Monday, October 11, 2010

Olive Hills

  • Name: Olive Hills
  • Born: August 12, 1815 Brookfield, New York
  • Died: August 28, 1897 Payson, Utah
  • Related through: Dan's grandfather Lynn Crookston

Olive Hills, the daughter of Eunice and Amasa Hills, was born August 12, 1815 in Brookfield, Madison, New York. Nothing is known of her youth, but at age twenty-five she married Eli Chase who had come to Madison County as a missionary for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. They were married on July 25, 1840 in East Hamilton, Madison, New York. It was there that Olive gave birth to their first child, a daughter named Harriet Louisa.

When the baby was four months old, Olive accompanied her husband back to Illinois. Her sister, Lydia, had also been converted to the Mormon faith and went to Illinois as well. By the time they arrived in Nauvoo, thousands of converts had gathered in the blossoming new town and hundreds of log homes, shops and brick buildings had been constructed. Records show Eli and Olive as tenants on the lot of Eli's father. In spite of the poor economic conditions of many of the people, work had begun on the Nauvoo Temple and all were expected to contribute what they could. Eli contributed physical labor and minimal amounts of cash. The women were asked to donate a penny a week for glass and nails and Olive made her contribution. When the temple neared completion, the Chases were able to participate in the blessings. Olive became a member of the Female Relief Society of Nauvoo on April 28, 1842, just a month after it was organized. The women helped provide food and clothing to the temple workers and gave aid to families in need.

Little is known of Olive's home life in Nauvoo, but a brief account indicates that an infant child was buried in October of 1842. Eli had gone through years of persecution in Missouri, but Olive experienced it for the first time while in Nauvoo. The influx of Mormons posed a threat to others in the area and resulted in continual harassment and mob violence. Plans were made to move west in an effort to find peace. Olive stayed in Nauvoo while her husband was gone for a month and a half, helping to start the exodus. When he returned, she made the difficult two-month trip across Iowa while pregnant. A few weeks after their arrival at Council Bluffs she gave birth to a daughter, also named Olive.

Three winters were spent in Iowa, growing crops and making preparations for the journey to the Rocky Mountains. By the time they were ready to leave, Olive was expecting another child. During the three-month journey across the plains, she gave birth to daughter Helen along the Platte River, somewhere in western Nebraska or eastern Wyoming.

The Chase family arrived in the Salt Lake Valley August 25, 1849. The challenges were far from over. Only a year and a half later, Eli died of consumption. Olive, with little means, was left with three young children and another on the way. On July 5, 1851, she gave birth to a son, named after the father he would never know.

A year after the loss of her husband, Olive became a plural wife of James G. Browning of Ogden. Two daughters, Mary Ann and Eveline, resulted from that union. She lived in Ogden for about ten years but at some point her marriage to Browning ended. On July 1, 1865 Olive became the wife of George Garner who ran a freighting business and a hotel in Payson, Utah. She had two connections to George. He was her brother-in-law, having married Lydia Hills in Illinois in 1843. He was also the father-in-law of Olive's daughter Helen.

In 1877, Olive became widowed when George had a fatal accident with a run-away wagon. She lived for twenty more years in Payson, looked after by some of her children. She died on August 28, 1897. She is buried in an unmarked grave in the Payson City Cemetery.

Thank you to Colleen Helquist who provided this history on her RootsWeb page.

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