Caroline Blake Hardy was one of the Washington County women who attended the St. George Temple to help Wilford Woodruff and Lucy Bigelow Young with the Eminent Women temple work project. Caroline served as proxy for Jane Mary Nugent Burke, a woman who lived in dramatically different circumstances from Caroline’s.
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The story of Caroline Blake Hardy has been the most puzzling of the Eminent Women series so far. A Washington County genealogist, the late Roberta Blake Barnum, left this account of her relative’s life.
Warren [Hardy] and [his wife] Caroline [Lucy Blake Hardy] moved to St. George where Warren owned a farm down by the river. They built a shack type house and started their life together….As her family grew, she continued living on in the shack by the river.
…[T]en years later Warren took himself another wife…and another one…He seemed to prefer [his second wife] Sarah and built her a fine home in St. George. He furnished a comfortable home for [his third wife Martha] Aurelia also.
It was gossiped that as soon as Caroline’s children were old enough to be weaned that Warren would take them to the second wife (Sarah) to raise, leaving Caroline free to do the cooking for his hired hands. Her teenage sons…were permitted to live with her as they were needed to work the farm. They hauled their water from the river and one day as Caroline was carrying some heavy buckets of water, one of the hired men by the name of Booth, just could not stand to see how hard she had to work and offered to carry the water. He gave her many a hand after this and they became good friends.
Warren was real indignant upon learning of Mr. Booth’s attention to his wife. There was light thrown on the situation and some of the townsmen decided to tar and feather Mr. Booth and burn Caroline at the stake.1 Upon learning of the coming events, Caroline’s sons packed her belongings into a wagon. They warned Mr. Booth and it was agreed that they would bring their mother to Middleton…and he’d take her away.
Caroline had her two youngest children with her at this time. The boys drove her into St. George to say goodby to her family. They stopped at Blakes and it was a very sad occasion indeed. One son stayed in the drivers seat so they could hurry if need be. One son was on the ground by the wagon and he said, “Mother, you can’t take the little ones because if you do they will never quit chasing you.” The boy grabbed the children from Caroline’s arms and as he did she cried, “Oh, no, not my babies,” and fainted dead away. The other boy hurriedly hit the horses and drove away to save his mother.
Caroline never had the privilege of seeing her children and family again. Mr. Booth took her into Idaho and it is believed that she had two more sons by him but until more research can be done it isn’t known if there was a divorce from Mr. Hardy or a marriage to Mr. Booth. One of her sons born in Idaho was called Lebby believed to be Celeb. The family has not found out where they went but she died Apr 4 1893. (Recorded in her mother Harriet Holis journal). It is believe that she was buried in the old Twin Falls Cemetery in Idaho just ten years after her exile from St. George…
This excerpt is a demonstration of how a family scandal was transmitted over a couple of generations, with some details accurate, some inaccurate.
So here’s the story of Caroline Blake Hardy from the existing records.
Caroline Lucy Blake was born in 1845 in Dorset, England, to Benjamin and Harriet Hollis Blake. The family joined The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and traveled to America in 1853 with the help of the Perpetual Emigrating Fund.
When they got to the Salt Lake Valley, they ended up living in the same neighborhood as Josiah Guile Hardy and his family.2 Both families were called to settle in St. George, where they participated in all the early struggles, suffering from lack of food and other resources as they established a settlement in the red rocks of Southern Utah.
In 1864, Caroline married one of Josiah’s sons, Warren Hardy.
In 1875, Warren married a second wife, Sarah Smith, who had joined the Church in Philadelphia. Sarah accompanied her sister and brother-in-law to St. George and found work there as a household servant. When Sarah married Warren Hardy, she and Caroline lived under the same roof and participated in the social and religious life of the community.
But in 1879, a change occurred in the Hardy family. Young Martha Aurelia Johnson, the daughter of Joseph Ellis and Harriet Snider Johnson, was helping her mother and sisters run a boardinghouse near the Silver Reef mines. After she became pregnant, her family or a church leader must have asked Warren Hardy to marry her. He did, and shortly after the marriage, Martha gave birth to a son, Elmer, who lived about a year.
There are indications that Caroline and Sarah were not happy about Warren’s third wife; for example, Martha was listed in the 1880 Census as a boarder and servant, shown under her maiden name with her son Elmer Johnson.
Three years later when Martha Aurelia gave birth to her first child with Warren, Caroline moved out of the house.3 According to later testimony, she preferred to live at the remote farm in Washington Field, several miles east of St. George, rather than at home. There she provided room and board for various members of Warren’s family as well as hired hands and only saw her husband occasionally since he was working hard in town to establish his business as a machinist and millwright.
Evidently one of the hired hands was a Civil War veteran named Lebbeus L. Booth.4 Lebbeus had been an “artificer,” probably a harness maker, in the 1st Michigan Engineering and Mechanical Regiment. With the strained family relationships and general neglect, the petite, overworked, underfed Caroline must have felt Lebbeus’s attentions keenly. A couple of months later, she confessed at a Bishop’s Court that, “she had never had criminal connection with Lebius L. Booth but once. She admitted she had done wrong in committing adultery…Mr. Booth was present and said her statement was about correct.”
