Whitney, Helen Mar, 1828-1896

Alternative names
Birth 1828-08-22
Death 1896-11-15

Biographical notes:

Helen Mar Whitney was a prominent Mormon woman in Salt Lake City, Utah.

From the description of Helen Mar Whitney papers, 1841-1935. (Utah State University). WorldCat record id: 28083341

Helen Mar Kimball Whitney Family

Helen Mar Whitney (1838-1896) was the daughter of Heber C. Kimball and Vilate Murray. She was a prominent early Utah pioneer and a frequent contributor to the Women's Exponent. Her husband, Horace K. Whitney (1823-1884) was a pioneer in Salt Lake Valley and worked at the LDS Church's printing and tithing office. Her son, Orson F. Whitney (1855-1931) became an apostle in the LDS Church on April 9, 1906.

John Henry Smith Family

John Henry Smith (1848-1911) was born to George A. Smith and his fifth wife, Sarah Ann. He married Sarah Farr (1849-1921) on October 20, 1866 and his second wife, Josephine (1857-1948) on April 7, 1877. He served an LDS mission in 1874 to Great Britain, but was summoned home at his father's death in 1875. In November of 1882 he became President of the European Mission. Smith also served in the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, acted as head of the LDS Church (due to the incarceration of Church leaders on polygamy charges), and was the second counselor to Joseph F. Smith. His political positions included assistant clerk to the territorial house of representatives, member of the state legislature, president of the Utah constitutional convention, and president of the Mexican Colonization and Agricultural Company.

John and Sarah's son Winslow Farr Smith (1881-1966) served on an LDS mission to Germany between 1902 and 1905, and on April 9, 1906 he was ordained a member of the 3rd quorum of the 70. He married Emily Whitney, the daughter of Orson F. Whitney and Zina B. Smoot, on June 7, 1906. Between 1919 and 1923 Winslow served as mission president of the Northern States Mission, and from 1924 until 1940 he served as the President for the Ensign Stake.

Winslow Whitney Smith (1907-1994) was born on May 14, 1907 to Winslow Farr Smith and Emily Whitney Smith. He served in the LDS German Mission from 1927 to 1930 and later served as Mission President to the Swiss-German Mission from 1961 until 1965.

Information for these histories was obtained through MS246, MS179, www.familysearch.org and Builders of the kingdom, by Pusey © 1981.

From the guide to the Whitney Smith photograph collection, 1860-1960, 1880-1929, (Utah State University. Special Collections and Archives)

Helen Mar Kimball Whitney was born August 22, 1828 at Mendon, New York the daughter of Heber C. Kimball and Vilate Murry Kimball. In 1832 the Kimball family joined the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS) and moved to Kirtland, Ohio, becoming close associates of Joseph Smith, founder of the LDS Church. In 1835 Helen’s father was ordained an Apostle in the LDS Church and throughout Helen’s early life her father was away on church business or away serving as a missionary in various US states and in Europe. In 1838 the Kimball family moved to Missouri and shortly thereafter to Nauvoo, Illinois.

In 1841 Joseph Smith explained the principle of polygamy to the Kimball family and in 1842 Smith selected Helen’s father’s first polygamist wife, Sarah Noon. Heber C. Kimball was later married to a total of forty-four wives and had sixty-five children. Polygamy not only affected Helen’s family, but Helen was also married to Joseph Smith when she was fourteen years old. Helen described her marriage to Smith as a “sudden shock of a small earthquake.” However, their marriage was short-lived because Smith was killed in June 1844.

On February 3, 1846 Helen married Horace K. Whitney. Helen’s marriage to Whitney was not arraigned, as had been her marriage to Smith, but was a love match. In the spring of 1846 Helen and her new husband traveled, along with fellow church members, across the plains toward the Utah Territory. Helen settled temporarily at Winter Quarters while Horace traveled to Utah with the first company of pioneers. In 1848 the couple settled in Salt Lake City. Over the course of Helen and Horace’s marriage Helen bore eleven children, six of whom lived to adulthood. Their children were Orson Ferguson (1855), Elizabeth Ann (1857), Genevieve (1860), Helen Kimball (1862), Charles Spaulding (1864), and Florence Marian (1867).

In 1850 Heber C. Kimball advised Horace to take a second wife, which he did, marrying Lucy Amelia Boxham. However, Lucy died during childbirth in 1851. In 1856 Horace married another woman, Mary Cravath.

During the 1870s Helen began writing, with close friend Emmeline B. Wells, faith promoting articles about the LDS Church and about past experiences in Nauvoo, which appeared in the Women's Exponent and in the Deseret News .

Tragedy struck the family when Horace died in 1884, leaving Helen with many debts and no way to provide for her children. For the rest of Helen's life she struggled financially and with poor health. In 1890 she sold the family home and moved to a more “poor” area of Salt Lake City and built a new house. She lived in this home until her death in November 1896.

From the guide to the Helen Mar Kimball Whitney Papers, 1841-1900, (Utah State University.)


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