Friday, August 20, 2010

Hannah Libby Carter Robbins

Hannah Libby Carter Robbins

One of my third great grandmothers is Hannah Libby Carter Robbins. 

Many members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints have in their possession stories of faith and fortitude of courageous people which survive in journals and family histories. Most are stored away in books and binders. Some are loosely tossed into crumbling cardboard boxes or even placed haphazardly on dusty basement shelves.

One such valuable piece of history, long tucked away, is an affidavit written by 11 Provo, Utah elderly women sworn on 24 March 1914. The document states,  "We the undersigned with joy and heartfelt gratitude to God, Our Heavenly Father, hereby testify that we saw the Prophet Joseph Smith and declare unto all that he was a Prophet of God.” This document was signed by Notary Public F. G. Richmond who wrote it was “subscribed and sworn before me on the 24th day of March 1914.” This short but public testimony shows the valor and courage of these women—proof of lives well-lived.

One of those 11 valiant women who signed the affidavit was Hannah Libby Carter Robbins living in her 73rd year. Named after her paternal grandmother, Hannah Knight Libby Carter, both Hannahs were members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and saw its growth from its early days. They followed the Prophet Joseph Smith and continued on to the Rocky Mountains and similarly lived out their years in Provo, Utah County, Utah.

The younger, Hannah Libby Carter Robbins was born on 25 March 1841 in Lima, Adams County, Illinois to William Furlsbury and Sarah York Carter. Her parents had traveled from Bethel-Newry, Maine to Kirtland, Ohio, in 1836 or 1837, then to Far West, Missouri in 1838 and then to Lima, Adams County, Illinois, (near Nauvoo) in 1839. The Carter family was well acquainted with Church founder and Prophet Joseph Smith.

Hannah’s granddaughter Orpha J. Kling told that Hannah remembered the building of the Nauvoo temple. The Carters were living near Nauvoo when the prophet Joseph Smith and his brother Hyrum were martyred.

Mob violence still continued even after Joseph’s death. In February of 1846, a mob came to the Carter door. Hannah’s mother, Sarah, asked them what they were going to do with them. They told her they were going to burn them out and drive them from there to Nauvoo and from there to Hell. She told them to go ahead if they thought there was no hereafter.

At this same time all the men in the community had had to flee for their lives into the corn fields as the mob had sent word that every man and boy that was left in town would be killed. Those who left Nauvoo took their families and what little things they could and left nearly everything behind.The Carter family left Nauvoo went across the Missouri River and into Iowa. They started a town called Carterville named after Hannah’s father, William Furlsbury Carter.

William was asked to stay behind in Council Bluffs, Iowa to prepare wagons, horses and equipment for other Latter-day Saint emigrants and did not cross the plains to Salt Lake City until 1850. At the age of 9 Hannah crossed the plains. She later told her family, “We were driven from our homes in the middle of the night and could only take a few of our possessions along. Our journey across the plains by ox team was very slow and had plenty of hardships. We were very happy to arrive in Salt Lake City. Soon after, the family moved to the east bench in Provo, Utah.

Hannah's father William F. Carter,  was called on a mission to the East Indies after their arrival in Provo. Hannah told her family, “I used to walk miles to get a coffee grinder to grind corn for cornbread which we mixed with water. If it wasn’t eaten at one meal, we would let it dry. Then we would pound it out and use it again. We had other similar ways to work to obtain our food.”

Hannah married Isaac Rogers Robbins on 25 March 1855, Hannah’s 14th birthday and one day after Isaac’s 50th birthday. In his younger years, Isaac was a handsome man with dark hair and piercing eyes. He was over six feet tall, a good marksman and a great lover of music. He became quite an accomplished violinist for his time. He was a builder, farmer and civic minded citizen of Provo for many years and respected by all who knew him. For a time he and his brother John owned considerable property in Park City, Utah and erected and operated a lumber mill there. With three wives, Isaac Rogers Robbins fathered 25 children.

A granddaughter, Orpha J. Kling remembered, “The family first lived on the block west of the Woolen Mills [which was located on 125 N 100 West]. Later Grandfather homesteaded the land in southwest Provo. He at one time he owned most of the land in that vicinity.

Hannah and Isaac had ten children:
  • Mary Clestine Robbins, 1856
  • Sarah Drucilla, 1858
  • John Rogers, 1859
  • Aaron Rogers, 1860
  • Lyman Carter, 1862
  • Hannah Libby, 1864
  • Ferlsbury C., 1868
  • Lavan Carter, 1870
  • Elizabeth, 1874
  • Emma Carter, 1879
On 25 October 1876, Hannah’s older sister and Isaac’s second wife, Abiah Russell Carter Robbins died. Abiah and Isaac had had eleven children. Seven of those children were under the age of 18 when their mother died.

By that time, Hannah and Isaac had nine children of their own. The responsibility of rearing all of these children fell upon Hannah. Four years later in 1880, there were still 11 children listed in the Robbins’ household.

On 4 January 1883, Isaac Rogers Robbins died leaving Hannah with their youngest child being only four years old. Isaac was buried in the Provo City Cemetery on 8 January 1883.

Hannah lived alone at 266 South 700 West in Provo until she struggled to take care of her home. She died while living with her son, Lyman Carter Robbins on 2 April 1930. Lyman lived just down the street at 409 South 700 West. Her obituary stated that at the time of her death, she was the oldest born L.D.S. Church member in her stake.

The ward sang at her funeral a fitting song Sister Thou Wast Mild and Lovely.


  1. This is my great-grandmother (plus a few greats!)! How exciting! Thanks for writing about her Cindy!

  2. Oh, I failed to mention that I come through Aaron Rogers Robbins. PS: Please join our Robbins Family Society Wiki: and our Yahoo Group if you are interested:

  3. Hi Cindy, I am a descendant of Isaac Robbins and Abiah Carter Robbins, thanks for writing this, I loved it. Also I was wondering where you were able to find the information? I'm trying to research my family history.

    Brandon Robbins

    1. Cindy, I echo the thanks of others for sharing this information! This is priceless.

      Brandon, I also am a descendant of Isaac Robbins and Abiah Carter Robbins! I have some information on Isaac, but I have very little about Abiah. I'd love to compare notes!

    2. Scott, That is wonderful! I love having contact with other relatives of Isaac and Abiah. I would be very interested in comparing notes. What is the best way to contact you?

  4. Cindy,
    Thanks so much for this. I'm a descendent by way of John Rogers Robbins, Betsy Robbins, Lawrence Lee. Very nice to read this as I had known precious little of Grandmother Abiah.
    Best Regards,
    Randy Lee