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LUCETTA STRATFORD PENROSE
By Susan W. Howard
In early March 1851 a nineteen year-old Mormon missionary walked into the town of Maldon, Essex, England, “without a farthing or a friend but the Lord.” The young man, Charles Penrose of London, was the first Mormon to preach in Maldon. He himself had joined the church only one year earlier—now as a brand new missionary he was assigned to organize a new branch of the church in the area. Maldon, an agricultural town of 4500 inhabitants, had many different denominations competing for adherents, including Wesleyan Methodists. Charles was about to meet a feisty 16-year old girl named Lucetta Stratford, the daughter of cabinetmaker George Stratford and his wife Eliza Barwell, who lived in Maldon with their six living children.
The first Mormon (LDS) missionaries from the United States had arrived in England in mid-1837. They traveled “without purse or scrip” walking from town to town, wearing out shoe leather, and occasionally going hungry if no sympathetic person offered them a meal. Charles knew well the misery of aching of feet and he’d already spent a night or two sleeping in a haystack.
The name Maldon (or Malden) came from the town’s association with a Danish victory against the Anglo-Saxons in 991 C.E. This medieval town is located approximately 30 miles from London. The site, near the Blackwater Estuary, was probably a late Roman port that was eventually settled by the Saxons.
George Stratford was strongly attached to his daughter Lucetta, his second oldest child, born 15 September 1834. According to Lucetta’s daughter, Annie Crawford Davis, George often took the young girl to work with him. “ . . . She was strong and healthy and delighted him with her brilliant traits of character and her beauty.”
Lucetta’s mother, Eliza Barwell Stratford, was a dressmaker who also ran a clothing school for young ladies who apprenticed with her for two years while they learned dressmaking. They assisted in sewing clothes for the town’s residents. Lucetta also showed a talent for designing clothes and making bonnets for her dolls. If she didn’t have a doll she fitted the tiny clothes onto her small fingers.
Edwin Stratford, Lucetta’s older brother, wrote that his parents were not content for him to have a spiritual education only, so they sent him to a British school for a time, and later to “one of a higher order,” but his diary doesn’t mention the education of his siblings. Lucetta may have attended a local Methodist school along with her younger sisters.
Even as a small child Lucetta demonstrated that she had an independent spirit. Her father once bought her a heavy pair of shoes. “Being of dainty and refined nature, she threw them in the fire, remarking that she would rather be punished for that than wear the shoes.” Despite her strong nature, she apparently had a fear of death. She insisted that her mother promise to put a generous slice of bread and butter in her casket in case she was accidentally buried alive.
George’s father, Samuel Stratford, (born 22 April 1771) had lived most of his life in Maldon. He began as an “inmate of a workhouse” who apprenticed to a farmer. He next became a gardener and by his industry amassed considerable property before his death in 1836. He married Elizabeth Cass (born about 1773) and together they had 10 children. Elizabeth died in 1849. George was their eighth child, born in Maldon 7 November 1807. Eliza Barwell was the daughter of Robert Barwell and Eliza Rule. She was born 5 October 1809.
In 1843 when Lucetta was about nine years of age the family moved to London in the hopes that George might earn a better living. As that didn’t work out, they moved to Rayleigh and were living there in 1845. Again, the expectations weren’t realized so the family returned to Maldon.
Although George and Eliza Stratford had belonged to the Wesleyan Methodist denomination, they became dissatisfied and left the group. George became an advocate for freedom of thought and believed that none of the sects of the day were right. Edwin also attended the Wesleyan chapel at the insistence of his grandmother, but he soon preferred to roam in the fields or have a bath of salt water rather than attend religious meetings.
The news of the arrival of the Mormon preacher in Maldon spread quickly. (Edwin’s diary gives the date as “about the 8th of March 1851.”) The young preacher wasn’t able to find a room immediately, so he distributed tracts. He left several at Grandmother Barwell’s house and one at the Stratford’s. Although he was curious about the doctrines of the new church, Edwin didn’t read the tract left at his parents’ home. He was at his grandmother’s home when he picked up the tracts and read them. He leaned that Elder Penrose was hoping to see George Stratford.
The Elder called but Father not knowing who he was did not care to see him. He was not to be repulsed so however for when I returned from work one evening I found Elder Penrose there discussing with my Father. I listened with attention. I had never heard such doctrines before and after the conversation was ended I told my Mother that was the religion for me.
Shortly thereafter Elder Penrose baptized Grandmother Barwell, his aunt Lucetta Barwell, and his mother, Eliza Stratford. Between March and June 1851 other Stratford family members joined the church, including Edwin and his father. In the case of the independent-minded Lucetta, however, Elder Penrose faced a more difficult challenge. She refused to join until she was certain of her belief in this new religion. She was the last one to convert to Mormonism, which she did officially on 1 July 1851, two months before her seventeenth birthday.
Elder Penrose organized a branch of the church in Maldon where he stayed for fourteen months until his mission leader assigned him to the nearby Colchester Branch. A month later Edwin Stratford was called as a missionary and assigned to be the companion of the now seasoned missionary who had taught the family about the Mormon religion. After eight months in Colchester Elder Penrose (who will henceforth be known as Charles) was sent to Boxford, where he remained until January 1853.
Charles William Penrose formally joined the Mormon Church on 14 May 1850 at age eighteen. Less than a year later the local leaders called him to serve as a missionary and assigned him to travel with a companion to the town of Maldon. He and his companion spent their first night on the road sleeping in a haystack. The next morning his companion quit and left for home, leaving Charles to fend for himself. After a difficult start, he established the branch in Maldon and was appointed as its first branch president. Despite a slight and self-described frail appearance, Charles had energy and a strong desire to succeed in his calling. He also possessed a sense of humor that enabled him to make fun of himself at difficult moments—a quality that Lucetta must have found attractive along with his intelligence and dedication to his work.
Charles began keeping a missionary diary on the first day of January 1854. He would turn twenty-two in another month. Lucetta was nineteen. We see her through the eyes of Charles as he wrote about their activities on the pages of his small notebook. Edwin’s missionary journal mentions some of the meetings where she was present, but he gives us no insight as to what he thought of the blooming romance.
By the beginning of 1854 the courtship of Charles and Lucetta was well underway. As Charles gained experience and maturity he was given greater responsibilities in the missionary work. The newly established church underwent difficult times in the early 1850’s. In January 1853 the church published an announcement in the Millennial Star, the church publication for members in Great Britain, confirming rumors that plural marriage (polygamy) was indeed a doctrine of the church and that the Saints in Utah had been practicing it for several years. Charles did not record his reaction or that of the Stratford family to this startling disclosure. Possibly he’d learned about the practice from Utah missionaries before the official announcement. Whatever their reaction might have been initially, Charles and the Stratford family remained steady in their faith in Mormonism. Other members were so appalled that they disavowed Mormonism, or became so hostile that church leaders excommunicated them. Many members decided to emigrate to Utah, and Charles had the duty to assist them in making arrangements to leave Great Britain.
Young Elder Penrose was also a poet who yearned to join the members leaving for Utah. His longing to flee to the mountains of Zion in the United States found expression in the words of a poem that when set to music, became a favorite hymn, “O Zion” or “O Ye Mountains High.” Needing his talents and abilities, his mission leaders kept Charles as an active missionary in England for several more years.
The first entry in Charles’ diary, January 1, 1854, tells of preaching at a meeting of Saints—“a very dull spirit among them.” The next day he and Lucetta Stratford walked through deep and slippery snow to Braintree, twenty-one miles away. They arrived in time for an evening festival where he enjoyed himself. Edwin Stratford was apparently already there because Charles, Edwin and Lucetta spent that night sleeping in a public house.
Assuming that the independent minded young woman was not going to let Victorian morality interfere with her courtship, and that her parents didn’t impose restrictions on their daughter, (or perhaps they knew better than to try) the relationship of Charles and Lucetta continued as Charles discretely records his long walks and visits with his wife-to-be. These long hours walking together unchaperoned to missionary assignments must have raised a few eyebrows in Maldon. However proper and discreet their actions, at least one woman berated Charles and wouldn’t let him spend the night in her home, relenting only when her husband intervened on behalf of the missionary. On another occasion later in 1854 the conference president reprimanded Charles for going to Hockley with Lucetta.
At this point Charles had been serving as a missionary for nearly three years and had asked Lucetta to marry him, which necessitated the permission of the mission leaders. Neither the permission nor the release from his mission came.
Fortunately his increasing duties didn’t preclude a little entertainment. He writes on August 14 that he walked to Maldon. Lucetta walked three miles from town to join him and accompany him to her home. He spent the night with the Stratford family, and the following day he and Lucetta joined about “twenty Saints for a party on the water. It was a beautiful day. The sun shone with splendour and we were all merry and lighthearted. We sailed very pleasantly as far as Bradwell where we landed and after some refreshment played at ‘cricket.’”
