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Amy Sumner Porter

The only pioneer grave marker that can still be read in the Winter Quarters cemetery is Amy's. It is right behind the statue that was dedicated by President David O. McKay.

Visit Winter Quarters

A Presentation about
Amy Sumner Porter
based on historical records.


(Written by: Bonnie Heidenreich )

"I am Amy Sumner and was born in Ohio. I first heard of the Mormons in 1831 when I was 16 years old. That year my older brother came to visit with our former neighbor, Sanford Porter. They were recent converts to the church and came as missionaries to preach the gospel. I was baptized with deep conviction, eagerly embracing this new faith. The call to Zion burned within me, and we left our comfortable home bound for Independence, Missouri in December. There we united with the main body of the Saints. We thought we would live the rest of our lives in the society of these wonderful people, but two years later the Saints were driven unmercifully out of their homes in Jackson County. Even as the lootings, the burnings and other atrocities were underway, I married my sweetheart, Chauncey Warriner Porter, or Warren as I called him, on Dec. 8, 1833 in Independence. It was a difficult beginning for a marriage, as we were left abandoned with the other Saints in the middle of a Missouri winter with no food and no home and only the items which we could carry. Though we were able to build another home and start life once again, it did not last long. We finally left Missouri amid more persecution, and located in Iowa across the Mississippi on the outskirts of Nauvoo.

Those precious years in that lovely spot were wonderful and never-to-be-forgotten as the Saints finally had a chance to build real homes in a real town. Warren and I were blessed with five beautiful children, and we felt that our happiness was complete. But the old serpents of hatred and persecution began to rear their ugly heads, and we knew we must leave. Once again we abandoned our homes and headed west. But this time I left part of my heart behind, buried in a tiny grave. Our baby was named Hyrum, after the Prophet Joseph's martyred brother. He was mine for only six months.

The trek across Iowa was difficult as the wagons sloshed through rain and sleet, mired in mud and muck. The trip was particularly hard on me, for I was pregnant once again. This pregnancy seemed more uncomfortable than all the others, and I yearned to be living in a home instead of a wagon. Finally it was decided by the brethren that we could not make it all the way to the west that season. The Saints were too tired, and too weak, and the provisions were low. So we stopped for the winter on the border of Iowa and Nebraska. We named this place Winter Quarters.

On December 11, I discovered the cause of my special discomfort, when two little darling baby boys were born; twins which we named Joseph and Benjamin. They came early, and were thus unprepared for the harsh, cold of a snowy winter in a thin cloth tent which gave free access to piercing winds. They quietly left this earth and my loving arms the next day, December 12.

It seems the cold bitter weather will never stop. I am weary and worn. I have promised the Lord that I will give all that I have, even my own life, to build up the kingdom. I don't know why that sacrifice would be required, but the Lord knows my heart, and all that I have is His.

My husband has been named as a Bishop here, but it is difficult for him to care for the sick when his own family is afflicted as much as any other. We have moved into a log cabin, ten feet square with a sod roof and only the soft ground for a floor. But I am too ill to enjoy this small comfort. Poor, worn cattle beef and cracked corn has been our only food for some time, and now there is nothing to eat but a little corn meal. How I would love to have a vegetable or a piece of fruit to share with my family.

My health has deteriorated to where I can hardly move an inch. My dear husband takes me in his arms and holds me until my bed is made nearly every day. But now he, too, is sick with the scurvy. Oh, how shall we ever go on?! My little children gather around me, but I feel at a loss to help them, for I cannot move myself in bed neither speak out loud. They surely must know of my love for them, and my hopes for their future. If I cannot make it to the land of Zion, I am confident that the Lord will answer this prayer of my heart….that my children will remain faithful, and that through them will come generations of righteousness."

Amy Sumner Porter passed from this life on April 6, 1847. One of Amy's daughters, Sarah Angeline, was only 5 years old when her mother died. She would cross the plains, and years later name one of her children Amy Teressa Leavitt after her mother.


The William S. Porter family is related to Chauncey Porter through the family of John and Desire Sanford Porter. While Chauncey descended through their eighth child, Nathan and his second wife, Susannah West Tanner, we descend through their third child, John and his wife Ruth Merrick. The family line ascension would be:

William S. Porter, Darrell Porter, Orrin Porter, Andrew Richard Porter, Jared Porter, Nathan Porter, John Porter, John & Desire Sanford Porter.

Submitted by - William S Porter

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