Betsy Jane Tenney was born December 1, 1824 in Hanover, New York to William and Eliza Webb Tenney. In 1834 the Tenney family joined the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and moved to Quincy, Illinois where they remained during the 1840s. During this period Betsy married Robert Loose, a non-Mormon, and moved to Shreveport, Louisiana where Robert managed a general store. Betsy had three children with Robert; Warren, William, and Edwin. Betsy also managed the store when Robert left on business trips to Quincy every eighteen months. Tragedy struck in 1854 when Robert died from cholera while away on business in St. Louis.
After Robert's death, Betsy and her children moved to Quincy where they remained until 1860. That year Betsy and her children immigrated to the Utah Territory and settled in Payson and she worked as a teacher. On August 24, 1861 Betsy married Payson resident Orawell Simons in Salt Lake City and became his second polygamous wife. They later had two children, Ema Eliza (1862) and Grant (1864).
In November 1864 Brigham Young called members of the church to settle the thirty-mile long Muddy River Valley, in southern Nevada; among those called was Betsy's husband. Brigham Young's goals for Muddy River Valley were to secure a landing point for future Mormon immigrants traveling up the Colorado River enroute to Salt Lake City, to raise cotton in cooperation with the cotton farms in St. George, Utah, and to ensure Mormon control of the area's economic resources. Orawell was entrusted with the duty to establish a grist mill in Muddy River Valley, which later came to be known as Simonsville, Nevada (now St. Joseph, Nevada). During the winter of 1864-1865 the Simons family moved to Muddy River Valley and began work on the grist mill. In January 1865 Orawell returned to Payson, leaving Betsy and her children in Nevada. A census taken of Simonsville in 1866 lists 167 settlers, thirty-five of whom were recorded as men, with the remainder presumably being women and children. In the fall of 1866 Betsy and her children returned to Payson where Betsy continued to work as a teacher. By 1867 many of those called to Muddy River Valley had abandoned the settlement due to extreme conditions, crop failure, lack of supplies, and malaria from the nearby mosquito ridden swamps. In 1870 Brigham Young ordered the settlers to abandon the settlement and return to Salt Lake City.
Once back in the Utah Territory, Betsy's children from her first marriage moved to California to mine gold. Orawell never lived with Betsy after her return from Muddy River Valley and rarely visited her; he instead chose to live with his first and younger wife. On May 24, 1899 Betsy divorced Orawell. Betsy lived in Payson until her death on January 14, 1904.
This collection contains the papers of Betsy Jane Tenney Loose which consists of correspondence, documents, and one 1866 diary, materials which span the period of 1834 to 1900. The correspondence, both Betsy's and her immediate family's, discusses family matters, financial concerns, violence in Nauvoo, Illinois against Mormons, the Muddy River Valley, life in Payson, and polygamy. Other documents include materials relating to the establishment of a school in Payson and Betsy's teaching career, poetry, Patriachical blessings, and a biography of Betsy. Betsy's 1866 diary records the experiences of the Simons family on the Virgin River in southeastern Nevada, where they established a grist mill near the modern-day town of St. Joseph, Nevada. Her diary contains a regular log of her personal feelings, progress on the mill, status of workers and provisions, the goings-on of fellow settlers, and her personal labors. Of the six known diaries kept at the Muddy River Mission, Betsy's diary is the only known one kept by a woman.
Box 1 contains Betsy's 1866 diary (Fd 1), Betsy's outgoing and coming correspondence from 1834—1900 (Fds 2—18), and Robert Loose's incoming correspondence from 1841—1854 (Fds 19—23). Outgoing correspondence has been organized chronologically by sender and incoming correspondence has been organized alphabetically by the last name of the sender and chronologically. Box 2 contains documents relating to Robert Loose and Betsy, such as Patriachical blessings, financial papers, school papers, poetry, a biography of Betsy, third party correspondence, and other papers.
Restrictions on Access :
No restrictions on use, except: not available through interlibrary loan.Restrictions on Use :
It is the responsibility of the researcher to obtain any necessary copyright clearances.
Permission to publish material from the Betsy Jane Tenney Loose Papers must be obtained from the Special Collections Manuscript Curator and/or the Special Collections Department Head.Preferred Citation :
Initial Citation: Betsy Jane Tenney Loose Papers USU_COLL MSS 177, Box [ ]. Special Collections and Archives. Utah State University Merrill-Cazier Library. Logan, Utah.
Following Citations:USU_COLL MSS 177, USUSCA.
Processing Note :
Processed in August of 2008Acquisition Information :
The material in this collection was donated to Utah State University Special Collections & Archives by Edwin Peterson in 1990.Bibliography : Sources:
Detailed Description of the Collection