Jane and Helena were two daughters of John Robinson, an architect and member of a well known family in Douglas. The Robinson family was associated with the Athol Street Independent Chapel, minister Samuel Haining, who wrote a strong attack on Mormonism - I suspect this may have been triggered by the the loss of a wife and two daughters of a prominent member to that sect.
The extracts are taken from Our Pioneer Heritage, Vol. 16, p.529 et seq.
I was born in Douglas, Isle of Man, England, on the 6th of January, 1828, my father was John Robinson, a house carpenter, and architect, my mother was Elenor Charters, eldest daughter of Alexander and Ann Charters of Balmaghie, North Briton. My mother died of consumption when I was very young. I do not remember her but my grandmother Robinson took care of me as I was a delicate child and very fretful. My dear father was exceedingly kind and affectionate to me, more so than he was to my sister, Anna, who was two years older.
We were raised to the Independent faith. I had a good memory and retained the texts and many portions of the scriptures, and loved to go to Sunday School. I was a great favorite with my teacher, also my grandmother. I think I was five or six years old when my father married a young lady from Leeds, Yorkshire. Her name was Elizabeth Mattley [sic Maltby], by whom he had two sons and eight daughters. She was a good woman, and loved me as one of her own children. We were very happy together. It was in 1840 that Brother John Taylor came to the Isle of Man to preach the gospel. My mother received it with great joy and Brother Taylor baptized her, but Father did not accept. He was very liberal in supporting the Elders and finding them homes and I think at one time believed the Gospel, but for some cause never joined the Church. He was a good man, indeed he was an honorable man, and brought up to be strictly honest. In the year 1841, my sister, Anna, and myself were baptized by Elder Joseph Fielding. It was the 1st day of March and Father was so pleased that we had the courage to go, for it was very cold weather. He thought a great deal of Brother Fielding.
I remained at my father's house until the year 1855, then the 16th of February, my half-sister, Helena, and I left home to gather with the Saints. It was a terrible trial for me to leave all that I loved, the land of my birth, my dear father most of all. It was indeed stretching my heart strings, but I knew in whom I trusted and I laid my earthly all upon the altar. The pleasing associations of home were very dear to me and I was going to a strange land, among strangers, but still I felt it was my duty, and the path of duty has been the path of safety to me.
We were detained two weeks in Liverpool waiting for a ship. It was a sailing vessel, with about five hundred Saints, mostly English people, but no person that I was acquainted with. We had a very rough voyage, being eight weeks on the sea, but God sustained me through it all. I was not seasick and helped all that I could with those who were, and formed some nice acquaintances. I must say that my father was very much opposed to my leaving home, as he had promised my mother when she was dying never to lose sight of her two little ones. However, he could not prevail on me to stay home with him.
We had been about two weeks at sea, when on the 8th of March, I had a most delightful dream. I thought a voice spoke to me in comforting words from the Proverbs of Solomon, saying many daughters have done well, but thou excellest all. This renewed my determination to serve God and keep His commandments. However, on the 22nd I was taken very ill indeed, for one week had to keep to my bed. Then the storm arose and drove the good old ship Siddons on the banks of Newfoundland, which almost froze us to death. The weather was very severe and the hailstones were as large as walnuts. The captain was a kind man and did all that he could for our comfort. Now the ship provisions gave out and there was considerable suffering for want of something to eat. We had been provided for four weeks and that time was now up. However, we had a great deal with us that mother had sent so we divided with the Saints as long as it lasted, and on April 19, the tugboat came along side and we dropped anchor. We had spent two months on the Atlantic Ocean and on April 22nd, we landed at Philadelphia. Brother Taylor met us and we spent two days visiting with him in the city. He took us to the train bound for Pittsburgh, thence took the boat called the Mongahela. On the 28th of April, I was taken very ill again and continued so until the 3rd of May. I think it was the bad water that caused it. May 7th we arrived at St. Louis and changed boats. The one we went in was called the Polar Star. We spent a few hours in St. Louis with a lady who we were acquainted with. We then took cabin passage and on May 14th, landed at Atchison, did not know any prson. Then I did feel a little homesick. However, we met a kind brother who had received word to look after our comfort. We slept in a tent that night. The heat was intolerable. There was quite a number of Saints camped here waiting to start across the plains. We were there until June 9th.
