BiographySarah "Sally"Beirdneau was born 31 December 1850 in Council Bluffs, Pottawattamie County, Iowa, United States to Nehemiah Wood Beirdneau (1824-1901) and America Ann Steele (1826-1908) and died 13 July 1926 in Baker City, Baker County, Oregon, United States of unspecified causes. She married Charles Ora Card (1839-1906) 4 October 1867 in Salt Lake City, Salt Lake County, Utah. She married Benjamin Ramsell (1851-1901) 22 November 1886 in Cache County, Utah. She married A J Schumacher (1846-1926) 20 January 1912 in Baker County, Oregon.
Migration to Utah
She was the second of eight children born to Nehemiah Wood Beirdneau and America Ann Steele, both converts to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Interestingly enough, Council Bluffs was also where the practice of plural marriage in the church was first openly practiced.
Sallie and her family made the long trip to Cache Valley Utah in 1859. Companies of saints were leaving for the Salt Lake Valley as early as 1847, but one can easily suppose that the Beirdneau family stayed behind awhile to help the other saints prepare for the long trek west, due to Bro. Beirdneau’s skills as a very successful blacksmith.
Plural Marriage and Divorce
Little is known about Sallie’s early life, though her married life is well documented. She married and was sealed to Charles Ora Card (1839-1906) in the Endowment House in Salt Lake City on October 4th, 1867 at the tender age of sixteen. Charles was 28 at the time, and kept a meticulous diary that is widely available today. They were not married in the Salt Lake Temple because it was still under construction during this time; it would be dedicated on the 6th of April, 1893, about 26 years later. (The Endowment House was a temporary temple of sorts that was dedicated in 1855 on the northwest corner of the current Temple Square. It provided a space where some of the temple ordinances could be completed.)
They went on to have two children together, Sarah Jane and Charles Ora Card Jr. Charles was a farmer and a prominent citizen of the area, being heavily involved in the community and in the church. Later in life, he would go on to settle Cardston in what was then called the North-West Territories in Canada. He did so without Sallie by his side.
By all accounts their marriage went well at the start, with her accompanying him on church and civil duties and overall being a very resourceful woman. Sadly, distrust and bitterness eventually soured their relationship about a decade later. In 1876, Charles felt inspired to marry a second wife, Sarah Jane Painter. (One can’t help but wonder if Sallie got her nickname out of necessity due to a co-wife with the same two first names.) By all accounts Sallie merely tolerated the decision. We first hear of her struggles with the concept of plural marriage in Charles’ diary on June 17th, 1878: “My wife Sallie came to me & begged my pardon for the opposition She had made to my Self & in regard to the principle of Plural marriage or Celestial marriage & Said she had a great desire to do better. I forgave her & told her to seek the Lord & I would help her.” One can’t help but sympathize with Sallie, for by all accounts a polygamous marriage was difficult for all parties involved. Complications grew as the federal government made polygamy a crime punishable by fine and imprisonment in January of 1879. On April 14th, 1879 we read this sobering account: “…to my Sorrow I learned that on the previous Saturday night between the hours of 9 & 10 O.C. my father & Bro N. W. Birdno my wifes father had had to eject L. Polmonteer [Palmanteer or Palmantier] from my house in consequence of his Intimacy with my wife Sarah J Birdno… during the balance of that & night my feelings of anguish were Seemingly more than I could bear.”
Surely Sallie felt betrayed and justified in her act of infidelity, because she must have felt that her husband was practically doing the same thing. On the other hand, Charles surely must have felt betrayed and heartbroken due to his wife’s unfaithfulness in a similar sense. The situation is a rough two-edged sword. Five days later she was re-baptized a member of the church and received her confirmation “with all former [b]lessings” restored to her. Sadly, the relationship began weakening again soon afterwards. Benjamin Ramsell was a teamster and a good friend of Charles’. Brother Ramsell often accompanied Charles in various endeavors around the community and was instrumental in building the Logan temple. Ben began seeing Sallie in the fall of 1883 when Charles was away on his long trips. On September 22nd, 1883, Sallie informed Charles that she was going to apply for a divorce. Two days later on the 24th, Sallie retracted her divorce, only to have it granted the following year on March 25th, 1884 following a confrontation between Ben and Charles. (In said confrontation, Ben was reportedly asked to never visit the Card household ever again.) Charles had custody of the children, but the children stayed with Sarah. Charles bought and renovated a house for his newly divorced wife and small children shortly thereafter. On January 26th, 1885 we read this telling entry: “I attended to things necessary this fore noon to make mother & the children comfortable after dining I took occasion to converse with Mrs. S. J. Birdno (my former wife) in presence of mother which I did in the spirit of Kindness and told her to allow our children to walk in the ways of the Lord if She took a contrary course after She expressed her Satisfaction in regard to their treatment…” [Most regrettably at this point a page in the journal is missing] “…and school my kind words caused her to weep… I bade mother & children good & gave them a parting Kiss I gave my hand to Mrs S J B. & told her I was not her enemy & not entertaining such views which caused the tears to trinkle down her cheeks. In this I used the wisdom God gave me & if I done any good let Him be praised.”
Sallie grew to hate the Church and possibly Charles as well. Which we catch a glimpse of in the following event. Charles expressed deep concern for his children, and deeply desired that they be raised as faithful members of the church. On April 13th, 1885, his journal reads: “…about 4 P.M. I drove to their mothers & without getting out of my buggy asked Bro Shelton who was living to the next door to invite my Boy Ora to come and take a ride with me to my farm. In advance of the boy, his mother came & Talked very insulting and as the boy came She compelled him to run back at this I Sprang from my buggy & ran after the boy and caught him as he entered the house & She caught me by the whiskers & the only way I could get her of Without bruising her was to wrench her hand out of my beard & she took a hand ful with it which I Suffered rather than to strike her. After Laboring so hard for the Salvation of my dear children I have to ask my God how long Shall a wicked and ungodly mother have an influence over them. I pray that it may be Short.”
Move to Oregon: Remarriage
After this incident their correspondence was non-existent. Charles, due to persecution partially stirred up by Sallie herself and the inspired admonition of President John Taylor, headed north to settle Cardston, Alberta, a safe-haven for saints in polygamous families. Sallie married Benjamin Ramsell on the 22nd of November 1886. They left the church and became “Gentiles”, a common phrase at the time for “non-member” in the Utah area. They moved to Baker County, Oregon with Sallie and Charles’ two children, and remained there to the end of their days. Ben died in 1901, Sallie then married again to a certain Mr. Schumacher sometime in the 1910’s. Sarah Jane Beirdneau died on the 13th of July, 1926 and was laid to rest in the Mount Hope Cemetery in Baker City, Oregon.
|Offspring of Charles Ora Card and Sarah Jane Beirdneau (1850-1926)|
|Sarah Jane Card (1870-1930)|| |
|Charles Ora Card (1873-1930)|