LIFE STORY OF ADALINE
Adaline Knight was born on 4
in Perrysburg, Cattaraugus, New York, the third of 7
children born to her parents, Vinson Knight and Martha McBride.
Starting in 1833, several members of the McBride family,
relatives of Adaline’s mother Martha, joined the LDS Church. Adaline’s parents were baptized into the LDS Church in March 1834. In June 1835 Adaline’s family moved to Kirtland, Ohio to gather with other
Deep apostasy and persecution took hold in Kirtland
during 1837 and 1838. The Knight family
moved in the spring of 1838 to Missouri, arriving at the end of
May 1838 at Far
Caldwell, Missouri. They settled in Adam-ondi-Ahman. Very quickly persecution again descended upon
the Knight family and they were driven from their new home by a mob. Forced to flee Missouri following Governor
Bogg’s Extermination Order, Adaline’s family found refuge with some friends in Pike County, Missouri near the Mississippi River.
They moved to Commerce (later Nauvoo), Hancock, Illinois
in 1839, where Adaline’s parents constructed a sturdy two-storey red brick home
on Main Street, said to be the first brick house in Nauvoo, on the same block
as the homes of Brigham Young and John Taylor (this home is still
standing). Adaline’s parents were soon
very involved in the affairs of their faith and community.
Adaline was baptized into the LDS Church in the Mississippi River on 8
by Lyman Wight, who was ordained an Apostle that same day by Joseph Smith. She was confirmed a member of the Church by
William Marks, Nauvoo Stake President.
On 17 March 1842, Adaline’s mother
Martha became a founding member of the LDS Relief Society, which day also
happened to be Martha’s 37th birthday.
Adaline attended that organizing meeting, being almost 11 years old.
Adaline’s father Vinson Knight suddenly took ill and died
on 31 July 1842 in Nauvoo at the
relatively young age of 38. One month
later her youngest brother died. At the
time of Vinson Knight’s death, their house was not quite finished. In order to make ends meet, the family moved
to the second floor and rented out the downstairs floor to the George Grant
On 27 June 1844, Joseph Smith, Jr. and
his brother Hyrum Smith were martyred in Carthage. Adaline was present when the bodies of Joseph
and Hyrum were brought into Nauvoo. Her
mother brought sheets as a shroud for the martyrs until they were dressed for
burial. In later years Adaline
distinctly recalled the bloodstained clothing, soaking in tubs, during the
burial preparation. She was also present
at the open air meeting in Nauvoo on 8
and witnessed the miraculous transfiguration of Brigham Young into Joseph
Later that same year Adaline’s oldest sister Almira, for
whom Adaline would later name one of her own daughters, left the LDS Church over the issue of
polygamy, marrying on 10 November 1844 a disaffected
Latter-day Saint widower, Sylvester B. Stoddard.
On 21 December 1845 at the age of 14,
Adaline was married to Gilbert Belnap in her father’s red brick home on Main Street in Nauvoo by Heber C.
Kimball. Shortly thereafter, on 5
she and Gilbert received their endowments in the Nauvoo Temple. There is no record of their having been
sealed at this time. Three weeks later,
Adaline’s mother, who had married Joseph Smith during the summer of 1842,
married Heber C. Kimball on 26 January 1846 in the Nauvoo Temple “for time.”
On 1 February 1846 Adaline and her husband
evacuated Nauvoo and traveled through Iowa and across the Missouri River to Winter
Quarters. She and her husband crossed
on the back of “Old Tom,” Brigham Young’s horse, as it jumped from blocks of
floating ice. While her husband was in Missouri looking for work,
Adaline reportedly drove her own team almost all the way to Winter Quarters.
In Winter Quarters Adaline resided with her young family,
her mother Martha, her sister Rizpah and her husband, and her younger brother
James Vinson Knight. Their wagons in
Winter Quarters were formed in 2 large hollow squares. During Gilbert’s absence to Missouri to procure supplies,
Adaline, who was sheltered in a wagon box, gave birth to their first child, a
son, on 8 January 1847, 2 weeks after her
sister Rizpah had given birth to a daughter.
