Bennion family papers, 1844-1949  PDF  XML

Overview of the Collection

Bennion family
Bennion family papers
1844-1949 (inclusive)
3.5 linear feet
Collection Number
MS 0251
The Bennion family papers (1844-1949) include the diaries of John Bennion (1820-1877), Heber Bennion (1858-1932), and Mary Bennion Powell (born 1890), as well as family correspondence and autobiographical sketches. John and Samuel Bennion and John's son, Heber, were Utah sheep ranchers and polygamists, while Mary Bennion Powell was a daughter of Heber Bennion.
University of Utah Libraries, Special Collections.
Special Collections, J. Willard Marriott Library
University of Utah
295 South 1500 East
Salt Lake City, UT
Telephone: 801-581-8863
Access Restrictions

Twenty-four hour advanced notice encouraged. Materials must be used on-site. Access to parts of this collection may be restricted under provisions of state or federal law.


Historical NoteReturn to Top


Samuel was born December 11, 1818 and John was born July 9, 1820 to devout Methodist parents in the County of Flint, North Wales, England. At the age of eleven Samuel went to Liverpool as an apprentice to his uncle, a baker and flour dealer. Later he worked as a journeyman baker. At sixteen years of age John was accused of poaching in the game preserves of a wealthy nobleman. To avoid prosecution he left home for Liverpool where he apprenticed as an iron moulder and boiler maker.

In January 1840 two elders from the Mormon Church came to Liverpool seeking new converts. John was baptized in May 1841 and Samuel in September 1842. In February of 1842 John married Ester Wainwright a fellow convert and eight days later they set sail for America, arriving at Nauvoo, Illinois in May of the same year. He was ordained a Seventy and united with the Fourteenth Quorum at the time of its organization around 1844. Samuel and John's father, John senior, a widower nearly sixty years of age, was baptized in 1841 and joined John in Nauvoo in the spring of 1844.

Samuel married Mary Bushell in April of 1839 and in November of 1844 he closed out his business and prepared to join his father and brother in Nauvoo. Mary continued her allegiance to the Methodist faith until 1848 when she was baptized in Salt Lake Valley.

In 1846 the Bennions were driven from Nauvoo to Garden Grove, Iowa, along with many others and John senior died there of the ague and fever. John and Samuel were not included in the original pioneer company, but arrived in the Salt Lake Valley in September of 1847. They began their trek to Utah with a few oxen, cows and seven sheep, six of which died on the way.

After arriving in the Salt Lake Valley Samuel and John began building their flocks and herds. They bought sheep, cattle, and horses when they could; traded in various ways and ran other people's stock with their own, frequently on shares. Their flocks increased rapidly with the help of their wives and children. Others prospered as well, resulting in overcrowded conditions on the limited range available.

John and Samuel had been members of the Nauvoo Legion in Illinois and continued their involvement for several years in Utah. When the United States government sent an army to Utah to subdue a supposed rebellion in 1857, John and Samuel were among the first who were ordered into service, John being elected a captain of fifty. There was no confrontation with the United States army and the brothers returned to the work of ranching and farming.

In 1856 John entered into polygamy. His second wife Esther had joined the Mormon Church in England and migrated to America with several of her family. She was a strong woman who walked the entire distance from Missouri to Utah, wading rivers and climbing mountains. She was twenty-three when she married John, thirteen years her senior, and she bore him nine children. John took Mary Turpin as his third plural wife when he was thirty-seven and she was a pretty child of sixteen. She gave birth to eight children, the last of which was born four months after John's death and died at six months of age. After this at the age of thirty-six, Mary suffered a nervous breakdown from which she never fully recovered. She died in 1913 at the age of seventy-two.

John's first wife Esther gave birth to twelve children and died at the age of eighty-five. What she felt about John's additional wives is revealed perhaps, in the first journal found in the Bennion Family of Utah Volume III, but missing from the Bennion Family Papers Collection. John writes five months after his marriage to Esther Ann: "Esther by giving way to an evil spirit caused a wrong feeling in the family. I fasted and prayed to God about it" and on March 25, 1856 - "in the evening went over to Sam'l to see if Esther Ann could live there a short time until I got her house apart from Esther who was disposed to oppress her & disregard my council".

Samuel took only one plural wife, Rhoda Jones. They were married in 1868 when he was fifty and she was twenty-eight. She had only one child by a previous marriage, and six children by Samuel, four of which died in infancy. Samuel and his first wife Mary produced eleven children. Samuel wrote very little except to keep account books, while John seemed to have enjoyed writing daily entries in his journal plus numerous letters. He frequently reported Samuel's activities that were intertwined with his own, revealing a close almost daily association between the brothers; so although the journals were written by John they tell Samuel's story too.

In August of 1863 the Bennions moved the herds from their Taylorsville homes to Rush Valley. Shortly there after John brought his third wife Mary and her three young children to this desolate spot to live in a part dug-out and part rock dwelling. A month later John brought his second wife and her three children to join Mary's family. Eventually a more permanent structure was built.

This "mountain home" continued to be the headquarters of the Bennion stockraising activities for several years. At first, grass was plentiful everywhere, but with year-round grazing the grass began to die out and be replaced by sagebrush in this arid climate of little rainfall. The ecological balance of the region had been permanently altered.

In 1875 the herds were moved to Castle Valley. At that time the Bennion brothers livestock holdings had increased to 1600 cattle, 100 horses and 7000 sheep. Indians were quite numerous during the years that mountain home was occupied and were a source of danger and uncertainty for the wives who were left alone in charge with their children for long periods of time. The pioneers proved ultimately to be an even greater danger to the Indians and the ecology of the region. The Bennions tried to co-exist peacefully with the Indians and Chief Green Jacket, leader of the local tribe, became a friend, urging John to move his family down into the cedars with the Indians where the winter winds were less severe.

In 1868 because of his success in the sheep business, John was sent on a mission to southern Utah, to take charge of and coordinate many small bands of sheep belonging to settlers throughout that region, totaling 3000 head. He took Esther Ann and her children with him, and they led a nomadic existence, sometimes in a canvas tent, for the next five years. The primitive conditions in which Esther Ann lived coupled with the fact that she gave birth to three children during this period and was left to cope alone much of the time, caused the undermining of her once rugged constitution. She and the other wives led lives of hardships and constant struggle equal if not greater to those of John's and Samuel's.

In November of 1872 John and his first wife Esther returned to England on a mission for three months which also served as a visit to their families and homeland. John died in 1877 from internal injuries suffered when he fell from his horse, leaving his three wives and twenty-two living children to carry on. Samuel died in 1889 of a kidney disorder leaving two wives and eight children.


Heber was born November 28, 1858 in Taylorsville, Utah. He was the first child of John Bennion and Mary Turpin. At the age of four and a half his family moved to Rush Valley in Tooele County which became the family's headquarters for their livestock interests. He spent the major part of his youth there. Heber was picked by his father as the shepherd to care for the family sheep with a financial interest in them. He changed the grazing territory from Rush Valley to Chalk Creek in Summit County for the summer and the Wyoming desert for the winter.

In the fall of 1882 he was sent on a mission to Wisconisn and later to Minnesota. While in the Midwest he took two tours of the East coast, visiting New York and Washington, D. C. He and Susie Winters were married in 1885. They had ten children, seven of whom lived to adulthood. Heber also married Emma Jane Webster and Mayme Bringhurst sometime later, around the turn of the century, much to the displeasure of his first family. Mayme gave birth to eight children.

Heber was elected a member of the Territorial Legislature and served in that capacity during its session in 1890. He was made bishop of his ward at about the same time and remained in that position for seventeen years. He became financially prosperous during that period, and was one of the leading livestock men of the state. Because of a series of set backs he grew poorer every year, and spent the end of his life with no settled occupation or home. He died January 21, 1932 of pernicious anemia.


Mary was the third child born to Susie Winters and Heber Bennion, on January 11, 1890. She grew up in a large and closely-knit family on a farm in Taylorsville where she was given her share of responsibility from an early age. She milked cows, herded stock, fed chickens, tended the younger children and then did "her chores". Her pets were baby lambs and occasionally a duckling. When the family couldn't find hired help to stay with them, one of the older children had to remain at home to help with the cooking and housework, and Mary took her turn at this, missing a year of school at a time.

Her early years were happy, for the most part, and her family lived in comfortable circumstances for that time. Mary attended the University of Utah and Utah State University, obtaining a liberal education and also acquiring some nursing training. She taught school before her marriage to Charles Powell in January of 1918. They had their first four of six children in rapid succession creating financial hardships for themselves.

Mary remained bitter towards her father's polygamous activities throughout her life, and blamed much of her unhappiness on this fact. The subject of polygamy runs throughout her journals and fictional histories.

Her six children were her greatest source of satisfaction in life. She viewed Mormonism with a certain skepticism and spoke out on issues that concerned her. She remained intellectually active in later years, returning to the University of Utah at the age of 59, while her youngest son was attending.

Content DescriptionReturn to Top

The Bennion family papers (1844-1949) include the diaries of John Bennion (1820-1877), Heber Bennion (1858-1932), and Mary Bennion Powell (born 1890), as well as family correspondence and autobiographical sketches. John and Samuel Bennion and John's son, Heber, were Utah sheep ranchers and polygamists, while Mary Bennion Powell was a daughter of Heber Bennion. The collection begins with the Bennion brothers, John and Samuel, who converted to the Mormon Church in Northern Wales. John was a faithful journal writer, leaving a legacy of his life from 1857 until his death in August 1877. In his journals he tells a great deal of Samuel's activities as well. The collection also contains brief autobiographical sketches plus some correspondence between the Bennion family in America and England. All the material is typed and copied with the exception of the letters which are copies of the holographs.

Included in the collection are the journals of Heber, John's oldest son by his third wife, Mary Turpin. Two are holographs, the others are copies. They date from 1888 to 1923. There is an account book, listing the family's holdings, and an autobiography of the Sterns Family (the family of Susan Winter's mother). There is also a patriarchal blessing given to Heber in 1876 and a few letters of correspondence.

Mary Bennion Powell, Heber's daughter, following the journal writing tradition of her father and grandfather, began writing at the age of eleven and continued throughout most of her life. This collection takes her to the age of 59. She provides the most material for this collection and is the one who had the family's journals copied and the originals sent to the Utah State Historical Society for preservation. The Journal of Heber Bennion, 1912-1923 is a holograph copy. Also included in the collection are some of Mary's writings, telling the events of her childhood and focusing very specifically on the issue of polygamy. These are also holographs.

Use of the CollectionReturn to Top

Restrictions on Use

The library does not claim to control copyright for all materials in the collection. An individual depicted in a reproduction has privacy rights as outlined in Title 45 CFR, part 46 (Protection of Human Subjects). For further information, please review the J. Willard Marriott Library’s Use Agreement and Reproduction Request forms.

Preferred Citation

Collection Name, Collection Number, Box Number, Folder Number. Special Collections, J. Willard Marriott Library, The University of Utah.

Administrative InformationReturn to Top

Acquisition Information

Donated by A. R. Mortenson and Mary Bennion Powell.

Related Materials

See also the Bennion family papers located at the Utah State Historical Society.

Processing Note

Processed by Kristen Jenks and Mark Jensen in 1982 and 1995.

