by Martha Sonntag Bradley
and Mary Brown Firmage Woodward
Zina Presendia Young Williams Card
“A Well Spent Life”
“… a sister to every mother and a friend to all.”
[p.377] The loss of Zina Diantha was not the only blow Zina Presendia had to endure. Almost immediately, Charles worsened. In 1900 he had begun to experience an intensely painful kidney disorder; two years later, at age sixty-three, he was released as stake president. The Deseret News editorialized on 5 September 1902:
President Card who retires with all the blessings, honors and commendation that mortals could desire, was upon his release from the presidency, ordained a patriarch in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, which is one step higher in the kingdom of God. He has served the country, the people, and cause and his God, with fidelity, unswerving integrity and fervent zeal. His unceasing activity, his incessant diligence, his perseverance and unremitting energy have, to a great extent, worn out his hardy physique, and enfeebled his once sturdy form. All the trying scenes, the ordeals, the hardships, and the turmoil of pioneer life have been his to share with fidelity and honor. His name will never be forgotten but upon history’s pages we shall find him chronicled as the “Pioneer Mormon of Southern Alberta and the father of Cardston.”1
Charles and Zina were community builders. Charles helped con-[p.378]struct the first grist and saw mills and dairy, four meetinghouses, and a two-story schoolhouse. He brought the first steam threshing machine to the area and functioned as a government agent in locating settlers, filing claims, and distributing land. Because irrigation was a key to agriculture, he directed construction of a canal near Cardston. He traveled widely throughout the province, visiting Saints and beginning a network of public and private contacts.2
On 22 August 1903, Charles and Zina were honored by the Alberta Stake and Cardston community. It was not the first tribute. Five years earlier, as a joint surprise party for Zina’s birthday and also her father Brigham Young’s, “the young people & children from Cardston, Leavitt & a few from Mtn View & Aetna gathered at the Cardston schoolhouse,” described Charles. “We joined them all of whom were in vehicles Provided with Lunch & drove East about 6 miles to the Ranch of James Hansen where we spent the day in sports all programed out. The enlarged photo in beautiful frame was presented to Zina in token of her faithful labors in the Mutual S.S. & Primaries for the past 11 years. She replied to them in tears of joy.”3
Charles and eighteen-year-old Joseph planned to remain in Cardston to arrange his business affairs. Zina packed the household effects and left in September for Logan, with fifteen-year-old Zina and young Rega, but was called back to Cardston in November. When she returned, she found Charles in a much reduced state. In fact, he was so feeble, they had to carry him to the train on a stretcher. They left on 10 December 1903. Zina carefully watched over him during the long journey.
Lavinia had taken up residence in Logan in 1895 after almost a decade on the underground or in hiding out in Idaho or Wyoming. Sarah Jane was forty-five years old and also living in Logan. When they learned that their seriously ill husband was being transported to Logan, they anxiously awaited his arrival.
For the next two and a half years, Charles required almost constant care although he did rally for a few months and became well enough to do temple work. But for the most part the three wives rotated taking care of him. Six weeks before his death, he moved into Lavinia’s house. He was sixty-three, she thirty-six. They had been married for seventeen years and this was the first time they had lived together for more than a [p.379] few days. She cared for him until his death of renal failure on 9 September 1906. His viewing was held in Lavinia’s front room. Three-year-old LaVoir, just learning to speak, kept repeating, “Papa sleep, Papa sleep.”4
Charles had left his financial affairs in a complicated situation. Over the next seven years, Zina and Sterling worked hard to sort matters out, doing much of the work from Utah. Sterling and Attena were true Canadians now. Attena and their two-year-old son Thomas had become seriously ill in February 1898. Attena recovered, but Thomas died that same month. It must have cost Zina Presendia immense pain to stand over the grave of this third Thomas Williams whom death had claimed; first her previous husband, then her son, now her grandson. Sterling and Attena would have four more sons—Sterling Ora, Karl Morgan, Brigham Young, and Seymour Bates—and one daughter, Loila.
Viewed objectively, Zina’s coming to Canada had not been financially profitable. “Little by little,” she remembered after Charles’s death, “I spent nearly everything I had in the shape of stocks etc. in Utah and spent it in Canada.”5 She relinquished her claim on property on Main Street in Logan and her log home. She explained in an open letter to creditors written after Charles’s death:
The Union Bank, where Bro. Card had made his loans insisted on an immediate settlement. His property was too heavily incumbered to raise the desired sum by mortgage or otherwise I could see that he would have to sacrifice twice the value of this property to raise the money, so I wrote to the Presidency of the Church and asked them to take a mortgage on his half section above referred to and also my new home and half section of land to make this Union Bank payment and other payments of his, so that Bro. Card’s name would not be left in this land with any stigma upon it.6
Her final assessment of her investments speaks volumes about just how generous Zina was with Charles. Her “open letter,” roughly the equivalent of a modern affidavit, avers:
1. That at the time of marrying Bro. C. O. Card I had more than $25,000 of Property. 2. That my investments made in industries here have been at his instigation. 3. That his debts are not mine and that I have been the loser by many thousands by investing in his many enterprises. 4. That I have a right to more than half the live stock here though I claim only half [p.380] of them. 5. That Bro. Card made the arrangement here himself that I have half of the live stock left here. 6. That the mortgage on my property in Canada was placed there to save his honor and the property he had here from being sold at a sacrifice.7
She added that he had full use of her savings in Logan, that she bore all her own traveling expenses throughout their marriage for Card to see his plural families, and that the property Card owned in Utah was divided between the families of Sarah Jane Painter Card and Lavinia Rigby Card. In other words, even though she was a plural wife on the same standing as Sarah and Lavinia, she claimed nothing for herself and children. Zina had experienced independence, and knew she could manage alone. Perhaps a combination of self-confidence and sympathy for their more desperate position prompted her to make this decision.
