Phoebe Whittemore Woodruff (Carter) (1807 - 1885)

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Birthplace: Scarboro, Cumberland, ME, USA
Death: Died in Salt Lake City, UT, USA
Managed by: Brandt Joseph Gibson
Last Updated:

About Phoebe Whittemore Woodruff (Carter)

Phoebe W. Carter Woodruff

Wife of Wilford Woodruff

President of the Twelve Apostles of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

I, Phoebe W. Carter, wife of Apostle Wilford Woodruff, was born in Scarboro, in the State of Maine, March 8th, 1807. My father was of English descent, coming to America at about the close of the seventeenth century. My mother, Sarah Fabyan, was also of England, and of the third generation from England. The name of Fabyan is ancient, and of a noble family. My father’s family, also, much of the old Puritan stamp.

In the year 1834, I embraced the Gospel, as revealed through the Prophet Joseph Smith, and, about a year after, I left my parents and kindred, and journeyed to Kirtland, Ohio, a distance of one thousand miles, a lone maid, sustained only by my faith and trust in Israel’s God. My friends marvelled at my course, as did I, but something within impelled me on. My mother’s grief at my leaving home was almost more than I could bear; and had it not been for the spirit within I should have faltered at the last. My mother told me she would rather see me buried than going thus alone into the heartless world, and especially was she concerned about my leaving hoome to cast my lot among the Mormons. “Phoebe,” she said, impressivelly, “will you come back to me if you find Mormonism false?” I answered thrise, “Yes, mother, I will.” These were my words well remembered to this day; she knew I would keep my promise. My answer relieved her trouble; but it cost us all much sorrow to part. When the time came for my departure I dared not trust myself to say farewell, so I wrote my good-bye to each, and leaving them on my table, ran down stairs and jumped into the carriage. Thus I left my beloved home of childhood to link my life with the Saints of God.

When I arrived in Kirtland I became acquainted with the Prophet Joseph Smith, and received more evidence of his divine mission. There in Kirtland I formed the acquaintance of Elder Wilford Woodruff, to whom I was married in 1836. WIth him I went to the “Islands of the Sea”, and to England, on missions. Here I will bear my testimony to the power of God which I have often seen manifested among the Latter-day Saints. The following is one notable instance:

When the Saints were settling Nauvoo, the unhealthy labor of breaking new land on the banks of the Mississippi for the founding of the city, invited pestilence. Nearly everyone was attacked with fever and ague. The Prophet had the sick borne into his house and dooryard until the place was like a hospital. At length even he succombed to the deadly contagion and for several days was as helpless as the rest of our people, who were all nearly exhausted by their extermination from Missouri. But the spirit of the Lord came down upon Joseph, commanding him to arise and stay the pestilence. The Prophet arose from his bed and the power of God rested upon him. He commenced in his own house and dooryard, commanding the sick in the name of Jesus Christ to arise and be made whole; and they were healed according to his word. He then continued to travel from house to house, and from tent to tent, upon the bank of the river, healing the sick as he went, until he arrived at the upper stone house, where he crossed the river in a boat accompanied by several of the Quorum of the Twelve, whom he had bade to follow him, and landed in Montrose. He walked into the cabin of Brigham Young, who was lying sick, and commanded him in the name of Jesus Christ to arise and be made whole, and follow him, which he did. They came to our house next, and Joseph bade Mr. Woodruff, also, to follow, and then they went to the house of Brother Elijah Fordham, who was supposed by his family and friends to have been dying, for two weeks. The Prophet stepped to his bedside, took him by the hand, and commanded him in the name of Jesus Christ to arise from his bed and be made whole. His voice, Joseph Smith’s, was as the voice of God. Brother Fordham instantly leaped from his bed, called for his clothing and dressed himself, and followed the Apostles into the street. They then went into the house of Brother Joseph B. Noble, who lay very sick, and he was healed in like manner. And when by the power of God granted unto him, Joseph had healed all the sick, he recrossed the river and returned to his own house. Thousands of witnesses bear testimony of the miracle. It was a day never to be forgotten. Hearing of the case of Brother Fordham, whom I with the rest had believed to be dying, I thought I would go and see with my own eyes. I found him very happy, sitting in his chair. He told me he had been out to work in his garden. This was only a few hours after the miracle. From that day I never doubted that this was the work of God.

It will be expected that I should say something on polygamy. I have this to say. When the principle of plural marriage was first taught, I thought it was the most wicked thing I ever heard of; consequently I opposed it to the best of my ability, until I became sick and wretched. As soon, however, as I became convinced that it originated as a revelation from God through Joseph, knowing him to be a prophet, I wrestled with my Heavenly Father in fervent prayer, to be guided aright at that all-important moment of my life. The answer came. Peace was given to my mind. I knew it was the will of God; and from that time to the present I have sought to faithfully honor the patriarchal law.

Of Joseph, my testimony is that he was one of the greatest prophets the Lord ever called, that he lived for the redemption of mankind and died a martyr for the truth. The love of the Saints for him will never die.