Detailed Description of the CollectionReturn to Top

I:  John BennionReturn to Top

Container(s) Description Dates
Box Volume
1 1
  • May to June 1862 precedes the section that begins July 1857. John spends his time herding stock, shearing, haltering and docking sheep, and plowing, planting and harvesting his crops; all the assorted tasks necessary to running a farm. He is a dutiful member of the Mormon Church, paying tithing, attending meetings, and obeying Brigham Young's orders and the dictates of his faith. He was a handsome and vigorous man and a leader among the people in his ward.
  • 1857
  • September 12
  • "Went to the Regiment Muster near the city took my post captain of the 2nd comY at night got purmission to lodge in the city"
  • Sept. 26
  • "On my way home at sundown Adjt Cutler who handed me the following notice:
  • "Sir, You are hereby required to appear at the headquarters of the Brigade on the 27th Inst. at 6 o'clock A.M. mounted and armed and equiped with 5 days rations, to take command of the detachment from the 2nd Brigade, & there wait further orders.
  • T. D. Richards
  • Brig Gen Command
  • Bro Saml received a notice to be the Adjt of the Detat. We are all busy during the night to get ready"
  • When John arrived at headquarters he received another letter of instruction telling him to march his company and join the command of Col. Cummings and Burton somewhere in the vicinity of Green River. The letter concluded with "May the God of Armies qualify you abundantly for the duty now imposed upon you."
  • September 30
  • "Arrived at Bridger about sundown, camped in front of the fort"
  • October 1
  • "My comY was detailed to guard fort Bridger... marched forthwith to big bend on blacks fork 18 miles to watch the U. S. troops"
  • October 3
  • "I was instructed to know the whereabouts of the enemies camp now guarded, relieved, travelled & acertain their numbers if I could, I took with me 2 men... Saml took the balance and approached the enemies camp"
  • October 5
  • "I reported all I know about the soliers"
  • October 7
  • "20 men detailed to go and watch the soldiers"
  • October 9
  • "I was detailed to travel down Hams fork to the U. S. troops and watch their movments"
  • October 11
  • "We started toward the troops saw 2 horsemen move in sight not knowing who they were we put for the hills looked off a point saw the squad in an irregular position when they saw us, two rode towards us, when about 300 yds off I saw the applets on one of their shoulders we now knew they were from the Army, they rode up the steep bluff in a gentlemanly manner, bid us good morning talked first about the winter setting in. Said one I advise you gentlemen not to be too free in gratifying you curiosity... he said there was no danger from the troops if we did not interfere with them but there is men along who have been driven from Salt Lake, whom we cannot control"
  • October 12
  • "took a south w course 14 miles over a very rough country struck a trail up a smooth Kanyon over the rim and down a Kanyon west to bear river"
  • October 13
  • "We heard a ax chopping which cheered us up we went over the mountain and found Col Burtons camp at Cache cave head of echo made report of our trip"
  • October 25
  • "march by the nearest route home via Parleys Kanyon...Col Burton instructed me to go home & refit and be ready for further service in my absence my family had been sick our youngest (Maria) had been dangerously sick with some illness that is common but were all well"
  • November 9
  • "10 oclock had notice we have my comY as many as possible in the city today prepared with 30 days rations for mountain campaign"
  • November 14
  • "on the march"
  • November 16
  • "Marched on to the south of echo & joined our redgment"
  • November 18
  • "our platoon now numbered 14"
  • December 1
  • "Gen1 Wells addressed the army congradulated officers and men on keeping back the U. S. troops without sheding thier blood & exhorted all to profit by this campaign & do better for the next... a vote was taken which was unanimous to sustain a decision of court martial in case of Warren Drake for Beastality he was sentenced to be shot in publick"
  • 1858
  • January 10
  • "I attended morning meeting at the mill the subject of home manufacture and supporting a standing army was spoken of by Br Harker myself and Br Hickman"
  • January 11
  • "Fixed up and went to a party at Ballows Hall G.S.L. City Esther Mary T, S. R. & Mary with me party closed at daybreak"
  • February 8
  • "moved Esther to the new house in the fort leaving Esther A. & Mary on bottom"
  • April 6
  • "Legion formed & were marched into the tabernacle Gov Young delivered an excellent address marched into the street and were inspected afterward I was detailed & 5 more from west Jordan Batt to go into the Service into mountain to start at 8 o'clock tomorrow morning"
  • April 7
  • "camped at the foot of big mountain"
  • April 8
  • "snowed most of the day we camped 6 miles down east Kanyon"
  • April 21
  • "travelled home by way of the city the men had a small piece of beef each and where much weary with march"
  • May 8
  • "moved Esther Ann & her things from the bottom up to the fort in with Esther"
  • September 15
  • "Yesterday a band of Indians come & camped in my field I invited them to leave by an interpreter Jos Terry & go outside my field but they wouldnt"
  • September 16
  • "Went to city with tithing of wheat 10 lbs 40 lbs lambs wool 11 lbs butter...I saw Gov Cummings about moving the Indians he told me to get major Allen to muster his men & put them out of the field forthwith"
  • September 17
  • "The Indians were moving off early this morning 16 lodges He had a boy about 3 years old to sell for a horse I give them the horse I was riding and took the boy, they said his father died some time before his name was Kanosh in croping his hair with shears I cut his ear to the bottom of it accidentally"
  • This Indian boy quickly grew to be part of the family and the other boys came to rely on his survival skills. He spent his time with the other children, herding stock, often camping away from civilization for long periods of time.
  • John attended most church meetings and at fall conference he writes:
  • November 14
  • "Went into conference at the tabernacle...Pres Young gave some instructions to the Elders & closed the conference about 1 oclock he said a man may be a Prophet & have no Priesthood at all"
  • November 28
  • "on the 20th I received $20 from the tresurer of the Agricultural Society awared to me for the best buck & ewes"
  • December 3
  • "Night very cold one of Br Hickmans men frose to death near the sand ridge & one Br Leaver near the cottonwood creek I had one sheep frose I drove the sheep towards home Sam1 R met me on horse back he took the sheep & I come home my family had been very ancious about me"
  • 1959
  • January 3
  • "About home resting and trying to get my foot healed up of frost bite"
  • January 12
  • John E. herded the sheep alone for the first" (at the age of eight years)
  • January 31
  • "a few days ago I weighed my folks
  • weight height
  • John 150 58
  • Esther 159 53
  • Ester A. 133 56
  • Mary T. 134 52
  • March 12
  • "ewes lambing several per day losing many lambs mostly from old ewes & yearlings, a cold north wind"
  • April 7
  • "I went down and attended conference Elder Taylor preached in forenoon & Pres B. Young in the afternoon for the first time in the tabernacle for over a year I think the preaching was very instructive on doctrine I was glad I had dropt other work & attended to hear for myself, the boys were hunting stock weather pleasant Angeline herding" (she is 12 years old)
  • May 17
  • "Esther A. & Mary planting corn"
  • June 4
  • "Esther took in butter sold at 20 cts"
  • June 7
  • "Esther and Mary planting vines and beans"
  • July 10
  • "Br Milo Andrews preached on the necessity of storing up grain against a time of famine"
  • July 12
  • "harvesting wheat, Mary and John E. watering from big ditch Angeline & Racheal putting up hay on the bottom"
  • As is very apparent to anyone reading this journal, the work of ranching and farming was shared by all members of a family from a very early age, the result being that children grew up rather quickly in regards to accepting responsibility.
  • August 18
  • "brought a waggon of oxen for seventy dollars of Mr. Walker Freighter got the oxen shod and come home S. R. mowing"
  • November 24
  • "Had a thick snow storm to encounter Hyrum got lost coming home with the sheep Mary went out to guide him in got lost also Esther A. Angeline and Racheal followed & got bewildered Lewellyn Mantle went after & two hours after dark they found home"
  • December 30
  • "I examined & dressed some sheep for the scab tobacco juice & lard for ointment & buttermilk with sulfur and salt for a wash"
  • 1860
  • January 21
  • "Sam1 R drove the oxen into the Kanyon and stoped with the sheep I come home the weather has been foggy this week grass what little is above the snow is frosty, very difficult for the sheep to live"
  • February
  • "went up to camp helped herd the sheep the wolves were troublesome charging on the flock at night and carrying off the young lambs"
  • April 1
  • "our ewes are lambing fast everyday have showers about mostly to Cache valley and Sanpete"
  • June 2
  • "This morning at ten minutes after three oclock Esther gave birth to a son"
  • June 6
  • "Esther up and around again"
  • July 4
  • "our five oldest children went to the city to see the doings of the celebration I herded sheep & dressed 68 lambs
  • August 17
  • "visited Charles Williams who left home two months ago insane got home last night reduced down almost to a skeleton had subsisted on frogs berries & the like, had been alone in the mountains high up he told me he was 4 or 6 days without eating anything He now appears quite rational and a good recollection of what he has past through of which he told me many incidents come home after night"
  • September 29
  • "started before day and went to Spanish fork Indian farm to see the Indians and try to get the mare & colt that they had stolen from me last May the Indians were last in the Mountains
  • December 16
  • "attended meeting in the tabernacle in the afternoon Elder Kimball said certain ones say that we justify stealing from unbelievers but we do not and they who say so shall be cursed they shall be poor vagabonds on the earth."
  • December 20
  • "at twenty-five minutes past three A.M. Mary T. gave birth to a son weight 8 1/2 lbs"
  • 1861
  • February 5
  • "herded the sheep I had a swelling come under my right ear give me pain"
  • February 6
  • "applied warm salt on my head last night it began to mend"
  • April 6
  • "conference began I married our daughter Mary to George Calder in my own home"
  • July 27
  • "John received an interesting letter from a cousin, William Bennion relating the last sixteen years of his life in England & Australia, plus some of what he had heard about the Mormons and life in Utah"
  • "It is passed as an established fact that polygamy is an institution among you I have heard from a man that you have five wives it may be a lie but if it is true I don't know how you keep them under & it goes far to prove that there is monopoly and selfishness among you for some men must do without"
1 2
  • 1863
  • February 8
  • "about 5 oclock our baby Esther Ellen departed this life during the day I saw the cough went hard with it, a few minutes before 5 oclock I called together all the family had them sit around the baby on its mothers lap, I then anointed it with oil and layed on hands confirming the anointing...the family was shedding tears my heart was full unto the stoping... but was unawares and in a minute or two its spirit left the tabernacle no more to return until the resurrection day, it was small and weakly in body, but we fancied a noble intelligent looked out through a bright dark blue eye" [this was the daughter of Esther, John's first wife. She died of whooping cough at the age of two months]
  • February 26
  • "a cold windy day, scarce any feed for stock, I thought it the darkest time I had ever seen for the stock, concluded the day has gone by to winter stock out on this range"
  • May 5
  • "Jobing about home & went to the distillery for whiskey"
  • June 29
  • "Dressed some lambs with calomal reduced to a salve with butter and tar for the scab"
  • August 15
  • "Started on with the sheep camped between Joe Dug outs & Jordan, dog had left us had but one boy with me 3 sheep died of red water twas a sleepless dreary night to me"
  • October 20
  • "I was engaged in looking after the stock built a log house and making yards, Samuel R was at home attending to things got up winters wood thrashing done & other work, John E. went back and forth three trips third trip in Sept he brought out Mary T. to stay and be house keeper for us I had good health the stock improved in condition I felt that I was blest of the Lord adundantly"
  • October 27
  • "Lizzy very sick I went to the city twice to get medical aid her complaint was lung fever got adivce & medicine from Dr. Morgan" [Lizzie was the daughter of Esther, John's first wife. She was eight years old]
  • November 2
  • "Last evening Lizzie grew worse Esther Ann and Angeline waiting on her first part of the night before midnight they woke her mother & me her breathing distressed her much we did all we could for her about half past two she appeared to get a little better, could speak to us, she said I am going home, but I will come and see you again, she said to her mother - would not your mother like to see you? soon after day break her breathing got worse we concluded to see the doctor I went to the yard to get a horse for Angeline to go, when Racheal called me in hastily I ran in to Lizzy she breathed her last in my arms, twas hard for me to believe it. I administered to her but we could not keep her she closed her eyes in death about six oclock in the morning we laid the body after Esther A. had washed it by the parlour window on a lounge"
  • November 4
  • "repairing up the stable my little children pratling around me but I miss my dear Lizzie I pray the Lord to help me endure faithful to his cause to the end of my days, that I may worthy to receive my children back into the family circle, who have fallen asleep in Christ in the days of their innocence Ann, Moroni, Esther Ellen & Elizabeth"
  • New Years Reflections
  • 1864
  • January
  • "Wars and rumors of wars are becoming so common amon the nations of the world, that attract but little notice amongst the people of LD Saints situated here in these peaceful valleys of Deseret. It has been a year of much sickness among this people and many have died. One has been added to the family we named it William This year also we commenced to make a home in rush valley for the purposes of keeping our sheep & cattle, such has been the risk and loss on west Jordan range that this move was highly necessary"
  • New Years Reflections
  • 1865
  • January
  • "The past year has been a time of prosperity with the people of the Latter Day Saints in these vallies crops on the whole have been better than any season since we settled the country The large increase of population in this & neighbouring territories & the words of inspired men has waked up the farmers to a sense of duty to take care of the grain Some few not of our faith are already casting in thier lot among us for peace sake & many more are tired of the war & trouble in the states In this day of prosperity I pray the Lord to preserve me & my family in the faith & love of the gospel that we may keep our garments unspotted from the pollutions of this vain and wicked world The year has passed favourably with us, have had some sickness in family Maria, Harriet & Ira had the measles & Racheal a severe spell of Ruematic fever but all have recovered & with John E. attend school On the fifth of January Esther gave birth to a son in her 47th year we named it Ira"
  • February 8
  • "travelled to Mountain home found all well Esther A. had another son born was a week old"
  • September 13
  • "Went to the Kanyon called at Jordan mill payed one bus of wheat into the Indian fund left one ox & five sheep hides at the tanners"
  • October 14
  • "Gathered and took in my tithing potatoes also took in wheat to apply on the Dixie Mission"
  • November 1
  • "rigged up my baggage waggon & met the Battalion at Cottonwood Mills from thence marched to the parade ground then formed in with the redgement pitched tents"
  • November 2
  • "drilled a while then had a sham fight then retired into camp for the night"
  • November 4
  • "the division formed square heard some orders read speeches deld then broke up camp marched into & through the city 7 were dismissed about noon"
  • New Years Reflections
  • 1866
  • January
  • "The year of 1865 has now past & gone as a people we have enjoyed a year of peace have been rewarded for our labour by an abundant harvest the fore part of the season prospects appeared rather dull, afterwards grew finely and harvested well, this year was notable for the close of the civil war between the north and south also a few prominent men in the government have visited and passed through our territory to wit Colfax, Ashley & others, has been much talk about crushing Mormonism etc. but it is becoming more apparent that we have rights and dare maintain them we have been favoured as family have enjoyed a good degree of health I spent a few weeks at my Mountain home awhile Samuel R enjoyed his home on Jordan Esther Ann and Mary have given birth to another son whom we named David and Marcus Our daughter Angeline (18 years old) was married to Deo Spencer on the 4th of November and on the 8th I was engaged in getting my winters firewood in Butterfield Kanyon when by falling I fractured my knee this kept me to my bed awhile twas tedius for me to endure as I have scarcely lay in bed a whole day afterwards to the house I thought it was well that in the vigour of my lifetime the Lord had blessed my labours so that now I have means faithful family so that if I properly direct thier labours we shall continue to live comfortably although I am disabled for hard work I pray the Lord that my skill in directing may increase and make up for this"
  • May 13
  • "Started to rush valley to fetch home the folks report of Indian depredations rendered it necessary"
  • May 14
  • "found my folks in rush all right for this I felt thankful to the Lord"
  • Indians were a real danger in those years the Bennion family spent at Rush Valley, although some of them became very friendly and helpful to them.
  • May 18
  • "my family all at home for the first time in about 3 years"
  • June 30
  • "This week was a gloom over the saints by several of our men getting killed by Indians
  • July 1
  • "A Mr. Thos Hughes son of Robt Hughes of Mancott once a neighbour of mine in my youthful days called to see me was on his way from California to Montana our conversation brought persons & scenes to mind that I had nigh forgotten"
  • August 19
  • "at day break I was sent to administer to Angeline she was very sick in childbearing soon after she gave birth to her first son"
  • September 14
  • "Finished hauling up the hay we administered to Angelines baby its life seem to hang on a slender thread it began to amend"
  • September 16
  • "attended Sunday school & meeting last night Angelines baby appeared as dead for several minutes but again revived"
  • September 17
  • "This morning I administered to Angelines baby the ordinance of blessing naming it Albert"
  • New Years Reflections
  • 1867
  • January
  • "The year 1866 is past as a family we have been favored with good health on last new years day I did not expect my injured knee to get as sound and strong as it has I feel thankful for this blessing the season has been a fruitful one more than usual rains which brought forward an unusual growth of grass and vegetables the wheat crop partly cut off by rust I had thrashed 156 bus of rather lean wheat This summer was noted for Indian war in Sanpete and adjacent valley in which this led me to move in my family from Rush valley they being too much exposed I next set about building so as to make house room for them In these United States the Spirit of hatred and persecution against the saints is becoming more prevelent especially at the far seat of government There is a disposition in many by lies and all manner of misrepresentations to vex and trouble us in our hard earned mountain home but Israel continues to flourish making their homes pleasant and improving the country"
  • July 8
  • "Had a Battalion muster Col Richards present some means to sustain the defense against Indians"
  • August 11
  • "I went up to the ward house early was on the committee of arrangements for this day Prest B Young and several of the Twelve were present the west Jordan ward house was dedicated had a fine bowery erected but it rained & meeting was held in the Ward House"
