We bought a lot on Second South and built a two-room adobe house. John and my boys set up the thresher he had carried and before Christmas had threshed and cleaned 12,000 bushels of grain.

We did a lot of dancing and our home was a popular place to be as we had a large room. Almost every week my home would be full of family and friends dancing until the candles burned low. My boy William was a wonderful violinist.

In the fall of 1862 our family was called to Southern Utah to go and raise cotton. We arrived in Virgin December 12th, 1862 and lived in a dugout. The winter was mild, and we spent the whole time outside. Our farm thrived, and I learned how to card and spin cotton with my daughters. We made all our own clothing and became very good at dying fabrics. Our blue was highly sought after. Eventually John built me a two-room home and we were comfortable.

In 1868 the first Virgin Ward was organized with John as Bishop and I was called to be the Relief Society President and my daughter Alice as secretary.

I did my best to always teach my children and grandchildren to be honest and industrious and to live according to the principles of the Gospel. “I must say something about the Prophet the Lord has raised up these last days. I feel to rejoice that I have been permitted to hear his voice, for I know that this is the work of the Lord and all the powers of earth or hell cannot gain say it. The time is not far hence when all will know that this is the work of the Lord and not of man.”

I died on February 24th in 1888.

Elizabeth Haven Barlow

My name is Elizabeth Haven Barlow. I was born in Holliston Massachusetts on December 28th, 1811. When I was nine years old my mother died. It was a hard time and our family turned to the Bible and God for comfort. I read from the scriptures every day and was very knowledgeable. My family was the purest of Puritans, we kept the Sabbath day so strict that we didn’t even cook on Sunday and only walked to and from church.

As I grew older I learned how to make hats and bonnets and became a dressmaker as well. I was very good at making lace trims on my dresses and bonnets. I saved every penny I could from my own hard work and sent myself to the Amherst and Bradford College. Here I received my Teacher’s Diploma fulfilling my heart’s desire to be able to go and teach others.

I moved back home to my parents and began teaching school. Soon after in 1837 two of my cousins who I had not seen since childhood came to visit, Brigham Young and Willard Richards. They brought to us a new book called The Book of Mormon. My father felt that they had been led astray, especially when Brigham said he has been ordained an Apostle of the Lord.

I was very curious about this new book and I shut myself up in my room to read it. After a week of reading and praying I knew that The Book of Mormon was divine and that my cousins taught the true Gospel. My father was not happy with me but I was baptized along with my little brother Jesse. We said goodbye to our parents and old home and set off on the 1,500 miles walk to Far West Missouri.

When we arrived in Far West I was the only one with any training as a school teacher and I immediately went to work teaching the children of the community. It was a very dangerous time as the mob kept threatening us and I did my best to keep the children safe and learning.

As the mobs attacked, refugees from Crooked River and Haun’s Mill came to Far West. I taught all the children even as an army of 3000 mobbers surrounded us.

In the cold winter of 1838 we abandoned our homes and fled from Missouri to Quincy Illinois. I turned twenty-seven that winter and struggled to find food and shelter with my loved ones. The next summer in Quincy I met the right man that I could fall in love with. Israel Barlow was the only man for me. We were married February 23rd, 1840.

We soon moved to Nauvoo and I began teaching school again while Israel worked on our farm and helped to build the temple. Once the temple was finished enough for work to begin the Prophet Joseph asked Israel and I to work in the temple administering ordinances.

Every week I wrote a letter to my parents telling them about my life and bearing my testimony of the restored gospel. It was a great joy to me when they were baptized and moved to Nauvoo to be with us.

In March of 1842 I had the great honor of joining my friends Emma Smith, Eliza R. Snow, Mary Richards and others to be the first eighteen members to found the Relief Society. I loved spending time and working side by side with my sisters.

1844 was a very trying year. Many people were leaving the church and plotting against the Prophet. On June 27th, 1844 the Prophet Joseph and his brother Hyrum were murdered. As word reached Nauvoo of their death a pall of grief swept over the city and everyone wept aloud. The next day I with more than 20,000 others passed through the Nauvoo Mansion and saw our beloved leaders for the last time. I will never forget the scene of them lying there and thousands of weeping people passing through. It seems that our very souls had to be tried to the fullest degree.