While at bat, Charles was hit on the nose with the ball, but though he was “blinded and smothered with blood,” he manfully kept playing so as to not let down his team (and probably not to disgrace himself in front of Lucetta.) Again he slept at the Stratfords, and awoke “so still in his limbs” that he could barely move.
When a cholera epidemic broke out in the area Lucetta accompanied Charles on visits to sick members so that he could lay his hands on them and give them a healing blessing. Medical science had just begun to understand the connection between this disease and sanitation, especially the need to clean up the source of drinking water.
In a meeting on September 11 Charles learned that a Brother Paxman had been released from traveling because he had married “without counsel” a sister who had four children. “I was very sorry for him, as were all the Brethren.” The British press painted lurid pictures of Mormon Elders attempting to seduce young English girls into their polygamous “harems.” The missionaries, however, were forbidden to marry without permission from their leaders. The missionaries from the States were forbidden to court English girls either as first or plural wives, yet the rules don’t always govern the affairs of the heart.
As noted, Charles had asked permission to marry Lucetta. After a meeting with a Brother Black, who had taken Charles’ case to Pastor Kimball, (mission area leaders were called pastors at this time) Charles was advised that he had acted wisely in waiting, and that he was to remain single for a time “and that all would work out in the end.” He walked with Lucetta the next day and presumably told her the disappointing news.
By mid-October Charles and Lucetta were walking together again, and spending the night at different member’s homes. After walking to Chelmsford and then Hockley, Lucetta’s feet were so sore she could go no farther, necessitating another night’s stay at a member’s home. At this point the young couple must have wondered what the point of keeping them from marrying could have been. Charles was dedicated to his missionary work, but he still spent much time with Lucetta. (This was the trip that resulted in a reprimand for Elder Penrose.)
In mid-November Lucetta told Charles that she was avoiding her father because he had acted meanly towards her. Charles didn’t record the explanation for his behavior, but it isn’t difficult to imagine that there were a few tense moments in the Stratford household because Lucetta spent so much time with Charles. Finally in December the mission leaders granted the desired permission, but for Charles there was no release from his missionary labors. Instead, his responsibilities increased.
Charles was the only son of Matilda Sims Penrose and Richard Penrose, a former wine merchant and “gentleman” who died before Charles joined the church. Matilda lived in London with her three daughters, Matilda Eliza, Emma Roxana, and Cecilia Elvira. An older sister, Juliana, had married when Charles was sixteen. Despite the reluctance of his mother and sisters to join his church, Charles was on good terms with them. After receiving permission to marry he went to London to see his mother and share the news of his engagement. She was happy for him. Luckily, a church member who was about to depart for Utah gave him some money to buy a wedding ring for Lucetta.
On Christmas Charles returned to Maldon. He and Lucetta sat up until eleven pm to plan their “approaching union.” The Stratford family, relieved that permission for the marriage had been granted at last, joined together for a family party to celebrate. Charles spent a couple of nights with them before returning to his missionary work and to search for a place to live with Lucetta. He also had to walk to Rockford and pay to publish the banns as required by law.
At the start of 1855, Charles was reassigned to Orsett, a town 20 to 25 miles southwest of Maldon. Some members had given him money; others offered household items, including a chest, for his new home. He packed up his worldly goods in the chest and went to Orsett where he found a four-room house to rent. He also arranged for the services of a Sister Bateman to clean it for him.
While Charles made living arrangements, Lucetta stayed in Maldon to prepare for her new life. The couple received more gifts from family and members Charles, suffering sore and aching feet as a result of all the walking, had long ago worn out his shoes. Still he walked back to Maldon, and again walked to Rockford on Saturday, January 20 to obtain the marriage certificate. Once again he walked back to Maldon to clean up as best he could for his wedding.
marriage was solemnized at the Register Office, Maldon, in the district
of Maldon in the county of Essex. The certificate
Sunday morning at 9 AM Lucetta, “looking beautiful” and Charles, “feeling shabby” in his worn out clothes, rode in a brougham to the registrar’s office. According to Charles, Edwin Stratford played the “Daddy” role. After the marriage ceremony, Charles wrote that he felt supremely happy. “I was united to one whom I loved sincerely and who returned the feeling with fervor. I had the approbation of God, his servants and our parents.” That afternoon he preached a sermon, and then, “We slept together at Brother G. Stratford’s, now my father-in-law.”
The next day the couple stayed at the Stratford home and prepared for their move the following day. That evening family and friends joined them for a small party. The next day a boy and a donkey cart arrived to carry their household goods to Orsett. A heavy snow made it hard going for Charles and Lucetta traveling on foot, but seeing her new home for the first time thrilled Lucetta—the newlyweds spent the evening putting things in order. While Charles was traveling around his assigned “conference” or missionary district, Lucetta usually remained at home. She may have visited members and prospective members, but we can assume that she used her sewing talents to repair her husband’s threadbare wardrobe and to sew needed household items.
While Lucetta organized the new home, Charles returned to his missionary duties. This January he battled cold and waist deep snow to attend meetings. One day the snowdrifts were eight feet high, nearly burying him. He climbed a hill, got lost, missed the road and wandered into a field, then got stuck in a snow bank. Still cursed with broken, leaky boots that chafed his feet, it was a misery for him to walk.
The second week of February, not even a month married, Charles spent a week away from Lucetta on a missionary journey. It seemed a long time to him, but he returned to find her well and “things all right.”
The Orsett branch gave the Penroses a small amount to assist with their expenses. Despite having shabby clothes and worn-out shoes, Charles was still better off than some members he found living in near-desperate conditions. Most converts were working class, but the young couple observed many of the Saints living in poverty, sickness and suffering. The financial hardship that Lucetta suffered as the wife of a missionary had to have been made more bearable by seeing the hard lives of members as they tried to scrape together the money to emigrate to Utah. Charles wrote in his diary about five adults and two children living in a single room until they could leave England. For members such as these, who barely had enough to eat anyway, the Sundays on which members fasted were altered so that the weakest of these wouldn’t suffer more deprivation.
At last Charles scraped together enough money to have a new pair of boots made for him, and eventually a new suit of clothes. A trip to London on church business gave him a chance to visit his mother and sisters. While there he found the means to attend the Victoria Theater. He loved the theater and usually included a short review of the play he had seen in his diary entries about his trips.
Being the wife of a missionary was sometimes a challenge for Lucetta. One evening towards the end of March Charles returned home to find his wife “in a bad temper because I had been gone so long, as she was waiting to go out with me.” She recovered from her anger and walked with her husband to attend an evening meeting. Lucetta’s patience with the demands on Charles time may have worn thin, but he doesn’t report any more bad tempers on her part. While Lucetta had to learn to respect Charles’ devotion to his missionary duties, Charles learned to be more considerate of his young wife.
Charles had several occasions to visit London in the spring and summer of 1855. Lucetta accompanied him and frequently attended theater performances with him. In late May the couple traveled to London by train and Lucetta met her new mother-in-law for the first time.
Before going to see his mother, Charles and Lucetta stopped by the establishment of Elias Moses & Sons of Aldgate. Moses & Sons had opened this large emporium in 1851 to provide inexpensive ready-made clothing to the working classes. With the invention of the sewing machine in the 1850’s, less costly clothing could be produced and made available to a wider range of customers. Charles bought a new suit made of black cloth as well as a hat for £2-9.6 (Some of the branch members had raised money for him so that he could spruce up his shabby wardrobe.)
From Moses & Sons they walked to his mother’s house on Kennington road where Lucetta met her mother-in-law, Matilda Penrose. Matilda was glad to see them and had a bed made up in the back room so that they could spend the night with her. The next day Charles and his sister Annie (Juliana) visited Guy’s Hospital where their younger sister Matilda was seriously ill. Charles “had a little talk with her about the gospel,” but he did not persuade her to accept his faith in the Mormon Church.
Later, after having tea at a coffee shop, the couple witnessed a performance of “Mat Greaves” in the pit of the Victoria Theater. In his brief critique of the play Charles wrote that he was impressed by the ability of the actor, who played two parts, to change his clothes and appearance. He also noted that the play showed the horrors of slavery. The next day Annie walked with them to Shoreditch where they took the train to Romford. There he found one of the member sisters very ill, so he gave her a blessing. Later learned that she had been on a drinking binge for several days before his arrival.
Charles’ days were spent preaching, conducting services, or working on church business. Occasionally, in rainy weather he stayed at home, wrote and continued his study of Latin. (In addition to his missionary duties Charles took whatever free time he had to further his education by studying languages and other subjects.) He continued to write poems that he submitted to the Millennial Star for publication.
