JAMES STAPLETON LEWIS
ANNA MARIA SVENSSON
From about 1829 until his death in 1901, James Stapleton Lewis recorded his experiences, thoughts and feelings on scraps of paper and later in ledger books that were apparently divided among his children after his death. In September 1964, a group of James' grandchildren gathered at the home of Wayne Lewis at Declo, Idaho, to decide how to preserve the only three remaining ledger books. These books had been in the possession of Hyrum Smith Lewis, Wayne's father and James and Mary's first son. The cousins decided to "have the narrative of the Journal copied and mimeographed and made available to the descendants of James S., Anna Jones and Mary Swenson, and call it 'The Remnant of the Journal of James Stapleton Lewis'"(Journal, Preface, p. 4). Those nine cousins are all gone now, but copies of Grandfather James' journal are treasured by hundreds of his descendants.
Now, nearly forty years later, a group of cousins met again, this time over the Internet. The intent is still the same--to gather and preserve bits of information, history, and memories about James, Anna, Mary, their descendants and ancestors--and to share that information with other family members.
Since most of the entries in James' remaining ledgers were written near the end of his life, there is little detail about Anna and her life. Through the sharing of family histories, we have discovered much more about her than we originally knew. Mary lived until 1918, so her children and grandchildren had many memories of her, and the Harper Family Organization has shared all of their genealogical research on her line. A wonderful amount of information about Grandfather James has been preserved. Family members, both past and present, with a love for family history and research have discovered a wealth of information about our Lewis ancestry. Most of it is quite accurate and well documented. Many lines still need to be researched, and at least one line continues to be very controversial. It is amazing, however, the amount of information that is available about people who lived two, three, and even four hundred years ago!
Many family members have spent hours collecting and writing histories about their grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins, to share at this reunion. Many photo albums and scrapbooks have been poured over, and treasured pictures and documents copied and shared. Just as importantly, family ties have been reestablished, and friendships have been kindled among cousins that have never even seen each other, but have shared in this undertaking. And we hope that as we meet at the reunion, many more lasting relationships will be established.
It is not intended that this history focus on the religious aspects of James' life, or attempt to promote his religious beliefs. However, his religion was an inseparable part of who he was, and to write a history of the man is to write a history of his religion. Hyrum Lewis noted, "The life of James Stapleton Lewis cannot be adequately evaluated apart from the great role the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints played in his affairs" (Hyrum,). James, Anna, and Mary sacrificed everything they had for the gospel of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
James Stapleton Lewis
James' granddaughter, Clara Lewis Hall, was largely responsible for collecting and preserving many of the stories and information about the Lewis family. She described James in great detail, noting among other things that James had "coal black hair and bright piercing dark eyes" (Althea).
He was an aristocrat in the truest sense of the word. He was tall, about six feet in height, but he seemed much taller because he held his head so high and walked with such pride and dignity. He left these words to his children: "Always appear at your very best. Nothing less than your best is ever good enough." He was a good conversationalist, and always used the best English he knew…even if he was conversing with young children; and we never knew of him using a word that could not have been used in the most polite society or in church. James S. was a poet…(He wrote at least two poems, one of which is included at the end of the history--JCD). He loved the scriptures and arose at 4:00 A.M. in the summer and winter to read the Standard Works of the Church and Church History for two hours before the family awoke. He loved good singing and sang well himself. His best loved hymn was "Sweet is the Work, My God, My King" by Isaac Watts…In all the mobbing and driving and beatings by his enemies, the head of James S. may have been bloody but it remained unbowed. He has said in his writings: "I could be led by a cobweb but you couldn't drive me with a sledge hammer (Journal Preface, p. 2-3).
James' Early Life
James was born 22 February 1814 in Bellbrook, Greene, Ohio. He was the youngest of eight children born to Joel and Rachel Stapleton Lewis. He added the Stapleton name many years later in Utah at the advice of Brigham Young in order to distinguish himself from another James Lewis in the area
(Letter to Joel, Lyn Misner History).
Joel had been a soldier with General Anthony Wayne during the Indian Wars, traveling through much of Ohio and Indiana, helping to build several forts in the area. He later served as a mail carrier through much of that unsettled land. After his return home to North Carolina, he married Rachel, the orphan daughter of Joseph Stapleton, and they set up housekeeping on Dutchman Creek in Rowan County. It was here that their first four children, Sarah, Joseph, Richard, and Rachel were born. Joseph and Richard both died when they were about two years old.
By 1806, Joel and Rachel had started west in company with Daniel Lewis Jr. and his wife, Hannah. Daniel was Joel's uncle and Hannah was Rachel's sister. They traveled through the Cumberland Gap, also known as Boone's Trace and later as the Wilderness Trail, stopping for some time in Crab Orchard, Lincoln, Kentucky, where their fifth child, Joel Lewis Jr., was born on 8 September 1806. They continued on to Bellbrook, Ohio, where Rachel's sisters, Nancy Sackett and Avis Von Eaton, and their families had moved some time before.
Three more sons were born to Rachel and Joel in Bellbrook: Richmond (1808), Green (1812), and James (1814). A year after James was born, his sister Sarah married John Hale, and three years later, Rachel married William Fallis. Joel Jr. rebelled against having to help with household chores after his sisters left home, and he ran away, joining a small band of Miami Indians. Richmond died in May of 1819 at the age of eleven, and eight year old Green died the following year, leaving James home alone (Love, p. 4).
James attended school in Bellbrook, receiving an excellent education for the times. James wrote, "My first tuition at school was under Master Pelham then George Claney then Philip Criffield then Arthur Criffield then Thomas Polock then William Dobbins then John Mills then Edmund Hawes then David W. Brown then Edmun Cromley this brought me to the age of 16." (Journal, Book 2, p. 17). He became very proficient in reading and writing.
When James was eleven, Joel returned home from his stay with the Miami Indians. James was impressed with his older brother's adventures; in later years he would often tell stories about Joel. Joel had been impressed with the fertile country in Randolph County, Indiana, Within a few months of his return home, he married Mercy Fallis, sister of Rachel's husband, William, and they moved to Randolph County, settling on the banks of the Mississinewa River. Some of Joel's descendants are still living in the area. Rachel and William soon followed Joel and Mercy west. By the time James was sixteen, his father and mother had also moved to Indiana. A study of a map of Indiana suggests that they probably moved first to Randolph County, not too far distant from Bellbrook. Joel and Rachel apparently moved on fairly soon, finally settling in "the rich country where the Wabash and Eel rivers united," near Logansport, Cass County (death records, Love). James' journal is confusing in this matter; once he mentions moving with his family to Randolph County in 1829 and later he mentions leaving his parent's home in Logansport that same year. Rachel and William Fallis also moved on to Logansport. James' sister, Sarah and her husband, John Hale, moved to Whitely County, Indiana, about fifty miles northeast of Logansport. "None of the family of Joel Sr. were left in Greene County, Ohio--none save those who slept" (Love, p. 4).
Shortly after reaching Indiana, James set out on his own, living in Randolph County, near Deerfield. His mother, a devout woman, gave him a Bible, telling him that it would "lead him in the right path." James treasured that Bible, studying from it and recording family information within its pages. (His granddaughter, Clara Hall, came into possession of it in 1958, and in 2000, her husband, Vaughn Hall still has the Bible. The pages listing the family history are missing, however).
In the summer of 1829 I left my fathers home in Logansport and struck out for myself. I had a good wagon and good span of mules, a gun and plenty of ammunition, a good ax and a Bible. What more could a young man want to start out to seek his fortune (Journal).
The next year, 1831, an event occurred which would dramatically change the course of James' life. He recorded the happening in his journal:
I, James Stapleton Lewis, will say of my father, Joel Lewis Sen. that he was a great reader of the Bible, but was not a professor of the religion of his time. My mother was baptized into the Church of England when quite young. She taught me to revere the Bible above all other books. When I was a boy at school, a Book providentially fell into my hands called the "American Antiquarian," which had an influence with me in determining my course in life. By it I learned that America had surely been peopled by a race of inhabitants far more civilized than the present race of Indians.
All civilized nations keep records. The question with me was, were they Christian and of what kind. As to the religious matters, my mind was curiously worked upon. I believed the Bible, but as far as the sects were known to me, I was infidel. At my age, I was disgusted with much that was called religion, and promised myself never to engage in any religion that I did not know to be true. And if I obtained that fact, I never would depart from it as I had seen many do -- join the church in an excited time and soon after become dissatisfied and more wicked and corrupt than ever before.
A secret something seemed to whisper that I was young and in the course of my days would see something of as good authority as in the days of the apostles of old. When about seventeen years of age, a man, an ex-preacher, came near where I was staying, late in the evening, did not dismount but said he had rode forty miles that day to overtake two Mormonite preachers that have a golden Bible taken out of the earth, that they were preaching the ancient apostolic doctrine and that next Sunday they would preach in Mock's barn. All of this was said almost without taking a breath. My own thoughts I cannot explain, but my first thought was that this is the very thing I have thought would come in the course of my days.
The words I had heard went through me in every part of my system. I remembered the Bible, also what I had learned of the ancient peoples of America, and above all the secret whispering now settled more strongly than ever before. Sunday I went and heard Thomas B. Marsh preach on the prophecies, and Selah I. Griffin told how the Book of Mormon was translated and bore his testimony. I was greatly surprised to see the multitude of people.
Squire Jones, an ex-preacher, was put forward to talk with them. False reports had not yet reached there. Squire Jones could ask questions they could not answer, but they answered many questions he had never heard answered before. And my father-in-law, Squire John Jones, went home a wiser and better man than he came, for he never raised his voice against their doctrine.
Soon after, two other Elders came, Levi W. Hancock and Zebedee Coltrin, and began baptizing my associates and many others, sometimes a dozen at a time. I was sorry to see them so forward, for they went out of the church very much as they came into the church. Of myself, I think I was better prepared to endure than many of my own age. The Elders quoted liberally from the scriptures. I was careful to see every one of them with my own eyes and knew they were in my mother's Bible.
Taking in all of my evidences of scripture and my antiquarian evidence of older nations of our own American country, and above all those secret whisperings that no human could give, the last of the baptisms in our place was Sister Jackson, her sister, Anna Jones, and myself. I was baptized by Levi W. Hancock in water and the Holy Ghost before I set my feet on dry land, where I was confirmed by Zebidee Coltrin July 1831, Randolph County, State of Indiana.
The last three that were baptized were all of that branch of the church that gathered with the saints and died in the faith. Sister Elizabeth Jones Jackson died in Clay County, Missouri, 1835. Her sister, Anna Jones Lewis, died in Box Elder County, Utah, 1875, and I alone am left to bear testimony to their integrity, and their memory has a warm place in my heart in the year of our Lord 1900, Cassia Stake of Zion, Idaho. J. S. Lewis (Journal, p 36).
