IIJANE SNYDER RICHARDS 1823-1912
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Orson Pratt Brown's Family
Jane Snyder Richards
The history of the Mormon community reads like a tragic poem, and the heart and soul of that poem is in the lives, labors, and sacrifices of the heroic women of the community. The present does not and cannot appreciate them; no present ever appreciated itself; but the future, that great reviser and corrector of contemporaneous judgments, will recognize their true worth and class them among the noblest spirits of the past. A condensed life sketch of one of these latter-day heroines is here given.
ORSON WHITNEY'S HISTORY OF UTAH. Vol. IV Page 581
At the little town of Pamelia, Jefferson County, New York, on the 31st of January; 1823, a babe was born who lived to become Mrs. Jane Snyder Richards; for many years and up to the present time one of the notable women of this commonwealth. She was the daughter of Isaac Snyder and Lovisa Comstock Snyder, the former a native of Vermont, the latter of Massachusetts. Her father was a prosperous farmer and stock-raiser. He led an exemplary life, but belonged to no religious body until he embraced Mormonism. The mother was a thrifty housewife and a devout Methodist. They were the parents of nine sons and two daughters, and of the latter Jane was the younger.
The family were living at East Camden near Kingston, in the Province of Ontario, Canada, when, early in 1837, they formed the acquaintance of Elder John E. Page, a missionary of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. He preached several times in their neighborhood and baptized two of their number, namely, Mrs. Sarah Snyder Jenne, Isaac Snyder's married daughter, and his son Robert Snyder, then an invalid, who was restored to health by his baptism. Robert subsequently visited Kirtland, became acquainted with the Prophet Joseph Smith and returned to Canada as a Mormon missionary. By him and others the rest of the family were converted, and all were baptized in Canada, excepting Jane and her brother Jesse.
The Latter-day Saints having migrated to Missouri, the Snyder family, about the 1st of November, 1838, set out for that land, but were detained by sickness for several weeks, at La Porte, Indiana, where they learned of the cruel expulsion of their people from the first named State. Word came to them that Commerce, Hancock County, Illinois -where afterwards arose the city of Nauvoo- had been selected as a new gathering place, but the information was supplemented by a message from the Prophet to the effect that they were to remain at La Porte for a time, and make a home for the Elders who came that way. Pursuant to this counsel, they continued to reside there for about two years.
Up to January, 1840, Jane Snyder had not connected herself with the Church of which most of her father's family were members. She was a practical, firm-willed little, body, with a mind of her own, and at the time of which we write, not yet seventeen years of age. Conscious of no wrong-doing, she saw no necessity for baptism, so far as she was concerned. Her zealous brother Robert often importuned her upon the subject, beseeching her to be baptized for the remission of her sins. "What sins have I commit ted?" she asked. "Have I not always obeyed my parents?" During the winter of 1839-40, however, Jane suffered the effects of a paralytic stroke, during which she was paralyzed and brought to the brink of the grave. Through the prayers and the faithful ministrations of her brother Robert and other members of the household, she regained her speech, and then, for the first time, manifested a desire to be baptized. The next day was appointed for the ceremony. Her illness being known through the neighborhood, when the news spread that she was going to be immersed on a mid-winter day in the icy waters of Lake La Porte, it created considerable excitement and there were threats of arresting Robert Snyder if he should thus imperil his sister's life. Three hundred people assembled at the water's edge to witness the baptism. The ice was thick and a large square hole was cut in it. Robert let himself down into the opening, and his brother George assisted Jane into the water. Without a tremor she went in, and was then and there "buried with Christ by baptism," Immediately on coming out of the water she said in a loud, firm voice: "I want to say to all you people who have come out to see me baptized, that I do it of my own free will and choice, and if you interfere with the man who has baptized me, God will interfere with you." Elder Snyder was not molested. His sister instead of being injured, was miraculously healed by the sacred ordinance.
About six months later, in the fall of 1840, Jane Snyder met the man whom she was destined to marry, [son of Phineas Howe Richards and Wealthy Dewey Richards, the future Apostle, [nephew to Levi and Willard Richards,] who, in company with Elder Jehial Savage, arrived at La Porte from Nauvoo as a missionary. Franklin and his companion journeyed west and arrived at Haun's Mill only to find his brother, George Spencer Richards, killed October 30, 1838 and thrown down a well. Another brother, Joseph William Richards died in Pueblo on the Mormon Batallion march on November 19, 1846.]