  • 1868
  • January
  • "The past year has been mostly a time of health and general prosperity with us Samuel R took to him a wife on the 28th of September Esther Ann give birth to another son whom we named Justin The grasshoppers came in swarms from north doing much damage to the crops some neighbourhoods suffered more than others in our neighbourhood it was favourable This summer we built a rock school house I as a trustee spent much time & means to accomplish it"
  • February 16
  • "Esther A's baby was very sick"
  • February 17 "Tarried at home watching over the sick child it appeared some better"
  • February 20
  • "We thought the child was on the recover I went to the city Esther & Mary P went in roads bad we arrived home about dark the child had taken a turn for the worse soon after we left and about --oclock P.M. it died, twas a noble looking child before taken sick its mother had some forebodings about parting with it while the child was sick she dreamed of Lizzie coming into the room to fetch it away"
  • March 12
  • "went to the city with team I purchased some trees from Hartwell & Fowlers nursery some apple, honey locust Sibernia crab & one lombardy poplar slips of yellow willow"
  • March 21
  • "bought four cherry trees from T Elerbeck for $5.00 cash
  • April 5
  • "afternoon baptized several persons in the river near my home"
  • April 8
  • "at 6:00 P.M. Mary give birth to another son"
  • April 10
  • "attended a leap year party at school house"
  • April 20
  • "attended the school of the Prophets in the old tabernacle my name had been put down previous"
  • May 30
  • "Had a joyous time out on the bench to where the schools marched back to ward house took dinner & spent the afternoon in dancing had the 4th Battalion Martial band in attendence the members 13 in number took supper with us after the days performance was over"
  • June 8
  • "went up to sheep camp we haltered & docked 300 lambs loaded wool started home"
  • June 11
  • "the hoppers that have for some time been held in check are making bad work on the bottoms the weather is very warm one field after another is being taken"
  • June 21
  • "attended sunday school and meeting female relief society organized"
  • July 8
  • "went to the woollen factory with a load of wool unwashed about 1200 1bs sold at 55c"
  • August 5
  • "went to woollen factory first to Smoot & Co done some trading there then to Deseret Mills"
  • August 10
  • "I received word by John Birch that my name was called off at conference for a mission to Dixie
  • October 17
  • "went to City I had my likeness taken at Savage & Othinger for the first time in my life"
  • December 1
  • "On to Beaver Dams met an express informing us of the Navahoe Indians stealing stock"
  • He began his Dixie mission on November 11, 1869
  • December 3
  • "started on soon met an express informing us that a company a few miles ahead had thier animals stampeted & ran off by Navahoes we fitted up 3 good horse men with water and food to the relief of those who had persued the robbers the next night some friendly Indians went out & recovered part of the stolen horses & mules We come up to our unfortunate bretheren & camped we sent one of our young men to St. Joseph on express with the news of the fix this company was in"
1 3
  • New Years Reflections
  • 1869
  • January
  • "When I left home on the 11 of Nov I felt some considerable care on me leaving my family & business but more so starting on a journey of about 500 miles with a wife and young children at this season of the year I had never before handled a four team In our journey we had not a storm at all, my journey was pleasant had not before seen the country, but had read & heard much about it, the counties of Juab, Millard & Iron might extend in wool growing & make it a source of wealth to them The mountains on the east & desert on the west for Pasture is very inviting to the business, Long Valley was settled specially [sic] for herding purposes I made some estimate of our labours in clearing land putting in crops and gardens putting out vines & fruit trees making roads, fence & public corral the whole at three thousand dollars but as the place had failed for herding purposes my mind was to abandon it altogether I could see no way of people sustaining themselves only by fruit growing extensively marketing it on the muddy & at the mines & whoever undertook it would need an income from elsewhere of $400 per year for a family of six with no travel no mail little or no school In six years a good apple orchard would be a living but what a life of exile among Pi-utes good providence keep me far from it"
  • July 30
  • "Started the mowing machine it was very satisfactory to see the grass newly mown, acres in a day by a man riding behind a span of horses"
  • Here the journal skips to 1871
  • 1871
  • July 18
  • "In the evening visited Br Harkers Family with Br Mackay to settle a difficulty between Br H & his wife Thebe, all we could see was he had turned a cold shoulder to her & she has become very fretful, advised him to be more socialble & kind to her & her to go to work & stop freting"
  • August 7
  • "Went to the Election my wives Mary & Esther voted as provided by law"
  • 1872
  • John and first wife Esther returned to England on a mission and visited with family and friends from their homeland. He describes his trip in his journal:
  • November 4
  • "We had entered the dock about midnight & soon as day light we got our luggage ashore...soon found Sister in law Hannah Berry after 31 years absence I had to tell her who I was she was overjoyed on seeing me & could not talk to me for a little while"
  • They returned to New York February fourth in 1873, then continued on west through Allegany Mountains to Pittsburg, Chicago, Omaha and then took a train to Ogden and Salt Lake.
  • April 2
  • "fetched Dr. Bernhisel from the station He vaccinated 9 of our family" [Bennion doesn't say against what]
  • August 14
  • "Sold 26 head of sheep to Irvine & Williams at 9 1/2 lb"
  • September 28
  • "started to Wasatch factory when we met Samuel R bringing home our son Enoch a lifeless corpse it was a sorrowful meeting At daybreak they were on the way up Silver creek all three walking Sam R first, Enoch next, Alfred behind, their lines tied up crossing a little hollow the hind team got on the trot & come up along side Enoch's team Enoch was caught now between the two loaded waggons & jamd or crushed so that he fell & was so badly hurt that he died in about ten minutes S R carried him to a camp fire near by laid him on some blankets but soon life was gone he never spoke after his hurt I turnd back & come home ahead to tell the sad story to his mother"
  • October 10
  • "Recd several letters & papers heard of the arrest of Prests Young & Wells on a charge of lasciviousness got up by the Antimormon party"
  • 1872
  • March 11
  • "Held meeting in the school house dismissed about midnight the Saints were instructed to keep the Sabbath both residents and trancients & become compact together in Eagleville and Panaca and be double watchful on this frontier that they not partake of the sins of the Gentiles"
  • April 18
  • "at the tithing office settling up tithing accts &c afternoon went to the Woollen factory I observed a great improvement in the cloth making the last year"
  • July 12
  • "the company started for Panaca stoped at Rose Valley to marry a couple held a meeting dinnered at Moodyville"
  • July 13
  • "met with the stockholders of the Washington factory & sheep herd Br Snow made report for factory I for the sheep herd & wool I told of my intention to draw out from the sheep herding as I could not get help that was suitable"
  • July 14
  • "I was taken sick with the hives & had to retire to Bro Barrons the Elders come & administered to me I drank peach leaf tea & soon began to amend"
  • July 18
  • "moved the flock to Nettles spring had nine sheep drowned at crossing of a little stream by rushing"
  • July 19
  • "I altered & docked 930 lambs"
  • July 20
  • "moved the sheep to head of cottonwood Kanyon & come home"
  • September 19
  • "With Br Egbert made out accts how many Dixie sheep we had to deliver & counted them then selected out"
  • September 20
  • "Started Harden off with the wethers & the balance of our stock sheep then started Enoch with the Dixie sheep to Deseret Spring canon Israel had gone yesterday to see if Wm Slade would take the Dixie flock off our hands Br Egbert started north today I had my four boys out after sheep & hope soon to close out my sheep herding"
  • September 22
  • "At day break I delivered 85 head of mutton to Mr Peck 73 of Dixie and 8 of Bennion & Egbert 4 of Bennion Dixie at 5.56 & B & E at 6.00 per head"
  • September 26
  • "started north to Jordan Home David with me I left the St George sheep in care of Enoch & Israel in hopes they would be turned over in a few days but they were not taken away till Nov 15"
  • Eagleville
  • 1873
  • April
  • "Since writing in this book I have been over to England & been two months at my Jordan home which I left on Thurs the 15th"
  • April 17
  • "In comdy with Br Egbert we went on to Springville & camp"
  • April 18
  • "On to Juab Valley & made dry camp"
  • April 19
  • "on to Round Valley & stopd at Sister Bennetts"
  • April 20
  • "I deld two scarf sent from Connaks Quay Had an interesting talk about their relatives I had seen in England
  • June 7
  • "finished settling with Br Egbert & handed over sheep shearing acct to Br Day I started home & Br E started for his Jordan Home I felt very thankfull to have our Coop sheep herding so near closed up, Enoch drove me home I felt weary & sick"
  • June 8
  • "In feeble health but went to meeting and talked off my sickness in part"
  • September 25
  • "I had a sick spell with hives after we got home, nettle tea & liquor helped me"
  • This journal ends with a list of dates on which John had written letters to his family. On the back cover there is a list of sheep delivered and the prices they were sold at.
1 4
  • 1874
  • January 24
  • "went to City Subscribed for Salt Lake Herald daily 3 mo"
  • February 1
  • "attended Sunday school & two meetings Bp Gardner preached on marriage urged it as a duty binding the Saints"
  • March 20
  • "I had ten of my family in the school they had made good progress this winter"
  • March 31
  • "Mr Ingalls Indian Agent from the muddy reservation called on me to take my testimony in regard to a reported Indian depredation in Meadow Valley Wash in the Summer 1869 by the Piute Indians"
  • April 6
  • "Conference met & adjourned until May 6"
  • April 7
  • "Attended the female relief meeting the society was reorganized I planted potatoes"
  • April 18
  • "I drew off money depositied in the Parent Coop store $300 sent Br Gardner $200 of it to pay frieght on steam engine from Sinker & Davies"
  • April 28
  • "John E and family (son of his first wife Esther) come in from Rush last night Heber arrived to day with 102 head of muttons from Rush"
  • June 16
  • "Took some wool to Wasatch factory 910 1bs at 25c recd 1/3 cash 2/3 to be cloth or Coop"
  • June 24
  • "Last evening we heard the report of Cannon that was the Antimormon party rejoicing over Congress passing the Poland or Anti Polygamic bill"
  • July 1
  • "I was at Butterfields as an arbitrator between some city men & herd boys about damaging some houses on the bench"
  • July 9
  • "My 54th birthday jobing about home feeling rather feeble in health Boys ploughing on Esther A I get good help this summer from the boys"
  • July 16
  • "We picked five bushels of goosberries took them to the city 2 bus tithing"
  • August 22
  • "Went to the City bought a Singer Sewing machine for Esther A and Mary for $89.00"
  • August 26
  • "I loaded up & started for Dixie"
  • September 8
  • "Watered & baited at Desert Spring then drove to the sheep at Pinto Creek"
  • September 9
  • "Got my sheep out of Br Days flock four hundred head of them"
  • September 25
  • "arrived home about 3 p.m."
  • October 17
  • "Went to the City paid mr D Davisson $370.00 for eight head of Merino sheep all bucks S R had selected & brought them home last Wednesday"
  • October 18
  • "Attended Ward meeting Elders Woodruff & Sheets preached on the United Order or Coop met with the directors after dinner talked on tannery & herding in Coop also on starting men to work on St George Temple"
  • October 19
  • "Paid over $48.00 in cloth an offering towards building the St. George Temple"
  • October 20
  • "Took to the fair four Merino bucks Alfred & Iras went down with me there was a slim show of live stock & considerable horse racing"
  • 1875
  • February 17
  • "I was this day naturalized a U S citizen in the U S district Court Judge Emerson presiding my witness A O smoot & T Allman"
  • May 22
  • "Had rained most of the night we got up the flock docked 1103 & altered & marked a fine lot of lambs"
  • June 22
  • "started to Rush valley with supplies"
  • June 23
  • "Found all well at Vernon" [This is typical of his trips to Rush Valley to check up on his sheep and cattle business and visit his younger wives]
  • June 25
  • "Rode on the range & by sheep camp
  • June 27
  • "arrived home near midnight had drove from Camp Floyd ridge"
  • July 14
  • "Attended a school party at Hills farm as per invited yesterday morning but it come out a sotty affair for beer was drank too freely and quarreling & much disorder followed and I got my family together & left for home & concluded that beer drinking is a bad habit for the saints"
  • August 17
  • "I started to Rush aalley but feeling very poorly I turned back home & had a severe attack of corola for several hours I was so sick that I thought I might easily leave here I had no fears about it only I wished I had my will made out so after I had gone my family might know how to share my property among them"
  • August 18
  • "My sickness gone leaving me sore in my bowels I started to Rush drove to Camp Floyd"
  • September 22
  • "At 2 A M I began loading up winter supplies & at day break started for Vernon"
  • September 23
  • "arrived at Vernon & found the boys with most of the stock gathered up"
  • September 24
  • "I rode to the sheep camp taking supplies pasture very poor and dry out getting out the cattle appeared timely"
  • September 25
  • "Helping the boys seperate out strange cattle & guarding at night"
  • September 26
  • "counted off total 1035 (cattle)
  • September 28
  • "drove to Utah Lake with the herd"
  • October 10
  • "Started all our young folks to conference...My hearing is growing worse so it is not pleasant to be at meeting, can't hear but little of the preaching"
  • John decides to move Mary and her family from Rush Valley back to Jordan.
  • December 3
  • "Started with Mary, children & chattels for Jordan home"
  • December 6
  • "Unloaded Marys things & fixing at her house"
  • December 7
  • "Worked on Mary's house"
  • December 20
  • "I attended a baptism meeting at Jordan Mill & was rebaptized for the remision of sins & renewal of our covenants & subscribed to the conditions there of my wives Esther & Esther Ann done the same"
  • 1876
  • January 1
  • "the Summer of 1875 had been warmer than usual latter part & fall very dry & dusty late fall & fore winter very rainy the wetest time I had seem since the country was settled Pasture very poor we moved our cattle south east to Castle Valley My boys are coming up Heber, Israel, & Alfred are a great help to me I am hopeful they will take good ways & that soon I can trust stock in thier care for I cant rough it as I have done... During summer & fall the teaching was to all the Church to repent of your back sliding & renew your covenants by rebaptism & work into the United Order Dec 1 I was rebaptized at the baptismal font at Jordan Mills also my wives Esther & Esther Ann...Mary was baptized at Vernon"
  • January 16
  • "Attended meeting twice & S school forenoon Bp Gardner preached mostly on building a factory He said he wished it to be a ward job all that could to take shares in it If the ward would not the six that had signed the note for machinery could & would build it, said that 100 men could in two days improve the mill rase so it would bring plenty of water for Mill Factory & irrigation down here Speakers today testified to the near approach of trouble in the nation so that it was high time for us to take care of ourselves"
  • February 17
  • "Took supper at Esther A 15 children present"
  • March 1
  • "Israel writes that the sheep have wintered well, but he seems very wishful to come home as may be seen by the following lines" [he was sixtten years old, Esther Ann's son]:
  • Home
  • In the hills I love to wander
  • In the valley I love to roam;
  • But better still than valley or hills
  • I love to be at home
  • Twas there in childhood hours
  • I loved to run & play;
  • And chase the gaudy butterfly
  • through many a sunny day
  • Tis there my thoughts are centerd
  • When I'm wandering far away;
  • And I kneel before my maker
  • And for the dear ones pray
  • Israel Bennion
  • March 25
  • "Had been up most of the night Mary had a bad time of it got away with what is called a false conception"
  • June 6
  • "went to the city turned 26 wethers on lamb tithing sold 23 to Pettersen for $100.00 got 29 wool sacks from Coop"
  • June 25
  • "Bp Gardner met this branch & nearly fifty persons were baptized into the United Order eight of my sons"
  • July 14
  • "Jane Berry went to the city on the back for England her poor health seemed to make her dispondant & home sick I paid out one hundred dollars in currency to carry her back to England to her Mother" [who is Jeane Berry]
  • July 15
  • "Started early to the city we saw Jane start at 7 A M Sam R went to Ogden to see her safe on th U P train she was very deeply affected at the last & sunk in Spirits, as though the journey would go hard with her said she would come back after awhile but time will tell"
  • September 24
  • "Afternoon we began our teachers visit awhile at Bro Mackeys I was called home to attend to careing for the body of a drowned man found at the Bridge, we brought him to my house & laid him in granary at evening his comrades from the smelter above fetched the body away his name was MacDonald"
  • October 31
  • "Loaded up & started for Castle Valley with supplies & about 100 head of cattle"
  • November 5
  • "Nooned at Gunnison left a lame steer with a Butcher to make what he could of him & credit & tithing"
  • November 7
  • "Passed through goosberry valley ouver into Gunnison Valley down a terrible hill"
  • November 8
  • "Passed over the rim & arrived at Camp about 3 P M"
  • November 18
  • "Drove on the San Pete road I rode ahead with Hyrum to Manti where I found a mare I had lost over five years I took out a writ of replevin & got possession of the animal before Justice Brown who acted very tedious & reluctant in the case The young man Chris Yansen Defendent was civil & kind to us"
  • December 8
  • "Attended the last day of school term has been rather thin but quite an interest has been awakened weather has been foggy for days past"
  • December 12
  • "Went to the City via McGees factory Attended meeting of the Young Mens Mutual Improvement Society lecture on temperence I concluded there was too much letter & too little spirit in the meeting"
  • 1877
  • January 29
  • "Went to the city sold 160 1bs of wool to ZCMI at 20c bought feathers 75c"
  • August 7
  • "Went to city to attend water trial"
  • August 26
  • "Teachers meeting in afternoon a building committee was there appointed to superintend the building of a Ward house I was excused by my request felt I had too much already on me to do justice to it"
  • August 29
  • "Mr Gibson come out to buy cattle we heard of Prest Youngs illness Pres B Young died at 4 P M"
  • August 30
  • "Went to mill creek canyon after a load the Alfred left by break waggon Wille watering Ira & Harden cutting willows"
  • This is the last entry in John's journal.
  • The following account of John's death was told by Harden Bennion in Bennion Family History Volume I.
  • "On the morning of August 31st 1877, he mounted, without saddle, a gentle old horse to ride over to Brother Sam's to arrange for a threshing machine then working to come over to his place and likewise thresh his crops. While on the way he stopped at the Webster blacksmith shop to attend to a small matter of business, and having accomplished it, again mounted his horse by stepping first upon the tongue of a spring wagon that stood conveniently near. The action resulted in an internal injury of some kind from which he suffered extreme agony for nearly 24 hours, and from the effects of which he died the following day. His funeral was held under the shade of the trees he planted and loved so well."

