Monday, April 4, 2011

Happy 163rd Birthday, Elizabeth Heiner Grover (1848-1882)!

Gawain's great-grandmother

Interesting that Gawain has two great-grandparents with birthdays today!  Elizabeth Christina Heiner Grover died young and so is less-recognized, but today not forgotten.

Born in Pennsylvania to recent German immigrants, Elizabeth was the middle of eleven children.  Her family joined the Church together in 1852, and four-year-old Elizabeth wished she were old enough to be baptized.  She and her siblings sold huckleberries to earn money to go to Utah, and due to that experience, the word “huckleberry” was hallowed throughout their lives.  The Heiners moved west when Elizabeth was eleven years old.  Her parents were faithful and kind, and the home was a happy one filled with music and devotion.

In Utah, Elizabeth and her brother George went to work for Daniel Wells (no relation), who was good and generous to the Heiner family.  Elizabeth and George visited Daniel Wells’ house for Christmas 1864, and George invited his dear friend, nineteen-year-old Thomas Grover Junior, to join them. Thomas and Elizabeth married just six weeks later, before her seventeenth birthday.   They immediately moved to a farm and began raising a crop.
Thomas and Elizabeth Grover
A month after their second child was born, the young couple was called to colonize the Muddy Mission in Nevada, where they struggled with hunger, heat, and Indian harassment.  Elizabeth was mortally afraid of the Indians all throughout her life.  She nearly lost her life during her second childbirth.  Brigham Young visited the area in 1871, and after observing their hardships, sent the Grovers home.  When they started back to Utah, Elizabeth was still so sick with “milk-leg” (a painful swelling or phlebitis of the leg veins after childbirth) she had to be carried in the wagon.  This was not particularly relaxing: she drove the team so Thomas could bring the livestock. He described the journey: “Mother drove the team and helped by holding the baby in her lap and watching the other two children by her side.  When a little calf gave out, I put it in the wagon at her feet, and she brought them all safely through.”

The family moved to Nephi, where Elizabeth was again very sick after her third delivery and could not stand up for months. She was often alone as Thomas hauled freight.  As an industrious pioneer woman, she softened her wash with wood ashes, made starch from potatoes, dyed the clothing, and was an expert seamstress, trimming her children’s clothes with fine embroidery and knit lace. 

Thomas took a second wife in 1877, and Elizabeth struggled to accept plural marriage.  Her mother-in-law Hannah noted, “This was a hard step for Lizzie to take, but she knew that the principle was true, and once she had made up her mind that she was to live it, no other woman ever did it more loyally or lived it with greater dedication.”  The two wives lived together for three years, and then Elizabeth moved to help a widowed sister.  In 1879, the Grover family moved back to Morgan and Elizabeth mourned the death of her toddler Pauline. 

Elizabeth was a teacher in the Relief Society and member of the ward choir.  She had a beautiful solo voice and was always willing to sing for others.  Elizabeth was of a medium height with a queenly figure, and remembered as being mild and gentle.

She decorated the church for a memorial service in honor of assassinated President James A. Garfield in 1881.  The next spring, a measles epidemic killed some of her relatives, and Elizabeth nursed others, but lost her own strength.  She died in childbirth with her seventh child, and her infant son joined her just two weeks later.

I would give her some of those compression stockings to help with the vein problems.


  1. I'd give her medicine to help with those painful births.

  2. I would give a pedicure and manicure and I would volunteer to watch her children so that her and her husband could have a night on the town.