These Elders stayed at the Snyder home and were kindly and hospitably entertained. They had traveled afoot and Elder Savage was sick with chills and fever. He had been acquainted with the Snyder family in Canada, where he had traveled with Robert in the ministry, and on one occasion had jestingly promised Jane that he would bring her a husband. The promise thus lightly made was literally fulfilled, for, in the fall of 1841, something more than a year after their first meeting, Franklin D. Richards. the young unmarried missionary, and Jane Snyder were betrothed, and a little over a year later, married. The wedding took place at Job Creek, near La Harpe, Hancock County, Illinois, to which point the family had removed about the time the young couple plighted their troth. The ceremony uniting them was performed by Elder Samuel Snyder, brother to the bride and president of the Job Creek branch. The date was Sunday, December 18, 1842.
[In an interview with California historian Hubert Howe Bancroft, Jane Snyder Richards described how she learned of polygamy and how she came to accept it:
The newly wedded pair took up their abode at Nauvoo. where, on the 2nd of December 1843
their first child was born. She was a bright and beautiful spirit and was named  Wealthy Lovisa Richards, after both her grandmothers. With this child in her arms Mrs, Richards attended the special meeting held on the 8th of August, 1844, where President Brigham Young stood transfigured before the congregation, many of whom in consequence recognized him as the lawful successor to the Prophet Joseph Smith. Mrs. Richards is a living witness to the marvelous manifestation. She was sitting in the meeting and had bent over to pick up a small plaything dropped by her little daughter, when President Young uttered the first words of his address. His voice was that of the Prophet Joseph. On hearing it, she was so startled that she dropped the article she had just taken from the floor, and on looking up beheld the form and features of the martyred Seer.
The Richards family remained at Nauvoo several months after the main body of the Church had evacuated the mob-threatened city. [On January 31, 1846, her husband took his first plural wife Elizabeth McFate.] On June 11, 1846, they themselves crossed the Mississippi and started west. They camped for a while on the river bottoms near Montrose, Iowa, and then wended their way to Sugar Creek. Their traveling outfit consisted of an old covered wagon drawn by oxen, and they were also supplied with a tent and a sufficiency of clothing, provisions and cooking utensils. Philo T. Farnsworth was their teamster and was a kind and faithful friend. The privations and hardships of the journey were materially enhanced for Mrs. Richards from the fact that she was about to become a mother. At a certain point a pair of unruly steers yoked to her wagon ran away, and for some moments the utmost consternation reigned, as the infuriated beasts dashed wildly on, imperiling the lives of those in the vehicle. Mrs. Richards had just imprinted on the cheek of her little daughter a farewell kiss prior to dropping her outside for safety, regardless of what might happen to herself, when the animals were suddenly stopped in their mad career by some unseen power. and the impending calamity was thus averted.
From Sugar Creek, on the 3rd of July 1846, Elder Richards started on a mission to England, leaving his family to continue their journey towards the Missouri River. Twenty days after his departure, his wife Jane gave birth to a son. her second child, [(2) Isaac Phineas Richards], but the babe had barely opened its eyes when it was summoned back to the spirit world. The picture of this homeless pilgrim mother, lying helpless in her wagon on the broad and lonely prairie, her dead babe upon her breast and her husband a thousand miles away, is pitiful enough to melt a heart of stone. But alas! some hearts seem harder than stone. A midwife had been summoned from a house five miles back to wait upon the sick woman. "Are you prepared to pay me?" was her brusque inquiry, after briefly performing the functions of her office. "If it were to save my life." answered the sufferer faintly, "I could not give you any money, for I have none; but if you see anything you want, take it." Whereupon the woman seized a beautiful woolen bedspread, worth fifteen dollars. "[ may as well take it, for you'll never live to need it," was her heartless remark as she disappeared, leaving the sick mother and dead child to their fate. The corpse of the little one was buried at Mt. Pisgah [Iowa on August 4, 1846].
At this very time, Mrs. Richards' only remaining child, little Wealthy, not yet three years old, was lying sick, having been stricken with disease just after her father departed for England. As they approached the Missouri River she gradually grew weaker and weaker. She had scarcely eaten anything for a month or more. She was very fond of potatoes, and one day, while passing a farm-house in the midst of a fine field of these vegetables, hearing them mentioned, she asked for one. Her grandmother, Mrs. Lovisa Snyder, proceeded to the house, and from a woman standing in the doorway sought to buy a potato for the sick child. "I wouldn't sell or give one of you Mormons a potato to save your lives," was the woman's brutal reply. She had even set her dog upon Mrs. Snyder when she first saw her approaching. When Wealthy was told of the incident she said, "Never mind. mama, she's a wicked woman, isn't she? We wouldn't do that by her, would we?"
The party reached the Missouri River about the first of September, and were received and treated with great kindness by President Young, Dr. Richards and the other Church leaders. Wealthy died and was buried at Cutler's Park, a little west of the river, on the 14th of September. Here also her husband's plural wife, Elizabeth McFate, died, despite the faithful efforts of friends, and had it not been for their unwearied attentions, Jane also would have sunk under her load of affliction and sorrow.
