IN THE AUTUMN of 1881, while I was acting as superintendent of the Co-op Store in St. Johns, I was instrumental in employing as bookkeeper and clerk, Miss Ida Hunt, daughter of Bishop John Hunt of Snowflake. My acquaintance with her proved her to be a womanly woman with an abiding faith in the Gospel. She was a charming girl with a wealth of auburn hair and the gift of song.
Before the winter had passed and with Ella's knowledge and consent I talked with Ida about becoming my plural wife. In doing this I conformed to a deep conviction of the divinity of the doctrine of plural marriage--a conviction I had reached in studying the Gospel while I was on my mission. In accepting Joseph Smith as a prophet of God, logically I accepted the revelation given to him in the Doctrine and Covenants, Section 132 on the new and everlasting covenant of marriage, which included the plurality of wives.
Ella and I had both been reared in homes where there was more than one wife and one mother. Ella told
me during our courtship that she believed the doctrine of plural marriage to be uplifting and divine. This belief was a natural reaction to her happy home life in her father's large family. The test now came to Ella and it proved to be a severe trial to her. How could it have been otherwise for she was to divide my love with another woman. She was sustained in meeting this experience with a firm faith in the righteousness of the principle.
I was sorely tried myself. It hurt me in an inexplainable way to cause Ella any heartache. There was a wave of persecution in Utah against the Church and those who practiced the principle of plural marriage. Men were being imprisoned and women going into exile for conscience's sake.
IDA FRANCES HUNT
of Ella and this young woman to take such chances. Only the deepest religious conviction on the part of all of us could have sustained us in consummating the plan. In the spring Ida gave up her work in the A.C.M.I. and returned to her home in Snowflake where she resumed her work of schoolteaching for a month or two.
of trials, I was once tempted in view of the many obstacles in our way
to give up the whole plan. I bad written Ida I expected to call by Snowflake
on my way home from a business trip to Holbrook; she was to give me her
final word and I was to ask her parents' approval. Very distinctly I recall
my feelings as I approached the forks of the road east of Woodruff. One
road led to Snowflake where Ida was awaiting me; the other road led to
St. Johns-to my home, my wife and baby. For a little time my mind was undecided
and my soul in torment. I dismounted and on my knees prayed fervently that
I might be guided aright. A calm assurance came over me and I knew it was
my duty and privilege to enter into plural marriage. I whipped tip
horse and rode to Snowflake as fast as the darkness would permit. From
that day to this I have felt that in accepting plural marriage we have
fulfilled the plan of Heaven for me and mine. It was the will of God to
us. The following two letters tell their own story:
Much of our family story during the next four or five years (1882-1887) is found in Ida's journal. She wrote of events at the time they occurred, which is valuable history to us--more accurate than I could write after so many years have passed.
Woven in with her chronicle are many of my letters and a number of letters written by Ella and Ida, also a few other letters very precious to us. These copied pages, with some explanatory comments, will enable you, my children, to look into our hearts during a trying and testing time when we were still young.
EXCERPTS FROM IDA'S JOURNAL
May 6, 1882. On the evening of Saturday, May 6, 1882, 1 left my dearly beloved home in Snowflake, Arizona, in company with Brother and Sister D. K. Udall, and their baby Pearl, to make a short visit to Utah. We started about four p.m. and traveled about seven miles, and made a dry camp for the night. This proved to be a wet camp before morning, it having rained incessantly all night.
May 20. Reached Kanab, Ella's old home, about five p.m. It is just two weeks from the day we left Snowflake, and two years from the day I arrived in that place, after my long stay in Utah with Grandma Pratt. We put up with Sister Udall's brother, Tommy Stewart, whose second wife is a sister of Brother Udall. Unfortunately lie was not at home, but his two pretty, young wives gave us a hearty welcome.
