Delecta B. Burton stated in a Biography of Huldah Meriah Clark: "This dear little lady died when I was six years of age, but I have a few recollections of her as our home was very near Grandmother's and I was there a great deal. I remember her sitting in her chair dressed in a dark dress which seemed to be black and she wore a large white apron tied around her waist. She had an olive skin, wavy black hair, and clear, sparkling brown eyes. As I remember her she was frail and not very active."
Huldah Meriah Clark was the fifth daughter of Gardner Clark and Delecta Farrer born 26 October 1823 in Genesco Livingston, New York. She had six sisters and one brother; Levire, married Samuel H. Smith, a brother of the Prophet Joseph Smith. Delecta married Selah Mastern; Dorinda married Hazen Kimball; Huldah died at age 19 months; Adelia married William G. Young; Cedenia Ceyphonia married Brigham H. Young. Andrew, he went to California and little is known of him.
The Clark family accepted the gospel and were in Nauvoo when the saints were driven out. On the way to Winter Quarters her father died. Her mother continued the journey in the company where Richard Ballantyne was assigned as captain.
Each night it was the captain's duty to check each family. It was while making the tour of the company the first night that he met Huldah Meriah as she was unyoking her oxen. Every night thereafter he paused perhaps longer than necessary at the Clark camp. At Winter Quarters they were married and sealed by Heber C. Kimball, 17 Feb. 1847. They began housekeeping in a rude shack on the east bank of the Missouri River. Although not luxurious it was comfortable in comparison to the covered wagon.
When the first company of saints came west in 1847 the Ballantynes stayed another year to plant grain for the next group of saints. In the early summer of 1848 they left Winter Quarters with two wagons, four yoke of oxen, two cows, eight sheep, and provisions to last them nearly a year. After traveling about forty miles to the banks of the Elk Horn River (Omaha, Nebraska), a son was born in the covered wagon, 1 June 1848. They named him Richard Alando. He developed "canker" sores in his mouth and was very ill. His mother and father promised the Lord they would raise him to serve Him if He would spare his life. It was with many prayers and great faith, medicine and the care of his Grandmother Clark that he was finally healed. For many years he was of very "delicate health" but he lived to be eighty-two.
They arrived in the Salt Lake Valley in the fall of 1848 and settled in the "Old Fort." (This spot is now Pioneer Park, located between Third and Fourth South and Third and Fourth West in Salt Lake City.) Homes were erected of logs or adobe, side by side, with the rear walls forming a protective barrier; enclosed by a nine foot mud wall. By December, 1847 over two thousand people were living in the fort. A bowery, built in the center served as a meeting place. This ten acre square was lived in during 1847-1849. When the Ballantynes left the fort they built a home on the corner of First West and Third South which became the home of the First Sunday School in Utah. At first they built one room which served as a summer kitchen. One wagon was used as a storeroom and another for sleeping.
Huldah Meriah was very patient, kind, and pleasant, ever willing to help others follow the advice of Church leaders. At a special meeting in August 1852 Richard was called on a mission to India. He left Huldah Meriah and three children with fifty pounds flour. Since coming to the valley they had reaped four successive crop failures. Arriving in San Francisco he sold his team and wagon and sent the money to his wife. It must have been three long hard years that she cared for her family and waited for Richard's return. What a happy reunion it must have been in 1855 when her missionary husband returned, having been around the world without purse or scrip - the first Latter-day Saint missionary, it is said, to accomplish the feat. Church history records many stories of the hardships he endured under the protecting hand of the Lord, but nothing is recorded of his wife's problems. She must have had many long lonesome nights and troublesome days in those three years.
Her faith was again tested when she was called to share her husband in plural marriage. Mary Pearce and Richard were married late in the year of his return and two years later he married a third wife, Caroline Sanderson. There were times when the same home was shared. With the threat of the invasion of Johnston's Army, they moved ninety miles southward to Nephi. After two years in Nephi they moved to Ogden (1860). In 1862 Richard and Huldah Meriah moved to Eden.
