AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF SUSANNAH DUNN HUNSAKER
I was born May 6, 1843, at Nauvoo, Hancock Co., state of Illinois. My parents were Simeon A, Dunn and Margaret Snyder. They were Latter-day Saints before my birth. We came from Nauvoo to Winter Quarters in Nebraska in 1846. At that time I was three years old. My mother died the day I was three years old while we were at Nauvoo, leaving father with four motherless children.
About the first thing I remember was father taking me on his shoulder and showing me the picture of Philo Dibble, Carthage Jail, and of Joseph Smith as he came to the window when he was martyred, and other pictures.
I was in the exodus of the Saints in 1846. Then I remember, on the last bank of the Mississippi River, we were ferrying across the river when the rope broke and let the wagons float down the river. When we got the float back it tipped over and let one of the wagons down. Father dived down and got most of the things out of the water.
My father married Harriet A. Silver in 1847, and she was, indeed, a mother to us children. I had what they called scurvy, and I had it very badly. My mother tied a string around my arm so tightly that my arm was black. She did this so that the scurvy could not scatter, as a great many people died of it at this time. She put a silk handkerchief around my neck so I would not take the string off my arm.
My father fitted out one wagon and a yoke of oxen for the first company that left Winter Quarters, in 1847, for Utah.
One day my uncle went hunting. A buffalo chased him and gored him very badly then threw him in the river. The brethren got him out, and I remember going to see him. He was very sick, but got well.
While crossing the plains, I remember a little girl by the name of Ivera Free who fell from a wagon. The wheels passed over her chest and across her face crushing her badly. I remember Brigham Young stopped the company and they laid her on a bench. We all knelt down, and Brigham Young administered to her, and she was instantly healed. From that time on until I was seven or eight years old, I thought Brigham was God and had resurrected the little girl, and it was a hard thing for me to change my opinion.
I remember being disobedient and getting out of the wagon. I stepped into a prickly pear bed. I had no shoes on and could not see the prickly pears, as they were covered with sand.
We came to Utah in 1848. The house we moved into was the first adobe house built out of the fort. I remember the first wheat crop and how they took sticks and threshed it out and took it to mill. My father was the first to have grain threshed, and he lent out all his wheat but ten bushels, until the rest got theirs threshed. We gathered all kinds of roots, and you don’t know how good some of them tasted. My father made baskets and brooms. He raised broom straw. He was the first man to raise flax after we came here. I remember the grasshopper war. We had to gather garlic and make soup. We had a few beans left from our trip, and these were mixed in the soup.
My father had the rheumatism very badly until his head was drawed back. Brigham Young took him to the sulfur springs for his health. He just got over his sick spell when he was called on a mission to the South Sea Islands; this was in the year 1850.
While father was on his mission a baby was born to mother. She also adopted a little boy. All the help mother got was a load, and after father got home he took it back. They objected, but he said to give the wood to some poor person.
While father was on his mission I was herding our cow. It would not go where I wanted it to go and I was crying. Bishop Hunter came along and said, “Don’t cry, your father is coming home.” I ran home and told mother. She went up and asked Bishop Hunter and he said he had not heard a word from him, that he only made that remark to comfort me. “But,” he said, “Sister Dunn, I promise you he will be here in three weeks,” and he was. The French had driven them out of their country.
I remember the first wheel chair that came to Salt Lake belonged to Brigham Young. I remember Brigham Young patting Heber C. Kimball on the and saying, “This is my prophet, and I can say that everything he prophesied came true.
We lived in Salt Lake City for one winter and at Centerville. We then moved to Ogden City for a few months. From there we moved to North Ogden.
Father bought one acre of land north and west of what is not Brigham City. This was on the north side of Box Elder Creek and watery lane. There was no Brigham City at that time. A fort was built in 1851 where the third ward is situated. The first three bishops were: William Davis, Harvey Pierce, and Alvin Nichols.
I went with my father in the move south in January 1858, after my second mother died and left me at the age of fifteen with my father and his little ones. I remember, before we moved south, we filled our homes with straw so if the soldiers came to take possession, we could fire them, and they could not take them as they had done in Nauvoo. When we moved south, I met Heber C. Kimball and he asked me if I thought we would ever get back to Brigham City. I told him I did not know but I hoped so. He said, “I promise you that you will get back, and soon, and no harm will come to you.” We moved back to Brigham City in July.
I remember going to a theater in Salt Lake City with my father. We met a man by the name of Porter Rockwell. He was one of the men put in jail with the Prophet, but he escaped and the Prophet was killed.
I kept house for my father until April 24, 1859 when I was married to Allen Hunsaker in the Old Endowment House in Salt Lake City.
I have pioneered the greater part of my life and know what hardship means. We lived the summers of 1859 and 1860 where Mantua is now located. We moved to Brigham City for the winters. I have lived on a ranch most of my life. I have sheared sheep, milked cows, made butter, and have done all kind of farm work in general. We also spun flax and carded wool. Some of the first flax raised in Box Elder County was raised by my father. We spun the flax and wove it into cloth. The cloth was made into gunnysacks, bed ticks, baby clothes, tablecloths, and men’s summer suits. I did my first weaving in 1959.
I am the mother of five children and one little boy passed away in infancy. I now have twenty-nine grandchildren and sixteen great grandchildren. My husband died October 25 1917 in Elwood, Utah.