. (Note: In other journal entries, James explained that Mock was a "wealthy Dutch farmer at whose house (he) was intimately acquainted." Joel and his family lived on Dutchman's Creek near Mocksville, North Carolina. There is some speculation that Mr. Mock might have been their neighbor there, also moving to Indiana. James also named the rider as Jackson. James would later serve a mission with a "Brother Jackson", and his future sister-in-law, Elizabeth Jones, married Henry Jackson. It's possible that he is referring to the same person. James was with a "Mr. Fallis" at the time Jackson delivered his message. Again, James served a mission with a "Brother Fallis", his sister, Rachel, married William Fallis, and James and his family lived for a time in Missouri with the Fallis family. Rachel and William died in Indiana, so if they were baptized and joined with the Saints in Missouri, they did not come west, but returned home. An article, "The Pioneer Saints of Winchester, Indiana" (Ensign, October 1992, p. 56) gives interesting insights into the missionary work in Randolph County, Indiana. The author of the article had only a partial listing of those citizens who were baptized. James' name and a short history were forwarded to her, and an article in a later issue of the Ensign mentioned him as an early member in the area).
James actively espoused the doctrines of this new religion, advancing in the Priesthood and serving at least two missions. One of the missions was to Dark County, Ohio, and he may also have returned to his former home in Greene County. Several times during his missions, the meetings were disrupted by mobs.
In December of 1831, I was ordained a Priest under the hands of Seymour Brunson. Soon after, I traveled with Elder Fallis into the state of Ohio baptizing some. At one meeting, a noted man by the name of Kyler came to criticize. I being young, only seventeen years of age, was reading the different passages that related to the coming forth of the Book of Mormon and the work of the last days. Mr. Kyler interrupted me by asking why I read in detached pieces instead of reading that book in connection, he supposed I was reading the Book of Mormon. He was thus made ashamed before the whole congregation when he was informed the scripture was quoted from his own Bible.
At another time, a schoolmate of mine, but older and farther advanced, he belonged to a sect called (secedry?) noted for reading scriptures, he kept contradicting and talking until I offered him the stand and would wait until he would get through, but he declined. When the Lord put a few words into my mouth that so silenced him, he never spoke another word. At the close of the meeting, one requested baptism.
I returned home and traveled again into Ohio with Elder Levi W. Hancock in Greenville, Ohio, a meeting with (?) appointed in the court house. Time came to open the meeting, a mob had concealed themselves in the upper story of the house, came down yelling and singing vulgar songs, broke up the congregation, and we traveled on. This was in Dark County, state of Ohio, March, 1832. In April, traveled with Elder Jackson on to the White Water River, held meetings. Some were convinced of the truth of the gospel, were afterwards baptized. Some of them crossed the plains with us in the year 1852 (Journal, Book 2, p. 18).
At the direction of the prophet, Joseph Smith, the Saints were gathering in Kirtland, Ohio, and Independence, Jackson, Missouri. The newly baptized Saints in Randolph County found themselves the objects of persecution, and over a hundred of them left for Missouri (Ensign, p. 57).
In June, 1832, I started to gather with the saints in Missouri on foot and alone, going by Logansport on the Wabash River to see my sister and continued down the river and joined a company of saints also going to Missouri, pitching their tents by the (?). Fortunately for me, as I was coming into camp; Brother Rawson, a man I had never seen before, met me and asked me if I would go with him and help him with his team. At once, I told him yes, as I wished to go with someone.
On going to the tent to my surprise, there was sister Anna Jones (note: Anna was the daughter of Squire John Jones and was one of the young ladies baptized in Randolph County at the same time as James). She was engaged to help sister Rawson on the way to Missouri. I was of some benefit to the company as a kind of commissary to go ahead and purchase supplies and have them ready by the time the teams came up.
…the company traveled pitching their tents by the way stopping over Sunday and having a meeting their teams were for the most part ox teams at times I was sent forward to purchase supplies and have them ready…At Pekin I was very sick with fever but was cared for in all kindness and soon recovered at Quincy. The company stopped and worked for a week--arrived in Independence September the 2nd day of 1832. I now set about finding a place to get work--went Big Blue River worked for Father Rockwell and Porter Rockwell stopped over Sunday and went on to Lyman Wights and seen him once on a mission he directed me to the Whitmer Settlement (Journal, Book 2, p. 18).
At the crossing of the Wabash River there was a camp of Indians --we were told they were Catholics. In the morning Elder Jackson, myself, and a few other stopped to see them. All but one of the men had gone hunting. Enos, the one left, could talk so we could understand. They had flat stick about one foot in length and one inch wide with seven characters cut on it. This seemed to be a kind of Urim and Thummin to them for they appeared to understand everything we said to them by pointing from one character to another as the subject changed. Sometimes they shed (listened) freely while we talked to them, and they pointed to their characters. Enos said they had a Prophet -- we gave them a Book of Mormon. Enos said, "yes, Prophet say a book first come to white man and then come to red skin. Prophet know all that book in his heart. Prophet say we go west maybe next year."
They did and found Elder Jackson and talked with him near Independence, Missouri. On seeing the, Elder W. W. Phelps wrote the verses, "Oh stop and tell me red man." They settled them above Fort Leavenworth. The Missouri people called them "Mormon Indians." I believe they offer prayer in concert. When we had prayer in the morning, they said, "One good man over the river." They were called Kickapoos, but parts of several tribes, Sacko, Foxes, and some others. Their humility surpassed anything I have ever seen before or since -this was 1832 (Journal).
James and Anna
On 10 May 1833 James married Anna Jones in Independence, Jackson, Missouri. Very little is known of Anna, including her true name. She is listed both as Nancy Anna and Hannah Jones. Clara Hall thought that James called her Nancy. Her patriarchal blessing gives her name as simply Anna Jones Lewis. Anna was born to John and Sarah Sumpter Jones on 4 November 1810. She had a twin sister, whose name was either Allean or Alice, but she was called "Ally". Family group sheets indicate that both John and Sarah were born somewhere in Virginia, and that most of their eleven children were born there. Her siblings included Elizabeth, Frances (Fanny), Solomon, Abigail, Sarah, Lucy, Cynthia or Synthy, "Ally", George and John. Their births range from about 1793 to 1810. By 1831, the Jones family was living in Randolph County, Indiana. James recorded that John was an ex-preacher and called him "Squire Jones". He appears to have been an influential man in the community.
The young couple set up housekeeping and James built a "good log house, 15 by 18 feet in the square." He cleared and fenced "with nails" five acres of timberland, and planted and harvested a good crop of corn and vegetables (Journal). Anna was expecting a baby in the spring, and life seemed good.
The "Old Settlers" in the area were becoming alarmed at the influx of people belonging to the strange new religion, and the Mormon's designation of Independence as the "land of their inheritance" upset many. In July 1833, a committee of Old Settlers approached the Church leaders in the area, demanding that the store, printing office, and all other shops be shut down and the Saints leave the county immediately. The persecution became intense, with businesses and homes destroyed, Church leaders tarred and feathered, and the lives of the Saints being threatened. A temporary peace was made after the Church leaders agreed that half of the members would leave Jackson County by January first, and the remainder would be gone by the first of April. By October, however, the "wrath of the mob again began to be kindled, insomuch that they shot at some of the people, whipped others…houses were brick-batted and broken open, women and children insulted" (Heber C. Kimball, qtd. in Refiner's Fire, p. 47). James later wrote of the persecution he and his family endured:
The house that I was in, Brother Fallis's, was assailed on the outside around the doorway and on top unroofing and pitching the timbers on the inside where were three beds all occupied and asleep at the first any of the pieces pitch in would have crippled or killed any that it might have hit. Those at the doorway shot through, there being only a quilt hung up the walls, in the opposite side of the house was just opposite the pillow where Brother and Sister Fallis lay and about eighteen inches from it. Providentially I lay on the floor. Had I raised on my knees as naturally I would attempt to go under one of the beds, would have been shot through the body. Thanks to a kind providence, no one in the house was injured.
The same winter at a very late hour of the night, we were aroused by the screams of a widowed sister, Sister R. Stout. Brother Fallis bounded from our bed, not time to dress, ran to her relief. In great danger of violence to ourselves as there was some dozen of men.
At my own house late in October, my wife, being alone, hearing a slight sound on the outside of the house parted the quilt door when horror of horrors, there was the blackest negro of Missouri two yards of (her) with one bound she passed him and ran half a mile upgrade to the nearest house and she was in delicate health at the time (Journal, Book 3, p. 42).
The mobbings continued to escalate; a skirmish occurred in which two or three of the settlers and one Church member were killed. The Mormons were required to give up their guns, and the next day, "parties of the mob, from sixty to seventy…went from house to house, threatening women and children with death if they were not off before they returned" (Kimball, Refiner's Fire, p. 47). Many of the Saints fled immediately, taking nothing with them. James recorded:
Military orders allowed me three days to go in which I should not be molested. Having no team, I got a small trunk and three quilts in another man's one horse wagon, already crowded with a large family. My wife and myself thought of no conveyance but to walk out of Jackson County, Missouri and then where we knew not.
As a citizen of the United States (my father having served his country under General Anthony Wayne), I had complied with the laws of Missouri, had worked out my road tax and in every way had been a good citizen. Was accused of no crime. Entirely unknown in the courts of law, now deprived of every right of an American citizen. (Journal, Book 3, p. 42).
Clay County, Missouri
James and Anna followed many of the Saints across the Missouri River into Clay County, its citizens allowing the desperate families a temporary respite. Parley P. Pratt recorded:
The shore of the Missouri began to be lined on both sides of the ferry with men, women, and children; goods, wagons, boxes, provisions, etc. while the ferry was constantly employed; and when night again closed upon us the cottonwood bottom had much the appearance of a camp meeting. Hundreds of people were seen in every direction, and some in tents and some in the open air around their fires, while the rain descended in torrents…Some had the good fortune to escape with their families, household goods, and provisions; while others knew not the fate of their friends and had lost all their goods. The scene was indescribable, and I am sure would have melted the hearts of any people on the earth, except our blind oppressors…(Refiner's Fire, p. 49).
Anna's first son, Joel Jones Lewis, was born in Clay County on 27 February 1834, followed by the birth of John Alma on 22 August of either 1835 or 1836. All of James' children were given the names of people whom James respected, Joel being named after both his and Anna's fathers, and John Alma in honor of both his progenitors and a prophet from the Book of Mormon.
