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Great Salt Lake City Relief Society, Minutes, January–June 1854

Great Salt Lake City Relief Society, “Record of the Female Relief Socity Organized on the 9th of Feb,y in the City of Great Salt Lake 1854 Utah Teritory” (Minutes), Jan. 24–June 13, 1854; seventeen pages; L. Tom Perry Special Collections, Harold B. Lee Library, Brigham Young University, Provo, UT (MSS SC 23).

See images of the original document, courtesy of Harold B. Lee Library, Brigham Young University, Provo, UT.


In the early months of 1854, a cluster of women in Salt Lake City organized “a Socity of females for the purpose of making clothing for Indian women and Children.” They acted in response to church leaders’ renewed emphasis on proselytizing and ministering among the American Indian tribes that had been squeezed by the expansion of Mormon settlements. Following a series of skirmishes between the Ute tribe and the Mormons in 1853, Brigham Young worked to secure peace with the native peoples he considered to be “a remnant of the House of Israel.”1 Parley P. Pratt of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles stated in the church’s October 1853 conference that the Utah Saints, having become sufficiently settled and supplied, were now “able to feed and clothe the Indians, or at least, the women and children.”2

With the apparent intention of advancing Pratt’s proposal, seventeen women assembled in Salt Lake City on February 9, 1854, and resolved to raise means, purchase materials, and make clothing for Indian women and children. They elected a president, two counselors, a secretary and assistant secretary, and a treasurer—following the pattern established by the Female Relief Society of Nauvoo. At least one of the seventeen women, assistant secretary Amanda Barnes Smith, had been a Relief Society member in Nauvoo.3 Newly elected president Matilda M. Dudley, a thirty-five-year-old single mother and convert from Pennsylvania, hosted the initial meeting in her home in Salt Lake City. The new society comprised women from different ward congregations, and during the next four months the women utilized various members’ homes for their long work meetings. Two extant records contain the minutes of the meetings: one kept by secretary Louisa R. Taylor and one by assistant secretary Amanda Barnes Smith.4 Because the two records are so similar, it appears one was probably copied from the other or that both were copied from the same source. Taylor’s record is reproduced below, while footnotes indicate significant differences found in Smith’s record.

The small society disbanded in June 1854 after Brigham Young returned from his tour of southern Utah and urged women to “meet in their own wards” and “form themselves into societys,” both to relieve the poor and to clothe neighboring American Indians.5 The forerunner group of women dispersed to join newly forming ward Female Relief Societies. Matilda Dudley and Amanda Barnes Smith each became president of a ward society, Dudley in the Thirteenth Ward and Smith in the Twelfth Ward.6

Ledger of Indian Relief Society account

Ledger of Indian Relief Society account. Clothing and other items made and donated by local Relief Societies on behalf of Indian women and children were recorded in Brigham Young’s account books. The ledger credits each branch of the Relief Society separately. This entry from July 10, 1854, shows items contributed by members of the Salt Lake City Sixteenth Ward. Most of the donations were received between June and September 1854. (Church History Library, Salt Lake City.)


Record Record of the

Female Relief Socity Organized on the 9th of Feb,y in the City of Great Salt Lake 1854

Utah Teritory. [p. [1]]7

January 24, 1854 • Tuesday

Great. Salt Lake City Jan, 24 1854 Sister’s Dudly, [Mary] Hawkins, [Mary] Bird and Smith and others met on the 24 of <inst> to take into consideration the Importance of oganizeing a Socity of females for the purpose of making clothing for Indian women and Children after Consultation on the Subject they resolved to Organize Said Socity prayed and adjourned untill the 9 of Febu,y. [p. [2]]

February 9, 1854 • Thursday

Feb. 9st The Sisters met at the house of Matilda Dudly at 9 A.M. and was organized by the ilection of the following officers and <members>

President

Matilda Dudly

Councelers

Mary Hawkins

Mary Bird,

Treasurer

Matilda Dudly

Secretary

Louisa R. Taylor

Ass,istant, Sec,

Amanda Smith

Members

Mary Crowther

Lucia Miller

Mary Kisor [Keysor]

Rebecca, Miller [p. [3]]

Ann, Willis [Willes]

Susan Moore

Sarah J. Thompson

Elizabeth A Capener

Susan E Ludington

Elizabeth Vance

Sarah Capener

Delight Decker

On the motioin of the President the following resolutions were offerd and adopted