Spent a pleasant evening in conversation, songs and music. But with all the merriment, I felt lonely and depressed like a stranger in a strange land. The sorrow another was passing through, seemingly on my account (though I was powerless to help it), the constant strain my mind had been on during the whole journey lest by word or look I should cause her unnecessary unhappiness, had weighed upon my spirits greatly and I retired from the scene that evening with a feeling of dread and fear at my heart impossible to describe. Afterward 1 was greatly reassured by a moonlight walk and conversation with the one dearest on earth to me, who brought light and hope to my heart once more, with his loving, encouraging words. I finally went to bed, feeling that in striving to obey the commandments of God with a pure motive
May 24. Weather very warm. Reached St. George by traveling 'till after dark. Stopped at Brother Frank Farnsworth's whose first wife is Ella's sister.
May 25. This afternoon at half-past five o'clock, in the Holy Temple of the Lord, I was scaled for Time and all Eternity to David King Udall, the only man on earth to whose care I could freely and gladly entrust my future, for better or worse. Ella and Brother and Sister Farnsworth walked down to the Temple with its, and after a talk with President J. D. T. McAllister (by whom the ceremony was performed) she, Ella, seemed to feel much cheered.
Marriage, under ordinary circumstances is a grave and important step, but entering into Plural Marriage, in these perilous times is doubly so. May Heaven help me to keep the vows I have made sacred and pure, and may the deep unchangeable love which I feel for my husband today increase with every coming year, helping me to prove worthy of the love and confidence which be imposes in me, and to always be just and considerate to those the Lord has given unto him. When he bade me goodnight the sacred name of "wife" was whispered for the first time in my ear, causing my heart to flutter with a strange and new happiness. During the night, Ella, being unable to sleep and thinking likely I was the same, came into my room and mentioned for the first time to me our relationship to each other, and we talked long and earnestly of out- hopes and desires for the future, both feeling much happier for the same.
May 27. Started from St. George at three p.m., arriving in Kanab Monday, May 29, feeling much happier than when I left it, which I believe was the case with all the party. After our visit to the Temple there seemed to be a feeling of peace and union between us which had not existed before. On the road home Ella and I had several long, confidential talks. Talked over our mutual trials and sorrows and got to understand each other better. Oh, if we could always be frank
June 15. Left Kanab enroute for A.T. about 12 M. The load was considerably heavier but the team was in better fix than when we left home.
June 25. We had a pleasant camp just below Brigham City. Thus passed the first month of my married life. I can truthfully say that all three are far happier than we were one month ago today.
June 27. We arrived in Snowflake about dusk. Found the dear ones at home all well and anxiously looking for us.
June 28. At one o'clock David, Ella and little Pearl left for their home in St. Johns. I was to remain in Snowflake 'till we see which way the wind blows and some arrangements can be made for my safekeeping.
July 18. David passed through Snowflake on his way to Albuquerque to make purchases for the St. Johns store of which he is the superintendent.
July 24. By riding nearly all night of the 23rd, David reached Snowflake, on his return from Albuquerque, in time to spend the holiday with us.
August 23. David arrived in Snowflake, this time coming with the intention of taking me to St. Johns to live. He felt that the sooner be got his family together under each other's influence, the better it would be for all parties.
August 24. We left Snowflake about three p.m. I felt very sorrowful in leaving the old home never to return on exactly the same footing. But I was happy in the thought of the love of my family and also in the love of my good, kind husband.
September 16. While David was away from home, surveying land at the Meadows, Ella gave birth to another little daughter. The night was dark and rainy, but on Ella awaking me at 11 o'clock I immediately ran for Brother Ammon Tenney, our only neighbor, besides Mexicans, who soon brought Sister Rizpah Gibbons, the only midwife in the place. Sister Alice McFate was also called in and at two o'clock, a.m., a
wee daughter was born. It was the first time I had ever been present on such an occasion and being a child of my husband, it seemed the little stranger had a claim on my heart no other child had ever had. David returned that morning on account of the heavy rainfall and was greatly surprised to learn of the new-found treasure. She was blessed and named Erma in due time.
The Journal entries for the next several months give details as to becoming established in the family home at St. Johns. The house was remodeled and improved so as to afford more adequate living quarters. A new picket fence was added. It was thought these improvements would not only enhance the value iii selling but make the place more livable.
Highlights were the recurring Stake Quarterly Conferences held either in Snowflake, Taylor, or St. Johns. Brigham Young, Jr., Heber J. Grant and Francis M. Lyman were the most frequent visitors from Salt Lake City. Ida spent the Christmas holidays with her relatives in Snowflake.
