Flora Robertson Brimhall was born March 14, 1865 in Spanish Fork, Utah to Matilda Graham Robertson and James Robertson. Her parents were members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and had emigrated from Scotland to Utah. Flora grew up in Spanish Fork. At age 13 she was a nursemaid for a four-year-old boy in Salt Lake City, earning a dollar and a half a week. 'At the end of the summer I presented our family with a practical gift'a sack of sugar and a box of laundry soap.' At first Flora attended school in a classroom with grades one through six. A few years later, they moved to a new classroom with George H. Brimhall as teacher. At some point after this, Flora was taken out of school because of her father's failing health. She and her sister Grace learned to operate a knitting machine, and they supplied hose for their family, the community, and Provo Woolen Mills. One year, Flora made 2,000 pair of men's hose. But despite this hard work, Flora still had time for pleasure. She enjoyed dances, horseback riding, and dramatic performances. When their Retrenchment Society put on the play 'Enoch Arden,' Flora was given the lead role. On September 11, 1885 Flora married George H. Brimhall in the Logan Temple as his second wife. The first years of their marriage were difficult because of the national government's laws against polygamy. Flora had to live in seclusion in Salt Lake City and Spanish Fork under an assumed name, Mrs. Graham, while her husband taught school in Provo. Of this time Flora said, 'The prayer of faith shed peace in my heart, and I was consoled in the midst of affliction.' After the manifesto was given by President Wilford Woodruff, Flora moved into a comfortable brick house on 1st west and 5th north in Provo. There she raised their nine children: Dean, Fay, Fawn, Burns, Afton, Paul, Alta, Golden H., and Area. George became president of Brigham Young University and held this position for 19 years. Because of his position the Brimhall family often entertained guests, and in 1908 they moved to a spacious new home in Provo where they continued to host and entertain. From 1923-1924, Flora served as president of the Women's Municipal Council of Provo. George's first wife, Alsina Elizabeth Wilkins, died in 1926 in Provo, Utah. After purchasing a Ford, Flora and George traveled extensively, visiting all of the continental states, Hawaii, Canada, and various church history sites. George died on July 29, 1932. Flora said of his passing, '[this] was a gethsemane to me. Mercifully, I was sustained by faith that sees the best even though it glimmers through the worst.' Flora died May 1, 1950 in Salt Lake City and was buried in the Provo City Cemetery.
This collection consists of a seven-page, typewritten autobiography, which Flora dictated to Minnie I. Hodapp on August 31, 1938. The autobiography begins with background on Flora's parents. Flora's father, James, worked on the family farm in Glen Isle, Scotland, and her mother, Matilda, was raised in Perth, Scotland. From age 11 Matilda worked for 'Puller the Dyers,' and during lunch hour would talk to her coworkers about the gospel. Because of this they affectionately nicknamed her 'Saintie.' However, the woman supervisor complained about Matilda's conversations, and the business had to let her go. James and Matilda met on the wharf at Perth. Matilda came to say goodbye to friends who were leaving for Utah, and James and his family were among the saints who were departing. James was interested in her immediately and said, 'Matilda, you'll be my wife someday in far away Utah.' Matilda came to Utah in 1854 and they were married in 1857. After telling of her parents' meeting and marriage, Flora speaks about her childhood. She says that she was very shy as a child, and tells several stories in which she exemplifies this trait. Once, she went on a visit to Springville and was supposed to stay several days, but she got homesick overnight and walked the six miles back to Spanish Fork alone. She also recalls that when she was young, her parents hosted many general authorities in their home. From her teenage years, Flora gives details on the process of knitting hose, and notes that she and her sister did business with Reed Smoot, the superintendent of Provo Woolen Mills. She also mentions the young men of her school going to hew logs for 'the Young Men's Academy' under George H. Brimhall's direction. In the autobiography, Flora describes her husband as a diligent and faithful man: 'He magnified his calling in thought, word, and deed. “Grow or go' was the vital impulse of his expansive nature. Many a struggling friend or relative in quest of schooling found a home with us.' She includes a poem by George, entitled 'What Though?,' that demonstrates his attitude of determination. Flora also notes that George was involved in missionary work across North America. In a generally positive account, Flora does speak of some tragedy. Two of their children suffered accidental deaths: Alta was killed by a runaway team at 21 months, and Area fell from a roof at age three and died. Flora ends the autobiography with information on what her children are doing and on her current activities. In 1938, Flora was busy maintaining her own home and renting her upstairs apartment, reading, staying active in Relief Society, and working on a goal of attending the Salt Lake Temple once a week.