The people of Clay County had not intended for the Mormons to remain permanently in their county, so they became alarmed when the members began buying land, building homes and businesses, and were joined by even more Saints. Persecution began again. Finally, a compromise was reached, and in 1836, Caldwell and Daviess Counties were created out of Ray County as a home for the Mormon people. Unfortunately, apparently no one had pre-approved the arrangement with the people already living there
James and Anna moved to the Crooked River settlement in 1837, in "what was known as the Dutch settlement of Mormons" (Journal, Book 3, p. 42). They busily began to break out a new farm, and build another cabin. Their third son, James Ammon, named after his father and a Book of Mormon prophet, was born there on 6 February 1838. Anna's sister, Elizabeth Jones Jackson, died in Crooked River; the cause of her death is unknown. In a later history, Clara Hall indicated that Elizabeth, Henry, and their baby had left the Church and all died in a cholera epidemic in St. Louis, Missouri, but John Jones left "one dollar each to the heayers of Elizabeth Jackson, late the wife of Henry Jackson" (John Jones Will). James described their situation in Caldwell County:
1838 rented a large farm in addition to my own. Hired help and raised a crop of grain and vegetables worth 1000 dollars, paid the rent in making improvements on the farm for that year and paid rent for two years more. I could have more than doubled my interest the two following years…(Journal, Book 3, p. 42).
The influx of Mormons disturbed the people already living in the newly created counties. The Saints were buying up land, building homes and businesses, and gaining political clout. Most of the newcomers were Northerners, while the Old Settlers were from the South, and the differing attitudes towards slavery created problems, as did their religious beliefs. A confrontation over voting rights took place in Gallatin, county seat of Daviess, beginning another series of persecutions even more deadly than before. The Battle of Crooked River took place in the fall of 1838. The mobs had become increasingly violent, and had taken several prisoners and were threatening to attack Far West. Judge Elias Higbee of Caldwell County, ordered the Far West Militia to send out a company to disperse the mob and to retake their prisoners who were to be murdered that night. Captain David Patten led about 75 volunteers in a surprise attack on the mobbers who were camped along the Crooked River. Several men on both sides were killed in the battle, but the prisoners were released and the threatened attack on Far West was thwarted. In October 1838, a mob massacred all of the men and boys at Haun's Mill. Joseph Smith and other church leaders were arrested and jailed in Richmond. Several other prominent church leaders apostatized. The membership of the Church was in great turmoil. On 27 October 1838, Governor Lilburn Boggs, stepped in, issuing an "Extermination Order", in which he stated, "The Mormons must be treated as enemies, and must be exterminated or driven from the State if necessary for the public peace…their outrages are beyond all description" (qtd. Refiner's Fire, p. 214). Militias from all over the state began to converge upon the area, and the terrified people were forced once more to leave, their prophet and other leaders still in jail, and their property and homes abandoned.
I left the state of Missouri under the exterminating order of Governor Lilburn W. Boggs, leaving the most flattering prospects of accumulating wealth and in addition had abundance of promises of protection and safety from all harm if I would only stay. "Thank you for all your personal good wishes, but if my people have to go, I must go with them."
In mid-winter with wife and three small children, we started a distance of two hundred miles to satisfy the demands of a Christian state. We passed through some of the most bitter places where sisters were driven out of their own homes when a new born babe was not an hour old. Of course the mother died before she could be got to a place of safety. The Christian name of this place was DeWitt, Missouri. It was a Mormon town, but in the district of Sashel Woods, the Christian minister wielded all his efforts and all his influence in favor of the mob.
Damages sustained in losses of character as a free American citizen I, James S. Lewis, was by the highest authority of the sovereign state of Missouri expelled from that state to leave my own house and legally acquired landed property deprived of my liberty, and sadly against my will and against my interest to leave the land of my choice.
Being thus humiliated below all the American races, even those that are held in ignoramus servitude and valued only as common property. To say the least, my indignation is not bounded in value by dollars and cents.
When we get to another state how shall we be received? My outfit was sorry enough, but what can the people say of us, "Here is a family exiled and driven out of Missouri as unfit to live in the sovereign state." Can we look anybody in the face, can we expect a favor or even a kind look from anybody, not only so, but Missouri sent all her influence against us with all manner of false and slanderous reports against us and officers with trumped up writs. Some of our best men were hounded more than three hundred miles in Illinois and some were kidnapped and taken and imprisoned in Missouri and sadly treated without any just cause. This unjust persecutive spirit never grew less, but increased as will be shown in their conduct hereafter (Journal).
Return to Indiana
Already on the edge of the frontier and without their leaders, the terrified people headed eastward, searching for a place they could live in peace. Many of them congregated on the banks of the Mississippi River, a short distance from Commerce, Illinois. The area turned out to be swampy and the Saints were beset with disease. After the prophet was released from jail, he joined the Saints there, miraculously healing many. The people drained the swamps, and built an attractive and industrious city known as Nauvoo the Beautiful. James and Anna left the company of the Saints for almost five years.
I, being more fortunate than many others, arrived at the Mississippi the middle of January and got work on an island until spring. There were many on the road and the Prophet and many others in prison. Many strong men were apostatizing, and among the number were the best friends that I had in the world, such as Oliver Cowdrey, the Whitmers, David and John, Jacob Hiram Page, a brother-in-law. Some of the twelve staggered and some fell. Times were precarious. There was no gathering place, many could go no farther. I gave up my opportunities to stop to those that could go no further, and I went to Rock Island, Illinois. Not feeling at home there, I went into Indiana, and here I found myself of some benefit to Elders passing on missions. Quite a number were baptized, some of which came with us to Nauvoo in October 1844 (Journal, p. 24).
James and Anna again established another home and farm. Joel died in Logansport on 20 January 1839, so it may have been that James was able to see his father before his death. Two-year old James Ammon died on 28 April 1840 in Cass County, Indiana. On the thirtieth of either March or May 1841, Francis Marion was born in Carrol County, Indiana. He was probably named after the Revolutionary War hero, Francis Marion, also known as the "Swamp Fox". Many boys of that generation were given that venerable name. The little boy died when he was two, and was buried in Carol County. Leaving their families and the graves of their tiny sons must have been a hard trial for the Lewises, but they felt the need to be with the Saints.
By the time they rejoined the Saints in Nauvoo in October 1844 (Journal), the social situation was much as it had been in Missouri. Neighbors and apostate groups became alarmed at the prosperity and political power wielded by the Mormons and intolerant of their religious beliefs. Mobbings and persecutions had resumed. On June 27, 1844, the prophet Joseph Smith and his brother Hyrum were martyred in the Carthage Jail, a few miles from Nauvoo. Thousands of mourners lined the streets to watch the procession that carried the bodies back to Nauvoo. Many were weeping and visibly distressed; there was a sense of hopelessness and deep sorrow as they watched the horsemen and the two wagons move along the street between the rows of mourners. A "living stream" of grieving saints entered the Mansion House to view the bodies and pay their respects (Kevin, p. 8). With their prophet and leader gone, the Saints were confused as to whom to follow. Many Saints were present at a special conference held shortly after Joseph's death. They witnessed a miraculous transfiguration in which Brigham Young, the president of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, appeared to take on the countenance of the martyred prophet. It was a witness to them that he had the authority and the confirmation of the Lord to lead the struggling church. James apparently did not need such a miracle to make his decision. He later recorded:
Go where the records go was a choice saying of the Prophet Joseph Smith. He knew full well that the time would come when there would be many who would not know very well that where to follow when prominent men would lead off crying lo here and lo there such as Sidney Rigdon, J.J. Strang, William Smith would like to have a following being a brother of the prophet though his claim as well nigh legal. Lyman Wight being one of the twelve a man of very persuasive ability also led off, being remonstrated by his brethren of the same quorum saying they needed his council in completing the Temple. His reply was Damn the Temple with many other replies that was not more encouraging.
These were days that tried men's souls, many would like to wear the bell if only others would follow. But the records Ah! the records these off shoots did not seem to understand that the records of the past had anything to do in connecting the present with the future. Like Laman and Lemuel they saw nothing in the words of the Prophet. Strange to say when he was gone many wanted to be "Big Chief" in his stead.
But Alas! Where have they led themselves to and where is their followers, their names are recorded so is Judases. Go where the Records go, was as correct anciently as it today (Journal).
Again, a home and farm were established. Another son, Isaac Morley Lewis, was born in Nauvoo, Hancock, Illinois, on 15 Oct 1844. He was named after Isaac Morley, an early Church leader mentioned the Doctrine and Covenants, a sacred book of scriptures.
James and Anna received their Patriarchal Blessings in Nauvoo in 1844. Such blessings are given by a goodly man called to serve as Patriarch to the Church. Its purpose is to declare lineage in the House of Israel and to pronounce blessings that may be obtained through faithfulness. A Patriarchal Blessing is designed to be a guide throughout one's life. No specific date is given on the copies contained in the family histories.
(Book #2, Page 1)
A blessing by John Smith, patriarch, at Nauvoo, Illinois, 1844, upon the head of James S. Lewis, son of Joel and Rachel Lewis. Born in Green County, Ohio, February 22, 1814.
Brother James S. Lewis, I lay my hands upon thy head in the name of Jesus Christ and seal upon thee a father's blessing. Thou art of the house of Joseph through the loins of Ephriam and one of the fishers and hunters who are to go forth and search out and gather together the remnants of Jacob from the ends of the earth, and God shall give thee power through the Holy Priesthood which is sealed upon thee to do a mighty work in the day. Thousands shall obey the gospel through thy teaching among the gentiles, and thou shalt lead them to Zion with much riches.
Thou shalt also go among the Lamanites and shall have great power over them. Thou shalt bring thousands of them to a knowledge of their Redeemer and establish them in the cities of the saints.
No power on earth shall stay thine hand for thou shalt be able to speak the language of any people and do any miracle which was ever done by man in the name of Jesus when it is necessary for the salvation of men; thou shalt have an inheritance in Zion among thy brethren and be very rich and thy posterity shall be very numerous and shall be honorable among the Saints forever, and if you desire it with a perfect heart, thou shalt live to see the winding up scene of this generation and enjoy every blessing you desire--stand on the earth and reign with the Savior a thousand years, being clothed with the authority of a Priest and a king unto God and in the House of Israel forever endure in faith dear brother, and no word shall fail which I have spoken for I seal it upon thee and thy posterity forever--Amen. (from Lee Lewis,)
Recorded in Book D--pages 21 and 22 No. 68.
(Book #2 -page #2)
A blessing by John Smith, patriarch, upon the head of Anna Jones Lewis, daughter of John and Sarah Jones. Was born in the state of Kentucky, November 5, 1809.
Sister Anna I lay my hands upon thy head in the name of Jesus Christ and by the authority vested in me to bless the fatherless. I place a father's blessing upon thee. Thou art of the same lineage of thy companion and an heir to the same Priesthood power and privilege that is sealed upon him. Thou shalt also have power to heal the sick in thy house by the prayer of faith. Shall have skill in herbs and shall be esteemed as being an excellent nurse among the sick and the destroyer shall not trouble thine house. Thy children shall grow up and be about thee and be healthy and become a mighty people --none shall excel them among the saints, and thy name shall be handed down through all generations as a worthy mother in Israel. The number of thy years shall be according to thy faith and in as much as thy faith is one with thy companion and does not fail thou shalt live and reign on the earth with him a thousand years and enjoy all the blessings of the Redeemer's kingdom forever ever forever and ever. -- Amen.