We experienced an extremely cold winter. Both children and adults suffered sick spells. The end of the year brought annual accounting at the store as well as tithing settlement and trips to other wards, including Cebolla, for auditing purposes.
April 1883. We had the same as three working men to cook for. David hired a man for a month or so and with Jacob's help (a Swiss boy who lived with them) they cleared land, made ditches, and prepared to raise a large crop. David worked very hard and was greatly blessed in his labors.
[ Note: Ella took Pearl and Erma to the mountains for their health. David worked early and late in the fields caring for the crops and attending to his Church duties. Ida visited at Snowflake.]
May 1884. During this month the persecutions by our enemies also became seemingly unbearable. A newspaper was published in St. Johns by one McCarter, whose sole mission was to misrepresent and vilify our people. The "Secrets of the Endowments" were claimed to be exposed and every issue contained low, vulgar articles about some of our leading men's private affairs and my name was frequently mentioned.
It became evident that St. Johns must have help in the shape of more permanent substantial citizens of our people or the place would have to be abandoned. The persecutions by the county officials in depriving the people of school moneys, their civil rights, and the extortionate taxes, were more than they could stand.
Just before the April Conference held in Salt Lake City (President Jesse N. Smith and others having already started for that point it was thought advisable to send someone from the St. Johns Ward to explain the true situation of affairs to the First Presidency and leave them to decide. When lie reached Salt Lake Brother Miles P. Romney was the one decided on for this mission. He was ably assisted by President Smith, who fully realized that if St. Johns were abandoned the whole stake would have to be.
Accordingly about two weeks after his departure, Brother Romney wrote David that he believed the authorities were fully aroused to our necessities and there was a missionary call made on the different stakes for one hundred families (an average of 5 families from each of the 20 stakes then in existence) to go to St. Johns. This was joyful news, indeed, and served to cheer the people greatly.
May 8 and 9, 1884. A special conference was held in St. Johns, which was attended by Apostles B. Young and F. M. Lyman. The saints were much encouraged and built up by the exhortations and promises of the apostles. On Sunday the large congregation fasted "until the sun went down and prayed the Lord to release us from the bonds and persecution of our enemies, and the spirit of the Lord was poured out upon all present."
May 12, 1884. At this time the first companies of emigrants arrived by rail from Utah and soon after others began to arrive by team. David had been very busy since the first lot jumpings, securing all the land between St. Johns and the Meadows, building section houses, etc., and missionaries had been sent from the different settlements to assist in holding it for the newcomers.
July 5, 1884. At four o'clock we were suddenly aroused by Ella being taken sick, and at seven a.m. she gave birth to a fine nine pound daughter, Sister Gibbons officiating. She is a beautiful healthy child. Ella is getting along much better than ever before. The baby has been named Mary. It looked as though there was a prospect of all of us being well once more and able to go out again, but alas for our hopes.
[ Note: The peaceful tranquility of the Udall home was shattered during the months of June and July of 1884 when David was first hailed into court to face a charge of perjury and later of polygamy. The details of the numerous hearings and later trials, conviction and imprisonment on the perjury charge will be treated in another chapter.]
Because of the pressure that was put on the polygamists by the federal officers, it was deemed advisable for Ida to go to Snowflake and live in her father's home for a short period of time. Later, in September 1884, she went to live with our relatives in Utah.
ones for an indefinite period and I expected to tarry among relatives whose acquaintance I had yet to make, until the persecutions of our enemies should cease sufficiently to allow me to remain at home. I was fortunate in having good traveling companions. Apostles Joseph F. Smith and Erastus Snow, and Elder John Morgan, with their wives, composed the Salt Lake party and from our own stake were a number of acquaintances going to attend the October Conference.
[ Note: After a short sojourn in Salt Lake City, Ida went to the David Udall home in Nephi. This became her refuge for many lonely months; she was well treated by her father-in-law and Aunt Becky gave her every care that her own mother could have done. It was there she learned of the tragic death of her mother, Lois Pratt Hunt, and the following day, on March 26, 1885, her first child, Pauline, was born. During her stay in Utah, Ida made visits to relatives and friends in Richfield, her old home at Beaver, and as far south as Kanab.]
