I was born in the town, Potsdam, St. Lawrence County, New York, on the 1st of September, 1819. I was the sixth child of Varnum and Sarah Emes Fiske. My parents emigrated from New Hampshire in the year 1817 to New York State. Their knowledge of their ancestors was very limited. The name of my grandfather on my father's side was Daniel Fiske and on my mother's side was Alexander Emes. Both served in the Revolutionary War, and received pensions for their services. My parents never united with any church but were liberal in their religious views as to the universal salvation of mankind, consequently they allowed their children to attend the services of any denomination they chose.
At an early age I became a lover of books and spent much of my time in reading the scriptures and other religious books, and in meditating upon the things of God, desiring always that my life might be pure that I might have a right to the tree of life and enter in through the gate of the Holy City.
While remaining in my father's house as a school girl, the news came to our village that a young man in the southwestern part of the state had declared that he had had the visitation of an angel, and that he had found a book, or a Golden Bible. Sometime after that, my father had occasion to go on business to the city of Ogdensburg. When he returned I heard him tell my mother that he had seen the Golden Bible, and in answer to her inquiries he told her it purported to be a history of the ancient inhabitants of this continent and that he had found it laying upon the table of the hotel.
As time passed I sometimes found an article in the newspapers headed, "The Mormon War." I suppose it was when our people were passing through the persecutions in Missouri.
In 1837 I became acquainted with a young man from the town of Madrid by the name of Ezra H. Allen. He was an ambitious young man of good character and on December 25, 1837, I was married to him and removed to his home with him in Madrid. A few years passed and my own dear mother and mother-in-law had been laid in the silent tomb. We received their parting counsel and mourned for them as do those without the consolation of the gospel. Two beautiful little girls had been born to us to bless our home with their presence, and we were comforted. About this time word was brought to us that a Mormon elder had given out an appointment for a meeting to be held in the district schoolhouse in our neighborhood. I at once made up my mind to attend the meeting and hear what they had to say about the angel and the Golden Bible. At the time appointed, accompanied by my husband, I proceeded to the schoolhouse with some anxiety. After the opening services, a quiet and unassuming man arose and said he had not come to preach any new doctrine, but that the doctrine he taught was old, the same that Jesus and His Apostles taught when they were upon the earth. I felt that his remarks were very reasonable and well sustained by quotations from the Scriptures. My friends asked me what I thought of the preaching. I replied that I had heard nothing that I could condemn. They said they thought I would become a Mormon. I replied, "I cannot condemn the Scriptures." I soon after learned that the elder was our esteemed brother, William Snow.
A few more months passed away. Late in the autumn the health of my younger child began to decline. Medical aid seemed of no avail. I watched her tender form slowly, gradually sink away with all the anxiety of a fond mother's heart. One day while I was quietly sitting at my work, a rap came at my door. Upon opening it I met one of my husband's brothers and his wife. They were accompanied by two gentlemen who were strangers, but were introduced to me as Elder Christopher Merkley and Elder Murray Symmonds, two Mormon elders who had come into the neighborhood to fill an appointment which had previously been given out. I immediately put away my work, prepared supper and made myself ready to accompany them to meeting. After the meeting a short time passed in pleasant conversation and they returned home. After this visit other visits were made and books were introduced into the house, and we were also allowed the privilege of asking questions pertaining to their faith. And the seed that was thus sown in our hearts soon began to manifest life. My husband and two of his brothers soon offered themselves for baptism. As for myself I sought the silent recesses of my chamber and poured out my soul to the Lord. Earnestly I besought Him not to suffer me in my weakness to reject the truth, and that if the doctrines I had heard were from Him and were principles of life and salvation that I might receive them, and my mind was continually occupied in meditation, prayer and reading. The time now came that was appointed for my husband and his brothers to receive the ordinance of baptism. I did not accompany them to the water, but remained at home with my sick infant. They were baptized and returned to the house for confirmation. After receiving this ordinance my husband requested the elders to administer to our sick child, which they did.