II:  Heber BennionReturn to Top

Container(s) Description Dates
Box Volume
2 1
  • 1888
  • August 25
  • "Started out for Rochester early, walking five or seven miles, then took the train. On the way I stopped a few hours to visit a peculiar community of people known as the Harmony Society. Their peculiar habits and general policy is indicated in the two names. They were the followers of a man named Geo. Rapp, who by preaching his unorthodox views of primitive christianity had gained a following of several hundred in Southern Germany in the latter part of the last century. Through the persecution of the orthodox clergy they had been led to seek a new home in the new world. Landing in Western Pa. about the year 1805 they organized into a society with all things common...they had previously proclaimed in favor of celibacy as more compatable with a saintly life than the marriage relation. Husbands and wives still occupied the same houses but no new children were born to them, consequently the little colony were becoming extent, having then dwindled from some five hundred to less than one hundred and they mostly verging in the grave. Though not seeking for wealth their natural industry and economy had amassed for them several millions mostly in mills and various manufactures. To preserve their habits of quietude and primitive simplicity they had put their industries off at some distance. But for their hundred or more hired servants and their families their town would be an anomoly indeed. Their hotel was always open to beggars, tramps, Mormon Elders, etc., free of charge...Also offered me wine which they made in abundance as well as whiskey, they were temperate in its use. They were visited by our elders, but gave me to understand plainly they took no stock in our doctrine, though that would not hinder them from doing right by us. They seem to be all German though they spoke English quite well."
  • While Heber was on a mission he was exposed to many new ideas and groups of people. This is one example of another religious viewpoint different from his own, and yet similar in some aspects. They shared a mutual tolerance and respect, along with a firm conviction in their beliefs. In other instances Heber showed less tolerance as in the following excerpt:
  • September 2
  • "After dinner went down to the camp meeting paid my fee of ten cents and took my seat under the trees...there seemed to be between one or two hundred loafers about the grounds drinking summer drinks, chewing, eating watermelons..."
  • Disgusted with the false teachings he overheard preached to this crowd Heber left for "more congenial climes" to soothe his mind with a few chapters from the Book of Mormon. Heber walks a great deal from town to town, attends meetings, spends time writing letters and reading Mormon scripture and preaching to anyone who would listen, staying with friendly families.
  • September 21
  • "Brother Robinson had baptized the wife. She seemed to be honest hearted and kind but I couldn't take very well to her. She lacked humility and a genral air of saintliness."
  • Heber continually mentions the weather which is very wet and humid compared to arid Utah.
  • October 26
  • "Walked sixteen miles up hill and down, over fields and fences through woods and dales in mud and rain to the place of our conference."
  • October 31
  • "Spent most of the day at Sister Bakers in our usual social manner"
  • Thursday was always fast day, when he would engage in study and prolific letter writing.
  • November 7
  • Assisted the brethern in confirming the children, Sister Baker two each by the hand being full of the spirit and gave them such advice and blessings as to melt them all to tears of joy...Preaching and singing to Bro Van Gilder and wife in the evening. She was considerably troubled over the position of her husband-too much of a novel reader for Mormonism"
  • November 18
  • "Had two good meetings in the afternoon...But as in times of old when the sons of God came together the devil came also, so on this occasion Devil John came and exhibited his hoofs and horns at the close of the evening meeting by reveling, wrangling and seeking a sign. But he could really do nothing against us, only for us"
  • December 2
  • "It seemed to be a habit among many of the people in these parts to get up a couple of hours before daylight and wane the time away staring into the fire. Such seemed to be the custom of this family" [With whom Heber was staying at the time]
  • December 16
  • "I spoke in the afternoon on the relationship of God, angels, spirits and man"
  • A summary of his labors at the end of Volume III states:
  • "recorded in this book, held fifty-seven meetings, baptized eight persons and assisted in the baptism of five others; blessed or assisted in blessing six children, and administered to the sick ten times...travelled three hundred and twenty miles by rail and walked about five hundred and wrote one hundred and thirty-seven letters."
  • Volume 4 1889
  • This journal begins with a description of Heber's trip to Washington, D. C. mixing business and sightseeing.
  • 1889
  • January 12
  • "We loaded the 7:20 B&O express for Washington, D. C. Our course lay over Maryland and down the Potomic by Harpers Ferry to Washington"
  • He gives a candid description of the president of the United States:
  • January 14
  • "Immediately after lunch we went to the White House, where in the large reception room were priviledged to shake hands with the president He was not tall but very heavy, fat and dumpy, had a much older and less fresh and vigorous appearance than I had imagined. Looked like a great lump of fat, so much so that his eyes had a squinty look. He appeared pleasant however and greeted all"
  • In New York Heber says:
  • January 29
  • "After having our photos taken we went to Prof. Worths museum the best by far that I had ever seen for the money 10 cents. The most interesting curiosity of this museum is the ossified or bone man. He appeared to be or ordinary height but very thin, stiff as a bord, and light as a doll. He told us he had been in this condition for thirty-one years, but was as free from pain as any of us and even now had a good appetite for his dinner"
  • Returning west to Fayette City Heber says:
  • February 9
  • "It seemed quite a relief to me to get back into quiet country life, among a humble, lowly but socialable class of people free from the ostentation and formality of the higher circles of society. Still there was a slight repulse in being thrown suddenly into the opposite extreme of familiarity, awkwardness and even slowenlyness that bordered on filthiness"
  • March 7
  • "Rained all day confining pretty well indoors. Towards evening I made a dam in the creek below the house and baptized Hiram. Confirmed him in the evening"
  • April 9
  • "Continued my course over the hill to John Bakers'-"Devil Johns"- as called to distinguish him from others of the same name. It was no misnomer either; but he treated me very cordially. He was fixed up in fine style about his house-some said for the purpose of aggrevating his wife, who had left him on account of ill use and lately joined the Church in Kansas."
  • April 15
  • "Bro Barthalomew came to inform me that my wife and little, boy were at Jonson Hendershot's anxious to see me...I soon made my way over there several miles distant and there sure enough they were."
  • With his wife Susie and young son Heber Jr. he toured Washington again, visiting the National Museum, Smithsonian Institute, White House and Capital, etc. From there they went to New York.
  • June 5
  • "Bid the family farewell and went on to Sister P's for dinner."
  • July 10
  • "She was in deep mourning over the loss of her mother. Still she did not feel to mourn as those who have no hope. The Gospel had made a great change in her- from a proud selfish unbeliever to a humble sacrificing saint."
  • After the lush midwest Heber is more aware of the desert dryness of Utah as he returns by train to Utah when his mission is over.
  • July 11
  • "Reached Grand Junction early in the morning and Green River for a late breakfast. Here is a two hundred miles stretch of the most barren, dessolate forbidding looking country I ever saw; a scene well calculated to heighten ones appreciation of the rich valleys of Zion beyond. But even they were very dry and parched."
  • Heber arrives in time for the Twenty-fourth of July celebration.
  • July 24
  • "The ward assembled at the meeting house at 10 A.M. and executed a nice programme consisting of music, singing, speaking etc. taking part myself as orator of the day. There appeared to be general satisfaction. There was a children's dance in the afternoon and one fore adults in the cream and sodas also drew their share of attention. It kept me pretty busy renewing my old acquaintances so numerous on such occasions"
  • July 25
  • "Missed the train for Pleasant Grove"
  • This is the last entry in this journal. Mary Bennion Powell, his daughter, added these lines to the bottom of his journal:
  • "He missed the train all right. The train for happiness; for early in life, he decided to be a polygamist, which broke his wife's heart, and the hearts of all her children who were old enough to know that marriage means absolute and single loyalty to ones spouse."
  • Journals
  • 1889 - 1898
  • 1890
  • January
  • "On the 9 of January I was ordained a High Priest and Bishop of our ward...This was a great surprise to me so young and boyish, & overwhelming almost to suffication at the time, but I had previously learned to adjust myself to the changing vissitudes of life and round up my shoulders for most anything."
  • On his return from his mission, Heber was elected a member of the Territorial Legislature and served in that capacity during its session of 1890. He prospered financially and as a leader in his church and in politics. He writes" "Two years later I was complimented by the Democratic Party putting through several of my pet measures, among others a bill authorizing the sale of University lands and another was exempting morgages from taxation...I was a member of several committee and chairman of the com. on enrollment...In the midst of some mischief we probably did some good. At any rate we had a good time, and wound up about the middle of March. We were all in Salt Lake campaign in which we got thoroughly mixed up with mud and fireworks and badly beaten by the liberals to boot." After his defeat he "went back to the noble work of the plow, awaiting my country's call again,-perhaps to wait forever."
  • 1892
  • April
  • "Sold part of my cattle as beef in the Spring at a low figure and sent the remainder off to the hills. Bought and planted 2000 fruit trees in two fields. The larger one containing 1400 prunes, cherries & peaches was entirely destroyed later on with grasshoppers. Yet with all these misfortunes I seem to prosper and make money. Such is life in the west."
  • 1894
  • July 12
  • "Went up Millcreek to the sheep in the afternoon. Found the bears & wolves had killed 50 in the last two weeks"
  • Heber takes his family on an outing to Rush Valley, where he spent so much of his youth.
  • August 31
  • "Israel & I took our families in my rigg on a tour of the valley. Went by his farm over west & up to the 'old place' by way of Hacker Cedars & Duck Creek. I fisst went to this 'old place' with my parents at 4 years of age in Aug. of 1863, & for 12 or 15 years after, it was my headquarters for the warm months & occasionally for winter also. But that once lively and prosperous ranch is now silent & dessolate as the grass. Nothing but dreary sagebrush & lonesome cedars. The two old cedar door posts still stood out of which I knocked the latch pin for a relic. The old snubbing post still stands on the oldest corral ground with the larriet marks still round its neck. We stood around the old 'saddle rock' & again struck fire by pelting it with stones as we did 30 or more years ago.... It all seemed like a dresm: what a world of change: What will 30 more years bring forth? "
  • September 1
  • "I was considerably interested in Israel's journal & encouraged in the habit of journaling. Without it ones life seems running away into oblivion. By it we lived after we are dead. That our kindred may know us for generations to come."
  • September 7
  • "Wrote in my journal & knocked about until after dinner when I started to the sheep in Cottonwood on horseback. Rained on me all the way up the mountain. The trail had grown up & the brush was weighted down toward me with wet dripping snow. The mountain was so steep & slippery that the horse could barely stumble up after me. I fought my way through these difficulties for several miles until almost exhausted & benumbed... just at dusk I stumbled onto the camp. George had retired but got up & helped me to an old miners cabin where we built a rousing fire before which I partially stripped and dried. I now recall an experience as a boy of nine years old equally trying. Kanosh, father's Indian boy & I were about to start from Rush Valley to Jordan with small animals for father's Dixie Mission... I had occasion to cross the creek after the sheep, but in so doing fell backwards into the water head over heels and out of sight. I scrambled out caught my breath, stripped and dried my clothes just sufficiently not to be noticed by others as being wet & then rode all night in them driving the stock across the desert... It was in November or near about, but I appeared to suffer no bad results."
  • September 15
  • Picked out a little over 200 buck lambs & started back for my camp, with them, but got hung up about half way in the big sage brush. Kept fire all night to keep off the wolves."
  • 1984
  • September 24
  • "Received & branded 2607 sheep from Brown 351 of them were long wools from the other herd. All of them together with my old "scad" herd swelled the number to about 3800."
  • October 23
  • "Rode 60 miles on a buck board to Smith well. It was a rough tough barren country."
  • October 24
  • "Rode 65 mi: to Vernal over a desolate unforbidding country"
  • October 25
  • "Unita Valley smiled & shimmered in the desert lika a gem in the mountains"
  • December 23
  • "went to the old home. Found most interesting entertainment reading Father's letters to friends in England to Nauvoo, across the plains & his earlier & later cares in pioneering this valley. I read an extract or two in meeting & spoke there from relating to saving letters and making family records diaries etc. Also referred with regret to the increasing habit of smoking, drinking, hoodlumism etc. among our boys...Also declaimed against the growing tendency among saints to put the means into fine houses fine furniture, costly apparel etc. & neglecting material enterprises as creamieries, caneries, taneries, factories & founderies, etc. that would not be dead unproductive properties but would give increasing employment & prosperity to all."
  • 1895
  • January 2
  • "Went to town. Borrowed $1500 from the Deseret Bank"
  • January 16
  • "Visiting about with Patriarch Smith. He is a very peculiar man: but no doubt all the old patriarchs were peculiar."
  • January 19
  • "Our evenings were spent with books, papers, letter writing etc. The children came in for their share of attention also. We take great pleasure in them."
  • 1895
  • February 4
  • Heber lists the Bennion family financial status and then says: "By the above we would appear to be rich. But the trouble comes in paying 10% on property that is yealding but 5% or 6% By a series of reversals & reverses we have run several thousand dollars lacking of late years & if continues would, of course bankrupt us in a few years. But we trust with the blessings & approval of the Lord to better in the future & get out of this muddle. Time will tell."
  • April 26
  • "Cousin Alice J. Harker being again afflicted with insanity. The relief society had proclaimed a fast for her in which quite a number of the breathren participated. We met at her house, held a sort of fast meeting, singing, talking, praying. I finally administered to her."
  • December
  • "went up to the sheep of Bingham Creek... An old man named Davis herding near by had accidentally shot himself this moring in camp, dying instantly. He was discovered soon afterwards by a boy going to the camp to enquire for some liquor for our rancher who had been hurt by a fall from his wagon... the body was still alone & undisturbed as it had fallen... the old rusty pistol in sight on the bunk. It was a sad lonely scene only intersified by the monotonous ticking of the little clock, admonishing that life or death time still went on measuring out to us our allotted lease of life."
  • 1896
  • January 5
  • "Working with the sheep all meeting I spoke of Statehood & its probable good results., also favored from public treasure."
  • January 24
  • "Went to the special Priesthood meeting in the Assembly Hall. We were admonished for the public exhibition of our dead in their temple clothing. It was advised that it would be better for church officials to resign were they seemed to be irreconcilable differences with them and their quorums or superiors."
  • May 13
  • "Took the morning train to Wasatch arriving in time for dinner. Found no snow but cold and blustery. Just beginning to lamb, but cold and coyotes disposing of most of them."
  • June 10
  • "My shearing dragged along for nearly two weeks a wearisome job & hard on the sheep... we sheared about 5200 & docked a little over 2000 lambs. These with the rams & the bunch from home amounted to about 8000."
  • October 13
  • "In the evening Bros. Panter & Haigh came up to see Charly Wright Jr. about his being drunk the day after being sustained by the people for the higher Priesthood. We advised him to wait until he overcome this evil before going to the temple."
  • 1897
  • January 29
  • "Susie miscarried-twin boys two-thirds developed. We were much disappointed though we could hardly expect her to carry through with so much sickness."
  • February 6
  • "Went to Priesthood meeting & listened to a long discourse by Brigham Young the gist of which was in opposition to round dancing. I am a round dancer myself but never experienced the wild effects they speak of. Those who do, if they are such, should stop immediately. If taking a lady's hand or even looking at one excites passion, the indulgence should cease at once.
  • 1912 to 1923
  • April 27
  • "reading & writing in the morning. Uptown in the afternoon with Susie. My application to Utah Nat. Bank for $5,000 loan was turned down. I must & can & will get out of debt."
  • February 2
  • "Fast day with the folks & turned my face homeward bidding farewell to this great irresponsible carefree life to again take up the battle of life with debt & worry. But the Lord being my helper I will get affairs in better shape. Life is too short to be taken up entirely with debt."
  • 1914
  • January 4
  • "I was out calling on missionaries when I got a call to come to mother as she was worse. We all gathered at her bedside & prayed that she might go in peace. She said she wanted to die, as her time of usefulness was past. She died at 11:50 pm. She would have been 74 Jan. 25. It was a beautiful life. . . She over done herself early in life doing for others & broke her health for the later half of her life... She was & I hope ever will be my guardian angel.
  • January 7
  • "Buried Mother. She was a beautiful corpse. It was a beautiful funeral."
  • 1916
  • January 1
  • "I seem to neglect my journal until I lose track of myself. We had a very nice Xmas. All the family together seventeen of us. I wonder if it will ever happen again. This is such an uncertain world - so many chance for good and evil."
  • December 22
  • "My journal has been lost all this time-put away so carefully that no one can find it. We had passed through much trouble & trial in the interim. Sterling got very sick. He had to go straight to the hospital & have his appendix out. He has not been well since & has to wear a truss."
  • Heber continues his work as a farmer, struggling to get out of debt. In 1918 he said: "I was promised in a Patriarchal blessing 25 years ago that I should 'see the purposes of the Lord fulfilled to the increase of my faith, even under adverse circumstance'" As time goes on and things are becoming more difficult financially for Heber all the time, he begins writing longer philosophical passages in his journal. For example: "When the time of the trouble comes such as never was since there was a nation. To that same time when every man's hand is against his neighbor. The law of the Lord-the United Order will be their only salvation. The order of Enoch is very unpopular today everybody is so eager for wealth & popularity that they cannot tolerate the idea of living in common as God's people should. Their hearts are so much upon the things of this world."
  • 1919
  • June 7
  • "Met Charles & Mary who informed me of Ethel's death at 3 pm We have made a long and persistent fight for her life, but the latter is over & the struggle ended. We feel that we have been blessed in having such a sweet spirit commited to helping for 33 years. She has a beautiful sweet babe to keep her memory fresh & green."
  • Heber and Susie's first child Etherlyn spent most of her life as an invalid until her death at the age of 33.
  • 1920
  • April 10
  • "About town with Emma. Went to a movie to get out of the rain-the first I have been to for years,"
  • 1921
  • January 10
  • "Have vacillated between the two Counties the last two weeks, hunting cattle & tending to business & incidentally some pleasure possibly."
  • 1922
  • June 25
  • "Susie's birthday. Turned and regulated the water on Sterling's farm at 6 a m. Then chased range cattle & herded milk cows until about noon when I changed clothes and went to Salt Lake in time for Birthday dinner with the family."
Book of Stock Accounts; Correspondence; and Sterns Family History
Box Folder
3 1
Book of Stock Accounts of Various Family Members
3 2
Three Holographs of Patriachal Blessings for Heber Bennion
1876 May 28
3 3
Correspondence of Heber Bennion
  • The first letter is dated December 13, 1888, in which he says among other things: "Your letters are always appreciated though they are not so scholarly as some others. I just take in the ideas without paying any attention to the spelling, grammar, etc. In fact I suppose there is little room to criticize were I so disposed for I am very careless myself in those matters. You generally tell more about your relatives than all the rest of the family together." The second letter is from Fayette City, Pa., dated February 10, 1889 also to his mother: "We met with a number of our people from Utah in the large cities, all of whom treated us kindly; but there's too much style and formality with most of them to suit me, in so much that I feel better among the country saints or 'common people' as some would call them, Saints who are not ashamed to say Brother so-and-so."
3 4
Sterns Family Autobiography
  • This autobiography tells the story of Susie Winters Bennion's grandmother, who came to Utah in the 1800s with her family as Mormon converts.
3 5
  • For the Family of Oscar and Mary Ann Sterns Winters, Susie Winters' parents and Mary Bennion Powell's grandparents.
3 6
Correspondence of Susan Winters Bennion
  • The first letter is dated May 16, 1885 from Pleasant Grove. It is to Heber Bennion her future husband four months before their marriage. It begins: "Good morning, mon cher. What a lovely morning it is! All Nature seems to be rejoicing in the beauty and brightness of the spring time." The letter ends: "I was quite disappointed to learn that the visit I had been anticipatin from 'someone' in the near future, had to be postponed, but there's consolation in the thought that separation only strengthens the 'silken tie that binds two willing souls'." The second brief letter is written to M. T. Bennion, Heber's mother, dated March 12, 1889. It is a request to have someone meet Susie at the Francklyn depot the following Saturday evening when she arrives.

