Parthenia Overton Holt b. 1821, d.906, 2nd Wife of James Holt


This history was prepared and written by a granddaughter, Mary Ann Cottam Miller.

Parthenia Overton, daughter of Dandrirge and Dorcas Wayman Overton was born July 12th, 1821 near Salem, Indiana. Her father was a school teacher and his children had the opportunity of going to school.

There were eleven daughters in the Overton family and Parthenia was the sixth. She was always small and spry. She always said she was the roust about of the family being expected to do the many things no one else wanted to do.

Her mother had very poor health and Parthenia learned early in life to help care for the sick and afflicted.

In the early 1840’s a Mormon Elder labored in the neighborhood of the Overton’s. He was James Emmett. In visiting the Overton home he promised the mother if she would believe and be baptized she would be healed of her dreadful cough and would live to bear a son. This promise was fulfilled and she had two sons. Parthenia and her younger sister, Catherine also joined the Church. The father and other members of the family were not converted. Parthenia Overton and Catherine left their home and friends to be with the Saints. They worked in homes for their livelihood.

When the Prophet Joseph was slain and the Church was divided into many parts, some going one way and some another, Parthenia Overton went with a company led by James Emmett up the Iowa River.

Elder Emmett claimed that before the Prophet was martyred he set Elder Emmett apart and told him to choose a few friends and go into Iowa to preach the Gospel to the Indians and present to them the Book of Mormon.

This company had many trying experiences in the more than two years they lived in the north Iowa country. Here Parthenia had the privilege of caring for many who were sick. Near the end of 1844 she took the motherless babe of James Holt and nursed it to health from the itch but she had to give it up to care for others and it died of poor care. This made her feel very badly.

On February 11th, 1845, she married James Holt in Iowa Indian Country. He was a widower and had three children, one girl and two boys. While here the whole company suffered severely from hunger and fear of the Indians. The men had to go away hunting leaving the women and children without protection.

Parthenia had the gift of tongues. At one time when the men were gone a large Indian came to her wagon brandishing a large knife and demanding something. She was very frightened but she stood up and began to talk to him in such a manner he sneaked away. She never knew what she said, but she was sure he knew and understood.

When the camp was called back to the body of the Church at the Bluffs, Parthenia Overton Holt was present at the meeting when Brigham Young was sus-tained President of the Church. She often told how Brigham was transfigured as he stood before the multitude and how he was clothed in the cloak of the Prophet Joseph.

Parthenia was very ill while living in Iowa. She laid at death’s door for two or three days, but was healed by the faith and prayers of her husband. Her first child, a boy, was born in Iowa and died when very young. She had two other children born at the Bluffs, and her son Franklin, was born after they had started to the Rocky Mountains.

The family was three months crossing the plains. Her first home in Utah was at Ogden where she arrived October 27th, 1852. It was such a long hard trip and she was worn out to the extent she soon became ill with Mountain Fever. She was very low but the Lord saw fit to heal her when spring came.

Her home in Ogden was always filled with the sick or poor. Many she nursed in sickness and sorrow. At times she was called to deliver a baby when no medical help was possible. Her home remedies and herbs relieved many suffering people. In 1856 when the remnant of the ill fated Martin Handcart company reached the valley they were taken in by families who were willing to share and care for them. The James G. Bleak family was taken to Brother and Sister Holt’s. Brother Bleak’s feet were badly frozen. For several days his wife had drawn him in the cart before they arrived. Now Sister Holt had another chance to nurse an afflicted one to health and strength.

Through her care the frost had been drawn out by spring and the feet were saved. Though not as good as before they could be used fairly well. This is only one of the many cases of her fine nursing.

Parthenia Holt had the gift of charming warts as well as healing sores. At one time the family had a very fine horse which had a growth on the hind knee joint. It grew to be four or five inches in diameter. The men tied elastics on it and tried in different ways to get rid of it but could not. One day they tied the animal so Sister Holt could charm it and soon it had disappeared.


After living in the vicinity of Ogden for ten years the family moved to Washington to grow cotton but were afflicted with malaria so badly at this place they moved to Long Valley. Here the Indians were so troublesome the people were called out. They lived in Virgin City sometime, but in 1867 they moved to Mountain Meadows and later to Holt’s Ranch. This place was on the road to Pioche and other Nevada mining towns. Sister Holt sold eggs, butter cheese, milk, and other eatables to the travelers and furnished meals. Some she received pay for, but many were freely given.

She told the past and future from the tea cup. While living at the ranch her boys went out and purchased a fine thoroughbred young horse. They put him in the pasture with others and in a short time he disappeared. They rode in vain hunting for him. Sister Holt thought of and proceeded to read her cup and told the boys that a large dark man put a rope on the horse and led him a long way off and sold him. At once they knew the identity of the thief. After some months they found where the horse had been sold and they recovered him.

Many winters Sister Holt spent time working in the Temple or visiting with her children. After the death of her husband she spent the winter months at St. George or Gunlock with members of her family. She was a small woman but did all kinds of work. Spinning and weaving, milking and making butter and cheese along with many other things the pioneer woman of necessity had to do.

She buried one child in Iowa, three in Ogden and one in Washington, so of her ten she raised Nancy, Franklin, Rachel, George A., and Henry D.

She was a woman of great faith and until her death had a burning testimony of the truthfulness of the Gospel as taught by the Latter Day Saints.

She died at Gunlock, May 7th, 1906, and was buried in the burial ground at Holt’s Ranch.


About annlaemmlenlewis

I am member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and I am currently serving as a Missionary in the Washington Yakima Mission. Welcome to my personal blog, Ann's Words, and my Mission blog, Our Yakima Mission. If you are interested in family history stories and histories, you can find those posted in Ann's Stories. Thanks for looking in!
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