Martha Ann Smith Harris
Letter Written Setting Out
Her Personal History
Copy of Letter written by Martha Ann Smith Harris
Daughter of Hyrum Smith
Provo City, Utah, March 22, 1881
The content of this letter is a light history of Martha Ann Smith Harris, the wife of William J. Harris, and the mother of 11 children. This I bequeath to them and their posterity who are faithful Latter-day Saints.
I was born in Nauvoo, Hancock County, Illinois, May 14, 1841, the youngest daughter of Hyrum Smith, Patriarch, who was martyred in Carthage Jail.
My poor mother stepped back calmly exclaiming, “It cannot be. ” He gave an answer, “Yes, it is true.” She fell back against the cupboard and Brother Grant helped her to a chair. The news flew like wildfire through the house. Those cries of agony that went through the soul of everyone were terrible. The anguish and sorrow that was felt can easier be felt than described. It will never be forgotten by those who were called to pass through it.
He was loving, kind, and affectionate, indulgent almost to a fault.
I remember one day mother had made him a pair of pants and he was very proud of them. I saw him walk back and forth with his hands in his pockets. It was seldom that he was cheerful, he always looked anxious and sober.
I can remember many little things
I can see the sorrowful look now. Those years were the severe trial of my life. I felt that I did not care to live any longer; my heart seemed crushed. I was not old enough at the time of my father’s death to fully realize it, as I did the loss of my mother. I felt the world was a blank after my mother’s death. Many times I felt the keen want of a loving mother to comfort me in trials that I had to pass through. It was a sore bereavement, which I felt that I could never wear out with time. I went with my mother every day for three weeks while she worked in the Nauvoo Temple. What joy that was to me. My mother to this very day is perfect in my mind’s eye. God bless her memory.
I emigrated to Salt Lake City with my mother in 1848. We left our home, just as it was, all the furniture, in fact, everything we owned. The fruit trees were loaded with rosy peaches and apples.
We bade goodbye to the loving home that reminded us of our beloved father everywhere we turned. We crossed the Mississippi River on a skiff in the dusk of the evening. We bade goodbye to our dear old grandmother, Lucy Mack Smith. I can never forget the bitter tears she shed when she bade us goodbye for the last time. She knew it would be the last time she would ever see her son’s family again in this life. We did not realize this so much at the time as we have since.
I was baptized in 1849 by Heber C. Kimball.
Through my father’s death, caused by the massacre of 1844,
She was called from her family and numerous circles of kindred and friends to enjoy the society of her martyred husband and the Prophet and the Saints that had gone before, to another state of existence. Her last illness of about two months continuance she bore with unusual patience and fortitude. She only wished to live longer to do good to her family and those around her. She died the 21st of September 1851. She has entered into rest and may the example she set during her life be not forgotten by those she left behind to follow in her footsteps.
I was then at the tender age of eleven years. I have felt when seeing children with parents to love and care for them. [My] path was not a smooth one. But I am proud to be her daughter. She was truly a mother in Israel and her name shall be held in everlasting remembrance, associated as they were with the persecutions of the Saints, those tragic in a superlative degree, those peculiar qualifications that surpassed and [invigorate] the minds in adversity, and perseverance
At the age of 15 years, I was married to William Jasper Harris, in the Endowment House at Salt Lake City, 21st of April 1857. My brother, Joseph F., at that time, was filling his first mission in the Sandwich Islands. Two days after our marriage my husband started on a mission to England. While he was gone I lived with his mother,
I belong to the Relief Society of the Provo First Ward, Utah Stake. Sister Johnson is the president; she and her counsellors are good women. They have my faith and prayers.
Mah Smoot is our stake president; she is beloved by all who know her. I also mention my dear mother-in-law, Emily Smoot, God bless them both, may they live long and be a comfort to their family.
I have enjoyed living in this world, I am grateful for the kindness
My dear children when you read this letter I shall have passed away very likely; although my blessing says that if I am faithful I shall never sleep in death, but shall be changed in the twinkling of an eye and be caught up to meet the Savior in the clouds and be forever with Him.
I know not how this may be but I DEDICATE MYSELF AND ALL I HAVE ON THIS EARTH INTO THE HAND OF MY HEAVENLY FATHER, asking him in the name of Jesus Christ to grant that me and my companion and my children and those I love may be saved in the Kingdom of Heaven. Even so, Amen.
(Original letter signed by Martha Ann Smith. From a copy in the possession of Carol Call King.)