Harriet Walker (Paul) (1848 - 1897)

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Birthplace: Bissow Hall, Perranarworthal, Cornwall, England
Death: Died
Managed by: Carlos Thomas
Last Updated:
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Immediate Family

About Harriet Walker (Paul)

Harriet Paul, daughter of Nicholas Paul and Harriet May, was born 23 Feb. 1848 at Bissow Hall, Perranarworthal, Cornwall, England. She was the oldest child in a family of eleven brothers and sisters.

Nicholas Paul, Harriet's, father was selected by the British Government to move to Cape Town located in the Union of South Africa. The family left England in 1849 to make their home in the strange land of Africa. Nicholas was twenty-five years old and was just getting started in business when he and several other well educated men were required to go to, South Africa to strengthen the British Colony located on the southern end of the Continent of Africa.

Harriet was less than a year old when her parents loaded their possessions and sailed for South Africa. Sailing time, two months. South Africa, at that time could be compared to the western United States. While Cape Town was fairly safe, the outer districts were subject to attacks by the native tribes, Kaffers and the Zulus. Also, the threat of war with the Dutch settlers, or Bores was always present.

Cape Town became a bustling business center for the Colony. Goods poured in from all over South Africa to be shipped to distant ports; wool, beef, grain, fruit and ostrich feathers. As these goods filtered into Cape Town, warehouses, packing sheds and dock facilities were in great demand. Nicholas Paul soon became the senior partner of a thriving Construction Company.

Harriet’s father built a home for his family in Mowbray. Mowbray is located about three miles south of Cape Town. Life in the Cape Town area became quite enjoyable. The Paul’s were moderately wealthy. They were well liked, respected and influential, in the Community.

Harriet gives us a look at her home life in South Africa. She remembered the Kaffer salesmen and women who carried large baskets of fruit and vegetables on their heads as they went from door to door selling their wares. The fruit baskets were loaded with pears, grapes and oranges.

The Paul, family had servants. These servants brought their meals to them every day at regular times. The meal was brought on heated stones to keep it warm. A second basket was also brought in with additional food for each meal. The families' dirty clothes were sent out to be washed and ironed. A Kaffer maid was employed to take care of the house.

The family spent many afternoons in the park. Every tree and shrub seemed to glow with colorful song birds. They also went swimming and played around the lake followed by a picnic.

The feeding of the ostriches was very interesting to the young children. Harriett said, “We were never willing to leave the Park without feeding the ostriches. We always brought a bag of oranges. We had to put the oranges on a stick and shove it through an opening in the fence.”

“Our greatest shock came when we filled one of our good English Tea Cups with leftover food, held it at the opening. The Cup was immediately grabbed and the Ostrich gulped it down with much the same ease as he had swallowed the oranges. It was fun to see whole, oranges go down their gullets, but to see one of our, good tea cups go down the same way left us with a moment of consternation.”

She also told of watching men, on horseback, trying to Lasso one of these huge birds when they escaped from their pen. When approached the ostrich would hide its head, in the sand. When cornered he would, attack with his powerful legs and razor sharp claws. She mentioned that ostrich feathers sold for as high as $50.00 each.

Harriet also described the scene around Cape Town. She said, “There were massive mountains surrounding the City, the Lion's Head, Devil's Peak, and Table Mountain. A good road led to the top of these mountains. The family sometimes traveled to the top, during the hot weather. We also enjoyed the cool ocean breezes. We could only make these trips when Father could go.” Regretfully, this is the extent of Harriet’s writings. If more was written it has been lost or destroyed.

It is reasonable to assume that the Paul’s educated their children either by teaching them themselves or by hiring a tutor. Harriet was a very well educated and intelligent, twelve year old by the time the Paul family left Africa. She excelled in the identification of herbs and their use in the treatment of the ill.

A great event took place in the Paul family when her father brought home a Mormon Missionary by the name of William Holmes Walker. He taught them the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Harriet's father accepted the new Gospel and was baptized by Elder Walker, 23 June 1853. He was either the first or second man to be baptized by those having the authority in South Africa.

Seven years later the Paul Family decided to join the Saints in Salt Lake City, Utah. Harriet was now twelve years old when she and the family boarded the Sail Ship ‘Mary Pierce’. The ship left Cape Town March 7, 1860. The ship made ports of call at St. Helena Island and St Thomas in the West Indies. The ship arrived in New York City 11 June 1860. The journey took nearly seven months to complete.

Harriet and her family left New York City and traveled to Albany, New York. They went on to Buffalo, New York and then to St. Louis, St. Joseph, Missouri and then to Florence, Nebraska. In Florence they, joined the Stoddard Company. The Stoddard wagon train left Florence the 4 of July 1860 for Salt Lake City. They arrived in Salt Lake City 24 September 1860. The end of an eleven thousand mile trip. In all probability this trip was the first time the Paul children had to work and help take care of themselves.

