Polly Wyman Tilton
At the time of Heman Hyde's birth on 30 June 1788, his parents, James
and Betty (Pennock) Hyde, were living at Manchester, in southern 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. Indications are that Heman received a fair amount of
schooling as he grew up.
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. While Polly was
still a small child her mother moved to Strafford, Vermont, and there married
a widower, John Bullock. To this union were born seven children, half
brothers and sisters of Polly.
The first child of this marriage, Heman Tilton Hyde, was born in
Strafford in June 1812. Sometime during the next two and a half years the
young father departed from his happy home to serve in the war of 1812, and
also moved his family to York, Livingston Co., New York. In York, four more
children were born: Charles Walker (named after a family friend), July 1814;
Rosel (named by his uncle, Roswell Hyde, who purposely abbreviated the
name), May 1816; William, September 1818; and Mary Ann, September
Records show Heman to have been in the New York State Militia.
From the Military Minutes of the Council of Appointment of the State of New
York, 1783-1821, vol. 3, pp 1929, 2042, by Hugh Hastings:
24 April 1818. Genesee Co. 164th Regiment of Infantry,
New York State Militia. Heman Hyde, Lieut.
27 March 1819. Genesee Co. 77th Regiment of Infantry
New York State Militia. Heman Hyde, Capt.
In the year 1825, Heman and Polly, with their children, left York and
settled in Freedom, Cattaraugus Co., New York. Since that was wilderness,
Heman cleared the timber from the land and developed a large farm. He also
carried on a heavy business in wool carding and cloth dressing. He was well
situated and much respected by all. Their house was ever a home to the weary
and their hands never withheld from the poor. In May 1827, another
daughter was born, Caroline, but she was not destined for adulthood in this
life, and died the same day.
Adjoining the family farm was the farm of Warren A. Cowdery, an early
convert to "Mormonism," and it was from him, during the early 1830's that
the Hyde family first heard of the restored Gospel and learned of the Book of
Mormon. Warren obtained from his brother Oliver, some of the proof sheets
to the Book of Mormon, some of which the Hyde family "had the privilege of
perusing, and we did not peruse any faster than we believed."
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 was baptized."
The Prophet Joseph Smith, in his journal, says of the occasion:
“Sunday, March 9th.--We preached in a school house, and had
great attention. We found a few disciples who were firm in the faith;
and, after meeting found many believing and could hardly get away
from them, and appointed a meeting in Freedom for Monday the
10th, and stayed at Mr. Warren A. Cowdery's, where we were blessed
with a full enjoyment of temporal and spiritual blessings . . .
“Monday 10.--We met our appointment, and preached to a
great congregation; and at evening again preached to an overflowing
house. After meeting, I proposed if any wished to obey, and would
make it manifest, we would stay to administer to another meeting.
A young man of the Methodist order arose and testified of his faith
in the fullness of the Gospel and desired to be baptized. We
appointed another meeting for the following day.
“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 son of Heman and
Polly. Of this incident Elder Parley P. Pratt, who was the Prophet's traveling
companion on this mission, says,
“We visited Freedom, Cattaraugus County, New York; tarried
over Sunday and preached several discourses, to which the people
listened with great interest; we were kindly and hospitably
entertained among them. We baptized a young man named Heman
Hyde; his parents were Presbyterians, and 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--from which nucleus the
light spread and souls were gathered into the fold in all regions
round. Thus mightily grew the word of God, or the seed sown by
that extraordinary personage, the Prophet and Seer of the
The following is the story of Polly's conversion, as related by George
Tilton Hyde, who said that his father, Rosel (son of Polly), told it to him more
than once. Rosel 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 and you may know it.’ 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 ("because of a sort of shyness on my
part, being at that time but a young man and never having joined myself to
any religious body.") Heman was ordained an Elder not long after his
From the Autobiography of Parley P. Pratt (p. 121) we glean the
following added information:
As I returned toward the West, I came to the town of Freedom . . .
where President Joseph Smith and myself had preached on our
outward journey, a few weeks previously, and where we had baptized
a young man by the name of Heman Hyde, as the first fruits in that
place . . . 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 about two
hundred volunteers who went with the Prophet Joseph Smith in the great
march called "Zion's Camp," to Missouri to aid the persecuted saints there,
returning in July or August.