When she moved to Logan and Charles died, it was obvious that fifty-three-year-old Zina was going to have to provide for herself and her children. She had been widowed before and had to go forward with her life. Joseph was eighteen and attending B.Y. College. Rega found it advantageous to live across the street from his many half-brothers and -sisters—George, LaVantia, Pearl, Abigail, and Franklin—who were close to his age. Franklin was fourteen when their father died, Rega fifteen.8
Just months before Charles passed away, Joseph married Leona Ballantine in June 1905, leaving Zina, Rega, and Zina Presendia to live together in Logan until 14 June 1906. At that time they moved to downtown Salt Lake City to a home located at 183 Canyon Road, where they lived until August 1907. They then moved into Zina Diantha’s house at 146 4th Avenue.
While in Logan, the children became close to their half-brothers and -sisters. For Zina Card, her sense of family expanded to include a new circle of relatives. Fifteen-year-old Zina began attending B.Y. College in Logan. She enjoyed the better schools and appreciated studying a variety of subjects. Writing to her mother, who returned to Canada briefly in February 1903, Zina described her new curriculum: “I have had four exams this week, Grammar, in which if I don’t fail, will bearly pass, Book keeping, fair, Penmanship, fair, Theology (Book of Mormon) fair, and others will give an account later, and accurate marks.”9 Like Rega, Zina [p.381] had three sister friends born within a couple of years of each other—Abigail, Mary, and Lavinia.
After the next fall harvest, the train from Canada brought a long-legged twenty-year-old to Logan to board with Zina Presendia and attend B.Y. College. (Between 1877 and 1926, the Logan school offered high school and limited college level classes, featuring courses in language, literature, debate, drama, and LDS doctrine.) Taking in renters was an easy way to augment the family’s income, and within weeks their new border, Hugh Brown Brown, had fallen in love with young Zina Card.
Although she was unaware of her impact, in 1901, when Zina Card was thirteen, Hugh had watched her give a dramatic reading at a wedding held in the home of his parents in Cardston. Diminutive but erect in bearing, her blond hair fashioned in long ringlets, she gave her reading to perfection. Hugh could not remember what she said but, love-struck, told his mother that night, “Some day I’ll marry her.”10 His mother replied, “I hope you do!”
Born on 24 October 1883 in Granger in Salt Lake County, Hugh Brown was the second son and fifth child (of fourteen) of Homer Manley Brown and Lydia Jane Brown Brown. His parents were not related, despite the same surname, and Hugh received his mother’s maiden name as his middle name. In 1899 his family moved to Canada, hauling all of their furniture and belongings in a boxcar to Lethbridge, Alberta. Homer Manley had come first with only his eldest son, Homer James, leaving Hugh behind to be the “man” of the house. Homer Manley told his son to care for the family farm as he would himself.11 He did. In fact, Hugh missed both the fall and spring school terms that year because he was responsible for milking the cows night and morning, feeding the pigs, and taking care of the horses, garden, and orchard.
Homer Manley sent for the rest of his family; predictably, Hugh managed the journey north. Homer met them at the station with teams and wagons and took them across the wide prairie to Spring Coulee, a little village fifteen miles northeast of Cardston, where a tiny two-room cabin would be their home. Hugh lived most of the next thirty years in Canada and considered himself a Canadian, even though he was an American citizen.
The family was used to hard work, but Canadian farming added an [p.382] extra edge. Hugh and his four younger brothers—Scott B., Lawrence M., Owen S., and Gerald S.—slept in tents even during the harsh winter months. Their daily job was to ride herd on the cattle, who roamed across the range seeking food and water. Some days they left home before dawn, returning long after dark. During the icy winters, their heavy chaps and felt-lined boots barely blunted the temperatures, which sometimes reached forty-five degrees below zero. When Hugh was eighteen, his father traded the cattle ranch for farmland nearer Cardston.
Hugh began his schooling before moving to Canada—attending the Brighton Ward school and the Franklin School where he reached the eighth grade. Not until after his family was well situated was Hugh able to entertain the possibility of returning to school. In 1903 he did. In Logan, Hugh worked for room and board, tackling outdoor chores for Zina Presendia and helping care for Charles. During those months, Zina Presendia developed a keen regard for him that never wavered throughout her life. She saw Hugh’s potential as a spiritual leader and did not hesitate to praise him to her friends in the church’s hierarchy, notably Heber J. Grant.
After school ended in the spring of 1904, Hugh returned to Canada. That summer he passed through Utah again, bound for England to serve an LDS church mission. Young Zina Card had agreed to write to him. During the next five and a half years, their relationship evolved from friendship, to courtship, to life as a young happily married couple. In many ways, the story of Zina Card Brown’s life is the story of this marriage. For decades she devoted herself to this man. And their marriage is a romantic love story. Considering the marriages of her grandmother and mother, that Zina Card was able to give herself completely to a man who adored her is especially satisfying.
The first letter from Hugh’s mission field in England in January 1905 began: “Dear Sister Zina.” It was friendly, courteous, and not overly personal: “I hope your Father is able to be around and that your Mother will not over work herself as she did last winter,” he commented. “I always think of her as my ‘Logan Mother’ and wish I could spend another winter as pleasant as [last] winter was; give her my love.”12 Hugh also corresponded frequently with Zina Presendia, whom he considered a confidante and mentor. At a reflective moment after his mission, he praised [p.383] her: “Your wise counsel and advice in the past have been of great assistance to me in times of trial and your confidence has been a great incentive for me to be what you would call a ‘man’ and helper of the Lord.”13 Surely, Zina confided much of the content of his letters to her mother who encouraged the correspondence but also suggested that her daughter meet other young men.
