Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Almira Emily Hill Harris

The following is a brief biological sketch of Almira Emily Hill Harris, who is my great-great-great-great grandma. She is the mother of Artemissa Ann Harris, who is the wife of Richard Dunwell Maxfield. We have records of the Maxfields going pretty far back, but up to this point (at least in my PAF), we didn't have Artemissa's parents, so this was a great find.

I copy and pasted so the article will be here, but it is taken from this website:

The history of this woman and her children can be a little confusing depending on what source you are looking at. After her husband died she remarried Abraham O. Smoot, and he was quite the poligamist. Therefore, some her first husband's (and our ancestor) children are attributed to Smoot, but if you click over to the link, you can see who her children are with Zachariah Harris. 


By Carole Call King, great-great granddaughter

Emily Hill was born in Pendleton District, South Carolina, on 25 November, 1816 (some accounts list 1815 as the year of her birth). She was the second of seven children of Jehu Hill and Martha (Patsy) Carlin Hill. Emily had four sisters: Mary, the eldest, twins, Elizabeth and Jane, and Adeline. Her two younger brothers were Franklin and John.

When Emily was four years old, her parents moved to Tennessee. The family traveled on horseback and packed everything that was needed for food, clothing, bedding, and shelter for Mother and Father and four little girls ages 6, 4, and two year old twins. They settled on Duck River, White County, and lived there about eight years.

Jehu and Patsy decided to move the family again about 1828. Their destination was Illinois. They spent the summer en route in Kentucky, Christian County, then continued the journey. They reached their distination in the fall, entered land and made a home in Macoupin County, Illinois. Emily had two brothers and a sister born in Carlinville, Macoupin, Illinois.

On 6 Mar 1834 when Emily was 18 years old, she married Zachariah Harris in Carrollton, Illinois. They later moved to Hillsboro, Montgomery County.

Emily and Zachariah had lived in Hillsboro only a few months when her father sent word that her invalid mother was dying and he needed her help. Emily left as soon as possible but her mother died before she was able to get back to her parents' home. Patsy Hill was about 43 years old when she died in 1838. She left seven children.

Emily's older sister, Mary Hill Crismon, was married and lived in a distant county, so Emily was obliged to remain to keep house for her father and care for her younger brothers and sisters. The twins, Elizabeth and Jane, were now about 18 years old, and Franklin was 15, so they must have been a lot of help with her sister, Adeline, six; and brother, John, who was four or five years old. Certainly Emily needed their help, with her own small children, Artimissa Ann, three years old; William Jasper, two; and a new baby, Martha Jane, who was born 1 Jan 1838.

Emily encountered other problems as well. After her mother's death, her father began drinking to excess. But with kindness and patience she helped him get the problem under control.

Soon after this her father's family broke up and scattered among relatives. Emily went with her husband, Zachariah, to reside in Morgan County where he went into the harness and grocery business. He became successful and prosperous in that endeavor.

The next few years were very eventful for Emily Harris. Her little two year old daughter, Martha Jane, died on 16 Jan 1840. Another baby girl, Mary Elizabeth, was born to her on 3 Mar 1841. Her husband died suddenly of consumption, having eaten his breakfast with the family only a few hours earlier. At his death in September 1841, Zachariah was 37 years old. The very next month Emily's seven month old baby died.

With her life so drastically changed, Emily had to consider what was best for herself and her two surviving children, Artimissa Ann and William Jasper. She was left without a home, but was well provided with clothing and household goods. She decided to go to Macedonia, just thirty miles from Nauvoo, Illinois, to live with her oldest sister, Mrs. Charles (Mary) Crismon. Mary allowed Emily to set up a loom in her kitchen in order to help support her children by weaving.

While living with her sister's family, Emily first heard the gospel preached. Two of her siters had joined the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day (sic) Saints--the Mormons. Emily was most bitterly opposed to the Mormons, and she felt disgraced because her sisters joined them. In her early life she had joined the Campbellites and was a strong believer in that faith. However, as she lived with a family of Mormons and was continually visited by Mormons, she soon overcame some of her prejudice. Charley Crismon finally persuaded her to attend a church conference in Nauvoo. More from curiosity than any interest, she decided to go.

At the first sight of the Prophet Joseph Smith, her feelings softened. Emily listened to him preach a powerful sermon at the conference, after which she never doubted for one moment that the church was true. In the winter of 1842, at her own request, she was baptized by Andrew Perkins in water reached through two feet of ice.

