Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Meg's Book - Chapter XXX - John Hendricks

Trivia - Apparently Brigham would grant divorces relatively easily. But he would always charge the man $5.00 (vaguely equivalent to $2500 in 2007 dollars). One year he was so fed up with the number of folks who were seeking divorces that he declared from the pulpit that anyone who could hear him speak who wished to no longer be married, could consider themselves divorced [source: Michael Quinn speaking at the 1995 DC Sunstone Symposium].

5 comments:

Pat said...

Nice details. You have evidently been doing a lot of genealogy homework.

jl said...

Typo?
"Elvira read that 500 people had died of cholera in Sacrament[o] alone, and knew from reports..."

"Elvira wondered if any of the other foster parents had thought the chance to take on an orphan was a privilege that deserved a gift in exchange." Did many think it was a privilege?!?!?!

"Sarah was a divorcee and a widow, and she was still only sixteen years old."

Wow. Sarah's story certainly paints a real and seemingly grim reality of the 1050's. This gives so much information on many levels.

Great chapter!

daughterofheaven said...

In the ancestral file record for Sarah (accessed through Jonathan and Elvira) it indicates merely that Barnard was about her same age. In the ancestral file for Barnard (born 1804) it shows Sarah Elizabeth Holmes as one of his wives but assumes she was born about 1808 and doesn't give any indication of the divorce. Barnard came across the plains in 1848 and seems to have been a relatively well-regarded butcher. I have no idea why the marriage ended.

The family record (more of a mention) of John Hendricks implies that he came into the family around 1856, when Elvira had had nothing but girls and wasn't going to be having any more children (she was now 43). I was moderately worried (given the implied date) that John might have been an orphan of the Mountain Meadows Massacre, and so my assiduous research to identify who he was was driven by that fear. Given when John really came into the family, it is unlikely that Jonathan sought him out to be 'the son Elvira had never borne to him,' or any such nonsense (my apologies to Milton Welling).

ktb said...

That certainly sets the stage for life in Utah in the early 1850's. Wagon trains passing through, miners and settlers probably looking for food, willing to trade as needed, disease, orphans, stone houses - I appreciate my house, job, and car a lot more after this chapter.

There is only one point that seemed to have a discontinuity, and that was with Sarah's wedding. That appeared to have come out the blue for me. I was not certain until it was mentioned that Sarah was divorced, that she had been married. As for her misfortune with husbands, that is a lot to take for a 16 year old.

Any thoughts on what was causing the high divorce rate?

daughterofheaven said...

Regarding the high divorce rate...

I think that a fairly large percentage of the folks participating in polygamy were doing so out of duty and because they had been told that they should. Marriage is hard enough when there is a recollection of giddy delight and happiness.

I'm not sure the divorce rate itself was particularly high compared to the rest of the western United States (say west of the Shenandoah mountains). In the rest of America at this time you moved across a valley or two and could remake yourself because travel and communications were so poor. Marriage in the early 1800's in America was probably at the lowest ebb ever, from what I understand, despite the warnings people try to give about our current day.

Probably the more remarkable thing is how well regimented and controlled marriage was amongst the Mormons in the 1850s-1860s. Almost all marriages were performed by Brigham Young or one of the other apostles in Salt Lake City, and they were all documented. I have one ancestor (lived in St. George, UT) whose prospective mother-in-law wouldn't allow the prospective wife to travel to Salt Lake City, so the man traveled to Salt Lake, got an 'audience' with Brigham Young, who produced a document giving special permission for a leader local to St. George to perform the wedding. And thereafter, Brigham would tease them about that.

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