Patty Bartlett Sessions
Patty Bartlett Sessions (February 4, 1795 – December 14, 1892) was a Mormon midwife. She was one of the wives of Joseph Smith, Jr. while still married to her first husband, David Sessions. She was the mother of Perrigrine Sessions, founder of Bountiful, Utah. She is best known for her diaries, which recorded the daily activities of the Latter Day Saints during the first year of the Mormon migration to Utah, and the earliest days of their settlement there. These diaries document the physical, social, and religious circumstances of the settlers, especially of the women, and are frequently cited by historians. Her records are also a primary source of birth records in the LDS community during this period, and are highly prized for documenting almost 4,000 births.
Patty Bartlett was born in Bethel, Maine on February 4, 1795. She married David Sessions on June 28, 1812, and they cleared and ran a farm for some years, during which time she had 8 children. Around 1812, she delivered her first baby. A doctor came later, congratulated her, and said, "Must attend to the business." She subsequently continued delivering children.
While she grew up Methodist, having met with missionaries, she converted to Church of Christ in 1833. However, she waited until 1834 to get baptized because she hoped her husband would choose to get baptized, too, which he did in 1835. After attending a conference in 1836 where church leaders preached the importance of gathering the saints, the Sessions family moved to Far West, Missouri until they were driven out by the Extermination Order. Leaving behind almost everything they owned, they traveled to Nauvoo, Illinois.
Session's diaries begin with a journal that she received from her daughter, Sylvia, on February 4, 1846. (Earlier diaries that she had kept since 1812 have been lost.) Her diaries provide daily record for over 20 years, included every birth. After 1868, there are gaps in her record, but she continued to record entries in her diary until she was 94 years old, in 1888. Her journal also included recipes for ailments.
In 1846, Brigham Young instructed Latter-Day Saints to head west, beyond the western frontier into what was then Mexico. He instructed Patty Sessions to go with the pilot company to care for the sick and afflicted, as well as to serve as midwife. She delivered nine babies on the banks of the Mississippi River, and many others on the pioneer trek. She spent the winter of 1846–47 at Winter Quarters, Nebraska, and on June 15, 1847, at 52 years old, Sessions left Winter Quarters for "the mountains." On September 24, 1847 she arrived in the Salt Lake Valley. "I had driven my wagon all the way, except for the last two mountain, and had walked 1,030 miles."
Within one year of arriving in the Salt Lake Valley, Sessions delivered 248 babies. She recorded 3,977 births with only "two difficult cases." She made an average of $2 per birth and continued to deliver babies until she was about 85 years old.
When she died in 1892 at the age of 97, she was survived by two sons, 33 grandchildren, 137 great-grandchildren, and 22 great-great-grandchildren.
- Brodie, Fawn (1946), No Man Knows My History: The Life of Joseph Smith, Alfred A. Knopf.
- Rugh, Susan (1978), "Patty Bartlett Sessions: More than a Midwife", in Vicky Burgess-Olson, Sister Saints, Brigham Young University Press, pp. 303–322, ISBN 0-8425-1235-7.
- Sessions, Patty Bartlett (March 1996), An Olive Leaf: We Blessed and Got Blessed, Sunstone Magazine 101: 80, retrieved 2008-06-28.
- Sessions, Patty Bartlett (1997), Donna Toland Smart, ed., Mormon Midwife: The 1846-1888 Diaries of Patty Bartlett Sessions, Utah State University Press, ISBN 0-87421-227-8.
- Kimball, Violet T. (Fall 1999), Journal of Mormon History 25 (2): 191–193.
- Madsen, Carol Cornwall (1999), Review, BYU Studies 38 (4): 192–195, retrieved 2008-06-28.
- Rugh, Susan Sessions; Sessions, Patty Bartlett; Smart, Donna Toland; Richards, Mary Haskin Parker; Ward, Maurine Carr (Winter 1998), Mormon Midwife: The 1846-1888 Diaries of Patty Bartlett Sessions, The Western Historical Quarterly 29 (4): 540–541, doi:10.2307/970427, JSTOR 970427.
- Temple, Judy Nolte (Fall–Winter 2001), A Variety of Women's Voices, Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought 34 (3&4): 203–207, retrieved 2008-06-28.
- Biography at Joseph Smith Papers Project website
- Photograph of plaque quoting Sessions
- Mormon Midwife: The 1846-1888 Diaries of Patty Sessions Utah State University Press catalog
- Pioneer Details:Patty Bartlett Sessions, LDS.org
- "What is Patty Sessions To Me?", Encounter Essay, Journal of Mormon History