HEYWOOD, MARTHA SPENCE
Martha Spence Heywood
Martha Spence Heywood was born in Ireland in 1812. She left with a sister
for America in 1834 against their parents' wishes, arriving penniless in
New York City. She sewed and "toiled & toiled late & early,"
and also traveled extensively in upstate New York and Canada, part of the
time as an "Advent preacher . . . . enduring the
scoffs and privations that attend such a course." In July 1848 she
joined the Mormon Church and in 1850 traveled to Utah. She became a plural
wife of Joseph L. Heywood, a merchant and the first U.S. marshal in Utah
Territory. She had two children, one of whom died at the age of eighteen
A pioneer settler of Nephi, she lived for a time in a wagon box. Her husband
visited the settlement several times a year, and she occasionally traveled
to Salt Lake City. She supported herself by making hats and caps, and she
trained other family members in hatmaking while her husband took orders,
collected materials, and marketed the finished items. She also taught school
In 1861 she settled in Washington, north of St. George. There she became
well known as a schoolteacher. She held classes in her home, charging three
dollars a month, a fee that could be paid in produce or in chores. She died
there in her sixty-first year.
Historians consider her diary of the years 1850 to 1856 one of the best
personal accounts of that period in Utah. It documents, among other things,
the new territory's intellectual life, the settlement of Nephi, and polygamous
family life. Unflinching in her honesty, Martha Heywood records ambivalent
feelings about her marriage and the dissatisfaction of some Nephi settlers
with her husband's leadership. Her own self-examination was rigorous; and
her diary remains a testament to her integrity.
See: Juanita Brooks, ed., Not by Bread Alone: The Journal of Martha Spence
Heywood, 1850-56 (1978).
Miriam B. Murphy