Lyman, Eliza Maria Partridge Smith, 1820-1885

Autobiography (1820-1885)
Eliza Marie Partridge Smith Lyman, “Life and Journal of Eliza Marie Partridge (Smith) Lyman,” typescript, HBLL.
I was born in Painesville, Geauga County, Ohio. My parents’ names were Edward and Lydia Clisbee Partridge. At a very early age I was sent to school where I acquired a very good common education. At the age of eight years my parents went on a visit to their friends’ in Massachusetts taking me and my sister Caroline (then a babe), with them. The other children, my sisters Harriet and Emily, were left in [the] charge of my Aunt Phebe Lee. We went to my grandfather Partridge’s in Pittsfield, Berkshire County, Massachusetts, where they left me while they went to visit my mother’s friends in the eastern part of the state. They returned in a short time bringing my mother’s sister Elsey with them.

Although I was very young yet, I remember many things that I saw on this journey. My grandfather’s nice brick house, and the cider mill, the orchard and the farm are all plain in my memory; also the cities that we passed through and the Erie Canal with its locks and the roaring of the Niagara Falls in the distance, the crossing of the lake, my sickness while crossing and many other things are still fresh in my mind. I do not remember anything more worthy of note except that I was sent to school until I was about 13 years of age or a short time before this when the Book of Mormon was shown to my father. He did not accept it at first as being what it was represented to be, but after making a journey to New York where the Prophet Joseph Smith lived, and making inquiry of those in the Church and also of those out, he became convinced that the Lord had commenced to set up his kingdom on the earth and embraced the opportunity of becoming a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and was ordained to the office of a bishop, there having been none ordained in this dispensation until that time.

He then returned to his home in Ohio and after a time was called to leave his business which was in a most flourishing condition and go to Missouri to attend to the business of the Church. He went and left his family to get along as best they could. I was at that time very sick and he had no expectation of seeing me again, but the Lord had called and he must obey. He showed his faith by his works and the Lord spared my life and the lives of the rest of his family for many years. He never went back to sell his place or settle his affairs, but left it for others to do which was done at a great sacrifice. He had accumulated a handsome property which went for a very little as he could not be there to attend to it.

His family was moved up to Missouri in company with others who were journeying to that land, which was quite a task on my mother as her children were small. I being the eldest, we children were five in number and the weather was so cold that we were obliged to leave the Missouri River at a place called Arrowrock about one hundred miles from Independence and wait for my father to come with wagons to meet us. We procured a small dark room from a family of Negroes, our only light being what came down the chimney, and no way to get in or out of the room except to go through the room occupied by the Negroes. We occupied this doleful place about a week when my father came out and took us away.

The weather was extremely cold, so much so that we had to lay by one day or be in danger of being frozen. We however arrived at Independence in safety and occupied a small brick house which my father had rented for the winter as he had not yet had time to build. We lived very poor that winter as the people of that country did not want much but cornbread and bacon and raised but very little of anything else. Consequently, there was but very little to be bought. But I remember we had a barrel of honey and what vegetables we could get, but no wheat bread as wheat was not to be bought in the land.

The next spring we moved into a house that my father rented from Lilburn W. Boggs where we lived until my father built a house on his own land; here we lived while we stayed in that county. In July, 1833, a number of armed men came to our house in the afternoon and took my father to the public square where they administered to him a coat of tar and feathers and raised a whip with the intention of whipping him, but a friend to humanity interfered and prevented it. I well remember how my father looked; we (the children) were very much frightened. My mother was very weak having a babe (a boy named for his father), but three weeks old. The brethren were very kind and assisted my father to rid himself of the tar, but the clothes he had on were spoiled.

The people of that place had been acting the part of a mob towards our people for some time and still continued the same course until our people agreed to leave the county which they did in the following November. It was very cold and uncomfortable moving at that time of the year and a great amount, if not all, of our provisions that we had laid up for the winter were lost and our houses left with many of our things in them. Our land and orchards and improvements of every kind left to benefit those who had driven us away. We traveled three miles and encamped on the bank of the Missouri River under a high bluff. The rain during the night poured down in torrents which wet ourselves and our things badly. This was the first night that I ever slept out of doors.

The next day we crossed the river into Clay County. There my father laid up some house logs and stretched a tent on them so that we could stay here until he could go and find a house. The weather was very cold but we were in the woods and could have plenty of fire. It was here that I saw the stars fall. They came down almost as thick as snowflakes and could be seen until the daylight hid them from sight. Some of our enemies thought the day of judgment had come and were very much frightened but the Saints rejoiced and considered it as one of the signs of the latter days.