About 1843, Emily and her two children moved up the Mississippi River to Nauvoo, Illinois. Her son, William, was fascinated by that beautiful city, and was excited to be able to get a job as a stable boy to take care of horses even though he was only seven years old.

The last week of June 1844, Emily was stopping with Brother Perkins family, who lived on the main road to Nauvoo. They heard the tragic news of the martyrdom of the Prophet Joseph and his brother, Patriarch Hyrum Smith, in Carthage Jail. With other Saints in Nauvoo, they mourned the loss of these great men who had meant so much to them.

After the martyrdom Emily and her two children went to live with her husband's family. She remained with them for one year and fervently talked to them about the truthfulness of the gospel she had grown to love. She wanted them to believe as she did and go with them to the Rocky Mountains. The Harrises were all strong Campbellites and opposed her so bitterly that she met with no success. So Emily returned to the home of her sister, Mary Crismon, to make preparation to move with the Saints wherever they might go.

Emily Harris was married and sealed to Abraham Owen Smoot in the Nauvoo Temple on 18 Jan 1846 as a plural wife. (One account gives the date as 9 Jan 1846.) The very same day, Owen was sealed to 46 year old Sarah Gibbons, from Cumberland County, Kentucky. She was 15 years his senior, but Emily was close to his same age, 31 years old.

Margaret McMean Thompson Smoot, his first wife, was also a widow when she married Owen eight years earlier. Margaret had one son by a previous marriage, but A. O. Smoot had no children of his own at that time. Margaret's son, William Cochrane Adkinson, was adopted by A. O. Smoot and bore his name, William C. A. Smoot.

How did Margaret feel about these new wives? Here are her remarks: "Myself and husband being thoroughly convinced of the divinity of the Revelation of Plural Marriage given through Joseph Smith, my husband, with my fullest consent here took his first plural wife." Margaret remained faithful to the principal (sic) of plural marriage throughout her life.

When the first wagons pulled away from Nauvoo to begin their journey west, A. O. Smoot stayed behind with chills and fever. He finally left in May 1846, taking Margaret, Emily, and Emily's son, William Jasper, now almost 10 years old, with him. They arrived in Council Bluffs, Iowa on 17 July 1846.

Emily's other child, Artimissa Ann, 11 years old, is never mentioned on any of the lists of pioneers as going with A. O. Smoot's group. Emily's sister, Mary Crismon, her husband, Charles, and seven children ranging in ages from 16 years to 5 months are listed as traveling west with the Third Hundred, Jedediah M. Grant, Captain, First Fifty, Third Ten, Jacob Gates as captain. Artimissa Ann is not listed with them, either. Perhaps she stayed behind for a time with relatives, but she did come to Utah later. She married Richard Dunwell Maxfield in 1854 and lived in the South Cottonwood area south of Salt Lake City.

William C. A. Smoot, Margaret's son, was 19 years old at this time. He went ahead of his mother's group with the very first company, known as the Pioneer Company, under the leadership of Brigham Young. They left Winter Quarters 5 April 1847 and arrived in Great Salt (sic) Valley 24 July 1847.

And what about A. O. Smoot's wife, Sarah Gibbons? She never did go to the West. One can only speculate at the reasons. A note in Smoot's biography on 20 Jan 1852 states that she "filed her account against Abraham O. Smoot, who had left a divorce for her."

The Smoot family spent the winter on the west side of the Missouri River at a place called "Cutler's Park." It was a time of great suffering and sacrifice for all the pioneers in Winter Quarters.

In January of 1847, Owen was ordained Bishop by Wilford Woodruff and they joined together organizing companies for the westward journey. Their company set out for Salt Lake on 26 June 1847.

Journal History, 21 Jun 1847, listed the Smoot family along with others as follows:

"Fourth Hundred with A. O. Smoot, captain.

First Fifty, George B. Wallace, captain

Fifth Ten, Samuel Turnbow, captain

A. O. Smoot age 32

Margaret T. Smoot 37

Emily Harris 32

William Harris age 10"

It is interesting that Emily was listed as Harris rather than Smoot even though she had been married to Owen for more than a year and was expecting his first child.

