Emma's Top Matches
About Emma Louise Batchelor
Emma Lee. By Juanita Brooks.
Juanita Brooks, a veteran author of the West, has written a book on Emma Lee, the wife of Mormon leader John D. Lee. She has skillfully woven the various strands of evidence to tell this dauntless pioneer woman's story. Born in Sussex, England, in 1836 as Emma Batchelor, she came to America in 1858 after her conversion to Mormonism.
In Utah she met the already polygamous John D. Lee and married him. Lee then moved his family to a new southern Utah settlement, Washington. There Emma Lee's life, like that of many frontier wives, was a never-ending round of hard work and drudgery. Regularly she bore Lee's children and raised them, while he was busy with various commercial projects. It is not clear when Emma first heard the whispered charges that her husband had instigated a Mormon-Indian attack upon an emigrant train in 1857 at Mountain Meadow. Apparently Emma was convinced that her husband was the victim of slander.
Nevertheless, the gathering storm of charges shadowed John's and Emma's future. In October 1870 the Latter-day Saints officially excommunicated him because of the swelling chorus of blame for his connection with the Mountain Meadow Massacre. Finally, Lee, in an effort to evade his accusers, removed to the Arizona frontier on the Colorado River. But even at remote Lee's Ferry he could not hide. So in 1873 he became a fugitive, leaving Emma and his children behind. The next year he was captured by a posse. Emma dutifully supported him during his imprisonment and two trials. After a hung jury, in his second trial Lee was convicted and ulti mately executed in March 1877—about twenty years after the Mountain Meadow affair. years after the Mountain Meadow affair.
Two years after Lee's execution, Emma married a prospector, Franklin H. French, whom she had known for some time. The couple moved from Lee's Ferry deeper into Arizona. In time Emma became known as "Doctor" French, since in this isolated country she successfully delivered many babies. In all her work as a midwife she never lost a mother, although a child or two was stillborn. Once she was called upon to care for two victims of a drunken brawl who appeared to be mortally injured. They both recovered. Finally, she died a respected and much-mourned member of her community.
Emma Louise BATCHELOR was born 21 Apr 1836 in Uckfield, Sussex, England, the daughter of Henry BATCHELOR and Elizabeth. Emma died 16 Nov 1897 in Winslow, Navajo, Arizona, and was buried 18 Nov 1897 in Winslow, Navajo, Arizona.
Emma Batchelor was the fourth child of Henry and Elizabeth Batchelor. Both parents had been born in or near the village of Uckfield, Sussex County, England, and their ancestors were from the same area. The 1841 and 1851 British censuses showed four children in the Batchelor family, but there were probably more as there was evidence that some of them were not at home when the enumerator called.
She was christened while an infant in The Church of the Holy Cross which had served as a house of worship for the people of Uckfield since its construction in 1299 A.D. There were a number of headstones in the adjacent cemetery bearing the Batchelor name. One, a huge stone rising about five feet above ground, was in memory of William Batchelor, who for nearly fifty years was the parish clerk. Either a brother or a cousin to Emma's father, Henry, he died in 1856.
Emma became a member of the LDS Church at sixteen when she was baptized on Saturday, June 1, 1850. She was living in the resort town of Brighton at the time, probably working as a domestic servant. Her sister, Francis, who was eleven years older, joined the church at the same time. They both became members of the Brighton Branch of the Kent Missionary Conference.
In November 1851, Emma moved back to Uckfield where her membership record was transferred to the Uckfield Branch. When the branch was disorganized four years later in September 1855, there were twenty-one members listed. Emma was the only person on the list with the surname of Batchelor, an indication that her father nor any of the children still at home were members.
In 1855 she decided to emigrate to America. The Church provided assistance for persons who had no means to embark on such a journey through an organization known as the Perpetual Emigration Fund. Emma applied for such assistance at the Liverpool Mission office and began gathering food, clothing and other provisions to make the move.
About eight months later, preparations were complete and she was notified to be in Liverpool in the third week in May. The ship "Horizon" was scheduled to depart the Bramley Moore Dock in Liverpool on May 22, 1856; destination, Boston Harbor, Massachusetts, USA. Emma was one among eight hundred fifty-six passengers, almost three-fourths of whom were patrons of the Perpetual Emigration Fund. Part of the agreement was that the emigrating party would, upon arrival in the Valley, repay the fund with what usually amounted to one year of service in the home or on the farm of the settler with whom they stayed. Elder Edward Martin, who had recently completed a three year mission in Great Britain, was named president of the company.