III:  Mary Bennion PowellReturn to Top

Container(s) Description Dates
Box Volume
4 1
  • This journal begins when Mary is eleven years old. On the first blank page in the front of the book Mary has written this dated January 1949:
  • "First I will say that the journal or diary writing habit was inculcated in the lives of his children by Utah pioneer John E. Bennion. His son Heber passed it on to his children. When we were given little black bound note books one Christmas, our father instructed us in their use. He said we should write in them every day, all the work we did. As we had been trained from babyhood to blind obedience to his every word, we automatically and mechanically carried out his instructions. Thus our diaries were reasonable facsimiles of his and his father's. All the most important incidents of our lives thus, live on in our memories. Our journals might be those of any of thousands of orthodox members of the Mormon Church. We didn't even record the fact that our father was a polygamist, with three wives, - our mother the first one; or that we had, throughout the years acquired eight half brothers and sisters; even though these facts conditioned our lives more than anything else that has ever happened to any of us. Births, deaths, marriages, riches, poverty, sickness, war, depression, all these things put together do not count at all, on our struggle for happiness, when compared to the fact that father was a polygamist."
  • Mary's bitterness and resentment in later years is totally absent from her early journals, the first of which begins:
  • 1901
  • "Papa has a large farm with a lot of trees. We have 14 cows to milk. I have three pet lambs. One is blind in one eye. Heber [her older brother] has three lambs too... I have three brothers and three sisters. I am eleven years old and am in the fourth grade...Papa is the bishop of this ward."
  • On the following page she lists the birth dates of her siblings and in a different ink, some time later, she has added their marriage dates plus the birth dates of her half brothers and sisters, the children of her father and Mayme Bringhurst.
  • April 19
  • "Did chores and went to school... when I came home I milked. President George Cannon died last Monday at one o'clock in the morning. Lucile and I went to town the day he was buried which was Wednesday. We did not have any school that day. There was about sixty carrages. President Cannon had thirty-two children and fourty one grandchildren"
  • In the margin she has added:
  • "Mother said Susie [first child of Heber and his third wife Mayme] was born ten months after father married Mayme Bringhurst, so the wedding must have been on April 19, 1901 or near that date."
  • Mary along with the rest of the family, worked hard to keep the farm going--the animals taken care of and the household chores done.
  • June 13
  • "I got up at five o'clock this morning and made a fire. Then I milked four cows and fed the chickens before Heber got up. After breakfast I herded the cows and horses. I fed the lambs and tended Rulon [Mary's infant brother] Charly Morris said he would give me a little duck that he had. Lucile and I did the dinner dishes. We herded the stock till choretime. Then did the chores. Heber killed a wild rabit."
  • June 24
  • "I milked one cow. A man came buying old rubber. We sold fifteen cents worth. My share was a nickel. I made a rice pudding. Herd cows and horses. Then I mowed a little while. Heber found a birds nest and a nest of mice in the lucern. The mice got killed with the mower. Then I did my chores.
  • 1902
  • February 1
  • "I thought it would be of little use to write my journal for the last two months because I did the same thing nearly everyday"
  • September 29
  • "I pealed pears for preserves and stayed with Mama. She has been sick for about a week. Emma Jane Webster [Heber's second wife] called in to see how she was. Emma Jane is teaching school here in West Taylorsville. I do not go to school this year."
  • November 29
  • "Cleaned up the kitchen, went upstairs and made Christmas presents and then came down and had a row with Ethel & Heber"
  • Mary has inserted much later in the margin--
  • "Here Heber takes over to tell the whole, the awful truth MBP" This is most likely about their father's polygamy.
  • December 18
  • "Papa sent for a horse doctor from town to see what was the matter with Washakee, but he said the best thing we could do would be to shoot him."
  • Later Mary has added in the margin:
  • "I was too tender-hearted to record that Heber was made Washakee's executioner MBP 1950"
  • August 30
  • "In the evening we were sitting around the fire and George, Lester and Tom came running up and said they saw a bear down the creek. In the night a mouse ran across Ad's pillow and woke her up and Ethel screamed and woke the rest of us up. In a little while one of the horses put its head in the window and some of us thought it was a bear. At last I heard a noise just like a bear growling, and Ellen was awake too, and we were so scared we didn't know what to do but a last we found out it was a mouse running around in the banjo. But anyway we got a quilt and slept in the wagon the rest of the night."
  • 1903
  • September 3
  • "Papa has gone to Mexico for his health. He has had the rhuematism so bad that he has had to use a crutch."
  • She has underlined and checked the world "health" as if to imply that perhaps he went to Mexico for other reasons.
  • 1904
  • September
  • "About conference time we had a Bennion Reunion at the meeting house. There was a large crowd."
  • 1905
  • March 8
  • "Went to school and on the way heard of the terrible explosion in the Granger Meeting House...Nellie Mackay was killed while singing a song. About fifteen or twenty others were injured. The pulpit was blown up thro the ceiling, and the roof was lifted from its fastenings. Mama and Papa went to see the place today."
  • 1906
  • March
  • "Now that the small pox is somewhat subsiding diptheria is beginning to spread around the ward. On Friday 16th we had an elders and seventies reunion. It consisted of a program, picnic and a dance. We had a very nice time."
4 2
  • 1906
  • Mary is now sixteen years old.
  • April
  • "We decided to have a 'weighing party'. That is all the ladies are weighed and their pardners pay a half cent per pound to get admission for themselves & ladies. To make it more interesting the ladies go behind a curtain and each place a toe under the edge, then the gents chose from the display of toes and thus get their pardners for the evening."
  • April 30
  • "When I woke up this morning I was sobbing aloud because I thought Hazel Pixton had run away to California and got married to a villian. After I became convinced it was only a dream, however, I felt better and was about to go to sleep again when I heard the telephone ring and hurried downstairs only to find that it was the alarm clock."
  • August 12
  • "Papa took us down to Powells where we were well entertained by Mr. Powell and his son" [This 'son' is either her future husband or his brother].
  • 1907
  • In January of 1907 Mary, along with her parents, her father's second wife and several others took a trip to California.
  • January 21
  • "It wasn't decided that I should go with papa and mama until Saturday night, so I had to do my shopping and pack up this morning. We started about ten o'clock in the morning and in the afternoon we were flying across Great Salt Lake. It was a sight to be remembered. After this all was wasteland for miles."
  • January 22
  • "Went through Sparks and several small cities in Nevada, then across the line into California, through Reno and into the Nevada mountains. The snow was so deep it had to be shoveled off the roofs to keep them from caving in... Then we went through forty miles of snow sheds in the very tops of the mountains. From here it grew gradually warmer and more like spring as we dropped down into the lower valleys."
  • January 24
  • "We all went to the Mission House. We visited Cliff House and Sutro Park. Then we went for a car ride to look at the ruins. There was one section of the city, two miles wide and six miles long where hardly one building was left standing."
  • January 25
  • "We went to the Mission House, then went to Palo Alto to visit the Stanford University. There has been considerable damage done here but school is in session We brought home some pieces of stone which had fallen from the front of the chapel."
  • January 26
  • "Spent the day roaming through Golden Gate Park. The band stand on the top of the hill was completely ruined and many beautiful imitations of nature, the artificial path, willow fences and grottoes, etc., were detroyed."
  • January 27
  • "We arrived in Los Angelos about five o'clock p.m.'
  • January 28
  • "We visited a large ostrich farm...we also visited the Church of Angels"
  • January 30
  • "Today we went to Catalina Island on a steamer... we went on the glass bottomed boat and looked at the queer and beautiful plants and fishes on the bottom of the ocean."
  • February 3
  • "By the way, we attended one of their street meetings a few nights ago. I have never been to one before. I think it must be very embarrassing to talk to a walking crowd."
  • Mary lived a life of relative financial security. Whatever was needed could be charged at the local stores in Taylorsville or Salt Lake because her father had charge accounts at most of them.
  • December
  • "Mama is sick so Ethel and I have to do all the Xmas shopping. We were kept busy all day and when we got through we had so many parcels that we couldn't take more than half of them home but had to leave the rest at Aunt Augusta's."
  • 1908
  • January 30
  • "We were quarantined with Scarlett Fever. Helen had been sick for a few days and that's the way it turned out... Mama stayed with Helen in a room upstairs so as not to expose the other children. Mama got sick and so papa went up too. Lucile and I had to send their meals up on trays and disinfect the dishes carefully before bringing them downstairs again... Aunt Delia came to nurse mama the next morning Mama, papa and Helen took medicated baths put on fumigated clothing and joined the rest of the family downstairs."
4 3
  • August
  • "About noon papa hooked up the wagon and took all the women folks up East Fork where the boys were haying. We took dinner with us and spread it out on the grass just as we had finished eating a thunderstorm came up which lasted the rest of the afternoon. The boys got in the hay stack. Some of us got under the wagon and sat facing each other with a quilt over our laps. Soon the rain began to leak through the cracks in the wagon box so we put our hats on and it wasn't long before each of them was shedding a steady stream of water... Coming home the dugways were so slippery that we were afraid to ride and the wagon got stuck on a hill about a mile from camp so we walked the rest of the way. When we reached camp we found our beds and clothing soaking wet, and to make matters worse the pigs had gotten into the provisions. The boys brought in a pile of dead trees and sage brush and made a roaring bonfire. We moved the table outdoors and ate supper by firelight, then we sat up till eleven o'clock trying to dry our quilts etc., by the fire. George Frost favored us with a few tragic ballads."
  • This was Mary's annual outing every summer when the family would do the haying and tending of sheep and vacation at the same time.
  • August 16
  • "Heber and Joe started with the sheep at three o'clock this morning; the rest of us followed about eight. We went careening down the canyon at great speed until Dock stumbled and fell down. We thought at first the poor horse was dead but in a few minutes he got up and we proceeded a little more slowly...We over took Heber & Joe and Hortsville and stopped for dinner at Bro Holt's. We got to Pace's ranch at the mouth of Silver Creek about sundown and got supper ready before the boys arrived with the sheep. We were so tired of pounding old Dock along that we finally made a bargain with the sheep herders. They said if we would feed the horses, watch the sheep all night, put their lunch, and call them at three o'clock they would let us take Kit tomorrow instead of Dock. Herb wouldn't think of letting us girls take our turn sitting up so we went to bed. We were soon awakened by a series of blissful snores and found our Little Boy Blue fast asleep on the hard ground. Ethel and Lucile took pity on him and covered him up with a blanket. They were just trying to get his watch to see what time it was when he woke up. His courage during the remainder of the ordeal was commendable."
  • In September of 1908, Heber, Mary's brother, is preparing to go on a mission for the Mormon Church.
  • September 18
  • "Heber went to Taylorsville to say goodbye to his friends. We were busy till noon packing his trunk and lunch box etc. All of us but mama and Rulon went to the depot with him. There was quite a crowd there... we had made it up before hand that none of us would cry but found it impossible not to. Heber and Fred were the bravest in the whole crowd, and when the train pulled out they were leaning out waving and smiling. The parting was very hard for papa. He needs Heber now more than he ever has before."
  • October 5
  • "Late in the afternoon I came home and got ready for the Bennion Reunion...Papa gave incidents in the early life of the Bennion family; some of them very amusing. There were life size paintings of the two Bennion brothers and their wives, hung on the wall above the stand. There was a dance after the program where we proceeded to get acquainted with our relatives."
  • 1909
  • November 8
  • "Lucile came nearly getting ready in time for S. S. [Sunday School] but finally I had to go alone. Children were very noisy and rude. I half determined to give up trying to teach them. Ethel and I both had the blues and thought we would go to see Ina Ashton, but she had to go to a funeral. We started to think of some cheerful person who we would visit...and we talked about our childhood experiences. We laughed so hard that the blues were scattered far and wide."
  • January 5
  • "Papa has sold 80 acres of Cannan Farm, the part lying south of the road to President Smith"
  • January 11
  • "I am nineteen today. I feel quite venerable. Nineteen is so much older than eighteen."
  • January 18
  • "Supt. Wells of the L.D.S. Hospital is offering a course in Nursing at the L.D.S.U. free on condition that those taking it will pledge themselves to service in the hospital for the two years following. Today some of our class went with Mrs. Empey to investigate. First we went to the L.D.S. then to undergo physical examinations. Then we went to a specialist on feet. Met papa and came home with him."
  • January 20
  • "I have finally decided for the twelth time that I am not going to the hospital...Went to choir practice with Hennie. She is in 'liebe with Herb' remember this is strictly confidential-and he goes with another little 'German madchen'."
4 4
  • 1909
  • August 23
  • "Lucile and Ethel washed and I did the housework. In the afternoon Ethel went to the Keyster. Ivy came over to sew. I went to Dr. Richards the same day and he said there wasn't anything the matter with me. I was much relieved."
  • September 22
  • "I have been worrying so much lately that I don't seem to get anything done. None of us went to choir."
  • November 15
  • "L.D.S.U. Founders' Day. Went up to the celebration with papa and mama. A parade, an enthusiastic program, luncheon, and outdoor sports were the main events met lot of old friends."
  • 1910
  • January 1
  • "The L.D.S. closed for the holiday a week before Xmas and Lucile was home to do the work so I took out a twenty days course at the Keyster and started to make a party dress for myself. We had a very quiet Christmas. Mama and papa spent the afternoon and evening at Webster's... Ray & Wid were going on missions to England and this night was their last at home. We kissed Ray goodbye and began to feel like we did a year ago last September. I was awfully glad it wasn't Heber."
  • May 6
  • "Ethel, Helen, Ruby, Aunt Minnie, Genieve Horne, and I went to see Maud Adams from the box. the play was "The Girl Without A Charm, Or What Every Woman Knows", and as most of us had read it in the Ladies Home Journal we were very much interested in seeing it played by such a celebrated and gifted actress. I don't think I every enjoyed a play quite so well as I did this one."
  • June 20
  • "Emma J. came to stay with us for a few weeks."
  • This is Heber's second polygamous wife. All the wives lived together at various times.
  • June 22
  • "E. J. (Emma Jane) stayed with Mayme all night."
  • While Mary and her family were at Pine Cliff in July an interesting incident occurred:
  • "After supper Jim Peterson, one of the hands came to buy some things and to get his pay. He was so drunk that his eyes looked glassy. He tried to get some girls to ride his bronco and finding that he couldn't do that he tried to ride his bronco and finding that he couldn't do that he tried to ride it right into the house. Mama talked to him and got him to go away. In a few minutes we heard loud talking outside. Jim was demanding $10 a month more than papa had agreed to pay him and of course papa was refusing it. Jim picked up a big rock and tried to hit papa with it. Fred Richins, his brother in law, tried to prevent his doing it and then the two of them were rolling on the ground clasped tightly in each others arms. Mama, Aunt Eliza, and all of us girls rushed to the scene of action thinking papa was one of the men on the ground. Just as we got there Jim drew his pistol and shot. Then there was silence and in that awful moment we didn't know but what papa had been killed. It was only a second, but it seemed longer until we saw things as they were. No one was hurt and papa had wrenched the gun away from Jim and we saw that it was Mr. Richins on the ground with Jim...When Jim was let loose he got on his horse and made a regular calvalry charge right into the midst of us and this time we scattered to the four wind. The last words he said as he rode away were, 'Bishop. I'll kill you tomorrow, do you hear?' What could we do with this awful threat hanging over us... Dennis was very quiet. His beard had been scorched by the bullet as it flew past him... Ethel was sitting on the doorstep with her head in her hands perfectly exhausted and the rest of us were on the verge of mental collapse when up walked Jim, hat in hand and head bowed, a perfect picture of humility. He made an elegant apology". Mary has added in the margin: "I was too modest to tell how I pulled Jim off of father and tore the seat of his pants-that was what ended the fight-MBP"
4 5
  • 1930
  • September 2
  • "Lucile, Norma and I went to Lagoon to swim in the fresh water lake. We had a jublilant time. There was a big barrel floating on the water which we tried to ride."
  • September 6
  • "Bottled tomatoes. About 5:00 pm Ethel, Lucy, May, Kate and I went and saw the new Deseret Gymnasium."
  • October 5
  • "Ethel finished Helen's dress in time for the Bennion Reunion. I went early because I was on the refreshment committee."
  • October 26
  • "Ruby, Laura, Lucile and I helped serve refreshment at Anna Grant's wedding reception. The time set was from seven to eleven p.m. There were about two-hundred people invited. They came and went a few at a time staying half an hour or so. First they congratulated the Bride and groom in the parlor, then they passed into the dining room where they were served with hot chocoate, ice cream, cake, candy and wedding cake; then they went upstairs and viewed the gifts and then went home. The decorations were autumn leaves in the hall, chrysanthimums in the parlor and roses in the dining room. It was a very elegant and stylish reception."
