Saturday, April 29, 2017

HANNAH KNIGHT LIBBY - Part 26 - Life in Utah and Death

At this point of Hannah’s life we truly reach a black hole as virtually nothing is known about her between her arrival in Utah in 1851 and her death in 1867.  Most references about her during this period of her life state that she lived with Dominicus in Provo.  This writer has found one reference to her that seems to disprove several things mentioned in this narrative. 

The Overland Travel site at states:  “Birth date is confirmed by Manti Ward records at the time of a rebaptism on 29 June 1851. She is listed in that record with the surname of "Morley." (Manti Ward, Record of Members. CR 375 8, Reel 3954.)  This roll of microfilm needs to be studied to see what else it might tell us about Hannah.  Was she in fact already in Utah in June 1851 and living in Manti? One warning about the family of Isaac Morley is that he did have a polygamous wife, Hannah Finch – which can also confuse people as you search for Hannah Morley.

We are left with basically no record of what Hannah’s life was in Utah.  With the exception of the Manti Ward record mentioned above, it is assumed that Hannah lived in the Dominicus’ big house in Provo.  In Chapter 9 of this narrative is found four firsthand descriptions of Hannah in her later years. Rather than reprint them here we will just quote from them.  Clara Melissa Carter, Dominicus Carters’ daughter, remembered Hannah as living in their home.  What specifically she did can only be guessed.  She surely helped the wives of Dominicus in household chores and with the dozens of children.  She was not young.  In 1851 she would have been 65 years old.  Francis Carter Knight, another granddaughter, stated, “…She did not look as old as she really was. Her hair was grey when I knew her. She wore a little lace cap. She had a good education and was always very industrious, keeping her knitting close by, and working when she was what might be considered too old to work.” Probably a later remembrance was from a great-granddaughter, Sarah York Tiffany, who remembered, “She sat in the chair or on the bed and pieced quilt blocks, and her sewing was neat. She was childish and would cry when left alone very long.”  That last comment would lead one to think that possibly in her later years she suffered some form of dementia.

Whatever the case, we are left only to guess what her life was like.  Did she hold Church callings?  Did her children travel to see her or did she ever travel and visit with them?  Over the years it appears that things that were known about her have been lost to our knowledge.  In a 1941 memorial to her entitled “Mother Hannah Knight Libby Carter” they recorded: 

“In June, 1852, Hannah Carter dictated the following message to her son, Dominicus, showing her deep interest in temple work for her kindred dead:

By request of your mother I am writing to you. She wishes to communicate to you some of her wishes with regard to her deceased relatives. She is well at present as common, but as life is uncertain, if it is not her privilege to live in this world to do the work for her parents and relatives that have gone the way of all the earth, she wants to leave this work so that it may be done and done right. She wishes to be ready to go when she is called. This is the way we all should leave.

Then followed a detailed list of relatives she remembered for whom temple work was to be done.

She remained at Provo during the time of the Echo Canyon War and when the body of the Saints moved south to Provo and adjoining towns. She lived in her later years at the home of Dominicus Carter.” 

One other letter of Dominicus opens a small window on Hannah’s last days.  On March 5, 1867 Dominicus wrote his brother, Philip Libby Carter of Illinois: “Mother is alive but very feeble.  I don’t think she can live long.  She is getting old rising eighty.  If you should want to see her before she should die you better come this spring and not wait til the railroad is finished.  Mother wants me to say to you that she does not expect to live long on this earth and she wants you to prepare to meet her in the world to come.  She says the path she has pursued for the last 30 years is the only path by which you can enjoy her society in the world to come and be accepted of the Lord.”   

Besides giving us a glimpse of the ravages of old age working on her body, this letter includes a strong final testimony of a longtime member of the church.  Thirty-three years had passed since her conversion but she still was strong in the Faith. 

