LIFE HISTORY OF HANNAH BARROW
Hannah Barrow was a daughter of Joseph Barrow and Maria Besswick. Her father was born, 19 December, or 4 November 1794, and her mother was born 11 September 1800. They were both born in Halloway, Lancashire, England. They were among the very poor, for the people who were among the first to join the Church in England were only the very poor.
Hannah Barrow was born 19 December 1825 (Archives Record), in Little Bolton, Lancashire County, England. Lancashire Co. England was one of the first localities where the Gospel was preached in England.
She was baptized when she was fourteen years of age in 1839, by Elder Amos Fielding, who was himself and English convert to the Church. “October 19 1838, Elder Clayton (Elder William Clayton, who later accompanied or was in the same company crossing the ocean and going to Nauvoo with Hannah, from whose record the story of their crossing is taken) gave himself wholly to the work, and soon after commenced preaching and baptizing in Manchester, and from thence the work spread into Stockport, and other places neighboring. Through the labors of Elder Claytons, Fielding (Amos Fielding), John Moon and David Wilding (given by Alice Bullock Lunt as the man who baptized Hannah Barrows). A small church had previously sprung up in Bolton, through the labors of Elder David Wilding, and was continued by ELDER AMOS FIELDING.” (Amos Fielding baptized Hannah).
“In the summer of 1839, Elders Clayton, Richards, and John Moon, (John Moon was later in charge of the Saints with whom Hannah came), labored in Burslem, with some success, and a small church was planted in Burnley etc..” (Church History, Vol. 4, Page 321).
On 17 April 1840 the members of the Church at Bolton, Lancashire, England consisted of sixty members, one elder, two priests, and two teachers. (History of the Church, Vol. 4, page 116).
“Saturday, 6 June 1840 – forty-one Saints sailed from Liverpool, England on the ship “Britannia”, for the United States, being the first Saints that gathered from a foreign land. John Moon was the leader of the Company.” (Pioneers and Prominent Men of Utah, p. 1300).
These Saints were gathered mostly from England and Scotland. Many of them from Bolton, Lancashire, England. Among the Saints from Scotland was Peter Muir Fife. He and Hannah Barrow became acquainted and a deep and lasting friendship developed between them. Alice B. Lunt states that Hannah made the journey alone, without any of her family with her. She was a lonely frightened little girl of only fifteen years. Peter Muir Fife’s heart was heavy with grief and sorrow, he was leaving all that he helped near and dear to him, his wife and seven children. Hannah must have been about the same age of some of his older children. He longed for his wife and children and she for her loved ones and friends. Their relationship must have been at this time as a father and daughter.
Peter Muir Fife was born 6 April 1806, in Potshead, Edinburgh, Scotland. His father was John Fife and his mother Janet Muir.
“He was married in Edinburgh and had seven children. He made their living by working in the coal mines. Each morning he would go with his lunch bucket and work all day under the ground and return at night to his home. It was on one of these trips home he saw two young men standing on a street corner talking to a number of people. He was not very presentable after working in the coal all day, but he was very anxious to hear what they were talking about. He edged his way as close as he dared and found the young men to be missionaries. They said they were holding a meeting in the town hall the next night and invited all to attend. Peter Muir Fife told his wife about the meeting and wanted her to go with him, but she was very indignant and refused to go. All the next day he thought about the things these young men had talked about, and he decided to go that night to the meeting. A crowd of people were listening very attentively, and appeared to be much interested. My grandfather saw that they were the same young man who spoke on the corner the night before. They bore testimony to the truths of Mormonism. They explained to the crowd the first principles of the Gospel. Grandfather attended their meetings regularly, but his wife was very much opposed. In fact she would burn all the literature he brought home, even the Bible.”
“One night when he came home from work the house was empty and his wife and his children had gone and had taken everything in the house except a little brown cape belonging to one of the children hanging on the wall. Peter search throughout the city of Edinburgh, but could not find where they had gone. To look for one in such a large city without an address would be like looking for the needle in a haystack. He joined the Church and gave up the search for his family.” (Taken directly from the history written by Alice Bullock Lunt).
The trip across the ocean as a harrowing experience. There were many severe storms and high winds. Most of the Saints became violently son sick and many of them suffered from painful bowel complaints. A baby was born among the Saints and only lived a short time and was buried at sea. The prophecy made by Heber C. Kimball was literally fulfilled when the winds and water were calmed by prayer and the power of God. The tip over was so bad that it was hoped that none of the future Saint’s would come across on this same ship.
