Five Wives of William Madison Wall
Nancy Haws Wall front and center
Genevieve Nuttall Creer's Great Grandmother
Nancy Haws Wall
Always women played an important part in pioneering and colonization of our country, enduring the privations and suffering the hardships incident to crossing the plains to Utah in covered wagons, having faith and courage and willingness to make great sacrifices that others who followed might enjoy a more abundant life.
So it was with Nancy Haws Wall, pioneer mother of ten children and the first wife of the five wives of William Madison Wall. It has been said that behind every great man is a great woman. William M. Wall could not have done so many things in so short a time without backing and support of his five wives on the home front. It took great people to successfully live the law of plural marriage. There had to be a willingness to share and make sacrifices, unselfish love for one another, understanding between families, faith, and courage to carry out responsibilities under adverse conditions and respect the rights of others. Wall’s wives had all these qualities and lived in peace and harmony with one another while sustaining their husband in his Church and Civic assignments, even though it meant his being away from them and their families often and for long periods of time. Even after their husband died they continued their close relationship. None of them ever remarried and they remained friendly with each other, meeting together as often as conditions would allow, always honoring the memory of their husband. In their homes the father’s word was their law, yet the mothers and children respected and loved their husband and father dearly. Each had been provided with a home of her own, a farm with horses, cows, sheep and chickens, and all five close together so the children could grow up as one family.
Nancy’s deep abiding faith and testimony of the Gospel helped to sustain her in all the trials she experienced in her lifetime. She was able to endure the troubles from the time of her conversion to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in 1842, of being driven from their home in Ramus, Hancock County, Ill., by a mob on 12 Nov 1845, having only time enough to quickly gather together what few possessions they could, besides the clothes they were wearing and their two small children, Mary Jane and Nancy Isabella. That night Nancy gave birth to her third daughter. Shortly after joining the main body of Saints at Council Bluffs where two more children, William Madison, Jr. and Isaac Oliver were born. They remained there until 1850 when they joined the 7th Company under leadership of Jonathon Foote as commander and her husband as Captain of fifty. Nancy’s mother, Isabelle Womack Haws, and her mother’s sister Eliza Haws Chesley and her husband Alexander P. Chesley crossed the plains in this Company with the Wall family. She faithfully cared for her husband when he became very seriously ill with Cholera after giving aid to families in the Fifty who had the disease. She was fearful that he too would succumb. Shortly after arriving in Salt Lake City in the fall of 1850, the family went south to Provo. Here another was born 16 Dec 1851, was named Josephine Augusta, and here the family lived until 1860.
In the 29 years of Nancy’s marriage, being married to a man so busy in church and civic affairs was not an easy life and much of the work of maintaining of the home and rearing of the children fell to wives. Nancy caught and sheared the sheep, washed, boiled, and dyed the wool using cedar bark for a rusty red, and sage for a gray-green and other materials for other shades to give variance to their clothing. Then spun the wool into thread, wove it into cloth, cut and sewed the cloth into clothing for her large family (10), all done by hand. She made all the shirts, pants, gloves and socks for her men folk and most of the clothing for herself and daughters.
In 1852 Nancy gave her consent for her husband to take another wife. He married Elizabeth Penrod in Salt Lake City 6 Aug. 1852. During the time in 1853 while William was away from home leading a detachment of 45 men to Southern Utah to quell the Indians and protect the settlement, his two wives, Nancy and Elizabeth were charged with care of the farm work. They saw to it that the crops were planted, cared for and harvested because their husband was gone about three months and most of the young men of the community were with him. The women of the Provo Fourth Ward of which Wall was the Bishop, lived at the Wall home during this trouble. The old men and boys guarded the Indians away, while the women took their babes and small children to the fields with them to irrigate, weed and care for the crops. Nancy consented to the marriage of two more wives, for her husband. They were Emma Ford on 13 Jan 1858 and Susannah Gurr on 12 November 1859, both in Salt Lake City. She gave birth to four more children in Provo during those troubled times. They were: Amasa Lyman 7 Nov. 1853 (died as a child), Juliet 12 Feb. 1856, Bathsheba Lavinia 16 Sept. 1858 (died 6 Nov. 1878), and George Albert 9 Dec. 1860, who was the 10th and last of her children.
On April 10, 1856 Nancy’s husband received another assignment from Brigham Young. This time he was called to serve the Lord on a mission in Australia. He left for Australia soon after receiving his second Patriarchal blessing May 13, 1856, leaving Nancy once again to carry on along with the responsibilities of her family and farm work. His missions was cut short due to the troubled times he was living in, so on May of 1857 he was ordered home. He sailed on the Ship Lucas 18 June and anchored in San Pedro Bay, California after 118 days on the water (not seeing any land during the voyage) on Oct. 13th, and arrived in Provo in December a joyful time of the year. For Nancy it must have been a most joyous time as she had her eighth child born three months before her husband had left, and now together they could share this important time in their small daughter’s life, as well as all of their children.