A short time later the church was called together to a meeting to decide who would lead us next. When Brigham Young, the president of the Twelve, began speaking I saw a change come over him. I saw him take on the form of Joseph Smith and heard his voice change to that of Joseph’s. Thousands in that assembly testified to the same thing. From that moment forward I knew whom the Lord had chosen.

In 1846 the mobs again drove us from our home, we sold our land and home and all we had for almost nothing and after that called home a covered wagon. I had three children at that point, Israel Jr was nine, Pamela was one and baby Ianthus was only six weeks old.

We went on to Mount Pisgah and made a long-term camp to raise crops to sustain us and others to cross the plains. Two years later we finally left to make our way to the mountains. Crossing the plains was hard for me. We had to cook our meals over fires made from buffalo chips, storms constantly soaked us, Indians tried to steal our cows and I was pregnant. My baby John was born in Wyoming. We finally arrived in Salt Lake City on September 23rd, 1848.

I still lived in a tent and a wagon for two more years though before Israel built me a home in Bountiful. No sooner had we moved in and started planting crops than my baby girl Mary was born.

My husband was often away on missions and doing work for the Church. I had to rely on others many times and I denied myself much to be able to send my daughters to school. In 1857 we organized a branch of the Relief Society in Bountiful and I was called to be President, a position I would hold for 31 years. I lived my life to teach my children and others and to serve the Lord.

Rachel Smith Ross

My name is Rachel Smith Ross. I was born on the 22nd of August 1813, in Smith County Tennessee. I grew up on a farm and learned good hard work. In 1835 I met and married Thomas Ross, he was a good man and we soon started a family together.

In 1842 my parents sent us the good news of the restored gospel of Jesus Christ and on the 2nd day of August 1842 both my husband and I were baptized. The next spring, we set out with many of our family members and moved to Nauvoo. We bought a small farm about three miles away from the city. Even though we were outside of the city we had many opportunities to become acquainted with the Prophet Joseph and other church leaders.

We were in Nauvoo at the time of the Prophet’s martyrdom. The day was so dark and gloomy and obscure, it seemed as if the sun could never shine again. We prepared breakfast for the family, but no one cared to eat. Later when the news reached us of the death of our beloved Prophet Joseph and his brother Hyrum, we knew and understood the reason for all of the gloom.

I was ill at the time when the meeting was held to select the Prophet’s successor. Thomas set a bed in the wagon and I lay in it and we went to the meeting. "When Brother Brigham arose and began to speak, his voice was exactly the same as that of the Prophet. I got out of my bed to see, and his appearance was also the same as the Prophet and we knew he was the one to fill the vacancy and that the Lord had not forgotten his people. The mantle of Joseph Smith, our Prophet, truly had fallen upon Brigham Young.”

One night in 1845 a mob came to our farm. Our family rushed from our home with only a blanket and we huddled in the cornfield while the mob burned our home down with all of our possessions. It was with great sorrow that we left our farm behind and turned our hearts towards the west.

We stayed in Iowa for a few years while we farmed and saved money to take our journey to the valley of the Great Salt Lake. We left Kanesville on June 12th, 1850 and travelled with a large company.

We had many cows and each morning we milked them all. We would put the milk in churns and hang them on the side of the wagon. The heat from the sun and the movement of the wagon churned the milk and we had fresh butter and buttermilk for dinner.

Our journey was more uneventful than many others and we arrived in Salt Lake City September 6th, 1850. We then decided that we would settle in Provo and start a ranch there with all of our cows.

In 1852 Thomas and I travelled to Salt Lake to go to the Endowment House. The 21st of February was a dull cloudy day but out spirits were bright as we made covenants with our God and were sealed as a family. Sister Eliza R. Snow gave me my first rites and Brigham Young sealed us for time and eternity.

By 1869 we had two large ranches, one in Provo and one in Heber and we regularly had cows stolen from us by the Indians. We decided that we would move to Kanosh, where the Indians were known to be friendlier.

Ten years later my husband decided that the land was better on the east side of the Pahvant Mountains and we moved again to the new town of Joseph. I was glad that this was our last move. I believed that everything in my home should have a place and that everything be in its place. Moving so often made that hard.

I spent much of my time in my older years crocheting, knitting, and piecing quilts. I did my best to make each a work of art to give to someone who needed it. I also became known for being very precise in everything I did, especially my clothing. I never went out with my embroidered bonnet and silk brocade cape all fringed and frilly. I also made straw hats for the men to wear as they worked outside. I was very good at making dyes and my hats always were colorful.

