Cyrena Dustin Merrill autobiography

Philemon and Cyrena Dustin Merrill – pioneers of Utah and Arizona

L. Tom Perry Special Collections is pleased to announce the availability of a new digitized collection: Cyrena Dustin Merrill autobiography (MSS SC 2180). This handwritten autobiography documents the author’s life including her experience joining the Mormon Church in 1837 and spent time in the Far West, Missouri; Nauvoo, Illinois; Winter Quarters, Nebraska; and then her migration to Salt Lake City, Utah. She describes the impact of a measles outbreak among Ute Indians in Salt Lake City in 1851. In 1876 Merrill moved to Arizona with her family. Also included is a genealogy of the Merrill family.

Cyrena Dustin Merrill was born January 6, 1817, in Le Roy, Genesee County, New York, to Elizabeth Redfield and Seth Dustin. She moved with her parents and siblings to Portage County, Ohio, when she was about one year old and remained there until she left home at 21. Cyrena was baptized into The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints by Elder James Emmett in March 1837, although her family opposed her joining the Church and persecuted her until she left home. In the summer of 1837, Cyrena visited Kirtland and viewed the Temple. She returned home and spent the winter with her parents and siblings, but determined to move with the Saints to Missouri when the time came. Cyrena would travel alone with the Saints from Missouri to Illinois. In Nauvoo she met and married Philemon Christopher Merrill on September 20, 1840. Eleven months later their first child was born in Nauvoo. She was an early member of the Female Relief Society, joining at the second meeting of the organization on March 24, 1842 in Nauvoo, Illinois.

The small family fled Nauvoo February 6, 1846, and headed toward the Rocky Mountains with an early company of Saints; however, Philemon volunteered for the Mormon Battalion and Cyrena waited for him in Iowa until he came back for her. Their family joined the Silas Richards Company in Council Bluffs and arrived in Salt Lake City in the fall of 1849. Cyrena and Philemon helped settle parts of northern Utah and southern Idaho, and then the Church called them to help settle Arizona. They led a company into St. David, Arizona Territory, where Cyrena remained the rest of her life.

Cyrena Dustin Merrill died in Layton (now Safford), Arizona Territory on February 3, 1906 at age 88. She had eight children.

Women of Devotion

The new Special Collections reference room exhibit, “Women of Devotion,” features early editions of works by European women writers. Between 1500 and 1800 religious study was an important part of literate women’s education and piety was a well-respected feminine attribute. Thus, many of the published works written by European women at this time were religious. Whether they were nuns or laywomen, Catholic or Protestant, poets or prose writers, women displayed their devotion as well as their literary skill through religious writings. Devotional literature became an acceptable platform for women’s voices to be heard and respected. They showed that beyond being godly, women could also be great leaders, teachers, and thinkers.

This exhibit displays the work of 16th, 17th, and 18th century women writers from England, Italy, Portugal, and Spain (including Mexico). These women had a variety of backgrounds, lifestyles, and beliefs. But each work shows the creativity and intelligence of its author as she wrote about religious subjects. This exhibit was curated by the Special Collections summer interns, Hannah Chapman and David Moraza Sanchez. It will be open until the end of August.

New exhibit of African American literature

This month, Special Collections is highlighting three centuries of first editions by African American authors, from Phillis Wheatley to Toni Morrison. The exhibit is on display inside the Special Collections Reading Room, but you don’t need to be a researcher to come visit — just ask the reference staff for admission!

Parley P. Pratt affidavit

Parley P. Pratt (1807-1857)

L. Tom Perry Special Collections is pleased to announce the availability of a new digitized collection: Parley P. Pratt affidavit (MSS SC 2227). This is a handwritten affidavit in the suit of Hiram Kimball versus Parley P. Pratt. Pratt apparently had an open account with Kimball in which he encumbered a debt of $300 in “goods…and merchandise.” Kimball claimed that Pratt had “left the state with the intention of leaving his goods and effects removed beyond the limits of the same,” and that the debt was left unpaid. The lawsuit was filed in October 1846 in Hancock County, Illinois, after Pratt had already left for Utah.


World War I exhibit

This fall marks the one-hundredth anniversary of the close of the First World War. In recognition of this event, the library will be hosting an exhibit celebrating the contributions of Brigham Young University students to the war effort. The exhibit will be opening early next week, and will be on display through the end of November.

Brimhall Essay Contest

Each year the descendants of former Brigham Young University president George H. Brimhall honor the founders of the university by sponsoring the Brimhall Essay Contest. Held in conjunction with the university’s Homecoming celebrations, the contest is designed to introduce students to the individuals who have helped to shape Brigham Young University’s unique institutional character.