May 1, 1885. Received letter from David saying that he expected to start in a few days for a short visit to the home of his childhood before going to trial again, also that the place in the Mexican town was sold and lie bad rented a house from J. T. Lesueur for one year and the family were comfortably located in it. Ella and his sister, Mary, had sent east for $100 worth of millinery goods and were going into the business together. I was cheered by the hope of seeing my dear one again.
May 19. David reached Nephi on Tuesday, May 19. He was looking well and bow thankful I was to see him again. I had passed through so many changing and trying scenes since I parted with him. He told us he had only five days to remain in order to reach Prescott by the 5th of June at which time his trial had been scheduled. I tried to enjoy the visit to the fullest extent, but womanlike, the thought of the parting so near at hand almost banished the joy of the present.
Hunt of Snowflake) made a trip overland to Nephi for the express purpose of taking Ida and the baby back to Snowflake. Apostle Teasdale advised against this move, saying that the brethren were of the opinion it would not be advisable for her to return to Arizona for fear that as soon as the perjury case was disposed of they would commence the prosecution of the polygamy matter. David was now in prison at Detroit on the perjury conviction. Periodically Ida had letters from David written directly to her or copies of communications that had been sent to Ella. She accompanied her father on his return trip as far as Kanab, where she remained for a visit. It was at this time that she learned of the death of Ella's baby, Mary which occurred after a long illness.]
December 16, 1885. Kanab. David Udall and Aunty, with his daughter Mary and her five little ones, reached Kanab. (Mary had been living in St. Johns while her husband, Tommy Stewart, was serving as a missionary in New Zealand. She took this opportunity of coming home.) They had been blessed with good health and fine weather and made a quick trip. Father Udall thought it best for me to go back to Nephi with him. David Udall had been to Arizona to visit his son's family (details elsewhere).
December 18. We were all ready to start home when we received the following telegram: "Chicago, Illinois. December 18, 1885, received at Kanab 9:15. I received Presidential pardon yesterday. D. K. Udall."
[Note: The return trip to Nephi was made doubly arduous by the sickness of baby Pauline. They reached Nephi the day after Christmas. Ida was overjoyed to receive a letter from David written from Albuquerque, New Mexico, on his way home.
With the polygamy indictment hanging over David's head, it was agreed that it would be unwise for Ida to return to Arizona for some time. Efforts to procure a dismissal of the indictment were in vain. Frequent letters were exchanged; from one of David's we quote ]:
October 15, 1886. . . . Oh, how often I have felt that I must go to you with words of cheer to help bridge over the years of loneliness that you have endured. It has been impossible for me to leave home.
* * *
Ida's regular journal closes with an entry on October 26, 1886, written in Richfield, Utah. For many years after that Ida wrote annually in her birthday book.
As the happenings of the winter of 1886-87 are clear in my mind I can go on with the thread of events.
From Richfield, Ida went to St. George where she met her father and family, in November. After attending to some temple work in the St. George Temple, Brother Hunt
letter which I wrote to Ida is self-explanatory:
My case did not come up again, and I do not know if the indictment was ever dismissed. During this troublesome time I traveled over seven thousand miles back and forth between home and court and prison.
In February 1887, I went by team to Nephi and after brief visits there and in Springville, Richfield and Kanab, I brought my wanderers home once more. I had arranged for them to live in a rented house in Snowflake, where Ida and baby remained for nearly a year. I managed to visit her and Pauline occasionally. Our hearts rejoiced when our son, Grover Cleveland, was born on December 28, 1887.
Thus closes the story of our family life from 1882 to 1887. The Lord alone can interpret our hearts and our human reactions to the trials we passed through during that period. Ida was longing to return home to our family circle and have her child know me and the family to which she was born; and Ella ... words fail me when I recall her anguish in the loss of our little Mary and of the weary months when she and the children were alone while I was in prison; and then after my release, of our boundless joy when Luella came to brighten our home on January 18, 1886.
In gratitude and humility I bless Ella and Ida for rising above the trials of plural marriage; for their sweetness and strength and their devotion to me and our children and the law of God as we understand it.
Next Chapter: VI Prison Episode (part 1 of 2)
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