Recorded in Book D, page 22, No. 69 Albert Carrington Recorder Nauvoo, Illinois, 1844
Conditions continued to deteriorate in Nauvoo. Those who had supposed the deaths of Joseph and Hyrum would put an end to the Church became alarmed when it seemed to become even stronger. Thousands more Saints poured into the city, and work on the temple progressed at a frantic pace. Governor Thomas Ford lamented that the murder of the Smiths, instead of putting an end to...the Mormons...only bound them together closer than ever...(giving) them new confidence in their faith (Iowa, p. 35). Anti-Mormon sentiment increased, and threats of violence were everywhere. The Bloomington Herald reported, "Not content with the inhuman murder of the two Smiths, the anti-Mormons still thirst for blood and are supposed to be laying plans for driving them from the country, or destroying their lives and property" (Iowa, p. 35). Mobocrats petitioned the governor to expel the Mormons from Illinois, and Ford warned the leaders that it would "be good policy for your people to move to some far distant country...I do not foresee the time when you will be permitted to enjoy quiet." Four hundred men were assigned to protect the temple from attack, and no stranger was allowed to come close to that sacred building (Iowa, pp. 35-36).
Not content with the cruel wrongs inflicted, our persecutors continually annoyed us, but not withstanding this, rapid progress was made on the temple and Nauvoo House until September 1845, when the mob burned one hundred and seventy-five houses belonging to our people in Hancock County...The people who had their houses burned fled into Nauvoo for shelter (Iowa, p. 38).
The deadliness of the September attacks made it clear to the Church leaders that they would have to leave Nauvoo the next spring. They began to make preparations for an orderly exodus, appointing company captains and dividing the people into groups for travel. They set up assembly lines for the building of 3,500 wagons, advertised for a thousand yoke of oxen, and offered to exchange over twenty thousand acres of farm land for supplies or money for the journey. The leaders anticipated having to move between 15,000 and 16,000 Saints (Iowa, p. 39).
Even as they prepared for the journey west, the Saints labored faithfully on their temple, hoping to be able to receive their sacred temple ordiances before leaving Nauvoo. On 12 January 1846 Brigham Young recorded, "One hundred and fourty-three persons received their endowments in the temple. I have given myself up entirely to the work of the Lord in the Temple, night and day, not taking more than four hours sleep, upon an average per day, and going home but once a week" (qtd. by Kevin, p. 9).
The already impossible situation worsened. The mobocrats that had been so anxious to expel the Saints from Illinois now accused the Mormons of being traitors who were heading into western territory to set up a rival nation. Governor Ford encouraged the circulation of rumors, later explaining that he hoped it would panic the Mormons and force them to leave Illinois more quickly. Everywhere were stories of federal and state troops being deployed to stop the Saints from leaving Nauvoo, that anti-Mormons were planning to steal their wagons and supplies, and that the members of the Twelve Apostles were going to be captured and imprisoned. The Twelve felt that is was essential for the Saints to begin their removal from Nauvoo immediately, and so the exodus began on 4 February 1846. Brigham Young welcomed any who wanted to go with that first group, stressing that people shouldn't worry if they weren't with the first company. Those who could manage to go left Nauvoo with that first group known as the Camp of Israel. No one went with their assigned companies, and many family groups were split apart (Iowa, pp. xvi, 39). Another exodus left Nauvoo during the summer months. Less organized than the Camp of Israel, these pioneers left as they could, generally in small groups of from two to twenty four wagons. The poor stayed in Nauvoo, having been promised that men from the earlier migrations would return with their teams and wagons and help them come west. In September, mobocrats and ruffians stormed the city, forcing these already oppressed people to leave their homes and cross the Mississippi River with no provisions or shelter.
Each group faced extreme hardship and trials. The Camp of Israel was beseiged by heavy rains that hampered their travel and caused great distress. The summer group suffered with diseases caused by mosquitoes that had flourished in the mud holes left by the rains. The third group faced hunger and cold as they waited in makeshift shelters for the promised help. In answer to their prayers for help, huge flocks of quail descended upon these camps. They were so tame that even the children and the elderly could capture them, and starvation was averted (Iowa, p. 33). For many miles, the Saints followed the Mormon Trace, the trail they had made as they fled Missouri headed east for safety after the Extermination Order (Iowa, xvii). Many tears must have been shed as they retraced their steps,.once more leaving homes, farms, and the graves of loved ones, not knowing where their journey would lead them
When the Saints left Nauvoo, Brigham Young had intended that they would continue west until they reached the valley among the mountains where Joseph Smith had prophesied the Saints would settle. Their forced move, however, had left many of the Saints without proper provisions, and the grueling journey had drained their strength. After following the Missouri-Iowa border for some time, Brigham Young turned the Camp of Israel towards the Council Bluffs area on the Western Edge of Iowa. The Indian agents refused to give the weary people permission to winter in the area, and the situation was becoming desperate. Thousands of tired and sick Saints were stretched along the trail from Council Bluffs to Nauvoo. Help came from an unexpected quarter. The United States, having engaged in a war with Mexico, approached the Church leaders, asking them to allow the army to recruit five hundred of their men. Most of the Mormon people were angered at the proposal, having been ejected from their homes and property by the very government that was now asking for their help. Brigham Young and the other leaders counseled, praying for guidance in making the decision. They finally agreed to the army's proposal, with five hundred men signing on and ready to go within a short time. In return, the Church would receive much needed money for the men's services, and be allowed to make a temporary headquarters at Council Bluffs (The Mormon Battalion, pp. 3-4).
There is no indication as to when James, Anna, and their three young sons left Nauvoo, but whenever it was, their journey was not an easy one. Anna and James' sixth son, Alva Tippets Lewis, was born 22 November 1846. Again, they named the new baby after someone they respected, Alva Tippets being an early Church member and missionary in Iowa Territory (Family History Suite II). Family Group Sheets differ as to where Alva was born. One lists his birth as Marion, Linn, Iowa, and the other as Marion County, Iowa. Alva was most likely born in Marion County, Iowa, as it is located along the approximate route to Council Bluffs. Linn County is in eastern part of the state. A group of one hundred Saints wintered in Marion County that year. They were following a more northerly trail, hoping to find more adequate feed for their animals (Iowa, p. 230).
Realizing the vast number of Saints still on trail, the Church leaders established settlements at several points between Nauvoo and Council Bluffs, the main ones being Garden Grove and Mount Pisgah. Many families were called by Church leaders to remain at each if these sites, establishing temporary communities and farms to provide a resting place and provisions for those yet to come.
. Mount Pisgah, Iowa, was about 138 miles east of Council Bluffs. James, being a good farmer, was one of the Saints called to fill this assignment. Alanson Norton, father of Althea Norton Lewis, was called to head a similar community at Little Pigeon, Iowa. It must have been a pleasant five or so years that the Lewis' spent in Mount Pisgah, coming on the heels of such great persecution and loss. The setting was beautiful, and the ground fertile. Parley P. Pratt, an early church leader, had discovered the area as he was sent ahead of the Camp of Israel to find adequate camping sites for the company. He later recorded:
Riding about three or four miles through beautiful prairies I came suddenly to some round and sloping hills, grassy and covered with beautiful groves of timber, while alternate open groves and forests seemed blended in all beauty and harmony of an English park, while beneath and beyond on the West rolled a main branch of Grand River, with its rich bottoms of alternate forest and prairie. As I approached this lovely scenery several deer and wolves being startled at the sight of me, abandoned the place and bounded away till lost from sight amid the groves. Being pleased and excited at the varied beauty before me, I cried out, this is Mount Pisgah…(Heart Throbs, vol. 7, p. 366).
Mount Pisgah was a hill in Moab opposite the City of Jericho, mentioned in the Book of Numbers "whence Balaam and Moses saw the land of Israel" (Bible Dictionary, p. 751). Kate B. Carter, an early chronicler of pioneer days, further described the area.
About three thousand formed the colony here, while the remainder of the company journeyed westward locating at various points between here and Council Bluffs…The ridge slopes on the west into the bottom lands of Grand River and around it south and east, runs a creek known as Pis-gah Branch. On the hillside is an excellent spring which was a great luxury and convenience in those days. The large timber along the Grand River furnished logs for cabin building and the location seemed to meet the demands of a settlement…Owing to the late arrival of the company in the season, they were ill provided to withstand the ravages of a severe winter which followed. Many of them were sheltered only by tents and wagons, and there were one hundred and sixty deaths during the first six months of their stay. The following season brought them better conditions, and good crops added materially to their means.
They were unable with their light cattle and crude implements to till the prairie sod, so they were forced to cultivate and plant in the mellow timber along Grand River, by girdling the trees. Three miles south of Pisgah on the river a water mill (for grinding grain) was erected…and was probably the most important single industry in the area…These stones were rudely dressed but answered a good purpose in preparing food for a large number of people…(Heart Throbs of the West, Vol.7, p. 366).
The Lewises' last two sons were born at Mount Pisgah. Wilford Woodruff Lewis, named after a respected leader who would later become President of the Church, was born 20 May 1848. William Fallis Lewis, given the name of James' brother-in-law, was born 18 June 1851. Sadly, the baby died the same day.
The Move West
By 1852, the pioneers were bypassing Council Bluffs for other overland routes. The Saints in Mount Pisgah, Garden Grove, and other communities were released from their callings, and the people were finally allowed to cross the plains, joining with the body of the Church in Utah. The abandoned farms and homes were soon claimed by other settlers (Iowa, p. 79). James mentioned in his journal that he and others came across the plains in 1852. (Note: Clara Hall gives 1853 as the date of their crossing. So far, we don't know when they came across or the name of their company.)
Wilford was about four years old when his family came west. His father had made him a little chair out of "oak branches held together with rawhide thongs." As his family loaded their wagon with food, seed, bedding, and other necessities, the little boy begged to be able to take his chair.
Each time he was told to wait until they were sure there was room for it. That chair was his dearest possession and day after day he waited in fear and anxiety lest it be left behind…At last his mother came to his aid. She said, "Take out the little cupboard and put Wilford's chair in--there won't be room for both" (Wilford, p.2).
The journey across the plains was a difficult one. Rachel, a younger daughter, wrote of her brother John, "He moved with his parents across the Desert sharing the trials and hardships of such journey its equal can not be told. I have heard Father (James) say (?) his children never complained though they were without bread never a murmur" (Letter from Rachel).