1 Resolution Resolved that every person that join the Socity should pay 25 cts

2. Resolution Resolved that all meetings are to be opened and Closed by Prayer.

3 Resolution Resolved that the Society should <meet> at 9. A.M. and Close at 4 P.M. on the days appointed

4 Resolution Resolved that the Society should make a rag Carpet and dispose of it [p. [4]] to raise means to purchase material to make clothing for Indian women and children

appointed the next meeting at Sister Hawkins[.] Sister. Smith prayed and adjourned untill 16 inst

Sect, Louisa R. Taylor

February 16, 1854 • Thursday

G.S.L. City Feb, 16 inst The Sisters met at the house of Sis, Hawkins at 9 A.M. sewed untill 4 P.M. appointed the next meeting at Sister Bird’s house prayer by Sister Hawkins and adjourned utill the 23 inst

Sec., Louisa R. Taylor

February 23, 1854 • Thursday

Feb 23 G.S.L. City. the Sisters met at the house of Sister Bird’s sewed untill four P.M. prayer by Bro, [James] Bird8 appointed the next meeting [p. [5]] at Sister Ludington’s house it was resolved on the motion of the President that all the names of those that met on the days appointed should be taken so that it might be known who met and who did not meet with us those that were there was

Sister

Dudly

Si, ˝

Bird

˝

Hawkins

˝

Kisor [Keysor]

˝

Crowther

˝

L. R. Taylor

˝

Vance

Sister N. [Nancy] Kennedy name was taken as a member. Sister Bird9 closed by Prayer

Sec, Louisa R. Taylor [p. [6]]

at Sister10 [p. [7]]

March 2, 1854 • Thursday

S.L. City Mar. 2 inst the meeting was adjourned untill the next week. as that day was fast day to held at the same house.

Sec, Louisa R. Taylor.

March 9, 1854 • Thursday

S.L. City Mar. 9th the sisters met at the house of Sister Ludington they there were present

Sister

Dudly

˝

Moore

˝

R. Miller

˝

C. [Caroline] Hardy

adjourned untill 16 inst appointed the next meeting at Sis, C. Hardy

Sec, L R. Taylor

March 16, 1854 • Thursday

G.S.L. City Mar, 16 inst the sisters met at the house of Caroline Hardys those that were presant were,

Sister

Hawkins [p. [8]]

Sister

Smith

˝

C. Hardy

˝

E. [Elizabeth] Hardy

˝

Taylor

˝

Moore

˝

R. Miller

˝

L. Miller

appointed the next meeting at Sister Smith’s Sister Hawkin’s Closed by Prayer.

Sec, Louisa R. Taylor

March 23, 1854 • Thursday

Mar, 23, inst G S.L. City Sisters met at the house of sister Smith. those Presant were.

Sister

Dudly

˝

Bird

˝

Kisor [Keysor]

˝

Crowther

˝

[Clarissa] Homiston [p. [9]]

Sister

L. Miller

˝

R. Miller11

˝

Moore

appointed the next meeting at Sis, Hawkins house on motion of the President the day of meeting was changed from thursday to Wednsday12 Sister Bird closed by Prayer,13

Sec, L. R. Taylor

March 29, 1854 • Wednesday

G.S.L. City Mar. 2.9inst the sisters met at the house of Sister Hawkins those presant were

Sister

Dudly

˝

Bird

˝

Taylor

˝

Hawkins

˝

Smith14

appointed the next meeting at the house of <C Hardy> Sister Dudly closed by prayer

Sec. L. R. Taylor

April 14, 1854 • Friday

Aprl, 14th The Sisters met at the house of Sister C. Hardy those Presant were

Sister

Dudly

˝

Bird

˝

R. Miller

˝

C.15 Homiston

˝

E Hardy

˝

Smith

˝

N Kennedy16

appointed the next meeting at the house of Birds17 prayer by Sister Homiston

Sec, L. R. Taylor

April 20, 1854 • Thursday

G L.C. April. 20, the Sisters met at the house of Sister Bird, those Presant were

Sister

Dudley

Sister

Vance

˝

Bird

˝

Kennedy

˝

Hawkins [p. [11]]

Sister Bird opened by prayer and Sister Hawkins closed by prayer appointed the next meeting at the same place.

Sec,, L. R. Taylor.