As a missionary, Hugh wrote about his loneliness, the people he met and taught, and his moments of success and disappointment. Toying with a more formal writing style, he stiffly congratulated Zina Card on her “successful examinations” and wished her “unbounded success in the future, of which I am assured, as I know of your studious disposition and your natural ability as a student. How I would like to partake of a meal prepared by you at college. These English ladies are good cooks but their dinners lack that dainty finish and delicate taste which I so much enjoyed while in Logan.”14 Although this was as close as he got to a personal compliment, eighteen-year-old Zina probably would not have noticed otherwise. She had several “beaus” and looked upon Hugh as an older friend or brother. How mixed must have been his feelings as he read Zina’s innocent comment: “Hugh I wish that we could waft you across the waters to join in all the festivities for we all think of you as our own brother and one of the family. … My beau is very submissive, so much so that he never says a word pro nor con about my correspondence, Ha! ha! can you ever guess why? … Mother sends her love to her son Hugh and all.”15
Zina’s brother Joseph, then twenty, caught smallpox in April 1905. The disease was highly infectious, frequently deadly to small children, and still serious for someone Joseph’s age. As was routine policy in Utah during this period, the house was promptly quarantined. Zina Presendia and her daughter Zina nursed him devotedly. At the top of her letter to Hugh of 9 April 1905, Zina wrote, “I will bake this letter so it can’t carry any smallpox germs.” “Yesterday Joseph was some better,” she reported. “He did not close his eyes in sleep all night but he was delirious, his cough is so bad that it is just wearing him out, he is very very weak. Mother says to tell you that she thinks of you every day and we almost wish you were quarantined with us. We need not ask you to exercise faith in Joseph’s behalf for we know that you will do that.” She worried about how well she would do in her exams after missing several weeks of [p.384] class, but brightened when she added that, thanks to the telephone which had been installed in their home, “we are privileged to talk all we like even though we are penned up in the yard.”16
That summer, while Hugh was in England, Zina thanked him for the lacy handkerchief, sent for her seventeenth birthday, and probably boosted his spirits by bemoaning a slump in her social life. Descriptions of parties, dances, and a constant stream of visitors and relatives fill her letters, but “all the school boys and girls are gone home and I am simply lost.” She added cheerily: “There were lots of nice boys and girls here at the B.Y.C. this year, especially the former. … Next year mother will be librarian and matron and I will continue with my Domestic Course.” She and her friends had a ride and dance planned for later that evening; the next day in Logan there would be a parade and “games of all kinds all day, dancing, theater, all night.” Zina pressed some pansies into the letter before posting it.17
Her next letter described more summer fun activities. “We came from the canyon on last Sat. at 8:30 p.m. where we had been for nearly a week. When we got home we hustled into our duds and all went to the dance. We do have some good times. While in the canyon we went hunting with the boys and riding behind them, well, we just climbed and did almost everything there was to do. Yes, Hugh, I rode behind my cousin Cecil Gates. Does that sound better?”18 She had obviously sensed enough of his feelings to tease him a little.
That summer was not given entirely over to fun. Zina was seriously studying elocution. “I enjoy it so much,” she wrote Hugh. “This winter I shall go on with my Domestic Science Course and study elocution during vacations. Hugh, tell your little sister which you think would be best for me to do. Take up elocution entirely after this coming year of school or qualify as a Domestic Science teacher? You see mother has left it with me and I don’t know which to do . … If I take out a B.S. in D.S. it will take four or five more years to do it.” She concluded with a request for a photograph of Hugh alone, not with a companion.
At seventeen, Zina was ambitious, planning an extensive education that would fit her for a career. Although she does not say so, she had obviously observed that both mother and grandmother, whether their husbands were alive or dead, had had to support themselves and their chil-[p.385]dren. Hugh’s advice was colored by his admiration for her talent: “As to which would be best for you to follow of the two courses you mentioned it would be hard to decide but I think you are especially gifted as an elocutionist but you are the best judge on those matters and I know you will make a success of whatever you under take.”19 Emboldened by Zina’s request, Hugh asked for a photo of her alone and signed his letter, “Lovingly—Hugh.”
Just before Christmas 1905, Zina and her mother visited Salt Lake City. While her mother conducted Relief Society business, Zina launched into a round of parties with her cousins and friends which she reported on New Year’s Day:
Every night there I went some place except last Sat. night and made candy and enjoyed an evening there at Aunt Susie Gates. We went skating twice to two theatres, one dance and calling. … We went to the tabernacle in S.L. Yesterday, it was decorated beautifully with sky blue. A portrait several times life size of the Prophet was draped with white [and] above it in electric lights was writtten, “Peace on earth good will to men.” Below was, “The glory of God is intelligence”; at the right of the prophet Joseph’s picture which hung in front of the organ, was a beautiful star of electric lights it was all by itself amid the blue drapings; a wreath of holly hung from each of the large lights in the hall.20
Hugh began one letter warmly the following May 1906: “All alone tonight so I will chase loneliness away with my pen and try to imagine I am talking to you.” He then added a broad hint: “I would like to attend your cooking class as a few lessons would be beneficial to me when I start my bachelors home, but possibly your course will extend into the winter months, if so I may be able to join the class when I return … Perhaps it will be ‘ladies only’ but you know I attended some of the girls classes in the B.Y.C. and enjoyed myself just ‘fine’ inspite of my bashfulness.”21
Zina teased back: “Hugh, you elders ought to take a course in chafing dish cooking, its certainly great for bachelors. … I feel awfully sorry for you, Hugh, if you are still so bashful. I know it is hard for you to talk to the ladies especially. But, brace up, old man, and be brave.”22
Liked at school by her students and colleagues, Zina Presendia resigned at the end of the school year in June 1906. Charles was in the final [p.386] stages of his last illness. Earlier in the year Zina Card had written to Hugh: “Papa is feeling about the same but gets weaker and paler all the time.”23 Zina Presendia had been thinking for some time about making the move. Her daughter had graduated from high school and was ready to begin her studies at college.
Fellow faculty member H. Bullen, Jr., in a letter of farewell, reflected on Zina Presendia’s influence: “Your faithfulness, loving kindness, and determined effort—though at many times under extreme difficulties— characterize a woman who I am proud to have had associated with me in my labors in the College, and one for whose goodness and individual worth I shall never forget.”24
On 14 June 1906, three months before Charles’s death, Zina Presendia moved to Salt Lake City. She was fifty-six years old, occasionally plagued with health problems but financially secure, and was promptly hired as matron of the LDS College. She worked there until 1912, leaving a document on the “duties” of the matron that amounts to a job description. Her philosophy of education aimed to produce faithful Latter-day Saint girls. Compelled always by a sense of motherly responsibility, she felt that a knowledge of gospel principles was a prerequisite to secular education. Furthermore, good health, good habits, and excellent manners were essential before a woman could correctly influence others as wife, mother, church worker, and citizen.