James and Anna reached Utah in the fall, and were again without home or property. James was thirty-eight years old. They moved their family to the Sugar House area, south of Salt Lake City. They lived in a "dobie" house, and James again established a farm (Time Line). In an effort to make the people more self-sufficient, Brigham Young instructed the pioneers in Sugar House to raise sugar beets, and had ordered sophisticated processing equipment from England. He hoped that they would be able to process a good quality refined sugar. Essential pieces of the machinery never reached Utah, and the Saints were unable to produce anything but molasses. The project was abandoned, and the sugar factory was converted into a paper factory, turning out paper for the Salt Lake newspaper and wrapping material for the local merchants.
James wrote his brother, Joel Jr., describing their journey to Utah and their situation in Sugar House. (Letter qtd. from History of James Stapleton Lewis by Lyn Misner. Since the letter had been recopied several times, she corrected the spelling, but left the grammar as it was).
Sugar House Ward
G.S. Utah Salt Lake City
Feb. 28, 1855
I now set down to write a few lines to you. We received your letter the first of February which gave us much satisfaction, and also much sorrow. Though we had not expected to hear of all our relatives alive again. I had written several letters and supposed that you had emigrated to some other country. We have never heard from you or any other person in that country since I left your house some twelve or fourteen years ago. We should be very glad to see you all again but many circumstances would prevent at present. We want you to write to us and give all the particulars you can either of friends or acquaintances - all would be news to us.
My own family is all with me at present but do not know how long they may remain so. We have had many difficulties hard to encounter with since I saw you. Sickness has followed us closely from Illinois to Iowa and from there here. My wife is sick at present with the mountain fever and has been so much of the winter. She is very low. She wishes to know how long her father has been dead. And she wishes to know whether her stepmother is still living, and of her friends as far as you know. I send you a here a written power of attorney to collect what dues there is in her favor and send them to us.
We are settled here in the midst of the Rocky Mountains, eleven hundred miles from the Missouri River. We crossed Missouri above Council Bluffs. We crossed but two ferries more, passed up the north side of the Platte, a river from a quarter to a third of a mile wide, is muddy like Missouri. Traveled up this river over six hundred miles and more than five hundred without ever raising the bluffs of that river. We saw not an Indian thus far but plenty of buffalo and good feed for cattle, good roads thus far, very destitute of timber the whole way, some places two hundred miles without any, cook with a little sage brush, generally about as high as a man's knee and buffalo chips. Leave the Platte and come to Saleratus Lake. This forms like ice in the dry part of the season, is of good quality. Near this is Independence rock, six hundred yards long, one fourth as wide, and very high. This is a perfect sight on the level bottom of the Sweet Pass through perpendicular rocks four hundred feet high. We followed this stream up to the south pass of the Rocky Mountains, ascent and descent not very steep, level for a few miles on the top, from here the waters ran south until we crossed the Wasatch Mountains. Green river is the largest about as large as the Wabash at Lafayette, is a branch of the Colorado and empties into the Gulf of California. A little farther on is Bear River and the Weber River, both of these flow into Salt Lake. Here the country is very diversified, surrounded by high mountains on ever side. The soil is of every quality, a great deal of good rich farming land. The valley is about thirty miles wide. The water of the lake is very strong. There is no fish in it. Utah Lake, fifty miles from here is fresh water and plenty of fish. There is but little game, a few mountain sheep, antelope, black tail deer. There are large grizzly and brown bear, all scarce, the mountain wolf is most savage when pressed with hunger. I have known them to have killed cows and oxen in sight of the city in daylight. The feathered tribes are few, all kinds of grain and vegetables grow well here. Most of the land has to be watered. One hand will water two or three acres in a day. Land is almost of every price, generally five or ten dollars, sometimes much more. A great deal of good land among these valleys is not claimed or settled. Mormon settlements extend north seventy miles, south a hundred and eighty, are generally provided with forts in case of trouble with Indians who are very low and degraded. Range is good for stock, many winter without being fed; are generally herded off from the farms both summer and winter.
It has been very mild here this winter. They have been plowing and sowing all this month. April is the general planting month. The principal timber is pine and fir grows on the mountains. There is some oak, maple, birch, cottonwood and willow, mahogany, cedar and box elder. The buildings are for the most part made of dobies and unburnt brick. When made of blue clay makes a very good house. There are good mills and machinery here, plenty of merchandise, money scarce at this time. Very many pass every year this way to Oregon and California. In traveling here we traveled through a part of Oregon and California. As to political matters it is a well organized government. All religion is tolerated, all rights respected. There is no common stock here. Every man controls his own property. It is the healthiest country we ever lived in. The water is generally very good but here are warm springs and some boiling hot. There is a canal laid out to connect Utah Lake and Salt Lake. We have snow in sight of us all the year around. We can see all over the valley and see the lake. The islands in the Lake are high mountains. It is twenty miles to it. A common pailful of Salt Lake water will make five pounds of salt.
I am now in a hurry to get my letter in the office as the mail goes east but once a month. I leave it to your own judgement about the matter of attorney. Any money that is good in Saint Louis would be good here. I expect you will have to send it by letter. I have by the advice of the governor taken my mother's name for a middle name on account of others here of the same name. Be sure to notice this in directing a letter or I may not get it. No more at present but remaining your affectionate brother,
James S. Lewis to Joel Lewis
James continued to correspond with Joel through the years. In another letter, Joel shared his fears regarding his son, Arthur, who had enlisted in the 19th Indiana Regiment Volunteers, been wounded in action, taken prisoner and later exchanged. He married, only to leave his new wife and daughter for the front (Timeline). James tried to convey his testimony of the gospel through his letters to his family, and was disappointed that he could never convince his family of the truthfulness of the gospel (Clara).
(Note: These family ties have continued through the years. Joel and Mercy's descendants held a family reunion in1940, inviting James' son, Hyrum, who at that time was an Idaho State Representative, to be the guest speaker (Scrapbook, Margaret Jorgenson). His daughter, Rachel, visited family in Indiana at least twice. A telegram of condolence from her Indiana cousins was read at her funeral Jay Flanders, a descendant of Isaac, is now collaborating on family research with Joel's descendant, Charles Lewis.
Anna had not heard from her family for quite some time. Family tradition indicates that she was estranged from them once she joined the Church. She was, however, named in her father's will to share equally in the balance of her father's estate with others of her siblings. James and Anna sent a document giving power of attorney to Joel Lewis in hopes of collecting her inheritance. There is no record as to whether or not she ever received her inheritance or heard from her family.
Anna had been promised in her patriarchal blessing that she would have "power to heal the sick and have skill in herbs and be esteemed as being an excellent nurse among the sick." The following recipe for her tonic was preserved on the flyleaf of the Bible that Hannah had given to James many years earlier.
1/2 oz. Columbia root 1/2 oz. Turkey Rhubarb
1/2 oz. root Ginger 1/2/ oz. quasha chips
Boil 1/3 of this with 1 1/2 pints of water. Boil down to one pint and strain. One swallow every morning.
When Wilford was ten, he was given the responsibility of helping to herd the milk cows belonging to the people of the community. He and the other boys sneaked away to swim in City Creek, and the cows wandered off. As they were rounding up the cattle, the Lewis' milk cow, "Old Liney", broke away, heading up the hillside. Wilford and his black and white pony, Snap, gave chase. Snap lost his footing in the loose shale, sliding down the hill with Wilford's left arm caught underneath. His elbow was broken, and the skin and flesh were hanging in strips. Anna cleansed the wound with strong salt water, and for weeks she applied poultices of hot mutton tallow and "slippery Elm". The injury was so severe that others felt that the arm should be amputated. Anna persisted, saying "I will try for a few more days to save it." After several weeks, the wounds healed, even though Wilford was never able to bend his elbow. Wilford claimed later that his "mother's faith and works kept him from going though life with only one arm, and always added, a little sadly, 'But Snap, my plucky little pony, didn't fare to well. He had to be shot." (Wilford, p. 7).
The family had reached Salt Lake too late to plant a crop, and supplies were scarce in the settlement. They carefully rationed their food, but by March, the family was living on boiled wheat. By the end of the month, each family member took their turn to fast a day, hoping to make their wheat last until spring. The family hoarded the supply of wheat that they had brought with them from Iowa for seed, knowing that using it for food would rob them of the next year's harvest. Finally spring came, bringing with it an abundant growth of sego lily, pigweed, and thistle, which the family gratefully gathered for food.
They planted their carefully hoarded wheat seed, and eagerly watched their precious crop grow. The wheat was beginning to head out when great hordes of crickets began to move in from the surrounding hills. There were so many of the insects that they hid the sun as they moved from field to field, stripping every plant. The desperate pioneers tried everything they could to kill the invaders, but nothing helped. Praying for intervention, they saw huge flocks of sea gulls flying in from the lake. They could only imagine that the birds would finish off what little bit of the grain the crickets were leaving. Instead, the sea gulls began eating the crickets, and the crops were saved (Wilford, p. 4). (Note: Most people are aware of the story of the crickets and the seagulls, but many do not realize that it happened more than once.)
In 1857, alarming news reached Utah. Government agents who had been working in Utah returned to Washington falsely claiming that the Mormons were in rebellion against the United States and inciting the Indians against the local Indian agents. President Buchanan commissioned General Johnston to lead an army to Utah for the purpose of crushing the rebellion and replacing Brigham Young as governor. The Mormon leaders, receiving reports that the Army was coming to take over their government and persecute the Saints once more, determined that they would not be driven from another home. They sent a militia to harass and delay the advance of the army. Joel served as a member of the Utah Militia, and was involved in this operation (Wilford, p. 9). The army was bogged down that winter in Wyoming, with many of their supply wagons burned. The next spring, as Johnston's Army moved towards Utah, the Saints were instructed to leave their homes, farms and communities en masse and move into the areas south of Salt Lake. The foundation of the Salt Lake Temple was buried. Men were left in each community with instructions to set fire to homes and crops rather than surrender them to the invading army. An agreement was made that if the army marched through Salt Lake City with no sign of aggression, there would be no burning and no fighting. Brigham Young was also agreeable to turning over the governorship, his main calling being the President of the Church. True to his word, Johnston marched his soldiers peacefully through Salt Lake to the Cedar Fort area many miles to the southwest where they remained for several years. The Saints were free to return to their homes and communities. Many of them, however, stayed on in the areas where they had found refuge, creating new settlements. The Lewises likely went as far south as Provo, but returned to Sugar House after the crisis was resolved.
Throughout their trials, James and Anna never lost their faith. James recorded, "We can thank our Heavenly Father that we were never poor, for we always owned the Pearl of Great Price (the Gospel of Jesus Christ) " (Journal, Preface, p. 2).
By 1863, the Lewises were living in Coalville, Summit, Utah, a community just opposite the Wasatch Mountains from Ogden and Salt Lake City. The Alanson Norton family and the David Lewis family also moved from Sugar House to Coalville at about the same time. John and Caroline Clark and their family came from England in 1866, settling in the Coalville area. Children from each of these families would eventually marry into the Lewis family.