  • November 24
  • "We didn't expect papa and mama home for dinner so we stayed in bed till eleven o'clock. Then they phoned that they were coming so we hurriedly cleaned up the kitchen and dining room and cooked a chicken dinner. They arrived just in time to eat dinner before the matinee. We had the box but as the boys preferred to go to the football game we took Luura with us. The play was "The Three Twins" a very funny laughter provoking musical comedy. The costumes and scenery were extraordinary, the main feature being a large flower decked brilliantly lighted aerial swing carrying six pretty girls suspended in baskets."
  • December 20
  • "Bro Mertlich and his young bride to be from Germany came bringing our Xmas presents from Heber. They were some fine linen embrodered hankerchiefs for. mama, a watch charm for papa, a pair of gloves and a bunch of cards illustrating the Passion Play for Ethelyn, gloves for Lucile and me, a gold collar pin for Helen and ornamented pocket knives for the boys. Today Archie got fumigated out and in the evening he came over here. He is going to stay with us till Aunt Minnie gets out of quarentine. Ruby called. The first snow of the season came today.
  • 1911
  • January 2
  • Ruby, Lucille and I went to the ward dance in the evening. Ray Elsmore took Ruby but Lucile and I went alone as usual. Which was the only reason why we didn't have a perfectly grand time. There was the Xmas tree waltz, the Paul Jones two step, the Virginia Reel, the tag waltz, and all of our favorite dances. Once they had the ladies choose their partners and once the choosing was done by throwing and catching a ball, the ladies being lined up on one side of the hall and gents on the other. We didn't miss more than two or three dances and had lots of fun.
  • January 12
  • "Lucile and I went to a shower given by choir to Della Hooper at her home. She is to be married soon...we had lots of fun especially in the games where each person writes on a slip of paper six qualifications required in their future wife or husband. No names were signed but when the slips were gathered and read their authors were nearly all betrayed by their self-conscious looks or by a too strenuous attempt at innocence. Before going hime we had the bride elect display the gifts, which were kitchen utensils, and explain their uses."
  • February 10
  • "After supper we were favored by a 'cat concert' in which sixteen individual songs were sung by sixteen individual singers simultaneously to one piano accompaniement. It gave the effect of grand opera."
  • March 3
  • "Helen did my hair up on rags so it would be in curls for the party and when I took it down it was curled so tight that it made me look like 'Topsy' in Uncle Toms Cabin. I was so long getting it arranged that Lucile and I didn't get to the dance till about ten o'clock."
  • June 10
  • "On Saturday 10th Ethel and I and Helen went to the ranch. Ethel had to go early on account of the state of her health and I went to take care of her till Mama should come...About a week later papa went home and brought mama out. We were to cook for a crowd of shearers and needed her. Aunt Mayme and children moved up to Pine Cliff where Leavirs are. There were about fourteen men to cook for and they stayed about ten days. During this time we worked very hard with few conveniences and scarcely rested at all. It was too hot and the flies were tormenting. The shearers were all from Upton and Coalville and seemed to be socially inclined. Whenever the rain prevented them from working they played horse-shoe, baseball, etc. We intended to stay here half the summer and then change places with Aunt Mayme. However when the time came she did not want to move so we had to all live together at Pine Cliff."
  • On the annual vacation in August Mary says:
  • "Louise Hagman and Don Young came out and stayed about three weeks. They are an ideal engaged couple. I would enjoy chaperoning them. We went for horse-back rides, hay-rack rides, had dances, concerts, candy pulls, bon fires, trout dinners (and water fights) Ethel and some of the others stopped at a sheep camp as she was too tired to go on and papa got some mutton there which we cooked on forked sticks over a bon fire.
  • We couldn't leave the ranch before the first of September as the haying had to be fininshed first. Papa left Aunt M. and all the children but Susie in Heber's care and brought the rest of us home and then went back a little later and let Heber come home, and brought Aunt M. home in the early part of October."
  • It sounds as though Mary's father Heber spent a fair amount of time juggling his wives and families around. Financially having three wives and two large families must have been difficult. Heber's financial situation grew steadily worse with each passing year.
  • September
  • "On the 20th of Sept.. Heber and I went to Logan to attend school at the Agricultural College. I was terribly homesick for the first two or three weeks but I got safely over it and then began to enjoy myself. I roomed at Judge Maugham's with Bessie Day one of Heber's friends and former classmates. She was very kind to me both at school and at our room and tried hard to make me feel at home, for which I shall always be grateful. The only times she every made my unhappy were when we talked about or when I fancied that Heber was in love with her. She was a widow, which according to our religion would prevent her from being his in the next world, and besides her views regarding spiritual things were so strange to me...."
4 6
  • 1914
  • June
  • When I came home from Logan after school closed I found at Thorndyke besides Aunt Mayma and her family three other families. The place looked like a tenement district. Tin cans, papers, egg shells, etc., were scattered about the lawn, and dirty- oh! Mother and Ethelyn had returned from Moapa early in May and had just stopped in Salt Lake a few days. Ethelyn was much weaker and thinner than when I left here in the fall. The Monday after I got home I had my tonsils removed with the hope that this would help to cure my catarrh. Dr. Stevenson performed the operation in his office uptown Lucile went with me too and told jokes to keep up my spirits. I rewarded her by a veritable torrent of endearing epithets while I was under the anesthetic. I also gave her some valuable advice about not getting married. At this the doctors became interested and began to ask questions. I could hear them by this time but decided it was too much trouble to answer. They tried to wake me but I wanted to keep on sleeping. It nearly broke my heart to come back to this sordid world. I did try desperately to rouse myself, but in vain. They got tired of waiting and of supporting me between them half carried me down stairs and out to the automobile. I was in my kimona, bare-headed and with my hair all tumbled up. All the businessman of the building were on the elevator as it was noon hour. I knew something was wrong but I couldn't even hold my eyes open, let alone stand up straight. All I could see was hundreds of feet."
  • When they finally got home she said the torture began:
  • "Everything I wanted to say I had to write out. This was a great inconvenience as it often happened that a person would be out to the car or at least out of the house by the time it was finished. The next Monday after the operation I started to Summer School at the U. of U."
  • August
  • "I simply can't find time to properly record the events of my young life since I have become a school teacher. After the Lehi clean-up our family betook themselves to Pine Cliff ranch. Aunt Emma came too when Helen came on the train. Aunt Mayme and family stayed at the Clark Place which papa insists on calling Pine View though there isn't a pine tree within five miles of it. The children seemed to be having a fine time, especially Richard who spent his time training the pigs and chickens to perform tricks. There was one big pig that he could manage like the circus man does an elephant. He would make it lie down so that he could get on its back and then it would carry him around the yard in great style. He is only a year and a half old and he looked simply fantastic on that big pig."
  • 1914
  • August
  • "The Russells and Aunt M. and family had gone to Salt Lake the day that we moved camp from Pine Cliff to Pine View."
  • During this summer the families shifted around from place to place as usual.
  • "We had lots of fun while the poor hardworking fellows were toiling in the hay field. Nearly everyday we went bathing in the creek. We all knew how to swim, that is all but Aunt Emma of those who went in the water. Mother and Ethelyn never went in. Ethelyn though gaining a little was still very weak. She couldn't go anyplace unless she went in the auto."
  • Mary writes about a friend of hers who married a man she was fond of but not in love with:
  • "She cared for him, in a way, but still he wasn't her ideal. But he simply worships her and it makes me wonder if that isn't more important after all. Love is everything to a woman, and to love and not be loved would kill her. Her home is the center of her little world and here she must be queen. If this is the case and she loves her husband even only a little she has a greater chance of being happy than if she should marry a dashing, efficient briliant man who might sometime compare her unfavorably with other people, or who might neglect her or make her feel inferior."
  • 1915
  • February
  • "A little while before Xmas Lucile went down to Salt Lake with her mind fully made up to have a final settling with Conrad, to 'quit' him, as the poet says. I told her to write it, but she ignored my warning and as result she came back engaged. Such is the way of unwary damsels. I cannot say that I wanted Lucile to get married so soon. She has never had much of a chance at the fun most girls of her class have at college and I had hoped fondly, though perhaps foolishly that she would go to the A. C. at least one year. I suggested the matter to father but it seems that we are getting poorer every year and in view of the rapidly increasing family at Thorndyke it looks quite impossible for him ever to send any more children to college. I hardly think Aunt Mayme's children will care to go beyond high school. They are being trained that it is the aim of life to marry young, raise as large a family as nature will allow regardless of the necessary knowledge or money with which to educate the children properly and that one should be satisfied with the mere physical necessities of life. Papa holds the same views with the exception that he loves literature and believes in a liberal education for boys. He thinks a girl should marry the first good man who asks her, and school for her should be of only secondary importance.
  • I am afraid that father and mother think I do not care for children I would rather make a few happy and useful than to bring misery and handicaps to large number. I cannot help thinking that poor people who have large families are either mistaken as to their duty or are merely thoughtless and selfish. Nearly everyone loves a baby but is that any reason for having so many of them?"
  • Toward the last of February, Homer Crabb one of my fifth grade boys took sick with acute kidney trouble. I was very busy and I expected to see him soon so I did not call at his home. The next thing I heard was that he was in a state of unconsciousness and was not expected to live through the day. I wanted to see him so much that I decided to go to the house in spite of everything, but when nearly there I changed my mind remembering that his aunt was sick with typhoid fever in the same house and I would probably only be in the way. But oh if I had only known how they really felt about it I should have gone there when I first heard of their trouble. Dona told me the next day that they were trying to get me over the phone at the very moment I decided not to go down there. That was a little after four o'clock. At six he was dead. The next morning when I came into the class room to begin school I found Homer's books in a pile on my desk. I tried to say something to the children who all knew of the tragedy and were looking up at me with sad faces But I couldn't utter a word. Vera told me that the mother [of Homer] had run away with Mr. Carson of Pleasant Grove and the four children had been motherless for about five years. They and the father had made their home with the grandmother. The next day I had Dona take me to the house. Mr. Crabb took us in to see the body. He was calm and dignified with a face as full of sorrow as Abraham Lincoln. Do you know how dear a child can be to its teacher? I never see a little empty desk without feeling a stab of pain."
  • Mary went to another doctor and went through several days of tests, the conclusion being that she had a severe case of neuritis, and that if she didn't take measures to cure it she would be a nervous wreck. She began a series of treatments at the hospital.
  • August 20
  • "Ethelyn came back from the sanitorium in Bountiful where she had been taking the milk treatment. After arriving home she continued to take the milk treatment, drinking six quarts a day. She gained 23 1bs in two months."
  • September 1
  • "About the first of September mama came home from the ranch and Aunt Mayme and family moved into three rooms upstairs."
  • September 14
  • "Rulon took sick yesterday afternoon and today was operated on for appendicitus. I was in the hydrotherapy department at the hospital taking a treatment when Lucile came in and told me Rulon was on the operating table. I stayed with him during the afternoon. I was surprised when he came out of the ether without making a disturbance. He smiled and asked me to sing to him. When he was fully awake he said, 'My! this is horrible'. But he didn't make a bit of fuss. I screamed for hours when I came to."
4 7
  • Mary had returned with Lucile to school in Logan, and one day with another friend, named Willard, she writes:
  • 1915
  • October 11
  • "We three made fudge on the chafing dish and talked till a late hour. As soon as Willard left I took a double dose of sleeping pills and went to bed."
  • December
  • "The week before Xmas was so much of a strain that I had a genuine collapse after it and was in bed for two weeks. I couldn't stand to have anyone in the room and was so weak that it was an effort just to breathe. My symptoms were novel and numerous but as I am trying to forget them I will refrain from discribing them in detail."
  • Mary's sister Helen told her about her experiences in Upton and three available bachelors as old or older than Mary who was twenty-five at the time. One of the people mentioned was Charles Powell, Mary's future husband, who was on a mission in England at the time.
  • 1916
  • Mary gets a glimpse of Charles at Conference time after his return from England:
  • April
  • "We were standing up at the back of the gallery when Heber drew my attention to a tall light fellow standing a few feet away. 'Isn't that one of the Powell boys?' he said; and sure enough there was the returned missionary only he was so much more distinguished looking than he used to be that I could hardly believe my eyes."
  • May
  • "During the latter part of May I spent most of my time lounging on the grass in a sheltered nook north west of the pond where I absorbed sunshine along with the rest of the weeds. I could feel myself getting stronger from one day to the next which is a great feeling."
  • Mary went to Pine View with her brother, sister and a woman named Vera and set up a camp. Their nearest neighbors were the Powells and it was during this summer that Mary and Charles became friends. Mary and Helen went to the Powells' home one time and she describes her impression of Charles at this meeting:
  • June
  • "A man waved at us from the backyard. I had a suspicion that it was Charles as he seemed too tall and narrow to be the bishop. When we arrived at the front door there was the long lost missionary to welcome us. I was somewhat embarrassed for, although he and Helen are old friends, I couldn't be sure he remembered me from the two or three times he had seen me at Pine Cliff in my early youth. He was sadly altered since I saw him at conference. Missionaries do look so deceptively handsome when they first come home, before they have got thin and sunburned toiling on the farm. And yet it was a relief to know that he was still among us."
  • One time Charles came by to take Mary snipe hunting.
  • August
  • "I had heard about the snipe game but it was so long ago that I couldn't remember just what the trick was so I feigned innocence and let him lead me out into the meadow and leave me there with a big paste board mush box into which the snipes were to fly in answer to my whistle while he went around and scared them up. Of course by this time I had recalled the scheme of things. The thing to do now was to get back to the tent without his seeing me and get there first, but he had already had too much advantage over me to make this possible and he got there just in time to applaud me as I walked ignominously into camp. I can't convince him that I knew the joke before."
  • Mary's health during this summer improved somewhat, but she still tired very easily. Her symptoms seemed to be psychosomatic for the most part. After a dance she says:
  • "A delightful ride home. Moon absolutely tipsy. Powells wanted me to stay overnight at their place but I declined, with an eye for the cold grey dawn of the morning after. If I could just get to camp before fainting away thats all I could reasonably expect in the way of good luck. When I couldn't pretend any longer that I wasn't sick I asked C. if he wouldn't draft my will for me."
  • Mary and Helen prepare to return to Salt Lake as autumn approaches.
  • September 28
  • "Spent the morning packing and the afternoon vainly waiting for Uncle John to appear. In the evening we went for a last stroll on the hill and lit a big bon fire up there. When he bade us goodbye we all tried to thank each other for a pleasant summer but gave it up-leaving it to the fairies to settle. Last handshake without looking back!"
  • Back in Salt Lake:
  • October 20
  • "The bishop called and asked if we girls would join the choir and also if Helen would work in relgion class and I in the primary. Helen said she would but I couldn't make any promises."
  • October 21
  • "In bed all day."
  • October 22
  • "Ditto."
  • November 18
  • "Visited Websters as I was passing their house in my daily ramble (which I take about once a week) Came home fired with new resolve to take a correspondence course in place of Summer School and apply for a school next year."
  • November 19
  • "In bed suffering from my high resolve."
  • Another potential suitor appears briefly on the scene and the following is a rather revealing glimpse of Mary's father, Heber, during these years:
  • 1917
  • January
  • "Clifford Gerrard came here about seven o'clock in the evening to practice with Ray for a play. To get out of the way I went to Mutual with Helen. But he was still here when we got back so I just had to make myself agreeable. It proved to be worth the effort for we had a very pleasant evening with the exception of a few crowded minutes when father came into the parlor, en dishabille, and called us to family prayers, asking Clifford to pray. I couldn't listen for trying to think of something to say after he should get through. When we arose everyone was embarrassed but father and Clifford. I said 'Isn't it hot in here? Someone open the front door'; while mother exclaimed simultaneously, 'Open the drafts to the stove. This room is freezing cold'. But he [Clifford] settled himself comfortably on the couch and said in his slow, easy way, 'so when I got to my aunts house', and fininshed the sentence that he had begun before father called on him to pray. Wouldn't you say he has a pretty good memory, not to mention poise?"