Despite what seem like hardships of missionary life, Charles liked to joke and tell stories poking fun at himself. He joked about polygamy. He teasingly remarked to someone “perhaps a certain Yankee was one of those Mormonites come for more wives!” Other times the joke was on him, for example, one day he and another missionary were hurrying to catch a train. The engineers slowed the train as if to stop, then sped up again, laughing as the two missionaries ran after it.
Charles writing style was clear and direct. He gave straightforward reports of casting out evil spirits, prophesying, blessing the sick with good results, and witnessing occasions where members spoke in tongues. He had occasion to command an evil spirit to leave the body of Sister Bateman, which had “in a moment deprived her of strength and sense. The spirit obeyed the command, and Sis. Bateman went home well.”
When he visited his sister Matilda, he saw two or three children affected with chorea, or St. Vitus’ dance. “They were possessed with devils I had no doubt for they were dreadfully distorted and worked about by some unseen power.” (St. Vitus’ dance is a disorder characterized by jerky, uncontrollable movements, either of the face or arms and legs. It is associated with rheumatic fever, an infectious disease that is easily cured with modern medicines.) Although in the 19th Century some diseases were still misdiagnosed as “Evil Spirits,” Charles was matter-of-fact about such events, nonjudgmental, and his belief in himself had the effect of calming those to whom he ministered.
In August the work slowed because of the harvest. Lucetta attended a missionary meeting with her husband. After the meeting in which the missionaries prayed and were given blessings, Pastor Kimball had the young couple stand before the group while he performed a marriage ceremony “according to the order of the church. “ Not long after they had an interview with the Pastor, who gave the couple “some excellent advice upon matrimonial affairs.” (This was probably William H. Kimball, pastor 1852-1855.)
They also had some time to visit Maldon and Lucetta’s family. During this more relaxed slowdown in the missionaries’ schedule Lucetta became pregnant with their first child, but the discreet Charles didn’t mention this in his diary until shortly before the child’s birth.
On another trip into London to see his mother and the theater, Matilda returned to Orsett with her son. Lucetta was glad to see her. Matilda had brought a gift of some cups and saucers. She also attended an evening meeting where Brother Squires spoke. She liked the preaching “but would not receive it.” She rode back to London the next day. A few weeks later when he was in London he talked his mother, and sisters Emma and Cecilia into attending a church meeting.
English hostility against the “damned Mormonites” remained high and even increased. The missionaries were threatened with violence and occasionally pelted with rocks, stones or eggs. Some of the sister members were disturbed by a book called Female Life Among the Mormons by Maria Ward, published in 1855. Charles talked them into turning the book over to him, although he doesn’t mention what he did with it.
On December 27th Charles was once again in London. He arrived at his mother’s home and found her greatly troubled. Matilda’s own mother, Jemima Hornblower Sims, had died suddenly on December 25th. He stayed a few days to help his mother sort through Jemima’s business affairs. On Saturday the 28th he wrote: “Went with Mother to Mrs. Matthews to see the corpse of my grandmother and arrange about the funeral also to seek for her papers which we found and arranged all things satisfactorily.”
Later Charles went to Paddington station to meet his aunt who had come from Wales. He doesn’t state her name anywhere in his diary.
After leaving the Aunt with his mother, he went to a conference in Whitechapel, where Lucetta joined him at the meetings. Here he sang a new song about the handcart pioneers that he had been asked to write. His sister Emma attended one of the meetings, and again liked what she heard. She would not embrace Mormonism, however, because of polygamy.
At years’ end Charles wrote in his diary that during 1855 he walked 2356 miles and rode another 1009, for a total of 3365 miles traveled.
On January 2, 1856 Charles wrote: “We went with Mother & Sister E to bury grandmother. My Aunt from Wales though she came up to see after what property would accrue to her would not go to the funeral nor go near the house where the body lay. She was buried in Victory Cemetery she was about [blank] of age her name Jemima Sims. [She was 71.] Mother was very much affected. I felt no grief therefore manifested none. In the same evening Lucetta and I visited my sisters Matilda & Cecilia whom we found well both in service at the same place they were much pleased to see us.” (“Sister E” was most likely Charles’ sister Emma.)
Richard Penrose and Matilda Sims were first cousins. Richard’s father, also named Richard, had married Rosamond Hornblower, Jemima’s sister. Jemima Hornblower married James Sims, and they were the parents of Matilda. It seems more likely that the “Aunt” came from the Hornblower side of the family rather than the Penrose side.
Charles apparent lack of grief over his grandmother’s death resulted most like from angry feelings, but he gives us no clue as to the reason. Charles’ granddaughter, Dorothy Penrose Woodland, often told her family that after Charles had joined the church, his family disowned him. As he recounts in his diaries over the years, he was on good terms with mother and sisters, despite their resistance to his efforts to convert them to Mormonism. He again visited his mother and sisters’ families during later visits to England. Perhaps it was his grandmother who was angry when the only son of her cousin and sister turned away from the traditional family religion, and possibly a more respected occupation than “traveling Elder.” He made no mention of an inheritance or income from any of his family.
The day after the funeral in order to cheer up his mother’s mind, Charles met her and his sister Emma and they all went to Surrey Theater together. The following day he and Lucetta, now four to five months pregnant, walked to Shoreditch, caught the train to Maldon, and spent the night at his father-in-law’s home.
At a Council Meeting with Pastors Kimball & Dunbar Charles learned that his brother-in-law Elder Edwin Stratford and H. Kemp were released with permission to emigrate. Two weeks earlier Edwin married Marianna Crabb. They soon departed England and eventually settled in Cache Valley, Utah. It must have been hard for Charles and Lucetta to say farewell to her brother and his friend while they remained behind in England to continue in the missionary work.
Charles was given greater responsibilities in the district, but was told that he too, would soon be allowed to emigrate. The district was having financial difficulties and Charles worked hard to help straighten out its business affairs despite the fact that he and Lucetta were increasingly in debt themselves. Many of his diary entries are about money problems, usually those of the members, several of whom were ready to emigrate. The missionaries worked to make certain they had funds and that all arrangements were made. The emigrating members were organized into groups to make the ocean voyage together. One church elder was made the leader and assisted by two or three others. Once arriving in a US port, a church member would meet the group and help them obtain passage to begin the long journey to Utah.
Although Zion—Utah—was far away, events there influenced the lives of the young Penrose family. In 1855 Brigham Young had announced that the church needed a “reformation.” He counseled the members to repent, confess and be re-baptized. Towards the end of 1855 the missionaries in Great Britain received word that the missionaries themselves should be rebaptized and perform the same ordinance for the members. Charles was rebaptized at the beginning of 1856 but he makes no mention of a similar ceremony for Lucetta, who by then was several months pregnant.
The Word of Wisdom, the church teaching that proscribed the use of alcohol, was in that era a source of advice, and not a requirement of the members. It wasn’t unusual for the Saints to provide some wine for the missionaries. Charles noted that one evening the brethren had a few bottles of wine together. On one occasion when Charles had been ill with what sounds like food poisoning or the flu, he bought a bottle of brandy, drank a little in the evening and the following day. Apart from an occasional member such as the Sister who had been drinking too much, the Saints and missionaries were generally remained quite sober. Nevertheless, at the start of the new year Charles resolved to do better at keeping the Word of Wisdom.
Charles developed a painful boil on his leg and suffered bouts of poor health. Despite all these difficulties, he and Lucetta moved to a new residence in Maldon in late January, where Charles was to preside over the Essex District. They borrowed money from her grandfather to buy needed new furniture that they would pay back in weekly installments, and also papered the walls. Charles wrote that they “felt very comfortable in our new place,” which was in a room above the meeting rooms.
Despite her growing pregnancy and Charles’ frequent travels around the district, and his becoming intimately immersed in mission financial difficulties and the personal problems of the members, Lucetta seems to have been doing well because her husband rarely mentions her and has no complaints to report or concerns about the approaching birth of his child.
On May 2 Charles wrote:
I had made an appointment to preach at Terling and was getting ready to go when my wife was taken in labor. She begged me to stay but I steeled my heart and went feelings in great suspense. I laid hands on her & left her in the care of her mother. I visited . . . the president of the Terling Branch . . . had some conversation with his unbelieving wife. Preached to the Saints had a good meeting and started for home. The night was pitch dark and I knew the road but imperfectly. I tried to discern the letters on a fingerpost when I came to four cross roads but could not while looking something cold touched my hand and a chain rattled behind me. I turned sharply & there stood a great dog. I started him and thinking I heard somebody coming along the road I shouted “which is the way to Maldon” no answer but still I heard “tramp, tramp.” I walked on and came to an old horse biting the grass which was the sound I heard and I had been interrogating him as to the way home. I arrived ½ past 12 and found my wife had given birth to a son about ½ hour after I left.
