EMILY DOW PARTRIDGE
From a talk given at the Granddaughters luncheon in 1948 by Georgie Hardy.
Emily Dow Partridge was born in Painsville, Geauga County, Ohio, on the 28th day of February, 1824; she was the daughter of Edward Partridge and Lydia Clisbee whose families came from the British Isles and settled in Massachusetts. The Partridge family is traced authentically back to 1644 when William Partridge came to America; before this there is evidence that the family was located on the Tweed River, presumably in Scotland. The known genealogy of the Clisbee family goes back to the time of William the Conqueror and of the nobility of that time.
When Emily Dow was born the family was prospering in the Ohio town. She was the third daughter in a family of five girls and two boys, one of the latter dying in infancy. Her father was a hatter with a thriving business, and he had accumulated other property to a considerable extent. Their home, a large two-story frame house, was comfortable and pleasant, with living room, bedrooms and kitchen, and also closets and cellars for storage. The house was set well back from the street with grass, flowers of many kinds, and shrubs in front; at the rear the garden plot yielded many varieties of vegetables and small fruits. An orchard of pear, plum and apple trees grew beyond the garden, and still further out was pasture land and wood land. At one side of the house was a well, and grape arbors heavy with fruit added to the beauty of the homestead.
Her father’s hat factory was near the dwelling and the children found this a most delightful place to explore. Although very young when they moved away, Emily must have learned much of her father’s business, for in her later life she was very clever in the matter of cutting and shaping materials, and dying and fashioning clothes. There was plenty of space for the children to play right at home, but like all children, they liked to go to the neighbors. She tells of being the most mischievous of the flock, and having to be tied to the bed for running away. Her punishment, evidently, was not too severe for she would soon forget it and be as happy as ever. She had an inquisitive disposition which led her to explore every nook and corner of the home and its surroundings. They all had plenty to eat and wear, and in looking back on her childhood later in time, she said that her father must have been a fairly rich man.
She was a shy child with huge black eyes and dark hair, and was sensitive to an uncommon degree; things that happened in her childhood made a lasting impression on her, a characteristic which later promoted and strengthened her devotion to and faith in the Church. She must have had a vivid imagination for she said, as a child, she could remember of being in attendance at her mother and father’s wedding, but that as she got older the memory of this event faded until she had no recollection of it at all.
Her father and mother joined the Church in 1830, and then their troubles began. With the exception of one brother, who joined the Church, his family turned against him and thought that he had become deranged, as did some of his neighbors and business associates. Soon thereafter he was called to go to Missouri and without hesitation he left his business and family to follow the teachings of Joseph Smith. Later his factory was sold at a great sacrifice, the children came down with the measles, and the mother, who had never had the entire responsibility of her little family before, struggled to reach her husband in his field of labor. There followed months and years of sickness, suffering and privation for all of them. In the meantime, the father had been made Presiding Bishop of the church, and his duties were arduous and unending; his health began to fail and in 1840 he died, just two weeks after the death of his daughter, Harriet.
This tragedy reduced the little family to extreme poverty. (Quote) “At this time the Prophet, Joseph Smith and his wife, Emma, offered Emily and her sister Eliza a home with them, and treated them with great kindness. After having resided with them about a year, the principle of plural marriage was made known to them, and Emma Smith, wife of the Prophet Joseph Smith, selected Emily and Eliza as wives in the Celestial order of marriage, and gave them to her husband Joseph Smith . . . After the Prophet Joseph’s death, sister Emily was sealed for time to Brigham Young.” (end quote)
Right here I would like to tell a little story that I heard Uncle Carl relate. It was said of his mother that she would rather go without than ask for anything, that she was so sensitive and retiring in her nature that she would never speak up for herself; but that she made one exception. At the Prophet’s death many of the leading authorities offered to marry and care for his widows. In explaining this to the women, Brigham Young told them to choose anyone of them they wanted for they would be glad to do this for their beloved leader. Emily looked at him squarely, and said, “Well, Brother Brigham, I choose you.”
From those that remember her distinctly I have learned that she had great faith, was tolerant and broad-minded in her dealings with others, was absolutely unselfish, was patient under trials, and uncomplaining in sickness. One of her greatest virtues was her industriousness; she knew no idle moments working through sickness and health, through weakness and old age. She never permitted waste and would use up material to the last thread. From the largest pieces she would make quilt blocks, smaller pieces went into rugs, strips were sewed into carpet rags, and revellings and bits were stuffed into oilcloth covers for cushions. She was very artistic and her designs in quilts, rugs, and net work, as well as articles of clothing remade from discarded materials, are evidence of this great talent.
She read and studied a great deal, liked solitude and shunned gossip, making it a point to speak well of others or keep silent. She was a good cook being famous for her salt-rising bread and doughnuts; she always kept a vinegar barrel which she shared with all who asked.
In appearance, she was tall and slender, with beauty and character in her face. She was dignified and reserved, but never unfriendly. She nursed the sick and served in any capacity when help was needed; and it turn was very appreciative of kindness or service shown to her.
Her health was never very good. In her childhood the measles had left her with an infected ear and when this cleared up it left her deaf in one ear. Later she had a chronic disease from which she suffered, and finally at the age of 75 she died—December 1899.
She had had seven children, five of whom lived to maturity, and her posterity now numbers around 300.