Zina’s job description rested on her belief that female educators must have a knowledge of home and emergency nursing, as well as understand and teach the truth, homemaking, sanitation, physiology, and hygiene. Matrons were responsible for the general care of women students, conducting and tabulating physical tests, overseeing and regulating the rest rooms. She also visited students to be sure they were properly housed.25
In the classroom Zina’s sense of curriculum was also guided by her sense of religion. First-year students needed to learn about faith, repentance, baptism, prayer, the Ten Commandments, self-control, and loyalty. According to Zina, the principle of obedience was particularly useful in solidifying relationships and maintaining order. Zina described obedience as “Heaven’s First Law” and stressed the value of obeying parents, teachers, and priesthood holders. This type of training assists young [p.387] girls in addressing modern-day society in the home, play centers, schools, places of worship, and amusements, she wrote.26
Rega remembered his family’s years in their Avenues home as filled with parties and adventures. One favorite winter activity was sledding down Third Avenue. Most of the streets stayed covered with snow much of the winter. Sometimes the older boys would start as high as Sixth Avenue, sled down A Street to First Avenue, then turn down State Street to the Eagle Gate and the old Salt Lake Theater.27 Like Zina while in Salt Lake, Rega attended the LDS High School and particularly enjoyed his manual training shop class. At seventeen, Rega met his future wife, Lucena Richards, then fifteen, at a school dance. Both Zina and Rega also made new friends among their many Young family cousins. Rega remembered meeting Youngs everywhere they went. “Mother would say, when they were visiting or shopping, etc., —‘Zina, come meet your cousin Don’ or ‘meet your cousin Chet,’ … After a series of such introductions, Zina said to Mother, in a pleading voice—‘Mother, aren’t there any nice boys in Salt Lake who are not my cousins?’”28 Not long after they moved to Salt Lake City, they attended a Young Family Reunion in the old Social Hall on State Street.
Eighteen-year-old Zina Card entered LDS High School/College in the fall of 1906.29 She had decided to pursue domestic science, which at that time taught traditional homemaking skills. She seems to have entered the social stream without effort. That October, Hugh turned twenty-three. He had been in England almost two years, and must have wondered if the steady stream of affectionate letters was enough to hold Zina’s attention.
Although he had been entirely proper in his letters, Zina must have guessed his true feelings. A former missionary companion of Hugh’s, George Webb, called on the Card family, brashly announcing that he had come to see the girl Hugh Brown was going to marry. Zina claimed to be astounded at the suggestion and retorted that she had always thought of Hugh as an older brother and that she was engaged to someone else.30
Hugh completed his mission about the same time as his birthday and reached Cardston on 9 November 1906. A few days later he was stricken with typhoid fever, but on 10 December he felt well enough to write:
[p.388] Through the blessings of the Lord and the administration of the elders I had it in a very mild form, the fever was rebuked by Pres. Wood and I improved from that moment and I am very thankful to be out of bed so soon. Living on “milk only” is a little “too thin” at least it made me very “thin.”
I was very pleased to get your letter of Oct. 15. It was forwarded to me from England. I received it while I was in bed with the fever and it did me more good than all of the doctor’s visits and medicine. You know a little “mind medicine” and “sunshine” very often do more good in a case of sickness than the skilled treatment of an M.D.
It will be three years in April since we parted in Logan and I hope I will not have to wait longer than that before seeing you for I have the same feelings for you now that I had then only it has deepened with time and separation.”31
After Hugh recovered, the correspondence resumed cautiously. He wrote to Zina, now in her second year of courses at the LDS College, describing his church duties, theatricals, and other social activities. Nostalgically, Zina wrote: “I read in the ‘Star’ that you are to take part in the play to be given there soon. I wish you every success in your dramatic efforts. I would give far more to see the production of a home dramatic company than one of the most brilliant operas we can witness here. It would be good to be there and partake of the warm, cordial spirit that was always so characteristic of our gatherings.” Much of her free time was spent teaching Primary, taking voice and piano lessons, and doing housework. Hugh often saw her brother Joseph who had moved with his wife to Canada.
During a post-mission interview with his stake president, Edward J. Wood, Hugh said that the girl he loved was engaged to another. Wood replied, “I promise you that if you go down to Salt Lake and make known your intentions, she will break her engagement … and marry you.” Hugh following Wood’s counsel, went to Salt Lake City, and told Zina Presendia of his desires. Zina Presendia knew, of course, of George Webb’s blunt disclosure, and when she saw Hugh she asked, with some displeasure, why he was there. Although Hugh had not confided his feelings to Zina Presendia, he plucked up his courage and explained why.
“You can’t have her,” said Zina Presendia firmly. “I don’t want her [p.389] to go back to Canada. I went through so much in that country. I don’t want my daughter to put up with what I had to put up with. I don’t want you to marry my daughter.”32
Hugh begged her to stay neutral while he pled his case. She gave him permission to talk to Zina. He knew of George’s impetuous announcement but told Zina Card he loved her and had loved her for six years. He pled passionately with her to break her engagement. Zina, touched by his earnestness, told him she would think about it.
Meanwhile, Zina Presendia went to Hugh’s former mission president and life-long friend Heber J. Grant for advice, telling him of Hugh’s interest in her daughter. He told her, “I have seven daughters. Hugh Brown can choose any one of them. That’s what I think of Hugh Brown.”33
Zina Card told Hugh that she had, in fact, broken off her engagement but would not agree to marry him. However, she suggested shyly, perhaps she would visit Canada that summer. When he returned to Cardston on 27 April 1907, Hugh’s correspondence shows a certain restless yearning:
The time seemed so short in Salt Lake that it now seems like a dream when I think of the good times I had. How I would like to stand on the little bridge on Fourth St. tonight with you as we stood the night I left; But why wish for that which is impossible? Better hope to see you soon in Cardston for that is quite possible and I hope probable. … We young folks … went to the Band hall and enjoyed ourselves in a dance; this was the first party I have attended since I came back. I had a good time but it seems rather unnatural for man to be alone. I am now Christened “Bachelor Brown” since the people have found out that I really didn’t get married. …
I had been watching the mail very anxiously for some time when the “female” arrived with a letter from the girl I love and I was indeed very pleased to hear from her. Yes, Zina, many times I have wished myself back in Salt Lake where we could resume our quiet strolls up the canyon, and where I could enjoy your company. Still I am happy and I believe I am in the proper place.34
Not quite as subtle as earlier references in this same letter, he wrote, “I feel lonesome already, almost blue. I don’t know what I will do before July. It looks so far off and then there is nothing certain about your coming, but I still live in hopes and feast on the memories of ‘What hath been.’”