The ship departed the docks in a timely manner on the appointed day, a Friday. At about noon the huge ropes which bound her were cast off and she began to dip and sway as a little pilot boat nudged her out into the River Mersey, her bow pointed toward the Irish Sea.
That was a solemn moment for the emigrants. It was a certainty for most of them, including Emma, that that would be their last view of their homeland. "Farewell to Thee, England." One of those aboard had written a few poetic verses for the occasion, expressing the feelings of the departing emigrants as they stood at the rail watching the Liverpool shoreline fade into the distance.
Farewell to thee, England, bright home of my sires,
Thou pride of the free man and boast of the brave.
I have loved thee and never till being expires
Can I learn to forget thee, thou star of the wave.
There followed ten verses describing that somewhat melancholy hour of departure and expression of hope for the future. Those feelings were probably shared by all those aboard, and while the coastline receded, they spontaneously joined in singing the old English air, "My Native Land I Love Thee."
After departure, President Martin and his counselors lost no time in organizing the large assemblage into nine wards with a "President" over each.
The crossing to Boston Harbor took thirty-four days as the "Horizon" proved to be an excellent sailing ship. Although during much of the voyage, head winds predominated, the ship pushed continually westward against the head winds by tacking to port and starboard as required. It was considered to be a good crossing.
The railway cars waiting the company to take them on to Iowa City, Iowa, proved to be little more than box cars with seats built up inside. No one complained for they were the means of moving rapidly to their next destination It took about four days to span the distance to the end of the railway. The gathering place was on the plains a few miles beyond Iowa City. While there Emma renewed her friendship with a former acquaintance, Elizabeth Summers, who was with the James G. Willie company; they had arrived in America three weeks ahead of the "Horizon" on the ship "Thornton."
The trek from that point on was to be by handcart, but the handcarts being constructed in Iowa were not ready when they arrived. They were almost a month behind schedule.
Had Emma known beforehand the terrible hardships of the journey ahead, she would probably have remained where she was until the next season. But when Elizabeth suggested she switch to the Willie Company so they could make the trip together, Emma readily agreed. She became a member of the Willie Handcart Company, the third to set out from Iowa City that year just ahead of the Martin Company with which she had crossed the Atlantic.
That proved only a temporary change, however, for under circumstances of her own choosing, Emma decided after a few weeks of travel, to return to the Martin Handcart Company and stopped at Fort Laramie to await their arrival. The fort was located along the Platte River about two-thirds of the way to Salt Lake City. The Martin group arrived seven days later at the Fort. The company remained overnight and were on their way early the next morning, and of course, Emma was with them.
The season for leaving was becoming very late but with luck they would make it through before the winter storms would close the roads and mountain passes ahead. By the second week in October they were still hundreds of miles from Salt Lake. They had not yet crossed the steepest ranges or the highest passes and everyone was growing trail weary. When Captain Martin ordered a reduction in both the daily flour ration and the weight of baggage per person on the carts, it meant for some of them, discarding extra blankets and clothing.
In the two days following, they were confronted with the first severe storm of the season, hail, sleet, and snow accompanied by a frigid north wind. The mistake in throwing away both blankets and clothing was immediately recognized. That night as the damp ground froze solid, more than a few of them wondered about the immediate future and hoped that that was just a single change in the weather to be followed by the return of warmer days.
During the next week the cold became so intense that scores of men, women, and children in the company suffered its effects and became too weak to continue the journey. It is amazing that despite the cold weather and the continued storms, so many survived. Approximately four hundred fifty of the six hundred who started the journey lived to reach the valley. Emma Batchelor was among the survivors. She later attributed her ability to endure under such stringent conditions to the care she took, especially in crossing streams and rivers. She always removed her shoes and stockings, placing them on the handcart, then hitched up her skirt and pulled the cart through. On the other side, she took time to dry her feet thoroughly, followed with a brisk massage with her wool shawl. Then she put on dry stockings and shoes. After overcoming seemingly insurmountable odds, the company arrived in the Salt Lake Valley the first week in December.
The immigrants were quickly taken into the homes of the settlers and made as comfortable as possible. Many had frozen fingers, toes, and feet. All of them suffered malnutrition.
Emma, of course, had no relatives in Salt Lake, so she was taken into the home of Brother and Sister Kippen. As soon as she recovered her normal good health, she became an employee in the Kippen household. She described her position later as no more than a personal servant to Sister Kippen, an experience that was not positive. She felt she was not treated well by them and soon became disgusted with the arrangement.
