Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Happy 208th Birthday, Aldura Sumner Hatch (1803-1842)!

Lorenzo Hill Hatch's mother; Unita Welch's great-great-grandmother

Aldura is one of our pioneers who died before going west, but the legacy of her faith sustained her family.

Aldura Hatch’s paternal Sumner ancestry is intriguing.  Her great-grandfather was a prominent physician whose sons were educated at Yale.  Her grandfather, Thomas Sumner, fought in the French and Indian War in Quebec, and became a United Empire judge under the British Crown.  He married a woman with French ancestry, and received a land grant from King George III of five hundred acres in Rochester.  Thomas and his teenage son John Austin Sumner (Aldura’s father) were both loyalists on the British side of the Revolutionary War, and were exiled to Nova Scotia, along with Thomas’ seven other motherless children.  Thomas and John later returned to the United States until the War of 1812, helping the British in that failed cause, and then returned and died in Canada.

During his sojourn in New England, John married Abigail Plumley and had four children, Aldura being the third.  Abigail died when Aldura was only four years old, and John remarried and at some point returned to Canada.  Aldura remained in Vermont and married Hezekiah when she was sixteen years old.  One wonders how in-law relationships dealt with the differing politics of the loyalist lass being married to the son of a patriotic Revolutionary War vet. 

Aldura was below medium height, with blue eyes and light hair.  She helped her husband Hezekiah on the farm and raised their seven children.  She was an energetic worker, who never hired outside help except in case of illness.  Her primary duties included spinning, weaving, knitting, sewing, and making butter and cheese, as well as carrying water to the home.  She especially enjoyed reading the Bible.  The Hatch family did not belong to an organized religious group, although they believed in life after death, and they received the gospel gladly when their son Jeremiah shared it with them.  Aldura, her brother Cyrus, and son Lorenzo were baptized in the Lincoln River by means of a saw-cut hole in the one-foot-thick ice. 

Aldura prepared for the move west to join the Saints.  She had bolts of linen ready for clothing and handkerchiefs, and a barrel of handmade yarn.  Yet tragedy followed the Hatch family’s conversion.  First their infant son Moroni died.  Next Aldura contracted a type of highly contagious putrid sore throat called “black tongue” from the missionary’s daughter she was caring for.  Her death prompted an anti-Mormon backlash as neighbors questioned the family’s belief in healing.  Aldura’s last words encouraged her husband to take the children and go where they could live the principles of the restored gospel.  The sad widower and motherless children moved to Nauvoo, where Hezekiah was subsequently murdered by an evil doctor.  The legacy left by committed, faithful parents, however, resulted in their children and descendants becoming strong pioneers who prospered in the gospel.

I would give her indoor plumbing with a kitchen sink!

1 comment:

  1. I'd give her a book: the story of her family sounds like it would make a great novel.