Zina responded, saying coolly that she had decided to spend her [p.390] summer in Utah. His prompt reply was direct: “I hope something will change the decision, for although I go out considerable and associate with the young folks I feel lonely and long for your company, because I love you. Zina are you still as undecided as when I left you in regard to our future and your feelings toward me? … My love for you is just as true as the day I first confessed it.”35
He sent church books for her birthday four days later, and she thanked him the following week. She explained that her mother had rented their home for the month of July to Hugh Dougall, son of Zina Diantha’s stepdaughter, Maria Young Dougall, who had recently married. Zina Presendia was going to stay with Maria (“Aunt Rie”) and Zina would visit cousins in Provo and Springville.
I feel grateful to you and Zina [Wolfe] for your sweet invitations to come and both of you have made me want to very much but I don’t want to go that far from mother this summer. … It is only fair to you, Hugh, that you understand my feelings and have some definite word from me. I hate to confess even to myself that I am changeable but you know I am, for you know my experience with Lyle [her former fiance] and I want to stay free until I have more good common sense. … I want to be guided right and I won’t cease to pray for I can not rely on my own judgement.
… I am going to college this year and would like to go a number of years more as I have such a splendid opportunity to carry out my plans that I have cherished so long. And I mean to try to excel for I feel that I should take advantage of such privileges. I am getting along nicely in my study of elocution and shall keep on with it all year.36
The unresolved question hung in the air like a shadow for the next few months. That fall Zina began school again and wrote of her studies and new friends:
Every morning we all rush off to school. O, Hugh, I love the school life; even the very atmosphere of college is good. The students were strangers to me and I to them but now I feel at home. But it isn’t like our beloved B.Y.C. Do you think you could ever love any institution like you did that. I know I couldn’t. It still has first place in my heart.
… Scholastic learning is very fine. … O, I must tell you my subjects of study. They are English, Church History, Physiography, Ancient History, and English History. I am also taking private lessons in elocution. Mother [p.391] tells me she is going to insist on my dropping one subject but I feel I cannot for I need them all. But still, with housework too & sewing I am very well occupied; no time for mischief.37
If she was trying to distract Hugh or buy more time, she was unsuccessful. Although he kept the tone light, he renewed his proposal. Complaining that Zina’s “letters are like the visits of Angels, few and far between,” he asked that November: “Oh, say, how would you like to take up a new course of studies next summer, chief of which would be the art of bringing bachelorhood to a successful conclusion? I believe it would be quite interesting, especially to the bachelor and I think you would succeed where he has failed; just try.”38
Responding less than two weeks later, Zina described the Founder’s Day celebrations at LDS College: “We had college yells and class yells between times and a good time in general. I belong to the Senior class and of course felt quite important on that day.” She then outlined a heavy course of study. She had changed her emphasis from domestic science to elocution and was working hard to complete the requirements within the year. Her mother had recently purchased a new piano, and Zina was determined to spend the summer of 1908 immersed in piano lessons. Then that fall she hoped to go to New York. “Mother thinks she will be able to let me spend at least one year in the East, so I intend to take advantage of the opportunity. Elocution is what I shall specialize on. Of course my air castles may all fall through (they often do) but I shall work to the end I have just named.” Zina was obviously still committed to finishing college, studying elocution professionally, and not marrying immediately. Also apparent, Zina Presendia fully supported these goals.
Zina ended her letter tactfully but honestly:
I know that the training of the mind is not the most important of life’s problems. But, while I am so young and changeable I dare not trust myself to take any vital steps. Now, Hugh, you know my exact feelings. While I did not intend writing a serious letter tonight I feel like I owed it to you to explain the view I have taken of things. You know what I had experienced when you were here and I still feel that it is unwise for me to place myself in a position to have to retract any promise. When the right time comes I feel that I shall know what to do; as yet, I do not.39
[p.392] It was not difficult for Hugh to respect her answer because he respected her talent and ambition, even though it must have pained him. He answered: “Since I received your last letter I have thought of you almost continually, I have tried to look at the things from your point of view instead of my own, and I believe if I were placed in a similar position I would take the same course; if nature had endowed me with the same gifts, and opportunities presented themselves whereby I could develop those talents and to be what you are destined to be, a leader.”40
By the time Zina answered this letter on 18 December, her firmness had dissolved:
Since I wrote you last time, Mother and I have almost persuaded ourselves that I can do just as well here at home this next year and a half. So I may not go away. I dislike going away from mother for she is getting older, and dearer to me everyday I live. So it is very likely that I shall go to the U of U and take a special course. I shall take elocution from Mrs. Maud May Babcock. …
Hugh, why do you speak of a gulf between us; a little scholastic learning cannot alter friendship.
She laid the letter aside, then finished it, somewhat defensively, the next week: “I have no particular boyfriend and don’t intend having one while I am in school. I have a good time but go out very little except to school affairs.”
