No Place to Call Home: The 1807-1857 Life Writings of Caroline Barnes Crosby, Chronicler of Outlying Mormon Communities
S. George Ellsworth, Edward Leo Lyman, Susan Ward Payne
Utah State University Press , 2005. Hardcover:
Suggested retail price: $29.95 (US)
Utah State University Press is to be congratulated for their ongoingefforts to publish and disseminate important works dealing with Utah andMormon history. The current volume is an interesting and involvingaddition to the corpus, and merits a look by scholars and historians. Itis Volume 7 of an ongoing series of "Life Writings of Frontier Women."
Caroline Barnes Crosby was born in Massachusettes but soon moved to Canadawhere she learned of the restored gospel and was converted to the Church.She and her husband, as devout believers, traveled to KIrtland, Ohio, tojoin the Saints and their prophet. And thus began a life of utter devotionand unquestioning obedience to the authorities of the Church.
The Crosby's were to travel further than they ever dreamed. Following someyears traveling and working throughout the United States, they would servea mission to French Polynesia, and then return to the U.S. to serve inseveral areas of California, including San Francisco and, later, in the newMormon colony in San Bernardino.
Her journal-keeping actually began with the exodus from Nauvoo, and thusthese sections, and beyond, are more detailed than those that came before,where she relied on recollection to fill in the story.
What sets these memoirs apart is the distinctly woman's voice heard here.As you read, you sense a woman who, while not in any sense a "liberated"woman as we would define it today, was very sure of her place in life anddetermined to serve her Church and her God, no matter what the hardship.
Here's a sample of her writing, focusing on the news of the assassinationof Joseph Smith and his brother Hyrum:
[Carthage Jail Massacre] June 27th 1844 we arose with heavy hearts, full of doubts and fears respecting the safety of our beloved Prophet and Patriarch who were then incarcerated in Carthage jail. The city was full of rumors concerning the mob who were assembling at Warsaw and Carthage. Mr C___ and brother Morris set off in to find cousin Jane. Walked out to the young Mark's, on the prairie, but found she had come into the City. They left her letter, with directions for her to call and see us.
That Pm the governor with a large posse came to Nauvoo, and requested the legion to deliver up their arms, which they did. He then made a lengthy address to the saints, exhorting them to keep quiet and C., which they obeyed to the very letter, but felt greatly insulted by him, knowing that there was no occasion for his remarks, or counsel. The next morning, at an early hour, the news of Joseph and Hiram's [Hyrum] massacre was spread throughout the length and breadth of the city. We would not believe the first report, but finally it was confirmed to us beyond a doubt. And Oh the sadness and sorrow of that day! many were made sick by the intelligence, others deranged. Many walked the streets mourning and wringing their hands. I lost my strength and appetitet, could not atttend to any business for several days. Pm their bodies were brought home; and arrangements were made for their burial. Every body was invited, or rather had the privilege of seeing them by walking through the house, we went in at one door, passed by their coffins, gave them a short look, and then went out on the opposite side. They were much disfigured. I thought they did not look natural, in the least, could scarcely tell them apart. (p. 62-3, spelling and punctuation as in the original)
As with the rest of this series, each volume helps fill a small gap in thelarger frontier story. Journals and diaries are priceless resources forhistorians interested in fleshing out this period in our history.
No Place To Call Home is highly recommended.
Jeff Needle June 15, 2005
© 2005 Jeff Needle