  • Mary ends this journal describing a chance meeting with Charles:
  • April
  • "Just opposite the Hotel Utah we came face to face with Charles. I stopped to shake hands with him, told him where I had been and then hurried to catch the girls leaving him standing there shouting something after me about having phoned out to Taylorsville to find out where I was. I went home then and shall probably never see him again."
4 8
  • July 22
  • "Heber, Helen, Lucile, Conrad Jr. and myself to Pine Cliff ranch in the Ford."
  • Charles made several visits to see Mary while she was there. Lucile has a baby now, Conrad Jr., and Mary helps to tend it.
  • "As night approaches the baby begins his wails of protest against things in general and our lantern which gives about as much light as a match, wavers and smokes and shed a melancholy dimness around making the room look like a robbers cave. Then we turn to wistful reminiscences of former summer evenings on the ranch. (I must add we reminisce only on the evenings when C. doesn't come up)"
  • One day when Mary was visiting at Charles' home:
  • "Mrs. Powell (Charles' mother) was doing some lace which I admired. Misha said, 'Well grandma perhaps you will have one piece of lace to keep after all', and she said, 'yes, unless there is a wedding in the family soon.' She looked at me but I was the picture of blankness. It is great to have a secret and watch other people fish for it."
  • August 29
  • "C. came up. We talked about house plans. It is remarkable how our ideas coincide on this subject (small, unpretentious, convenient)"
4 9
  • Mary's mother Susie is ill.
  • October 14
  • "We came home and helped mother get ready to go to the hospital. She is going to have an operation on Wed. and has to have some kind of a test tomorrow. It seems awful but we musn't be afraid. That won't help."
  • October 18
  • "That operation was successful but was more serious than the doctors expected, as one of the kidneys had to be removed."
  • Mary went to see a friend's trousseau:
  • October 20
  • "Got up to Vera's about 8:15 a.m. and it took about two hours for her to show me all her things. It was wonderful. What she will ever do with them all I don't know. She worked hard for a whole year getting them ready. When I left she gave me a bottle of pickles for my trousseau."
  • She lists her worries:
  • November 30
  • "My worries. Inability to decide whether or not to have a wedding dress; what to say to the dressmaker whom I have engaged if I can't use her, fear that I am not doing right in allowing C. to burden himself with an invalid wife. These are the most insistent ones though there are innumerable minor ones like the problem of remodeling old clothes, and the question of Xmas presents to be obtained without the expenditure of cash! My most recent one is the worry that I will worry myself into complete nervous prostration and have to be relegated to the hospital!!!!"
  • December 2
  • "Sick all day."
  • Mary had been sick with a cold:
  • December 18
  • "I got up and made a fire and applied mentholatum. After reading for awhile I got tired. I put a quilt on the couch and lay down. Then I got up and put the milk bottle on the porch so that the boy who brings us a quart of milk early every morning wouldn't have to knock and ask for the empty bottle. Again I lay down this time to sleep. I was very rudely awakened by what sounded like an ammunitions factory exploding on the next block. It proved to be the above mentioned boy pounding on the door and he wouldn't stop until I put on bathrobe and slippers and asked him what he wanted. He asked me if I would please put the bottle outside every morning!!!"
4 10
  • This journal begins with sewing instructions. Methods of taking measurements, standard measurements and patterns imposed over what appears to be notes from a book or class. This portion of the journal is very difficult to read. Following this is a section of notes taken during a nursing class, written over philosophical notes. Perhaps Mary lacked money for paper at this time in her newly married life. The nursing notes cover the following subjects: Emergencies, Poisons, Narcotics, Anodynes and Acro-narcotics, Fractures--process of repair, treatment, splints, dislocation, Hemmorrages--ways of arresting hemorrhages. There is a section on Surgical Nursing: Scalds and Frost-Bites, Healing of Wounds, Treatment of Wounds. Operations-preparation of room, abdominal operation, operation on limbs, preparation of nurse, sponges for operation, Children's diseases, contagious diseases, nurse for children, termination of life. General nursing, massage, nurses' outfit. Table of Antiseptics. Dr. Allen, Surgical Operation at home. Dr. Snow, Dr. Faust, Typhoid.
  • Following this, Mary's regular journal entries begin again. There has been a lapse of three years between books 9 and 10. In that interim Mary had married Charles Powell on January 10, 1918 and had given birth to three children. Her life at this time was one of constant work, as is any mother's life with three young children and no help at home.
  • 1921
  • October 18
  • "Bennion kept me awake a good deal last night. [He is her second child.] I got up at 7:30 and washed yesterdays dishes, tended the baby, dressed the children, fed them, washed dishes again, swept three rooms, hung out a lot of clothes, dusted, put the children to sleep, bathed the baby, took the children out for a walk, had supper, put the children to bed, gave the baby his nightly rub, took my baththus it goes. Puzzle-when do I have time to make clothes for the youngsters?"
  • January 15
  • "C. to priesthood meeting. I got to talking about our business with father concerning Pine Cliff and he got angry and left the house saying that angels could not stay where there was quarreling! We could get along with father all right but Pine Cliff is in Aunt Mayme's name and that makes it different."
  • January 18
  • "Charles got home about noon. I was sick with fatigue & nervousness. He felt sorry for me so he cancelled an engagement to go teaching and took me to the American to see "Hail the Woman". We both enjoyed the play very much."
  • February 14
  • "Lucile's birthday. Helen spent afternoon with her. I called on Dr. Stevenson. He said my trouble was 'neurotic odema', nerves losing control of blood vessels, and prescribed rubbing with hot oil. Got a treat at Cozy Chocolate Shop."
  • February 15
  • "Father had made new offer of Pine Cliff for $7,000. Now he speaks of trading range land for Clark places."
5 11
  • February 19
  • "I was so exhausted that I had to go to bed for awhile. It is the nervous strain of trying to take care of the children and work at the same time that wears me out. Charles really does most of the work himself and yet I find myself growing weaker and more nervous everyday."
  • Mary gets up at 5:30 every morning and works all day. Charles is a salesman of sorts canvassing the neighborhood and sometimes Mary helps out delivering things and Charles helps with the children and household chores a great deal.
  • March 23
  • "Reading Main Street by Sinclain Lewis."
  • May 13
  • "Up about half the night dividing my attention between the three sick youngsters. How much longer can I stand it, I wonder."
  • Charles and Mary moved to Pine Cliff Ranch at the end of May.
  • May 17
  • "Bid a difficult farewell to Father, Mother and Helen and set out for our future home. Mrs. Mears next door gave us three cats and some geranium slips, Mr. Olsen ran up the street after us with a thermometer & cough medicine. He works in a drug store."
  • They arrived on the twentieth of May with the children quite sick with whooping cough.
  • May 21
  • "Woke up this morning for the first time in a permanent, honest to goodness home."
  • May 22
  • "Not much sleep last night. We all have to sleep in the kitchen as the children have to be where it is warm and we have to be with them to keep them covered and to hold the wash dish when they vomit. We keep a fire and a light burning all night & C. sleeps in his bathrobe on the foot of the bed so he can get up & get the wash dish in time to whichever child coughs. If parents aren't slaves, love is the only things that prevents them from being it. Of course I don't mean rich parents who can afford help."
  • The rest of the journal are notes on Primary Methods for teaching children in the primary grades. There is a collection of songs and poems for children too.
5 12
  • This journal begins with notes on food, their classification, sources and uses in the body. About bread she says:
  • "Bread is the most common and the most important article of diet. Absolute cleanliness is necessary in bread making. 1 slice of bread made with milk is worth 4 slices made with water."
  • Recipes follow for such dishes as Currant Loaf, Eggs for the Typhoid convalescent, Potatoes on the Half Shell, etc.
  • Mary's journal begins again in June 1922
  • June 8
  • "With C. all day while he worked on the ditch. Had to come home at noon to feed lambs. I had a good time reading my honeymoon diary that I found yesterday in the bottom of C's trunk."
  • This unfortunately is missing from the collection.
  • June 11
  • "On Sunday I had hoped to have a vacation from baby tending today but C. stayed up on the meadow nearly all forenoon. I was so exasperated and tired that when he came back I just took my hat and left the house without a word. I went up the new road and sat down under a tree and wrote my journal. When I came back about two hours later he had got the baby to sleep and swept the house. Then he went back to the meadow."
  • The journal then skips to January 1934 during the depression. Mary and Charles have five children at this time and Mary is pregnant with their sixth and last child. She writes:
  • 1934
  • January 4
  • "Dr. Sherrainian told me yesterday not be surprised if I had to go to the hospital any day now. I will have to go to the county hospital unless the Relief Society decides to let me come to the Maternity Home free. I am not going to ask them though."
  • January 14
  • "Charles hasn't had a days work since the middle of September and has been denied work by the people in charge of the Civil works administration who do things according to their own sweet will without any justice or reason."
1922; 1934
5 13
  • July 8
  • "I asked C. to tend children while I got us & our clothes ready for the Powell reunion to be held at Ed's tomorrow. He said he would & then kept me waiting while he did first one odd job then another. I hadn't felt well in the morning by the middle of the afterward when C. was ready to take the children I was so worn out that I had to go to bed. He did a small washing leaving the crying baby with me. I cried as hard as I felt like till my face was swollen & my hair straggly & then went to sleep."
5 14
  • On the way home from Church in Upton Mary and family were caught in a cloud burst and took shelter in a nearby house:
  • "I looked with envy at the sparkling cleanness of the linoleum on the floors, the ruffled white curtains, the snowy bedspread seen through the open bedroom door, the colors of the new braided rugs on the kitchen floor vieying [sic] with the geranium blooms in the windows. When at last we got back to our bleak dirty little shack I just threw myself face down on my bed and shut out the sight of it. Hours later I woke up. It was dark and still. Charles had fed the children, put them to bed and was himself asleep."
  • Some neighbors owed Charles and Mary money, which Charles refused to pressure them for. Mary and Charles argued about this and Mary felt angry and frustrated by the situation and Charles's weak, evasive approach. On a picnic with these people Mary writes:
  • "I was constantly thinking of whether or not to ask Mishie why Ed wouldn't pay us any of the money he owed us. Outwardly I was a member of a happy picnic party. Inwardly I was a seething furnace of resentment. No wonder I felt sick when I got home."
  • One day Mary, desperate for a change from childcare, volunteered to hunt porcupines in the field at night. Charles agreed but added that she would be sorry she had made the bargin.
  • 1923
  • July 28
  • "He boosted me into the saddle on old Doll, and handing me a hoe told me how to use it to kill a porcupine. He told me how to stalk a porcupine, walking slowly behind it-a yard or two away from it so it couldn't swish its body around and fill my ankles with quills; and how to strike its neck with the hoe so as to kill it instantly. It had to be done while the animal was in motion because when a porcupine stops walking it draws its head up under its body."
  • She gives a beautifully harrowing description of her adventure as she reluctantly kills three porcupines that night. Getting back on her horse at one point she caught her foot in the stirrup when the saddle slipped part way underneath the horse:
  • "My ankle and knee were twisted so that I could hardly stand the pain. I thought, 'this is it, this is what I have been waiting for twenty-three years.' But good old Doll didn't budge, and I breathed a prayer of thankfulness. I somehow got my foot out and leaned against the horse for a few minutes."
  • 1924
  • May
  • "Trek to grainfield-two miles with four babies. Like a sage hen and her chicks."
  • The rest of the journal are notes copied from a class or books. There are quotes from Victor Hugo, Buddha and others.
5 15
  • 1922
  • October 24
  • "He [Charles] unloaded the car and then took us and went house hunting. We found only one house that was still for rent & it was $22.50 a month & small at that. After we got home C. called up Noel Pratt and learned that we could rent his house next door for $25.00 a month. We just about decided to take it. I couldn't sleep for thinking how grand it would be to be in a place by ourselves and yet be so near mother."
  • November
  • "After much consideration we all decided that it would be best for C. and me to remain here with mother and Helen. Father was forced to give up Bluff Dale, but rather than let the government foreclose on it he signed it over to the Provo Resevoir Co. on condition that thev will sell it."
  • 1923
  • February 11
  • "We sometimes like to picture what we should do if the company which has a lease on Pine Cliff should fulfill our hopes of finding oil there."
  • March 29
  • "C. took me to the hospital where our third boy was born. We arrived there at 9:30 P.M. and the baby arrived at 10:20 P.M. I got along remarkably well while in the hospital but suffered from loneliness and worry. If I had been sicker my mind would have been occupied with other things than nostalgia."
5 16
  • 1923
  • May
  • "We have company everyday and all day. Inez & Mrs. McKibben and Effie and our other neighbors who are not too busy. How I envy people who have time for visiting and yet when I think how blessed I am to be the mother of these four lovely children it passes my understanding."
  • May 6
  • "C. & I took our darling baby to meeting and had him blessed and named Kenneth Bennion Powell."
  • May 22
  • "I was trying to sort clothes and the children made me so nervous that I complained about it. C. said he would have to get another wife to take care of them. Well-I went to bed without eating supper."
  • May 23
  • "C. says he didn't mean it!"
  • June 5
  • "Rest is the only thing that will make me well. And by the time you get through resting you'll kick the bucket."
  • June 17
  • "When Ed pays us that $450 that he has been unable to pay for the last four years we can have a car of our own."
5 17
  • It is apparent that the care of four very young children so close in age is a strain on Mary emotionally and physically.
  • August 12
  • "I was terribly ill during the evening and part of the night. I thought I was going to die. C. administered to me & finally I went to sleep."
  • August 24
  • "Felt very worn & weary on waking up this morning, but remembering what Ed wrote in his letter to father about it being my fault that we are poor because I make C. do most of the housework; and remembering also that he would probably be here to dinner, I turned loose on the house in a fury of haste and made it literally shine."
  • August 25
  • "Was so sick from overworking yesterday that I had to lie down most of the forenoon. My trouble and griefs rose up and haunted me till I wanted to scream. The baby was cross and Grant mischievious and would not leave me for one minute. At last I started to cry and the harder I tried to stop the more impossible it became. I was really alarmed and Grant was frightened too. After about an hour I managed by a supreme effort to check my sobs. As if it was the proper moment in the fairy tale for the godmother to appear, a beautiful new car drove into our yard, the driver announcing that it was ours. Lydia Welti Crabtree, her husband & little boy, brought the car out, at Lucile's request. Lucile and Conrad have turned their old ford in on our new one, lending us the $200 it was worth till Jan. next without interest, just as a favor to us, we giving them the chance of disposing of their car by buying from them. Ed and Mishie are deservedly mystified."
5 18
  • April 18
  • "We are out of money and don't know where to go to borrow. Charles could not go to work because he couldn't buy a gallon of gasoline to take him there. He took the few pennies I had in my purse and went up town to seek counsel of the bishop. I am so weak & have so much pain that I find it hard just to sit up and write these few words. Well they say the darkest hour is just before dawn, so I guess we must be going to get some relief soon."
  • April 19
  • "Not long after I wrote the above I bro't the mail in and there was a fifty dollar check in one of the letters. A loan to Charles from a friend of his. Today he succeeded in getting another fifty dollars from a company that is willing to trust him."
  • April 30
  • "If I could have a genuine rest from all vexations for a few weeks or months it would amount to a cure I am sure. But that is harder to get than medicines, hospital treatment or an operation simply because it is 'agin nature' to believe that curative measures can be anything but painful. However if I don't get a good rest and a little fun mixed in very soon I will be able to satisfy the skeptical by becoming sick enough to require a disagreeable and costly remedy. But in spite of the defects of my nature I can still be glad it isn't any worse and as long as I do my best to improve it I feel that the great law of compensation will make my life a happy one after all. Even now my blessings far out weigh my miseries."
  • May 3
  • "I just felt desperate this morning. About 10:45 we decided to go up and see Dr. Gill Richards. We left the children at Lucile's and went. The doctor was as kind and sensible as I remember him the year I had neuritis (1915-16). He advised us to spend the summer on the ranch because of the more easy and pleasant life possible there. He said that having four babies within four and a half years and being so poor as we have been, not being able to hire help would have broken down the health of a strong woman, and that I had been in no condition to undertake even the usual amount of work in a well to do home with one or two babies."