Zina gave Hugh a book of Shakespeare plays for Christmas, and Hugh used it in a newly organized Shakespeare club. Her school schedule continued to be busy; Hugh’s was every bit as varied, a combination of parties and cultural activities. “Monday, priesthood meeting, Tuesday, M.I.A. preparation class, Wednesday choir practice, Thursday Glee Club practice, Friday Shakespeare club and Saturday we work later in the store [Cardston Mercantile Company] than usual. Mother says when I get married I must ‘cut out’ some of my ‘clubs’ or my wife will get a divorce on the charge of desertion.”41
Then on 19 January 1908, Hugh announced a change in plans: “Zina, I received a letter last night from an officer of the Alberta regiment asking me to muster a squadron of 68 men in this district to go to Calgary and drill two weeks each summer. We would belong to the cavalry division and be ready for war at any time. … They want me to be an officer [p.393] here but I have not decided yet.”42 Zina’s response reveals an affection she had not previously articulated:
Of course I want you to do your duty as you see it and I know you will, but I truly wish that you could decline any such position for it is such a horrid uncertainty of which you are always conscious and from which you cannot shrink once your word is given. But if you feel it is a test of loyalty or honor I should not want you to hesitate because of what I have said for I merely stated my own personal and perhaps selfish feelings.43
Hugh enlisted in the Alberta Regiment as a lieutenant in February 1908. Zina kept up her schoolgirl banter for the next several weeks. She indulged in a veiled reference to the future, their future: “Yes, I’ll join the Shakespeare Club when I live in Cardston. But some time will elapse before I do, if ever, live again in the dear old town.”44 “I am very glad to hear of your good times at the parties etc. and trust that you may continue to enjoy yourself,” Hugh replied. “I often wonder how the girls who have married and come to Canada can content themselves after having lived where there is so much life and enjoyment. But one word explains the question.”45
In March, Zina responded coyly, simultaneously holding out hope but denying it:
April conference is only a few weeks off … But I fear it is not the meeting-going that is occupying my mind … What do you think I have heard three times and from three different parties of late? It has been, “We hear you are to be married this spring,” or to Mother “I understand that your loss is to be Hugh Brown’s gain.” Ha! ha! Did such a rumor start in Cardston. It seems that people are dreadfully anxious to get me married.
I did not intend saying what I have for I don’t like to write of such serious matters; they are so much better and more satisfactory said. I have made no plans for the future. For when we meet we shall know so much better than when we are apart. But I pray about it constantly and I know that we both desire to act in accordance with His will.
… Mother is not at all well. I can see that she is aging, for she can’t stand nearly so much as she could a year ago. Sometimes her rheumatism is so bad that she can hardly get to school. And yesterday morning she dropped an iron on her bare foot, is almost crippled up with that and rheumatism. But she goes to her work just the same.46
[p.394] Less than two weeks later Hugh wrote, “One more letter before I see you. If all goes well I shall leave here one week from today as I think the rates start then. I hope to have Mother go with me as I feel too young to be alone.” Unfortunately, no letter details the personal events which transpired at April’s church conference in Salt Lake City, but according to the journal Hugh kept at the time, “I became engaged to Miss Zina Y. Card, who promised to become my wife in June.” Years later Hugh confided to his daughter Mary, “When I returned to Canada that April, I was entrusted with the trunk which contained your mother’s trousseau, and to me it was more precious than the crown jewels of England.”
No more “Dear Brother Hugh” letters from “Your sincere friend Zina.” On May Day 1908, Zina wrote, “Sweetheart, … I have received both of your dear cards and selfishly wished that they had been letters … O, there are so many things I want to tell you, Hugh dear … Maybe you cannot see the love I am sending to you, but just the same the letter is full of it.” The next three letters show the gradual deepening of their feelings for each other. Zina’s letter, dated 1 May, begins, “Sweetheart.” During the interval, Hugh had been called as second counselor in his Cardston bishopric.
When Zina wrote again four days later, she was anxiously waiting “for your first real love letter to me” to arrive. She does not say why she replaced her educational and professional plans with a commitment to marriage, but she never expressed any regret at the decision. Hugh leased a small home near his mother’s and father’s, fretting about its size, but Zina wrote happily, “I am sure I shall like it if you do dear.”47 “I dream of my love almost every night and each day I love her better,” Hugh wrote before the week’s end. “I hope your mother is well and that both of you will be able to stand the separation.”48 They chose 17 June to marry, the wedding anniversary of Zina’s parents.
Zina was flooded with good wishes, parties, showers—five in one week from her aunts and cousins alone. When she hosted the senior class the night her engagement notice was published, the boys held her forcibly in a rocking chair while each kissed and congratulated her.49 She helped her mother clean house, and received her temple endowments on 20 May, accompanied by her mother and Florence Webb (wife of [p.395] George Webb). She experienced “no uneasiness or anything to detract from the beauty of such an occasion.”50
But the social flurry was mere froth on the surface of a deep love. Both Zina and Hugh wrote simultaneous letters on 17 May, one month before the wedding. “This is the 17th of May, just one month ’till our wedding day. Then how happy we will be,” Hugh wrote; “‘one’ for life and eternity. Beloved, although the Sabbath is a very busy day for me, I think of you the whole day thru and especially has it been so to-day the 17th.” Zina’s musings were filled equally with hope and love:
I long for rest and quiet with you. … I can hardly realize that we so soon take that all-important step. We will be ushered into a broader and more beautiful life if we are mutually agreed to make of it such. There is no reason why we should not be as happy as any two of God’s children and I feel that we shall, sweetheart, accepting the light and the shade as God sees fit to send it, our cementing love decreasing our sorrows and doubling our joys.51
On 17 June 1908, Zina and Hugh were married for time and eternity in the Salt Lake temple with church president Joseph F. Smith performing the ceremony. Smith and Zina Presendia considered themselves “cousins” because of her mother’s sealing to church founder Joseph Smith and Joseph F. Smith’s being his nephew. According to Brown family tradition, Joseph F. had requested the “privilege” of performing the ceremony.
Zina Presendia, whatever misgivings she may have entertained during the early stages of the courtship, fully supported her daughter’s choice and was confident that Hugh was a stalwart, valiant man. She must have mused, as she settled down to her summer’s work, how different her wedding had been: a ceremony performed so secretly that no one was there but the temple president. She had not even told her own mother nor been kissed at the end of the ceremony. And she had spent her wedding night alone, weeping for a husband who had not come. Her daughter’s life, she realized, would be very different.
