The Church Historian's Press

May 1883

18 May 1883 • Friday


Salt Lake Penitentary

Friday May 18, 1883.

I arived here to day at 3 oclock faint and tired after traveling a distance of 220 myles without eating are [or] sleeping the excitement under which I have been laboring began to tell upon my nevers [nerves] when I beheld this g[l]oomy place and realised that I was to be an inmate <of the same> on reaching the door I was told to pass on to the next room to which I gladly accented [assented] for the first room contained some six or eight prisoner employed in cooking and washing dishes and as I realised my situation the sight sick[e]ned me and it was sometime before I could compose myself sufficiently to attend to the wants of my baby1 who was sick and tired. Some refreshments were brought me of which I partook spareingly and then began to look around to see what comfort the place afforded. I was just makeing up my mind to make the best of it when I was told there were some ladies [who] wished to see me [p. 1] you may be shure I haild them with delight it proved <to be> Sisters Emmiline B Wells [Emmeline Woodward Wells]2 Isabella Horne [Mary Isabella Hales Horne] Ellen C Closson [Ellen Spencer Clawson] and Presondie L Kimball [Presendia Huntington Kimball]. they all talked encourangly [encouragingly] to me told me the Lord would take care of me and said I had many friends who would be hapy to furnish me evry comfort I required after furnishing me a great variedy of delicacies calculated to tempt the apatite of the most dainty. the officer informed them that their time was up and so they took their departure bid[d]ing me be of good cheer and promiceing to call again.

It was growing late and I began to wonder what provision would be made for a nigh[t’]s lo[d]ging However I was soon told that there was no other room except the one I was in that being the dineing room but I miyght have a lounge and make my self as comfortable as possible untill further arangements could be made. So I waited until all was quietd and them [then] I was permitted to lock my door from within and retire to rest.

19 May 1883 • Saturday

Saturday 19

The clock striking five awoke me with a start and I realised a sensation something like fear as I remembered that I was a prisoner but the [p. 2] felling [feeling] soon wore away for it was a fine morning and I interested myself in takeing a walk and look around the grounds

I wrot[e] 2 or three letters dureing the day had several visitors all of whom talked encouragengly to me.

20 May 1883 • Sunday

Sunday 20

a perfect swarm of visitors to day all wishing to see there [their] loved ones who by some misstep had <has> become a prisoner within those horrid walls it is almost more than I can bare to see Husband, brother and friend led out to visit there [their] dear ones it fills my soul with horror when I behold theese young men middle aged men and old men, all condemned criminals charged with stealing murduring and all manner of eveil.

21 May 1883 • Monday


We have had a beautifull day I have had no visitors today so had plenty of time to read write walk out [illegible] the day seem<ed> so long I was told they were going to get some lumber and put up a room for me I hope they will it will be much better for I am occupying the dineing room and the table is always set for some one so I hardly ever am permitted to enjoy myself alone. [p. 3]

22 May 1883 • Tuesday

May 22

I have had a long visit to day from my Father3 we were allowed to talk as long as we chose without interruption and when he took his leave he seemed to feel well and I felt thankfull that I was so well off. they got lumber and there are several men at work on a room which I am told is for me.

23 May 1883 • Wednesday


it has been very warm today, my baby is quite poorly. Sister [Belinda Pratt] Musser and her daughter4 came to se[e] me brough[t] sevral presents among which was a package of books and papers sent by James [P.] Dwyer I have just been talking with one of the guard he says I need not think of leaving here for two years at least I told them that was all nonsense they are still working on the house and I am told it will be done dafter [day?] after tomorrow I am very tired to night and shall be glad when I can lock the door and go to rest Oh! what a weary life this would be [p. 4]

24 May 1883 • Thursday

May 24

Well another day has <passed> nothing of importance to record axcept that I had a visit from Marshal [John W.] Greenman and Mr Putman the latter expressed great sympathy for me and thought it a shame that I should be made to suffer because he said he knew that I was pursuaded to act as I was doing and that I never would go in to plurality again I told him I supposed he had a right to his own opinion regarding the matter and he talked for some time regarding the wick[ed]ness of the mormon system of marrig [marriage] said he would cut his right arm off before he would place a woman in such a situation said I ought to an[s]wer those question and get away from this place I spoke for some time and gave him a few ideas about afairs genealy [generally] regarding my what I thought to be my rights as well as the priveiledes [privileges] of the latter day saints. So <he> said he didnt come to try to pick any informat[i]on but simply as a friend. I could meet an avowed enimy but a wofl [wolf] in sheeps clothing I do despise. it is a perfect mystery to those who do not understand our faith how I can think of staying here when to an[s]wer 2 or three questions would insure my liberty [p. 5] and yet that abominable sheet the S. L. Tribune5 says I have not the courage to say that I am married while holdeing a babe in my arms I wonder who they think I am afraid of I should think I have proved that I dare am not so great a cowerd for rather than assist in giveing evidence which I know was calculated to mark [make] mischief I dared to brave the terrors of a fellons [felon’s] den. those who accuse me of cowerdice are in my extimation not worthy the notice of a woman who is not afraid to assert her wrights and the wrights of her people.

