About Eliza Spalding (Hart)
Eliza Hart was born August 11, 1807 to Levi Hart and Martha Hart (they were first cousins) in Kensington, Connecticut. In 1820 the family moved to Oneida County, New York. She was introduced to Henry Spalding by a mutual acquaintance who said that Henry "wanted to correspond with a young lady." The couple were pen pals for about a year, and the relationship quickly deepened after they met in the fall of 1831. Eliza was as interested in participating in missionary work as was Spalding. They married on October 13, 1833 in Hudson, New York.
The memory of Eliza Hart Spalding's kindly spirit and deep devotion has continued in the Nez Perce country for more than one hundred years. The author has frequently heard testimonies of praise of her, from Nez Perces who felt inclined to criticize her husband but who joined enthusiastically in commending her. On August 10, 1849, Robert Newell wrote a report regarding the different Indian tribes living south of the Columbia River. In the section dealing with the Nez Perces he wrote: "Mrs. Spalding also they speak much about and say that have lost a good woman that took so much pains to learn them. Of the six women who were in the Oregon Mission of the American Board, no one was more successful in her work for the natives and consequently more beloved than Mrs. Henry Harmon Spalding of Lapwai.
Eliza Hart was born at what is now Berlin, Connecticut, on August 11, 1807, the oldest child of Levi and Martha Hart. There were two other daughters and three sons in the family. The Hart family be- longed to pioneer stock. Stephen Hart, the progenitor of the American line, came to the colonies in 1652. Eliza's father had the title of "Captain" which may have referred to some connection with the state militia. He was described by Gray in his History of Oregon as being "a plain substantial farmer." In 1820, when Eliza was thirteen years old, the Hart family moved to a farm near Holland Patent, Oneida County, New York. There Eliza's parents made their home until they died.
Little is known of Eliza's youth and early education. We know that she received good training in all of the arts and crafts associated with a farm home. She knew how to spin and weave; how to make soap, candles, butter, and cheese; and how to cook over an open fire in a fireplace. She also had some modest skill in drawing and painting.