Myra Mayall Henrie (1803-1893)

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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

Myra Mayall was born at Thurston Clough in Saddleworth, Yorkshire, England, on November 1, 1803, at 7:00 p.m.1 More than a decade before, Myra’s uncle Samuel Mayall had risked his life in hiding himself and his plans for a woolen mill aboard a ship to the United States; he built the first woolen mill in the United States in 1791 in Gray, Cumberland County, Maine.2 His family followed later. Myra’s mother, Margaret Mayall, “married James Radcliff when Myra was a child. Although the date and circumstances are unknown, Myra migrated to the United States, and met William Henrie. They married in Ohio on November 17, 1824, and prospered.”3 Parley P. Pratt and Samuel Smith, brother of Joseph, taught them the gospel, and sometime after their baptism they joined the Saints in Nauvoo.4

The Henries purchased property from Joseph Smith and came to know him intimately as neighbors. Again they prospered. Son James said that Myra sometimes served the Prophet buttermilk or a baked potato, and they often played games with him. Family tradition claims that Joseph borrowed a horse from the Henries for John Taylor to ride to Carthage. Other stories say the horse whinnied as it passed the Henrie farm, and Joseph raised his hat and blessed the family.5

Myra did not talk about receiving ordinances in the Nauvoo Temple or about their journey to Winter Quarters and her year there, although all of these occurred.6 William accompanied Brigham Young to the Salt Lake Valley in the original pioneer company; Daniel, Myra and William’s eldest son, joined the Mormon Battalion. When all had reached in the valley, William continued to explore the area, even as far as southern Utah with the Parley P. Pratt expedition of 1849.7

The Henries established a homestead in Bountiful, Utah, and lived together until 1865, when they were called to help found a new settlement in Panaca, Utah (later Nevada). After long years of pioneering, William refused to leave Bountiful; he needed to stay put for a season. Myra, however, heeded the call and accompanied two of her married sons and their families to the small outpost. Myra taught school in Panaca and Panguitch, Utah, in both places helping to run a co-op and serving as Relief Society president.8

Myra and William remained faithful, although apart. Theirs is an unusual, fascinating, poignant family history.

_________________________

1. The information on her birth is embroidered in green yarn on a simple paper sampler, now owned by a descendant.

2. Ben Butter and Natalie Butter, “The Mayall Woolen Mill First in the United States,” Down East: The Magazine of Maine, September 1970, 29–35, 312.

3. Manetta Prince Henrie, Ancestry and Descendants of William Henrie, 1799–1883, ed. Ryan Henrie (Provo, UT: privately printed, 1954), 8, http://henrie.org/red_book/red_book.pdf.

4. This information comes from a history written by Callie O. Morley, a great-granddaughter of William and Myra. Evidently Morley interviewed a number of people to obtain information. Her biography is compelling, but there are some errors, and this account has not yet been fully verified. Callie O. Morley, “William and Myra Mayall Henrie,” Typescript, 1955, Church History Library, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Salt Lake City, Utah, hereafter cited as Church History Library.

5. Thelma Miller Higbee, “Stories of the associations of the William Henrie Family with the prophe[t] Joseph Smith as told to me by my aunt Mary Henrie Cooper,” n.d., Church History Library.

6. Myra received ordinances in the Nauvoo Temple on January 22, 1846. Nauvoo Temple Endowment Register, 1845–46, 1:179, Church History Library.

7. “William Henrie,” Mormon Pioneer Overland Travel Database, 1847–68, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, accessed November 21, 2011, http://mormontrail.lds.org; Over the Rim: The Parley P. Pratt Exploring Expedition of Southern Utah, 1849–50, ed. William B. Smart and Donna T. Smart (Logan: Utah State University Press, 1999).

8. Morley, “William and Myra Mayall Henrie,” 9–11.

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