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Orson F. Whitney, a family friend and distinguished Utah historian, published several versions of Harriet’s life story. He passed along, surely from conversations with Harriet herself, the curious and false claim that her ancestors were just obscure Welsh farmers, of no particular interest to a historian:
Harriet Page Wheeler Decker Young (1803-1871)
Biographical sketch by Orson F Whitney
Harriet Page Wheeler Young, daughter of Oliver Wheeler and his wife Hannah Ashby, was a native of Hillsborough, Hillsborough county, New Hampshire, and was born September 7, 1803. She was the eldest of five children. The ancestors of the Wheeler family were from Wales, whence they emigrated to America five generations before Harriet was born, settling on Massachusetts Bay.

A year or two after her [Harriet’s] birth her parents moved from Hillsborough, her father’s birthplace, to Salem, Massachusetts, the birthplace of her mother. There Harriet was reared to womanhood. She was kept at school from five to ten years of age, after which whe went to work in one of the Salem factories, where she learned to spin flax and wool, and became an expert. Her mother taught her to weave, and she was also an accomplished milliner and an excellent cook.
In fact, as Harriet never saw fit to tell Orson Whitney, and as she may indeed never have known, her maternal grandparents, Oliver Wheeler of Acton, Massachusetts, and Hepzibah Munroe of Billerica, Massachusetts, had settled in Hillsborough about 1778. This Oliver, the second of the name, saw action as a Revolutionary soldier. Hepzibah was a great-grandaughter of William Munroe, the 1653 immigrant to Lexington, progenitor of a large fraction of the heroes and martyrs of the Revolution’s opening scenes, who were Hepzibah’s cousins and contemporaries.

Inasmuch as Harriet was 12 in 1815, when the Wheelers left Salem, one doubts that she had much experience in the formal labor market.

1History of Utah in Four Volumes Volume IV—Biographical. (Salt Lake City, Utah:1904) George Q. Cannon & Sons Co., p. 63.
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