The L. Tom Perry Special Collections preserves and makes available a range of manuscript and archival resources documenting the contributions of the university’s founders. A bibliography of materials related to Raymond Beckham, the 2018 honoree, is available at this link.  If you would like to learn more about the resources available for this year’s founder, contact the University Archivist.

John T. Dorcheus memoirs

John T. Dorcheus (1842-1932)

L. Tom Perry Special Collections is pleased to announce the availability of a new digitized collection: John T. Dorcheus memoirs (MSS SC 1879). This handwritten autobiography written in 1911 details Dorcheus’ life in Gunnison, Utah and later in Ashton, Idaho, and his participation in the “Utah Black Hawk War.” Also included are typed copies of blessings given to Dorcheus family members.

John Nicoli (Nicholas) Thueson was born on 25 April 1842 in Copenhagen, Denmark, to Neils Thueson (later Dorcheus) and Angelica C. Lund. Dorcheus was a locality where the family lived in Denmark and was added to the last name. John and his family sailed to America from Denmark in 1857, and later emigrated to Utah in 1860 in the James Darling Ross Company. He married Ellen Jensen on 17 June 1865 in Salt Lake City, Utah, and they had two children together. On 14 June 1869, John married a widow with two children, Alice Penniston Wasden, as his second wife, and they had four children together. He also had a third wife, Mary. The Dorcheus family lived in Gunnison, Utah, and Ashton Idaho. John was also a veteran of the Utah Black Hawk War. John T. Dorcheus died on 11 February 1932 in Salt Lake City, and was buried in the Murray City Cemetery.

Simon Eugene Dalton diary

Simon Eugene Dalton (1852-1933)

L. Tom Perry Special Collections is pleased to announce the availability of a new digitized collection: Simon Eugene Dalton diary (MSS 8978). In this handwritten diary Dalton writes mostly brief entries on his life while living as a farmer and member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Springville, Utah. Dated 1899-1903.

Simon Eugene Dalton was born in Centerville, Utah on August 1, 1852. He was fifth of the eleven children born to Elnora Warner and Simon Cooker Dalton. He spent most of his life in Springville, Utah, and was a farmer by trade. Dalton married Elizabeth Jane Huntington in 1889, and the couple had seven children. Simon Eugene Dalton died on December 1, 1933 in Springville, Utah.

New acquisitions in British Romanticism

Among the recent acquisitions made for the Robert Burns Collection and Rowe Collection of William Wordsworth are two first editions of famous works of English Romanticism.

Pictured is the first volume of The Scots Musical Museum, a collection of Scottish folk songs published 1787-1803.  Burns collaborated with Edinburgh music publisher James Johnson to gather songs for the collection, and he contributed a number of his own lyrics as well, including famous songs like “Ye Banks and Braes of Bonnie Doon” and “Flow Gently, Sweet Afton.” The first two volumes of The Scots Musical Museum were recently added to the Burns Collection. It is quite difficult to find complete sets of the six volume collection.


Another famous piece acquired by Special Collections is this first edition of Byron’s English Bards and Scotch Reviewers (1809), a satirical poem attacking critics of his first book of poetry as well as Romantic poets like Wordsworth and Coleridge. The book was previously owned by a Captain Hyde Parker — most likely  Hyde Parker III, who commanded a British ship during the War of 1812 and later serves as head of the Royal Navy.


Minerva Wade Hickman autobiography

Minerva Emma Wade Hickman (1828-1918)

L. Tom Perry Special Collections is pleased to announce the availability of a new digitized collection: Minerva Wade Hickman autobiography (MSS SC 2314). In this handwritten autobiography, Hickman writes about her experiences in migrating to Utah in the 1840s and in settling in that state. She also includes “a list of names of Births since I came to North Ogden” in which she lists the name and sex of each child born in that community. Also included are genealogies of Hickman and Wade family members.

Minerva Emma Wade was born on 2 September 1828, in Farmersville, New York, to Moses Wade and Sally Maria Bundy. Her family joined The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and moved to Nauvoo, Illinois in the early 1840s. Minerva married William Adams Hickman as his second wife on 1 May 1849 in Council Bluffs, Iowa, and they had eight children together. She accompanied Hickman and his first wife, Bernetta, and their four children on their journey to Utah in 1849 in the Cornwall Company. Minerva died on 23 December 1918 in North Ogden, Utah.

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