This little poem describes an experience had by Hannah Smuin Harvey, as she and her family crossed the plains. It was written for a chapter meeting of the Daughters of the Utah Pioneers “when they were hard up for pioneer poetry,” said the author, Vilate B. McDonald. Vilate is one of Hannah’s descendants. Her mother, Doritt Harvey Brough, is the daughter of James Smuin Harvey and Mary Ogden Bosworth. James was the son of Daniel Harvey and Hannah Smuin.
Hannah is a sister to my 2nd Great-grandfather, John Smuin. He was born in 1820 in Thrupp, Radley, England. Hannah was born in 1834. There were 9 siblings in the family.
Grandma Hanna’s Little Secret
By Vilate B. McDonald
I’m going to tell you my little secret.
I have kept it all these years.
I was ashamed and being found out
was one of my greatest fears.
The wagon train rolled along
the dry and dusty trail
I was hot and tired, glad
to see the yellow sun pale.
After the wagon circle was made
and hungry stomachs fed,
prayers were said, kisses given
and children tucked into bed.
Daniel was on watch that night
so I quickly closed my eyes.
Everyone was tired
to stop early had been wise.
As I lay upon my blanket
sleep was slow to come
The temperature in the wagon
had gathered from the sun.
I knew the ground beneath the wagon
could not be this hot.
So I took my blanket and found
what I thought was a perfect spot.
The soft cool breeze filled my soul
with gentle sweet delight.
My eyes grew heavy with desired sleep
and everything seemed alright.
Just as mind and body were drifting off to rest,
I knew I had an unwanted guest.
A horse from the herd was munching
grass right next to me.
No matter what I said or did he refused to flee.
I took my hand and hit him hard right across his face.
He jumped back, made a terrible noise
and started to run round the place.
He scared the horses and the cows
and they all joined the stampede.
Soon the wagon tongues fell down and
they escaped, running with great speed.
Men jumped from their beds and
worked throughout the night.
They had found most of the animals
before the morning light.
But some animals still roam the plains
They’ll never find their way.
And tired men hooked up their teams
and started another day.
Why the animals acted that way
no one ever knew.
That is still my little secret and now
it is your secret too.
(Hannah Smuin Harvey was born Sept 28, 1834 at Radley, Berkshire, England. Hannah, her husband Daniel and three children left England June 4, 1863 on the ship “Amazon.” They crossed the plains with the Rosel Hyde Company. She died 22 Aug. 1915 at the age of 82 and is buried in the Kaysville, Utah Cemetery. This story was told to my mother by Hannah.)