After the required year of working to satisfy the PE Fund agreement she left to seek employment elsewhere. It was about that time that she met John D. Lee, who was in Salt Lake from southern Utah, representing Washington County in the state legislature. Becoming acquainted with Emma in the home of James Henry Rollins in Salt Lake, they were mutually attracted to one another and were married with President Brigham Young's approbation and took place in the president's own sealing room on January 7, 1858.
At adjournment of the legislature on the twenty-second, and after taking care of some last minute business, they headed south toward Harmony. During the trip, she sat at John's side genuinely interested in his bartering activities for various commodities along the way.
Emma lived at Fort Harmony and New Harmony for the next twelve years. Those were happy, productive times in her life. She shared in assignments and responsibilities in Lee's large household, and he eventually built her a modest home of her own on his property at New Harmony. She bore five of her seven children while living there.
When her husband was executed for his participation in the Mountain Meadows Massacre, she was living at the ferry on the Colorado River. John had transferred the deed to the property into her name several years before his death and thus the place became hers when he died. She operated the ferry for the following two years, then sold out and moved deeper into Arizona. She later married a former acquaintance, Frank French, who was many years her senior. They seemed to get along well even though he was gone on gold prospecting ventures much of the time.
Emma Batchelor was intelligent, self-reliant, and determined in achieving her goals. A biography printed years ago following her death described how the people of Winslow, Arizona where she lived for many years, knew and appreciated her for her considerable healing powers:
"She could take out a bullet, sew up a knife wound, fend off Indians and exist on nothing but hope. It was as if life had decided she didn't need any favors..."
On the morning of November 11, 1897, at the age of sixty-two, Emma passed away. She arose one morning, prepared breakfast for her husband and began getting ready to start rounds as a medical practitioner. She complained of being unusually tired and suddenly fell to the floor. Her death was instantaneous.
Her funeral was the biggest event the town of Winslow had experienced up to that time. Townspeople, ranchers, railroad men and native Americans, all recipients of her healing ministrations, gathered from miles around. Out of respect to Emma's unusual dedication to her work with the railroad, the company issued a special order for the day. All trains passing through Winslow were to halt for a few minutes, then proceed at a slow pace. Neither while entering the yard limits nor while leaving were whistles to be blown or bells sounded.
The three-foot-high limestone marker that was placed over her grave has in the last hundred years so eroded that information carved on it is barely discernible, although the name Dr. French, by which she became known in her medical practice, can still be readily deciphered.
Like that old faded marker the memory of Emma Batchelor to the people of Winslow has faded. To members of the Lee family, however, she will ever be remembered as the beloved English-born wife of their ancestor, who by sheer faith and indomitable courage, left her home in England, crossed the United States under life-threatening hardships, to arrive at her Zion destination where she met and married our ancestor. She dearly loved her husband and accompanied him faithfully to some of the "loneliest Dells" on the face of the earth.
She married (1) James RIPPIN.
Emma married (2) John Doyle LEE 7 Jan 1858 in Salt Lake City, Salt Lake, Utah.
They had 8 children:
i. John Henry LEE, born 30 Jun 1859 in Fort Harmony, Washington, Utah, died in infancy 7 Jul 1859 in Fort Harmony, Washington, Utah, and was buried 10 Jul 1859 in Fort Harmony, Washington, Utah.
ii. William James LEE, born 16 Dec 1860, died 20 Nov 1920.
iii. Isaac "Ike" LEE, born 29 Nov 1863, died 9 Nov 1892.
iv. Rachel Emma LEE, born 22 Jul 1866 in New Harmony, Washington, Utah. She married Frank CLIFF.
v. Ana Eliza LEE, born 22 Jul 1866 in New Harmony, Washington, Utah. She married Barney HALEY.
vi. Frances Dell "Dellie" LEE, born 17 Jan 1872 in Lonely Dell, Coconino, Arizona. She married David BLAIR.
vii. ________ LEE, born 15 Nov 1873 in Lonely Dell, Coconino, Arizona.
viii. Victoria Elizabeth LEE, born 25 Oct 1875 in Lonely Dell, Coconino, Arizona. She married ________ McDONNELL.
Emma married (3) Frank FRENCH.
Emma Batchelor's Timeline
April 21, 1836
Uckfield, East Sussex, UK
January 7, 1858
Salt Lake City, Salt Lake, Utah, USA
November 16, 1897
Winslow, AZ, USA
November 18, 1897