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Sister Annis

Sister Annis & her daughter, Miss Annis
(Eliza Fales Annis and Sarah Annis?)

During the October 1844 excommunication trials of John Hardy, recently President of the Boston Branch of the LDS Chuch, Hardy called a Mrs. A**** to the witness stand in his defense. Six months later (1845), George B. Wallace, brother of Sarah E. Wallace, recorded in his journal the address of a "Sister Annis" as being 48 Chestnut Street and that is certainly who "Mrs. A****" of Hardy's trial must be - no other known Mormons in Boston, Lowell or New Bedford had a surname that fits. It is probable that Sister Annis of Hardy's trial was Eliza Fales Annis, wife of Lowell resident Rollins B. Annis. The 1844 city directory of Lowell lists "Mrs. Eliza Annis" as living on Jackson Street in Lowell. Why her husband Rollins is not listed with her that year is unknown. Rollins and Eliza Annis, per the 1830 and 1840 censuses, did have a daughter the right age to be involved in this trial but her name is currently unknown, although I hereafter provide one possibility. Note that throughout the following I assume that "Mrs. A" in the Hardy trials was in fact Eliza Fales Annis, until further evidence indicates otherwise.

John Hardy was being tried in an ecclesiastical court for exposing the fact that Apostles William Smith and George J. Adams and their protégés (such as Samuel Brannan and Joseph T. Ball) were seducing young women and performing polygamous marriages. Hardy, although a recently stalwart Latter Day Saint, had never been to Nauvoo and therefore had no idea that polygamy was secretly being practiced there by Joseph Smith and a few other Mormon leaders. Understandably he felt that William Smith's actions were entirely out of line. During his trial, Hardy asked Mrs. Annis to testify about her daughter's engagement to Apostle William Smith. Hardy asked her to confirm that her daughter, Miss Annis (possibly Sarah Annis per the 1850 Census of Lowell) was engaged to William Smith, and that their engagement was "to be consummated as soon as his sick wife [Caroline Grant Smith] is dead". Mrs. Annis however "appeared much confused, exhibited much feeling, and refused to answer at first" but when pressed she said she "knew beans" about the engagement. Hardy then called fellow Mormon Benjamin Brown to the stand, who confirmed he had "had some conversation with Mrs. A." about the engagement. Brown had asked Eliza Annis if her daughter "was engaged to William Smith" and she had replied "she had engaged her to her God, or had dedicated her to him; thereby evading the question." Hardy then asked Brown, "Did Miss A. tell you that William Smith said to her that a woman should have but four children, but that a man should have fifty[?]", which Brown affirmed. John Hardy then introduced testimony

that linen with William Smith’s name marked on the same, had been sent from Mrs. A’s to be washed in a most unutterable situation, and that Mrs. A. visited the lady that did the washing, and accused her of turning traitor! surmising she would testify in the matter. (The particulars of this testimony cannot be here made public.)  It was proved, however, that the witness was about to leave the church on the account of the matter.

William Smith then testified that his blood-stained sheets were not from sexual intercourse with Miss Annis, but from being "troubled with blood biles". Two other witnesses testified "that he had these biles some years since." John Hardy then called Elder Freeman Nickerson to the stand, the patriarch of the Boston Branch who had founded the large branch two years earlier. Nickerson had previously complained to Hardy about Smith's scandalous actions with young women, but now, in the glaring light of a public trial which might question his own faithfulness to Mormon principles (including unquestioned obedience to priesthood superiors) Nickerson backed away from the issue. Hardy, after asking Nickerson to testify about what he knew about William Smith and Miss Annis, reported that Nickerson "was very willing to talk and consume time, but not to answer any questions." Hardy tried a more direct tactic, asking, "Did you not tell me directly that both Mrs. and Miss A. told you that Smith was engaged to the daughter, the marriage to take place as soon as his wife died?" Nickerson waffled and denied this, but stated that Miss Annis "had her eye on a certain individual whose wife was sick, and not expected to live, and she was trying to get him : he thought it was Wm. Smith; he replied to her it was hard to wait for dead men’s shoes, &c." Hardy then recorded that Nickerson "had been browbeat and frightened by Smith to the degree that he dared not testify against him, and even went so far as to state that he never knew any thing against Smith." Therefore Hardy introduced to the church court his affidavit which stated:

I hereby certify in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, and in view of the judgment, that Elder F. Nickerson came to me and voluntarily offered himself as witness against Smith, told me he had rather have his arm cut off that to testify what he knew of Smith, but he must tell the truth, and he supposed they would also cut him off.  He told me positively that Mrs. A. and daughter told him of the engagement between Smith and daughter, to be consummated as soon as Smith’s wife died ; said he doubted not but they had already cohabited, and [in] confirmation told me of the “washing business,” before referred to; and the old man cried while related the matter to me, and said it nearly killed him, to think the first females to be baptised in Boston should be thus duped and deceived.                                                                               JOHN HARDY.