I was proud and happy as my firstborn was pronounced exactly like me in feature. It was also very small (like me in that) poor little fellow came one month too soon. All the old women predicted clearly its death. I slept at my Father’s in law.
While he sometimes related humorous incidents in his diary, Charles account of stumbling in the dark while his wife was in labor prematurely indicates some anxiety, and possibly guilt feelings, on his part. He doesn’t say whether Lucetta ever reproached him for this behavior.
The baby’s health was further endangered because Lucetta’s nipples were inverted, causing her problems in suckling the child. The young couple tried several remedies to no avail, and only succeeded in making Lucetta ill. To make matters worse, Lucetta’s mother slipped and fell, badly bruising herself, while getting off of a train on her way to visit.
With Eliza Stratford on hand, Charles was able to take Lucetta away for a day. They went to London to see the Crystal Palace in Sydenham Hill. Charles described it as the most beautiful exhibition he had ever seen—“it baffled all description.” “The building itself was a wonder in art composed of iron and glass, its contents curiosities of different nations.” The next day they went with his sisters Emma and Celia to Cremone Gardens and enjoyed themselves.
Despite this brief relaxing interlude the baby’s health failed even though a wet nurse was brought in for him. After a day of fits and convulsions and prayers, the baby died while Charles was out visiting members.
I was very much grieved. I had full faith that he would live. My wife was overcome with sorrow. I felt calm and to say the will of God be done. Poor little fellow he looked beautiful in his sleep of death. How much more beautiful will he look when the resurrection morning breaks and the graves open. May I and my dear Lucetta be faithful that he may be ours in that grand day that we may be his guardians to educate him in the principles of Salvation.
They named the baby Charles Kimball Penrose. Charles wrote to a church brother in Chelmsford to ask for a loan of money to bury him. He planned to conduct the service himself, but friends dissuaded him.
“We buried our boy at the Chapel burial ground Rev R. Burls performed the ceremony we rode in a Brougham there & back.” Charles took Lucetta with him to visit members and then to see her uncle Barwell.
Following the birth of his child Charles’ beautiful clear and even handwriting frequently turns cramped and messy, and the account of his son’s burial begins a line that looks as if it had been erased and written over. The words “We buried our boy” are slightly smeared, as if the page under the ink might have been damp with the tears of the young father. He was deeply affected by his son’s death--his reaction not at all like that to his grandmother’s death six months earlier.
The level of harassment of the missionaries increased in 1856. On one occasion Charles and his companion were accused of wanting to get in bed with “six wives” and other times of wanting to seduce the sister of a possible convert. Charles distributed copies of a new tract called Marriage and Morals, but didn't say whether it was a success in repairing damage to the reputation of the church.
Charles was traveling more often and given greater responsibility, which meant that Lucetta was often left alone. She did sometimes accompany him on his walks to meetings in Hockley. Other times she stayed with her family in Maldon. Yet there were still opportunities to attend the theater performances in London with Charles and his family.
In August 1856 Charles noted that his hymn “O Zion” (O Ye Mountains High) had been published in the Star. It had been introduced to the new counselor to the Mission President, Ezra T. Benson “a good tempered stout jolly man familiar with everybody.” Charles soon became a close companion of the “stout jolly man.”
In October Lucetta’s sister, Julia, was in London to make preparations to emigrate to Utah, so a small party was held for her and her traveling companion. William Budge, an American missionary, was also in attendance. Afterward he asked Charles what sort of girl Julia was. Charles answered: “She was a virtuous girl, rather self-willed, but a good one.” There was a quick courtship and William asked Julia to be his wife. She agreed if her parents would give permission. Lucetta helped obtain it, although her parents were “thunderstruck” by the marriage. Lucetta helped Julia sew the wedding clothes. Shortly after, the Stratford parents were again “astonished” to find Julia already married and not emigrated. The Penrose and Budge families would share close times in the next few years. (In 1860 the Budge family went to the States and settled in Cache Valley.)
In December the Charles and Lucetta learned that they were to move once again. Charles was assigned to be Secretary of the London conference. While Charles looked for new lodgings, Lucetta stayed with her mother in Maldon, and remained there while he visited the various branches to bid them farewell for the time being.
In London Charles once more indulged in his love for the theater, often in the company of his mother and sisters or with his wife. He continued to review briefly in his diary the plays they had seen—not all of them were satisfactorily acted or written—the Merry Wives of Windsor was “a very coarse piece.” On at least one occasion local church members accompanied Charles and his mother to a performance.
A small local “war” far from England would have a significant effect on the Penrose family. In 1857 President Buchanan appointed a new territorial governor for Utah. Fearing that Brigham Young would not give up his office peacefully, Buchanan sent a force of 2500 military men to accompany the new governor, Alfred Cumming, to Salt Lake City. Not surprisingly, Young reacted by calling up the militia and recalling 88 British missionaries to return to the States, leaving the British missions seriously undermanned. Emigration of members to Utah was also suspended. Once again, Charles and Lucetta’s dream of moving to Utah was put aside. News of the war made Charles’ blood boil. Unable to be in Utah to help defend the Saints, he wrote a poem, “Up Awake Ye Defenders of Zion” that was set to the music of “Columbia Gem of the Ocean.” The Utah Mormons soon adopted the militant hymn as they prepare to meet “the foe at the door” of their homes.
In August Charles visited his mother again. While there he talked his sister Emma into going to Chelsea to hear Ezra T. Benson. Brother Benson preached a first-rate discourse while Charles contributed by singing his hymn “O Zion.” Emma liked the meeting “but would not say she believed.” That evening Charles returned to his mother’s home to sleep. A few days later, August 31 Charles visited his mother and told her he would be preaching that evening. Emma came but wandered in the rain until the end because she couldn’t find the meeting room. Charles put her on the bus for home.
Despite taking mother and sisters to hear speeches and meetings and to attend the theater, none of the family ever joined the church. Polygamy, it seemed, did not appeal to these British ladies. Charles gives no indication as to whether he contemplated taking another wife if he ever managed to make it to Utah, nor did he mention whether he’d discussed the matter with Lucetta.
Lucetta’s sister, Eliza, also came to London. Charles reports that Julia and William were put out with quite put out with Lucetta over Eliza. Apparently “Lu” wasn’t too happy about all the fuss made over her younger sister. Charles had to smooth things over with her and the Budges. By August 1857 Lucetta was well into her second pregnancy, so perhaps Eliza had come to the city to help her sister. On one occasion Charles found his wife very ill and he gave her a blessing. Shortly after he visited his mother and found that she too was quite ill, but as she had no faith in Mormonism, Charles couldn’t minister to her.
In September Lucetta, accompanied by Charles, went to Maldon to be with her family. Julia was also expecting her first child. William and Charles had frequent meetings together. At the end of one busy September day, William went for the doctor. Julia was safely delivered of a nice little fellow “just like his father.” That night Charles didn’t make it to bed until 3 am. The son of Julia and William was born 28 September 1857.
While Charles heard reports of events of Utah and wished that he could be with “the boys” to fight against the US government, he continued with his duties in London. On October 11th he learned that the Budges’ child was very ill. Soon after the baby died of bronchitis. Charles wrote: “He died in the same way that my child died. It seems that this is constitutional with two or three of Mother Stratford’s children having died in this same way.”
Understandably, Lucetta was much upset about the death of her sister’s baby, having lost her own child and now pregnant a second time. Charles accompanied his in-laws to bury the child in Victoria Cemetery. In November Lucetta became ill—Charles reports her as being in a very weak state. He prayed with her and prescribed some herbs, which caused her to brighten up a good deal.
December: Thursday Dec 10th Charles wrote:
The next day Charles went to meet Mother Stratford to the joy of Lucetta who was progressing favorably, but still with the nipple problem. Charles tried several techniques while Lucetta suffered a great deal. Finally, through the “warm water bottle method” he was able to draw one forth. The baby boy survived. Ernest Stratford Penrose was born 10 Dec 1857.
The last entry in Charles’ diary reports that William Budge was called to preside over the Birmingham Pastorate. Charles, busier than ever with his missionary duties and his wife and baby, was later sent to the city of Cheltenham where his next two children were born: Jessie Lucetta Stratford on 10 Dec 1858 and Kate Penrose, on 1 March 1860. While living there a young English convert, Louise Elizabeth Lusty, helped them care for their small children.
At last in 1861 Charles was released from his ten-year long mission, six years of which he and Lucetta had been married. Along with their children and George and Eliza Stratford, they prepared to emigrate to Utah. They left from Liverpool 23 April 1861. Lucetta was pregnant a fifth time.