It was after the martyrdom of Joseph that I accompanied my husband to Europe in 1845. On our return the advance companies of the Saints had left Nauvoo under President Young and others of the Twelve. We followed immediately and journeyed to Winter Quarters. The next year my husband went with the pioneers to the mountains while the care of the family rested on me. After his return and the re-organization of the First Presidency, I accompanied my husband on his mission to the Eastern States. In 1850 we arrived in the Valley and since that time Salt Lake City has been my home.

Of my husband, I can truly say I have found him a worthy man with scarcely his superior on earth. He has built up a branch of the Church wherever he has labored. He has been faithful to God and his family, every day of his life. My respect for him has increased with our years, and my desire for an eternal union with him will be the last wish of my mortal life.

At the first organization of the Relief Society in the Fourteenth Ward, in the spring of 1857, Mrs. Woodruff was chosen by Bishop A. Hoagland as President, which position she held until by the “move” south, the society was discontinued. After their return she was invited to resume her position, but so much of the family care and management of business devolved upon her as her husband’s faithful partner, that she felt she could not do justice to that object, and Bishop Hoagland asked her to nominate her successor. She chose her first counselor, Mary Isabella Horne. Mrs. Woodruff is also one of the presiding board of six, over the General Retrenchment Meetings, held semi-monthly in the Fourteenth Ward. In May, 1882, Mrs. Woodruff was elected one of the Executive Board of the Deseret Hospital. She often accompanies Apostle Wilford Woodruff on his visits among the settlements, holding meetings with the sisters, who look upon her as one of the wisest women in the knowledge of the Scriptures and in her counsels among her sisters in the Church. The record of her life and labors would make a deeply interesting volume which could not fail to inspire the youth of Zion with a desire to emulate her worthy example, and the hearts of older ones with admiration and reverence. The eighteen years of our acquaintance have served to strengthen and beautify my friendship for Phoebe W. Woodruff, as wife, mother, and Saint. It seems but fitting, to record here that the mother and father of Sister Woodruff were baptized by Apostle Wilford Woodruff. Thus ended all the fears of a Puritan mother.

Quoting an historian of note (himself an occupant of part of the Woodruff residence for a long period): “Sister Phoebe W. Woodruff is one of the noblest examples of her sex,—truly a mother in Israel; and in her strength of character, consistency and devotion, she has but few peers in the Church.”

Phoebe Whittemore Carter

1807 - 1885

Birth 8 Mar 1807 Scarboro, Maine

Gender Female

Died 10 Nov 1885 Salt Lake City, Salt Lake, Utah

Family Wilford Woodruff, 4th P of Ch of Jc of Lds, b. 1 Mar 1807, Farmington, Hartford, Connecticut, USA , d. 2 Sep 1898, San Francisco, , California, USA

Married 13 Apr 1837 Kirtland,Geauga,Ohio

Children

	1. Sarah Emma Woodruff,   b. 14 Jul 1838, Scarboro, Maine ,   d. 17 Jul 1840, Nauvoo, Illinois 
	2. Wilford Woodruff,   b. 22 Mar 1840, Montrose, Lee, Iowa 
	3. Phoebe Amelia Woodruff,   b. 4 Mar 1842, Nauvoo, Illinois 
	4. Susan Cornelia Woodruff,   b. 25 Jul 1843, Nauvoo, Illinois ,   d. 6 Oct 1897, Sioux City, Iowa 
	5. Joseph Woodruff,   b. 18 Jul 1845, Liverpool, England ,   d. 12 Nov 1846, Winter Quarters, Nebraska 
	6. Ezra Woodruff,   b. 8 Dec 1846, Winter Quarters, Nebraska ,   d. 10 Dec 1846, Winter Quarters, Nebraska 
	7. Sarah Carter Woodruff,   b. 28 Oct 1847, Council Bluffs, Iowa ,   d. 22 Jul 1848, Illinois 
	8. Beulah Augusta Woodruff,   b. 19 Jul 1851, Salt Lake City, Salt Lake, Utah ,   d. 13 Jan 1905, Salt Lake City, Salt Lake, Utah 
	9. Aphek Woodruff,   b. 25 Jan 1853, Salt Lake City, Salt Lake, Utah ,   d. 25 Jan 1853, Salt Lake City, Salt Lake, Utah 
view all 13

Phoebe Whittemore Woodruff (Carter)'s Timeline

1807
March 8, 1807
Scarboro, Cumberland, ME, USA
1837
April 13, 1837
Age 30
Kirtland, Geauga, Ohio, USA
1838
July 14, 1838
Age 31
Scarboro, Cumberland, ME, USA
1840
March 22, 1840
Age 33
Montrose, Lee, Iowa, USA
1842
March 4, 1842
Age 34
Nauvoo, Hancock, Illinois, USA
1843
July 25, 1843
Age 36
Nauvoo, Hancock, Illinois, USA
1845
July 18, 1845
Age 38
Liverpool, Lancashire, England
1846
December 8, 1846
Age 39
Omaha, Douglas County, Nebraska, United States
1847
October 28, 1847
Age 40
Council Bluffs, Pottawattamie, IO, USA
1851
July 19, 1851
Age 44
Salt Lake City (Salt Lake) Utah