Sunday, March 3, 2013

Harriet Decker (Little) Hanks

Harriet Decker Hanks: Lower Right
Grandma Harriet Decker (Little) Hanks was the mother of George Edwin Little who was the father-in-law of Grandpa Ebenezer Brown. Ebenezer's wife, Clara Ann Little is the daughter of George and Grand daughter of Harriet and her first husband, Edwin Sobieski Little.

George Edwin was one of the last Pony Express riders in the Utah Territory. He was brought across the plains as a young boy by his mother, Harriet. Edwin, Harriet's first husband, died due to complications of pneumonia as a result of rescuing some Saints who were crossing the Mississippi River who fell through the ice during the Nauvoo exodus.

Read some of the exciting stories of Harriet which were recorded in her journal and other early Church writings and journals such as this from our Grand Father, Lorenzo Dow Young, brother of the prophet, Brigham Young.


In the Utah Historical Quarterly, Volume 14, we find the diary and Biography of Lorenzo Dow Young, written by James A. Little. Lorenzo tells of leaving Nauvoo and crossing the Mississippi River the 8 day of Februarys 1846. "We drove out six miles to camp on Sugar Greek. Brigham Young and Heber C. Kimbal came across on the 15th of February but returned to Nauvoo in the evening and came back the next day. Bishop Whitney and group did not come across the river until the 22 February. The weather had turned severly cold and they crossed on the ice. We are not sure of the day when Harriet and Edwin with their son George crossed the river with the saints, but it is told in Harriet's history that Edwin was helping his Uncle Brigham Young across with the wagons when the ice broke thru throwing him into the icy water. He gained shore in safety but was chilled and wet; Pneumonia resulted and caused his death.
Grandpa Lorenzo Dow Young

On page 74 of the book mentioned above, Lorenzo writes: "In our camp there were hundreds of women and children with no other shelter than a wagon cover or cloth tent, and the weather was extremely cold. On the 2nd of March we broke camp. I started with my little company of ten wagons, with the camp numbering over 400 wagons. About the same time the weather moderated and it rained until the mud made it almost impossible to travel. Sometimes it required five or six yoke of oxen to move one wagon. With much difficulty it would be taken perhaps a mile, then the team would return and bring up another, and another, performing a severe days labor and possibly travel four or five miles from the encampment of the previous night, with the women and children sitting cramped up in the wagons, for it was so very wet and muddy they could not walk. After a week of this kind of labor the camp arrived at Richardson's Point, fifty five miles from Nauvoo. It remained there a few days and several of the brethern found work, for which they received corn to sustain their teams. "
George Edwin Little

Here Lorenzo's nephew, Edwin Little was taken very sick with 'lung fever'. He was removed to a house about two miles from camp, but he continued to grow worse and died on the 18 March, 1846. He was buried in a cold damp grave in a grove of trees a few rods from the road. It was a melancholy day for his relatives and friends, and especially for his stricken wife, Harriet. He is buried at what is now Keosauqua, Iowa.

The saints stayed in Winter Quarters the winter of 1846.

When the time came for Brigham Young and the first Company to go to Salt Lake Valley the following women and children were permitted to go: Harriet's mother, wife of Lorenzo Dow Young, her seven year old son, Issac Perry Decker, Lorenzo's son Lorenzo Sobieski, 6 years old (he was by the first wife, Persis Goodall), Harriet's sister Clara, wife of Brigham Young, and Ellen Sanders, wife of Heber C. Kimball,

Harriet and her son Edwin came in the second company with Jedidah M. Grant as captain. Hunger, fear of the Indians, hardships of traveling on newly made roads and worry about her mother and others who had now arrived in Salt Lake City were few of the heart aches that Harriet endured.
It was hard for her, knowing when she arrived in the valley that she would have no husband to help her make a home.

They arrived in Salt Lake Valley the 2nd of October, 1847. Her little 3 year old son, George was equally as happy to see his grandmother Harriet Young and other relatives as was Harriet, She was happy to see her mother's new baby boy that had arrived 26 September, 1847. (He died 22 March, 1848. They named him Lorenzo Dow Jr.)

Their first home in the valley consisted of the wagon in which they had crossed the plains. Not only was food scarce and difficult to obtain, but so were cooking utensils and other necessities of life,
Harriet helped other women with their cooking and did sewing to help make a living.

George Edwin Little
Ten days after her arrival she was helping prepare dinner at the home of Captain Rosencrantz, for some of the Mormon Battalion, among the guests was a young man by the name of Ephraim Knowlton Hanks, who enjoyed the fine dinner.

We know the story of that first winter in the Fort and the hardships they endured. Also the dances and programs that gave them entertainment.

Harriet and Ephraim K. Hanks were married the 22 of September; 1848, by Brigham Young. The ceremony was performed at the home of Harriet's mother, Harriet Page Wheeler Decker and her husband Lorenzo Dow Young. This home was a small log house located where the historic Bee Hive house now stands.

Ephraim was a son of Benjamin and Martha Knowlton Hanks. Born 21 March, 1826 at Madison, Lake County, Ohio. He and his brother Sidney Alvarus joined the church in Nauvoo. Alvarus came with Brigham Young's company and Ephraim joined the Mormon Battalion and came to Salt Lake in 1847.

Ephraim took two other wives, Jane Maria Capener and Hannah Hardy in plural marriage. This was the 26 of March, 1856, a month after Harriet's fourth child was born. Hannah Hardy did not live with Ephraim but got a temple divorce, 20 May, 1856.

