Caroline Crosby (1807)-1883)

Caroline Barnes Crosby, 1807-1883
Journal (1807-1882). Holograph. Utah State Historical Society.
Source: Kenneth W. and Audrey M. Godfrey, Jill Mulvay Derr, Women’s Voices (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Company, 1982), pp. 46-57.
[Caroline Barnes Crosby was baptized a Latter-day Saint in January 1835. She had been studying the Bible and the Book of Mormon for several months, and in November 1834 she had married Jonathan Crosby, who was already a Latter-day Saint. For almost a year the couple lived in Wendell, Franklin County, Massachusetts, with Jonathan’s family, but in November 1835 they left the family to gather with the Saints at Kirtland, traveling first to Dunham, Quebec, Canada, to visit Caroline’s parents. They stopped briefly near Fredonia, New York, where Caroline visited friends while Jonathan traveled on to Kirtland to arrange for employment and housing and then returned to complete the journey with Caroline. The excerpt that follows begins with the arrival of the Crosbys in Kirtland in January 1836.

The Crosbys and their son Alma traveled to Utah in 1848 with the main body of the Saints. Caroline began writing her memoirs early in the 1850s while she and her husband were working as Latter-day Saint missionaries in the Society Islands (Tahiti). Concurrently she began keeping a journal, a practice she continued almost to her death in Beaver, Utah, in 1884. The following excerpt from her memoirs, presented here with minimal punctuation added for clarity, is taken from a microfilm of a holograph in the Historical Department of the Church. The holograph original is in the Utah State Historical Society a gift of S. George Ellsworth, professor of history, Utah State University, Logan, Utah.]

We reached Kirtland the 7th day of January. The first person that we saw was Evan M. Green, one of the young men who first brought the gospel to Massachusetts at the time my husband was baptized. He assisted us in getting our wagon up the hill near the temple, which we found very difficult in ascending consequence of the ground being clayey. We went directly to Parley P. Pratts, whare they had engaged to board us awhile; and were soon introduced to a score of brethren and sisters, who made us welcome among them. I ever felt myself quite at home in their society.

Shortly after our arrival my husband was ordained to the office of an elder, and chosen into the second quorum of seventies. I well recollect the sensations with which my mind was actuated when I learned the fact that my husband had been called and ordained to the Melchizedek priesthood and would undoubtedly be required to travel and preach the gospel to the nations of the earth. I realized in some degree the immense responsibility of the office, and besought the Lord for grace and wisdom to be given him that he might be able to magnify his high and holy calling. The brethren had meetings of some kind almost every evening in the week. Besides singing schools in which all ages took a part, from the young adult to the old gray heads. Consequently we also took a part with them, and met two(?) evenings in a week. The quoir was large. Meuriel C. Davis was our leader for a year or more.

Father Joseph Smith sen, was the first and then the only patriarch in the church. Acordingly we went to him for a blessing, and received as good, and as great promisses, as any mortal being could ask. I will therefore record them, for the perusal of my posterity and friends. [Patriarchal blessings for Jonathan and Caroline Crosby follow.] These blessings cheered and rejoiced our hearts exceedingly. I truly felt humble before the Lord, and felt to exclaim like one of old, “Lord what am I, or what my fathers house, that Thou art thus mindful of us.” They led me to search into my own heart, to see if there was any sin concealed there, and if so, to repent, and ask God to make me clean, and pure, in very deed. The patriarch conversed with us sometime, told us we had come togather right. And when we told him our ages, and places of birth, he observed that he thought we were both born under one planet. But merely by way of merriment. Mother Smith was in the room. She also added her blessing, or confirmed what we had already received.

Our meetings were held in the printing office, or rather in a room under it. The room was not large enough to contain the people who came. It was quite a curiousity to see them coming so early almost as soon as light in order to get a seat. And finally they decided on taking their turns in staying away, as the weather was so cold, and it was unpleasant for those who stood outside. The females usually had seats. My husband worked for three months on the temple before it was dedicated, which was nearly the first he had ever done at the business.