As the Penrose and Stratford families made their last minute preparations to leave England in April of 1861, the United States prepared for war. The Civil War broke out into actual fighting on April 12 when the Confederate Army attacked Fort Sumter in Charleston, South Carolina. War preparations slowed travel and travelers competing with armies to obtain scarce supplies increased the cost off needed items. Lincoln had ordered a blockade of the Southern ports, which meant that the easier and cheaper route through New Orleans and by boat up the Mississippi River was no longer feasible.
Charles, now 29 and Lucetta, not yet 27, along with the Lucetta’s parents and three of the Stratford daughters boarded the 1168-ton clipper ship Underwriter on April 23, 1861 in Liverpool. The ship’s master was Captain John Pratt Roberts. They arrived in Castle Garden, NY on May 21—a relatively quick passage. Like most of the 640 Mormon passengers, they traveled in steerage. Milos Andrus presided over the 624 Saints on board. He chose Charles to be his assistant.
During the voyage Charles preached at Sunday services. Apparently the weather was reasonably calm for most of the trip, although Charles later wrote that within a couple of days after departing Liverpool, most of the passengers were suffering “the peculiar pleasures” of sea-sickness. Shipboard life was demoralizing. The food was not the best. The Mormons tried to keep their quarters clean, but sanitation was not good. The heads could smell like cesspools. Pests sometimes flourished. “Charles W. Penrose awakened one morning to find that a rat had given birth in his shoe.”
The Penrose’s baby daughter, Kate, was so sick that they didn’t expect her to survive the voyage. They brought a small metal casket on board with them so that she would not have to be buried at sea. During the voyage they sold the casket to another family for their young son, one of two small children who died of consumption during the journey.
The first week or so the weather remained fair, but on May 12 a strong gale arose, tossing and pitching the ship in the water. Lucetta’s daughter relates this story:
During the sailing they had encountered a terrific storm, and Mother showed her fearlessness. She induced Father to persuade the Captain to let her and Father be lashed to the mast so they could witness the savage fury of the awe-inspiring storm.
While this story may be consistent with Lucetta’s character, it seems doubtful that Charles and the captain agreed to this. Lucetta was four to five months pregnant at the time. She had a sick fifteen-month old baby and two small children aged 3 and 4. She had lost one child and had given birth prematurely at least twice. Furthermore, Charles doesn’t mention this in his account of the journey, nor did others this incident. If it did happen, then it demonstrates Lucetta’s determined character. This may be one of those instances of family tall stories that moved from being a tale to truth. “All families have myths which, to a greater or lesser extent, they know are not true factually, even if they may be emotionally.”
The company arrived in New York on May 22. They traveled to St. Joseph, Missouri, a nine-day journey made more difficult as the US prepared to fight the first battle of Bull Run just a few miles from Washington DC on July 21, 1861, necessitating the diversion of supplies from travelers. The company then spent three days on a riverboat traveling up the Missouri River to Florence, Nebraska, (now Omaha) then a part of the Western Territories. Here the family met Edwin Stratford and his wife Marianna Crabb and their family. They had immigrated in 1855 but remained in Nebraska until Charles and Lucetta arrived with the rest of the family. They proceeded to outfit themselves for the overland journey west.
George Stratford had contracted typhoid fever on board ship, and here in Nebraska he died at age 54 on 23 June 1861. He was buried in Florence. His daughter must have mourned him deeply. How tragic for his family that he had come so far, yet died more than a thousand miles from their destination. Eliza Barwell Stratford lived with Edwin and his family in Ogden for 22 years until her death at age eighty-three, 8 December 1893. She did not remarry.
On June 25th the Penrose’s and Stratfords began the overland trip with the Homer Duncan family. Charles was put in charge of a group of 25. He had borrowed money to buy and cart and team of oxen, whom he named “Tom” and “Jerry.”
The journey took thirteen weeks. Imagine Lucetta, grieving over the loss of her father, now nearly six months pregnant and growing larger each day, walking as much as she was able in the heat of the prairie summer. Imagine her riding in a jouncing wagon, needing rest but also needing to keep up with the company. Having her mother and sisters close at hand must have lessened the discomfort of the journey.
The little company continued their journey, and on reaching Echo canyon, Mother gave birth to a baby girl who was named Bertha, being attended only by her husband and her mother. The emigrant band having gone on, necessary conditions obliged them, through forced marches, to overtake them in three days. When they reached Salt Lake the baby died and was buried there.
They first settled in Farmington, Utah. Father secured a one-room log home with a dirt roof, where they lived for three and one-half years. While there Father did various kinds of manual labor to provide for his family, working in a molasses mill, hauling logs, and teaching school.
The small log cabin still stands in Farmington.
Besides doing manual labor, Charles taught school during the winter months. Despite all the hardships, Lucetta conceived another child. Alice Cecilia Penrose, named after Charles’ youngest sister, was born 21 Nov 1862.
The church leaders encouraged men who had the talents and abilities to become leaders to take additional wives. According to one version of Lucetta’s biography both Lucetta and Charles “desired to obey the principals and the rules of the Church, which included Plural Marriage.” Despite the economic difficulties of life in pioneer Utah, the family welcomed another young woman into the circle.
As mentioned above, the Penroses got to know Louise Elizabeth Lusty in Cheltenham. Her widowed mother, Mary Ann Price Lusty Underwood, a brother and two half-brothers had joined the church there. In 1862 she was the only member of her family who had the funds to emigrate, so the eighteen-year old girl made the voyage and the journey alone. When she arrived in Salt Lake, Charles and Lucetta met her and took her to their home. Six months later the now nineteen-year old young woman became the second wife of Charles Penrose, who was thirty-one. They all lived together in the small cabin in Farmington.
Ten months after their marriage, Lizzie gave birth to a baby girl, Amy Blanch, on 2 November 1863. Three months later, Lucetta gave birth to twin girls, Clara and Cora, on 2 Feb 1864. With Dad, two wives, four children from ages seven to fifteen months, and three small babies all living together in one small cabin, the challenge of keeping everyone clean and fed must have been formidable.
Three days after the birth of the twins Charles noticed that the wind was increasing and that “clouds had settled low like a pillow on the mountains.” The winter of 1863-4 was especially harsh with severe winds frequently blowing from east to west. The Penrose cabin faced the brunt of the storm.
Charles later wrote:
Before he left he told Lizzie to hold on for dear life. When he returned he found nearly frozen with her with her head against the door. He had to rub snow on her to bring her back from the brink of serious injury.
With the help of three neighbors Charles was able to get the door nailed shut.
He then tried to go back to sleep on the floor, but was soon to be awakened by the sound of the window crashing to the floor. He looked out and saw the ground had been swept bare of snow by the wind, which now picked up rocks and hurled them against the house. He nailed an old buffalo robe across the window and went outside again to let the cow loose. They had no cowshed so it isn’t clear what happened to the cow. Charles made his way back inside by grabbing and holding onto weeds.
Next he built a fire in a small sheet-iron stove he had borrowed to ward off the extreme cold. The stove soon became red hot and set the logs of the house on fire. Packing snow against it didn’t help, so once again he ran for help from a neighbor.
The wind blew throughout the night. When it subsided the next day he learned of the damage it had caused: cows and sheep destroyed, barns blown away, the roof taken off a new house. The woman who lived there ran into the night with her baby and both were found frozen to death against a fence. The memory of this terrible night inspired him to write the song, “Blow Gently Ye Wild Winds on My Loved Ones at Home” after he was called to serve another mission in England.
Two weeks later twin baby Clara died, and Cora followed her in August at age six months. Of the eight children now born to her, Lucetta had lost four of them as babies.
The next fall an old friend from the English mission, Ezra T. Benson, invited the Penrose family to move to Logan in Cache Valley. Lucetta’s brother Edwin had settled in Cache Valley, as had William and Julia Stratford Budge.
The Penrose’s obtained some land and a log cabin. Lucetta and Charles taught school while Lizzie sewed clothing to contribute to the family income. By spring of 1865 Lucetta was pregnant again. Probably before she became aware that she was pregnant, Charles was called to serve another mission in England. He left April 29th. Lucetta may have taught for the rest of the year, but by fall she had to give up teaching.
Lucetta did needlework and the children gleaned wheat barefooted in the fields. They carried the wheat to the mill and received flour in exchange.
At this time the Indians were very hostile and Mrs. Penrose worried about leaving the children alone while she was at work. Indians used to come to her home and demand provisions and anything else they might want. One day they took two loaves of bread which was all the food she had in the house. Finally she got a young boy to stay with the children and a large Newfoundland dog to accompany her to and from work. One night the boy heard a disturbance outside and was just in time to save the live of an Indian that the dog had by the throat and would have killed in a few minutes.
On New Years’ Eve 1865 Lucetta gave birth to a girl, Lucetta. The baby died two weeks later on January 14.