Then we started with John Hindley as our captain. I think there were about 60 wagons. It was here that I got acquainted with my dear friend, Romania B. Pratt. All went on nicely until July 16th, then the captain was taken very ill indeed. I became more acquainted with him then and did all I could for his recovery. He soon got quite well and on August 25th we arrived at Fort Bridger. We traveled on till Sept. 1, then a Bro. Bennet came with a fresh team and wagon to take us into Salt Lake. Sept. 2nd, Bro. Joseph Caine and Br. S. W. Richards came to meet us, and make us feel welcome to the City of the Saints. On the 3rd of Sept., 1855, we got in and Brother Joseph Caine took us to him home, and did all that he could for our comfort. But I could not help feeling very homesick. I felt that I was a stranger [p.531] in a strange land. However, there was a man of the name of Cowley who was acquainted with my father and mother before I was born. He sent for me to come and visit at his home in Farmington, a few miles north of Salt Lake City. This I did and had not been there long before I was taken ill of jaundice and was thought to be in a dangerous condition. I was eight weeks in bed, but Sister Cowley nursed and attended to me just as if I was her own child. My sister Helena was in Salt Lake City, her health being good. After I recovered, I returned to Bro. Joseph Caine's house and he wished me to remain there and make it my home.
On the 12th day of January, I received a letter from Bro. Hindley to come down to American Fork, Utah Co. This was in 1856 and on the 14th in company with his wife, Mary Hindley, went and found him quite sick. I stayed about two weeks with them. Bro. Hindley was now getting better and proposed marriage to me. I told him I would consider the matter and let him know after I returned to Salt Lake. On the 18th of Feb., he together with his wife, called on me. Bro. Caine was rather opposed to it, as we were threatened with a famine in the land, and he did not know if Mr. Hindley was prepared to take care of me. However, I loved him and made up my mind, if necessary to go through poverty and privation for him. I had admired his conduct on the plains and trusted my future life and happiness to him. It was a great step for me to take but I have never regretted it, although I have passed through many trials since then, but God has sustained me through them all and on the 19th of Feb. 1865, I was married to John Hindley by President Brigham Young. We remained a few days in Salt Lake City and then came down to American Fork, where I have lived ever since. The Lord blessed me with four sons and four daughters.
I continued to write home to the Isle of Man, but my father, although he would write occasionally to me and regret my leaving him, never could see the necessity of gathering out to America. He sent me some money, $50 at one time, $75 and $500 at other times. He was in good circumstances and could spare a little for me. My mother still remained firm in the faith of the Gospel, although some of her children did not believe in it, and married Gentiles which troubled her. Father lived to be 82 years old and died on the 10th day of July, 1880. He left his property to mother to use in her time and to be sold at her death and divided among his children, except a little ready money that we were to have at his death. I received $430 odd dollars. It caused me much sorrow that he should die and not embrace the Gospel.
I am very much attached to American Fork and the people who live here, for all my dear children have been born here and I trust that I may spend the remainder of my life here. Jane Charters Robinson Hindley, 1881.
Helena Robinson Richards was born April 27, 1886,[sic 1836] in Douglas, Isle of Man, to Elizabeth Maltby and John Robinson. Her parents were comfortably fixed financially and she was given piano lessons and reared to appreciate culture and the finer things of life. She had a half-sister, Jane, whom she dearly loved. They were almost inseparable. Jane was the daughter of John Robinson and his first wife, a Miss Charters. Helena and Jane left their home in England to come to Utah in 1855. They sailed in the Mona Queen to Liverpool, and to America on February 23, 1855, on the ship Siddons. They crossed the plains in the company of John Hindley, who afterward became the husband of Jane. Helena met Samuel Whitney Richards and they were married February 16, 1856, in Salt Lake City, Utah. She was the mother of twelve children.
Her upbringing was such that she found the pioneer life very difficult, polygamy very distressing, and in her heart she could never accept it. She and Samuel lived in a log cabin on the southwest corner of South Temple at about 2nd or 3rd East (probably where Larkin's Mortuary is now located). When polygamists were being hunted by government agents, Samuel took her and children to Spring Ranch, a dry ranch, near Cokeville, Wyoming. Her life there was almost unbearable to her. There was very little water and she and her children had to run the ranch. They were plagued by Indians who would take their meager supply of food, but never did any harm to the ranch or its occupants.
She made one trip back to England, but little is known of this visit. However, when she did go she left her children in the care of Samuel's other wife at the time, Mary Ann Parker Richards. One of Helena's children at the time had an illness or a defect and had to be carried on a pillow. She was gone on this trip about six months. At the time of her death she was only 47 years old and still lived at the ranch in Cokeville, Wyoming. Her death came as a result of a hemorrhage on July 17, 1883, with no medical help available. Before she died she called all her girls to her and told them never to marry a Mormon. She was brought to Salt Lake City, Utah, and buried in the family plot in the City Cemetery. Pearl White Brooks.
see Mormon Converts