My soul was now filled to overflowing; I had spent all my days in a Christian land and had never witnessed the ordinances of the gospel performed until now, and yet it was plainly written in the Scriptures and practiced in the days of Jesus and His Apostles.
How earnestly I wished that I could be where no human ear could hear the sound of my voice that I might shout "Glory to God in the highest; hallelujah to God and the Lamb." I had never heard a Latter-day Saint shout, and I had not been very charitable toward the Methodist shouting; so I closed my lips and pondered over those things in my heart. Our infant was blessed but not healed; our Heavenly Father had decreed it to be otherwise and its blessed spirit was freed from its mortal tabernacle.
We now began to receive the spirit of gathering. Our home seemed lonely without our darling babe, and we constantly longed for the society of the Saints and to hear the Prophet's voice, so we began in earnest to prepare to emigrate to Nauvoo. Our homestead was sold, our team fitted up, our friends and kindred visited and in two weeks we were ready to start upon our journey. I shall never forget the sorrowful tears I shed when I passed the grave of my darling child. Our faces were now set as flint Zionward and our God had opened our way. On account of the lateness of the season our journey was long and tedious, but we arrived in good health in the city of Nauvoo early in the winter of 1842. We hired a small house and began working that we might accumulate the necessities of life, and be prepared for any changing scene that awaited us.
Early in the spring of 1843, an effort was being made to make a settlement at a place called Shocoquan, about 25 miles up the Mississippi River, Brother Amasa Lyman presiding. My husband concluded to remove there. It was a beautiful location. I was delighted with the scenery. The majestic river rolled in all its beauty and grandeur a few steps from my door, and the wild flowers greeted me at every step as I passed. But we found the climate damp and unhealthful. It was not my good fortune long to walk on beds of flowers or rejoice in the beauties of nature.
In April we returned to Nauvoo and were present at the general conference which was held on the 6th of April inside the walls of the temple. This was the first time that we had had the privilege of seeing the Prophet Joseph Smith and hearing him preach. We had a time of rejoicing with the Saints, and returned to our homes in good health. In May 1843 I was baptized by Amasa Lyman and confirmed a member of the Church. Meetings were held in the branch and the spirit of the Lord attended, causing our hearts to rejoice.
About this time, 1843, one evening after the sun had set, we observed in the northwestern sky a white cloud in the shape of a huge spear which remained stationary, one end being raised higher than the other. It didn't seem to rise or set, but appeared in the same position for several evenings, then disappeared. I heard one of the brethren ask Brother Lyman what he thought of it, and he replied, smiling, "I don't know, I guess it is the fore end of some runner."
One evening after I retired to rest I had the following dream: I dreamed I was nursing a young eagle, after nursing it for sometime it released itself from my hands and flew away to a great distance. After a long time had passed away, it returned to my arms and I nursed it again. In July of 1843 our first son was born. We named him Alexander Hamilton.
We had not been there long when my husband was seized with chills and fever, and in a few days our little daughter came running into the house, shivering from head to foot, exclaiming, "Oh, mama, it is cold, it is going to rain!" and climbed upon my bed. I covered her up where she lay chilling until a fever came to take the place of the chill. In a few days I was also attacked with the ague. We were now a family of invalids. It was very difficult to hire a nurse, and as difficult to keep one on account of so much sickness, so I had to be my own nurse. In the mornings my husband would bolster me up in bed, and then after washing me and combing my hair I would wash and dress my young babe and my little girl. My husband would prepare a little breakfast and then I would lie down and have a spell of ague and fever, which generally lasted about four or five hours until my strength was gone. I was soon unable to turn in bed. My baby had to be put out to be nursed but was returned to me in a week or two, the people saying they could not do it any longer. He was attacked with chills and fever also, and from poor nursing he soon wasted away. He would cry and moan while the chill was upon him, then go to sleep while a burning fever preyed upon his tender form, seldom were his lips moistened with water or his little head bathed with a cooling lotion. (Oh, bitter recollections.) I over-exerted myself, lost my speech and lay helpless by my baby's side. He lived until he was eight weeks old, then passed from this world of sorrow, (and thus my eagle had flown.) My husband and little girl a portion of the time were not able to wait upon themselves. A few kind friends came in and prepared my baby for burial, not one of my family being able to accompany it to the grave.