Hannah Death Notice
Seven months after the letter to Philip was penned Hannah passed away.  For one hundred and fifty years we were in the dark as to when Hannah actually died. We have never known the exact date, only that on Nov. 2, 1867 a letter was written by Mary E. Whiting from Springville to a relative in Manti stating, "Mother Carter is dead."  And that is where things stood until February 2017.  At that time Virginia Bright (the wife of a descendant of Isaac Morley) contact the Carter family with a newspaper account of her death. The reason we had never found this document was that she was called “Hannah Libby Morley.”  The newspaper article is actually a letter from Apostle George A Smith.  At the time he had responsibility over the communities in Utah county and the news article was actually a letter he wrote detailing some of his activities.  The article reads: 

Provo City
Sunday, Oct. 19, 1867

Editor Daily Telegraph:
     Dear Sir:  This city was visited with a cold storm yesterday, the mountains being covered with snow.
     There is considerable sickness among children; the whooping cough is prevalent, several deaths of late have occurred.
     I delivered two addresses in the new meeting house today also visited the Sunday School, which is making satisfactory progress.
     We are also called to mourn the death of a Mother in Israel, Hannah Libby Morley, who died this morning, the widow of the late Patriarch Isaac Morley.  She was born in the State of Maine, October 9, 1786.
     When 17 years of age she married John Carter, with whom she lived 43 years, and to whom she bore seven sons and four daughters.  She has upwards of 100 grandchildren, and 30 great grandchildren.  She is the mother of Dominicus, W. F. and John H Carter, prominent citizens of this county.
     One of her sons, Richard Carter, died in the Mormon Battalion.
     She was baptized in Newry, Oxford county, Maine, in 1834.  Prior to her baptism, she was taken dangerously sick, and was given up to die; in the meantime a Mormon Elder called in, whom she desired to pray for her, which was complied with, and she straightway arose, walked one half of a mile, was baptized, and became strong in the faith from that hour.
     She passed through the persecutions in Missouri and Illinois.
     She kept the faith, and lately expressed to her children that she desired to depart this life and join a "sweet rest in Heaven,"
Geo. A. Smith

It is interesting that Smith called her Hannah Libby Morley.  He had known the family for many years and had many dealings with both Dominicus and William Furlsbury at least.  It is interesting that he used Morley instead of Carter in describing Hannah, but she had been sealed to Isaac, and as such she was considered one of his wives and would probably be known to many by the name of Morley.  This comes as a surprise to many of us in our generation but actually helps to point out how far removed from her day we are today.

We need to address the date of her death – as the article leaves us questioning the exact date of her death.  It is titled “Sunday, Oct. 19, 1867.”  The problem with that is that Oct 19th was actually Saturday and Sunday was on the 20th.  It seems logical that she died either on the 19th or 20th.  Since her death is mentioned as happening “this morning” right after he mentioned attending a Sunday school – it would seem most likely that her death date is 20 Oct 1867.

Sign at Provo City Cemetery
Shortly after her death, the body was originally buried at the Grandview Hill Cemetery. This was where three farms converged and is no longer in existence. She was moved along with her head stone to the Pioneer Cemetery in Provo, Utah.  On Memorial Day, May 30, 1941, 155 years after her birth, 90 years after she crossed the plains, and 74 years after her death, 90 members of her posterity held a memorial service in her honor, sang again the songs that were sung at her funeral, and listened to a sketch of her rich life story. Then once again they gathered at her graveside (in the Provo City Cemetery) and dedicated a bronze marker as a lasting memorial to her name and noble character. It bore this inscription (beside the motif of a covered wagon):
                Hannah Knight Libby Carter
                October 9, 1786-November, 1867.
                “Faithful in the day of Trial.”

Hannah's 1941 Marker
Bench to remember Carter children that have no headstones.

With this we end this account of her life.  May her ability to overcome trials and adversity be an example to us.  Also might each of us embrace truth with the strength that she demonstrated.  Hannah was a great example to her posterity of how to live an honorable life.   

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