When my father had done what he could to help the brethren across the river he, with others, went out to see if they could find some houses to move into, as there was already snow on the ground. He found a miserable old house that he could have with one fireplace in it which he and a brother by the name of John Corrill moved their families into. I think my mother as also Sister Corrill must have had their patience tried very much during this winter, the house open and cold and their cooking and children and husbands and selves all around one fireplace, for stoves were not in use then.

I did what work I could get for almost any kind of pay, but there were so many wanting work that there was very little chance to get any. We lived in this old house while we stayed in Clay County which was about two years. While here my father went on a mission to the eastern states. After his return he with others went to look for a location for the Saints, as the people with whom we resided began to be somewhat uneasy about us. My father and those who were with him decided that a good place could be had in Caldwell County. They (our people) bought land there and removed their families there, thinking to live by themselves in peace, which we had for a while.

While here, I went about thirty miles from home and taught school for three months, not hearing a word from home while I was away and I did not see a person while there that I had ever seen before, but the Lord watched over me and returned me in safety to my parents again. I would never advise anyone to let a girl go away as I did then with entire strangers, to dwell with strangers. It was no uncommon thing in those times for our Mormon girls to go out among the Missourians and teach their children for a small remuneration. I received but 13 dollars and my board for the three months that I was gone. I think the people were not as wicked then as they are now or it would not have been safe for us to go about as we did. I was at this time about 17 years old.

We remained in Caldwell two or three years when not only the mobs that were around us but the authorities of the state said we must leave that county, which we did. We settled in Illinois, first at Quincy, then at Pittsfield, Pike County, then at Nauvoo, which was the gathering place for the Saints. In consequence of the persecutions of apostates, my father was obliged to leave Far West before his family and arranged with Brother King Follett to bring them to Quincy. We had a very uncomfortable time as the weather was cold and we were badly crowded in the wagon, although we did as we had done every time that we moved, left most of our things. We crossed the Mississippi partly in a boat and partly on the ice. Father met us and took us to a house where we were more comfortable than we had been while traveling. We stayed here but a short time as my father thought he could do better somewhere else and the Church was scattered with no place of gathering. However, it was not long before we went to Nauvoo as the Prophet, who was yet in prison, had said he thought it was the place to gather to.

The Saints were nearly all sick with ague and fever and our family had to have a share. My two sisters, Harriet and Emily, had the ague about a year. I did not have it as I had worn it out when we lived in Ohio. As we were by this time much reduced in circumstances (having moved so many times and my father having poor health), it was thought best for me to take a school at Lima, a small town about 24 miles away, which I did and my father rented rooms for his family in a large storehouse where several other families resided, one Brother Hyrum Smith, and his brother-in-law, R. B. Thompson, and two more families, as they had not time to build yet.

While I was teaching at Lima, I boarded with a gentile family and was well treated, but suffered fearfully with headache. About two weeks before my school was out, my father sent a man for me saying my sister Harriet was dying. We rode all night and arrived at home about sunrise. My sister was still alive but died during the day. My parents took this trouble to heart very much and my father said she was his pet child, but no one knew it until then and I do not think now that he knew any difference in his children, but I believe when a child or friend is taken from us, we are to think we loved them more than others.

This was in the spring and my father was making a garden on his lot which was distant about a mile. As his health was very poor and he did not feel able to walk so far to his work (he was also building a house), he concluded after the funeral of my sister that he would move down home and occupy a log house that he had put up for a stable but had not been used, and then he could work at his house and garden with more ease. He commenced to move but had to give up and take to his bed before he had the last load moved. He was sick about ten days when he also left us most uncomfortably situated. I was too sick to attend the funeral. He was completely worn out with the hardships and fatigues of movings and exposure caused by our enemies who never slackened their hands but persecuted us continually. He was firm and steadfast in his religion and tried to the very best of his ability to attend to every known duty as bishop in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. We were in very poor circumstances at the time of his death, the handsome property that he had when he joined the Church having been spent in the Church and he not having had the privilege of staying in one place long enough to amass more.

After his funeral, Brother William Law took us to his house to stay until our house was finished. He and his wife were very kind to us and doctored me and also my sister Lydia who was very sick, so that in about three weeks we were able to move to our own house which was finished.

I forgot to mention that while I lived in Far West, I had learned the tailor’s trade as far as sewing went, which I found of great use to me as I now could get work at the tailor’s shops and was paid three dollars a week which was a great help to us. After a year or two, my mother married again, as she could not get along she thought without someone to provide for her. She now had three daughters besides me, and had one son about eight or nine years old. Her husband’s name was William Huntington, a very good man and kind to my mother and her children.

After a time, my sister Emily and myself went to live in the family of the Prophet Joseph Smith. We lived there about three years. While there, he taught to us the plan of celestial marriage and asked us to enter into that order with him. This was truly a great trial for me but I had the most implicit confidence in him as a Prophet of the Lord and not but believe his words and as a matter of course accept of the privilege of being sealed to him as a wife for time and all eternity. We were sealed in 1843 by H. C. K [Heber C. Kimball] in the presence of witnesses. I continued to live in his family for a length of time after this but did not reside there when he was martyred which was the 27th of June, 1844.