In 1862, Anna and James' oldest son, Joel, discovered coal in Carlton Canyon, about two miles southwest of Coalville (Family History Suite II, Heart Throbs, Vol. 6, p. 100). Joel also was instrumental in the planning and building of a "larger and more substantial building for school and religious purposes" in the area (Family History Suite II, Our Pioneer Heritage vol. 20, P. 419).
James was very influential in Coalville, being called as Bishop and serving as the Justice of the Peace. As such, James married his sons, Isaac and John and probably Alva as well. It was customary in those days for couples to be married in a civil marriage, and go to the Endowment House later to be sealed as husband and wife under the authority of the Priesthood.
James and Anna bought a large farm in Coalville, and James and his sons raised grain and cattle. He was "counted as one of the wealthiest farmers in the area" (Lyn Misner, p. 10). Anna, now in her mid fifties, was struggling. Clara Hall, Wilford's daughter, wrote:
Anna's health had broken, hardship and privation had taken their toll. She was no longer able to keep up her own household, even with the help of her devoted husband and sons, she had never had a daughter. James went to Brigham Young and told him, that he would like to "give a good home to some young woman emigrant who has no home of her own and who would help my wife with her housework in payment for the home." In a short time there came in an immigrant train a sweet young Swedish convert, name Mary Swenson. She had no home, no friends, or relatives in Utah, nor in the United States. She could not speak a word of English. When the missionaries who had converted her to the gospel for which she had left home and friends in far off Sweden, told her of the offer of a home made by this good man, she gladly accepted it, and went to live in the home of James S. Lewis of Coalville. Anna took the lovely young Swedish girl into her heart and home, taught her to speak the English language and do the house work in the pioneer way. Mary was kind, sweet and a good natured and willing helper. Soon Anna loved her as the daughter she had never born and Mary loved Anna as the mother she had left in Sweden. Anna's health did not improve and after Mary had been in the home for three years she was happy and contented there (Althea Norton History).
Mary's name was actually Anna Maria Svensson, or more correctly, Svensdottor. She was the oldest of five children born to Sven Persson and Anna Greta Andersson, with the children taking the patronymic name of Svensson.or Svenson. Mary, as she was called in America, was born 4 Dec 1831, in Vastrum, Kalmar, Sweden. Nothing is known of her early life, but she joined the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter- day Saints in her home country, and left her home and family to join with the Saints in Utah. A young girl, Ada Amanda Inquist, born 29 Nov 1862, accompanied Mary on her journey. Ada died aboard the Navy ship, Monarch, and was buried at sea. She was adopted posthumously by James and sealed in the temple to him and Mary (Family group sheet).
Many of the worthy men of the Church were being called to take plural wives. Anna realized that Mary deserved the blessings of a home and family of her own and that her own untimely death could force Mary away. Clara Hall indicated that Anna approached James, suggesting that if Mary was willing and if the leaders of the Church approved, she would support James in taking Mary as a plural wife (Clara). On 15 August 1865, James and Mary were married, and James was sealed in the Endowment House to both Anna and Mary for time and all eternity. On 23 June 1866, a daughter was born to James and Mary. They named her Rachel Stapleton Lewis, after James' mother. Rachel's hair "was black and her eyes were dark and earnest just like her father, James, and had also his dignified and graceful bearing, coupled with the sweet gentleness of her mother" (Clara),
Montpelier to Brigham City
In 1867, James, Anna, Mary, and the baby moved to Montpelier, Idaho. Hyrum Smith Lewis, named for Joseph Smith's brother, was born to Mary and James on 12 May 1868. Unlike his sister Rachel, Hyrum had the blue eyes and blond hair of his mother (Althea). Hyrum later recounted, "In Dingle Dale, (James) had a hay ranch called Big Timber, near Montpelier; also owned a piece of land in Hooperville, Utah. He talked about going into the mercantile business but did not do so" (Timeline).
Sometime after Hyrum's birth, the family moved to Brigham City, Box Elder, Utah, where the family lived for seven years. James owned a home and two city lots there. No mention is made of how James made a living for his families in Brigham City. He was fifty-four, an old man in those days. Clara Hall indicated that Anna and James were living in Corrine and Mary and the children living in Brigham City (Clara), but the two families developed a close and loving relationship. Rachel wrote the following in a letter to her niece, Abbie Lewis Ottley.
I can remember (John) and his family while they lived in Hooper Utah. I remember Isaac and family while thier the fine Tomato patch. Alva and family lived their also. I was their only on a visit with your Grandma Antie I always called her. I being the only girl Wilford taught me how to knit and I knit the cat some sox. I stayed down thier two weeks had the Scarlet fever while was their they told me I was very Sick but I remember nothing of that, but Anty had a family dinner and I remember I stood up and ate with her own her plate. On my way home Alva came with us and when Father got in the midle of Weaber river we were staled in quicksand Alva took me on one of the horses and I wated till they pulled fathers wagon out and we went home in safety, the next I remember It was up Deweyville in April 1875 while Issac was in the Snowslide...
(Jan 17, 1936 Letter to Abbie Lewis Ottley).
On 12 December 1868, Joel Jones Lewis, Anna and James' oldest son, died in Brigham City. He was buried in the Brigham City Cemetery. Joel had never married, and nothing is left to indicate the cause of his death (Timeline).
Mary received her patriarchal blessing in Brigham City on 23 June 1869.
A blessing given by John Smith, Patriarch, upon the head of Anna Maria Swenson Lewis, daughter of Swen and Anna Margretta Pearson. Born Westrom Jara, Sweden, November 4, 1831.
Sister Anna Maria (now called Mary) in the name of Jesus Christ I lay my hands upon your head to pronounce and seal a blessing upon thee which shall be as the spirit may direct, for thou art of the house of Israel and through yielding obedience unto the power of God through his servants, thou hast left thy native land for the sake of salvation; therefore, be humble and prudent and thou shalt receive thy reward and thou shalt be blessed in the labor of thy hands, and if thou are prudent and adhere strictly to the promptings of monitor that is in within thee, thou shalt fill up the measure of thy days upon the earth and accomplish a good work, and thy name shall be perpetrated and be written in the Lambs Book of Life. Thy faith shall also increase and thou shalt better realize thy position and see and understand things as they are, for the Lord hath heard thy prayer and knoweth thine integrity, and the Angel of thy presence shall whisper in thine ear and cause thy mind to expand and thine intellect to brighten if thou wilt call upon the Lord in faith. Therefore, be of good cheer for better days await thee and thou shalt be strengthened in body and shalt accomplish a good work which will secure unto thyself the blessings of the Redeemer kingdom. This blessing I seal upon thy head, and I seal thee up unto eternal life to come forth in the morning of the first resurrection. Even so Amen
Recorded in Book C (qtd.in Journal),
On 10 September 1871, Cyrus Sackett Lewis was born to Mary and James. The baby was named after James' uncle, the husband of Nancy Anne Stapleton Sackett. Like Hyrum, the baby had the blonde hair and blue eyes of their mother. Cyrus lived only three years, dying on 17 April 1874. He was buried beside Joel in the Brigham City Cemetery.
Cyrus' death was only the first of many severe trials for the family in the next two years. The federal government was beginning to prosecute the men who had taken plural wives; many of them served time in the penitentiary. In 1876, Alanson Norton's history indicated that he moved from Brigham City to Bear Lake in order to keep his families together and avoid imprisonment (Althea, p.11). James moved a year prior, possibly for the same reasons. He had an established home and an adequate living in Brigham City, but at the age of sixty-one, he prepared to move again. Hyrum later wrote of their family's afflictions.
1875 is perhaps the most memorable year in my life because of the experiences we encountered and while those experiences would seem like a midnight dream or the fancied hallucinations of a deranged mind, they are absolutely true.
In February, father decided to seek holding on the frontier, so with his son, Alva, and grandson, Jimmie, they traveled farther west, wending their way through snow, over mountains, much of the time without even a trail. After several days, landing in Marsh Basin - this they considered an utopia, a heaven of bliss. In a short time father and Jimmie returned leaving Alva to get logs and build a cabin when we could return.
On March 24, a brother Isaac, who was working in the mountains was killed in a snow slide. Weeks went by and his body was not found. Alva, still at Marsh Basin, with no means of communication, no letter or word, dreamed one night that Isaac had been killed in a snow slide. In the dream, he saw the location and also discovered the body. So impressed was he that at daybreak he was on his way, with a horse to ride part of the time -- and almost without rest he traveled to Corrine, 120 miles distant, there to learn that his dream was true, and in the early morning a few days later he found the body which had been buried in snow for six weeks.
After a short time, we were anxious to get to our haven of peace when another disappointment was ours. Our horses had wandered away and search seemed in vain. After a long time they were found and a long hard journey began. For several days of this journey we were in sight of the snow slide that had taken Isaac's life - we could in imagination at least, see his widow and four children pondering over life's sad trail…
The persons in the company making the journey to Marsh Basin were father, mother, Rachel (daughter), and Hyrum (son); the starting point Brigham City, the Snow Slide 10 miles north; the camping grounds and watering places: Bear River, Malad River, Point Lookout, Blind and Blue Springs, Dillies Ranch, Curlew, Deep Creek, Pilot Springs, - here Alva and his family left us and went to Nevada - next Devil's Dive, Round Mountain, Kelso, Clear Creek, Raft River, Cassia Creek - and then - Marsh Basin.
On June 1st we arrived in Marsh Basin. At that time it was most inviting - green grass in abundance, streams of sparkling water and everlasting hills surrounding us with plenty of timber near by (Hyrum ).
Rachel, James' only daughter, recorded:
…We drove our covered wagon up to the house our brother had built for us to find it already occupied, as a man was just turning out his chickens. Someone in the absence of our brother had claimed our house.
My father said there is room for all, so we drove a couple of miles west and prepared to build another home. Our wagon home served us for the time being. First we plowed a piece of land and planted a garden so as to replenish our food supply as soon as possible (Harper Book, p. 43).
Sometime in July, neighbors settled on the land to the southwest of the Lewises. Charles Monroe and Sarah Gray and another family, had been en route to the Willamette Valley in Oregon when their supplies ran out and they returned to Albion to settle. They had left their home in Daviess County, Missouri, in search of a better life. Their presence must have brought back bitter memories of the persecution James and Anna had endured in Missouri; Sarah's family had even participated in the "Mormon Wars" (Stephenson Family Bible).. Nevertheless, James sent peas and other produce from his garden to feed the weary families, keeping them in food until their own gardens could be harvested (Nora May Gray Clark, future wife of JSL5 's grandson). Hyrum recalled that first summer:
How did we live? I don't know. We planted a garden and in father's words "Never has the labor of my hands been more remunerative in bringing abundance, than in this place." Our health was good, appetites robust. We built a log room about 16 by 16 feet and this was our home. Earth floor, earth roof, a fireplace. Furniture there was none. Mother had a shelf on the wall used for cupboard, china closet and other purposes.