Heman Hyde and those of his household, were fully convinced of the
truthfulness of the teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, and as time passed
their testimonies burned stronger and stronger. 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, at that time one of the gathering places of the
Church, and the site of the first temple being built by the saints.
Construction was nearly complete on the 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, except for the son Rosel, who still had
not been baptized. 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." The people outside the temple heard a strange noise like the rushing
of a strong wind and they beheld a bright light resting above the sacred
building." In later years when George Hyde asked his father Rosel why he
delayed asking for baptism, Rosel said that his father told him not to be in a
hurry, but to wait until he was sure it was the right thing to do. Rosel told
George further, that the evening of the dedication of the temple at Kirtland,
Ohio, from his father's home on the farm near Kirtland, that he saw a bright
light like a pillar of fire resting above the temple. After what he saw and also
heard at that time he needed nothing more to convince him and soon after, he
The attributes and abilities of Heman Hyde were noticed by the Church
leaders, and in 1837 he was ordained a High Priest, that he might more ably
fill the capacities for which he was suited. Polly supported him fully, and did
all in her power to assist in the strengthening of the Church.
The Saints were commanded to gather in and about Independence,
Missouri, but they were meeting with opposition from the other settlers.
Heman Hyde's son William, traveled to Far West, Missouri, the route he had
to travel being a journey of about 1800 miles, and arrived in the spring of
1838. He did what he could to help the Saints there in their trials and
persecution. The rest of the family of Heman and Polly left Kirtland in
September of the same year, intending to go to Far West and settle. When
they had traveled as far as Huntsville, Missouri, about one hundred miles into
the state and almost to their destination, they remained a few days in the
woods where they were discovered by a mob, and for no other reason than that
they were "Mormons,” were compelled by the armed mob to leave the state.
They retreated to Quincy, Illinois. William Hyde was among those driven out
of Far West in December, 1838, and he also fled to Quincy, where William
found his parents.
Three more of their children married while Heman and Polly lived in
the vicinity of Quincy -- Rosel in December 1839 to Mary Ann Cowles; Mary
Ann in March 1841 to Isaac Bullard; and William in February 1842 to
Elizabeth Howe Bullard, sister of Isaac. Charles undoubtedly desired also to
marry, but was crippled and probably felt that he would never enjoy the
companionship of a wife. But his parents were happy to have him, with his
kind disposition, remain at home with them.
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 along with the rest of the Saints. His parents
and family were greatly saddened by his death.
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. In October of this same year Mary Ann's husband died,
a mournful occasion for this bride of eighteen months. She later married
David Grant in September 1843.
The family was part of the dramatic events at Nauvoo. They enjoyed its
growth and prosperity under the direction of the Prophet Joseph Smith, whom
they knew well. (Their son Rosel commented many times about their
friendship with the Prophet, and he made special mention of the Prophet's
unusual eyes -- that to look into them was to know that he was not an
ordinary man.) 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 so that
they and the other Saints could receive their temple ordinances. It was a time
of rejoicing when these temple blessings were finally realized.
But the "anti-Mormon" presence was becoming more pronounced and
more vicious. As Rosel told it, he and his family and friends "passed through
those bitter scenes of persecution so well understood by those acquainted with
the history of the Church. We suffered the most heart-rendering persecution
that a cruel mob, actuated by the spirit of devils, could inflict upon us in the
shape of burning houses, burning standing grain, etc." 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 comfortable homes, their beautiful city, and the Holy Temple, then
crossed the Mississippi River, and started their long journey in search of peace
in an unknown and desolate wilderness. The trail was by then well-worn, for
the first fleeing Saints had left Nauvoo in the bitter cold and wet of February,
followed by a steady migration. The Hyde families reached Council Bluffs the
12th of July. The two months had been hard and long, but others shared their
plight and all buoyed each other’s spirits.
Only four days after arriving at the Missouri River (Council Bluffs)
William Hyde was mustered into the Mormon Battalion, leaving his wife and
two children in the care of his parents in "this unsettled camp in the midst of
an uncultivated, wild Indian country."
Heman settled at what was called Council Point and because of his
wisdom and abilities, he was appointed to the High Council (21 July 1846) to
help govern the camps of the Saints at this temporary place of gathering.
Heman and Rosel built crude homes for themselves, for Eunice (widow of
Heman Tilton Hyde) and her three children, and for William's family. They
also cultivated land during the summer.