I continued to grow weaker, one disease after another setting in, until I fainted and became unconscious. I was believed by all who saw me to be dying. I was told afterwards that I remained in this condition two nights and one day. Suddenly, one day, I became conscious, but was too weak to move or speak or even open my eyes. There were several persons in the house. I heard them say, "Sister Allen is dying," and heard them make remarks on my general character and the esteem they had cherished for me. One woman came and whispered in my ear and sent a message to a friend who had passed behind the veil. A lady came in and asked how long I had lain in that condition and if they had given me any nourishment. They replied that they had not, as I could not take any nourishment. She then mixed some wine and water, and with a teaspoon put a few drops into my mouth. It ran out again as I had not strength to swallow it. She then put the spoon down to the roots of my tongue and got a few drops to run down my throat. I then began to receive a little strength. She continued until I could swallow, then I put out my tongue and touched my lips. She then sent for some meat broth and fed me, and thus as an angel of mercy she nursed me back to life.
As soon as I recovered so that I could speak in a low whisper, I requested my husband, that as soon as I gained a little more strength, to take me to Nauvoo. I said, "If I die, I wish to be buried there." Meanwhile one of the brethren had died, and Brother Lyman had been taken sick and had been taken to Nauvoo, and another brother died soon after. As soon as it could be arranged I was placed upon a bed and removed to Nauvoo. I was taken to my husband's sister's home, where I received nursing and the faith and prayers of the Saints, and I soon began to recover; but it was not until January that I was able to perform the duties of my household. My husband and little daughter also recovered. In the spring of 1844, I was again attacked with fever, but I requested them to take me and baptize me in the river for the restoration of my health. This they did. I was taken home, put to bed and began immediately to recover and my body became healthy and strong.
In June 1844 the clouds which had so long been gathering around the heads of the Latter-day Saints now burst in all their fury, and enshrouded in deep gloom the hearts of the Saints. On the 27th our beloved Prophet and Patriarch were murdered, and Brother John Taylor was seriously wounded in Carthage Jail. I will hastily pass over this painful scene, as many have written upon the subject; but suffice it to say that many were the bitter tears that were shed upon that occasion, but our faith was in God. He had commenced His work upon the earth, and we would not forsake it. We knew God's work would triumph, while those who had committed this horrible crime would eventually be punished.
Several of the Twelve Apostles were absent from home at this time, and upon their return the people were counseled to remain calm, and to build up the city and finish the temple. In consequence of the sacrifice and loss of property and sickness, we had become reduced to very poor circumstances. In September 1845 our second son was born. We named him Alexander Alma. The work upon the temple had steadily progressed until the winter of 1845 and '46. Many of the Saints received their endowments in that house. My husband and myself were among that number. On account of continued persecutions the Church began making preparations to remove west, although very few, if any, knew where that journey would end. My husband in company with Joel Ricks took a journey to St. Louis to assist him in bringing his stock to Nauvoo to prepare for the journey, and in return he was to have assistance in removing his family.
All was in readiness; my husband taking charge of a large team, we crossed the Mississippi River on the 27th of April, 1846. On account of heavy rains and bad roads our progress was very slow. The company was urged forward until we arrived at Mt. Pisgah, where we remained for a length of time while the brethren plowed some land and put in grain for the immigration that was expected to follow. Then we again continued our journey until we arrived at Council Bluffs. We encamped near a small stream of water at a place called Musketol. There were some in the company who had brought their violins, and my husband had been a fifer in the Nauvoo Legion; so at evening after the company had encamped, they endeavored to cheer the hearts of Saints with their music.