I was then living with a family by the name of Coolidge. I stayed with them for a year or more until I was married to a man by the name of Amasa Lyman, one of the Twelve Apostles. I then went to live with my mother for a while and after that lived with him and his wife, Maria Louisa. Times were not then as they are now in 1877, but a woman living in polygamy dare not let it be known and nothing but a firm desire to keep the commandments of the Lord could have induced a girl to marry in that way. I thought my trials were very severe in the line and I am often led to wonder how it was that a person of my temperament could get along with it and not rebel, but I know it was the Lord who kept me from opposing his plans although in my heart I felt that I could not submit to them; but I did and I am thankful to my Heavenly Father for the care he had over me in those troublous times. After I married the second time, we remained in Nauvoo for a few months living a part of the time in the back part of my mother’s house.

In February, 1846, we left Nauvoo and crossed the Mississippi River with many of the Saints and started to go to the Rocky Mountains where we hoped to be free to serve the Lord as we thought best. While crossing the river the ice came down in large pieces and threatened to sink our boat, but at this time as well as many others, we were preserved by the power of God. We went to Father John Tanner’s and stayed several days as the weather was very cold and we were not in a hurry to camp out until we were obliged to. After a few days we left Father Tanner and joined the camp of the Saints on Sugar Creek. The weather was very cold, the snow deep, and we could not but be very uncomfortable as we were very poorly fitted out for such a journey at that time of the year. On the first of March, 1846, the camp of Israel began to move. There were about 400 wagons. After traveling about five miles, they camped for the night, scraped away the snow and pitched their tents. Fortunately for us, there was plenty of wood and the brethren made large fires in front of the tents which kept us from freezing but we could not possibly be made comfortable under such circumstances; but did not complain as we were leaving the land of our enemies and hoped for better times.

I think it was near the last of April [1846] that the camp reached a place called by our brethren, Pisgah. Here they concluded a part of the camp might stop and raise some crops of grain and as all were not prepared to go on much farther. We had thus far had a most unpleasant journey. After the snows came rains, almost without cessation, making the ground very muddy and some of the time the roads impassable so that we had to remain in camp much more than we wished to, for we were desirous to get to some place where we could make homes again.

At Pisgah I left my mother and sisters Emily and Lydia and little brother Edward with my mother’s husband, Father Huntington, to stay until the next year or until there should be a convenient opportunity for them to come. My sister Emily was then President Brigham Young’s wife and had one child, a boy named Edward. My sister Caroline was one of the wives of my husband and traveled on with us.

When we had traveled about 130 miles from Pisgah, there came a requisition from the United States for 500 men to be taken from our camps to go to Mexico to help the nation who had driven us out from their midst. Our people responded to the call and sent the 500, many of whom left their wives and children in their wagons, not knowing where they would settle and find a home, left them to the care of their brethren and friends and many of them never met again. Some of the men died during their absence; others returned to find that their wives had sunk under the weight of care and disease and their children scattered, but the Prophet of the Lord had said go and they went, trusting in him.

One woman was living with us whose husband was in the battalion [Mormon Battalion]. When it was time for them to return, she was very much elated and rented a room and made all preparations for housekeeping. But, Oh, what a disappointment waited her; when the company came and she thought her happiness nearly complete, they told her he was dead and had been for months. Oh, the agony that she endured. It cannot be described. My heart ached for, but I could not comfort her.

I will go back to the time that I left Nauvoo on the 9th of February 1846, and write from my private journal. It will not perhaps be very interesting to anyone but myself, but it shows more particularly how we were situated and the hardships we endured in accomplishing the journey. On February 9, 1846, I bade adieu to my friends in Nauvoo and in company with my husband, Amasa Lyman, Daniel P. Clark and wife, Henry Rollins, and Dionitia W. Lyman (one of my husband’s wives), started westward, for some place where we might worship God according to the dictates of our own consciences. We went about one mile to the Mississippi River, waited about three hours, then succeeded in procuring a boat, onto which we put our horses and wagons, and as there was no prospect of Father Huntington crossing the river that night, we took my mother, and sisters Caroline and Lydia and brother Edward with us and crossed the river. When we were about midway, we saw a boat at some distance from us, sinking, with no one near to assist them, but fortunately for them, they were near a sand bar so that they were not drowned, and soon a boat reached them and took them safely to shore. Our boat got into the ice which hindered us about an hour but did no damage. We went to Brother Sidney Tanner’s where a part of us stayed all night and the rest stayed at Nathan Tanner’s.

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