Her nurse was Emmeline B. Wells.
Adaline departed for Utah with her young family,
consisting, in addition to herself, of her husband and 2 small sons, on 15
in the Warren Foote Company, 2nd hundred.
Her husband served as captain of their ten. Also in the emigrant company were her mother
and her younger brother James Vinson Knight.
Their wagons were drawn by their oxen “Duke” and “Dime” and their cow
One week after departing for the West, Adaline lost her
second son, John McBride Belnap, who had taken ill in the evening of 21
with a cholera plague that was sweeping the camp. The child died in the latter part of the
night on 22 June 1850 and was buried near the
confluence of Salt Creek and the Platte River near present-day Ashland, Saunders, Nebraska in a tool chest of
Gilbert’s which dovetailed together with a tight-fitting lid.
Adaline and her family arrived in the Salt Lake Valley on 17
September 1850. Two weeks later,
they were sent by Brigham Young to settle in Ogden, Weber, Utah. Their first home was a dugout on the south
side of a hill on Canfield Creek in Sullivan Hollow at about 30th Street and Madison
Avenue. Later they moved into a log
house on the southeast corner of the intersection of Grant Avenue and 26th Street. Adaline was rebaptized on 25
by her husband.
On 26 June 1852 Adaline was sealed to
her husband by Brigham Young in the President’s Office in Great Salt Lake City, the same day her
husband married polygamously as his second wife Henrietta McBride. (Gilbert’s first wive Adaline was a first
cousin to Henrietta.) Adaline and
Henrietta were very close, as were their children. As a polygamous wife, Adaline shared her home
on 26th Street with Henrietta, who,
upon her marriage to Gilbert, moved to Ogden from Farmington.
Adaline’s husband Gilbert was called to the Salmon River
Mission in April 1855. Gilbert left on 16
leaving Adaline behind with 3 little boys; their first daughter was born just 4
months after Gilbert’s departure.
Adaline saw her husband on occasion during resupply trips from Fort Lemhi to Utah, although it is evident
from their correspondence that she suffered greatly during his absence.
Gilbert Belnap returned from his mission in 1857. Adaline and Henrietta were resealed on 17
to Gilbert Belnap by Brigham Young in the Endowment House, the same day on
which Henrietta received her endowments (she had previously been sealed to
Gilbert in 1852 but at that time had not been endowed).
In the spring of 1858, approximately 3 or 4 weeks after
the birth of her sixth child Hyrum, Adaline packed a few belongings in a poorly
sheltered wagon and left her home in Ogden as a participant in the
“Move South” on account of the approach of Johnston’s Army. She and her family resided for a season in
Springville in Utah Valley.
Following her family’s return from Springville, Adaline
lived in a log house situated on the east bank of the Weber River near the present-day 24th Street viaduct. Here she resided until her family moved to
Hooper. During part of the time in which
Adaline was residing in this house, Gilbert’s wife Henrietta and her children
lived in Huntsville.
Adaline and her mother Martha were members of a Relief
Society committee that dressed the frozen and bleeding feet of the members of a
handcart company brought to Ogden by a scouting
party. This committee cared for their
wants and provided homes for them until their recovery. On 14
Adaline lost her second child to die young, Volney Belnap, who was less than
one month old.
On 25 January 1869 Adaline received a
Patriarchal Blessing in Ogden. In the spring of 1868 (or 1869, following the
birth in Ogden in August 1868 of her daughter Adaline
Lorinda Belnap) Adaline moved with her family to Hooper.
On 6 April 1871 Adaline was made
president of the Hooper Ward Relief Society, a position she held until 24
September 1907, a period of 36 years.
