Catherine Clark Smith Harrison (1813-1903)

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(This is a bonus chapter excerpt from the eBook Women of Faith in the Latter Days: Volume 1: 1778-1820.)


Biographical Sketch

Catherine Clark was born June 2, 1813, to Archibald and Mary Clark Clark1 in Inchinnan, Renfrewshire, Scotland. Her future husband, Robert Smith, had been born in the same place the year before. They were married in Middle Chapel of the Paisley parish in 1838. The date of their migration to America is not known, nor is the reason for their departure from Scotland. Their first son, Robert, was born in Pennsylvania in 1841. He died that same year.

Two more sons were born to Catherine in Pennsylvania: Daniel Clark in 1843 and Hyrum Joseph in 1845. The year of Daniel’s birth, Robert and Catherine were introduced to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. They gained a testimony of its truthfulness and were baptized in December of 1843.

When continual persecution forced Church members to seek refuge in the West, plans were made in 1846 to organize the migration of Latter-day Saints then living in the eastern United States. Brigham Young was considering Upper California, at the time a Mexican territory, as a gathering place for the Saints. The Smith family joined a group of Mormon passengers on the ship Brooklyn in 1846, sailing from New York around the tip of South America to San Francisco. After two years in San Francisco, Robert Smith died in September 1848. One month later Catherine gave birth to their daughter, Mary Catherine Smith.

In early 1849, Catherine married Isaac Harrison, a veteran of the Mormon Battalion. Catherine and Isaac remained in California until 1857. They had four children: Sabina Ann in 1850, John Lathum in 1852, Fannie Aditha in 1854, and Isaac Jr. in 1856. They left California when Brigham Young requested that all Saints in outlying areas gather to Utah Territory.

The Harrisons made their final home in Sandy, Utah, where they had a grocery store and served in both the community and the Church. Catherine practiced midwifery and delivered more than three hundred babies.

Isaac Harrison died in 1894, leaving Catherine a widow again, at the age of eighty-one. She continued serving as a midwife for several years. Catherine died on February 10, 1903, and was buried in the Sandy City, Utah, cemetery. Her decisive accomplishments during a difficult lifetime stand as a tribute to her faith.2

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1. Records indicate that the maiden name of Catherine’s mother, Mary Clark, was also Clark.

2. Catherine’s biographical information comes from many sources: Scottish Parish Records, Paisley Parish, 1722–1854, Microfilm, p. 23, Family History Library, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Salt Lake City, Utah, hereafter cited as Family History Library; Harrison Family Bible, in private possession; “Laid to Rest [Isaac Harrison Obituary],” Deseret Evening News, March 9, 1894; “Catherine Clark Harrison,” Endowment House Temple Records, bk. D, no. 1201, p. 64, Special Collections, Family History Library.

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