I lived by the motto that I should never speak an unkind word about anyone and would not allow others to say such things around me.

On the 19th of December 1900 I called my children and grandchildren to my home. I said, “I want to kiss you all goodbye.” I told them some stories about their father and grandfather who I knew was nearby waiting on the other side of the veil. I smiled at each of them and then with a little wave said, God bless you all, and now I am not afraid to die.

Harriet Hollis Blake

My Name is Harriet Hollis Blake I was born at Bishopstake, Hampshire England on the 11th of December 1820. I moved to Netley Lodge Farm when one year old, and when eight years old to Bittern near South Hampton where I went to school, and when I was fourteen years of age was apprenticed to a dress maker.

Here I joined the Baptist denomination, but did not feel satisfied with that religion. When I was twenty years old I fell in love with Benjamin Blake. My parents were worried about my health, but Benjamin convinced them and after we were married my frail health improved and I gave birth to thirteen children, seven of who lived and I was able to raise. We were married on the 31st of May in 1841. Our marriage was happy, and we never had an argument.

In 1846 we moved to Salisbury and my husband opened a furniture shop. We were very blessed, and our business did well. We even carried mirrors.

In 1851 we were blessed to hear an Elder of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints preach to us the restored gospel of Jesus Christ. I quickly gained a testimony of the divinity of the work and Blake, and I along with our oldest son Fredrick were baptized. In 1853 we gave up our home and business and said good bye to our loved ones and came to America.

We set sail on the morning of the 18th of March. There was about three hundred Saints onboard the ship Falcon and we sang the hymns of Zion as we sailed away from our homeland.

We were seven long weeks on the ocean and never had enough to eat. We arrived in New Orleans and boarded a steamship to sail up the Mississippi River. After twelve more days on a ship we arrived in Keokuk Iowa. We divided into smaller companies and soon headed west. The last day of September we arrived in Salt Lake City Utah and celebrated our arrival among the Saints.

We lived in Salt Lake City for seven years and were then asked to settle in the St. George valley. We accepted the challenge and made the move to hot southern Utah. There were many hungry days as we made our way in the newly settled country. When I had worked in dress making school we had to eat an apple dumpling every day, our teacher said it helped with digestion. I hated eating them, but how I longed to even eat that.

Benjamin built a new furniture shop and we worked hard to make it the equal of the one we had left in England. It had three rooms, the workshop only had three walls and Benjamin enjoyed the fresh air while he worked on making furniture. We were able to provide all of the upholstering work for the St. George Temple. Once it was completed we were able to be sealed as an eternal family.

Our home was the center of amusement. Our five daughters, Caroline, Elizabeth, Emma, Jane and Harriet loved to host parties and many young people were always in our home. I taught my children and many of our friends and neighbors the importance of good manners and was told that my good English manners had a refining effect on all of our city.

It was a sad day when my husband became sick and died on the 9th of March 1884. I lived another twenty-two years and loved spending time with my children and grandchildren and spent many hours in the temple serving my ancestors who died.

I lived to be eighty-eight and died in my home in St. George on the 31st of October 1908.

Fanny Parks Taggart

I was born in Livonia New York on October 25th in the year 1821. When I was ten years old my family moved to the state of Ohio. Our family was religious, but my father and mother had both become disgusted with the sects of the day and made up their minds not to join any church until they could find one with the gifts promised by the Savior. Shortly after we moved to Ohio my Aunt Polly came to visit us from Kirtland and brought with her The Book of Mormon. This was the first time I had seen the book but did not look in it as my father was angry that they were trying to preach to him.

In 1834 we visited Kirtland and as my father got to know the Saints he became convinced that they were the people of God and he invited John P. Green to preach in our home. That same day my mother was baptized, my father decided to wait to make sure that he was not being deceived. There was a small branch raised up in the town of Euclid (near the city of Cleveland) where we lived and I with my younger sister Harriet, attended meetings. And as was quite common in those days some of the sisters had the gift of tongues. When my father heard us telling that Harriet had talked in tongues, he was quite astonished and said, “if I could hear my own daughter talk in tongues, I should know that it was a gift from God, for I know she knows no other language.” And the next meeting he went and was convinced and satisfied.

On January 15th, 1837 I was baptized in a small stream on my father's farm. It was a very cold day and the ice had to be cut, and all the neighbors stood around, but I felt well and did not care if I was laughed at.

