Eliza Hunter: a founding mother

Eliza Catherine Pinnock Hunter, daughter of William and Sarah Ann Brown Pinnock, was born in Coventry Warwick Co. England on March 4, 1846. When she was ten years of age her family was converted to the Latter Day Saint Faith. At this time the people were so prejudiced against the Saints that it was necessary to do all baptizing at night. One cold night in December, the Pinnock family was baptized in the Thames River, after breaking the ice to have the ordinance performed. In spite of the precautions taken, the mob learned of the gathering and came after them. The Pinnocks seized their dry clothing and fled to safety.

She left her homeland for America in 1862 embarking May 14, 1861, one year before the other members of her family. The Tabacott was the ship on which she sailed. William Gibson was in charge of the L. D. S. group of emigrants. Eliza turned “Sweet Sixteen” on board.

She arrived in Salt Lake City in September 1862 with the A.P. Hammond Company. Eliza lived in several homes and worked to pay for her board until the rest of the family arrived  in late autumn, 1863. After two weeks in Salt Lake City, they were called to help settle Iron County and Eliza came with them to Cedar City. Bishop Henry Lunt gave them the dressing rooms in the old Social Hall to stay in until they could find more suitable living quarters.

Eliza Hunter

One evening soon after getting settled, the ward held a party in the hall, to which the Pinnocks were invited. As they entered, true to custom then, the men and boys sat on the north side of the hall while the women and girls sat on the south side. Young Joseph Hunter was among the boys on the north and he looked across the room at the beautiful English girl Eliza, his Uncle George Hunter who was sitting next to him said, “Joseph, there is your future wife.” The two became acquainted at the party and on January 1, 1865 they were married by Bishop Lunt.

They lived in the Old Fort for about a month but afterward moved to a little one room log house belonging to a Brother George Wood, located on his lot at First North and Main Street. Here they lived for two years, and in this house their first son was born.

Eliza and Joseph lived in the Wood cabin for two years.

Eliza and Joseph lived in the Wood cabin for two years.

From the little log house Joseph and Eliza moved into a cellar on their own lot with only dirt walls and floors. Joseph, whenever time permitted, worked for materials to build a home. In winter the cellar was very cold and damp. Icicles were often formed on the edge of the bedding as they slept. One of these cold winters Eliza became very ill and this sickness resulted in a partial loss of hearing which she never regained.

As Joseph walked to and from the fields he gathered bits of wool that had been snagged from sheep as they passed fences and bushes . He took these bits of wool home and Eliza washed, carded and spun it into yarn which she used to make socks for her husband. Because she wanted to make them real nice and different she kept the black wool separate from the white. Then she twisted them together, which when knit into socks were speckled black and white. To make cloth Eliza carded and spun the threads but she had it woven at a mill, which stood by the creek south and west of the bridge on the road to Cedar Canyon.

Each family had to wait its turn to get their weaving done, sometimes several weeks. When the third Hunter baby (William) was born, Eliza had only one layette for him, as she had been unable to get her yarn woven. So Joseph exchanged their yarn with Sister Maggie Walker for cloth, and on the third day after baby Will was born his mother sat up in bed and made him a second outfit of clothes.

There were no patterns in those days so she undid an old pair of trousers and cut the material for the first pair of pants for Joseph. She had a struggle sewing them together so a good neighbor on her street, who had been a tailor, showed her how to do it. This old pair was kept as a pattern and all the women in the neighborhood borrowed it.

Her later years were spent cultivating flowers. Her garden, with its many choice varieties, was one of the beauty spots in Cedar because she kept the entire spot blooming all season.

Eliza died November 26, 1913 and is buried in the Cedar City Cemetery

Eliza's headstone in the Cedar City cemetery.

Eliza's headstone in the Cedar City cemetery.

This article was taken from a life history of Eliza Hunter written by Seth Bills.