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January 1878


EVENTS IN EMMELINE B. WELLS’S DIARY FOR 1878

2 January

Wrote petitions all day long. In her diary, posed questions for the new year regarding Utah government, universal suffrage, and a new church prophet.

4 January

Medical lecture held in Woman’s Exponent office.

11 February

Voted in the municipal election.

15 February

Received encouraging letter from Sara Andrews Spencer. Wrote in her diary, “Surely my day-star is rising.”

8 April

Daughter Emeline Whitney Wells died after a long illness.

10 July

Traveled to Farmington with Eliza R. Snow. Aurelia Spencer Rogers proposed what became the Primary Association.

11 January 1878 • Tuesday

This is a holiday from office work. Lou. [Louise M. Wells] went to Bishop [John] Sharp’s to receive calls with Janet [Sharp]. Emmie [Emeline Whitney Wells] & Annie [Elizabeth Ann Wells] are at home. Lutie [Lucy M. Fuller] went to her aunt’s.2 We had rather a pleasant day at home. Polly is sick with inflammatory rheumatism. The evening was a pleasant one, around the fireside only we missed our gay little Lou. Joe [Joseph] Sharp came down to ask us to let her stay all night with Janet.

Many serious thoughts come with the New Year who would or could have thought that the past year could have brought about the various changes it has done. The death of Brigham Young is to this people something very serious indeed, and ere another year is passed who can tell what may transpire. [p. 23] {p. 27}

2 January 1878 • Wednesday

Today I begin 1878 in the office. Mailing the Exponents. The girls are at school, but come in after school to assist me Many calls and some money coming in, can scarcely keep warm the weather is so cold.

I have been busy writing petitions all day long.3 Many new thoughts and feelings run through my mind now at the beginning of this year. What will be done in regard to Utah? What will be the end of the question on Universal Suffrage? What will be done in regulating church matters and are we to have a new prophet? Who will be our leader? All these things pass through my mind and I know not how or when they will be harmonized or settled.4 [p. 24] {p. 28}

3 January 1878 • Thursday

This is fast-day and I am invited to 11th, ward Em. come in to keep the Office for me. Sister Eliza [R. Snow] and I went up together. We had dinner at Bishop MacRea [Alexander McRae]’s and went to the schoolhouse after. There was some difficulty about the land belonging [to] the Relief Society It was decided upon how it should be settled Rob [Robert W. Sloan] came home from Provo and surprised us last evening. Rob and Junius [F. Wells] were having an argument in the office this evening. Rob was very much excited and the contest was a spirited one.

Budd [Horace G. Whitney] helped me home with my papers, and Rob brought some down too. Polly and the girls helped me.

Went to French. [p. 25] {p. 29}

4 January 1878 • Friday

This is an excessively cold disagreeable day I have been so busy Mrs. [E. Romania Bunnell] Pratt lectured in the afternoon,5 there were very few present. She made some explanations on the placenta– the class were interested

In the evening we had a pleasant time at home. Yet I am almost always so busy that it is hardly possible to have any enjoyment. Many duties press heavily upon me. I desire to do all in my power to help elevate the condition of my own people especially wom[e]n. Our paper is improving and benefitting society. here I am sure and I would be very glad to make it a complete success. [p. 26] {p. 30}

5 January 1878 • Saturday

Today the weather seems changing and growing warmer. I saw my husband6 and he seemed discouraged about some of his business affairs.7 Yet he was very kind to me and came and spent the evening with me. We conversed upon church matters and the present crisis. In looking back over past associations, we can see many changes. Tonight with the evening mail a letter came from the lady Ort. [Orson F. Whitney] baptized in Ohio.8 She expresses herself freely to me in regard to her own personal affairs. Ort wants me to cultivate her friendship and take some pains to initiate her into our ideas of life

I am very tired to-night. [p. 27] {p. 31}

6 January 1878 • Sunday

This has been rather a gloomy day. Em went to meeting. Dot [Seraph I. Sears] was here with us and Mellie [Melvina Whitney Woods]’s children.9 I cooked dinner. In the evening Lutie went with me down to Mellie’s. Mr. [David] & Mrs. [Jennette Evans] Mc’Kay were there, we staid awhile and tried to comfort Mellie who was ill. Then we came home found the house full of young people. Shortly after Selina [Winters]10 came and said Mellie was ill almost mad. Em & I went down it made me almost wild. we staid very late. Rob. was here with the girls when we came home.