Rachel Lewis Harper added to her brother Hyrum's account:
Father went to Albion, Idaho [Marsh Basin] in 1875 and homesteaded 160 acres of land with water rights, a little later he filed on 40 acres more under the Timber Culture Act, a fine piece of land; he planted many trees of different kinds. (Note: these trees still mark JSL"s homesite). At that time, Idaho was a desert. The valley had no name, but was called Cedar Valley or Marsh Basin, and is now known as Albion.
Although it was late in the season when we reached the valley we plowed and sowed and reaped. There were five families in the valley, so we indeed were pioneers. We were ever mindful of our faith, our first meetings were held in a Bowery made of brush and willows. My parents were very devout Christian people. We prayed, sang hymns, bore testimonies of God's goodness to us in preserving our lives from all evil. We had good time in those days and we loved one another. Father and mother hauled logs from the mountains, built them a cabin which we moved into in October - a dirt roof, dirt floor, no windows, but it was a shelter. The valley was full of wild cattle and Indians…
I can remember when we moved all we had into the partly built house. Roof partly covered, dirt floor, no doors or windows put in. It was raining and I can well remember how happy we were and thankful for the incomplete home. Though we met with disappointments and hardships, our faith was undaunted and we struggled on trying to build the home of our dreams. (Harper Book, p. 43).
Early in the fall, a committee of one came to this home informing us of the death of a little child. There was not enough lumber in one place to build a little casket and we were asked what we could contribute. Without hesitation or reservation, my mother took the contents off of her only shelf and placed them on the dirt floor, and the shelf went to serve as a lid for the little casket. A grave was dug in the wilds and a pole about twenty feet high was raised a short distance from the grave so that it might be found. A few of us gathered and the sorrow was intense.
I was there with bared head and feet, not altogether because it was sacred ground, but because I did not have those useful articles of apparel.
As we stood around this grave, the only service was the reading of the prayer of the Galilean by father. This was the first death and burial in Marsh Basin. (Hyrum )
In November, shortly after moving Mary and the two children into their new home, James returned to Utah to get supplies and to see Anna. She was living in Corrine, a few miles west of Brigham City. To his distress, James discovered that Anna's health was failing rapidly.
To this family sorrow a second was added within a few months. In Corrine, Box Elder County, Utah on December 7, 1875 died Anna Jones Lewis, first wife of James Stapleton Lewis. She had been his faithful companion in the Church, who had shared valiantly with him the hardships incident to their many migrations, who had been subject with him to terrorists by night and alarms by day, who had given him eight sons, three of whom survived her death, John Alma, Alva Tibbits, and Wilford Woodruff, was laid to rest, a pioneer mother and wife, in that distant pioneer land, to await that hour when "an angel shall come down from heaven, clothed with a cloud; and a rainbow on his head, and his face shall be as it were the sun, and his feet as pillars of fire; and he shall stand upon sea and earth and lift up his hand to heaven and declare that time shall be no more and the dead, small and great shall stand before God; and the Book of Life shall be opened, and the dead will be judged according to those things which are written therein.. And blessed will they be who have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb" (Revelations 10) Anna's age was 65 years, 1 month, 2 days. No doubt the accidental death of her son Isaac shortened her days (Hyrum).
James must have been torn between his many responsibilities. Anna needed his caring presence during the last days of her life, Althea and her small children were still struggling with the loss of Isaac, and Mary and her two young children were over a hundred and fifty miles away in an isolated and largely unsettled valley. He had left Mary as well provided for as possible, but he realized that her situation was frightening. Rachel wrote: "I can see my poor mother crying. She would pray with us children nights as long as we were awake" (Harper, p. 43). They heard from James once during the three months that he was gone, probably just after he had returned to Utah. They would meet the freight trains, hoping for mail, and then the wagons stopped for the winter months.
Heavy snow came before James was able to make it back to Albion. The way was impassable with drifts from three to thirty feet in the mountain passes (Mary Swenson, pp. 1-2). James was sixty-one, an old man in those times, and the journey to Albion was impossible probably until sometime in January.
After Anna's death, there was no reason to return to Utah except for supplies, and James, Mary, and the two children made their permanent home in Albion. They raised "1,000 bushels of grain, potatoes, turnips, carrots, and also mangle beet (this was feed for the cattle and pigs)" (Harper, p. 44). The family would travel about fifteen miles south to Church meetings, indicating that they met with the congregation in Elba. A branch was shortly organized, with James called as the Presiding Elder. In 1883/84, a ward was organized with William T. Harper as Bishop. James donated land for a church house, as well as a cemetery, and he and Mary continued faithfully in their church responsibilities. Rachel wrote: "…I was taught the Gospel by devoted parents, very honest in their belief…I can say that my father's humble home has sheltered President Lorenzo Snow, Minnie I. Snow, John W. Taylor, four of the quorum of twelve apostle (Harper, p. 44). Leaders of the Church were not the only guests at the Lewis home. Rachel continued:
We have had many young folks stay at my Father's home and attend school both district and normal. (Note: The "Normal" was a distinguished teacher training school in Albion.) From Brigham, I remember Reuben Beecher one term of state normal, also John H. Lowe, a prominent lawyer. I remember a young girl who stayed and went to school with me. The first meal after the blessing she said, "Mr. Lewis, is there writing on your plate?" It was the first blessing on the food she had heard, but not the last one.
As the valley was settled, ours like other small towns had stores, post offices, creameries, saw-mills, church houses, church granaries, and so we saw the valley grow and our dreams come true. We were privileged to worship God, pay our tithing and our fast offerings (Harper, p. 44).
John moved his family to Albion in 1876, with Alva coming the following year. On 10 September 1876 Wilford married Althea, Isaac's widow. He had always loved Althea, but had stepped aside when he realized his older brother cared about her. The couple moved to Albion in 1880. In 1890, Wilford and Althea traveled to McCammon, Idaho, for the wedding James Alanson, Althea and Isaac's oldest son. They had many friends and relatives living in the area, having taken up "squatter's rights" on the land. The government was preparing to open the land to homesteaders. Wilford felt that the land was fertile, and with canals and ditches, there would be plenty of water to grow good crops. In 1893, he and Althea moved to McCammon (Althea ). At some point, Alva also moved to McCammon where he died. The recorded dates of death vary from 1821 to 1827,and at this writing, no documentation is available as to the correct date. John and Hyrum remained in Albion, with Hyrum farming during. the summer months in Declo where new land opportunities had opened up due to the the building of a dam and canal system. He later moved there and became a known as a successful farmer and respected member of the State Legislature. Rachel had married Thomas Harper as his plural wife, and was living in Harper or Call's Fort, Utah, about six miles north of Brigham City.
As was common in those days, James and Mary were both given another Patriarchal Blessing.
Albion Idaho, December 30 1888
A blessing by Robert Wilson, Patriarch, upon the hed of James Stapleton Lewis, son of Joel Lewis and Rachel Stapleton Lewis - born February 22, 1814, Green County, state of Ohio.
Brother James Stapleton Lewis, in the name of the Lord I place my hand upon your head and with pleasure I bless you with a Patriarchal and a Father's blessing. You have proven you are worthy to inherit all the blessings promised to Abraham and his seed. You are a legal heir unto them and like Abraham of old you have passed through many troubles and always proven yourself faithful to your covenants before the Lord, and because of your integrity, the Lord will bless you and you will be crowned among the foremost in his kingdom. Your blessings are great and you shall live and enjoy greater blessings in your life than you have ever done in former days. Like Abraham you shall be blessed in your posterity and you shall realize the fulfillment of every promise placed upon your head. Seek after comfort and happiness the remainder of your days-- do not do hrd labor - you have done sufficient, and if you will take care of yourself and devote the remainder of your life more diligently in your duties in the kingdom of God, your heart will be filled with glory, with joy, and as a fountain of light the power and spirit of the Lord shall dwell within you --the Heavens shall be opened unto you, and you shall experience, in part, the glory and influence that shall surround you when you are crowned with the glory and blessing and honor and power and eternal lives in the celestial Kingdom of God your Eternal Father. Seek after these things and you shall enjoy a greater degree of health and vitality, and you shall live until you are satisfied with life. If you will adhere to the whisperings of the spirit, you will take care of your body and devote yourself to the comfort of yourself and family the remainder of your days. You shall pass away in joy and great pleasure, by dreams and visions you shall be comforted for there is not a blessing that you can enjoy on earth but what you shall receive, for your hope shall grow bright and brighter from day to day, and your faith shall increase and the testimony that your Redeemer lives shall be greater and brighter every day of your life. You will be a Redeemer in the midst of the servants of God. You shall come forth in the first Resurrection and shall perform a great work in bringing forth your dead. Your kingdom will be a great one, and the glory and the power of it will never end.
I seal upon you the blessings that are promised to the faithful saints, even the blessing of immortality and eternal li8fe. You shall wear a bright and glorious crown and shall inherit all the keys and powers of the Resurrection and of the Holy Priesthood of the living God. You shall come with the Redeemer, with all the angels flying through the midst of Heaven when He shall take vengeance on the wicked. The Lord loves thee and will bless thee, and thy latter days will be the best. In contemplating the blessings that are placed upon your head for there is not a blessing you can ask for or think of but what I seal upon your head by the virtue of the Holy Priesthood in the name of Jesus Christ--Amen
Mary S. Lewis - Albion, December 29, 1888
A blessing by Robert Wilson, patriarch, upon the head of Anna Maria Mary Swenson Lewis, daughter of Swen Pearson and Anna Grata Anders Pearson. Born November 4, 1831, Stora Yeara, Westron.
Sister Mary, I place my hands upon your head and seal upon you a patriarchal and Father's blessing. You have journeyed across the great deep and far across the continent of America to fulfill the requirements made upon you in the gathering dispensation. You have covenanted with the Lord to keep his commandments and have taken your lot in the midst of the daughters of Zion and have been willing to share the privations and persecutions with the Saints. And the Lord God has blessed you abundantly and through your willingness to share the privations with the Saints, the Lord has a great blessing laid up for you in store even the blessing of eternal life.
You are an heir to the blessings promised to Abraham and his seed. You are of the house of Israel and through your covenants and your heirship to the great blessings of the kingdom of God I seal upon you the Holy Priesthood pertaining to your sex, and with your companion you shall inherit all the blessings and glories of your Father. Through your faithfulness you will enjoy the glories and blessings in connection with your Redeemer which you had before the foundation of the world for the Lord is mindful of you and has blessed you and will continue His blessings unto you abundantly. You are called you help your sisters in the covenant to bless and administer unto the poor and the needy, a calling if faithful performed to call down blessings upon you.