I enjoyed myself well with sister Thankful Pratt. She was a very sociable, interesting woman, but had very delicate health. The brethren attended meetings almost every evening, which left us togather considerably. When they all left us, she would look about her and say “well it is you and I again, Sister Crosby.” She was afflicted with severe spells of sick headache which came upon her monthly.

About the middle of March we went to Harpen Riggs to board. They were a young lately married couple near our ages. They lived in a new house, which was situated on the cross street, which led from the Boston house, to bishop [Vinson] Knights. It was quite a pleasant situation. Sister R was a Massachusetts woman, and seemed very near to me. We enjoyed ourselves togather finely. Chapman Duncan also came and boarded there several weeks, before, and after, the dedication of the [Kirtland] temple, which transpired on the 27th of March AD 1836. I believe however, it was continued several days in which time the spirit of God was manifested in healing the sick, casting out devils, speaking in tongues, interpretation, etc. We had some glorious preaching that cheered and animated our hearts.

How often while listining to the voice of the prophet have I wished, Oh that my friends, parents, brothers, and sisters, could hear the things that I have heard, and their hearts be made to rejoice in them, as mine did. And I would frequently be led to exclaim with Dr Isaac Watts, “Why was I made to hear thy voice, and enter while there’s room, while thousands make a wretched choice, and rather starve than come?” We had some joyful times that spring and summer. Many strangers came from various parts of the country, to see the prophet, and the [Kirtland] temple. It certainly was a very pretty building, but my powers of description are inadequate to describe so complex a structure. Immediately after the dedication, many of the elders were sent on missions, some went to Missouri with families.

My husband purchased a lot west of the temple and began to make preparations for building. I followed braiding palmleaf hats for eight months after we came to Kirtland. Braided near a hundred the first season, which brought me 70 dollars.

We had an invitation, and attended a family blessing meeting or feast that was held at the house of John P Greene. It was appointed for Father [John] Young to bless his family, and as sister [Rhoda Young] Greene was his eldest child (as I think she was) it was held at her house. The house was crowded full. We had nice wheat bread and sweet wine all we wanted to drink, it was also called a feast, and so it was a feast of fat things. The brethren and sisters blest one another, but father Young I believe concluded to defer blessing his family until he could have them by themselves. He seemed rather diffident in regard to speaking, or his mind so much affected by the subject, that he could not express his feelings. Brigham [Young] therefore arose and spoke in his behalf. The old gentleman wept freely, as well as many of his family, so that we had weeping, and rejoicing nearly at the same time.

It was a general time of rejoicing for several months among the Saints. They frequently met from house, to house, to break bread, and drink wine and administer to the poor and afflicted. We also would attend a blessing at Dr Frederick G Williams. His eldest daughter had been lately married, and was about to leave for Missouri: he therefore blest her family previous to their leaving. He laid his hands upon each of their heads, and the scribe wrote them (the blessings). The prophet Joseph was present and had a vision of their journey, saw their wagon turn over, but no one was injured. It came to pass even as he said.

About the last of May, Elder Parley P Pratt went on a mission to Canada, and took his family. Mr Crosby rented his house and accordingly we went housekeeping. May the 27th, we moved our effects back again into br Pratts house and commenced providing for ourselves. We had then been married a year and a half, and had not kept house before. I felt like a child with a new set of toys. I cleaned the house from stem to stern, and arranged everything in the best of order.

Soon after we commenced housekeeping my brother Horace Barnes came to see us from [New] York state, Chatauque County. He spent a week or more with us. We went with him to see the prophet but I think he was absent. He saw Father [Joseph] Smith [Sr.] and Emma [Smith], who showed him the records of Abraham, that were found with the mummies, and explained the characters to us as she had heard her husband explain them. We said all we could to enlighten his mind. We also invited a brother) who had formerly been a member of the presbyterian church to come and converse with him. He never seemed disposed to contend against it. Br H brought me the melancholy news of sister Catherine’s sickness, with consumption, or liver complaint. We had a very good visit from him. It was in the month of june. He left quite undecided in his mind with regard to the truth of the work. I had some lonely hours after his departure.

