Adelia Belinda Cox Sidwell

Adelia Belinda Cox Sidwell was born December 1, l84l, in Lima, Illinois, a small settlement near Nauvoo. In the fall of 1845, mob violence and the burning of Lima forced her parents and the other settlers to seek refuge in Nauvoo.

She crossed the plains in C. C. Richards company, experiencing all the hardships attendant upon such a journey, and finally arrived in Salt Lake Valley on October 3, 1847, but a little over two months after the arrival of the first band of pioneers. Her parents spent the winter in Salt Lake; but early next spring, her father planted a crop north of Salt Lake in what was then Sessions Settlement (now known as Bountiful) and of which place he was the first Bishop. They remained there long enough to raise but two crops. The little girl of six years helped save the first crop by taking an active part in the fight against the crickets. Her father made her a wooden paddle and with it for six long weeks she industriously "smashed crickets" twelve to fourteen hours each day.

In the autumn of 1849 they were called to help establish settlements in Sanpete County. They took up their journey south and arrived in what is now Manti on November 19, 1849, after having traveled for one month to cover the distance from Salt Lake. In the following May she actively assisted in killing the hosts of rattlesnakes which swarmed from the rocky hillsides to torment the settlers. It took many years to exterminate these hissing reptiles; but it is estimated that in one night at least fifteen hundred were killed.

Her parents remained in Manti a little over ten years, during which time she was an active, robust girl with an appetite for books that was astonishing. She always made it a point when she read a bit of news, a story, or some history, to go to her geography and look up each setting on the map. She wanted to know the kinds of actions produced by each part of the earths surface. She exhibited so much intelligence that one Amsa Marion of Salt Lake offered to board her and let her attend the University of Utah and study under Dr. Park. Her father objected to what he termed a "waste of time", but her mother insisted that she should have an opportunity to develop mentally. Others joined with the mother in urging that the girl be given this privilege until finally the father consented; and, on one of his trips for supplies, he took her to Salt Lake behind his ox team.

She attended school for "six whole weeks"; not long but long enough to teach her how to study and give her a few practical pointers on how to teach. She put both acquired gifts into practice and became a successful teacher even before she was'16 years old.

In 1860 she moved with her parents to Fairview, and she taught school there until l864. She not only taught school; but she engineered entertainments for the ward, organized dramatic clubs, wrote plays, and memorized many of Shakespeare’s and Sir Walter Scott's works. Bernice Brown of Manti tells of her reciting most of the "Lady of the Lake" to the Brown children in 1923 when she was 82 years old. Through the stage, her pupils became familiar with these old and valued classics.

On April 13, l864, she married George Sidwell of Nephi. He operated a sawmill east of Ephraim; and they decided to make their home in Manti. During nineteen years of married life, she bore nine children. She also found time to write some histories which benefit us now.

In the seventies when "suffrage" was given to the supposedly "downtrodden females of Utah", so that they were able to cast off the so-called "yoke of oppression of the Priesthood", a new field was opened for her active mind. She industriously studied the laws of the land and of the Territory of Utah so that she might intelligently cast her vote. She was not slow to see inconsistent laws and to call attention of the lawmakers to needed amendments. In 1884 when the women of Utah were disfranchised because they had not revolted against their husbands, she became an active Suffragette, almost a belligerent one. She found sisters of the same heart, and with them she organized a suffrage society; and Manti became a hotbed for "woman's rights".

Her husband met with a fatal accident in Joe's Valley, and on Sept. 21, 1883, she was left a widow. The fates had taken from her nearly all the property her husband's foresight and untiring efforts had accumulated. So, with eight small children, ranging in age from 18 to 1 1/2 years, she began a struggle for their existence on the boulder-strewn quarter-section of sagebrush land in the mouth of City Creek Canyon.

Almost alone she built their home, (her oldest son was seven years old), cleared the land, planted crops of grain and alfalfa, set out fruit trees, and planted flowers everywhere. In the cupping split of a huge boulder she stuffed fertile soil and planted flower seed. On the north side of a boulder she poured an apron full of soil and planted a bulb of a flower that needed shade; and on the south side she planted in more fertile soil a bulb that needed sunshine. Over the ugly boulders she trained creeping vines; and over all her land one could come across some flower she had nurtured where crops for food could not grow.

During the forty-one years of her widowhood, aside from wresting a sort of living for her big family from the unfertile soil, she served as President of the Primary for a great many years and taught a class in Sunday school for no few years. We can picture her--tired from working like a man on the farm, plodding the long way from her home to conduct the Primary meeting. Then in the late evening or night, she would wearily trudge home again.

Her mind, her spirit, her ambitions were at least 50 years ahead of her circumstances. Now her noble spirit has been released from its cramped surroundings and can progress as she has always longed to progress.

Sketch of her life, condensed from material by Roscoe C. Cox