I felt dreadful– it seemed as if I wanted some tenderness shown to me– I am shut out from all that others enjoy. No wonder I’m forced to be strong-minded. [p. 28] {p. 32}

7 January 1878 • Monday

This morning went to the office as usual– had lots of annoyances Em. went to see Mellie. I feel very sad indeed– my husband’s affairs are very complicated indeed and we are oblige<d> to practise the most rigid economy. I am determined to train my girls to habits of independence so that they never need to trust blindly but understand for themselves and have sufficient energy of purpose to carry out plans for their own welfare and happiness.11 This evening we had a silk-meeting in the office– some business transacted.12 We are intending a few of us to get a secretary for sister Eliza but I have been busy all the time with petitions etc. [p. 29] {p. 33}

8 January 1878 • Tuesday

There is lots of snow & real good slieghing I’ve been too busy for anything. I do seem to have so very much to do– it is scarcely possible to do all that is expected. I would be glad indeed to do a great and good work but– the days seem so short and there are so many demands upon one’s time. Letters to answer, household affairs to attend to public duties of a religious and social character and some reading that must be done if one would not rust out entirely all these and the various courtesies and obligations that are essential to our associations with one another.13 [p. 30] {p. 34}

9 January 1878 • Wednesday

Another beautiful day– work and hurry several callers and people from the country for petitions to be prepared for them. I am not very well & I seem to feel the want more and more of some kind hand to care for me, some near and dear friend to sympathize with me in the details of life–

If I could only gratify my own aspirations by acts of benevolence, and travel and write purely for love of writing having plenty of time for each article instead of hurrying them off half-finished to the press it would seem as if there was some pleasure in it– [p. 31] {p. 35}

10 January 1878 • Thursday

Emma is keeping the office to-day I have been to a meeting in the 10th. Ward– had a very pleasant time but I seemed to feel the lack of vital spiritual force in those around me on that day. It is hard to get intelligence into some people– and we do seem to have some of the poorest material for saints or for cultivating up to any high standard– it is strange that we cannot advance more as a people than we do– Some spend all their time, and ability in improving the condition of the people mentally morally and religiously and others glide along careless of present or future happiness. [p. 32] {p. 36}

11 January 1878 • Friday

Emma is not feeling well at all– has a pain in her left side Went to Belle [Isabel Whitney Sears]’s and to Mrs. S. M. [Sarah M. Granger] Kimball’s staid all the evening I was alone and very low spirited for me. busy with my proofs and writing– and my thoughts of life and its prospects for now and hereafter.

If I could only carry out my desires for future improvement and culture how glad I should be– my heart longs inexpressibly for these things and cannot be satisfied because there is no avenue for me to enter to pursue those things that will fill my soul with grace and beauty–

O how I long to revel in books in poetry in the haunts of nature. [p. 33] {p. 37}

12 January 1878 • Saturday

To day business presses– Em paid up for her organ– Mrs. [Ellen Brooke] Ferguson14 lectured in the office to the Medical Class– she told us some plain truths. I think her a wonderful woman. I would love to have her superior knowledge but then she has not had my experience. I do not envy her I only desire to obtain knowledge and wisdom. Yet I would be patient and seek only that which will render me more truly useful– I would like to devote a little more time to my French lessons for in the position I hold I must meet educated people– men and women who have had superior advantages. [p. 34] {p. 38}

13 January 1878 • Sunday

Today I could not go to meeting– there were some things to be done precluding the possibility of such a thing. Em went however I cooked dinner– Polly was not able to come down stairs. In the evening Em’s head ached severely Frank [Franklin D. L. Kimball] was here and she was too ill to sit up down stairs– she lay on the lounge in the sitting room up stairs went to bed early but was too ill to sleep at all– violent fever and pain in her side head and back all night. There seemed no rest Polly is a little better but very lame yet.