April 27, 1854 • Thursday

G.S.L. City April, 27inst The Sisters met at the house of Sister Bird those presant were

Sister

Dudly

˝

Bird

˝

Crowther

˝

Vance

appointed the next meeting at Sister Caroline Hard’ys, Sister Dudly opened by prayer Sister Vance closed by prayer

Sec, Louisa R. Taylor [p. [12]]

May 3, 1854 • Wednesday

G.S.L. City May 3rd met at the house of Sister C. Hardy’s those presant were

Sister Dudy

Sister

Homiston

Sister C Hardy

˝

Ludington

appointed the next meeting at the same place Sister Dudly closed by prayer

Sec, Louisa R. Taylor

May 10, 1854 • Wednesday

G.S.L. City May 10th the Sisters met at the house of Sister C Hardy those presant were

Sister

Dudly

Sister

Homiston

˝

Hawkins

˝

E. A. Hardy

˝

C Hardy

˝

Smith

˝

Willis

˝

Ludington

˝

Kennidy

Sister Kennidy opened by prayer appointed the next meeting at Sister Hawkins Closed by Sister [p. [13]] Hawkins praying and singing18

Sec. L. R. Taylor

May 11, 1854 • Thursday

G.S.L. City May 11th Sisters met at the house of Sister Hawkins prayer by sister Vance singing and prayer by sister Hawkins.

Sec, Louisa R. Taylor

May 20, 1854 • Saturday

G.S. Lake City May 20th Sisters met at the house of sister Hawkins adjourned to meet at the house of sister Henifer [Rebecca Hennefer] closed by singing and prayer

Sec, Louisa R. Taylor

May 28, 1854 • Sunday

G.S.L. City [May] 28,th Sisters met at the house of sister Henipher opened by sister Smith those presant were

Sister

Dudly

Sister

Bird

˝

Hawkins

˝

Crowther

˝

Vance

˝

Henipher

˝

Smith and others

had a good time19 [p. [14]]

singing and prayer by Sister Dudly adjourned untill the fourth of June. at the house sister Homiston20 Rebecca Henipher [c]losed by prayer

Ass, Sec, Amanda Smith

recorded member Eliza Decker,

Donations

Elezor [Eleazer] Miller21

95.

cts

Jacob, Workman

50

˝

Stephen Mott,

30

˝

Lucia Miller

20

˝

Harriet [Amelia Decker Little] Hanks

25

John Hawkens

500

˝

Matilda Dudly

100

˝

Rebecca, Henipher

25

˝

Ass, Sec,. Amanda Smith

June 7, 1854 • Wednesday

June 7th the sisters met at the House of Sistr Henipher opened by prayer by sister Dudly, present

Sister

M. Dudly.

˝

M. Hawkins [p. [15]]

Sister

Bird

Sister

Crowther

Sister

Smith

˝ ˝

Kisor [Keysor]

˝

Henipher

˝

C. Hardy

˝

Ludington

˝

Miller

˝

J. Copener [Jane Capener]22

had a good time. song23 by sister [Camilla] Cobb,24 adjourned untill tuesday the 13th at ten25 O’Clock at the houes of Sister Henipher

Ass, Secr, Amanda Smith.

June 13, 1854 • Tuesday

G.S.L. City June 13th met at the house of sister Henipher sister Bird opened by prayer, finished the cutting of the Carpet rags,26 singing voted, and carried that the book be kept by in the Scosity meeting closed by sister Dudly

Sec, Amanda Smith

June 13 those presant were27

Sister

Dudly

Sister

Taylor

˝

Bird

˝

Smith [p. [16]]

Sister

Hardy

sister

Mary Hardy28

˝

Ludington

˝

R. Miller

˝

Sarah Copener [Capener]29

˝

Homiston

˝

E.30 Copener[Capener]

˝

Vance

˝

Crowther

˝

R. Henipher

Sister Homiston paid fifty cents for lot31 time sister Dudly paid 75cts 32 in salerutus33 this was the last meeting of the Scociety as Brother Brigham Young Counceled the organizeing of Relief Scoceity is in all the Wards of the City and each member joined the scociety in their own wards and our President was called to preside in her own Ward the 13th by Bishop Wolley [Edwin D. Woolley]

Sec. Louisa R. Taylor [p. [17]]

Footnotes

  1. [1]Brigham Young, Discourse, Oct. 9, 1853, in “Synopsis,” Deseret News, Nov. 24, 1853, [2].

  2. [2]Parley P. Pratt, Remarks, Oct. 9, 1853, in “Minutes of the General Conference,” Deseret News, Oct. 15, 1853, [3].