The family was met in Salt Lake City by William Holmes Walker. He and the family enjoyed the opportunity, of seeing an old friend and friends. After a short time in Salt Lake City the Paul family was asked by Brigham Young to settle in the community of Fillmore, Utah. Harriet was baptized on 2 Apri1 1868.


When Harriet was seventeen years of age she decided to marry William Holmes Walker although he was 28 years older than she. William was a polygamist and had three wives, she would be William's fourth wife. Her father and mother were not too happy with her decision.

Harriet and William were married in the Endowment House in Salt Lake City 23 April 1865. Needless to say Harriet wasn't welcomed into the Walker Clan by wives, two and three. Jealousy raised its ugly head. Here was a seventeen year old woman, pretty, petite, and well educated. Although we cannot confirm the following facts we do know she came from small stock. We may assume she stood about five feet in height and weighed about 100 pounds. It is sad to note that a picture of Harriet has never surfaced. To make her lot more difficult, her speech was Old World English, sprinkled with a South Africa accent. This combination would have, made it difficult to understand her.

Wives, number two and three, ridiculed and shunned her. They and their children pulled dirty tricks on her and her family. However they were quick to call on her skills in the use of herbs when one of their family members became ill.

One day Harriet's father arrived at her home and found some of his grandchildren tied up and put in a rain barrel with only their faces above water. Nicholas also discovered his daughter had been tied up by some of William's, older children, older than she was. Nicholas exploded and when he found William, grabbed him, and, bluntly told him if he couldn't straighten things out quickly, he would take his daughter and, grandchildren back to Holden, Utah. Apparently, Harriet never complained to William of the treatment she and her family was receiving from the other families.

Harriet's first child, Lorin Paul, was born 31 May 1866 in Salt Lake City, Utah. For the next several years the families would live in, Oak Creek, Millard County, Utah; Holliday, Salt Lake County and then to Big Cottonwood, Utah.


William bought the Farr Estates which was located a little more, than nine miles South East of Temple Square. The Estates boarded on Cottonwood Creek. William divided the Farr Estates into thirds. He built three adobe two story houses. He finished these houses with white stucco. All of these houses had panel doors and were also fitted with screen doors. The rooms were plastered throughout. The floors had a good tongue and groove flooring and the shingles were the best grade of white shingles that were brought by team and wagon from Weber Canyon.

The first three families moved into their new homes in December 1872. Harriet and her family moved into the house that Winslow Farr had built for his family.


Elizabeth, Harriet's sixth child and third daughter, wrote somewhat of the family home in Cottonwood. Elizabeth wrote, “We were much pleased with our home. The surroundings were both interesting and inviting. Father paid $5,500.00 for the property. Much of it had to be cleared. The lower fields had willows, birches, cottonwoods, both large and small. The bench portion had scrub oak, squaw brush, wild roses and sage brush.”

“Father obtained orchard stock from the East and planted three orchards. (These orchards. and farm land were for the three families with children.) The orchard had early and late pears, also winter pears. There were several varieties of peaches, early and late, as well as several varieties of apples”

“Near the house was the garden spot. Here we raised the finest vegetables, melons and squash. There were strawberries, red rhubarb, big and long; gooseberries; red and white currants and raspberries, red and black.”

"We also had some good cows and fine horses. Father bought new machinery in the spring of 1873 and began to farm. He had been engaged in cattle raising in Dixie. When he moved to Oak Creek he built a saw mill and a flour mill. He drove his stock there and bought some purebred Durhams. He paid a hansom price for a Red Durham Sire. He also bought a splendid stallion. It was some of this stock we had on our farm at Cottonwood. About this same time Father bought three Singer Sewing Machines one for each family."

Life never runs smooth and so it was with the Walker Family. Shortly after moving his families to Cottonwood, Federal Marshals moved into Utah in 1874 to arrest and jail the men that were practicing plural marriage. This effort would continue until 1890 when an amnesty was extended to those who practiced plural marriage before that date.

William' was forced to flee his home to avoid being arrested and spent several years avoiding the Federal Marshals by, traveling to and from Idaho and Utah. Being on the run, support for his families came to an abrupt end. The older families were not totally dependent on William. These families had children old enough to do the farming and support their families.

Harriet and her family were not so fortunate. Her children were too young to handle the stock and farm. She and her family often went cold and hungry and received very little help from the other families.

Her oldest Granddaughter, Laura, related the following story. “If it hadn't been for the family cat the family would have starved to death. Each day the cat would bring a rabbit into the house to be used by family.”

In 1878 Lorin became twelve years old and with the help of his brother Charles (about ten) took over the total support of his Mother and the family. In addition to farming the forty acres of land, Lorin supplemented the family income by hauling coal from the Utah coal mines.

Elizabeth states, "Mother had supervision of her own family and charge of her own affairs. S he seemed to be endowed with the facility to give each child a responsibility and so interest each one in the home, in duties both outside and in. Ambition to help with willingness was skillfully created.”