But before the Bishop’s Court was held, Caroline had filed for divorce in the local probate court. When the trial was finally held in June 1883, Caroline told a tale of poverty and neglect:
my husband failed to provide for me the necessities of life — I had flour but not enough of other things. Had a garden with not much raised on it, raised a little corn, but I was denied the privilege of using it. I wrote my husband that I was nearly naked, after writing two or three times I got one pair of shoes and a dress, but nothing for my children.…The last child I had, my husband would not get any mid wife for me…
Caroline’s mother and sister provided more details, down to the single cleaning implement Caroline owned: “Found her in a very destitute condition, clothes in rags, nothing to eat but flour and milk, no wood…had to sweep her house with a rag tied on to a stick.” When her mother and sister had learned of her circumstances, they had moved her immediately into her sister’s home.
In the divorce proceedings, Warren and several of his family members testified about a variety of commodities Warren had provided for Caroline’s use. The food does sound sufficient for a single person, but not for a woman boarding several teenagers and adult males, as Caroline had been doing.
Probate Court Judge John M. Macfarlane refused to grant a divorce.5
After the Bishop’s court and after the first divorce trial was dismissed, Warren sued Caroline for divorce.6 The proceedings took place in August, by which time Caroline would have been visibly pregnant with Lebbeus’s child. This divorce was granted, and in December Caroline gave birth to Lebius Ephraim Booth.
In the divorce, Caroline was given custody of her youngest son and any of her children over the age of ten who cared to live with her. One year later she sued Warren for non-payment of child support. The judge ordered payment and reduced child support from $2.50 to $1 per week.
And that is the last time Caroline shows up in any known record, with the exception of the Harriet Blake diary that may have noted whether Caroline had other children, whether she went to Idaho with Lebbeus, and whether she died there.7 Caroline’s son, Lebius Ephraim, died early, since his temple work was done in 1892. The record of the temple work may be the only existing documentation of his life.
Caroline died in 1893 at age 47. Shortly after word arrived of her death, her ex-husband Warren Hardy died at age 53, a few years after spending time in the federal penitentiary for polygamy.
After Warren’s death, his widow Sarah remarried Caroline’s brother-in-law, whose first wife had testified in Caroline’s defense in her divorce trial. Warren’s widow Martha moved down to Arizona to be with her family and remarried, but died shortly thereafter.
Not long after Caroline died, Lebbeus Booth filed for a patent for a harness buckle. Perhaps Caroline had encouraged him to show some initiative and file the patent. After Caroline’s death, Lebbeus belonged briefly to the RLDS Church and remarried once or twice. He developed heart disease and spent several years in a Soldier’s Home in Virginia but was dishonorably discharged from the home twice.8 He died of old age in Ohio, his childhood home.
Of course the family did not care to talk about the scandal, so Roberta Barnum pieced together the details of the story, but did not get all of them right. For example, Caroline lived most of her married life in a home in St. George, not in a shack by the river; the other wives did not live in comfortable luxury; and Caroline did not flee Washington County under threat of death. However, like many of these family accounts, the bits of truth preserved among the faded memories provided enough information to justify an extensive and time-consuming search through the Washington County Probate Court records, just in case there happened to be divorce proceedings. There were, and fortunately for the Eminent Women project, they preserved a detailed account of this chapter in the life of the Hardy, Blake, and Booth families.
Coming next … the story of Jane Nugent Burke.
- This sounds like a late example of Mountain Common Law. See Kenneth Cannon’s “‘The Mountain Common Law’: The Extralegal Punishment of Seducers in Early Utah,” in Utah Historical Quarterly (1983). Unlike earlier cases of this type of frontier vigilante justice, no one seemed to get hurt; the townsmen didn’t act on their alleged threats. Instead, those involved did things the civilized way: maligned and accused each other in court. [↩]
- The Hardys, Massachusetts natives, were close to Wilford Woodruff, who noted in his diary, “B. Hardy & wife and Josiah Hardy & wife Adopted to me to day the first Persons Ever Adopted to me on Earth.” Near the end of both their lives, Wilford Woodruff and Josiah’s son Warren did proxy work in the St. George Temple for some deceased Hardy relatives. [↩]
- Up until this point, the Hardys had been a fairly typical St. George polygamous family, statistically speaking. See Larry Logue, “A Time of Marriage: Monogamy and Polygamy in a Utah Town,” and Lowell Bennion, “The Incidence of Mormon Polygamy in 1880: ‘Dixie’ versus Davis Stake,” Journal of Mormon History 11 (1984). [↩]
- Lebbeus is a Bible name (see Matthew 10:3) and is alternately spelled Lebius. It is often mis-transcribed as Lebbins or Lebbens. I am using “Lebbeus” since that is how he was listed in the military records. At the time of these events, he may have still been married to his wife, Florence, with whom he had several children. [↩]
- Yes, the John M. Macfarlane best remembered as the author of the Christmas hymn, “Far, Far Away on Judea’s Plains.” [↩]
- During the trial, Warren was asked if he thought Caroline was insane. The court record notes that Warren replied, “Thought she was not insane, but foolish where she got any notion in her head. Thought this soon after marriage.” [↩]
- Idaho records are sketchy or nonexistent during that time period, so I have not been able to find any vital records. There is no indication in any vital or census record that Caroline had additional children. [↩]
- A dishonorable discharge from a Soldier’s Home was usually due to “continued drunkenness and insubordination.” See Sixteenth Annual Report of the Board of Trustees of the Minnesota Soldier’s Home and Soldiers’ Relief Fund (St. Paul, MN: Review Publishing, Co., 1904), 13. [↩]