Fall came and Eunice's baby died. Rather than suffer further, she
returned to her family home in Freedom, New York, taking her two remaining
children with her. In February 1847, Mary Ann Hyde Grant died after a
lingering sickness caused by exposure, as had many of the Saints in their
inadequate circumstances. She left a husband and two children without their
dear wife and mother. Heman and Polly then cared for their motherless
grandchildren. The next summer Heman and Rosel toiled to raise all the
crops they could, for the benefit of themselves and for all those that might
have need of food as the winter season advanced.
In December 1847, William returned from his march with the Mormon
Battalion, amid much rejoicing by all. He had been absent seventeen months.
Spring arrived at last and preparations were made for Heman and household
to travel on. 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 that spring for the Rocky Mountains. They
arrived in the Salt Lake Valley in September 1848, and settled there. It had
been an arduous and seemingly endless trek across the plains, during which
journey 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 "Zion" in 1849. Heman was able to secure land and build an
adequate home. He felt grateful to the Lord for the blessings his household
now enjoyed, after the diverse hardships they had undergone.
In 1851, Heman and Polly, after due consideration and prayer, decided
to invite a friend to join them in the bonds of plural marriage. Consequently,
a widow woman by the name of Prudence Bump, became Heman's second
In February 1852, their son Charles married Sarah Taylor, and
remained in Salt Lake City. Charles was the last child to leave the family
home. Rosel was called to settle Kaysville. William lived in Lehi, then Cache
Valley, where Hyde Park was named after him. These sons were all a
wonderful credit to their parents through their example and teachings. All
three of them became Patriarchs of the Church and as they lived their religion
to the fullest, they were known for their spirituality and faith.
Sometime, probably during the 1850's a photographer opened either a
permanent or a temporary studio in Salt Lake City. Heman and Polly dressed
in their best (he in his uniform from the War of 1812), visited the
photographer and posed for their pictures. What kindness, love and other
emulative traits are recorded in their faces!
In 1856 Heman married a third wife, Elizabeth Lane, who had
emigrated from Wales. Because of her fine character, she was loved by all of
Heman's family. Three years later, a fourth wife, Catherine Mary Griffiths,
became a member of Heman's household. She was thirty-four years old, and
like Elizabeth, an emigrant from Wales. Imagine the delight in the heart and
home of Heman Hyde, who was in his seventy's, when during the first three
years after this marriage this wife presented him with two sons, Heman and
Henry, and then the sorrow when both children died of scarlet fever in 1865.
Heman and Polly were ever considerate of others' needs, serving their
Church, family and fellow-men in every way that they could. Heman was a
member of the High Council for several years after his arrival in Salt Lake
Valley. He and Polly, in addition to Heman's plural wives, made a home for
their granddaughter, Mary Ann Grant, until her untimely death at the age of
seventeen, after she caught cold while attending a party.
The wife and mother of this Hyde family, Polly Wyman Tilton Hyde,
left this earthly existence on the thirteenth of September 1862. She was a
woman of strong will, but gentle and kind, proud of her part-Indian ancestry,
admired and loved by her family. She served well and devotedly, and when her
sweet smile was missing from the family they greatly felt her absence.
Polly was united on the other side of the veil with her husband, Heman
on 11 June 1869. He died in Salt Lake City, Utah, his home of twenty-one
years. His strong, fervent testimony which carried him through his years of
trials is a permanent legacy for those of us who are his descendants.
History written by Myrtle S. Hyde - 1964
1. Patriarchal Blessings of Heman Hyde and Polly Tilton
2. Manchester, Vermont Deeds
3. Strafford, Vermont Vital Records
4. Records of Endowment House, Logan and Nauvoo Temples
5. Writings of George Tilton Hyde
6. Strafford, Vermont Census 1790, 1800
7. Hyde Family Records
8. York, New York Census 1820, 1825
9. Records of Charles Walker Hyde
10. Descendants of Humphrey Hide, by Willard S. Morse
11. Journal of William Hyde
12. Autobiography of Parley P. Pratt
13. Records of Rosel Hyde
14. Obituary of Heman Hyde
15. History of the Church, Vol II, pp 42,61,184,123,139,428
16. Early LDS Church Records File
17. Exodus to Greatness, by Preston Nibley p 206
Compiled by Barbara Winward Seager July 1997