Helen Christina Palmer History – 1883

History of Helen Christina Palmer Harding

First Wife of John James Harding

–Written by W. J. and Jennie Harding

Helen PalmerHelen Christina Palmer was born July 29, 1883 in Glenwood, Sevier County, Utah.  She was the oldest child of William Moroni Palmer and Christina Helen Larson Palmer.  She was a very beautiful child, and her parents must have loved her very much.

Helen’s mother was the second wife of William Moroni Palmer.  At this time polygamy was practiced among the saints and they suffered much persecution for their religious beliefs.  U.S. Deputy Marshals searched everywhere to find anyone who lived in polygamy.  Many were put in prison, and so many sought to hide away in places they called ‘The Underground’ in order to escape persecution.

William Moroni Palmer had nine children by his first wife, Mary Ann Mellor.  When Helen’s father took her mother to live in Glenwood, she lived with his mother Patience Delilah Pierce Palmer for a while.  Some years later Mary Ann died and some of her children lived with Christina Helen and William Moroni and their family.  These were Wilford, Marian, Parley and Delbert.  These half-brothers were very close to the children of Christina Helen and William Moroni.

While they lived in Glenwood, there were two more children born, John Melvin, and Willard Taylor.  Willard only lived to be 1 one half years old.  In the fall of 1888, Helen’s mother took her two little children, Helen and Melvin and went to Salt Lake City where she hid out in what the saints called ‘The Underground’ and there Helen’s brother Asael Exile was born.  (Uncle Asael says in his history that they lived in Salt Lake for three and one half years).  Helen’s sister Ada was born in Salt Lake City also.

They moved back to Aurora, Sevier County, Utah, where Helen’s father had purchased land.  Helen lived with her family in Aurora in her growing up years.  Everyone in the family worked hard to make a living.  Helen was an obedient child, even-tempered, loved her parents and brothers and sisters.  She had a very good sense of humor, and must have been a happy child, willing and anxious to please her parents.  Her faith began to grow strong at an early age and in all her lifetime she thrilled to the gospel truths.

Four more children were born to her parents in Aurora.  They were Artie May, who lived only one year, Fern who also lived one year, Leslie Larson and Arlo Verling.  Artie May died of dysentery, and Fern died of scarlet fever.

Helen had many friends in Aurora.  Delia Curtis was one of her good friends, but when Delia was sixteen, she had an attack of appendicitis and she suffered a terrible death.  This grieved Helen a great deal.  These two girls had talked about death before Delia died and they agreed that whichever one died first, that they would come back and visit the other one.  So one night as Helen and Ada slept, Helen woke with a start and said to Ada, “Ada wake up, Delia has come back.”  They looked on the wall and there was something white, hanging in mid air, on further investigation, they found that it was a white dress their mother had hung there.

There was a young boy named Albert Curtiss who was quite sweet on Helen and she couldn’t stand him.  He did persist so much and became such a bother that finally one of Helens brothers helped her out.  One day he hitched up the surrey and invited the young folks to go for a ride.  He arranged for Albert to ride at the back and he had to stand.  The roads were very muddy so when Helens brother came to a very muddy place he whipped up the horses and Albert fell out in the mud and he was a mess.

One day Helen was chasing Ada, trying to get her to do the dishes.  Ada ran up on a straw covered shed.  Ada saw a big hole so she went around it but Helen didn’t see it and she fell right through, landed straddle of a sheep, well the sheep took off, around the pan with Helen hanging on and screaming and laughing.  Melvin came out and tried to help her but he was so doubled up with laughter that he couldn’t do anything.  Wilford finally rescued her.

Helen went to school and was an excellent student.  Always the head of her class.  In grade 8 she was the only one of the class to graduate, and the first one to graduate from grade 8 in Aurora.

At on time Helen’s brother Parley was working in Frisco, Nevada.  Helen wrote to him there and this was the poem she sent him:

“The wind is howling dismally,

The room is full of smoke

And as I sit here studying

It seems that I will choke

My thoughts are not on my books

They’ve glided far away

In spite of all that I can do,

Frisco holds them in her sway.”

Then Parley must have answered her letter because later she wrote to Jim who was working in Idaho.  This is the poetry she wrote to him.

“I received a longed for letter,

From Parley the other day,

But where in the world his thoughts were

‘Twould be hard for me to say.

But some pleasing features in it

He is well and earning cash

He will be home for Christmas

And of course he’s made a mash.”

After graduating from grade 8 in Aurora, Helen was 18 years old when she attended the Snow Academy in Ephraim, San Pete County, Utah in 1901 and 02.  During this year of schooling, she received her teacher’s certificate.  She was given the assignment of writing a short story for the Snow Academy paper, which was published.  It was entitled, “A Murdered B”.  During this time that Helen was attending the Academy her three half-brothers Jim, Parley and Delbert went to Canada to purchase a homestead for the family.  They purchased 480 acres 8 miles north west of Raymond.