Those were heartrending days for Jane Snyder Richards. She was now childless, and felt almost husbandless. In the midst of extreme poverty, the state of her health was such that during the eighteen months that she sojourned at Winter quarters her life trembled in the balance. A typical Mormon woman, her experience was that of many others during that painful period. "It shall truly be said, if any have come up through great tribulation from Nauvoo, you have," was a remark made to her by Presidents Young and Kimball at the time.
Her husband, returning from England, rejoined her at Winter Quarters in the spring of 1848, and in the summer and fall of that year they crossed the plains to Salt Lake Valley,
arriving here on the 19th of October. The journey from Winter Quarters occupied three and a half months, during two of which Mrs Richards was confined to her bed by sickness. While her husband was building a small adobe house on a lot that had been assigned to him, they lived in the covered wagon which had brought them across the plains.
Eight months later, [on June 20, 1849,] Mrs Richards gave birth to her third child, a son, who was named (3) . The babe was but six days old when a heavy rain fell, against which the roof of rushes and earth covering their humble dwelling afforded no adequate protection. The result was that the bed in which the sick woman and her infant child lay was drenched by the downpour, and she was thrown into a raging fever and brought near to death's door. She was snatched back to life by the power of faith, her husband and Elder Daniel Spencer administering the healing ordinance in her behalf. The babe born amid these untoward circumstances and primitive surroundings, though for a long time delicate and fragile, grew and prospered, attaining to man's estate and achieving success and fame. He is known today as the Hon. Franklin S. Richards, of Salt Lake City.
[Jane's sister Sarah Snyder Jenne, wife of Benjamin Prince Jenne, married 20 Jan 1830 at Port of Ferry, St. Lawrence, New York, they had maybe twelve children but later divorced. It is recorded that Jane gave her only sister to her husband, Franklin D. Richards, to marry on 13 Oct 1849 at Salt Lake City, Salt Lake, Ut]
From that time forth until their removal to Ogden, in 1869, hers was the fortune of a missionary's wife, her husband being almost constantly on a mission.
In due time three other children came to bless Jane's home and complete her family circle.
The boy Franklin was not quite four months old when his father, who had recently been made an Apostle, started on his second mission to England. During his absence the mother supported herself and her children. Her husband was still absent, when, on March 20, 1856, her widowed mother, Lovisa Comstock Snyder, died. Her last words, addressed to her daughter Jane, as she embraced her and bade her good-bye, were: "You have never caused me any sorrow or trouble, but have been a comfort to me in every way, and I hope your children will be to you what you have been to me."
[Franklin took three more plural wives, they were (4) Charlotte Fox married 13 Oct 1849 at Salt Lake City, Salt Lake, Ut
(5) Susan Sanford Peirson married 26 Jun 1853 at Salt Lake City, S-Lk, Ut
(6) Laura Altha Snyder married 29 Mar 1854 at Salt Lake City, Salt Lake, Ut. Daughter of Jane's brother, Samuel Comstock Snyder, and Henrietta Mariah Stockwell Snyder.
On March 1857 Franklin Dewey Richards was sealed to six more plural wives: Rhoda Harriett Foss, Mary Thompson, Nanny Longstroth, Josephine De La Harpe, Ann Davis Dally, and Susan Bayless. A total of eleven families to care for.
Franklin served 4 times to Britain, three times as Mission President. Published there the first Pearl of Great Price, 30 years later becoming cannonized scripture of the Standard Works of the Church. Returning home to Ogden, Utah, he served as President of the Twelve for 15 months until his death]
When, at the request of President Young, her husband, in 1868, took up his residence in Ogden, Mrs. Richards began to play a more prominent part in the women's organizations of the Church. This was by the advice of the president of those organizations, Eliza R. Snow Smith, who predicted that she would have better health if she would devote more time to the work of the Relief Society. Though dreading publicity, she was willing to do all in her power, and after recovering from a long siege of sickness she began to make frequent visits among the branch societies in Weber Stake, in company with Sister Eliza.
In August, 1872, she became president of the Relief Society of Ogden, and in July, 1877, was called by President Young to preside over all the Relief Societies of Weber Stake. This was the first stake organization of the kind perfected in the Church for the purpose of retrenchment and economy in dress, moral, mental, and spiritual improvement, etc. which has been most successfully continued, and is now collaterally supported by many branch societies in the country. But her labors were not confined to Ogden alone. She was appointed to preside over the societies of Weber county; and, as an example of her efforts, she established the manufacture of homemade straw bonnets and hats, which industry has furnished employment to many.