While at this place, July 1846, a call was made for five-hundred of our brethren to enlist in the service of the United States (this company known as the Mormon Battalion) and march to California. My husband enrolled among the volunteers and immediately prepared to go. After bidding his family and friends farewell, he hastened to join his company which left on the 16th. Before leaving, my husband made arrangements for me to draw provisions from the store of a trader at a small settlement on the Mississippi River, but for some reason the provisions never reached me. Through this and some misunderstanding it passed into other hands. The company now prepared to move to a better location. Having received no means I thought best to remain where I was. My goods were put into a small shanty; my cow was separated from the other stock, and the company moved away. After they had been gone a few hours, my cow seemed determined to follow the herd and shortly she broke through the corral and ran after them. I could not leave my babe and little girl to follow her. Overcome by the desolate situation that confronted me alone and in a wilderness, and unprotected, I wept bitterly. I determined to go to a camp some distance away for help. There I found a young woman to stay with me and after my return in the evening, judge of my surprise, on seeing my cow come walking into camp. The Lord always provides for those who put their trust in Him, and upon this occasion He was more than kind. After we had retired for the night, we were startled by a man's voice calling out, "Hello." At first I was afraid to answer, but as he continued to call, I asked what was wanted. He asked where the company had gone. I replied that a part of them had gone away. After a few more inquiries about stray stock, he departed. The next morning he came again to our camp and said he was camped in the edge of the timber, and asked the privilege of moving his wagon into the yard. I asked if he had a family; he replied that he had. I then told him that I would be glad to have their company. I was pleased with the appearance of the mother and children, and a friendship sprang up between us that remains to this day. Thus the Lord raised up friends in my hour of need.
I cannot recount all the kindnesses that were shown to me by this woman and her worthy husband. He built me a house and divided his provisions with me, and waited until I could, in a meager way, return their kindness, meanwhile I exerted myself in every way that I could to provide for my family.
When my babe was one year old, he was attacked with chills and fever, and became seriously ill, and continued to grow weaker until I became very anxious about his recovery. I came to the conclusion I would fast and pray for his recovery. The first day he had a slight chill, the second day it was almost unnoticeable, the third day it was gone. Thus through the mercy of God he was restored.
The Omaha Indians in the spring of 1847 were very troublesome, killing stock and stealing everything in their power. My cow went into the edge of the timber to find something to eat. The Indians found her there, drove her into the thick woods and killed her to satisfy their hunger. I then gave the calf away to save its life. In the summer of 1847 I taught a school of small children, and procured means to buy another cow. In the spring of 1848 I began to look forward to the return of my husband. The Lord had blessed my efforts to provide for my family and the brethren and sisters had been kind to me, but a long journey lay before me, and I looked forward to the time when his strong arms would lift these burdens of care from my shoulders. I gathered grapes from the lowlands near the river and made wine, and prepared such dainties as I could that would please him.
At length the news came that a company of brethren was expected to cross the river at the ferry in a few days. I felt anxious to go to the ferry to meet him, but circumstances would not permit; so I remained at home, waiting and watching, listening to the sound of every footstep that approached my door. After several days, word was brought to me that some of the brethren had arrived home, and that my husband with two other of the brethren had been killed by Indians in the California mountains. Four men had volunteered to travel in advance of the company to prepare a road; namely, Daniel Barrett, Ezra H. Allen, Henderson and Cox, and had been murdered on the 2nd night on their camping ground by Indians. I learned that a purse containing about one-hundred and twenty dollars in gold dust had been found belonging to my husband, and it was being brought to me. Thus were my hopes and expectations blasted in a moment. What could I do now but trust in God? I had no relatives in the Church, two small children and a journey of a thousand miles before me. For some time I felt as if I would sink under my burden of grief and anguish of heart. Then I aroused myself and began to meditate on what course to pursue, how to provide for my family and prepare for the journey. I therefore determined to make every effort in my power to accomplish this desirable undertaking, and leave the event in the hand of God. In a few days the purse which had been found containing the gold which had belonged to my husband was brought to me. There were marks of blood upon it, and it seemed to me as the price of his life. I will say here that this purse my son has and the blood stains are still plainly seen. When my folks in the east heard of my terrible experience, they wrote to me and told me that if I would give up my horrible religion all would be forgotten and forgiven, and that every comfort of life that they enjoyed would gladly be shared with me and my little ones. But I knew the gospel was true and I could not deny it, and was willing to take my chance and trust in the true and living God.