Her strength of character and high ideals, as well as her initiative, were manifest when the first saloon was introduced in
Hooper. With the assistance of her
counselors in the Relief Society, Adaline diligently canvassed the homes in the
vicinity with a petition and were successful in having the menace removed. Adaline was again rebaptized in Hooper on 7
Adaline served as a midwife and nurse, having studied
under a Dr. Powers from whom she received her certificate to practice. Her first experience with a confinement case
was when she was 18 years old. When the
ill-fated Martin Handcart Company arrived in the valley, Adaline took care of
some of the unfortunate people who had frozen limbs. Her daughter Mary Louisa Belnap was named
after Mary Gibson, one of the handcart survivors whose arms were frozen to the
When diphtheria broke out in Hooper, within a week 38
people were infected. Adaline helped
with as many as she could and not one of her patients died.
On one trip to a confinement case, Adaline was thrown
from her buggy and sustained some broken ribs; however, she continued to the
home, took care of the birth, and made the mother and child comfortable without
telling anyone of her injury.
Adaline continued her practice as a midwife until she was
70 years old. She was the only doctor
and midwife in western Weber County for many years.
In 1895 a large 50th wedding anniversary celebration was
held in Hooper in honor of Adaline and her husband. At that time her posterity numbered
After the death of her husband on 26
Adaline took turns living with her daughters Mary and Adaline Lowe in Franklin, Idaho and later with her
daughter Lola Coolbear in Salt Lake City. Adaline’s mother Martha came to live with
Adaline until Martha’s death in 1901.
In 1914, Adaline was described as being “afflicted with
rheumatism, which badly deprives her of the use of her lower limbs, having to
have someone with her if she goes any distance from home. She gets around the house and her mind is
clear and her hands are busy. Now, 84
years old, she pieced a quilt, put it on frames, quilted it, and . . . in April
1914 . . . was binding the edges.” While
living in Salt Lake City, Adaline was sealed to
her deceased parents on 6 January 1915 in the Salt Lake Temple.
Adaline died on 10
Lake City at the age of 88 years at the home of her
daughter Lola Almira Belnap Coolbear.
Her funeral was held in the Hooper LDS meetinghouse at which Apostle
David O. McKay spoke. She was buried on 15
in the Ogden City Cemetery next to her pioneer
husband of 53 years.
Adaline essentially grew up in the LDS Church, living and suffering
with the other Latter-day Saints, first in Kirtland, then in Missouri and Nauvoo, before
heading West to Utah. Adaline witnessed first-hand some of the most
pivotal moments in LDS Church history. Through the influence of her parents, Adaline
met many key figures in early LDS Church history. She remained firmly devoted to her religion
her entire life.
Adaline was the mother of 13 children, 2 of whom died in
infancy. She also reared to adulthood a
boy, Eli Roy Stoddard, whose mother had died shortly after he was born. All of Adaline’s children who lived to
adulthood were married in the Endowment House or an LDS Temple and had large families
of their own. Her posterity today
numbers many thousands and are scattered around the globe. Many of her descendants have excelled in
medicine, law, business and finance, sports, government, music, and art.
(Written by Brent J.
Belnap. Submitted on behalf of the
Belnap Family Organization to the Daughters of Utah Pioneers in 1995.)
Perrysburg, Cattaraugus, New York
Lake City, Salt Lake, Utah
Parents: Vinson Knight and Martha McBride
Pioneer Arrival: 17
Foote Company, 2nd Hundred (by wagon)
Spouse: Gilbert Belnap
Nauvoo, Hancock, Illinois
Spouse’s Death: 26
Hooper, Weber, Utah
Children: 1. Gilbert
Rosel Belnap, born 8 January 1847
2. John McBride Belnap,
born 11 May 1849
3. Reuben Belnap,
born 14 June 1851
4. Joseph Belnap,
born 26 January 1853
5. Martha Jane Belnap,
born 17 September 1855
6. Hyrum Belnap,
born 24 March 1858
7. Augustus Weber Belnap,
born 25 March 1860
8. Volney Belnap,
born 17 February 1862
9. Vinson Knight Belnap,
born 26 June 1863
10. Amasa Belnap, born
22 June 1866
11. Adaline Lorinda Belnap,
born 1 August 1868
12. Mary Louisa Belnap,
born 11 December 1870
13. Lola Almira Belnap, born 5 June 1874
Other Spouse: None