In 1860 William Wall moved his five families to what the Indians referred to as Warm Valley, but what the settlers named Round Valley. They were among the first to settle the valley. By 1862 the Wall fort was built and some twenty families were housed it. Indian trouble was rising due to an Act created by Congress May 5, 1861 that moved the Indians of Sanpete and Sevier Counties to the Uintah Reservation. Black Hawk showed his resentment of this by raiding the Southern Utah settlements wherever it was possible. Raiding continued until 1865 when war broke out with the killing of a sheepherder and a family in Spanish Fork Canyon. Chief Tabby of the Utes was planning to join forces with Black Hawk to wipe out the settlement. President Young learned of the plan and ordered William Wall to go to Tabby to make peace with him. Wall chose 10 men from his cavalry company and 14 others and went to Tabby’s Camp, 27 May 1866. Tabby was bitter and wouldn’t listen, but with Wall’s talent for diplomacy, persuasion, shrewdness, and tact, and two days of negotiations he was able to convince Chief Tabby that he had much to gain by making peace and Tabby agreed in principle to the term laid down by Brigham Young. Twelve days after starting on their mission the men returned to their homes. There was much joy in their families for they had given them up for dead.
The last two years of Nancy’s marriage was spent with her husband working on his farm and on the Provo Canyon road, and no more assignments away from home. His health was failing so he went to Provo to see a doctor. Nancy had moved to Provo sometime before to take care of her mother’s estate. Her husband died in Provo at the Haws home on 18 Sept 1869. Soon after her husband’s death she settled her affairs in Provo and moved back to her home in Wallsburg where she stayed until she passed way on 18 May 1904 at the home of her daughter Juliet Nuttall. Burial was in Provo City Cemetery by the side of her beloved husband.
The following is a letter written and placed in a “Jubilee Box” by Nancy Wall and now it the possession of Mildred Ellis, Salt Lake City, Utah:
Provo, Utah Co., Utah
25 March 1881
I, Nancy Haws, daughter of William Haws and Isabella Womack. was born 25 Aug. 1823 in Wayne County, Ill. Married on the 7th day of June 1840 to William Madison Wall. I was baptized on Jan. 10, 1842. My husband was baptized on 15 May 1842. With him I moved to Ramus in 1843 and in 1846 the mob drove us from our pleasant home to seek one in the wilderness. We stopped at Pottawattomie (an Indian Village) to rest, where we remained four years, then in Sept. 1850 we arrived in Salt Lake Valley, and came on to Provo, where, in dire hardship and privation we settled a new country. My husband was a public spirited man and was often away from home and I had to care for the family, often it was all I could bear. We were Polygamists, I gave my husband four young women, 2nd Elizabeth Penrod, 3rd Emma Ford, 4th Susan Gurr, and 5th Sarah Gurr. I, with my husband moved to Wallsburg, which was named after him, Sept. 8, 1864. He presided over this place until his death, which occurred Sept. 18, 1869.
I was set apart to preside over the Relief Society of Wallsburg when it was organized there on 7th April 1871 and continued to preside there until I moved to Provo, 3rd July 1879.
It only remains for me to close this epistle by bearing my Testimony to the Truth of the Gospel of Christ. I will leave a lock of hair. I am now 57 past. This is to be opened by my grand-daughter Elise Kirby, or Nellie Nuttall, if they are in good standing in the church.
Signed Nancy Haws Wall.
Nancy was active many years after this was written, doing much research and Temple work on the Haws and Wall lines with her children Isaac and Juliet in the Manti Temple.
(The following three paragraphs were written by Mary O. Haws York, a cousin of Nancy Haws Wall.):
“Great grandfather William Neal came from Ireland to America and was one of early day pioneers of North Carolina. He married a sister of General Henry Clinton (Polly). He and two sons fought in the Revolutionary War, one son being killed in the Battle of Kings Mountain; The father and other son remaining the in the army until the close of the war. (Note: Present records show that William Neal and five sons served at least for some time in the Revolution, Gilbraith, Andrew, James, John and William, who was killed at Ramsey’s Mill. See Pension Claims E-7578, W-17400. R7580 and S-38256)
“Grandfather Jacob Haws married Hannah Neal and joined the early Pioneers of Kentucky, traveling over the mountains on horseback with their two children and all of their belongings, where Grandfather Haws ran a ferry for many years.” “Great-Grandfather Haws, Benjamin, came from Wales and settled in North Carolina. Grandfather Jacob Haws and his wife had fourteen children. After his death they (his wife and children) became pioneers of Illinois, being among the early settlers of that state. Nancy Haws’ grandfather being Abner Womack was also a veteran of the Revolutionary War.
When Nancy Haws Wall departed from his live, it could be truthfully been said of her, “WELL DONE, THOU GOOD AND FAITHFUL SERVANT.”