Alice Merrill Horne hears the story of Eliza R. Snow's sexual assault in Missouri.

Alice Merrill Horne
3rd Hand

Alice Merrill Horne, Autobiography, 7-8, reprinted in Andre G. Radke-Moss, "Silent Memories of Missouri: Mormon Women and Men and Sexual Assault in Group Memory and Religious Identity" in Mormon Women's History: Beyond Biography, ed. Rachel Cope, Amy Easton-Flake, Keith A. Erekson, and Lisa Olsen Tait (Madison: Fairleigh Dickinson University Press, 2017), 70

Fairleigh Dickinson University Press
Eliza R. Snow, Alice Merrill Horne
Reading Public

It was there, at one of these rendezvous of feminine confidences in the late 1870s, that young Alice [Merrill Horne] overheard the account of the brutal gang rape of Eliza R. Snow. “There was a saint—a Prophetess, a Poet, an intellectual, seized by brutal mobbers—used by those eight demons and left not dead, but worse. The horror, the anguish, despair, hopelessness of the innocent victim was dwelt upon. What [sic] future was here for such a one?” Horne’s language reveals the tensions and fears embedded in a culture that was hyper-focused on the sexual purity of unmarried women. “All the aspirations of a saintly virgin—that maiden of purity—had met martyrdom!” In this case, according to Horne, the rape left its victim not only emotionally scarred but also permanently affected physically:

The Prophet heard and had compassion. This Saint, whose lofty ideals, whose person had been crucified, was yet to become the corner of female work. To her, no child could be born and yet she would be a Mother in Israel. One to whom all eyes should turn, to whom all ears would listen to her sing (in tongues) the praises of Zion. She was promised honor above all women, save only Emma, but her marriage to the Prophet would be only for heaven.

It is clear that Alice Merrill Horne inferred that Eliza R. Snow would never be able to bear children because of a rape committed against her. Snow’s infertility, in this particular memory construction, became a visible, tangible reminder of the violence against women in Missouri, but it also gave her the status of martyr.

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