Zina Brown repeatedly expressed concerns about her mother’s health to Hugh, but in many ways the decade between 1906 and 1916 was the high point of Zina Presendia’s involvement in community and [p.396] church affairs. She was called soon after her move to Salt Lake City to serve on the general board of the Primary, to which she committed her time and energies from 1906 to 1921. She joined the Daughters of Utah Pioneers, which Annie Taylor Hyde had organized in April 1901, and served as president from 1909 to 1911. She also belonged to the Washington Circle in the Salt Lake Division of the Grand Army of the Republic and was president in 1926. Although these organizations were suitable activities for genteel ladies, Zina also showed an interest in agricultural problems by accompanying Mormon apostle John A. Widtsoe to the Dry Farming Convention in 1912 where the reclamation of arid land in the West was discussed. Between 1921 and 1926, she served as an ordinance worker in the Salt Lake temple. In summarizing her life, she singled out that calling for special mention:
My life has indeed been a happy one. Inspired with high ideals from both father and mother, I have endeavored to lead an active busy life especially among the women and youth of Zion. The crowning position of my life has been my work in the Salt Lake Temple where under the Supervision of Sister Alice Richards, Sister Maria Y. Dougall and myself receive all those of our own sex who come to the temple for the first time, instructing them in the solemnity of the ordinance and the importance of keeping our covenants. It is the greatest privilege and blessing in our church today.52
Zina Presendia relied, as she had always done, on her relationship with God, drawing great consolation from her faith. She continued to exercise the gift of tongues even after the death of her mother. Family members on numerous occasions recounted stories of her spiritual talents. A typical account is from Oa Jacobs Cannon: “Aunt Zina stood up and began speaking, then it turned into a strange, beautiful tongue. She held her hand out in the direction of each one she blessed and spoke. It was a very uplifting experience. After she was finished Aunt ‘Rie’ [Maria Young Dougall] interpreted.”53 On another occasion Zina and her half-sister Maria Young Dougall were visiting a group of girls in Salt Lake City’s Pioneer Stake on 12 April 1910. Maria bore her testimony, beginning in English and finishing in tongues. Zina then interpreted, saying:
Behold—His angels have met with us this night, and the Gods that dwell [p.397] in the heavens pour down their blessings upon you. My dear girls you are blessed. Many times when tempters are around, and those who are wicked would lead you astray, the angels guard you, watch you and protect you. The Lord desires that you should keep your hearts pure. Be faithful, be true, and the blessings that you desire shall be yours.54
Next she promised that some of the girls in the room would live to witness the Second Coming. “The Savior sends his angels many times upon the earth; and our lips should not speak evil words because the angels are there and wish to attend us.” To the young men in the group, she said that some would perform miracles, heal the sick, raise the dead, rebuke sin, and walk on water. Her words, whether the interpretation of an ancient tongue or her own, became poetic:
Your prayers ascend to heaven like sweet incense. There are many choice spirits in this room. Some of you girls who are in this room tonight, shall be even as sweet as the flowers in the springtime, casting your purity and sweet love about the earth to comfort and cheer, as the flowers spread their sweet fragrance over the land. The spirit of God, grieve it not, but let us be pure, let us behold the holy priesthood. There are many here who shall understand and prophesy, and perform miracles which are now at our doors.55
Although those present could not fail to be impressed by such experiences, this type of spiritual gift was no longer commonly used in the church. There are no accounts, for instance, of Zina Brown speaking in tongues. As much as anything, this was a poignant reminder of the changing times.
Another spiritual experience important to Zina Presendia occurred one night while she was living in Salt Lake City. She awoke from a deep sleep to find her mother at the foot of her bed. Zina Diantha had returned to deliver a message: research Henry Jacobs’s genealogy and do the temple work.56 Zina Presendia obeyed, even though she, unlike her two half-brothers, Zebulon and Chariton, had no genetic relation to Jacobs. As far as is known, this was the only time she reported seeing her mother in vision or feeling her presence.
As Zina Presendia moved into her seventies, her health worsened. During the Spanish Flu epidemic of 1917-18, Zina nursed fifty-two peo-[p.398]ple. Although she took reasonable precautions, the mechanism of transmission of this infectious disease was not well understood. She became ill herself and, at sixty-seven, developed severe eye problems that plagued her the remainder of her life.
Before the family left Canada in the early twentieth century, Zina Presendia had developed psoriasis, a chronic skin disease characterized by red patches covered with white scales. These patches constantly itched and burned; and the thickened skin frequently cracked, oozed, and became infected. Zina endured this condition without complaint for several years. But eventually her skin was nearly covered with the inflamed patches, and her hair began falling out. Frustrated, she returned to Canada one summer in the 1920s to place herself in the hands of Ruth Jacobs’s mother.57 For ten days, the treatment included bed rest and a large glass of very hot milk every hour. Patients usually perspired profusely.
Ruth Jacobs Glenn was a small child when Zina traveled to Canada for her mother’s help. Remembering the summer heat, she marveled that Zina never complained but always expressed appreciation for the nursing. Although the remedy provided some temporary relief, it did not cure the psoriasis. Nevertheless, Zina believed it would. “I remember how I loved to kneel at her bedside and have her talk to me,” Ruth recounted. “She was always interested in all the things of life children love most.”58 As she recovered, Zina began to walk through the house and sit up part of the day in an old leather rocking chair. Ruth sat at her feet and listened to Zina spin exciting stories. “I know now,” she later said, “that they were her real life experiences tied in with miraculous blessings from the Lord in protecting one of his choicest daughters in Zion.” She continued: “I remember Aunt Zina speaking of her father with great reverence and it was not until years later that I realized she was speaking of a prophet of the Lord, one of the greatest leaders America had ever produced.”59
Later that summer Zina’s nephew Zebulon took her for rides in the family car. They would travel north across the flat prairie and look west to St. Paul’s Indian School on the Blood Indian reservation. Barely able to see, Zina nevertheless found comfort in being surrounded by the landscape of her youth. A group of native Indians, whom she had earlier befriended, came to visit her when they heard she was in town. “As they entered our large kitchen with their black braids and blankets over their [p.399] shoulders, they fell to their knees, took her hands gently and pressed their lips to them over and over again. … She spoke to them in their native tongue and they marvelled at the linguistic gift she had retained in spite of her eighty some odd years.”60 Most interesting to Ruth was the sound the Indians made as they greeted Zina—“a sound I have never heard before or since. It consisted of one very large lung of air and then letting it out slowly on a rather mournful note for what seemed a very long time. This was a greeting of compassion, of joy and an extreme sign of love.”61 Zina was moved by the visit and spoke of it for days afterward.
