Mariah Pulsipher (1822-1893)

Mariah Pulsipher, 1822-1893 Autobiography (c. 1822-1850)
Selection from the autobiography of Mariah Pulsipher in
Kenneth Glyn Hales, comp. and ed., Windows: A Mormon Family
(Tucson, Arizona: Skyline Printing, 1985).
. . [Mariah Pulsipher was the third daughter and fourth child of the Zerah Pulsipher and Mary Ann Brown Pulsipher family. An older brother and sister died young. She was born in New York on the 17th of March in 1822 at Susquehannah in Broome County. She left a personal diary from which the following story was taken.]

I moved with my parents, Zerah and Mary Brown Pulsipher to Onondaga County, New York, when I was a small girl. Jared Carter came to New York preaching the gospel. Father, Mother and sisters, Almira and Sarah and I were baptized in January of 1832. My father disposed of his property and we made our way Westward. In 1835 there was a stake organized in Kirtland. We moved there and helped build the temple. Soon after it was dedicated, the mob started persecuting the Saints. My father, being one of the first Seven Presidents over the Seventies, had to leave. They bound themselves under a covenant to put their means together and not leave one saint behind. They left Kirtland with 500 saints.

We [Kirtland Camp] traveled to Dayton, Ohio. There we had to stop and each work to get means to go on. The camp was divided into nine divisions. We lived all alike, and had a commissary to give out provisions. We held evening and Sunday meetings. We enjoyed a stay of nine weeks and obtained the necessities and moved on. We had not gone far before we were met by mobocrats, telling us we had better stop because we would be driven out. Joseph and Hyrum Smith met us at Far West, Missouri. They greatly rejoiced to see us. They preached to us that night and told us to settle in Diahman [Adam-ondi-Ahman], Daviess County.

The next day we started on our journey of about thirty miles. As we arrived a mob was riding around threatening to kill us. Father was taken prisoner with about thirty others, but later released. I have been on the spot, a large pile of rocks, where Joseph Smith says it was Adam’s Alter in Diahman [Adam-ondi-Ahman], about one-half mile from our place.

We lived there about six weeks before being compelled to leave. My grandmother, now eighty-six years old, said she had come to Zion to lay her bones down and now had to be driven on. She went to Far West with us and spent the winter. About a month before we had to leave, she died.

In the spring we moved again, crossed the Mississippi River and went up the river to a little town called Lima. We went three miles from any settlement in the woods, east of Lima. There we camped and got some ground cleared off to build a log house and plant a garden. About a mile away the saints made the Morley Settlement. We much rejoiced to find a place where we could live without being molested. There I formed an acquaintance with William Burgess and about a year later, September, 1840, I married him. Soon after my marriage, we settled in Nauvoo, Illinois, and helped build a city in spite of much sickness.

The mobocrats were continually seeking Joseph Smith’s life. He and Hyrum were finally slain. What a time of trouble. That fall I was so low I told my husband to pray for me. Before he returned to bed he prayed for me. I prayed too, asking the Lord to show me whether I should live. I lay free from pain for about an hour thinking of the situation of the Church, having to leave in the spring. I was not asleep. The room shone bright. All of a sudden I saw evil spirits. I was scared and was just going to call my husband when a voice spoke, “I am your ministering spirit.” It immediately came into my mind that I had heard the prophet Joseph say while preaching that angels had appeared to him. He said the third time they always answered. I spoke the third time. The spirit then spoke, “If you were to see me it would scare you. You would not know the things I am going to tell you. You shall be well in the morning. From this time you are going to have more faith. You shall have a dream that shall comfort you. When you have a dream that troubles you, you may know it is from the evil spirit. Be careful of your health, and do not do too much hard work. Obtain your patriarchal blessing, this shall be a blessing to you.”

I asked if Joseph Smith died a true prophet. He spoke, “He died a true prophet, Brigham Young is now the man to lead the Church. If you will covenant with me not to reveal it to the world there shall be things revealed to you that shall be greatly to your benefit.” I then saw in a vision the beauty and glory of plurality of wives. It said, “Your mother and your sister, Sarah, do not believe in plurality. Almira knows it is right. Tell them what you know and they will all believe you.”

I got up well. I had been three weeks confined to my bed with chills and fever. We received our endowments in the Nauvoo temple. There was the spirit of the Lord present until we felt we had been paid for building it, even though we were driven out and had no further use of it.

We started west in the spring with an old wagon, one yoke of oxen, one cow and all the things we could load in the wagon. We felt to rejoice that we escaped with our lives. We traveled on with a small company through mud and storm, stopping along the way as the men could find work. We stayed at Winter Quarters. The men all worked in companies to cut hay and erect houses for the winter. I was living in a leaky log cabin without a floor in November when a daughter, Juliett, was born. I was never able to leave my bed. The baby had to be weaned at three months. I was very sick, but my father and husband would not give me up because I had two other little children, Mary Harriet and Carnelia, to look after and care for. They said I should live, so I gradually got better, but was very weak. Hundreds of the saints laid their bodies down there. President Young started with some more of the brethren in the spring to find a place for the Saints to settle. Some of the companies stayed and put in some corn and garden. I was sick all the first winter we lived at Winter Quarters. One of our oxen and the cow died. In the spring my health was very poor, but my husband had to leave me and go to work to buy another ox and get provisions to take us over the plains to the valley.

He had not been gone long until my baby took very sick. No one thought she could live. I prayed to the Lord to spare her life and she commenced to get better. I did not write to my husband to tell him how low she was. I did not worry him. When he came and saw her, he asked, “Do you think she can live?” I said, “Yes, she is better and will live.” There was only about one in six of the children who lived from these illnesses. Hundreds died.

In the spring we got ready and left Winter Quarters. Almost all the Saints left that spring. President Young and the Twelve all started. They organized in companies of hundreds. My father, Zerah Pulsipher, was captain of our hundred.

We enjoyed ourselves, although I was not able to leave my wagon much. We camped one night on a sand hill without feed and water. As soon as daylight came we went about six miles, found water and feed and stopped. There my first son was born. After dinner we traveled on. I kept in bed about two weeks, then was able to get around. I felt able and willing to go through suffering to find a resting place where the Saints could worship the Lord with none to molest.

When we got to Salt Lake we camped out. My babe lived out of doors until he was three months old. We got a house and put up a little mill to grind corn. The next summer we lived in a dugout. My baby took whooping cough and was very sick. We called President Young to administer to him. He looked at him and said, “He is a noble spirit.” He blessed him and said, “He shall have the priesthood whether he lives or dies.” But we had to part with him, John William.

That was a great trial to have my only son taken from me. I was sitting alone a few days after my baby’s death, reflecting on his death, the Spirit returned and said to me, “You shall have a son and he shall live.” In about nine or ten months I had another son, Wilmer. He did live and is over thirty years old and is a good man.

My baby, John William, died in the spring up Canyon Creek. He was taken down to the city to be buried, the third to be buried there. We soon moved to the city. It was laid out in lots, a few houses were built. We lived in the 16th Ward. We built a house with three rooms.

[Mariah Pulsipher Burgess died on the 17th of March in 1893 at Huntington, Utah. She raised a family of nine children. One died young.]