Charles arrived in England and passed through Birmingham on the way to London. According to his diary: “My feelings were indescribable. The familiar scenes of my former travels there arose before me. My wife Lucetta had walked that very street with me many times and Lizzie had visited us there in that town. It seemed that I must wend my way to the old spot where we lived together and that I had just woke from a long dream.”
Charles again took advantage of the chance to attend performances of the theater. Once in London, he sought out the home of his sister, Matilda, and her husband, Charlie Parker. Then the three of them went to his mother’s house, where she almost fainted with joy at the sight of her only son, whom she had not seen for four years. The next day he visited his sister Emma. He also learned that his youngest sister, Cecilia, was about to marry a cabinetmaker named John Howard. A few days later Charles stood up and gave his sister away in her marriage to John.
He had carried gifts for the English members. Many were old friends who were thrilled to see him again.
He also visited Lizzie’s brother, James [Underwood] and his wife who were shocked to see him, as they had no word that he was in London. They attended a meeting where Charles spoke.
Charles went to Danbury where he was again overwhelmed with feelings of nostalgia for his early days with Lucetta:
Five months passed before Charles at last received the first letters from Lucetta and Lizzie. He learned that grasshoppers had eaten the crops, the cattle were starving, and a wagon wheel smashed, but all of this was good news to the lonely missionary.
However difficult it may have been for Charles to be so far from his families, his suffering was alleviated by frequent visits with his mother and sisters. Matilda Penrose and occasionally one of her daughters often accompanied Charles to the theater to see a performance. Charles also preached and wrote articles for the Millennial Star, as well as poems. He became reacquainted with and enjoyed the company of old friends. He spent Christmas with his mother and family, and then visited James Underwood again.
At the end of January his mother visited him to give him a letter from Lucetta. Charles had been worrying about her, knowing that her delivery time approached. Her letter said that she was ill. He also had the impression that Lizzie was pregnant.
It wasn’t until March 8 that Edwin Stratford’s letter arrived telling him that the baby had died, but that Lucetta was all right. Lucetta wasn’t alone; she had family, including her mother nearby and of course, Lizzie. One wonders if Lizzie wasn’t overwhelmed by the heavy responsibility of helping to care for a sister wife and many small children.
Charles worked closely with the English Latter-day Saints, providing them with encouragement and practical help to get them to emigrate to the US. When church members did leave the country, they often carried gift packages from Charles for Lucetta and Lizzie and the children. The arrival of these gifts, often of fabric or clothing, must have brightened the difficult life in the log cabin.
In England Charles worked with men who would later be important to him in his political and newspaper careers. Brigham Young, Jr. was mission president. Moses Thatcher, William Godbe, and Orson Pratt later became important in Utah politics and church leadership. After Apostle Franklin D. Richards arrived as the new mission president, Charles worked with him on mission business and had the opportunity to demonstrate how talented he was. Richards would play an important role in Charles’ life after his return to Logan, Utah.
How much did Lucetta and Lizzie know about Charles’ life in Europe—attending the theater, meeting important men, traveling to Paris and writing poems? Back in Utah Lucetta was home with small babies, fending off plagues, predatory animals and Indians. She seems to have been a practical person, if not by nature, then of necessity. Would the girl who preferred to throw a pair of heavy shoes into the fireplace rather than wear them now be grateful to own such useful footwear? While Lucetta may have been unhappy with her husband’s long absence, she may have been too tired and worn down—lacking the time or energy to write.
Four months passed without a letter from Lucetta—finally one arrived in December. Charles was overjoyed with the long letter, even though Lucetta reported that the children’s eyes were weak—still, there was good news—the family had enough bread to last a year, and the parcels carried by a Bro. Bates arrived. Charles immediately sent her a long letter with a note to Lizzie saying that he would write more in a few days. Then Lizzie failed to write him.
On Feb 4 1867, Charles’ 35th birthday, he lamented that it had now been four months since he had received a letter from Lizzie. This “letterless” Lizzie period continued until March 30. He might well have wondered whether his beautiful young wife was attracting attention from available suitors while Charles’ mission stretched onward without a termination date.
Was Lizzie dissatisfied with her new life as the plural wife of an absent husband? That Charles mentioned repeatedly in his diary that another week had gone by without a letter from her. They hadn’t been married long when he left, and she may have felt isolated and alone in a little log cabin—what a change from the neat home in a beautiful and clean city. It must have been a challenge for a woman still in her early twenties.
At last Lizzie wrote to say that she had gone to stay in Salt Lake, and that she would be there at least until fall. Her brother and his family had made the trip to from England to Utah, and possibly her mother was there also. She may have had friends in the city. She had to support herself and her little girl, and she may have felt she could do better for herself in Salt Lake than out on a farm near Logan. Lucetta did have family members, including her mother, living close enough to help her and provide her with adult companionship.
Nothing in Charles’ diary or family written family stories suggests that the relationship between the wives was other than harmonious. On the other hand, there is no record stating that that they got along well. Possibly Lucetta, older, more experienced, with a strong and determined character, might have seemed overbearing to Lizzie, whose relationship with the family had begun as a caretaker for Lucetta’s children. At any rate, Lizzie’s time on her own in Salt Lake seems to have been a positive experience for her. Still, we wonder why she did not write for such a long time, and why Lucetta apparently didn’t inform Charles that Lizzie had left the farm. The marriage of Charles and Lizzie lasted until his death more than sixty years later.
In 1867 Charles had been the London Conference (District) president, and before that, the Essex president at the London Conference. He was next transferred to Liverpool to begin his journalistic career as a “sub-editor” of the Millennial Star, the publication for English church members and missionaries. His first editorial was published June 1, 1867.
On June 19th he received a letter and a portrait of Lizzie, which made him a happy man. In July Lucetta wrote him that the last cow was lost, all the chickens were gone, and grasshoppers were jumping around the crops. Perhaps this list of difficulties was a hint to Charles that he ought to be trying to secure a release and return home.
The Mission President Franklin D. Richards believed he couldn’t get along without Charles and delayed his release. Charles finally persuaded him otherwise and prevailed. Three-and-a-half years after beginning his mission, on September 8, 1868 he boarded the Manhattan. While he missed his family and they needed his support, if one can take a long-range view, those years were well spent. Upon returning to Utah, Franklin Richards launched Charles into a career in journalism. His son Franklin S. Richards acted as lawyer for the church during the struggle with the US government over the issue of plural marriage. Charles would also work with Moses Thatcher, Orson Pratt, William Godbe and Brigham Young, Jr. From a career point of view, they were all valuable people to know.
Charles also had many opportunities for to speak in public and to hone his skills before an audience. As sub-editor for the Star, learned and practiced journalism skills. He also spent time with his mother, sisters and an aunt. Although he took them to meetings where he preached, none of his family ever joined the church or left England. Charles also visited galleries, museums, and in addition to seeing plays and performances, he saw magicians and an Electric-biologist (hypnotist.) With some of his fellow missionaries he also spent an exciting week or so in Paris sightseeing, absorbing the art and gardens.
He normally wasn’t judgmental about what he saw—at least not in his diaries. He took everything in, and when he had time, he studied French and German. Those four years may have been the equivalent of a college education and apprenticeship for him.
While all this is positive, there was a cost to be paid and it was paid by the wives left at home who did not travel and see the plays and art, and who daily struggled to keep the children fed and clothed. Their stories have not really been written. Was the sacrifice worth it to them in the long run? Lucetta, reportedly ambitious and eager to make her home a finer place, must have understood the importance of Charles’ second missionary experience.
Charles’ arrival in Farmington must have been a joy and yet a challenge to his wives and children. He had certainly matured and developed his abilities, but they too had survived on their own and learned a thing or two. Shortly after his return the two Penrose families moved the central part of Logan. Soon after the families settled in, Charles was asked by Franklin D. Richards to come be an assistant editor on a new newspaper he was starting, The Ogden Junction. Her daughter writes about this:
The family moved from the outskirts of Logan to the main street. While living here, Mother papered her front room with the first wallpaper known in these parts, always having a love of the beautiful, she was ever striving to better conditions. She also helped to provide a living by engaging in millinery, her older children gathering the straw and she weaving and shaping them into hats. At this time, Sept. 21, 1869, Emma Louise was born, dying October 7, 1869, while Father was in Ogden, where Father had been called to edit the Ogden Junction. Shortly after the death of this child, Mother surprised her husband by moving her family to Ogden, being several days on the way. One night during a storm, she opened a school house window to obtain shelter for the night, continuing her journey the next day. On her arrival there she secured one room in the Fife house directly east of the Ogden Stake Tabernacle, where they resided until they purchased a two-room house in a more desirable location.