In October of 1856 we know the story, of the rescue of the Martin Hand Cart Co; Ephraim was one of the first to reach them and help them to Salt Lake Valley. He and Feramorze Little carried mail from Laramie Wyoming to Salt Lake, also to St. Joseph, Missouri many times.

Harriet's son, George Edwin rode the pony express for 16 months when he was only 15 and 16 years old. Ephraim had taught him to be fearless as well as to have faith in God.

Harriet and Ephraim had seven children, namely: Marcellus, Marcia Amelis, Otis Alvarus Harriet Page, Clara Vilate, Charles Decker and Perry Issac. They were all born in Salt Lake City.

Jane Capener and Ephraim also had seven Children. Ephraim married Thisbe Quilley Read 5 April, 1862 and they had 12 children. Harriet's last son, Perry Issac, by Ephraim, was born the 20 January 1863. We can pay honor to her for her courage and deep understanding in dealing with her problems of those pioneer days.
Grandma Clara Ann Little (Brown)

Ephraim took his wife Thisbe and family to Burrville, Sevier County, Utah in 1879 and later to Floral Ranch, near Fruita, Wayne County, Utah. He was a great man, with power to heal the sick. He was made a Patriarch, and enjoyed the spirit thereof. He and Thisbe are buried in Cainevllle, Wayne County, Utah. Their son Arthur married Mattie Taylor Little, daughter of Arthur and Mattie Little Hanks,

When we left Wayne County, Utah to live in Nampa, Idaho, we called to see my great grandmother Harriet in Salt Lake City. This was in September of 1916. Early in my life at Hadan, Fremont County, Idaho she made a little pink silk bag and a hankerchief for me. I still have them among my keep sakes. To me she was a very choice person.

My mother, Mattie Little Hanks writes the following: "As a child I always looked forward to spring for that brought my grandmother Harriet Little Hanks, to the Teton Valley in Idaho from Salt Lake City. She had homesteaded an 80 acre track of land adjoining our property. She had a cozy log cabin built on it and spent six months out of the year there. It was our responsibility to stay with grandmother every night. There were four of us children who took turns. We were always glad when it was our turn as grandmother always had something extra nice for us to eat and a nice soft bed to sleep in.

She was a very pretty woman, so neat and precise in her dress, always busy sewing, making things for us. I still have small bags and doll quilts she made over 70 years ago.

I cannot remember ever hearing her complain no matter how hard her trials were and she had many of them as she was left to support herself and children early in life. She was an excellent seamstress and cook. Every one seemed to enjoy her company as she was so interesting."

Grandmother Harriet was living with her daughter, Clara and John Felt at the time of her death, 30 May 1917 --- 155 No. Main, Salt Lake City, Utah. Their grandson Paul now living in Logan, Utah says he remembers seeing grandmother sitting in her little rocking chair, shawl around her shoulders and her beautiful white hair done high on her head. He remembers the morning he woke and found grandmother had died during the night. It was a shock to all of them.

"A quotation from her obituary sums up her story: "Grandmother Hanks was an ideal old lady, whom it was the greatest of pleasure to visit. She was like an exquisite cameo with her silver gray hair and keen black eyes which sparkled when she was animated. She always dressed in perfect good taste. Her great love for flowers and all of God's wonderful works, and her keen insight into human nature made her loved by all. She sent you away from her presence with an impulse to do better things, and with a feeling that life was beautiful and worthwhile. She died in Salt Lake City 30 May, 1917 at the age of 91. Knowing that she had fulfilled a worthy and noble mission here on earth we also know that her welcome on the other shore will be everlasting and eternal."

She is buried in the Salt Lake City Cemetery, Salt Lake County, Utah.


Copy of Grandma Harriet Decker Hanks' Obituary

Harriet Decker Hanks ; Utah; Deseret Semi-Weekly News; Thursday May 31, 1917 Mrs. Harriet Decker Hanks, widow of Ephraim Hanks, died at the home of her daughters, Mrs. M. Hyde and Mrs. Clara Felt. on north Main street, at 6:20 a.m., Thursday, May 31.

Mrs. Hanks was the daughter of Isaac and Harriet Page Wheeler Decker. She was born March 13, 1826, in Phelps, Ontario county, New York. Her ancestors on her father's side were Holland-Dutch and her mother came from the old Puritan stock of New Elgland. They were sturdy God-fearing people, true to the type of colonizers from the old world.

At an early age in Mrs. Hanks' life her family moved from Ontario to Cattaraugus county in New York. The family consisted of four girls, two sons and the father and mother. Isaac Decker was a farmer, one of the old school, thorough and energetic. It was in Cattaraugus county the gospel reached them and they joined the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. When the subject of the sketch was nine years old she was baptized. The members of the Decker family became intimately acquainted with the Prophet Joseph Smith and his family and in the years that followed Isaac Decker was the warm and stanch friend of Joseph Smith until the prophet and his brother were martyred.

Mrs. Hanks crossed the plains in 1847, arriving in the valley of the Great Salt Lake in October of that year. She was the widow at that time of Edwin S. Little and had one child. She was married in September, 1848, to Ephraim K. Hanks, a member of the "Mormon" Battalion, who had returned from California. He was a man of great courage and faith. Eleven children were the result of their union, three of whom survive the mother; they are Mrs. Marcia A. Hyde, Mrs. Clara V. Felt and Charles D. Hanks, all residents of Utah. She was the grandmother of 40 and had 120 great-grandchildren and 25 great-great-grandchildren.

Funeral services will be held at the home of her granddaughter, Gertrude Felt Kimball, 238 A street, at 2 o'clock Saturday afternoon, June 2.

Interment will be in the city cemetery, Salt Lake City, Utah, USA.

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