My heart seems so sad for Em is my staff and stay now– she is so full of courage and always tender and loving to me– [p. 35] {p. 39}

14 January 1878 • Monday

Em is very bad indeed so bad we do not know what we had better do– nothing seems to relieve the pain in her side– Dr. Cassell [William Castle] came and said it was almost inflammation of the brain. She is really as ill as she can be and keep her senses– no rest or sleep for me my heart is pained with so much suffering, can nothing be devised to prevent so much sorrow in this world– If I were young I would certainly devote my life to the causes of diseases and the necessary & effectual remedies.

I cannot bear to see Em. suffer so– Frank too seems sorrowful we are all sad– we love her so much. [p. 36] {p. 40}

15 January 1878 • Tuesday

The paper is not out on time and I am very much disappointed– yesterday a lady called upon me, who is a great traveler & writer– sister to Gov. [William] Gilpin of Colorado–She is an a maided <maiden> lady quite elderly has traveled in the Holy land– I promised her I would publish a poem of hers on Niagara–15 she told me many strange things. There is much to study in human nature. What queer people there are in the world– one meets now and then some remarkable examples of it– Em is very ill no change for the better yet– so very sad to see her suffer. No rest from pain– Em has many friends. [p. 37] {p. 41}

16 January 1878 • Wednesday

Everybody coming for the papers and them not out, too provoking for anything. Br, & Sister Mathws have been very kind to come and do for Em– all they could. My husband came and administered to her was very kind and good but if we could only have faith to heal her– It seems as if we could not stand it to see her suffer so and she herself is nearly worn out. I pray constantly & earnestly and cry unto the Lord for mercy to spare her unto us and renew her life– She has no appetite and seems discouraged herself.

I try to have faith the girls are low-spirited and seem to think me unfeeling because I do not <give up> [p. 38] {p. 42}

17 January 1878 • Thursday

This morning Br. [John] Nicholson Br. [Benjamin] Hampton & Bishop [Andrew H.] Burt came down and administered to Emma, they seemed to have great faith– there is a misty rainy snow falling and the atmosphere is heavy. I feel perfectly miserable– it seems as if I could not breathe and my teeth are so troublesome. We dare not let Em– have any visitors at all– we are trying to mail, but everything seems to go against it. I seem to have a heavy burden to carry and at my time of life troubles press heavily. Mell came up to see me and I tried to console her and make her feel better gave her a nice piece of flannel to embroider. [p. 39] {p. 43}

18 January 1878 • Friday

Work– Work– Work– nursing the sick– looking after the household attending to the office paying bills– mailing papers– answering letters– thinking over all my affairs– trying to look after petitions– no single soul to comfort me in my loneliness– girls cannot understand these matters. I wish there was some congenial friend to sympathize with me in my heart-hunger–

I never supposed when I commenced working on the paper that I should have to do everything for myself– I feel sometimes my burden is heavy– May God strengthen me to bear it all in patience. [p. 40] {p. 44}

19 January 1878 • Saturday

To day is the meeting in the 14th, Ward but I cannot go– my work is behind hand on account of Em’s illness– we are getting money in now for the present for Sister Eliza. At noon Sister Eliza– Sister [Mary Isabella Hales] Horne, Sister [Elizabeth Anderson] Howard, Sister [Bathsheba Bigler] Smith, Lydia Ann [Alley] Wells all came and administered to Em– Sister Eliza prophesied upon her– and said she should be healed. promised her great blessings and the gift of healing. said she had a great work to do on the earth yet.

