William and Hannah Paulina Child and Mary Ann Gheen Elmer Tombstone, Ogden City Cemetery, Ogden, Weber County, Utah.
Burial: Ogden City Cemetery, Ogden, Weber County, Utah, USA - Plot: E-3-7-2E
Find A Grave Memorial# 26051563
found on findagrave.com
HANNAH POLINA CHILD ELMER
Hannah Polina Child Elmer was born January 24, 1828, North Hammond St., Lawrence County, New York. Daughter of Alfred Bosworth Child and Polly Barber.
In 1838 at the age of ten she started west with her parents and family (ten in all) with clothing, bedding and provisions, in a wagon drawn by a span of horses – there being no railroads at this time. Their first stop was Kirtland, Ohio – to rest.
Here in Kirtland she saw the first Temple, her folks having joined the Latter Day Saint’s Church. They traveled on, having the best of luck as far as the Missouri River, where they were told that the Saint’s had been driven out of Jackson County into Caldwell. Moving on, they took up some land at Ambrosia but were ordered to leave in three weeks. They traveled to Adamondiahamon, Davis County, and stayed a few weeks, living in tents. Here a mob rode in and took her Father and Brother along with the other men prisoners. Marched them out a few miles, but released them after a few hours – all, that is, but the Heads of the Church, who were released later, unharmed. They stole everything they could – even one of their horses.
Her father traded his wagon for some ground and built a small log house and the family moved in – only to be told that they must leave the state – a distance of three hundred miles – in fifteen days. Her father had a little money and hired one of the settlers to move them, then let Mr. Sessions have his other horse to put with the one he had. They moved on, two and three families to a wagon – poorly clad, sleeping on the ground, many walking through snow and mud, and half starved. The suffering was awful, but they finally got across the Mississippi River. They stopped with several other families at Quiney and rented a farm and raised a good crop. In the fall they moved to Iowa and took up a farm on what was called “half breed land” – just eight miles from Nauvoo. They were very poor but managed to put up a log house which had no floor and they made a fire on the ground. Her father and brother went off to work for food.
In the spring of 1840 her father fenced in, and put in a crop, and planted fruit trees – finished the house and bought a cow, pig and some chickens. He taught school in the winter and farmed in the summer. All seemed to prosper for about four years, although there was much sickness and many hardships to endure. Hannah was sick for sixteen weeks with typhoid fever and had to learn to walk again.
She was sixteen years old when the Prophet Joseph was killed and more troubles started. Her brother Mark enlisted in the army this same year 1844, was sent to Mexico and was never heard from after. The year 1844 and 1845 found them still comfortable, as Mr. Child had been made Postmaster of String Prairie. The Saint’s were driven from Nauvoo late in winter of 1845 and 1846.
They camped at Sugar Creek about a mile from the Childs' home until the grass started to grow to feed their horses. They lived in wagons and tents and suffered untold hardships. They finally started for Council Bluffs. Their horses were poor and the mud was terrible. Her brother Myron was married at this camp and Hannah was married in March, the same spring to William Elmer.
The two couples rented a house and lived together and saved to continue on to the west. Mr. Child, with his family, and the rest of the Saint’s left for Council Bluffs. The parting was hard for her, as her little brother Asa tried to stay with her. She worked so hard and worried till she had brain fever and was sick again for two months. There was no help to be had, except a small boy to run errands. All were sick or afraid of the fever. They had to haul water three miles from the river and endured many hardships. William went to Keokuk, twelve miles to get medicine. He took sick on the way and had to be brought home. He lay beside her on the bed for three days burning with fever before help came. An over-dose of medicine nearly ended his life at this time. The year was a very trying one and they were not able to save enough to start west, but in September, John, Hannah’s brother, came back and she was so happy to see him. Her first baby was born in three weeks and was named John after him. There was no help to be had so John and a neighbor lady took care of her. She got along splendidly and in two weeks took in two boarders to cook for at one dollar per week apiece.
