Thursday, April 16, 2009

Lovenia Nicholson Sylvester Berry

This is a picture of Lovenia Nicholson Sylvester Berry on her 100th birthday. She lived 9 months after this photo was taken. Lovenia was one of the wives of William S. Berry. The photo was given to Patricia R. Major Miller by Dolores Van Wagoner. Delores was Lovenia Berry's great-granddaughter. Pat's great-grandfather was George Henderson Conder whose brother was W. James Conder in whose home the Cane Creek Massacre took place. Pat and Delores had known each other for some time before realizing their ancestors' connection.

In a separate post I have included the full text of her biography, which Pat and Delores have generously shared with me. But I wanted to include an excerpt that I thought would be of general interest.

My husband left on the 3rd of April, 1884. He had not been gone long when he wrote home. His letter seemed sad. He had had a dream he didn't like and was afraid something was going to happen at home. He said to tell the girls to keep off the horses. He had been gone a little over four months when he was killed by a mob at Conder’s farm, Cane Creek, Lewis County, Tennessee. We at home felt sad as if something had happened, but did not hear of the terrible occurrence until three days later. I was sitting in the doorway mending a dress for one of the girls when I saw three men approaching the house. They were Bishop Willis of Kanarra and Bishop Lunt and Brother Palmer of Cedar City. When I first saw them I became very nervous and weak. They came into the house, sat down, and were talking about Grandmother Berry's other boys who had been killed by the Indians. Grandma Berry was with me at the time as an afternoon caller and they talked to her at first. Bishop Lunt, who had broken the news about the drowning of Bishop Roundy in the Colorado River a short time before to his family, said he was on the same kind of an errand today. "Elder William S. Berry is no more for he has been shot by a mob in the missionary field." Grandmother Berry was a great help to me and my family in this great trouble. She would tell us to brace up and have courage in our afflictions. She had borne so much of sorrow that she had learned how to endure it.

William and his companion, Elder Gibbs, were killed on the tenth of August, we got word on the thirteenth, and my husband's body arrived in Kanarra on the twenty-third and was buried on the twenty-fourth. Brigham H. Roberts and others expected great difficulty in getting possession of the bodies which had been buried in Lewis County, Tennessee, for three days. B. H. Roberts disguised himself and let the reins of his horses loose, in this way the Lord aided him in procuring the remains of the two Elders and to ship them to their respective homes. Elder Cowley accompanied my husband's body from Salt Lake and preached the funeral sermon. Sometime later twin boys were born to the wife of Willis E. Robison, one of the missionaries who helped bring the bodies to Utah. They named them Gibbs and Berry.
Near the end of the text is a note indicating the "end of [the] "Journal." It certainly does not read like a journal. My guess is that it is an autobiography. Although it is attributed to Phyllis W. Heaton, the tone is decidedly first person. It is quite likely these are her own words. You can read the whole biography here.


Floyd the Wonderdog said...

I love the picture. My grandmother is 96. We're planning her 100th birthday party. Now I have a good idea what the cake should look like.

BruceCrow said...

My grandfather was very proud of how old he was. He took every opportunity to brag about his age. Even total strangers he met when we would go on shopping trips and the like. It was wonderful seeing him so excted about life. I hope your grandmother feels the same way.