The storm seems passing away. Late at night before we were done mailing the girls both helped me– Em is very bad I mustered all my faith [p. 41] {p. 45}

20 January 1878 • Sunday

This is the day for prizes. Ann & Louie got some good ones Annie– book-shelves and Louie a Nickel frame for a likeness Daisie [Dunford] a bookmark. Em is really better it must have been my earnest faith. We do not let every one go up to see her– she is very nervous– got her up a minute or two but her head and eyes were too bad. In the evening there were several of the young boys here– Sister Lucy [Woodward Hewlings] was here to-day too.

I have written a little today and read some and rested a very little. Sister Howard came. & Will [William W. Woods]– Belle was here with her three little ones16 I carried the baby home. Went with Sister Howard to Hornes– [p. 42] {p. 46}

21 January 1878 • Monday

This is Miss E. R. Snow’s birthday she is 74 today I wrote the note in behalf of the sisters to accompany the gift. begging her to accept it as an expression of our love and esteem and appreciation of her manifold labors. It was presented about three o’clock– several sisters called upon her to congratulate her but I could not have time on account of Emma– as soon as I leave the office I must come home to her. Louie is at French I feel sorry to neglect mine so– Em has not tried to sit up to day, but is really a little better. I have the rheumatism in my shoulders. Polly is much worse. Annie & Louie are not well at all– Mr. [Septimus Wagstaff] Sears has gone to San Francisco [p. 43] {p. 47}

22 January 1878 • Tuesday

Em is very much better the pain is easeir [easier] and she feels as if she could get up awhile– sat up a few minutes. had several callers. When I came down home found Martha [Harris Wells] & Hannah [Free Wells], we talked over family matters and had a pleasant time– had a letter from Payson from Rob– also one from Mrs. [Fannie McBride] Cole from Sparta Wisconsin– her fathers home– answered both Rob’s was a random sort of letter, nothing sensible in it. Annie is getting her apparatus together for studying Practical Chemistry. Here is another experience for me and another expense too– I am sure it is a puzzle to me to know how to manage all these items [p. 44] {p. 48}

23 January 1878 • Wednesday

This was a lovely morning warm and almost balmy. called on Sister Eliza, saw she was more than pleased with her birthday present– been all day arranging petitions some of them are fearfully dirty and written on both sides. Lots of callers– Sister Lucy called and staid some time. Answered lots of business letters. saw my husband and talked to him about some serious matters, was not very well pleased with his answers, perhaps I judge him wrongfully– it may be he is pressed with care and weighed down with sorrow. Rob came home to night called with May [Mary M. Wells]. Annie went to the Wasatch,17 Lou to Nette [Jeannette] Sharps to get her French. [p. 45] {p. 49}

24 January 1878 • Thursday

This is another disagreeable day. Work hard at petitions and not ready yet. Polly is very ill indeed, we hardly know how to manage her. [p. 46] {p. 50}

25 January 1878 • Friday

Some very unpleasant things have transpired to annoy me. [p. 47] {p. 51}

26 January 1878 • Saturday

To-day started the petitions. Wrote to Mrs. [Sara Andrews] Spencer at Washington [p. 48] {p. 52}

27 January 1878 • Sunday

Em. is better. Polly is very bad. [p. 49] {p. 53}

30 January 1878 • Wednesday

Relief Society met at Sister Smith’s to-day Annie went with Afilus [Alfales Young] to the Wasatch. Em. was not well enough to attend. Lou was at Sharp’s. Joe brought her home in a buggy I never seem to have time to write nowadays [p. 52] {p. 54}

31 January 1878 • Thursday

This is a very busy day Our paper is out [p. 53] {p. 55}

Footnotes

  1. [1]text: EBW made a cash account entry for January 1878 at the end of her 1877 diary. See transcript for the 1877 diary on this website.

  2. [2]Either Adeline Woodward Earl or Lucy Woodward Granger Hewlings.