Nearly 120 wagons were included in Owen's company. Each company of 100 was divided into groups of fifty, and the fifty into groups of ten with a leader for each. They proceeded with no serious difficlulty until the latter part of August when great numbers of their cattle died, some from lack of food and some from poisoning. An urgent appeal was dispatched to Salt Lake Valley for help and additional cattle. A week later Brigham Young and the Twelve, on their way back East again, met them at Pacific Springs with help and encouragement.

As the company left Brigham Young and the Twelve on 7 September, it snowed part of the day and the wind was cold. It must have been difficult for Emily to walk or even to ride in the wagon as she was almost eight months pregnant. The company arrived in Salt Lake Valley on 24 September 1847 and Emily gave birth to her son, Albert on 7 November 1847.

One year after arriving in the valley, Owen, with Margaret and Emily, William Jasper,and the baby, Albert, moved ten miles south of Salt Lake,east of the mouth of Big Cottonwood Canyon where Owen built a home and began to farm.

In 1854 A. O. Smoot was called by Brigham Young to what later became known as Sugarhouse to supervise the construction of a sugar company and manage the Forest Farm for Brigham Young, so the family moved to that area. On 23 September 1854 the Sugar House Ward, Great Salt Lake County, Utah, was organized with A. O. Smoot as Bishop. Bishop Smoot was involved in so many different ventures of church and community service that much of the work of the farm and family undoubtedly fell to Emily and Margaret.

In Sugarhouse, Owen met and married his fourth wife, Diana Tanner Eldredge. At the time of their marriage on 5 May 1855, she was 18 and he was 40, a difference of 22 years. By this time Emily had two more daughters, Emily Ann and Margaret Thompson Smoot, who was loving called "Maggie T."

Nine months after Owen's marriage to Diane, in February 1856, he married his fifth and last wife, 23 year old Anna Kirstina Morrison, a convert from Norway.

The next year A. O. Smoot was appointed mayor of Salt Lake to fill the vacancy caused by the death of Jedediah Grant. He served without pay for nine years by virtue of re-election, then declined a further nomination.

Emily's son, William, was called to serve a mission in Great Britain when he was 20 years old. When he went to the Endowment House to be set apart for his mission, President Brigham Young asked several of the young men in the group if they had sweethearts they would like to marry. William said he did. Brigham Young told him to bring her and be married before he left on his mission.

Willaim's sweetheart was Martha Ann Smith, daughter of Patriarch Hyrum Smith and Mary Fielding Smith. She happened to be at the Smoot home right then, helping Emily prepare clothing and bedding for William's journey to his mission. Martha Ann was very surprised when William came rushing in the house and said, "Get your sunbonnet, Martha, and come with me. We are going to get married!"

Martha turned to William's mother and said almost breathlessly, "What shall I do?"

"Law me, honey," said Emily, "put on the calico dress and go with him."

So Martha climbed into the wagon and they went to the Endowment House to be married by Heber C. Kimball. (Some sources say they were married by President Brigham Young.)

William went on his mission and left his young orphaned wife in the care of his mother while he was gone. Martha Ann turned 16 just three weeks after their marriage.

Martha Ann was already very good at spinning, knitting, weaving and many other skills, and she worked hard to earn her keep. By this time in the Smoot household there were four wives. Diana and Anna Kirstina had little children, and Emily had three young children, sixteen people altogether in the family. There was always work to do--especially when A. O. smoot was gone so much with other responsibilities as mayor of Salt Lake and Bishop of Sugarhouse Ward. With William gone as well there was probably a lot of farm work for the women to do in addition to the house work.

Because of Johnston's army (sic) invading the valley, William and other missionaries in England were called home after serving about sixteen months. During that time the Saints in Northern Utah were asked to leave their homes and move south because of the threat of Johnston's army (sic). A. O. Smoot moved his family to Salem Pond where his wives Diana and Anna,in the privacy of their covered wagons, gave birth to baby girls on the same day, 7 June 1858.

When the Smoot family traveled back home from Salem they were astonished to see William Jasper Harris riding toward them on a white mule. They didn't expect him at all, but were very excited to see him. He went back with them. When the family arrived at their Sugarhouse home they found the house just as they had left it. William and Martha Ann continued to live with the Smoot family and help them for two more years.

William was plowing a field and planting corn with a man named Joseph Abbot on 18 May 1859 when they were struck by lightening. Abbot was killed instantly and William was knocked unconscious, badly burned, and dragged around the field by a frightened team of horses. With faith and prayers Martha Ann and Emily nursed him back to life, though he was never very strong after that.