25 May 1883 • Friday


I am not atall well tonight and Oh! how I would like to talk with a friend Pa came to see me this morning and after walking all the way out here he was only permitted to stay an hour and then in the presence of the guard I could see that he <Pa> felt bad and I have felt awfully downcast all day Oh! how long will the Lord suffer the wicked to rule there is one man here whoh I beleave is friendly towards our people and will befriend me as far as his duty will allow he told me tonight that their [there] was a power or predejuice [prejudice] against me more than I could imagine and for me to be on my guard and not rely on any professed friendship of any one here. [p. 6] I was presented with a toilet looking glass by C. R. Savag [Charles R. Savage] and also the history of the mormon betalion [Battalion] by B Daniel Tyler to day.

27 May 1883 • Sunday


I have been sick yesterday and to day. got Poisoned while gathering flowers with poison Ivy my face and eyes are so badly swollen that I have to keep them covered with a vale. several ladies came to see me yesterday and brought me many things to make me comfortable6 I had so many to see me to day and one lady Mrs grosebeck [Elizabeth Thompson Groesbeck] spoke her mind very freely in regard to the justice shown to mormons in general and in my estimation all she said was true but however the gaurd present seemed to think differntly and I am informed by a friend that he reported her to the Marshal [Elwin A. Ireland] and was told if any thing of the kind was <occured> again to o[r]der the person to take there leive [leave] and they would not be allowed to come again.

every word I say is listened to by my enimy it is a trying position to be placed in but I trust with the help of the Lord I will come off victorious. the guard to whom I refered to as being friendly to me is looked upon with suspision by the rest allready and I am afraid it will resuld [result] in trouble However I shall take pains to avoid him and give them no [p. 7] chance to start a slander which I feel certain would be the case I got a letter from Bro. [William] Fotheringham at Beaver I was glad to hear from a friend and shall <answer> it tomorrow.7

28 May 1883 • Monday


I have had so many visitors my atorney S. A. Kanner [Scipio A. Kenner] was here to day and several ladies all brought me some presents and said if there was anything else I needed to let me <them> know every body is kind to me I mean all the saints will my face is getting some better I think I shall get moved into my room tomorrow.

29 May 1883 • Tuesday


Well another day is passed I had visitors today sister Musser was one and they brought a most beautifull carpet so many other thing to[o] numerous to mention and I am moved at last my room is very comfortable they are going to send my meals to me as the warden8 just told me he expected this would seem more like a prison than before as they perposed keeping me locked up except two hours in the foornoon and two in the after noon <and> I might chose what hours I perferd being out this made me feel a little gloomy though that would be as much as I shall care to go out but the thought of being locked up is suficient to make one feel lonely I asked who would carry the key that locked me in and the warden said there had been some talk about that four or five had perposed carrying the key but he thought he would let his wife9 take charge of it but I dont beleave he will. [p. [8]]

30 May 1883 • Wednesday

May 30

I have experienced the fee[l]ing peculiar to being locked up to day, for the first time and I have been a prisoner 20 days. there is <was> a sickening sence of lonleyness seemed to come over me when the great iron bar was drawn and bolted that would confine me to my room though only for a few hours. My baby was very fretfull <today> and I sat him in the window where he could look <out> he took hold of the iron bars and managed to climb up then held tightly to the bar for support while he danced and laughed at those who passed him by I think the nation is comeing to a pretty pass when an inocent babe must look through a grated window to get a glimce of the sunshine the lady who Mrs Groesbeck who visited me the other day was refused a pass to day but sent me $5.00 and wished me to come and se[e] her when I was released which I would like very much to do. Mr. S. A. Ken[n]er was also here with several of his friend[s] he bade me be of good cheer for the there would be no doubt about me getting away soon I am getting considerable better and trust the poison will soon dye [die] out of my face. [p. 9]

Cite this page

May 1883, The Prison Journal of Belle Harris, accessed July 19, 2024