Question: What did Heman Hyde’s wife, Polly, say to the Prophet Joseph when her oldest son wanted to be baptized?
Answer: Heman Hyde was born on 30 June 1788, to James and Betty Pennock Hyde in Manchester, Bennington, Vermont, but while he was still a baby they moved to Strafford, in the northern part of the state. Heman was raised there, being the oldest of a large family of brothers and sisters. On the fifth day of December, in 1810, Heman married Polly Wyman Tilton, a girl he had known ever since he could remember. Polly was the daughter of Phillip Tilton and Tabitha Prescott, an Indian woman, and was born 20 January 1786, in Moultonborough, New Hampshire.
The first child born to Heman and Polly was Heman Tilton Hyde born in Strafford on June 18, 1812. The young father left his home to serve in the war of 1812, and then moved his family to York. In York, four more children were born: Charles Walker, Rosel, William, and Mary Ann. In the year 1825, Heman and Polly, with their children, left York and settled in Freedom, Cattaraugus County, New York. Heman cleared the timber from the land and developed a large farm. In May 1827, another daughter was born, Caroline, but died the same day.
Adjoining the family farm was the farm of Warren A. Cowdery, an early convert to the Church, and it was from him, during the early 1830’s that the Hyde family first heard of the restored Gospel and the Book of Mormon. Warren obtained from his brother, Oliver, some of the proof sheets to the Book of Mormon. Heman’s son, William, records in his journal that “early in the year 1834 Joseph Smith and Parley P. Pratt came to my father’s house. They preached in the neighborhood two or three times, and conversed much in private. Before they left, my oldest brother (Heman Tilton Hyde) was baptized.”
The Prophet Joseph Smith, in his journal, says of the occasion:
“Tuesday 11.–Fulfilled our appointment and baptized Heman T. Hyde, after which we rode nine miles…’ This Heman T. Hyde whom they baptized was the oldest son of Heman and Polly. Of this incident Elder Parley P. Pratt, wrote: “We visited Freedom, Cattaraugus County, New York; tarried over Sunday and preached several discourses…We baptized a young man named Heman Hyde; his mother, on account of the strength of her traditions, thought that we were wrong, and told me afterwards that she would much rather have followed him to an earthly grave than to have seen him baptized. Soon afterwards, however, herself, her husband, and the rest of the family, with some thirty or forty others, were all baptized and organized into a branch of the Church–called the Freedom Branch…’
Heman and Polly Hyde
The following is the story of Polly’s conversion, as related by her son, Rosel, who said that the Prophet Joseph Smith was visiting at their home in Freedom, New York, and told them the thrilling story of the coming forth of the Book of Mormon. “Mother said to him, ‘Mr. Smith, if what you say is not true, hell is too good a place for you.’ The Prophet replied, ‘I know it, Mrs. Hyde, I know it; but the testimony I have borne to you is true; I know it is true.’ The words of the Prophet cut her to the heart, and before retiring that night she sought the Lord in humble prayer–her petition was answered–the next morning she applied for baptism.”
The journal of Orson Pratt states that he and Brother John Murdock were at Mr. Hyde’s home on March 30, 1834. On April 7, Heman Hyde and William Hyde, among others, were baptized and confirmed. On April 11, Polly Hyde was baptized and confirmed. Other members of the family soon followed their example, except for Rosel (“being at that time but a young man and never having joined any religious body.”) Heman was ordained an Elder not long after his baptism.
From the Autobiography of Parley P. Pratt: “ Heman Hyde accompanied me to Kirtland, where we arrived the latter part of April, and were kindly and hospitably entertained by President Joseph Smith.’ In May of the same year Heman Tilton Hyde was one of the volunteers who went with the Prophet Joseph Smith in the march called “Zion’s Camp,” to Missouri to aid the persecuted saints there. In February of the year 1836 the family (including young Heman Tilton Hyde with his bride, Eunice Sawyer, whom he had married in October 1835) moved from Freedom, New York, to Kirtland, Ohio.
Construction was nearly complete on the Kirtland temple by the time the Hyde family made residence in Kirtland, and it was dedicated a month later. The family attended the dedication of the temple. William Hyde, in his journal, says of the dedication meeting: “This was, by far, the best meeting I had ever attended. The gifts of the gospel were enjoyed in a marvelous manner and Angels administered unto many.”
In 1837, Heman was ordained a High Priest. The Saints were commanded to gather in Missouri, but they were meeting with opposition. Heman Hyde’s son, William, traveled to Far West, Missouri, but was driven out in December, 1838. He fled to Quincy, where Heman and Polly had gone after a mob stopped them from going to Missouri. Heman and Polly’s oldest son, Heman Tilton Hyde, died in May of 1842, not quite thirty years of age, leaving a widow and two small children, with another child born seven months after his decease. His death can be partly attributed to the persecutions and hardships which he had endured.
Heman and Polly, during the summer of 1842, moved into Nauvoo, Illinois. Here they, along with their son William, built a comfortable brick home for themselves. The family enjoyed Nauvoo and its growth and prosperity under the direction of the Prophet Joseph Smith. In 1844, they grieved at the tragic martyrdom of their beloved Prophet.
They were there when the mantle of Joseph fell upon Brigham Young. They worked diligently to help complete the temple at Nauvoo. On the eighteenth of May 1846, Heman and Polly, with their children and their families, and what earthly possessions they could haul in their wagons, gazed for the last time on their homes, their beautiful city, and the Holy Temple, then crossed the Mississippi River. The Hyde families reached Council Bluffs the 12th of July. Heman settled at what was called Council Point, and he was appointed to the High Council.
In December 1847, William returned from his march with the Mormon Battalion. William and Rosel assisted their father and mother, so that they, with their son Charles and also Mary Ann’s children, were able to leave Council Bluffs with the Saints the spring or 1848 for the Rocky Mountains. They arrived in the Salt Lake Valley in September 1848. Heman acted in the capacity of a Captain of Fifty. William worked the farm at Council Point that Heman and Rosel had opened, and Rosel hired to drive a team for the government. William, Rosel, and their families made the journey to the Salt Lake Valley in 1849.
In February 1852, their son Charles married Sarah Taylor, and remained in Salt Lake City. Rosel was called to settle Kaysville. William lived in Lehi, then Cache Valley, where Hyde Park was named after him. All three of them became Patriarchs of the Church. Heman was a member of the High Council for several years after his arrival in Salt Lake Valley. Polly Wyman Tilton Hyde died September 13, 1862. Heman died on June 11, 1869 in Salt Lake City, Utah, at his home of twenty-one years, and is buried in the Salt Lake City Cemetery.