Sunday, December 20, 2009

Just Across the River: Hiram and Mary Ann Poole Hale


Hiram Hale and his wife, Mary Ann Poole Hale
(Me-->Dad-->LaVonne-->Harry Van De Riet-->Sarah Elmyra Hale-->Hiram Hale)
I have a little soft spot for this particular ancestor of mine. Hiram Hale was the first ancestor that I really thoroughly researched when I was first learning how to do genealogy at BYU. I guess I was interested in him because Hale is also Emma Smith's (the wife of Joseph Smith, founder of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints) last name. After lots of checking, I know that we are not related to the Emma Hale Smith family except for a long shot, probably back in England a few hundred years ago. The interesting and relevant part, though, is that Hiram and his wife Mary Ann were contemporaries of Emma, Joseph, Brigham Young, and all those people so important to my Mormon heritage, but they were NOT Mormon. AND they had to be aware of the dramatic happenings in the Mormon community at that time because they lived just two counties away from Nauvoo, Illinois, across the Mississippi in Wapello, Iowa. They also knew that they had a fleeting connection with Emma--that her maiden name was Hale--and they sympathized with the awful stories they heard about her mistreatment at the hands of the leaders. At least, I THINK they knew she was a Hale. Grandma LaVonne, a convert, used to say that her family's opinion of the Mormon church was not very good because, "They treated Emma just awful, and she was a Hale,you know." That is the extent of what I know of their opinions of the whole Mormon drama that unfolded at their doorstop, but I wish I could have asked them more about it. Hiram and Mary Ann were both pretty young at the time...they got married in 1847, just a couple of weeks after Brigham Young's company reached the Salt Lake valley. I would love to know if their families were among those that helped the starving Saints who were trying to cross Iowa.
I've had a little fun imagining what the Hales and the Pooles may have thought about the Mormons, and what they must think now that their descendants have joined the throngs. My favorite moment was when I took a copy of this photo into a print shop in Provo, Utah, to get it redone,etc. A big, loud man with a thick Southern accent was standing behind me in line and saw my photos. He pointed and said, "Those yo' ancestahs?" Yeah, I nodded proudly. "They was Mo'mon?" I snickered a little and said, "No, they probably shot at the Mormons." The entire shop went dead silent. I just laughed. It's the proud rebel in me.
I'll have to post more later about Hiram and his Civil War stories.