Mrs. Richards' last interview with the President was in the following August, when he went north to organize the Box Elder Stake of Zion, ten days before his death. She was one of the President's party and during the journey to Brigham City sat near him, receiving from the great leader much wise counsel to assist her in her labors.
In the year 1880, she accompanied her husband on trips east and west. During the former they visited relatives and early Church scenes in the State of New York, saw the sights of the national capital, and identified on the Missouri River the spot where their little daughter Wealthy was buried, thirty-four years before. During the trip west they called upon the historian, Hubert Howe Bancroft, in San Francisco, and were received by him with great kindness and hospitality. In 1884 Mrs. Richards accompanied her son Franklin on an extended trip, spending a portion of the time in the City of Washington, where she made the acquaintance of Mrs. Belva A. Lockwood, Miss Susan B. Anthony and other famous women, and through them exerted an influence favorable to Utah over members of Congress, which was then considering anti-Mormon legislation.
In October 1888. Mrs. Richards became first counselor to Zina Diantha Huntington Young, President of the National Relief Societies in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Early in 1891, accompanied by Mrs. Sarah M. Kimball, Mrs. Emmeline Blanche Woodward Wells, and other Utah ladies, she attended the National Council of Women, in session at Washington, D. C., and secured membership and representation for herself and associates in that great organization.
In 1892, she was appointed Vice-President of the Utah Board of Lady Managers of the World's Fair, and early in 1893, having returned some months from a family trip to Alaska, she spent several weeks at the great Exposition, with her daughter Josephine. In 1895, she accompanied her husband and her son Franklin on another visit to the East.
Mrs. Richards has done work in all the Temples erected by the Saints since the days of Kirtland, and has attended the dedication of all excepting the Logan Temple. Benevolent and charitable by nature, she has always been interested in the salvation of the weak and wayward. Independent and outspoken, she is still reverential and respectful to authority. She is not willing to be imposed upon, nor would she knowingly impose upon others. Her heart and home have ever been open to the wants of the needy; and the sick and afflicted have been the objects of her continual care. She has the reputation of a peacemaker among her associates, she is a natural and skillful nurse, and as a comforter of the sick and sorrowful, unexcelled.
A severe blow to her was the death of her husband in December 9, 1899. Up to that time, though nearing the completion of her seventy-seventh year, she had been active in public and in private, moving about her home with much of her old-time energy-for she was always an excellent housewife, and attending the meetings of the Relief Societies and other gatherings. But after the departure of her companion, upon whose love she had leaned for nearly sixty years, she shunned publicity of every kind and was rarely seen beyond the precincts of her domestic circle. Later, however, her spirits revived, and she set about the performance of her public duties with renewed zeal and activity. A notable affair in which she figured prominently was the celebration by the Weber Relief Societies of the twenty-fifth anniversary of their Stake organization. The celebration took place at Ogden, July 19, 1902, in the new Relief Society building, then dedicated, and was attended by many prominent people. Mrs. Richards presided over and addressed the meetings, which were unusually interesting.
[Jane Snyder Richards passed from this world on November 17, 1912 at Ogden, Weber, Utah.]
PAF - Archer files = James Brown Sr. > Daniel Brown + Elizabeth Stephens > James Stephens Brown + Lydia Jane Tanner > Lydia Jane Brown + Homer Manley Brown > Sarah Edna Brown Brown md. Nathan William Tanner < Nathan William Tanner is the son of Lucy Rohannah Snyder + John William Tanner ; Lucy Rohannah Snyder is the granddaughter of Isaac Snyder + Lovisa Comstock > Jane Snyder.
"History of Utah Vol. IV" by Orson Ferguson Whitney George Q. Cannon & Sons, Co. Publishers, October 1904, Salt Lake City, Utah. Pages 580- 584.
Story about Charles Comstock Richards at "History of Utah Vol. IV" by Orson F. Whitney, 1904. Page 557-559.
Story about Franklin Snyder Richards at "History of Utah Vol. IV" by Orson F. Whitney, 1904. Pages532-537.
"Reminiscences of Mrs. F.D.Richards", Jane Snyder Richards, Bancroft Library, University of California Berkeley, 1880.
4 Zinas: A story of Mothers and Daughters on the Mormon Frontier, by Martha Sonntag bradley and Mary Brown Firmage Woodward (daughter of Hugh B. Brown, widow of Edwin R. Firmage, wife of Ralph Woodward). Pages 234, 318-21, 324, 354, 356, 358, 373.
The Women of Mormondom by Edward William Tullidge in 1877, page 409-410.
Improvement Era, Vol. XIII, May 1910, No. 7, Passing Events, Sister Jane Snyder Richards, 87th birthday biography. Pages 668-669.
Additions, bold, pictures, [bracketed] information added by Lucy Brown Archer
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