Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Happy 204th Birthday, Rachel Roberts Sanders (1807-1892)!

Gawain Wells' second-great-grandmother

With a birthday just the day after her same-named daughter, Rachel Broom Roberts Sanders was the granddaughter of Constitution signer Jacob Broom, a Constitutional delegate from Delaware.  
Rachel had one older brother and was brought up as a lady, educated in a Girls Finishing School in Baltimore, and always had plenty of help in her home (including a black mammy for her children). She married Ellis at age 23, and they had seven children. The family joined the Church and sold their Delaware property at a great sacrifice.

Their beautiful three-story brick home still stands in Nauvoo; the restored home is now a Bed & Breakfast hotel (a wonderful place I visited last fall, it is currently for sale--any descendants interested?).
Sanders house in Nauvoo

It features an original banister, six fireplaces with bun-warmer cupboards, and a Nauvoo temple stone for the back step.  Legend says that Joseph Smith was hidden from the mobs in the home’s cellar during construction, and that Heber C. Kimball and Brigham Young preached in the parlor.  From the house Rachel saw the temple being built and the Mississippi River she would eventually cross.
original banister in Sanders house
Ellis and Rachel were sealed in the Nauvoo Temple on December 18, 1845, and spent many hours in the temple during January and February before the exodus.  The Sanders family crossed the Mississippi with Orson Hyde and Wilford Woodruff on May 9, while Rachel was pregnant.  She made herself a wide belt of two cloth thicknesses, with pockets stitched in to hold gold pieces.  Family lore suggests that this was to protect some of the family wealth from Ellis’ zealous consecration.  She gave birth in Winter Quarters, and her children remember her sobbing in the wagon as they went west, “They are taking my children to the wilderness to raise them like Indians!”

In Utah, the family settled in Centerville, and Rachel attended the dedication of the Salt Lake Temple grounds in 1849 with her husband and daughter.  They came south to Springville for three months of the “duration” of Johnston’s Army, and lived with daughter Hannah’s family, where it was said by her husband Oliver Huntington: “Eighteen people lived together for three months in a one-room house and never had a quarrel.” The Sanders moved back to Centerville, but were called in the 1861 General Conference to settle the Dixie mission. 
does it look like her face is scarred?
For Rachel, the redeeming aspect of that challenging experience was that she had many friends in Dixie and was happy to be living beside two of her daughters and their families (including Rachel and Schuyler Everett).  Nearing sixty years old, she took in her granddaughter Lucy to raise (Ellen’s illegitimate daughter).  Rachel could never be persuaded to leave St. George after Ellis died, because she wanted to be buried by him, and worried that her body could not be returned to the St. George cemetery quickly if she died up north.  However, she outlived him by nineteen years.  I would giver her a plane ticket so she could visit Salt Lake!


  1. I would give her (and all those Dixie pioneers) fans, freezers, air conditioning, and swimming pools to help survive the hot, hot summers.

  2. Hey, I am a descendant of Rachel & Ellis, too! Happy bloggin', cousin!!