In 1929, at age seventy-nine, Zina moved into the Bodell Apartments at 155 North Main Street in Salt Lake City. Granddaughters Mary Brown and her sisters enjoyed visiting her and meeting close friends who lived nearby. Mary remembers patting lotion on the inflamed skin of Zina’s back, legs, and arms. She recalls her grandmother accepting the accompanying pain with good humor. She also was there when Zina sometimes washed and anointed women before childbirth. “It was lovely to have that privilege to see the faith and the authority my grandmother had. I didn’t realize it then as I do now.”62
One day in 1924, while her doctor was examining her, Zina’s pulse stopped. In a few moments it began again, and her heart quickened. Not long after this upsetting episode, she began to recuperate from her psoriasis. Her hair grew back, fine and curly like a baby’s. She also had surgery on her eyes after years of struggling with cataracts.
Herself a young mother with six children in Lethbridge at this time, Zina Brown felt the distance between her and her mother. “It was a sort of shock to know that you are in the hospital,” she wrote in July 1924, “but I am sure it was a wise thing to do … You must give you a chance to heal without delay. … How I bless all who are so kind to you!”63
When she felt well enough, Zina held a reunion for the Jacobs family, for Zebulon’s and Chariton’s families, in the Lion House. There she told about her near-death experience. She said that when her spirit left her body she saw her body lying on the bed but sensed that no one was there. She felt the presence of someone nearby her and asked, “Where is my mother? Where are my husbands?” A voice replied that her work was not completed—she needed to finish the Jacobs genealogical work—but nonetheless might choose to stay where she was. She decided to return to [p.400] her body to finish the work her mother had asked her in vision to do.64 The purpose of the family meeting she had convened was to share the responsibility with others. She must have sensed that her time was limited.
Zina was eighty when she died on 31 January 1931. Her friends in Utah and Canada mourned her passing. The Lethbridge Herald published a tribute acknowledging her contribution to the LDS church in Canada: “When Zina Young Card … died … there passed from this world a woman whose memory will never fade nor dim before the light of other names so long as Cardston remains to testify of her worth. To all Cardstonians she was known as ‘Aunt Zina’ for she was a sister to every mother and a friend to all.”65
At her funeral Apostle George F. Richards described her as a “thoroughbred”: A “perfect lady always, everywhere in all things, a true and consistent Latter-day Saint,” and “a motherly woman, of a beautiful personality, kindly nature, and cheerful disposition.”66 He continued:
In the Temple we found a special calling for her. A room was fitted up for our sisters who go to the temple for the first time for endowments and marriage, and Aunt Zina was made president of that little room. She had the honor and responsibility of giving special instructions to those young girls who came to the Temple. Since her ill health has kept her from the Temple people have inquired: “Where is that good sister who gave instructions to us girls when we came through the Temple the first time?” Her heart was in temple work during the latter part of her life. It was a great sorrow that she was not able to carry on. At times she expressed a determination to return to the Temple when it was known that she was not able, and persuasion had to be brought to bear upon her to quiet her and make her content without returning to the Temple and her work.67
Despite her considerable suffering, Zina was credited with having lived “a well-spent life.”68
Toward the end, wearied with illness and maybe even loneliness, Zina Card must have measured the weight of her years. Born when Utah had been newly settled, she spent several years living in frontier towns— in the old log fort, in a homesteader’s shack in Sevier County, in the historic log cabin in Cardston, Canada. Alongside her mother, cooking on a box stove in the 1850s, Zina learned to sacrifice. She dealt with signifi-[p.401]cant losses—a husband and a child—while in her twenties, losses that showed her the limits of her strength, independence, and resourcefulness. As matron of B.Y. Academy, she was capable, dependable, energetic, and found new talents for teaching young people.
These lessons carried her through the underground avoiding prosecution as a new plural wife, community building in Canada, and eventually rebuilding a new life in her fifties. Several times in her life, she was called upon to redefine herself—to rethink who she would be and what she would do. As had been true for her mother, Zina Diantha, three themes—faith, family, and frontier—ran through her rich, full life.
In her final years in the Bodell Apartments, she must have felt her life increasingly circumscribed. As a child, she had been at the center of Salt Lake’s social elite. In Canada she had been a valued member of both church and secular circles. She had many friends, and far more relatives. Her generosity was perhaps best demonstrated in the way she fit the role of a plural wife—kind and loyal to both Charles and his wives, daily striving to make the confines of her unique marriage work. Our modern sensibilities could linger too long on what she had to be disappointed in—shared husbands, poor health, living in difficult situations, but with her sensible approach to life, she found a way to emphasize the fundamental goodness around her.
The truest measure Zina might have used to value her life was whether her mother would have approved of what she had done. So much of it they had shared together. In fact, in tangible ways Zina Diantha mentored Zina Prescendia into her role as an adult, she knew what her mother would have her do, she had so often seen it herself. Zina Presendia Young Williams Card spent her life as her mother had—service for her was more than what she ought to do, it is what she did because it was who she was.
2. Canadian government was structurally more hierarchical than that of the United States and perhaps it took Charles some significant adjustments to adapt to different methods of negotiations. Nevertheless, he was in many ways highly successful. The relation of the Canadian government to its Crown territories was [p.402] colonial, in important ways. A minister of the interior oversaw territorial interests and policies at the national cabinet level. A lieutenant-governor, with an appointed council, was the Crown’s territorial representative, with limited civil servants administering services in the provisional districts of the territories in addition to local postmasters and customs officials. Law and order was maintained by the North-West Mounted Police. See Brigham Y. Card, Herbert C. Northcott, John E. Foster, Howard Palmer, and George K. Jarvis, eds., The Mormon Presence in Canada (Logan: Utah State University Press, 1990); Donald G. Godfrey and Brigham Y. Card, eds., The Diaries of Charles Ora Card: The Canadian Years, 1886-1903 (Logan: Utah State University, 1993); and A. James Hudson, Charles Ora Card: Pioneer and Colonizer (Cardston: published by the author, 1963).