Monday, May 07, 2012


Yesterday marked 160 years since my Great-Great-Great-Great-Great Grandmother's death. She'd been in Utah less than 4 years.

I get on genealogy / family history kicks. Learning about my ancestors is really interesting to me. I enjoy knowing not only their names, but their stories. It is so frustrating to me when there isn't information about them. Yeah, yeah, I know their birthdate, but that is not what I want!

My interest in my Great-Great-Great-Great-Great Grandmother, Susannah Young, has more to do with her life than our shared name. I wish she had kept a journal. Something, anything. She had a hard life, I am so curious to know her feelings about it all.

Susannah Young was born in Massachusetts in 1795. She married an Irishman named James Little when she was about 20. (I want to know about the courtship!) Susannah's mother, "Nabby", died shortly after this. Two of her younger brothers, Brigham and Lorenzo Dow, came to live with her and her husband. (Brigham Young)

James and Susannah had a successful farm in New York; James was the first person to sell seeds in packages and to sell tomatoes for table-use. (Because they were considered poisonous at the time, James had to get a permit from the Governor of New York.)
About James: “He was a short well-knit man with great powers of endurance. He was never known to complain of being weary. He slept about four hours out of twenty-four and read or worked the remainder of the time. It is also said he was well read and an intelligent man who possessed quite a collection of books.”

Her second child, a daughter named Eliza, was only 4-years-old when she died. (I don't know why she died. I want to know how Susannah felt!)
Susannah was 27-years-old (my age) and had four little sons when James was killed. He was coming home from buying supplies when the wheels on the side of his wagon slid into a crevice/pit by the road, flipping the wagon over on top of him. James was only 32.

I want some sort of journal! Her mother dies, her little brothers come to live with her, her daughter dies, then her husband dies.

After James' death, Susannah gave up the farm. She went to work for Richard Oliphant. There are conflicting accounts as to whether or not she married him, but she had a son with him. Richard Oliphant was abusive, Susannah left him. (journal, journal, journal!)

Her two oldest sons were sent away to work on farms when they were young. Then Susannah placed her third son with a childless couple in New York (who gave him a good education but were never affectionate with the boy)
Susannah married William Bostwick Stilson and had a daughter named Emiline, who died at the age of 2. William was an alcoholic and was abusive to his stepchildren, whipping Susannah's sons for silly things. Because they were poor, Susannah placed her son Charles with a family in New York. (His uncles visited him later in life.)

The whole Young family read the Book of Mormon and soon Susannah and William were baptized in April 1832.
Susannah had another son and then, three years later, a daughter. William deserted the family, not speaking to them for years.  So Susannah packed up the family and moved to Kirtland, Ohio to be with her siblings and the Saints. She moved from Kirtland to Nauvoo and probably stayed with her oldest son, Edwin (my Great-Great-Great-Great Grandfather).
In 1842 she heard from her husband, William, and took her daughter Cornelia and her son James (leaving her 10-year-old to work a farm in Nauvoo) to live with William in St. Louis. The next year William died of lung fever, so Susannah moved in with her second son, Feramorz (who was living in St Louis) and soon they all moved back to Nauvoo.
Four years later, in 1846, Susannah married Alonzo Pettingill in the Nauvoo temple. Alonzo was a shoemaker--a quiet, good man. A change for her, I'm sure. When the Saints were driven out of Nauvoo, Alonzo and Susannah couldn't afford the wagons and supplies. They moved to St Louis. In early 1849 Alonzo got sick and died.
(Come on! I want some sort of journal! She had to give away several of her children! Three of her husbands died! She left the abusive other guy! She went from well-off to really poor!)
Susannah traveled to Salt Lake City with her daughter Cornelia and son James. She died in 1852.
What a crazy hard life! How great would it have been if someone had a record? A diary of sorts, venting, expressing, detailing. I have these details about her, but I want to know why she made the decisions she did.

It is encouragement to me to keep a record of my life. I don't do much of anything, I cut hair all day. My life is simple. But maybe Kumquat's daughter will be curious about her Great Aunt's life?

1 comment:

Meridith said...

I bet she would. :)