Thursday, June 23, 2011

Happy 152nd Birthday, Amy Calkin Hunter (1859-1941)!

Gayle Wells' great-grandmother

For being such a recent ancestor, Amy Charlotte Calkin Hunter has been a bit difficult to track down.

Amy was born in England to a Mormon missionary and his young British wife.  She was initially named Charlotte Mariett, after her Grandmother Charlotte Perkes and her father’s first wife Mariette; at some point her name was changed to Amy Charlotte, after her father’s sister Amy and her grandmother.  She was a baby when the family left for America, and Amy would only have heard about the refined life her family had experienced in England.  In Utah, she gained more siblings as well as half-siblings and stepmothers, and at age two, moved with her family to settle in barren Dixie.  

Growing up in the harsh desert environment, Amy was taught the usual pioneer skills.  Her doctor mother Agnes also would have imparted nursing expertise and a love for the Indians and their herbal lore. Her father Asa died when Amy was a teenager, and she gained a new stepfather only a few months before her own marriage.  
Calkin siblings, Amy on right

Amy became a public school teacher, and met William Hunter, who was working in St. George to build the temple.  She was endowed in that new temple just before her eighteenth birthday, only a month after it was dedicated.  She and William fell in love and married in the St. George Temple the following year.  They came from similar backgrounds:  second- generation LDS members in polygamous families, who were child pioneers from the British Isles, and as teenagers both had lost a parent.

Amy & William
The Hunters eventually followed William’s carpentry business north to Huntington and then settled in American Fork.  Amy had eleven children, and mourned the loss of two daughters who died young, and another who died as a young mother.  Her other daughter and seven sons outlived her. She was undoubtedly concerned when her third child, our teenage ancestor Henry, went off to the Philippines in the Spanish-American War.  Amy held responsible Church positions, “living the life of a True Latter-day Saint.” 
Hunter home in American Fork
Amy corresponded with her mother in St. George and with her father’s first wife Mariette, with whom she was always close (if not always named after her).  Amy and her mother exchanged gifts—Agnes sent her some homegrown silk, and Amy sent something beautiful Agnes appreciated.  One time they joked about the memorable time father Asa did not return from Pine Valley for Christmas dinner.  In 1912, Agnes asked Amy an intriguing question in a letter, “How about the record business, have you done anything about it or lost the spirit of it?”

Given that her parents were so literate, and her mother loved professional portraits, I know there must be more to Amy's history than we have or know.  For her birthday, I would give her an itunes gift card, since she was interested in the record business!


  1. I'd give her a diary so we could learn more about her.

  2. Anita, this is so interesting. I learn so much from your great blogs. Thanks for keeping up this research.