After Helen finished the year at the Academy, she left that fall to teach school at Wellington, Carbon County, Utah.  She taught for the gull term, one year.  During this time she must have been very lonely for her family.  In the early spring of 1903, Helen’s parents and the rest of her brother s and sisters moved to Canada.  They put all their belongings etc. in a boxcar and moved to Canada on a train.  Helen’s grandfather Larson, and her Uncle John Larson and his children also came to Canada.  Uncle left his wife in Aurora to make arrangements to sell the store they owned.  When Helen finished teaching in Wellington, she and her Aunt Alice traveled to Canada.  They arrived in Raymond, Alberta.  I can imagine it was hard for her to get used to the flat prairies.  At this time there were so few people living here, no trees planted yet and very few buildings.  I am sure she was happy to be with her family again.  Her family had moved out to the farm and was living in a 9 x 18 cook car and a large Maque tent that they had borrowed from the government immigration office in Lethbridge.  There were 13 to live in these crowded conditions.

Helen’s Grandfather Larson and Parley who were both carpenters, built the Palmer home in Raymond with the funds they had brought from Utah.  When school opened in September, Helen’s parents, the two girls and the three small boys moved into the new house in town so that the younger children could go to school.  This left Asael and Melvin to take care of the farm.  (The older boys had gone to seek employment.)  At Christmas time, Melvin took a sever cold and Asael had to bring him to town, where he gradually worsened and finally died from the effects of rheumatic fever, which affected both his heart and his lungs.  He was 19 years old.  Asael went out and lived with his Uncle John, who lived just one mile from their farm and he was able to go to the farm every day to car for the animals.

Helen made friends in Canada.  Her dearest friend was Clara (Fullmer) Bullock, before she was married.  Helen worked in the Church.  She held many positi9ons and she seemed to love to work with children because Uncle Les said she handled children well.  She was president of the M.I.A. at one time in Canada and a counselor in Utah.  She took part in plays; also she liked to give readings and sang in the choir.  She was a good seamstress and kid beautiful handwork.

She did many other things to make money, such as taking in sewing, teaching her Uncles children during the winter months, working in homes doing housework and tending children.  She also helped he grandparents for there was so much to do.  Her mother made butter and sold it.  They also sold eggs to help with the living.  Helen and her Mother were just like sisters.  Sometimes Helen’s Mother, Ada, and Helen would laugh so much that they would go into hysterics.  I suppose that Helen’s Father was a little disgusted because I am told that he very seldom laughed out loud.

One time when Helen’s Mother and the girls were on their way up town, Grandma Palmer looked down and said, “My goodness I forgot to put on my skirt.” And she began to laugh.  She laughed so much that she could hardly get home.  (She did have a long petticoat on.)

In May Helen started a journal and this is what she said, “I am past 20 now and feel that it would be well to keep a journal, I have been among the Saints in dear old Canada almost a year now and have never before enjoyed the Spirit of the Lord to such an extent as I have since I came here.  We are indeed a blessed people and many choice blessings are being showered upon us.  Since coming here I have heard the gift of tongues and interpretation of them for the first time.  I have been granted the privilege, without asking for it, of being a teacher of the Junior Class in the Young Ladies Association, head teacher in one of the Religion classes and also teacher (head) in the 1st Primary, B Sunday School class.  I believe I have won the love of my pupils.  I hope so at least and I’ve tried to do so.  Last Sunday, Superintendent Holbrook visited my class.  I was alone with the children.  He praised my efforts, said I had a good way of teaching, I wonder if I deserve the praise.

I was at a Religion class social last night and had the honor of an introduction to Apostle Cowley, also to shake hands with him twice.  I had a very enjoyable time, and feel very much encouraged in Religion Class work.

May 3 ~ Clipping from Richfield Reaper

“No rules will be as important as the rules offered for the arithmetic of life; To add to the happiness, to subtract from the pains, multiply the days and divide the sorrows of as many souls as thou canst reach.”

In July 1904, Helen’s half brother Delbert died of typhoid fever.

One summer Helen and Ada went out to the farm to cook for the men who were working on a canal project.  The Palmer family used to move out to the farm every summer, but this particular summer there may have been sickness as just the two girls went out.  I imagine that Helen took great pride in her cooking, judging from all the recipes she had in her journal.

One day Helen and Ada went to town to attend M.I.A.  After mutual Ada wanted to go to the house in town and stay until morning, but Helen insisted that they walk home to the farm so they could get ready for the Dominion Day celebration in the morning.  They had 8 miles to walk and it was very dark.  There were very few fences in those days that they could use for a guide, so they walked in the dark and they did get off course before they knew where they were going; they found themselves out on a long peninsula on the lake.  They didn’t know where they were, so they decided to spend the night there and wait until morning light so they could see where they were going.  They spent a miserable night, fighting mosquitoes.  The next morning they found that they were nearly home.  They were very tired and so when they got home they went to bed.  Later a knock came at the door and Helen answered it.  It was a neighbor and he said that his wife was sick and was there anyone that could help him.  Helen said, No and then she went back to bed.

Helen met a young man, John James Harding.  She was very interested in Him.  He and his brothers were farming a piece of land a few miles from the Palmer place.

There was a story about this.  It was, “If you find a pod of peas with nine peas in it, put it over the door and the first one that comes through the door will be your future spouse.”  Well John did this and the first one to come in was Helen Palmer.  John had a horse and buggy so he could court Helen properly.