Several families came in at that time from [New] York State and as houses were very hard to be rented, every place being filled, Mr C [Crosby] rented the cellar kitchen to a man, and his wife, with two small children. His name was Lewis, a blacksmith by occupation, and very poor people. But they found it rather uncomfortable, and staid only a short time. About the middle of July a company came from Boston, Massachusetts. Among them was John Boynton’s parents, brothers in law and sisters, Bro. Henry Herriman and Jonathan Hail [Hale]. And no house could be found for their accomodation. John was building, but could not get it ready in season. He therefore came to us and offered to give us four times the amount of rent we paid, if we would go in with sister Sabre Granger, a maiden lady near by us, who was living alone, and let him have our house for his friends. My husband left it with me to say, to which I hesitated some time, but at length consented, rather reluctantly. The remuneration I considered no object; (but) to leave my pleasant little house, and go in with another, after living by ourselves so short a time; but the idea of accomodating friends, stimulated me to make the sacrifice.

Sister Granger’s house was small, only one room, besides cellar, pantry, a small closet, and chamber. She had however a stove room, outside where she cooked her food. She had many peculiarities, which in some respects were not as agreeable to us, as we could wish. Notwithstanding being kind-hearted, and friendly, atoned in my estimation, for many imperfections.

My husband attended a Hebrew school that summer, and made some considerable improvement. I also learned to read, but not translate. He bought a nice set of books, consisting of bible, lexicon, and grammar. We had a small feast in company with sis Granger while there. Father [Isaac] Morley presided. There were some great blessings pronounced upon some heads. One by father M upon Mr Crosby was that he should have a son a foot taller than himself, that he would be obliged to sit while his father blessed him. There was also a wedding there while we lived in her house. A brother by the name of Foster married a widow from Boston, her name I do not recollect. Shortly after we went in, Sister Mariann Sterns, came from the State of Maine. I think (she) came with Lyman Johnson, and put up at his house. She had one child, a little girl 9 years old. She soon became discontented there, and thought she was not welcome any longer. Sister Granger very kindly offered her a home, until she could do better. Accordingly she came and stoped one month. Sis G was very kind in her own rough way. She brought home work, sewing and knitting for her, and fed her on vegetables, hard corn, and laugh [lake] string beans. We made her welcome to a share of what our table afforded, which was not very bountifully supplied at that time. I admired her very much, thought her an amiable, interesting woman. From there she went to housekeeping. Sister Granger had a sister come from Boston, who made her home there, a good share of the time.

The middle of Nov we got our house enclosed, and a loose floor, no windows, but my anxiety was so great, to get away by ourselves, that I determined to move in at all events. I truly felt rejoiced beyond measure to get into a house of our own after so long a time. My husband continued his labors incessantly until he got the doors and windows in; and then we thought ourselves highly blessed. We had a nice cooking stove, a good cellar, and well, close to my door, which certainly were three great conveniences. But as yet we had no partition in the house. The weather continued very pleasant until the middle of Dec, when a snow storm came on, which lasted sometime. The 19th of Dec 4 oclock PM Alma was born. That day, and night, the snow fell in profusion.

Dr W [Warren] A Cowdry was my physician. Sisters Warren Smith, Sherwood, Vincent [Vinson] Knight, and sis Drury were with me. The latter staid one week, and then intended sending for her daughter, but as I did not get along as well as I could wish, we concluded to get a more experienced person. Sister John Goodson understood my situation, and very kindly offered her services, for one week. I found her to be an excellent nurse, as well as an interesting young woman. She had come from Upper Canada a few weeks previous and had been married but a short time. We were much surprised at her offer. But I think she did it for a sort of a joke on her husband, more than anything else.

After she left, Ruth Drury came, and staid two weeks, and I then thought I could get along alone. I tried one month, took cold, which settled in my left breast, and caused me a severe sickness, with a broken breast, and all the disagreeable accompaniaments of that distressing disease. We then hired a young woman by the name of Susannah Hidden, afterward the wife of Stephen Perry. After she left I had Lydia Chapman quite young girl. I did not attend meeting until the next April. My babe was then 4 months old.

While I was sick I sent for Father Smith to lay hands on me. When he came he questioned us with regard to our faith feelings towards the first Presidency. Said there were many murmurers about, and a spirit of dissension in the Church. I told him I had been confined at home, and had neither seen or heard scarcely anything of it, and I desired to continue in the truth, and keep the commandments of God. He then said he would shut the door and keep the devil out, after which he in company with another elder laid their hands on me, and prayed. I felt that I had received a great blessing.

Times became very hard in Kirtland. It seemed that our enemies were determined to drive us away if they could possibly, by starving us. None of the business men would employ a mormon scarcely, on any conditions. And our prophet was continually harassed with vexatious lawsuits. Besides the great apostacy in the church, added a duble portion of distress and suffering to those who wished to abide in the faith, and keep the commandments.

We became very short of provisions, several times ate the last we had and knew not where the next meal was coming from. We then had an opportunity to try the charity of the brethren, who were many of them in the same predicament as ourselves. I recollect that Wm Cahoon called into see us one night, as he was going home with a few quarts of corn meal, and enquired if we had any breadstuff on hand, we told him we had not. He said he would divide what he had with us, and if my husband would go home with him, he would also divide his potatoes and meat which bore the same proportion to his meal. Joseph Young also divided with us several times in the same way, and we with him. We had numerous opportunities of dividing almost our last loaf with the brethren.

Mr C worked on Brother Joseph’s house, as he was building tolerably large, but frequently got so straitened that he had nothing to give the workmen when saturday night came, and they were obliged to borrow or do without. They all left at one time, except Mr C, he worked on for several days alone. Sister Emma observing that he was laboring there alone, came in one day, and inquired of him whether or where he got his provision. He told her he was entirely without, and knew not where to look, as he had no money and the boss who employed him had no means in his hands. She then went into her chamber, and brought him a nice ham [weighing] 20 lbs. Telling him that it was a present for his faithfulness, and that he should bring a sack, and get as much flour as he could to take home. Accordingly he came home rejoicing, considering it a perfect Godsend. It was a beautiful white flour, and the ham was very sweet. I thought nothing ever tasted half as good.

About this time the Kirtland bank failed, which caused a great deal of distress among the brethren. We had a little garden which was a great help to us, we had no cow, and were obliged to buy milk for the babe. My husband was sued once, by the men who kept the meat market, Leonard Rich and Roger Orton, and was obliged to sacrifice twice the amount of the debt in property, to raise the money. Alas thought I, the trials that I had heard the elders preach of were in reality coming upon us. As to poverty we could endure that patiently, but trials among false brethren, who can endure with patience? Many of our most intimate associates were among the apostates.

Warren Parish [Parrish] was a sort of leader of a party of some 30 or 40 persons, among them was John Boynton and wife, Luke and Lyman Johnson, Harpen Riggs, and others whose names I do not recollect. These were some of our nighest neighbors and friends. We had taken sweet counsel together, and walked to the house of God as friends. They came out boldly against the prophet, and signed an instrument which as I understand by W Parish and others, renouncing all their allience with the church. I met sister Rigs afterwards and asked her if it was true that she had apostatized. She said she was dissatisfied with some of the things in the church, but that she still believed in the book of Mormon and thought she always should. I felt very sorrowful, and gloomy, but never had the first idea of leaving the church or forsaking the prophet. I was feeble all through the summer but Alma grew, and was quite fleshy, began to walk when he was 10 months old. As the fall advanced I began to gain strength and felt much better.

We got our house a little more comfortable, the floor planed, and made very tight, a partition through, and floor over head. It began to seem more like living. About the first of Dec a number of elders were sent on missions. My husband was one that was appointed to go. He made what preparation he could, and the 7th of Jan 1838, in company with Warren Smith (who was afterward martyred at Hons (Haun’s) Mill by the Missouri mob) he set off toward the east part of the state of Ohio, and went into Pennsylvania.