Annie Ballantyne Moench related some of the things her mother did in Eden and was recorded by Delecta B. Burton. At shearing time the men would tie large bundles of wool together and put them at her back door. She washed it thoroughly in water drawn from a well, dried it, carded it on her own cards, made it into bats and rolls. Then she would spin it into yarn on her spinning wheel. Yarn was dyed with dye she made from plants. Using a skein of yarn, she would dye part of it for stripes in the cloth for the men's and boy's shirts, cut them out and sewed them, using only a needle, thread, and thimble. Dresses, skirts, and other items of clothing were also made from the woven goods she made. Stockings and socks had to be knitted. Old clothes and rags were dyed and torn into strips for carpets which she wove on her loom to cover the floors of her home. Years later while living in Ogden they were able to buy a sewing machine. Then the sewing became a real pleasure. In her declining years a carpet for her parlor was purchased from a store. (A parlor was a room kept for company or special occasions.)
She cured hams, bacon, made sausage, and so many other things. In Eden she made milk into cheese that weighed twenty-five pounds each, and lots of butter for they had a "number" of cows. The cheese and butter were kept in the cellar on a large, round, sectional table. Her cooking was done over a fire in the fireplace in a large, heavy iron cooker with a heavy lid to cover. About 1874, while living in Ogden, they were able to buy a stove.
There was always a garden to care for which supplied vegetables for the table in summer and corn and beans were dried for the winter. They raised their own sugar cane which was made into molasses by Peter Boyle and supplied the three families. The children took great delight in getting the skimmings from the molasses which they carried home and made into candy. many were the candy pulls they enjoyed. They loved to eat it with sweet, dried, "parched" corn. Sometimes corn was made into balls. They had bees which provided them with honey. Their wheat was taken to Farr's mill and made into flour and Huldah Meriah made very delicious bread.
Candles provided their only light for many years. She made candles out of melted tallow, poured into a dish, with a wick placed in it before it hardened. These were called "bitches." They made their own soap. Toilet soap was made of the whitest and best tallow (fat) and perfumed.
Richard spent a great deal of time in Ogden and found it necessary to move because of his obligations there. It took too long to travel there daily by team. So in 1869 he moved Huldah Meriah and her family back to Ogden into an adobe home on the north side of 24th Street between Adams and Jefferson Avenues. Later the roof was raised and four bedrooms were made upstairs, also a kitchen and pantry were built on the back of the two old rooms. Previous to this time the attic was used as a sleeping and drying room. The dye barrel was kept there also.
In Ogden they had a large orchard and would have the three older girls of the other families come from Eden each summer to pick, cut, preserve and dry fruit for the coming winter. They raised green, red, and small blue plums, green gages, egg plums, black native and red English currants, apricots, several varieties of apples. Native currants were made into unfermented wine. Vinegar was made from apple cider. She divided the rows of trees and bushes form north to south into three parts, one for each family. The girls did not have to help with the housework while there doing fruit. Grandfather made large scaffolds for each family to put their fruit on. Mosquito-bar was used to cover the fruit while it dried. When this was all done they took the fruit home and made preparations to return to Ogden to attend school.
When school started the older children of the second and third wives, Zack, Tom, Mary, Josephine and Jane came and lived with Huldah Meriah and family to attend school. They occupied two rooms upstairs. Before they graduated Richard disposed of the farm in Eden and purchased homes in Ogden for the other two wives. Mary Pearce's home was on the east side of Washington between 28th and 29th Streets.
At times she had boarders, then she rented two of the rooms to Professor L. F. Moench and his wife Delecta Ballantyne. Two of their children were born there and Delecta and baby died of small pox. After Meriah and Austin Brown were married, they rented the large upstairs room. Zack, Mary's oldest son, and his wife Martha also lived there for a time.
In pioneer days they all had to help each other, in poverty, sickness, afflictions and death. Huldah Meriah did her part. She was the Relief Society President of Ogden Fourth Ward. This was a great responsibility with the assignment to care for the dead, make quilts, rugs, and clothing for the poor and those in distress. Women came to her home in the morning and stayed all day to do these things when needed. Dinner and supper were prepared for them and someone was there a great deal of the time. Indians came frequently and begged for food. One day she said to her daughter, "Annie, I like company, but I would like a little time to catch up on my sewing."
Huldah Meriah was the mother of nine children, four sons and five daughters:
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