Margaret Robison (1819-1892)

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Margaret Robison Phelps Bridges
Bridges, margaret robison phelps.jpg
Aunt Margaret
Born: 13 May 1819 Susquehanna, Pennsylvania
Died: 3 Mar 1892 Oakley, Cassia, Idaho
Father: Joseph Robison
Mother: Cornelia Guinal
Siblings: John Robison
Jane Robison
James Miller Robison
William Henry Robison
Joseph Robison
Lovina Robison
Mary Robison
Matilda Robison
Susan Robison
Delilah Robison
Peter Robison
Margaret Robison
Spouse: Alva Phelps
Married: 15 Nov 1835
Children: Juliett Ann Phelps
Walter Alva Phelps
Mary Lovina Phelps
Spouse: William Erskine Bridges
Married: 27 Feb 1848 Winter Quaters, Nebraska
Children: Margaret Bridges

Margaret Robison was the twelfth child and seventh daughter of Joseph Robison and Cornelia Guinal. She was born May 13, 1819 in Susquehanna, Luzerne Co., Pennsylvania.

Margaret married Alva Phelps November 15, 1835 in Onondaga, New York. Soon they moved to Indiana. Their first two children, Juliett Ann and Walter Alva, were born there in York township, Steuben county.

Margaret joined the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints January 4, 1843. She was baptized by Elder Thomas Rice King, her brother-in-law.

Soon after their baptism, they gathered with their family near Nauvoo, Illnois on the banks of the Mississippi. Their third child, Mary Lovina, was born in Zarahemla, a town in Lee county, Iowa, directly across the rivier from Nauvoo.

Alva and Margaret received their temple ordinances in the Nauvoo Temple Friday, January 9, 1846. They were part of the third company to go through that day. Shortly thereafter they were driven from their home and made the trek across Iowa, settling in Winter Quarters.

On June 26, 1846, a call to raise four or five companies of men for the United States Army went out. Alva joined up and became part of what became known as the Mormon Battalion. He left Margaret in very poor circumstances in Winter Quarters (see her letter, below).

A granddaughter, Elida Callister Ellison, told the following at a family reunion in Fairmont Park in 1946:

Margaret, who had been living in a "dugout", was among those who had received word that some of the Battalion boys were coming home. She obtained a room, moved from the "dugout" and with what limited means she had she began making preparations for his homecoming. She went to church one Sunday and one of the speakers, she thought it was President Young, said "Our hearts go out in sympathy to Sister Phelps this morning because of the death of her husband." That was the first Margaret had heard of it, she started to leave the Church but fainted at the door. Her Brother William hurried to help her and later in trying to comfort her said that as long as he had a crust of bread he would divide with her. It was not long, however, until William fell victim to Cholera.

Margaret stayed in Winter Quarters when the pioneer companies went west in 1847. She married William Erskine Bridges at 4:15 pm, February 27, 1848 at her home in Winter Quarters. They were married for time by Brigham Young.

William brought his second son, Worthy Franklin, age seven, to the family, so they set up a household with four children. In 1850 they were found by the census taker in Pottawattamie county, Iowa. Sometime the next year they made the journey across the plains to join Margaret's family in Utah territory.

They settled in Fillmore, Millard county, where Margaret Bridges was born in 1852. This is where they spent most of the rest of their lives.

In 1854 William was officially named as the guardian for Margaret and Alva's children.

About ten years later, September 6, 1864, Margaret and William were divorced. William had been sealed to another wife, Eliza Hill, on May 28 of that year. In 1870, Margaret told the census taker that her last name was Phelps. She was 51.

On July 5, 1879, Margaret was re-baptized in Fillmore by Henry Judson McCullough. She was confirmed by her nephew, Franklin Alonzo Robison. In the records taken at that time, her name was listed as Margaret Bridges. In fact, William was re-baptized the same day!

Wendell L. Pope, Robison family historian, said, In the 1880 census, "Margaret Robison is in Fillmore living with her ex-husband, and listed in the census as [his] wife! ... I don't think this means that they have gotten back together. William E. is listed as a farmer and suffering from cholera morbus, and likely Margaret is there to nurse and care for him in his illness. She got him through, for he lived another seven years."

Margaret died March 3, 1892 in Oakley, Cassia, Idaho. She had likely moved there to be with her daughter Mary Lovina who had moved there in 1890. Margaret is buried in the Oakley cemetery.

Oakley, Idaho

Letter

Fillmore City, April 30, 1878

Brother Tyler,

Dear Sir: In complying with your request o give a sketch of the circumstances attending the enlistment of my former husband, Alva Phelps, in the Mormon Battalion, I find, on referring to my memory, that my sketch must necessarily be brief, as at that time I was suffering from a severe illness, leaving events only of the most sorrowful nature to be impressed with any degree of vividness upon my recollection.

We were traveling when the call came for him to leave us. It was midnight when we were awakened from our slumbers with the painful news that we were to be left homeless, without a protector. I was very ill at the time, my children all small, my babe also extremely sick; but the call was pressing; there was not time for any provisions to be made for wife or children; no time for tears; regret was unavailing. He started in the morning. I watched him from my wagon-bed till his loved form was ost in the distance; it was m last sight of him.