William was making fifty cents a day and they were able to save enough to buy a wagon and the things they needed to start west. In the spring of 1848 the two couples, each with a baby, started out. It was very stormy and muddy traveling and the Indians were hostile, but there was plenty of grass for the horses. It took three weeks to go from Des Moines to Council Bluffs, where the folks had stopped to recruit before starting for Salt Lake. A neighbor met them three miles out and said the folks were well, but little Asa had died. Both John and Hannah were heart-broken, for they had looked forward to this reunion. It took some time before she could be reconciled and enjoy herself. Little Johnnie was seven months old and the first grand child – so much was made over him. The following spring the two couples returned to Des Moines to please John Elmer to get the rest of his children, who had stayed behind. The trip was full of hardships and privations but they managed to persuade the rest of the brothers and sisters to go back with them. John (William’s father) was overjoyed.
They remained at the Bluffs until 1852, when they all started for Salt Lake – about three hundred families in all. When they got to the Platt River, cholera broke out. A great many died and many more were sick. Hannah did much to ease the suffering and help bury the dead. She finally contracted cholera herself and was unable to do anything until they reached the mountains. The high dry air seemed to revive her. When they got to Salt Lake the company was divided – part going south, and the others north. The Elmers and part of the Child family went north to where Ogden is now. There were just two houses, a patch of oak and wild cherry bushes. They took up a farm at Harrisville, lived in their wagons until houses could be built. Hannah’s father ran Brother Farr’s saw mill day and night to get lumber cut for their homes. During this time he contracted Brain fever from which he died.
They managed, someway, to get through that terrible winter, the cold and lack of food caused much sickness.
In the spring they put in a crop and things looked better for a while but soon the grasshoppers came and destroyed most of it. They saved just enough to see them through the fall and winter.
The Indians were so bad they had to build a twelve foot wall and made a Fort and all move in for protection.
In November 1854 William got Mountain fever and was sick for three months. In the spring of 1855, the grasshoppers again took most of their crops. Many had to kill their stock and dig roots to keep alive. That winter all the children had scarlet fever, five down at one time. All survived but in the spring they all had measles and the baby, thirteen months old, died. Poverty seemed nothing to this sorrow.
In the spring of 1856 they moved into Ogden where there were a few more people. They took up ground on the Bench, built a house and raised a fine garden, and William kept the farm in Harrisville.
That fall, William was called to go back to meet the Hand Cart Company. Instead of the trip taking a few days, William was gone two months. It was a terrible trip, all half frozen and starved, and many died.
Hannah and the little boys (the oldest eight years) gathered the crops and dug the potatoes. She tended what stock they had. It was bitter cold and the snow was deep.
Another baby was born December 6, just after William’s return. The house was not finished and wood supply was gone, but they gathered willows and dried them and managed to keep warm. There was no doctor or medicine to be had at this time.
The next spring they sold the farm and bought fifteen acres in Marriott close to Weber River. They cleared the land and planted ten acres of wheat, corn, potatoes, etc., and raised a good crop.
William married a second wife, Mary Ann Gheen and Hannah shared what she had with her, although it wasn’t much. They all lived together and managed to be happy even though these were trying times.
Hannah and small children went to the farm and helped with the vegetable garden and gleaned wheat. Just as the last of the crop was gathered, William was called to go meet Johnson’s army. This left the gathering and hauling of the winter wood to Hannah and her little boys. Mary Ann tended the smaller children and they managed very well – even to helping neighbors who were sick or ailing.
Hannah was the mother of twelve children, all born during this period of poverty and privation. She gave many hours of her time helping others, and being a midwife, brought hundreds of babies into the world.
She lived a good and faithful life, and was loved by all. She passed away May 23, 1897, and is buried in Ogden City Cemetary.
By Rhea B. Cazier The above was submitted to the Daughters of the Utah Pioneers