Isabelle Harris Merrill Nelson Berry was born on April 15, 1861 in Willard, Box Elder, Utah to Charles and Louisa Harris. She was the third of eleven children. Both of her parents crossed the plains on the trek to Utah; her mother came from Illinois and arrived in Utah in 1850, and her father came from Ohio and arrived in 1852. While Isabelle was still an infant, her parents were called by Brigham Young to settle Dixie County. They lived there until Isabelle reached school age and then moved to Parowan, Utah where her father worked as a carpenter, operated a sawmill, and served as City Marshall. In 1877 the family purchased an isolated tract of land on the Sevier River and built a ranch. The closest school and church were ten miles away. While living there, Isabelle met Clarence Merrill, a storeowner, and they were married on October 8, 1879. He was 22 years her senior and already had two wives. Isabelle had two children with Clarence, but left him while she was pregnant with her second son. Her father pled her case for a temple divorce before the church court, which approved the request, and the decree was signed by John Taylor, 3rd president of the Church. Around 1883, Congress passed the Edmunds-Tucker Act, and the Federal Government established courts to prosecute polygamists. Isabelle was subpoenaed to appear before a Grand Jury in Beaver, Utah. When she refused to answer incriminating questions, she was fined for being in contempt of court and was sentenced to four months in jail. Isabelle was the first woman prisoner in the Utah State Penitentiary, and her incarceration in 1883 made her a local hero. After being released from prison, Isabelle went to Brigham Young Academy to become a teacher. There she met and fell in love with Nels Lars Larson, one of her professors. They were married in the Endowment House on August 1, 1887, and moved to Provo, Utah where Nels continued to teach. They had four children together and Nels was 'the love of her life.' However, Isabelle felt that Nels neglected her because he was often away from home taking care of social responsibilities tied to his position at the Academy. They eventually separated and divorced. In 1912 Isabelle met a widower, Robert Berry, with six young children. Isabelle and Robert were married on June 15, 1915 in the Salt Lake Temple, and lived in Provo for 23 years, where she helped to raise his children. Isabelle died suddenly on May 31, 1938 in Provo, Utah.
Isabelle's biography is part of a collection of Harris family biographies. The collection was donated by Belle Harris and contains pedigree charts and biographies of Isabelle's parents, siblings, and grandparents. With the collection is a note giving Belle Harris' address and indicating that additional histories can be obtained from her at a minimal cost. Isabelle's biography is five pages, typewritten, and was authored by a granddaughter, Madeline Merrill Mills. It contains stories about her youth, her marriages, and personal qualities she developed. Isabelle was a very intelligent woman with a love for reading. While she was in the Utah State Penitentiary, she thought seriously about how she would care for her two young boys and decided to go back to school to prepare to teach. She was a capable woman who needed her abilities to be recognized. The biography focuses on her reasons for divorcing her first two husbands. Clarence was not successful as a businessman, and Isabelle felt that there was no financial future for her boys, Albert and Horace, if she stayed with him. With Nels, she felt too tied to household work and the demands of caring for four young children without his help. Their children, Jessie Belle and Stella Jean (twins), Sterling Harris, and Milo Alva, were born within three and a half years of each other. At the end of the biography, Mills lists Isabelle's children and the careers which they pursued. At some points in the biography, Mills refers to Isabelle as 'Belle.'