Margaret Robison Phelps Bridges

Two months from the day of his enlistment, the sad news of my bereavement arrived. This blow entirely prostrated me; but I had just embarked upon the sea of my troubles; winter found me bedridden, destitute, in a wretched hovel which was built upon a hillside; the season was one of constant rain; the situation of the hovel and its openness gave free access to the piercing winds and water flowed over the dirt floor, converting it into mud two or three inches deep; no wood but what my little ones picked up around the fences, so green it filled the room with smoke; the rain dropping and wetting the bed which I was powerless to leave; no relatives to cheer or comfort me, a stranger away from all who ever loved me; my neighbors could do but little; their own troubles and destitution engrossing their time; my little daughter of seven my only help; no eye to witness my suffering but the pitying one of God--He did not desert me.

Spring brought some alleviation from my sufferings; yet one pan of meal was my all, my earthly store of provisions. I found sale for the leaders of my team. The long, dreary winter had passed, and, although it was many months before health and comparative comfort were my portion, still I thank the Lord this was the darkest part of my life.

The incidents immediately connected with my husband's death I believe you are better acquainted with than I am, so for me to give an account of his sad fate, would be both unnecessary and painful. If in this short epistle, you can find any item of information, I shall be happy in forwarding it to you. Thanking you for the interest you are taking in our dear, departed and the respect you manifest for our honored dead, I am,

Sincerely yours, in the bonds of the everlasting Gospel.

--Margaret Bridges (formerly Margaret Phelps)


Sources

  • Name variant: Marget [cemetery records, p. 52]
  • Black, Susan W. E. Early LDS Membership Data (Infobases, 1995):
Phelps, Margaret (Female)
Comments: In 1870 Margaret had a household of 1, with real wealth of $150 and personal wealth of $300.
Vocation: Keep House; 1870
  • Record of Doctor J.C. Robison.
  • Despain, Carrie Robison and Garner, Melba Despain. History & Genealogy of the Franklin Alonzo Robison Family, p. 116.
  • Rogers, Sarah. Fillmore Branch Registration, p. 22.
  • Day, Stella H., ed. Builders of Early Millard, pp. 116, 597.
  • Pope, Wendell LaVon. Joseph Robison and Cornelia Guinal, Their Children and Grand-children, pp. 78, 101, 104, 117
  • Reeve, Jondrae. PAF Data File: Ancestors of Peter Robison, RIN: 530
  • Nicolo, Margaret LaDean Sutton Sweeting. Sweeting Family Records Binder
  • Birth place variant: Tunkhannock [AF]
  • Endowment: Nauvoo Temple Endowment Register, p. 129.
  • Note: Lyman, Albert Robison. The History of Lucretia Hancock Robison, p. 37:
One of the sisters, Margaret, was married to Alva Phelps, and there at Winter Quarters, he was called from her to go with the Mormon Battalion. Speaking of this, Lucretia Lyman Ranney says, 'Grandmother Lyman (that is Eliza Smith Lyman) tells of a woman who had made as elaborate preparations as she could for the homecoming of her husband from the Mormon Battalion, only to learn that he was dead. Grandmother comments on how broken-hearted the woman was. Aunt Margaret's grand-daughter told me this story and it is so much like what I found in Grandmother Lyman's journal, that I have always felt that it was Aunt Margaret of whom Grandmother was telling: While Aunt Margaret was waiting for her husband, Alva Phelps, to return, she went to church and there, as President Young spoke he said, 'Our hearts go out in sympathy to Sister Phelps in the loss of her husband.' This was the first she knew about her husband's death (he died 16 Sep 1846), she started to leave the meeting, Uncle William followed her, and at the door she fainted. Uncle William tried to comfort her, and among other things he said that as long as he had a crust of bread he would divide with her. In three days he was dead and buried (27 Nov 1846). Before he died, he called his eldest son, Henry (James Henry), sixteen years old, and asked him to help his mother and the family to Utah. He asked Henry to make that promise, and Henry kept his promise. They came to Utah in 1853, or maybe a little later.
  • Probate Record: Millard County Probate Court Minute Book, 1852-1866, Thomas R. King, Probate Judge James C. Owens, Sheriff:
15 Jun 1854 E. Bridges was by said Court appointed guardian of Juliette Phelps, 15, Walter Phelps, 13, and Mary Phelps, 8, minor children and minor heirs at law of the late Alva Phelps, deceased, who was qualified and gave bonds according to law.
  • 1860 Federal Census, Fillmore City, Millard, Utah Page #109, Dwelling #946, Family #858, enumerated 16 Jul 1860:
BRIDGES, Wm. E.
, Marg't., 41, female, PA
  • 1870 Federal Census, Utah, Millard County, Fillmore, PO: Fillmore, Enumerated 25 Jun 1870, page 12, Dwelling 102, Family 95:
PHELPS, Margaret, 51, female, white, Keeping House, 150/300, PA
  • 1880 Federal Census, Fillmore, Millard, Utah
Bridges, William E.
, Margaret, wife, female, married, white, 61, PA, Keeping House, NY, NY
  • Death variant: 8 May 1891 [History, p. 116]