“Our thrift was soon evident. The increase in our cattle and crops, our fine orchard, berries and our vegetable garden was the proof.”

She goes on to say, “In the fall of 1875 Father was confronted with a problem. He had all his children at Cottonwood but there was no school. He fitted up a room and hired Mrs. Martha Moses as the teacher. He put fifteen of his children in school. A number of neighbors desired to enter their children in the school. They were accepted. Later in 1876 a School District was formed. A school house was built and it was also used as a Ward building.”

Through the years Harriet gave William eleven children. They, all grew to maturity. She was a good mother and taught her children well. The boys took their turn supporting the family as the older boys left home, married and started families of their own. Harriet's posterity have filled many important Church callings. It is hard to estimate, how many grandsons and granddaughters have filled honorable missions for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The count still goes on.

Harriet Paul Walker died at the age of 49. Her older children finished raising the younger children. Elizabeth gives us an account of Harriet’s last day, her death and funeral.

Elizabeth was 22 years old when her Mother died, she reports: “Mother took me to school, the University of Utah, Monday morning. She then went shopping and bought material for Laura's two dresses. She had them nearly completed when she suddenly became very ill.

Tuesday, after midnight, Brother Frank came to bring me home. At one AM mother was in terrible pain. Lorenzo had been sent for the Doctor. The Doctor had a bad maternity case and couldn't come. He sent powders, wrapped in small squares of paper, numbered one, two and three. The Doctor told Lorenzo, “If she is not better comeback for me and I will, come.” After taking a powder she was soon relieved from pain.

I sat on the edge of the bed and held her hand. She talked of the usual things of interest. I had to ask her what made her so violently ill. She said, “I was sewing sleeves on the last dress when one fell to the floor. I reached to pick it up. I could hardly raise up. A pain cut me through from side to side”. With her right hand she drew, with her finger, a line from left, to right just below her ribs. She continued, “I didn't sew the sleeve. I felt it almost impossible to get to the bedroom. At last Wilford came into the house and heard my distressing call. He hurried to me and then called Charles and Lorenzo. They were with the cattle.”

We were to give her a powder at 8: 00 AM. She and I were talking. Mother said, "I feel rather tired. I think I'll turn over and get a little rest." I stood up, and raised the covers. She seemed to turn with ease. I straightened the covers and placed them over her again. I sat on the bed and I could hear her breathe. She seemed to be breathing normally. It was now past 8:00 a.m. when I heard her take a long breath, and expel it suddenly. I looked at her face, her lips were parted slightly showing her teeth. Her lips and chin were slightly sagged sideways. I lifted her hand it was limp. Her eyes were closed and the color was gone from her face. MOTHER WAS GONE!

Our Mother had left us so suddenly that our home truly became a house of mourning. Father was in Lewisville, Idaho and we sent him a telegram. Friends and neighbors did all they could to help us in our distress. Lorenzo met Father at the Depot and told him what I had said about buying a white casket and having a white hearse. Father said, "We will buy the White Coffin and have a White Hearse. The viewing was held in the home.

We were all assembled near her. Father was at the head of the Casket and spoke saying, “It helps us some to see her looking very nice. I think she is pleased to have these beautiful Temple clothes to wear. I'm sure she would have wanted this beautiful white casket. She will always remember the nice things we have done.”

We all seemed to feel a little better. The White Hearse backed to the North end of the house. Two surries waited in the drive to take us to the Chapel.

The square at the Chapel was filled to capacity with vehicles, horse drawn, surries, buggies and wagons. The Schoolyard was also used to park buggies. The Chapel was filled to capacity with people filling the isles. Although it was January there was an abundance of flowers.

Speakers at the Funeral Service were close friends of Mother and Father; Lorin Farr, Winslow Farr, Apostle John Henry Smith, (President George Albert Smith's father) and John Taylor. James Nielson was the soloist. He also conducted the Choir with proper songs. At the Cemetery, when we saw the casket placed over the grave and as they began to lower that casket our feelings were beyond control. The cause of Harriet's death was never determined.

Harriet's body was later exhumed and taken to the Lewisville, Idaho, cemetery where she was buried. She shares a grave site along with the other wives. The grave is marked with a pentagon shaped tall stone, giving the names of the wives and their husband William Holmes Walker.

This article originated from the archives of the John Walker Family Organization. The author is unknown, but believed to be Elizabeth Jane Walker Piepgrass, who was a prominent family historian and author. She compiled the book "The Life Incidents and Travels of Elder William Holmes Walker" and his association with Joseph Smith the Prophet. This book was first published in 1943 with subsequent publications in 1971, 1975, and 1998 by the John Walker Family Organization.

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Harriet Walker's Timeline

1848
February 23, 1848
Perranarworthal, Cornwall, England
1870
February 10, 1870
Age 21
Oak City, Millard, Utah
1878
August 31, 1878
Age 30
Big Cottonwood, Holladay, Salt Lake, UT
1897
1897
Age 48
????