On July 6th, 1837, my mother died rejoicing in the truth and anxiously watching and praying for the angels to come and take her home, and her last words to my sister and myself were to remember the covenants we had made at the waters of baptism. And ever since that day if I am tempted in the least to doubt, those words come fresh to my mind.

We moved from Kirtland intending to go to Missouri but stopped in Illinois when we learned that the mobs were driving the Saints from Missouri. I settled in Nauvoo and lived and worked with friends caring for the children and the sick.

I became acquainted with George Washington Taggart, and on the 12th of July 1845, was married to him by Father John Smith, the prophet's uncle. George was a widower with one little girl, Eliza Ann. Through all the hardships and trials to come I had her with me, and she was a great comfort to me.

When we were forced to leave Nauvoo, George went on ahead to make a way for us, and was drafted into the Mormon Battalion to go and fight the Spanish. I arrived at Winter Quarters alone with nowhere to stay but I was blessed with kind friends and never was without food and raiment nor shelter. Many times while I was alone with Eliza and no one to help us I felt like having a good cry, well thought I, this will never do, I must do something, so I set myself to working for others who were in need as well.

My little girl, Eliza, had forgotten her father he was gone so long. My husband George got home on the 17th of December 1847, and Eliza and I were so glad to have him back. We stayed in Iowa five years working and saving for when we could go west. We planted crops and built our own wagon and there my three children were born. In July of 1852 we set out on our journey to the valley of the mountains.

The journey was anything but pleasant. Some new roads, many mud holes, mountains to climb, bad water, and sometimes none at all. The cholera was in our midst and many died but as we came nearer to the mountains it left us and we enjoyed fairly good health. My own youngest child was now about four months old and when we walked, I had to carry him. At one time I walked five miles up a canyon and there we found snow that lay from one year to another. When the men would stop to repair the wagons, the women would bake and wash, but we did not iron because we were not prepared for this. But we were glad to get the chance to wash our clothes. In many places there was no fuel except buffalo chips and I baked many times with them and the men set tires with them. I used to make what the southerners called corn pone and baked beans.

We arrived in Salt Lake City on October 17th, 1852. And then later settled in Richville where I would spend the rest of my life. I was chosen as the Relief Society President and served faithfully for thirteen years. I also gathered the names of my dead ancestors and was able to go to the Logan Temple in 1885 and labor for a few days for them. I also loved to read and write poetry.

Ever may your path be peaceful

Duty is the road to fame

Great and glorious things await you

As you strive a crown to gain

Right and truth be ere your motto

May you true and faithful be

On your God rely in trouble

Never fail to bow the knee.

Right and truth will always conquer

Of your father now take care

Ever listen to his council

Love and cherish him while here.

I will end with my eye witness testimony of the Prophet Joseph Smith, "I often think of the many happy hours I have spent listening to the words of life that flowed from the lips of the Prophet. No one could help but like him for he was kind and good. I have heard him reprove men for their wrong doings and talk pretty sharp, but it was always in such a good spirit that it appeared to me that no one could be offended. I have heard him talk a great many times and can bear testimony that I always felt benefited and I know he was a prophet of God and that the Lord called him in his own due time to lay the foundations of his latter-day work."

Mariah Pulsipher Burgess

My name is Mariah Pulsipher Burgess, I was born on the 17th of June 1822 in Susquehanna County Pennsylvania. When I was small I moved with my parents, Zerah and Mary Brown Pulsipher to Onondaga County, New York. There when I was nine years old our family met a missionary named Jared Carter from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I was baptized with my sister and parents in January of 1832. My father baptized many of our neighbors and in the spring of 1835, we all moved to Kirtland Ohio together to be with the Saints there.

There my father worked on building the temple and I was present when it was dedicated by the Prophet Joseph. After that the persecution of the Saints became very bad and many families were leaving for Missouri. My father was in the Presidency of the Seventy and determined to not leave until he could take the last of the Saints with him.

In 1838 with over five hundred people we left our homes and our temple in Kirtland and set out for Missouri. It took us a few months of slow going and the men often stopped to work to pay for our food but in the fall of 1838, we arrived in Missouri and were greeted outside of Far West by the Prophet Joseph and his brother Hyrum.

We settled for a time in Adam-Ondi-Aham and here my grandmother died, but she was happy because she would be buried in Zion. We were there only a few months in that beautiful place before the mobs forced us from our homes at gunpoint.