William Smith then asked Nickerson "if he had not heard it from a number that he was engaged to Miss A. and if that did not cause him to inquire of them concerning it; he answered, he did hear it." Hardy then called Jacob C. Phelps, another Boston Branch member, to testify that William Smith had "exhibited actions" toward a Sister P. that in Phelps's own words "It made your very blood boil!" Phelps confirmed this and "related the particulars" which were of such a sexual nature that Hardy felt they were not proper to publish in his report.

John Hardy then called a Mr. Turner (apparently a non-Mormon who boarded at the Annis home) to testify. Hardy asked him, "Did you not say that you had no doubt but [George J.] Adams and Smith slept with a sister each at the house of Mrs. A. where you board, one with Miss A-------[Annis], the other with Susan Clark?" Turner denied this however. However Hardy pressed Mr. Turner, asking him, "Did you not make arrangements with Mr. B. Brown, to have him come to the [Annis] house on a certain night, and you would let him in, and you had no doubt but he would find them in that position?" Turner confirmed this, so Benjamin Brown was recalled to the stand and asked to confirm Turner's story, which he did. The trial continued with Hardy demonstrating that Smith and Adams had had multiple affairs with several other LDS women in the Boston, Lowell, and New Bedford branches. Still Adams and Smith, both Apostles, browbeat the jury into pitying and siding with them, mainly by blaming the women for constantly seducing the men. According to Hardy's pamphlet (see below for link to a complete transcription), William Smith "jumped, frothed, and roared, and fairly shook the house ; he whined over his manifold persecutions, and told how females were laying their plans to seduce him from the paths of virtue." Even worse for Hardy, Smith and Adams "arose and threatened all that dared vote against them with excommunication". John Hardy was then officially charged with slandering William Smith and George J. Adams, with 95 members agreeing and 25 not agreeing. Elder Samuel Dam then moved that Hardy be "cut off" from the LDS Church, with the vote being 75 yeas and 25 nays (and therefore some 20 abstentions). Thus within the space of some two or three weeks, through a series of ecclesiastical injustices, John Hardy was driven from being one of Mormonism's staunchest defenders in New England, to one of its loudest dissenters and critcs.

Above taken from History of the Trials of Elder John Hardy (etc.), Boston: Conway & Co., 1844

1850 Census of Rumney, Grafton, NH
Rollins B. Annis, 54, M, Maine
Eliza Annis, 46, F, Maine
Oliver P. Annis, 15, M, Maine
George H. Annis, 10, M, Mass.
Joel N. Annis, 5, M, Mass.

1850 Census of Lowell, Mass.
Boarding with Elsie Clough & several single young women (next door to the Durgin family)
Sarah Annis, 21, F, Vermont [sic - Maine?]

1840 Census of Lowell, Mass.
Rollins B. Annis 0/2/0/0/0/0/1 - 0/1/0/0/0/1

1830 Census of Oxford County, Maine
Rollings Annas - 0/2/1/0/0/1/0 - 1/1/0/0/1/0/0/1

Rollins B. Annis, b. 1796 in Maine
Woman b. 1770-1780 (mother or mother-in-law?)
Eliza b. 1804 in Maine
Son - b. 1815-1820 (? Ira Annis, b. 1817 Vermont - md. Brilla P. Corey in Lowell in Nov. 1841)
Daughter - b. 1820-1825
Son - b. 1820-1825
Son - b. 1820-1825
Daughter - b. 1825-1830 (? Sarah Annis, b. 1829 Vermont; in Lowell in 1850)
Son - b. 1830-1835
Oliver P. Annis b. 1835 in Maine
George Henry Annis b. July 17, 1840 in Lowell, Mass; md. Lucy Jane McKean Oct. 25, 1862; d. Sept 9, 1922 per family records
Joel N. Annis b. May 22, 1845 in Lowell per Lowell Birth Records; md. Lovinia
Unnamed son, b. Nov. 19, 1852 in Rumney, Grafton NH, per Rumney Birth Records

Rollins B. Annis was born about 1796 to Benjamin Annis and Sarah (or Eunice) Phelps. He was named after his grandmother, Abigail Rawlings/Rollins. He married (1) Sarah Parker on September 7, 1816 in Augusta, Kennebec, Maine. Married (2) Eliza Fales on June 26, 1830 in Andover, Oxford, Maine. Died in Rumney NH in 1857.

General genealogical and biographical sources:

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