They immediately began improving it by enlarging the house and planting an orchard and vegetable garden to supply their family with food. During the ten years they resided here, seven more children were added to the family, only two surviving, George William and Edwin C. Mother, with her perseverance and ambition and her eagerness to help establish a millinery store, which she operated herself and was very successful. Through her sufferings and privations and loss of so many children, her health failed and she suffered with insomnia.
On 14 July 1869 Lizzie gave birth to a son, Herbert Lusty Penrose while soon after, 21 Sept 1869 Lucetta gave birth to a daughter Emma Louise, who only lived a little more than two weeks. Another girl was born just a little more than nine months later on 30 June 1870. Lettie Penrose lived four days. One after another, five of Lucetta’s babies died within a few days or weeks of birth. With one exception, despite a three-year rest from childbearing, Lucetta and Charles did not bring forth a baby that lived. Whether because of some weakness, as Charles had speculated after the birth of their first son, or the conditions at the time and lack of medical care, the pregnancies and losses must have been heartbreaking to endure.
Lucetta’s next child, George William Penrose born 14 Oct 1871, lived. Lizzie also had a baby, Ettie May, born 18 Sept 1871.
Lucetta had three more babies close together. All of them died. They were Ella Maude, 6 November 1872, who died two months later, Frederick Edgar, 15 November 1873, died 4 days later, and Lou Belle, who was born and died in 1874.
On 4 July 1876 another boy was born and named Edwin Centennius. Lucetta probably didn’t expect him to survive as he was weak and frail, but he did. While living in Ogden she had another boy, Wallace Harold 19 July 1877, who died two weeks later. After the family moved to Salt Lake she gave birth to her last child, a girl, Lucile, on 21 Jan 1880, Charles and Lucetta’s 25th wedding anniversary.
Lizzie next had a baby girl, Nellie on 9 Feb 1875. Less than a year later, she gave birth to Frank William on 25 Jan 1876. Lizzie had five more children: Flora Penrose, born 22 Jan 1878, who died at three months, Lulu Penrose, born 19 Dec 1879, Arthur James Penrose, born 16 Dec 1881, who died at ten months, Bertrand August Penrose, born 28 Aug 1883, and Leo Eugene Penrose, born 1 Aug 1886. These last five were born in Salt Lake City.
During the eight years the families lived in Ogden Charles had been elected a member of the City Council and was also made a member of the Weber Stake High Council. In that position he had frequent occasions to preach and do public speaking. His talents had not gone unnoticed by Brigham Young, who extended an offer to Charles to join the staff of the church-owned Deseret News as assistant editor. In 1877 the Penrose families moved to Salt Lake City where they would reside the rest of their lives. Each of the wives would have their own separate homes.
Charles worked under George Q. Cannon and Brigham Young, Jr., who were also apostles. Frequently Charles was left in charge of the newspaper while the other two traveled or were busy with church responsibilities. His public speaking talents led to many requests to speak at Sunday Services in the Salt Lake Tabernacle. He became involved in women’s rights, preaching that some women stayed at home too much and that they ought to get out more and get more outdoor exercise. We wonder what Lucetta and Lizzie had to say to him after he gave that speech! He also helped organize demonstrations against government actions imprisoning LDS men on polygamy charges. He was elected to a seat in the Territorial legislature. In addition to his political activities he was a member of his LDS Stake Presidency for twenty years. In 1880 at age 48 he was appointed Editor-in-Chief of the Deseret News.
In 1862 Congress passed the Morrill Anti-Bigamy Law making bigamy in the territories a crime punishable by a fine and five years in prison. The church challenged the government in court in Reynolds v United States, (1879) but the U.S. Supreme court upheld the law. Other anti-bigamy laws, aimed at the Mormon practice of polygamy included the Edmunds Act (1882) that made bigamous cohabitation a misdemeanor. As the pressure to abandon plural marriage increased, many Mormon men defiantly took more wives. While Charles had not yet taken a third wife, he became active in attempts to attain statehood for Utah and to prevent the passage of even more stringent laws outlawing the practice of polygamy. He was so busy in the next few decades that it is difficult to imagine him having time to spare to make another marriage and begin a third family. Nevertheless, he was violating the law of the land and Lucetta must have begun to worry that he might be prosecuted, especially after the Court ruled the law constitutional in the Reynolds case.
The Edmunds-Tucker Act of 1887 allowed the US government to disincorporate the LDS church, seize its assets, and included a provision that would compel a spouse to testify against her polygamous husband. Charles had traveled to Washington, DC to lobby against the passage of these laws, but it became clear that not only would Utah not gain statehood until the church abandoned polygamy, the continued existence of the church itself was at stake.
According to Lucetta’s granddaughter, after the move to Salt Lake in 1877 and the Penroses at last began to enjoy the first real comforts of life, the anti-polygamy persecutions began and “they suffered all the terrors of that time.”
On the Fourth of July, 1880, Lucetta stayed home from the holiday celebrations with her baby Lucile, now six months old and looking as if she would survive those early perilous months of life. One of her younger sons was with her—probably Edwin unless he went to celebrate his fourth birthday in the park.
Lucetta fell, broke her leg and injured her spine. With only a small boy to stay with her, there was no way she could get help. Later she had surgery on her spine, but she did not regain the ability to walk.
Lucetta was now 46 years old. Her husband was an active, well-known editor and public figure. Charles’ biographer Kenneth Godfrey tells us that Charles had a special couch made for her and saw that she was taken out for rides every day. “After a time she was able to attend the Salt Lake Theater, where, from her invalid chair, she witnessed dramatic productions. Even with her physical handicaps, Lucetta tried to improve her mind, keep up with current events and reading the best literature. Having a large home, she often invited her neighbors to square dance in her dining room as she watched.” As a result of her poor health, she also suffered from insomnia.
The enforcers of the anti-polygamy laws couldn’t ignore a public figure with two wives. Near the end of 1884 an arrest warrant was issued for Charles. Learning that a federal marshal named Ireland was after him, church leaders sent him away from Utah to Washington, New York and Boston to lobby against passage of the Edmunds-Tucker Act, (which passed in 1887) and to look for support for statehood. With Marshal Ireland close on his heels, Charles left Utah in January 1885.
On Monday, February 9, Charles received a letter from Lucetta with the distressing news that she and all the children except Lucile had been called before the federal grand jury in Salt Lake. Lucetta had declined to testify but “Alice and the rest were prompted till all that was wanted was obtained.”
Church Historian Andrew Jensen gives us this account of the hearing: “In the beginning of January, 1885, he [CWP] was sent on a brief mission to the States, and during his absence his legal wife and family, down to a boy eight years old, were compelled to go before the grand jury. The wife refused to testify against her husband, but the evidence desired was extorted from the children.” 
Charles had several close calls, and while he evaded the marshal, he and others who traveled with him, including Brigham Young, Jr. were not able to accomplish their goals. While still in Washington, Utah’s congressional representative, John Caine, gave Charles a letter that called him to the English mission. He was to leave immediately, but asked for some time to prepare. He left at the end of February, but not before learning the distressing news that while he would continue as Editor of the News, his salary was cut and each of his families would have only $7 a week in a cash allowance while he was away. This is one of the few times that Charles records that he is depressed.
He wrote home telling his “dear ones” good-bye.
Returning to London, Charles was able to visit his mother and sisters again. As usual, his diary records the letters he received from home and his prompt answers. On May 26 he mentions writing home to his and Lucetta’s children Katie and Eddie, who was nearly nine years old.
Charles had his portrait taken and on June 6th sent it along with a reply to Lucetta’s “excellent” letter. (He now called her “Cetta” in his diary.) By mid-July Charles noted that Cetta had not written as expected. He wrote to her again on the 16th and “a good long letter” again on the 18th. At last on July 25th he received a fine letter from Lizzie and one from Cetta, about which he remarked only that Cetta’s letter was “an unkind one.” Without the letters, we can only wonder what was upsetting Lucetta. Charles doesn’t say, but a few days later, his diary gives us a hint: Thursday, July 30:
“I wrote to Lizzie also to R.B.P.”
Charles must have been referring to Romania Bunnell Pratt, MD, who would soon become his third wife. On July 31 he wrote another long letter to Lucetta, and then on August 26 reported that he had a portrait for Cetta for her birthday, and also that he had “bought locket for Cetta.”
Whatever Lucetta’s feelings about the possibility that Charles might take another wife, it is easy to imagine that she was concerned that he would consider endangering himself and his two families by joining with other Mormon men who were thumbing their noses at the federal government by continuing to take wives in violation of the law. While Romania, a practicing physician in Salt Lake who had been divorced from Parley P. Pratt, Jr. for several years, would not be a financial drain on the family, another marriage would put Charles at greater risk for his freedom. As the pressure to abandon plural marriage increased, longer prison sentences were given to convicted polygamists.
Charles and Romania did marry after his return to Utah on 11 March 1886 but the marriage was kept secret from the public for many years.