We settled in Illinois and I helped make baskets to sustain our family until our new crops could grow. I was sickly for many months during this period. One day my father came in and the Spirit of the Lord overcame him. He said “Mariah, do you want to live to raise a family, keep the commandments of God and do all you can to build up Zion?" I said I did. My father laid his hands on my head and said, “Then, you will live.” I sat up in bed and immediately was well.

In Illinois I met a fine man named William Burgess and on the 17th of September 1840 I married him. We settled in Nauvoo and despite continued sickness helped to build the city and the temple.

What a time of trouble we had when the Prophet and his brother were martyred. I was very low and sick after that and wondered if I should die. I prayed and prayed asking the Lord to show me whether I should live. I was lying in bed one night and the pain was a little better. When suddenly the room was brightened, and I was very scared, I was about to call for my husband when a voice spoke from the light, “I am your ministering Spirit. You shall be well again in the morning and from this time forth you will have more faith. You shall have a dream that shall comfort you. When you have a dream that troubles you, you may know that it is from the evil spirit.” I asked if Joseph Smith died a true prophet, he replied “He died a true prophet.” The next morning I was well and was able to receive my endowment in the Nauvoo temple.

On May 23rd, 1846 we left Nauvoo and began our trek across the plains in an old wagon with one yoke of oxen. We made it to Winter Quarters where we were forced to stop. I spent the winter in a small leaky log cabin with no floor and was never able to leave my bed as my daughter Juliett was born there. I was very sick. My husband and father blessed me and my two other little girls Mary and Carnellia prayed for me. I knew I needed to take care of them and I gradually got better.

In the spring we left with my father’s company and through the grace of God arrived in the Salt Lake Valley September 22, 1848. My babies all lived outdoors for three months until we were able to build a little house and a corn mill.

I had the blessing from the Lord to be a mother in Zion to ten children, nine who I raised to adulthood.

Susan Leggett Clark

My name is Susan Leggett Clark. I was born on the 25th of August in 1832 in the town of Garlston England. When I was a small girl we moved to Loeastuf, a small town by the sea. I loved playing in the sand at the beach with my younger brothers and sisters and just sitting and watching the waves. My father worked hard as a gardener at the Manor House.

Every night my father gathered us, and we read from the Bible. I loved to hear the scripture stories and every night we would sing hymns. I even sang with the choir at our local Parrish of the Church of England.

When I was eighteen we listened to the missionaries from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. They left us with a copy of The Book of Mormon and my father began to read it to us. My family was thrilled with the new light that filled our hearts as we learned of these new scriptures. In answer to my prayers I had an assurance of God’s love for me.

A restless feeling came over me as soon as I read the principle of gathering to Zion. I began working and saving to be able to immigrate. I took a job as a seamstress and would walk to and from work every day with my nose in a book.

When I was twenty years old the time had come for me to leave. It was a hard trial for my father who depended on me greatly. My grandma and grandpa helped to pay the way for me. I travelled to Liverpool and boarded the ship Manchester. I quickly became friends with the Captain’s wife and after doing some sewing work for her was given a first-class room.

We sailed on April 4th in 1861 and arrived in New York City May 15th. The billows were so high at times it seemed that we might be swallowed up in the ocean. Then the ship would mount the waves again only to go down in the valleys of water. No one could sleep for the rattle of the tin dishes. I was not afraid that the ship would not arrive safely, but I will never forget the delight at the sight of land, after being six weeks on the ocean.

I made my way across the country in the company of other Saints helping to care for the small children. Once while crossing the plains I wandered too far trying to collect firewood and an Indian Chief saw me. He admired my long dark hair and brown eyes and fair complexion. He came and offered the men five ponies if he could have me. They of course said no, and I hid in a wagon for several days in case he came back.

In the evenings I would often sing songs for the company. Some of my favorites were Star of the Twilight. Gentle Annie, and Do They Miss me at Home.

Star of the twilight

Star of the twilight, Beautiful star, Gladly I hail thee Shining afar.

Rest from your labors Children of toil, Night Closes o’er ye, Rest ye awhile.

This is thy greeting, Signaled afar; Star of the twilight, Beautiful star;

Star of the twilight, beautiful star, Star of the twilight, beautiful star.

Eagerly watching, Waiting for thee, Looks the lone maiden, O’er the dark sea;

Soon as thou shinest Soft on the air, Borne by thy light breeze; Floateth her prayer

Watch o’er him kindly, home from afar; Light thou his pathway, beautiful star

Star of the twilight, beautiful star, Star of the twilight, beautiful star.