Apostle Cowley and Apostle Taylor were here in Canada to help Saints with problems concerning the Church.  At this time Bishop Anderson had a desire to take Helen as a plural wife.  Apostle Cowley and Apostle Taylor were in sympathy with him, and even though the manifesto had been agreed and signed in a conference on October 6, 1890, and William Moroni Palmer had been one of the men who had helped sign it.  Apostle Cowley insisted that it didn’t apply to Canada.  (Now Helen had been an obedient child and she was always by nature a diplomat.  She didn’t usually buck anything f her parents were in agreement, but she was terribly upset about this.)  One day Apostle Cowley and Apostle Taylor came to see Helen’s Father and Aunt Ada tells that they could hear them talking through an open transom above the door.  Helen’s mother was terrible upset too.  Helen said, “They are deciding my fate.”  But when the proposition was made by the Apostles, Helen’s father said, “NO you are out of line to propose such a thing.  It isn’t right.  I was one that helped sign the manifesto, and I know that it meant for any Saints in the world to honor it.”  Apostle Cowley said, “Do you know that you are speaking to an apostle of the Lord?”  Helen’s father replied, “Yes, and I know that you are wrong.”  Cowley was disfellowshipped from the Church soon after and Taylor was excommunicated.

Helen’s father went to Salt Lake City, in 1906 to have a hemorrhoid operation.  Soon after he returned, he broke his arm so he was not able to do much all year.

Here is a little memo from Clara Bullocks story, she said Helens family had all moved out to the farm and Helen was home alone, taking care of the garden, milking the cow and separating the milk.  Helen and Clara spent a lot of time together.  It was a beautiful evening in June.  They were at Helen’s home and while Helen was doing the milking and outside chores, Clara tidied up the house.  They always had such good times together.  The Palmer house was the favorite place for the young folks to gather.  There was a street lamp out in front of their home, which enabled them to play games after it was dark.

In December 1906, Helen and John were married.  Marian a half brother was also going to get married.  He was going to marry Carrie Lee.  Helen’s father went with them to Salt Lake City.  They were planning to get married in the temple, but when they arrived they found that the temple was closed.  Helen and John had a civil marriage on the 24th of December.  They visited with relatives until later when they went back to the temple and were sealed on January 17, 1907.

Their first baby William John was born, November 10, 1907.  He was born in the Palmer home.  I am sure that Helen and John were happy with their new little baby.  John soon took up homesteading in Taber, and he moved his family over there in a small home.  This must have been very lonely for Helen, but her friend Clara had married William E. Bullock and they moved to Taber also, and so their friendship continued.

Iola was born in October on the 13th, 1909 and now they had a little girl.  I am sure that Helen enjoyed the role of housewife and Mother to her little children and probably there were many visits to Raymond and probably her folks came to visit them in Taber.

May 2, 1911 Helen was expecting another child, and she had not been well at all.  Here is a copy of a letter that she wrote to her folks.

“Dear Parents and all,

Well we are still alive and pegging away.  Some days I feel like giving up and going to bed; but with a couple of little mischievous youngsters like ours that is easier said than done.  John and the children are well.  Iola tries to say everything she hears anyone say.  A great many of the words sound alike though.  Willie almost wears me out asking questions and saying, “I wish we could go over to Grandpa’s and Grandma’s, don’t you Mama?”

We were to have got Esther last Sunday, but her folks begged off for another week till they could get their garden in.  So I guess we’ll get her next Sunday.

I’m feeling very poorly lately.  My feet and ankles are swollen so I can scarcely get around some days and then the heartburn is a fright.

How are you all?  Are you living on the farm or in town?  I had a card from Asael a while ago.  They got to the homestead all right.

How is Ada feeling?  Tell her I got the doily all right.  I will write to her one of these days if I can find time and have enough ambition at the same time.  I saw Blanche Fisher Scovil Sunday and she says the Iola and Helen look alike; well I must close as John is waiting to go to town.  Write soon.”

Your loving daughter,


Helen had albumen poisoning.  She took convulsions before he baby was born, and her parents came over to see her.  She told them that she was not in pain when she had the convulsions.  On May 13, 1911 a little premature baby girl was born, Helen she was named after her Mother.  Helen took convulsions again and died.  The funeral was held in Raymond, in the old church where the Stake House now stands.  After the funeral I can imagine how sad John must have felt as he left all his little ones and went back to his home, that had held so much happiness for him just a few short days before, but his farming must be done and he couldn’t care for his little ones and farm.

The Grandparents took these little children and they nourished and helped little Helen to grow.  They said that Iola cried for a month for her Mother.  She would lay her head on a chair and cry.  Willie cried too.  Finally the Grandparents had to send for John to come.  John took Willie back with him and tried to manage the farm work with this little boy but found out he could not, so he took him in to his brother Reed Harding and they kept him for a while.  Iola stayed on with her Grandparents for a while, and then later she stayed with the Wilde family.  Helen was raised by her Grandparents.

On January 10, 1913 John married Mary Aspinoll who blessed his home with her love, and raised William John and Iola along with a family of her own.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: