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Esther Romania Salina Bunnell

8 August 1839–9 November 1932

Born 8 Aug. 1839 in Washington, Wayne Co., Indiana.[1] Daughter of Luther B. Bunnell and Esther Mendenhall.[2] Arrived with her family in Nauvoo, Hancock Co., Illinois, 1846; traveled to Winter Quarters, unorganized U.S. territory.[3] Due to her mother’s illness, her family returned to Nauvoo and then to Ohio while her father went on to Sacramento, Sacramento Co., California, where he died.[4] Attended school in Ohio and Indiana, until 1855.[5] Migrated to Utah Territory with the John Hindley pioneer company, arriving 3 Sept. 1855.[6] Taught school in Salt Lake City.[7] Married first Parley P. Pratt Jr., 23 Feb. 1859; seven children.[8] First woman to be admitted to Bellevue Medical College in New York City, where she studied at the Eye and Ear Infirmary, 1874–1875.[9]  President of the Twelfth Ward Young Ladies’ Department of the Ladies’ Cooperative Retrenchment Association, 1875.[10] Graduated from the Women’s Medical College in Philadelphia, 15 Mar. 1877, the first Latter-day Saint woman to graduate with a medical degree.[11] Founding member and physician of Deseret Hospital in Salt Lake City.[12] Close friend and physician of EBW, who wrote a tribute in her honor for her birthday.[13] Divorced husband, 7 June 1880.[14] Served in the presidency of the Young Ladies’ Mutual Improvement Association, 1881.[15] Addressed the “Ladies Mass Meeting” in Salt Lake City, 26 Mar. 1886, speaking against persecution for participating in plural marriage.[16] Married second Charles W. Penrose, 11 Mar. 1886, in Salt Lake City.[17] Served as assistant secretary of the Relief Society central board, 1888–1892, and on the Relief Society general board, 1892–1921.[18] Taught private classes in nursing and obstetrics.[19] Closed her medical practice after she was appointed to serve with her husband as president of the European mission; helped organize early European Relief Societies, 1906–1910.[20] Served as a delegate, representing the Relief Society, at the International Council of Women conventions held in London and the Netherlands, Mar. 1908.[21] Died 9 Nov. 1932 in Salt Lake City.[22]

 

[1] “Memoir,” Romania B. Pratt Penrose Papers, ca. 1881–1975, 19 Mar. 1881, 1, CHL. “Endowments of the Living, 1851–1884,” The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Endowment House, vol. B, p. 56, Esther Romania Salena Bunnel, 11 Mar. 1856, microfilm 1149524(restricted access), FHL. “Family Tree,” database, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org, accessed 29 Jan. 2018), Romania Bunnell Pratt Penrose (KWJC-SDG).  

[2] “Memoir,” Romania B. Pratt Penrose Papers, ca. 1881–1975, 19 Mar. 1881, 1, CHL. Wayne Co., IN, Clerk of the Circuit Court, Marriage Records, 1811–1951, Marriages Licenses, vol. B, p. 136, Luther Bunnel and Esther Mendenhall, 8 June 1832. “Endowments of the Living, 1851–1884,” The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Endowment House, vol. B, Esther Romania Salena Bunnel, 11 Mar. 1856, microfilm 1149524 (restricted access), FHL. 

[3] “Memoir,” Romania B. Pratt Penrose Papers, ca. 1881–1975, 19 Mar. 1881, 1–2, CHL. Orson F. Whitney, History of Utah in Four Volumes (Salt Lake City: George Q Cannon & Sons, 1904), 4:600.

[4] “Memoir,” Romania B. Pratt Penrose Papers, ca. 1881–1975, 19 Mar. 1881, 2, CHL. 1850 U.S. Census, Clear Creek Township, Warren Co., OH, Luther Bunnel. Orson F. Whitney, History of Utah in Four Volumes (Salt Lake City: George Q Cannon & Sons, 1904), 4:600.

[5] “Memoir,” Romania B. Pratt Penrose Papers, ca. 1881–1975, 19 Mar. 1881, 2–3, CHL. Orson F. Whitney, History of Utah in Four Volumes (Salt Lake City: George Q Cannon & Sons, 1904), 4:600.

[6] “Esther Romania Bunnell,” Pioneer Database (https://history.churchofjesuschrist.org/overlandtravel/pioneers/16531). Jane Charters Robinson Hindley, Journals, 1855–1905, [16]–[21], CHL.