Owen's first wife, "Ma Smoot," as Margaret was affectionately called by family and friends, never had another child after William C. Adkinson, but she loved Emily's children dearly and the children of the other wives. She treated them as her own. Margaret had a lot of health problems. She wrote in her journal: 16 Nov 1859: "...My sufferings have been very severe. I have had to be waited on in everything I have needed, even to a drink of water, [which] has been brought to me by Emily Smoot or her daughter, Maggie T., for which kindness I hope to ever feel grateful. Emily has waited on me with all diligence and patience for which I feel thankful. All of Mr. Smoot's wives have been very kind to me...."

The four wives were very close, so all of them mourned with Emily and Owen when another tragedy struck on 17 June 1862. Albert had been given permission by his father to go for a bath with some of his companions to a pond near by. But finding the water rather shallow in the pond, they decided to go to the Jordan River--which was a very treacherous stream. The boys could not swim but they waded out into the water as far as they dared, holding hands, until they were out in water quite deep. Some of the boys turned to go back to shore. Albert put out his hand to the boy nearest him, hoping to get him to keep wading into the stream. But the boy stepped back and Albert went out of sight into a deep hole and was drowned. He was 14 years old.

In 1868 Brigham Young called A. O. Smoot to move to Provo where there were many problems. Brigham Young nominated Owen to serve as Stake President, Bishop, and Mayor of the town. Margaret stayed in Salt Lake City for a few years, and Emily and her family went with Owen to Provo.

When Margaret later moved to Provo, each of the wives had her own home. Ma Smoot's home, the largest and most pretentious of the four, became the center of hospitality for hundreds of visitors coming through Provo. It was located at 192 South 1st East. Emily's home was immediately west of Ma's home, at 65 East 2nd South. Anna's was west of that, and Diana's home was across the city at 136 West Fifth North.

Emily had a very busy life as wife of A. O. Smoot, a dominant figure in the history of Provo and the state of Utah, who was described by his son-in-law, Orson F. Whitney, as "colonizer, financier, civic officer, legislator, missionary, Bishop and Stake President, who frequently sat with the leaders of the Latter Day (sic) Saint Church."

Emily raised her children well and they married prominent spouses. her son William Jasper Harris married the daughter of Patriarch Hyrum Smith and Mary Fielding Smith, Martha Ann. They were the parents of 11 children.

Her daughter, Artimissa Ann Harris, married Richard Dunwell Maxfield in Salt Lake City 31 Oct 1854. They lived in South Cottonwood area in Salt Lake and had 8 children, 2 girls and 6 boys.

Margaret Thompson, "Maggie T.," Smoot married Wilson Howard Dusenberry on 25 Nov 1874. They had 6 children. He was very active in religious, government, and educational affairs in the state. He was mayor of Provo; a member of the state legislature; Utah County Superintendent of Schools; secretary-treasurer of Brigham Young Academy, and later, on the Board of Trustees of Brigham Young Academy; county clerk; cashier of First National Bank of Provo, with A. O. Smoot as President, and later cashier of Utah County Savings Bank; secretary-treasurer of Provo Theatre Company; on the Executive Board of Brigham Young University; and he served as assistant postmaster of Provo until he was 72 years of age.

Zina Beal Smoot married Orson F. Whitney on 18 Dec 1879. Nine children were born to them. Mr. Whitney made major contributions to the church and to the state. he wrote the four volume work, History of the Church ; he was well known as an historian; a powerful poet; a public speaker; a member of the Constitutional Convention; and college professor at Brigham Young College in Logan, Utah. He later became a member of the Council of the Twelve Apostles of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day (sic) Saints.

Emily Ann must have died as a child. No death date or marriage is on the record.

Elmira Emily Hill Harris Smoot died in Provo on 20 March 1882, at age 66. She is buried beside her husband and his wives in the Provo City Cemetery.


[This article was prepared by Carole Call King for inclusion in a work entitled Pioneer Women of Faith and Fortitude, published by the International Society Daughters of Utah Pioneers, Publisher's Press, 1998. All the articles submitted for this publication were edited down to very short entries. None of the contributors to the book received a byline, and in many cases, the articles combined input from more than one source. We are using this complete version with the permission of the author. The book has a very comprehensive collection of brief biographical notes on women who were Utah Pioneers.]


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