Gentle Annie

Thou will come no more, gentle Annie,

Like a flower thy spirit did depart;

Thou art gone, alas! like the many

That have bloomed in the summer of my heart.


Shall we never more be hold thee;

never hear thy winning voice again

When the Spring time comes, gentle Annie,

When the wild flowers are scattered o`er the plain?

We have roamed and loved mid the bowers

When thy downy cheeks in their bloom;

Now I stand alone mid the flowers

While they mingle their perfumes o`er thy tomb.


Ah! the hours grow sad while I ponder

Near the silent spot where thou art laid,

And my heart bows down when I wander

By the streams and the meadows where we strayed.


Do They Miss Me at Home? S.M. Grannis

Do they miss me at home, do they miss me?

'Twould be an assurance, most dear,

To know that this moment some love one

Were saying, "I wish he were here;"

To feel that the group at the fireside

Were thinking of me as I roam,

Oh, yes, 'twould be joy beyond measure,

To know that they missed me at home,

To know that they missed me at home.

I arrived in the Salt Lake Valley on September 12th, 1861. My name along with the rest of the company was published in the paper. A few days later Ezra T. Clark whom I had known as a missionary in England arrived to see me. I was a strong and capable woman of twenty-three and he decided then and there to win me for his wife. On November 8th of the same year we were married.

We settled in Farmington and Ezra built me a large home on State Street. There we would welcome ten children into the world. Sunday dinners were important to us as a family and we always gathered around our large table for dinner and testimony sharing. One night Ezra stood and looked at his children and said, “I want my sons and daughters, my grandsons and granddaughters, great grandsons and great granddaughters down to the last generation to understand that it was promised upon my head by the prophet of the Lord that they should be of the noble ones of this earth.” It thrilled me to be part of such a family.

I busied myself as a seamstress making pants, coats, dresses and even suits. I was known for my needlework and I put tailored effects on pockets and sleeves and my girls wore ruffles and puffs on their dresses.

I had the blessing of paying for my ailing aunt to come from England and join us. I cared for her and many of my ailing family throughout the years. I always looked for those who I could bless with a meal or my love. I frequently would invite the homeless men at the train depot to join my family for a meal. One returning missionary told me a story of meeting a cobbler back east who had traveled through Utah in his younger years. When he learned that the young man was from Farmington he asked if he knew Susan L Clark. The woman had fed him and clothed him when he had nothing. He said, “I will gladly repair your shoes without charge for the kindness that was shown to me by that good woman.”

I am grateful that all of my children learned the lessons of charity and service that I tried to teach by example. Three of my sons served missions and all of my children grew to be fine men and women.

Hannah Smuin Harvey

My name is Hannah Smuin Harvey, I was born on September 28th, 1834 in a small village about sixty miles west of London. My parents were poor but very hardworking and we had a happy family. When I was nineteen I fell in love with Daniel Harvey and we were married on May 21st, 1854. Shortly after we were married we moved to London and lived in a row house. Our little apartment had no stove and I had to cook all of my bread and meals on the community stove behind our row of houses. While living here we had three healthy children, Ann, James and Daniel Jr. It was also in our little home we first listened to missionaries from America sharing with us the restored Gospel of Jesus Christ. My husband and I embraced the gospel with all of our hearts and were baptized in 1857.

It was not easy for me to give up drinking tea, I was English after all and I loved tea. But the Spirit of the Lord witnessed to my heart that the Word of Wisdom was true revelation and I never did drink a good English tea again.

My heart longed to be gathered to Zion and to be able to hear the voices of Prophets and Apostles myself. I saved as much as I could and with the help of the Perpetual Immigration Fund we boarded the ship Amazon on June 4th, 1863 along with 882 other passengers. It was tight quarters and I was sea sick the entire way. I was thrilled to be back on land when we arrived at New York City July 18th, 1863.

We quickly bought train tickets and travelled from New York west to Omaha Nebraska. This turned out to be quiet the adventure as the American Civil War was raging and rebel groups had torn up the train tracks in more than one place. We finally arrived at Winter Quarters and joined a group of Saints preparing to go west. Daniel was able to hire on as wagon driver and our few meager possessions were loaded in the back of a borrowed wagon, I and the children walked the entire way.

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