Still in London, Charles visited his mother and sisters again, especially his sister Matilda, who was ill and hospitalized. He spent long hours with her and promised that if anything happened to her, he would take her daughter Florrie back to America to live with his family. He also had he opportunity to attend the theater again, as well as travel to Scandinavia. Despite his reduced salary, he was able to send gifts back to his wives and children, including fabric and ribbons to Lucetta and Lizzie. By early November 1885 Charles was back in Utah, although he made no public appearances.
In 1889 Charles negotiated with President Grover Cleveland for a pardon for himself and George Q. Cannon. Cleveland granted the pardon, but it did not cover Romania Pratt. That third marriage later caused him some difficult moments before a judge in Salt Lake after Charles refused to answer questions about his wives on cross-examination on an issue that had nothing to do with his marital status. Judge Anderson cited him for contempt and Charles went to jail. A few days later, the judge released him.
Charles continued to be involved in the struggle to obtain statehood for Utah, returning again to lobby in Washington. By mid-1890 it was clear that statehood would remain unattainable until the Mormons gave up the practice of polygamy, which they officially abandoned with the Manifesto of 1890 in September. While no new plural marriages were to be contracted, those already living “the Principle” intended to continue living with all of their families. Charles and Romania didn’t risk revealing the fact of their marriage. She continued to practice as Dr. Pratt until 1905 when Charles revealed it while testifying at the Smoot hearings in Washington.
Lucetta’s youngest son, Edwin, was called to the Southern States Mission where he served from 1897 until his release in March 1899. Edwin’s daughter Dorothy kept many of the letters he wrote home. Most were addressed to his father or “My Dear Parents,” however Edwin appears to be writing mainly to his father, although he usually included a note about his mother’s health. In April 1898 he sent Lucetta flowers, but the letter doesn’t state why they were sent. In June Edwin contracted malaria. His letter describing the extreme symptoms of his illness alarmed both of his parents. He soon wrote an apology for causing them to worry about him. Judging from the letters, his relationship with Lucetta seemed rather formal, while he is much closer and more at ease with Charles, and frequently sought his father’s approval.
Seven of Lucetta’s children grew to adulthood and all of them married. By the time of her death she had eighteen grandchildren. Alice had divorced and remarried twice, which caused her parents to worry. Most of the Penrose offspring lived in Salt Lake or Cache Valley, and we can imagine that Lucetta stayed close to her daughters Jessie, Kate, Alice and Lucile, as well as her daughters-in-law. Lucetta’s mother, Eliza Barwell Stratford, died in Ogden on 8 Dec 1893, more than thirty years after the death of her husband, George. During those thirty years she continued to live with her son Edwin Stratford and his family.
In 1886 Charles left the Deseret News, but not to retire. He continued his busy life as an assistant church historian, writing the missionary tracts Rays of Living Life, and editing the Salt Lake Herald. In 1898 he was reappointed Editor of the Deseret News.
Despite her health problems, Lucetta enjoyed reading, attending the theater, and spending time with her children and grandchildren. Friends and family frequently visited, as “visiting” was an important part of women’s lives during the 19th and early 20th centuries. The 1900 Census shows Lucetta living at her home at 306 East 5th South with Charles, Alice, Lucile, Jessie [Penrose] Crawford and her daughter, and a servant, Nora Bennett.
On Halloween, 1902, Lucetta and Charles attended a surprise party for their son Edwin. Several of her children and their spouses were present, along with many of Edwin’s in-laws. A few weeks later Lucetta came down with a cold. She wasn’t in the best of health and the cold soon turned into pneumonia.
As her conditioned worsened, her family gathered around her bedside. On the afternoon of January 19 she asked for a drink of water, took a sip, then laid her head back down on the pillow and died quietly. January 21 would have been her 48th wedding anniversary. She was sixty-eight years old.
The Deseret News obituary published a large picture of the young Lucetta with the headline: “Good Woman goes to Rest.” This was a tepid summing up of the life of this remarkable human being.
Her funeral was held in the Ninth Ward meeting house and she was buried in the Salt Lake Cemetery where Charles and Elizabeth—Aunt Lizzie—would eventually join her. She had eighteen grandchildren and one great-grandchild. The speakers remembered her for many admirable traits of character, including her devotion to her family and her faithfulness to her beliefs.
Charles still had two wives and many tumultuous years to live in the public eye—his years as apostle and counselor in the First Presidency of the Mormon church, his service as president of the European Missions, and his return to Washington, DC to testify in the Smoot Hearings of 1905 that resulted in bitter attacks on his character made in the editorial pages of his nemesis, the Salt Lake Tribune.
We have seen Lucetta through the eyes of her parents, her husband, and a few of her children and grandchildren. Looking at only her reflection through what is at best a foggy mirror, we wonder how much of her true character and personality are still hidden from us. While she endured hardships with stoic determination, she was strong and forthright when she felt it was necessary.
Lucetta died before her younger grandchildren were born. Dorothy Penrose Woodland wrote that she regretted not knowing her, and that “Aunt Lizzie” took her grandmother’s place in the little girl’s affections. Dorothy also said that many family members said that she was like Lucetta in many ways. Dorothy wrote: “When I think of the agony and heartbreak that my Grandmother endured each time a baby died, my heart aches for her and the sadness that she had to face. She was a very great lady.”
Susan W. Howard
Annie Loreen Crawford Davis, “Lucetta Stratford Penrose,” Daughters of Utah Pioneers, 1968. Loreen was the daughter of Alice Cecilia Penrose.
Handwritten manuscript, author unknown, but similar to Davis, above, “Lucetta Stratford Penrose, in my possession.
Richard L. Evans, A Century of “Mormonism” in Great Britain, (Publishers Press, Salt Lake City, 1937, 1984).
Judith Flanders, Circle of Sisters, (Norton, New York, 2001). This is an excellent biography of four sisters of the McDonald family growing up in Victorian England. It is a good source of details of daily life in this era.
Kenneth W. Godfrey, Charles W. Penrose: His Life and Thought, (unpublished manuscript available at Utah Historical Society.)
Kenneth W. Godfrey, Audrey M. Godfrey, Jull Mulvay Derr, Women’s Voices: An Untold History of the Latter-day Saints 1830-1900 (Deseret Book, Salt Lake City, 1989).
Andrew Jensen, Latter Day Saints Biographical Encyclopedia, (1901).
Richard L. Jensen and Malcolm R. Thorp, eds. Mormons in Early Victorian Britain, (University of Utah Press, Salt Lake City, 1989.)
Lynda Nead, Victorian Babylon: People, Streets and Images in Nineteenth Century London, (Yale University Press, New Haven, 2000.)
Penrose Diaries, 1854-1899, Utah Historical Library. Many thanks to Kenneth W. Godfrey for making copies of these diaries available.
Penrose Family Publication, 1968-1973. Published by the Penrose Family Organization in Salt Lake City, Utah.
Conway B. Sonne, Saints on the Seas: A Maritime History of Mormon Migration 1830-1890 (University of Utah Press, Salt Lake City, 1983).
Missionary Diary of Edwin Stratford, Microfilm copy at Family History Library, Salt Lake City.
Edward W. Tullidge, History of Salt Lake City, (1886).
 Diary of Edwin Stratford.
 On May 30th Edwin and his father went to London to see the Great Exposition and to attend the London Conference. They also went to the Kennington branch—Elder Penrose’s home branch. Later they heard Apostle John Taylor speak. George Stratford was baptized June 2nd and four apostles were present and spoke: John Taylor, Lorenzo Snow, Erastus Snow and Franklin D. Richards.
Jensen and Thorp, Mormons in Early Victorian Britain, 25.
 Penrose Family Publication, 1968-9, p. 9.
 As far as I can determine, this Sister Bateman was not related to Charles and Lucetta’s future daughter-in-law, a granddaughter of Thomas Bateman of Manchester, England.
 This must have been her grandfather Robert Barwell.
 Godfrey, Charles W. Penrose: His Life and Thought, 69-70.
 Sonne, Saints on the Seas, 86.
 Davis, DUP Biography.
 See the “mouse pie” incident in Flanders, Circle of Sisters, 33-34.
 Davis, DUP biography.
 The cabin is a museum, open by appointment.
 A version similar to the DUP biography in the form of a handwritten manuscript (not complete) in my possession.
 Ibid. This was Conrad Manns, a homeless youth.
 Handwritten manuscript.
 Godfrey, Charles W. Penrose, 183.
 Godfrey, Charles W. Penrose, 304
 Penrose Diary Feb 9, 1885.
 Jensen, Latter Day Saints Biographical Encyclopedia, See also Tullidge’s History of Salt Lake City, 140.
 These letters can be read at http://penrosefam.org
 Deseret News, 1 November 1902, 8.
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