  • Seeing her unhappiness as being outwardly caused Mary says that those people who owe Charles money are spending it on themselves for luxury items but she will do her best and "try to forget and even forgive the unrepentent ones who have caused our misery." Another cause of frustration and anger is her utter dependence upon her husband, as the patriarch of the household, that leaves her feeling powerless and frustrated.
  • May 11 was Mother's Day and Mary went to see her parents, getting into a discussion with her father about 'dear Aunt Mayme'. Her father told her that Mayme had a ham and some groceries for them. Mary says:
  • "After we got home and to bed I lay awake till nearly morning trying to decide just what we should do about that. I know Aunt Mayme never had a kind thought toward me in all her life and never will have and I just can't figure out what her motive is this time. I don't look forward to the visit with anything but dread, but perhaps, I should go for the sake of the children, just making sure as we can that they won't have to go hungry this summer. I have worked for Aunt Mayme without any pay when her family was small, I was her nurse when John was a baby, but I didn't do it because I wanted to but because father made me, and I don't want return favors from her. Father certainly owes me help because it was thru his coercion that I overworked and broke down before I was married. He said he would give us some groceries and now he makes it appear that we are accepting charity from Aunt Mayme, the worst enemy we have in the world. Oh how horribly sordid life can be at times."
  • About Charles ability as a breadwinner Mary says:
  • "We have to be so careful in choosing a place, to get one where we can be sure of making a living. Charles has had so little training along money making lines that it is hard to find just what he can handle successfully."
  • "Well father and Aunt Mayme have a debt to pay which will be a heavier one than any that can be paid with money. They have not only broken mother's heart and darkened her whole life but robbed her of her oldest and noblest most promising daughter, [Ethelyn who died June 7, 1919] and made invalids or almost invalids of the other children by requiring that we work harder than we were able to. They are responsible for Rulon's misfortune, more I think than he himself, because father neglected him in order to be with the other family."
  • May 19
  • "We made our annual trip to the ranch."
  • May 29
  • "Snow bound. Storming heavily all day. About 8 inches of snow on the ground. Can't keep warm in the house without wearing our coats."
  • Desperately in need of money Mary told Charles to ask his mother if she would return the money that he had given her before their marriage. Reluctantly Charles goes and instead asks his mother if she has made out a will. Mary writes:
  • "She [his mother] was very indignant and said she was determined not to leave a cent when she should die. She said she was going to spend all she could for her own pleasure and she thought it very greedy of us to ask her to leave any of it for us."
  • It seems that Mary and Charles have difficulties with Charles's relatives as well as her own. Mary writes about a time when Charles and her father were commiserating about the fact that Mary's invalidism was aggravating their condition of poverty and that she alone should suffer and not expect any help from anyone. Mary reacted rather strongly to this, needless to say, and as she put it:
  • "I was frantic with pent up emotions and I displayed it by telling them how mean and unjust they are and of course said a number of insane things that I knew I didn't mean."
  • Charles provides a complete rest of nine days for Mary sans children to recoupe. How does she spend her time? She is frightened of sleeping in the house alone so invites a ten year old girl to stay with her who cried from fright. Mary comforts her by telling stories to her "till nearly morning".
  • July 14
  • "Spent most of the day cleaning up the house. Stayed alone at night but was too nervous to sleep."
  • July 16
  • "After having remained awake last night until four A.M. I dressed and got to work bottling fruit. This finished I went to Sugar House."
  • 1924
  • On the 20th of July Mary returns to Pine Cliff Ranch with Charles and the children. In August she writes:
  • "Charles thinks I am dippy for keeping a diary. I know this one is punk. But sometimes it furnishes some wanted information and may contain a lesson or two for me. I don't know. If I get real sick I will order it burned."
5 19
  • April 19
  • "It is now 3:00 A.M. I have to keep putting musterole on Norma's chest and her cough doesn't get any better. I am about exhausted with worry and lack of sleep. I feel greatly tired in my spirit over things that are not my fault or Charles's or the children's. I am almost heart broken with the long continued strain of puzzling problems, anxieties, and misunderstandings. I will say that it is all directly due to poverty. I am getting morbid about it. Too much repression and not being able to talk it out with anyone is beginning to break me down."
  • August 31
  • "I have heard so much about the beneficial effects on the body of sun baths that I got Charles to build an out door sun room for me which I entered thru my bedroom window. That I crawled out onto the ironing board which rested on the window sill and on a horizontal piece of wood in a framework of the sun alcove. The first time I used it I stayed out too long and blistered my back and it was three weeks getting well."
  • This seems typical of Mary's problematical "out of the frying pan and into the fire" sort of existence.
  • July 24
  • "We all went to see the big 'Covered Wagon Days Parade'. But we didn't get the see the covered wagons because they all dropped out before the parade reached Sixth East where we were."
  • Mary writes her New Year's Resolutions:
  • 1932
  • January
  • "Resolved-1. To carry on a family and personal health regime. 2. To keep account of all money spent. 3. To be calm and hopeful and kind to all including myself. 4. To keep up my personal appearance and attend church."
  • January 5
  • "Father was worse this morning and talked about being resigned to die. I know that he could get well if he had the proper treatment."
  • She remembers being sent to a "fake" sanitarium presided over by a friend [of her family's]:
  • "I begged them not to send me to this place, knowing from my first glimpse of the man who claimed to be a nerve specialist that he couldn't possibly be one. But they let him and his wife carry me off forcibly and left me to their evil designs and the damage they did to my already extremely sick nerves has never been and can never be remedied."
  • January
  • "I didn't get up till nine o'clock. I must rest enough to prevent a collapse but it is the hardest thing in the world for me to do. Even when I am lying down my whole body is tense and I can't relax."
  • January 21
  • "Father died. He had been in the hospital five days. The doctors were unable to discover the cause of his death until the very last. They pronounce it pernicious anemia. Pres. Grant was there and had his secretary take down all that was said in short hand and later had type written copies made."
  • In 1933 Mary begins to make and sell braided rugs to help support her family. With this money she paid for the family's dental work, for their summer coal supply and so forth.
  • 1934
  • September
  • "For the first time in history some of our family went to a moving picture show on Sunday. Little Women was the play being shown."
  • December 25
  • "The children were all happy or seemed to be with their meagre gifts."
  • Mary had a sixth and final child in March of 1934, whom they named Lyman.
  • "God bless them and reward them with better opportunities for gaining complete happiness than from their parents, grandparents, or great grandparents had."
5 20
  • April 4
  • "Our baby is six weeks old today. I had to stay in bed for three weeks after coming home from the hospital. A nurse hired by the Metropolitan Life Insurance company used to come nearly every morning and give me a bath, but the bulk of the nursing of both me and the baby fell to Charles' lot."
  • In this era of depression in the early thirties, when the Relief Society of the Mormon Church visit Mary their message is:
  • May
  • "A much better remedy for such distress would be to teach people that it need not be endured, but rather find ways to abolish it."
  • July
  • "Ever since I read in the lives of Joseph Smith and Heber C. Kimball about their embracing the principle of polygamy I have felt terrible over it. I don't know why I should feel more so now than when I had to see mother going thru the trial of living it. Father and many seemingly concientious [sic] men wrote pages and pages of reasons why polygamy is the best form of marriage for the human race at all times."
  • Mary is genuinely obsessed with how her father's polygamy has ruined her life.
5 21
  • One of Mary's strongest points was her intellectual curiosity. She continued to be an avid reader and interested in many issues.
  • January
  • "I organized a woman's club in Taylorsville, the first one in history, but resigned within a few months, because the other members flatly refused to take up any subject or subjects of study. I hadn't time for a purely social club. Last winter I taught the combined Senior and Adult classes of the M.I.A. here. I engaged about a dozen very fine speakers from Salt Lake and because of their visits and the fact that Dr. John A. Widtsoe wrote our lessons we had a very successful season. For three and a half years the Mormon Handcraft Society has been selling my rugs for a twenty-five percent commission."
5 22
  • "If I had to choose between being the richest person (in money) in the world and being the mother of my six wonderful children, well you know such a thing as a choice between the two would never enter my mind. I am really a powerful capitalist already. My capital consists of the undivided love of a good husband, the love and miraculous unfolding into the light, of these six jewels among the young, our children."
  • Mary writes about an incident that is triggered by receiving an invitation from the Naval Reserve Air Base at Oakland to attend its formal dedication in which her son Bennion will be part of a demonstration flight. She says:
  • November 3
  • "Remembering the indescribable thrill that came to me as I watched Lois march across the University campus in her cap and gown, I longed with all my heart to see Bennion gliding with shining silver wings over the heads of thousands of admiring spectators. Then knowing that a mere lack of money was going to prevent me from experiencing this great happiness, I picked up the phone and called Aunt Augusta's number."
  • Mary was loaned the money and contacted Charles Grant and Lois and told them to make arrangements so they would leave that night for California. Mary hurriedly washed, ironed, cleaned, etc. That evening Mary had a change of heart, realizing that she would be expected to repay the money needed for this trip. She writes:
  • "How could I pay her back? We were unable to pay our current bills and debts. I knew it then with a deadly certainty. We just weren't going."
  • When she told her family this she says:
  • "All I heard was the same muffled exclamations of incredulity from each sleepy child. Charles wasn't surprised, he was also greatly relieved. I broke into a storm of choked sobbing inspite of my efforts to keep calm. I was ashamed of what I had done. The whole thing had been crazy."
  • Shortly after the bombing of Pearl Harbor Mary who seems to have believed false rumors of attack on the West Coast writes:
  • December 10
  • I'm glad Bennion was called away from Oakland because the West Coast was attacked just one week after he left here for the Texas camp.
  • Now I suppose both Grant and Kenneth will be drafted into training soon because it was announced over the radio that the government is planning to lower the age limit to eighteen. As long as we have to go to war, the more of us that can fight, the sooner we will win victory."
  • Mary empathizes with a friend whose predicament she identifies with her own.
  • "A week ago last Friday it was Mrs. Finlayson's turn to entertain the club. She phoned that she would have to postpone doing it until the following week and later said she couldn't do it at all because her health was too poor. I sympathize with her. She has to do the housework and never feels able to. And yet she is quite fat, about like I am, and looks quite well."
  • It seems that Mary equates being fat with looking fit and well.
5 23
  • Mary is now 58 years old. In this, the last journal of hers in the collection, there is little mention of physical illness or poverty. She does have arthritis of the spine for which she takes vitamin B, but life doesn't appear to be the constant crisis where physical and financial collapse appears imminent. She enjoys a summer visit from her grandchildren. Lyman and Daddy as she now calls Charles are the only ones left at home. She always liked to have people around, having grown up in a large and close family herself.
  • October 12
  • "Was elected to teach one of three courses to be given this year in the adult class in Mutual."
  • She remains active in her church and intellectual pursuits.
  • The final entry of her journal is:
  • October 18
  • "Wrote a letter to Dr. Kimball Young of Northwestern University for a bibliography on monogamy."
  • The issue of polygamy versus monogamy stayed with her all her life.
5 1
Journal Fragments
5 2
Short Stories
  • This folder consists of three portions of short stories written by Mary, two of which were obviously submitted for a writing class. Short story by Mary Bennion Powell, "The End of Childhood", is an account of Mary's realization that her father was a polygamist. The end of childhood is symbolic of the end of her innocence. She feels shattered and betrayed. She gives a beautiful description of the good life she and the rest of her large family enjoyed, spending two weeks every summer on a camping trip in the pine and sagebrush scented sunlight of the Chalk Creek Canyons where they ran wild and free and all cares faded away.
  • Mary becomes aware and puzzled by the tension and hostility she senses between her parents. All is not as it used to be. One day she finds a note written to her father signed only "M". She writes:
  • "Surely I knew about polygamy; that it had in the early years of the Church, been practiced by such men as Brigham Young. But I also knew about the Manifesto. We learned all about the church's history in Sunday School. Papa had not only disobeyed the law of the United States and was not on trial before that law, but he had gone against the advice of President Woodruff who had counseled all the men of the church not to practice that principle any more."
  • Another short piece is a fictionalized account of incidents in Mary's childhood, involving her siblings. Once her brother was beaten for letting the cows out and once her sister had had her gums lanced to allow new teeth to emerge more easily. Mary was protective of the children and frightened by the adults in her world.
  • Another beginning of a story is set in an Ogden train terminal and the speaker [Mary] is in the early stages of a first pregnancy feeling overwhelmed with nausea and loneliness, and wondering what will happen if she faints. She reads a newspaper with the Germans in the headlines. It is 1918 and the first World War is raging.
5 3
"A Utah Idyll," Chapters 1-2
  • Chapters I and II of Mary's life story "A Utah Idyll" consists of 129 typewritten pages. This is a fictionalized history of Mary's family. It begins:
  • "In the sagebrush territory of Deseret, two babies were born to four adoring parents in the year 1857. All four parents were members of the Mormon church, especially Brother and Sister Bennett of Stayville, who had obeyed the counsel of Brigham Young to embrace polygamy, the only principle which had the power to admit a man or a woman into the highest glory in the Celestial Kingdom."
  • All the names in this piece of writing are fictionalized, but the facts seem close to the actual accounts of Mary's parents and grandparents, perhaps embellished for effect. She writes about the Bennion brothers adding wives to their small, but fast growing families.
  • "The first plural wife they allowed to be chosen by their faithful companion, but the next they managed to wed with out her help. There was a calm stoicism on the occasion of the first plural marriage, which lasted until the second one was consummated, and then hysterical jealousy on the part of the first wives, from that moment onward, till old age quieted all the impulses of the mind. As the years went by many devices were adoped with varying success: marrying a group of friends, of sisters, or a mother and her daughters. Many widows and old maids joined the church, in those riotous days of freely selected husbands, partly because they were told it was the privilege of a woman to marry whom she pleased, and that Brigham Young, himself, enforced this rule."
  • On the subject of Brigham Young's revelations she says:
  • "One of these divine directives resulted in the tearing down of the nearly built Bennett cabins on a tract of land in the center of the valley, and their re-erection on the west side of the Jordan River. The land the Bennett brothers had settled on, God had remembered, after the land had been plowed and fenced and was known to be the most fertile soil in the valley, was meant to a 'church farm'. But God had been a little confused at the time, apparently, because it wasn't long until this farm was deeded to the private estate of Brigham Young."
  • This cynicism and bitterness pervades Mary's narration. The saddest commentary on polygamy is the following:
  • "Because the first wife was both so angry and influential, the younger wives were not permitted to display affection even for their children in her presence."
  • Mary's father told her this story:
  • "He could remember following his mother about the house, trying in vain to attract her attention. His father was always carrying Petsy, his half-sister of the same age, in his arms. He would ache all over to be held, and petted and kissed as she was. He would lean hard against his mother, to try to get her to pick him up, or just touch him, as everyone did so lovingly to Petsy. But she never even looked at him. Many years later, his mother told him that the place on her knee where he had leaned, would ache after he had gone outside to play."
  • Mary recalls the myths of her childhood:
  • "Don't pay a full tithing to the penny and you'll be burned in hell."
  • "Eat on Fast Day, and you'll be feeding the Devil."
  • "Don't bear your testimony and God will be ashamed of you."
  • "Think mean thoughts about your father after he hits you hard and you'll be dishonoring the priesthood, which is the same as insulting God."
  • "Disobey your parents and you won't live to be old."
Mary Bennion Powell Journals
Use photocopies instead of originals.
Mary Bennion Powell Journals
Use photocopies instead of originals.

Names and SubjectsReturn to Top

Subject Terms

  • Mormons--Diaries
  • Mormons--Polygamy
  • Polygamy--Utah
  • Sheep industry--Utah

Personal Names

  • Bennion, Heber, 1858-1932--Diaries (contributor)
  • Bennion, John, 1820-1877--Diaries (contributor)
  • Bennion, Samuel, 1818-1889 (contributor)
  • Powell, Mary Bennion, 1890---Diaries (contributor)

Family Names

  • Bennion family

Geographical Names

  • Castle Valley (Utah)--Social life and customs

Form or Genre Terms

  • Autobiographies
  • Correspondence
  • Diaries