About Harriet Rich (Sargent)
Harriet Sargent Rich, wife of Apostle Charles C. Rich, was born Oct. 23, 1832, in Fountain County, Indiana, the daughter of Abel Morgan Sargent and Sarah Edwards. Her father, who was born in Kentucky in 1801, taught school in Floyd county, Indiana, where he married Sarah Edwards, daughter of a wealthy family.
Harriet's parents became members of the Church, and during the persecution (being driven from their homes by mobs) her mother died, leaving seven children, the eldest (Martha J.) being twelve years old. Harriet was seven years old. The loss of his wife caused Bro. Sargent to leave his smaller children with their grandparents, who later refused to give them up, but he subsequently secured them and took them away.
After many trials and the loss of two children, preparations were made to start for the Rocky Mountains, but in the meantime Bro. Sargent, responding to a call of the United States Government, became a member of the Mormon Battalion. Before starting on his journey he placed his children with different families. His health falling on the march, he was sent with the sick detachment from Santa Fe to Pueblo, to spend the winter. The following year (1847) he went to the Valley, but returned to his children on the Missouri river later the same year. While standing guard over some cattle he was suddenly stricken with cholera and died in a few hours. His only son (Thomas Sargent) died the same night; they were both buried in one grave. Sister Harriet lived three months on the Missouri river and was married to Charles C. Rich, as a sixth wife in March, 1847. Her life was proof of her belief that all these wives were all sacred helpmates. The following June (1847) the companies of Saints started toward the West from the Missouri river. Harriet drove a team most of the way across the plains and arrived in the Valley Oct. 5, 1847, having made the journey in three months and eighteen days. Her husband's mother Nancy O'Neil Rich, died on the day of their arrival, her death being the first in the Valley. When Chas. C. Rich, together with Amasa M. Lyman, was called to California in 1851 to establish a settlement, Harriet accompanied her husband on that mission and thus became one of the founders of San Bernardino, Cal. She returned to Utah with her husband in 1857. While on the journey Harriet's only daughter died at the Mountain Meadows. The body was placed in a zinc casket which was sealed and brought home In her wagon for burial.
When Apostle Rich was called to colonize Bear Lake Valley in 1863, Harriet again accompanied him and thus became one of the first settlers of Paris, Bear Lake county, Idaho, which place became her permanent home. Thus Harriet's life was one of pioneering, fraught with constant hardship and toil. She was the mother of ten children, namely:
Franklin D., Morgan J., Adelbert C. Alvin O., Abel G., Martha Caroline, Druscilla Streger, Harriet Tunis, Harley T., Luna
In the early pioneer days of Utah and Idaho it was necessary to understand the art of making cloth, both flannel and linsey, carding and spinning, knitting and coloring, all of which branches of industry were mastered by Sister Harriet. Native Indians taught her how to tan and dress the skins of animals which she used in making gloves. Her first dress after reaching Salt Lake Valley was made from flour sacks, and colored with willow leaves. She was an excellent housekeeper and though her life was crowded with work, she was ever ready to make any sacrifice for the benefit of her children.
For many years she as an officer in the Ward Relief Society assisted the sick and cared for the dead. She was particularly interested in orphans. She helped to fight crickets and dig sego roots for food and she shared in all the hardships of pioneer life. After the death of her husband in 1883, she spent thirty years of her life as a widow, but lived long enough to enjoy thirty-five grandchildren and twenty-three great grandchildren.
She died at Centerville, July 18, 1915, nearly 84 years old. Her life was a living testimony of God's goodness to all who put their trust in him. She often declared that the sweet influence of prayer guided her whole career in life.