  3. [3]See Document 1.2, entry for Apr. 28, 1842.

  4. [4]Amanda Barnes Smith, Notebook, 1854–1866, CHL.

  5. [5]Brigham Young, Remarks, June 4, 1854, in Historian’s Office, General Church Minutes, 1839–1877, CHL; Edyth Jenkins Romney, Thomas Bullock Minutes (Loose Papers), 1848–1856, in Brigham Young Office Files Transcriptions, 1974–1978, CHL.

  6. [6]Thirteenth Ward, Salt Lake Stake, Thirteenth Ward Relief Society Records, 1854–1857, CHL; Smith, Notebook, June 10 and 13, 1854.

  7. [7]text: Except for the preceding title page on page [1] and a false start on page [7], this record is inscribed on recto pages and the versos are blank.

  8. [8]Amanda Barnes Smith’s record strikes out “prayer by Brother Bird.”

  9. [9]Amanda Barnes Smith’s record states that the closing prayer was offered by “Brother Bird.”

  10. [10]text: These two words are not canceled in the original, but they are evidently a false start, as they are the only two words on an otherwise blank page. Page [6] (the immediately preceding page) begins with the same two words.

  11. [11]Rather than indicating that both Sisters L. Miller and R. Miller were present, Amanda Barnes Smith’s record lists “Sister R. or Sister L. Miller.”

  12. [12]Amanda Barnes Smith’s record adds: “as fast day came on thursday and hinderd them from meeting.”

  13. [13]Amanda Barnes Smith’s notebook records: “Sister Bird opened by prayer Sister Dudly closed by prayer.”

  14. [14]Amanda Barnes Smith’s record adds: “Sis. Hawkins read the 254 hymn.”

  15. [15]text: The original has only a portion of a letter here, possibly the upper fragment of a “C”.

  16. [16]Amanda Barnes Smith’s record identifies “N Kennedy” as Nancy L. Kennedy and adds “L. R. Taylor” to the list of women present.

  17. [17]Amanda Barnes Smith’s record adds: “Sung the Redeemer of Israel.”

  18. [18]Amanda Barnes Smith’s record adds: “song Come all ye Sons of God.”

  19. [19]Amanda Barnes Smith’s record adds: “and union of the Spirit.”

  20. [20]Amanda Barnes Smith’s record indicates the next meeting was to be held at the home of Sister Henipher.

  21. [21]Husband of Rebecca Van Zant Miller. (See 1850 U.S. Census, Great Salt Lake, Utah Territory, 131.)

  22. [22]Amanda Barnes Smith’s record identifies “J. Copener” as Jane.

  23. [23]Amanda Barnes Smith’s record identifies the name of the song as “O stop and tel m[e] red man.”

  24. [24]Amanda Barnes Smith’s record adds: “foloed by sis Dudly.”

  25. [25]Amanda Barnes Smith’s record has “one” rather than “ten.”

  26. [26]Amanda Barnes Smith’s record adds: “the spirit of the Lord was with us and union prevailed sung wake o wake the world fro[m] slepimg [sleeping].”

  27. [27]Amanda Barnes Smith’s record inserts the word “Omitted” prior to this list of names.

  28. [28]Amanda Barnes Smith’s record lists Mary Hardy but does not use the title “Sister” before her name.

  29. [29]Amanda Barnes Smith’s record has “sis Copener an Elizabeth.” Mary Hardy and Elizabeth Capener were daughters who apparently accompanied their mothers to the meetings.

  30. [30]Amanda Barnes Smith’s record identifies “E. Copener” as Elizabeth.

  31. [31]Amanda Barnes Smith’s record has “last.”

  32. [32]Amanda Barnes Smith’s record uses the term “six bits” (which was equal to seventy-five cents).

  33. [33]Saleratus is sodium or potassium bicarbonate. Priscilla Merriman Evans described its production in early Utah County: “The saleratus was gatherd on top of the ground in the bottom land. It became quite a comodity later. Women and children would take old brooms, sweep it up and sack it, and haul it over to Provo, and trade for anything they could use in the family. They had some kind of a factory where the saluratus was purified into a sort of soda, to use in bread making.” (Priscilla Merriman Evans, Autobiography, ca. 1907, Emma Priscilla Evans Little, Papers, 1870–1941, L. Tom Perry Special Collections, Harold B. Lee Library, Brigham Young University, Provo, UT, 49.)