[7] “Memoir,” Romania B. Pratt Penrose Papers, ca. 1881–1975, 19 Mar. 1881, 5, CHL. Orson F. Whitney, History of Utah in Four Volumes (Salt Lake City: George Q Cannon & Sons, 1904), 4:601.

[8] “Sealings of Couples, Living and by Proxy, 1856–1861,” The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Endowment House, vol. C, p. 334, Parley Parker Pratt and Esther Romania Bunnel, 3 Feb. 1859, microfilm 1149514 (restricted access), FHL. 1900 U.S. Census, Salt Lake City, Salt Lake Co., UT, ED 22, p. 3A, Esther Romania Pratt. “Memoir,” Romania B. Pratt Penrose Papers, ca. 1881–1975, 19 Mar. 1881, 10–11, CHL.

[9] “Memoir,” Romania B. Pratt Penrose Papers, ca. 1881–1975, 19 Mar. 1881, 11–12, CHL.

[10] “Memoir,” Romania B. Pratt Penrose Papers, ca. 1881–1975, 19 Mar. 1881, 13, CHL. Twelfth East Ward, University West Stake, Twelfth East Ward Manuscript History and Historical Records, “YLMIA,” CHL.

[11] “Memoir,” Romania B. Pratt Penrose Papers, ca. 1881–1975, 19 Mar. 1881, 14–16, CHL. Romania B. Pratt, Women’s Medical College of Philadelphia, Philadelphia Co., Pennsylvania Diploma, Mar. 15, 1877, Women’s College of Medicine, Pennsylvania, CHL. August Joyce Crocheron, Representative Women of Deseret: A Book of Biographical Sketches (Salt Lake City: J. C. Graham, 1884), 72–74.

[12]  Romania B. Penrose Papers, 1875–1898, Romania B. Pratt Letters, 1879, First Presidency (John Taylor) Correspondence, CHL. History of Relief Society, 1842–1966 (Salt Lake City: General Board of Relief Society, 1966), 116–117.

[13] Emmeline B. Wells, “Tribute to Romania B. Pratt,” 1881, Romania B. Penrose Papers, ca. 1881–1875, CHL. EBW, Diary, 8 Aug. 1881.

[14] “Divorce Documents for Parley P. Pratt Jr and Romania Bunnell,” Romania B. Penrose Papers, ca. 1881–1975, 1, CHL.

[15] “Memoir,” Romania B. Pratt Penrose Papers, ca. 1881–1975, 19 Mar. 1881, 22–23, CHL.

[16] Jill Mulvay Derr, Carol Cornwall Madsen, Kate Holbrook, and Matthew J. Grow, eds., The First Fifty Years of Relief Society: Key Documents in Latter-day Saint Women’s History (Salt Lake City: Church Historian’s Press, 2016), 521–522. “An Interesting Meeting,” Latter-day Saints’ Millennial Star, 5 Apr. 1886, 48:216–220.

[17] “Sealings of Couples, Living and by Proxy, 1883–1889,” The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Endowment House, vol. M, p. 83, Charles W. Penrose and Romania Bunnell, 11 Mar. 1886, microfilm 183402 (restricted access), FHL.

[18]  “Relief Society Central Board,” Woman’s Exponent, 15 Oct. 1888, 76. Jill Mulvay Derr, Carol Cornwall Madsen, Kate Holbrook, and Matthew J. Grow, eds., The First Fifty Years of Relief Society: Key Documents in Latter-day Saint Women’s History (Salt Lake City: Church Historian’s Press, 2016), 535, 589. History of Relief Society, 1842–1966 (Salt Lake City: General Board of Relief Society, 1966), 52, 58.

[19] History of Relief Society, 1842–1966 (Salt Lake City: General Board of Relief Society, 1966), 86, 116–117.

[20] “Romania Bunnell Penrose,” Go Ye into All the World: Missionary Database (https://history.churchofjesuschrist.org/missionary, accessed 30 Jan. 2018).

[21] Emmeline B. Wells, “Letter of Credential to present to the Committee of the International Woman Suffrage Alliance Conference,” 31 Mar. 1909, 12–14, CHL.

[22] Utah Death Certificate, 1904–1964, database and images, Utah State Archives (http://archives.utah.gov, accessed 31 Jan. 2018); from Utah Department of Health, Office of Vital Records and statistics, series 81448, file no. 1389/1701, (1932), Romania Bunnell Pratt Penrose.