Desdemona Wadsworth Fullmer, a daughter of Peter Fullmer and Susanna Zerfass, and the sister of David Fullmer, was born in Huntington, Luzerne County, Pennsylvania, 6 Oct 1809. She embraced the Gospel about the close of the year 1836, in Richland County, Ohio, being baptized by Elder John P. Greene. Soon afterwards, she removed to Kirtland, Ohio, and from that time forward shared in the persecutions to which the Church was subjected in Ohio, Missouri and Illinois. She was living with her brother David’s family near Haun’s Mill, Missouri, at the time when the massacre of the Saints occurred at that place, and she and other members of the family were forced to hide in the woods to escape the mob. (L.D.S. Church Encyclopedia, Book page 235)
In 1842 she married Joseph Smith, Jr. who had been born 23 Dec 1805 at Sharon, Windsor, Vermont. After his death, and just before the exodus of the Latter-day Saints from Nauvoo, Illinois, Desdemona married Ezra T. Benson on 26 Jan 1846 at Nauvoo, Illinois. On this same date, 26 Jan 1846, Desdemona was sealed to the Prophet Joseph Smith, Jr., Ezra T. Benson stood as proxy.
Desdemona came to Utah in 1848 with a large company of Saints. We have no information about her crossing the plains; however, in the 1850 census of Utah, Desdemona was living in the household of Ezra T. Benson in Salt Lake City.
History given by herself 7 June 1868. Original found in room 301, former church office building, 47 East South Temple, about 1953.
“I want to write a short history of my life, the more particular part that I think will do the youth some good and those that come into this church not having the same experience that I have had. I was brought up with goodly parents, yet with the ignorance of the gentiles. I was taught to pray, being raised very strictly.
“When I was 13 years old, I prayed much in secret alone to the Lord. From that time, I became very serious of mind. Not long after I received a change of heart, then I began to read the Bible much and all the different creeds of the churches to know what people I should join. I prayed much to know about it. I heard the Latter Day Saints preach the gospel and I joined them soon after. I went to Kirtland with a few Saints and lived one year there during which time a great number of the members turned against the church. Oliver Cowdery, with others, would say to me, ‘Are you such a fool as still to go to hear Joseph the fallen Prophet?’ I said, ‘The Lord convinced me that he was a true Prophet, and He has not told me that he is fallen yet.’
“When the trouble began in Kirtland, Ohio, I moved to Caldwell County, Missouri, with my brother’s family. There was trouble there for two years, the last being when the mob put the Prophet Joseph and others into prison and killed many of the Saints. I had to move with some members from place to place for safety, and sometimes at night we had to take a quilt in our arms and flee into the woods with the children; then sometimes it would rain all night.
“Sometimes the mob would come to the door all armed and yell like Indians, ‘You must leave here in three days or all will be killed!’ When snow and winter was there, my brother lay helpless with fever. I spoke and said, ‘We have no team and wagon. We may as well die in the house as a few rods from it.’ So they let us go. We started to march for Illinois. On the way, the sectarian priests came around us and would say to us, ‘Give up your faith and stay with us, and you shall never want.’ I said, ‘I have no faith in you nor in your father, the Devil.’ So I shut them up every time.
“In Nauvoo I lived until the spring after the war took place. Afterwards, the mob often came to the house and told us to leave. My father lay speechless at that time with a fever. There were three or four families living in that house at that time. The mob came one day with 100 armed men. Part of them stayed in the street and yelled like Indians. The rest of them came into the house, broke locks and took all they pleased to take. They found one keg of powder. Then they told all of us to leave in one hour. I told them that keg belonged to a man they had driven away that morning.”
After the move to Salt Lake City, Desdemona declared that the first year she suffered from hunger, and at one time, she does not say which year, she lived on biscuits for 17 days with only wild greens, salt and water, and she had to go a half a mile to find the greens.
Desdemona had no children by either of her first two marriages; however, at a later time, she married Harrison Parker McLane, born 17 July 1815 at State Creek, Bath, Kentucky, the son of James McLane & Elizabeth Parker. Desdemona had one child, Desdemona McLane, who was born and died the same year.
In her latter days, Desdemona lived with her brother, David Fullmer, and his family, trading him a cow and a calf valued at $50.00 in return for a room in his house when it was finished.
Desdemona also left a will, dated 18 Sept 1881.
“To President J. Taylor:
“Desdemona Fullmer Smith, living in the city of Salt Lake, Territory of Utah, the day and year aforesaid, make the following statements and will of my property.
“To President John Taylor: for the worthy poor, such as following: The room and building where I reside, the cooking stove with all its belongings, the bedstead, straw mattress, the best feather bed, 3 feather pillows, 4 light quilts, one heavy comfort, a flower box, a big clothes box, a coal box, a big rocking chair.
“For Sarah S. Fullmer: The clock, 3 shelves cupboard with all the dishes, with all the trumpery about the house.
“To Sarah S. Fullmer and her 3 daughters, and James, her son, all the cotton and shoes not named in this sheet for others shall be divided with Sarah and her four children named.
“To Joseph F. Smith the Apostle’s family: Shall have the large frame glass with all inside and the looking glass, one blue woolen dress, one worsted rose dress, one pongee silk dress, one summer coat.
“To Marcy E. Thompson: One black delane dress, one thick waterproof dress, two reddish calico dresses, one brown calico dress. The rose pieced quilt, a thick cloth coat and a light feather bed.
“To Eugene Fullmer: All my writings and papers.
“To James Fullmer: All my books.
“Desdemona Fullmer Smith.”
Desdemona Fullmer Smith d 9 Feb 1886 in Salt Lake City, Utah, and is buried in Salt Lake City cemetery as Desdemona Fullmer Smith.
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