  3. [3]In a special retrenchment meeting held on 22 December 1877, Eliza R. Snow solicited women’s signatures on a memorial to Congress encouraging support of what would have been the Sixteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution. Snow’s petition was “signed by Emmeline B. Wells, Eliza R. Snow and 6,979 persons praying for a Constitutional amendment prohibiting states from disfranchising citizens on account of sex.” EBW also wrote articles arguing against a congressional bill, the Christiancy Bill, that aimed to “to disfranchise the women of Utah.” (“R.S. Reports,” Woman’s Exponent, 1 Jan. 1878, 6:114; EBW [Blanche Beechwood, pseud.], Woman’s Exponent, 1 Jan. 1878, 6:113; Fales and Flake, Mormons and Mormonism, 100.)

  4. [4]See “R.S. Reports,” Woman’s Exponent (15 Jan. 1878), 6:122; and “Notes and News,” Woman’s Exponent, 1 Feb. 1878, 6:129. After Brigham Young died on 29 August 1877, John Taylor was sustained as president of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. The First Presidency was not reorganized until three years later, in October 1880. (Roberts, Life of John Taylor, 338–339.)

  5. [5]On her return from medical college in Philadelphia, Romania Bunnell Pratt was anxious to train local women in anatomy and physiology. She began a series of Friday medical lectures in the Exponent office. (Montgomery, “Esther Romania Bunnell Pratt Penrose,” 30–39; “R.S. Reports,” Woman’s Exponent, 1 Feb. 1878, 6:130.)

  6. [6]Daniel H. Wells.

  7. [7]Confusion over ownership of public and church properties in Salt Lake City after the death of Brigham Young, in addition to the economic panic of 1873, depressed the liquidity of Daniel H. Wells’s assets. These properties included the city railway and the gas company; as counselor to the late Young and cofounder of the gas company, Wells would have been involved in unraveling these ownership questions. These and other issues contributed to Wells’s feeling of distress over his finances. (Taylor, Last Pioneer, 264–266; Wells, Defender, 333–336.)

  8. [8]Hanna C. Norton, MD, eventually joined the Saints in Utah Territory. (“Home Affairs,” Woman’s Exponent, 15 Apr. 1878, 6:173; see also EBW, Charities and Philanthropies, 89.)

  9. [9]Daisie Dean Dunford, Verona May Dunford, and Leslie Alma Dunford.

  10. [10]Selina Winters was hired as household help and nursemaid by EBW’s daughter Mell Woods.

  11. [11]After this reflection on the need for girls to be independent, EBW wrote an editorial in which she emphasized the importance of training both young ladies and young gentlemen. A month later she argued for “equal opportunities of education” for women and insisted that “the better educated woman is, the more she can accomplish for the good of all.” (“A Higher Education,” Woman’s Exponent, 15 Jan. 1878, 6:124; “Woman’s Progression,” Woman’s Exponent, 15 Feb. 1878, 6:140.)

  12. [12]In the Deseret Silk Association’s meeting of 25 January, “Mrs. E. B. Wells made some remarks, and suggested the idea of making presidents of Relief Societies local vice-presidents, in connection with the parent Association, to further the interest of the people in silk culture.” (“Home Affairs,” Woman’s Exponent, 1 Feb. 1878, 6:132–133.)

  13. [13]EBW advocated that women should walk in the sunshine for an hour every day and also allocate a daily hour to “personal culture in reading, music, or whatever pursuit is most to her taste.” (“What We Women Do with Our Time,” Woman’s Exponent, 1 Feb. 1878, 6:132.)

  14. [14]Ellen Brooke Ferguson was involved with medicine, music, and women’s affairs in Salt Lake City. (Whitney, History of Utah, 4:602–603.)

  15. [15]Mary Sophia Gilpin, “Niagara,” Woman’s Exponent, 1 Feb. 1878, 6:129.

  16. [16]Seraph Isabel Sears, Septimus Whitney Sears, and Laura Lucile Sears.

  17. [17]Wasatch Literary Association.