Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Happy 188th Birthday, Hannah Tupper Grover (1823-1893)!

Gawain's great-great-grandmother

Hannah Grover's mother, both grandmothers (as well as ancestor Hannah Eastman, Indian captive), daughter, granddaughter, and great-granddaughter were all named Hannah!  She is one of our more mysterious women: why did she leave Thomas and marry Daniel Wells?  Why was she so educated, but her sister Loduska was illiterate?  Why, being so educated, did she not leave any writings to explain these things?   Why did so many of her children die at birth--was it Rh factor or something we could explain today? The sadness in her face is poignant.

Hannah was the fourth of seven children, and also had ten older step-siblings from her father’s deceased first wife.  Hannah’s Grandfather Tupper was a noted schoolteacher, and Hannah also became a schoolteacher (family legend says she taught Joseph Smith’s children in Nauvoo).  She learned of the gospel and also converted her parents.  They came to Nauvoo where her father died.  Hannah and her sister Loduska both married Thomas Grover as plural wives, and she received her endowment in the Nauvoo Temple.  Thomas was a prominent Church leader, and an excellent biography of him is found here.  Hannah also has an online history here.

At the time of the expulsion, Hannah crossed the icy Mississippi River carrying her newborn son Thomas, and they both nearly drowned in an accident there.  Her husband left for Salt Lake with the original group of pioneers—brave Hannah gave birth alone in Winter Quarters during a rainstorm that flooded the tent. 

The Grovers settled in Farmington, Utah, but in 1850, Hannah accompanied Thomas on a three-year trip back to Iowa.  She suffered difficult health and gave birth to three children who died at birth during this extended journey.  Nevertheless Hannah traveled by train to New Hampshire in the winter of 1852-53 to retrieve her widowed mother and bring her with them back Utah.  This must have been a particularly trying time in her life, since Hannah gave birth to six children within five years who all died the day they were born. 

Returning to Utah, the Grovers’ Farmington home was called “the half-way house” because it was halfway between Salt Lake and Logan for the many visiting Church authorities that stayed there. Brigham Young stayed there in October 1864, and rebuked the east wind that overturned his carriage. Hannah and Thomas donated half the land for the new Farmington chapel, and Hannah housed and fed the workers.  She served in the first Farmington Stake Relief Society presidency.

Hannah lived in the same house with Thomas’ three other wives, and they often testified of her fairness and justice (although at one point she refused to read or write for Loduska anymore).  She was called “a perfect lady under all circumstances.”  Besides her own fifteen children, only five of whom lived to adulthood, Hannah raised six daughters of Thomas’ deceased first wife as well as two grandchildren. She mourned the loss of many who preceded her. 

Hannah returned to the east in 1869 for genealogical research, and participated in five hundred baptisms a day completing the work.  There is speculation that something happened on this trip to affect her marriage.  After returning to Utah in 1870, Hannah moved to Nephi to live with her son, and never again lived with Thomas as his wife.  This greatly saddened him.  She also contacted apostle Daniel Wells (no connection to our Wells ancestry) and asked to be sealed to him as a plural wife, and there is some controversy as to that situation’s motivation and timing.  Some accounts say she was widowed and remarried, others that she requested a divorce and to be sealed to someone with a higher priesthood.  The mystery and controversy remain.

Hannah served as the first Juab president of the Stake Young Women Mutual Improvement Association for five years, and also as the Primary president. She taught school in Nephi for eight years, and then she lived with her daughter in Loa in her later years.  Hannah was a noted cheese maker, and operated a creamery in the Ferner Valley from 1883-1884, shipping hundreds of pounds of cheese around the state. 

She was called as an ordinance worker in the Logan Temple in 1884 where President M. W. Merrill noted, “She was a choice good woman of the nobility of the Gods and one of the choicest and best workers here.”  When the Manti Temple was dedicated in 1888, Hannah was called to officiate there.  Hannah had a vision in the Manti Temple where several ancestors appeared to her requesting temple work.  Three of her deceased relatives revealed that their names had been omitted from her temple sheet from which she was to do the work the following day.

Hannah was living in Loa, taking care of her motherless grandson, when she passed away.   She was survived by only three of her fifteen children.  It was said that Hannah made an impression for good on all she met.  She was especially kind and sympathetic to children.  Once Hannah gave her coat to a student who didn’t have one when a storm came up, and the girl recalled that never did queens wear furs more proudly than did that little schoolgirl that day.  Hannah loved good clothes and wore them herself like a queen, and she was scrupulously neat and tidy in her appearance, always dignified yet humble—no one ever saw her in a dirty dress.  Despite many sorrows and disappointments, she never mentioned them, “her troubles locked silently away so securely that not even her own children knew of them.”

I would give her something cheerful to make her smile--say cheese, Hannah!


  1. I'd give her a diary to write in and a visit to the doctor to find out why so many of her children died.

  2. I would give her a day at the spa and a washing machine to help keep her clothes neat and tidy. The poor women, my goodness. I can't wait to meet her and find out more!

  3. I read more from those other links you gave us. I feel like Grandma Hannah Wells Rose was much like this tidy and elegant woman.

    I wish she'd had a chance to be cherished by her spouse. Bearing and losing that many children could create some real depth and solemnity to a woman who continued to convert (turn her heart toward the Lord).