In 1849 I was summoned to attend the deathbed of my husband's sister. Her husband had gone to Salt Lake. She was conscious to the end. Her last words were: "I can see that the Lord has not forsaken me." She left two children. I took them home with me and in a few weeks their brother came and took them to his home in Missouri.
Soon after this I was requested to teach school for a few weeks in the absence of the teacher. When I arrived at the boarding school, I found a young woman of my faith engaged as a housekeeper. At this time the cholera was prevalent in some of the settlements on the Missouri River. There had been one death nearby, and this young woman was attacked with it. When my school closed at night, she sent for me to come to her room. When I entered she requested me to administer to her, as there was none of our brethren there. I laid my hands on her head and asked God in the name of Jesus Christ to rebuke the disease and preserve her life from the power of the destroyer and restore her to health. She immediately arose and said she was healed, that God had heard our prayers, and she returned to her work. The mistress of the house was astonished. We made no explanation but went about our duties. Upon another occasion Brother Orson Hyde had been editing a paper at Kaysville; I had been there assisting Sister Hyde for a few days. One evening after I had retired she came into the room with a candle in her hand. Before leaving she accidentally set fire to a piece of cloth that reached to the curtains around the bed where I was sleeping. I awoke very suddenly and found my bed curtains all in flames. I instantly sprang from the bed, snatched the child that was sleeping with me and gave the alarm. My hands were burned but not seriously. Thus again I felt to thank God for sparing our lives.
In 1851 I exchanged my gold dust for cash and goods, reserving enough of the gold to make me a ring which I still wear. I gathered my little means together and hired a wagon made, purchased another cow and a yoke of cattle, procured my provisions for the journey. I took a young man and his wife in my wagon, he acting as teamster, and in company with many of my brothers and sisters in the spring of 1852 I started for Salt Lake City. I will hastily pass over the incidents of the journey as many have written about it. Suffice it to say our teams became weakened, our loads were heavy and our progress slow. The cholera attended the camp for several hundred miles, one woman dying.
We arrived in Salt Lake City September 14th, 1852. On our journey we had many exciting and terrifying experiences as well as many happy, hopeful hours in anticipation of a peaceful home in the valleys of the mountains. When I arrived in Salt Lake with all I had in the world, I had no place to go, but I had learned that the Lord always provides for those who put their trust in Him. One of the brethren had just completed a new stable that had never been used, and I and my family and belongings were privileged to take possession. This was our first home in Utah. I obtained work where I could and helped again with teaching school, and the Lord blessed my efforts and the people were kind to each other in those days. We did many things. I was considered an expert spinner of yarn and helped to make many yards of cloth, also carpets. My first home was lighted with a grease rag until we were able to make tallow candles, which we thought were wonderful. I went many days to the hills to dig sego bulbs to help provide food for myself and little ones. In 1854 Joel Ricks whom I had known and was my husband's friend in Nauvoo had built a large comfortable home and asked me to come and share it with him. We were married some time after, but our trials were not over, for we experienced the cricket war and when the news came about the Johnston Army coming to destroy us all, we with the rest of the Saints moved south until peace was established; but pioneer life did not end for me, as my husband was among the first to pioneer Cache Valley. We settled in Logan where my husband engaged in farming and cattle raising for several years. Until a home could be built, we lived in the open in sort of a bowery, sleeping in the wagon box. After passing through varied experiences that only pioneers know of, my husband built a large rock house where we began to enjoy some of the necessities of life and to us they were luxuries. The rock house still stands as it was built on what is now Main Street. Business houses have been built around it, but it is a part of one of them. When the Relief Society was organized in Logan, I was chosen as its first secretary which position I held for about two years. I was then set apart as president of the First Ward Relief Society. I held this position for many years and did the best I could with the wisdom the Lord gave me. I did my part in helping with the building of the temple and gathered what genealogy of my own and my husband's families that I was able to do, and when the temple was completed I spent many happy days for their salvation.