Jul 8, 2008

Faith and Betrayal

A Pioneer Woman's Passage in the American West
by Sally Denton

This is the story of the author's ancestor, Jane Rio Griffiths, a woman of English aristocracy who emigrated to the United States in the 1800's, joined the Mormons, and traveled across the country to Utah. Faith and Betrayal is an awe-inspiring story of one woman's courage, stamina and ability to acquire whatever new skills were necessary in her new life (including those of a midwife). Denton does a wonderful job of depicting her great-great grandmother's experiences of crossing the ocean in a ship and traveling in a wagon train, overcoming numerous hardships. Unfortunately, soon after arrival in Utah, the diary upon which this book is largely based falls silent for seventeen years. After that space of time, she left the church and moved to California. Denton filled in the gap with plenty of reasons why Jane may have become disillusioned with her new religion. You must read this book with a grain of salt, as it is heavily opinionated- by the author. A lot of emphasis is placed upon the incident of a piano which Denton says her great-grandmother brought across the ocean and plains, only to have it end up in Brigham Young's possession- either as an object of tithe or traded in exchange for grain during a time of hardship. She stated that the piano is "now on display at the Mormon Temple Museum in Salt Lake City" and included a photograph of it. Curious, I looked online for the museum, wanting to know more about the piano. But I could not find any more information.

Rating: 3/5 ........ 216 pages, 2005


Bookfool said...

That sounds interesting! Having just read a journal by a pioneer, I can tell you that at least in the time period in which the book I read was written (1908-13), some Mormons were still practicing polygamy and if you weren't the #1 wife, life could be pretty awful. Pioneers of the West are fascinating, aren't they?

Jeane said...

The issue of polygamy was one of the key reasons the author of this book surmised that her great-grandmother left the church. It was a large part of the story.

Trish said...

Very interesting--I recently found out that my great great grandfather took a second wife while they were helping to settle southern Utah and wasn't quite sure how to take that--but I guess that was part of the times/religion. I have a copy of her journal, but the handwriting is difficult to read.

Jeane said...

I sent an email inquiring of the Museum of Church History and Art about the piano. And guess what, I got an answer! Here is part of it:

"We do have a piano that is believed to belong to Jean Rio Baker on display in our permanent exhibit A Covenant Restored. No plans have been made to remove the piano from exhibit, so it should be available for viewing...

I should mention that there is some differing opinions of the ownership of the piano. It is unclear if the piano belong to Baker or if it belonged to a man by the name of John H. Rumel. One of our Curators, Mark Staker has done some research on the piano and could perhaps relate his findings to you."

-Carrie E. Snow

Supervisor Collections Care- Art and Artifacts