On 17 July 1840, they saw Long Island all covered with green and trees and beautiful white houses. What a beautiful sight it was. All their hardships seemed to be compensated for.
They were quarantines for three days. They then went to New York and looked up the Saints in New York. They were greeted with such love and kindness and many tears were shed when they told of the afflictions they had suffered. (Church Chronology, Church Historian’s Office, Room 308) (Retold from record told by William Clayton).
Some of them then undo their way on to Nauvoo, Ill. They were the very first English Saints to arrive in Nauvoo. Nauvoo was only two years old and it was a beautiful and welcome sight. The Saints were enjoying a recess from their persecutions. Hannah Barrow saw the events as they changed from happiness and peace to great sorrow and grief as though time passed and the Saints were again mobbed and mistreated almost beyond their endurance. She was there to see the Temple completed and work done for the dead.
Peter Muir Fife was baptized for his mother, Janet Muir and others of his family on 13 August 1873 (baptisms performed in Nauvoo, Book D, p. 25. In the early days of the Church males were baptized for females and males. This was not changed until later).
(The following two paragraphs copied directly from Alice Bullock Lunt’s History)
“Peter Muir Fife became acquainted with the Prophet Joseph Smith, and lived near him until the Prophet martyrdom 27 June 1844. He filled a mission in the state of Georgia. He came west with the Saints and enlisted in the Mormon Battalion and was mustered into service of the United States Army in Council Bluff, Iowa 16 July 1846, to aid in the war with Mexico.
“President Brigham Young called for five hundred young and efficient men for this expedition. He promised this Battalion, inasmuch as they would go forth and do right, there would not be a ball shot at them; that not one of those who might enlist would fall by the hands of the nations foe.”
Hannah Barrows left Nauvoo in January of 1847.
(From History of the life of Wilford Woodruff, p. 262).
“On the outskirts of civilization, near the banks of the Missouri River, on the 7th day of April, 1847 might have been seen a large body of men and women anxiously gazing on a band of pioneers just taking their departure from wives and children, friends and neighbors, and setting out upon a perilous journey in quest of a resting place in the Rocky Mountains. In the hearts of wives and friends there was a strange mixture of fear and faith, what the outcome could be, none could foresee; and the probabilities of danger from the hostile redman were only mitigated by the fervent faith which had served them well in the trying ordeal of other troubleous times through which the Church had passed. The pioneers were missionaries whose trust in the direction and care of an ever-ruling Providence was uppermost in their minds.”
So Hannah was there to see the first pioneers leave for the Rocky Mountains. On October 31, 1847 some of the pioneers returned from Salt Lake City, and what historic times to live through and experience.
The next statistic we have is that Hannah Barrow had a baby girl, Ellen Nelson at Winter Quarters, 4 December 1847. Again we can only guess at the suffering and sorrow she went through. Ellen’s father was Isaac Nelson and that is all the positive information we have been able to find, unless a wonderful history I have found of on Isaac Nelson, whose history run parallel with Hannah’s can be this Isaac Nelson. This Isaac Nelson was born in Westmoreland, England 21 May 1821. He came to Nauvoo early in 1847 and rowed a boat across the Mississippi River, carrying passengers from Nauvoo. He left Winter Quarters in 1851 for Salt Lake City, Utah.
Samuel S. Fife states that Ellen was raised, perhaps, by her grandparents, the Nelson’s. We know that Ellen was never with Hannah, her mother, in either the Fife or the Rowley homes. The people of the Fife Family Organization knew Hannah Barrow was married to an Isaac Nelson but they did not know there was a child until 1957. Samuel S. Fife reports that members of his family had heard Hannah Barrow, in her later life, proclaim many times that she did not want to be sealed to either Peter Muir Fife or to James Rowley, but to Isaac Nelson. To me this proves that whatever became of him that their association was a very happy one. She must have known him to have been a very kind and noble man and she must certainly have loved him all her life. If only the true story could be found and told. Somehow she had lost Isaac Nelson, never again to have his association in this life. There will come a time in the Eternities of Time when all problems of this kind will be solved and made known to all of us. At this time everyone will be rewarded with the blessings they richly deserve and a greater and wiser judge than any of us will make the decision.
Whether he was called away by death or some other circumstance, her heart was filled with grief and pain and she even had to be parted from her darling baby girl. We have no way to know the extent of her suffering.