Lillis Ballou Comstock
Written by her 3rd great-granddaughter Debbie Wilkins Armstrong
Lillis Ballou was born April 20, 1805 at Litchfield, Herkimer, New York. She was the daughter of Seth Ballou and Sophia Batton Anderson. Her parents were honorable people who were both devoted members of the Methodist Episcopal Church for many years. Their home wherever located was a free tavern and hospital for itinerant ministers, and their substance ungrudgingly consecrated to the church and suffering humanity. The sick, poor, and needy, in everywhere that they dwelt, shared largely in their goods, their time, and their ministering attentions. Thus with unblemished rectitude of moral character, and unstinted charity towards their afflicted fellow creatures, they passed into the celestial mansions, leaving little earthly treasure to their heirs, but a "good name", which "is rather to be chosen than great riches."
About 1819 the family removed to Independence, Cuyahoga, Ohio. It was here that Lillis married her first husband, Fitch Comstock, on May 1, 1823. He was a respectable farmer, and they made their home in Independence, Ohio. They had two daughters, Minerva Ann born, and Harriet Comstock. Sadly, Harriet died when she was not yet a year old. About two weeks after Harriet died, Lillis' husband Fitch also died leaving her a widow at the young age of twenty-two. This must have been and incredibly difficult time for Lillis. She was left alone to care for her young daughter Minerva Ann.
Four years later on January 1, 1831 she married Edson Barney in Amherst, Lorain, Ohio. That same year on May 10, they were baptized into the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. The church being only one year, one month, and one week old at the time. They were very active in the Church. Lillis was one of the charter members of the first Relief Society, and she supported her husband while he was called away on several missions for the Church.
While living in Amherst Lillis gave birth to Danielson Buren and Olney Ammon. When her husband was away on a mission Olney became deathly ill. Edson arrived home just hours before he passed away. They settled in Ruthland near Kirtland where Alice Malena and Eliza Arabella were born. They witnessed the building and dedication of the Kirtland Temple. They were driven from Kirtland and spent the next two years in St. Joseph Michigan. Here another daughter, Alcea Celinda was born.
They then joined the Saints at Nauvoo where they remained for seven years and became personally acquainted with the Prophet Joseph Smith and his brother Hyrum. While in Nauvoo Lillis gave birth to two more sons Edson Alroy and Joseph Seth. Her husband was away on a mission when the Prophet was killed. He returned to find the sound of drums warning the Saints of extermination. Along with others they prepared to leave. They crossed the river and found work in Farmington, Van Buren, Iowa. Here they stayed for over a year and received many threats and had a shower of rocks break the windows of their home.
In the spring of 1847 they moved to a place called Little Pigeon, near Kanesville, now known as Bluff City. Here Edson married a second wife Louisa Butterfield Walker. Edson worked to supply his family with the necessary things to cross the plains. They remained there until 1851 when they emigrated to Utah traveling with the John G. Smith Company. They were on the plains four months.
After arriving in the Salt Lake Valley they went to Jordan, and after two months residence there moved to Provo arriving on Christmas Eve 1851. They lived there until the fall of 1861 passing through the trials of the Walker War. They were called on a mission to help settle St. George. While they were there Lillis raised cotton, carded spun and made her own apparel. They also helped to build the St. George Temple and witnessed it's dedication. They returned to Provo and Lillis stayed with her two married daughters for a while. Then they returned to St. George. They were then were called to settle and farm on the right bank of the Santa Clara, about 22 1/2 miles from St. George on the road to Pine Valley. Here they built a small house. She had to do all the things that pioneer women did to keep their family.
When Lillis was ninety-one years old her family planned a surprise birthday for her. She enjoyed the surprise very much and when told that she was probably good for ten more years she braced up and said that she didn't know but that she was.
Lillis lived with her married daughters in Provo for two years before her death. When she died she was believed to be the oldest living member of the church at the time. She was sick for about six weeks before she died but did not suffer severely during her last illness, but she took scarcely any nourishment. She was satisfied in her own mind that the time for her departure had come, and anxiously awaited the change. She died December 23, 1897 at the home of Mrs. Wilkins, her daughter, in Provo Utah. She was 92 years old.
1. "Pioneer Women of Faith and Fortitude" pg. 167
2. "The Latter-Day Saints' Millennial Star" Vol. 60, pg. 41; Jan. 20, 1898
3. "The Latter-Day Saints' Millennial Star" Vol. 58, pg. 303; May 7, 1896
4. "An Elaborate History and Genealogy of the Ballou's in America" pgs. 264-265 and 666-667 found on
5. "Deseret News" 1898-01-01 Local and Other News
6. "The Daily Enquirer" 1896-04-21 Veteran Surprised
7. "Deseret News" 1898-01-08 Obituary Notes