The saints shall rise up and call you blessed for you are a mother in Israel and shall be worthy of all the blessings that can be placed upon you. The spirit of the Lord shall rest upon you and whatsoever you shall desire of the Lord He will grant unto you. Through your faith you shall inherit all things, health and every other blessing that shall be for your comfort and consolation. Your association with your sisters will be a pleasure unto you. You will be enabled with them to lay in grain for the day of famine that the people of the Lord may be preserved and that they may be blessed with comforts of life when famine desolates the land. You shall have pleasures of seeing the Saints preserved through adherence to the counsel given unto them. For your love and esteem for the gospel revealed through the Prophet Joseph Smith thee is no good gift that shall be withheld from you.
You shall live to see a great change upon the earth amongst the children of men. Shortly the kingdoms of the earth will totter.
You shall see the arm of the Lord made bare in the deliverance of His people for He will come down and save His own and while the wicked are being consumed the righteous shall be glad and rejoice in the most high and you shall be with and share in all their joy and rejoicing.
For you shall live as long as you desire life and a long as you can do good on the earth. You shall see the Redeemer coming in the clouds of Heaven and shall come with him to the earth when those that live and remain shall be caught up to meet Him. You will then rejoice with those of your posterity and friends who are caught up to meet you. Your joy shall be full; you shall come forth in the first resurrection and shall enjoy all the glories and exaltations and eternal lives in the Celestial Kingdom of God.
Dear Sister, these with all other blessings to complete your happiness and exaltation I seal upon you by virtue of the Holy Priesthood in the name of Jesus Christ--amen
As James became older, he spent much time researching family lines and traveling to the Logan Temple to complete the necessary temple ordinances for his family members. He would frequently travel by way of McCammon, then on to Logan, stopping to visit Rachel who had been left a widow with six young children. On a trip to General Conference, he heard of a Bishop Lewis who had done much family research. Alva took him a distance of some two hundred miles to visit this man. James "found him a very interesting gentleman, and (the) visit to him was grand." They determined that they were "blood relatives of a generation ago", and connected "with the foremost families of America, with Presidents, Governors, Statesmen, Generals, and men of prominence and patriots, party leaders…" (Journal, Letter to Niece, Mercy Foster). This statement connects with other journal entries in which James claimed to have been related to Meriwether Lewis. Through this Lewis line, James would also be related to George Washington, Robert E. Lee, Thomas Jefferson's wife, as well as connecting into royal lineage. Our connection to this family line has not yet been proven to the satisfaction of many of today's family researchers. James was also related to Daniel Boone through his grandfather, Daniel Lewis.
Many of the Journal entries that were preserved were written during the last few years of his life. He described his conversion to the Gospel, and was still disturbed by the injustices that had led to his expulsion from Missouri and Illinois. James wrote:
Early in 1900, while in a public meeting in Albion ward, my attention was called to take notice of three elderly gentlemen sitting together (Note: Worthington Phippen, Freeman Phippen, and James), having been residents of Nauvoo, a circumstance that seldom occurs in our thinly settlement. Two brothers and a neighbor all at one site from Nauvoo brought reflections of long ago, more than half a century has gone by varied indeed has the experience of those elderly gentlemen been. Their hair has changed its color, age and feebleness now marks the path of the more elderly, but their faith in the gospel brought forth by the Prophet Joseph Smith has increased and multiplied many times over as the years have passed by.
The day is soon at hand when a quorum of Nauvoo Latter-day Saints cannot easily get together in a small Ward or a large Ward either. Many that were grown have passed over the line into the Spirit world because of unceasing toil and constant activity in the cause of duty, especially those that were driven from Missouri in mid-winter, suffering all that humanity could endure. No pen has ever written their history or told one hundreth part. Oh, Missouri, what ailed you…and Oh! Illinois your soil has drank the best blood of the nineteenth century--what can you say, where are the saints of Nauvoo, driven to the great American Desert.
James wrote many letters to his children as well as to descendants of his brother Joel. In all of his correspondence, he bore testimony of the Gospel. In his letter to his niece, Mercy Foster, who had apparently written him concerning his beliefs, James wrote:
When I was young, I left my home, friends, and country for the sake of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, as taught by him and his apostles. I am this day blessed a hundred fold…Now, dear niece, I know of no news more important than that of salvation. Jesus Christ atoned for Adams sins and provided the laws of the gospel for man's acceptance and the conditions of the laws are these men must have faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, must repent and forsake all their sins and be baptized by immersion for the remission of their sins…He must be born again of water and the spirit or he cannot see the kingdom of God. He must have hands laid upon him for the gift of the Holy Ghost. The office of this Holy Ghost is to guide into all truth and even show things to come. All ordinances of the gospel must be performed by those having authority of God. All the laws of the gospel are intended to be so plain that every man and women can easily understand it, and by the spirit or Holy Ghost all that can do the will of God may know for themselves whether the doctrine of the gospel is of God or of man…
In May 1901, James called all of his children to his bedside.
Like the Prophets of old he called his family together to counsel and instruct them for the last time. He asked that Wilford would sit on the bed and hold him in his arms that he might look into the faces of his sons and daughters and bare his testimony to the truth of the Gospel of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. He reminded them of the sacrifices which he and their mother had made for the gospel's sake and of the blessings they had received. He told them of the work of redemption for their kinsmen, which he had started and pleaded with them to continue. He warned them of the temptations of the world and the snares and pitfalls which Satan had set for their feet and pleaded that they be watchful and that they remain true and faithful to the Church and to the covenants they had made in the waters of baptism and in the House of the Lord (Althea, pp. 14-15)
James then asked that Alva make his coffin and bring it to the bedside so that he could see and feel of it. Rachel and Althea were asked to make his burial clothing, and also bring it for his inspection. He lined out his funeral program, then told them to call the bishop and have him make and approve the arrangements, stating that "I have always lived under the jurisdiction of my Bishop, I wish to die the same" (Althea, p. 15). James first asked that his four sons and two grandsons act as his pallbearers, then fearing that other grandsons might have their feelings hurt, he decided that he wished to "be carried to my resting place by those holding and honoring the Priesthood." On 21 May 1901, James "passed away without pain. He closed his eyes and full of peace and goodwill he drifted away to meet Anna and their hosts of others he had served and saved " (Althea, p. 15). James was buried in the Mormon Cemetery that he had donated to the Church some twenty years earlier. The following is a copy of James' will.
In the name of God, Amen.
I, James Stapleton Lewis of Albion, Cassia Co. Idaho Territory of the age of 69 years and being of sound and disposing mind and memory and not acting under duress, menace, fraud or under influence of any person whatever, do make, publish and declare this my last will and testament in manner following, this is to say:
First: I direct that my body be decently buried with proper regard to my station and condition in life and the circumstances of my estate.
Secondly: I direct that my executors hereinafter named, as soon as they have sufficient funds in their hands, pay my funeral expenses and the expenses of my last sickness and the allowance made to my family.
Thirdly: I give and bequeath unto my wife, Mary Swenson Lewis, a life interest in all of my real estate consisting of the following parcels of land the east half and the southwest quarter of the southeast quarter of section twelve, Township 12 south, Range 24 east, also the northwest quarter of the northeast quarter of section 13, Township 12 north, Range 24 east; also the northeast quarter of the northeast quarter of section 13, Township 12 north, Range 24 east, the latter being held as a timber culture entry -- together with all of the improvements on said land such as house, barn, granary, corrals, etc.
I also give and bequeath to my wife, Mary Swenson Lewis, a life interest in all my personal property except as hereinafter provided.
Fourthly: I give and bequeath unto my son, John Alma Lewis, one hundred ($100) dollars.
Fifthly: I give and bequeath unto the heirs of my son Isaac Morley Lewis, one hundred ($100) dollars.
Sixthly: I give and bequeath unto my son, Alva ..... Lewis one hundred ($100) dollars.
Seventhly: I give and bequeath unto my son, Wilford Woodruff Lewis one hundred ($100) dollars.
The above four hundred dollars willed to my sons and their heirs must be paid out of my personal property at its appraised value within one year after my demise.
The balance of my estate both real and personal to be kept for the benefit of my wife, Mary Swenson Lewis, during her lifetime and at her death, the said estate both real and personal to be equally divided between my two children Rachel Stapleton Lewis and Hyrum Smith Lewis.
Lastly I hereby nominate and appoint Horton D. Haight of Oakley, Cassia Co., Idaho Territory and Thomas Harper of Calls Fort, Box Elder Co., Utah my executors of this my last will and testament and hereby revoke all former wills by me made.
In witness whereof I have hereunder set my hand and seal this twenty-eighth (28) day of January in the year of our Lord One Thousand Eight Hundred and eighty four. [Signed] James Stapleton Lewis
The foregoing instrument consisting of three pages besides this was at the date hereof by the said James Stapleton Lewis signed and sealed and published as and declared to be his last will and testament in presence of us who at his request and in his presence and the presence of each other have subscribed our names as witnesses hereby:
P.A. Madson [signed] residing at Brigham City, Box Elder County, Utah Territory
J. D. Peters [signed] of Brigham City, Box Elder Co., Utah (Copy provided by great-grandson, Leland Lewis).34
Mary outlived James by seventeen years. James had left her their home and the property in his will, and she lived in Albion for many years. Many of her grandchildren and great-grandchildren remember visiting her in her tiny home, some referred to it as not much more than a hut. There is no evidence that she ever corresponded with any of her family back in Sweden, and it seems that she was the only one to come to America. From the time of her immigration, she used the name Mary Swenson, as opposed to her given name, Anna Maria Svensson or Svensdotter. A photograph of Mary and James shows a round-faced woman with her hair pulled back in a bun. Unlike most of the severe poses of the day, Mary's features are soft and kindly, and she is smiling sweetly. We need to have more stories and memories of this wonderful lady. Mary died in Declo, Cassia, Idaho, on 9 May 1918, probably at the home of her only living son, Hyrum. She was buried in the Mormon Cemetery in Albion next to James.
In 2000, Gene Lewis, a great-grandson, wrote,
What a blessing on all of us who are descendants of James Stapleton Lewis. I wonder how many thousands of his family line that became members of the Church (LDS of course) because he had the inspiration to be baptized and the true grit to endure everything he went through and be a true and good member of the church. I know that his being a member has descended down from my Great, Great Grandfather to my Great Grandfather, to my Grandfather, to my father, to me, to my children, to my grandchildren and my great grandchildren. How blessed we are all that he was baptised. I wonder how many thousands who are of his line, who have married--had children and on & on, that are LDS because of that Man?"
Those of their posterity who are not members of the Church can appreciate their grandparents' integrity, courage, and love of family, as well as their willingness to stand firm for their convictions. Arthur K. Love, Joel Lewis II's grandson and a Methodist preacher in Indiana during the early part of the 1900's, dedicated his book, Our American Ancestry, to James. Though he speaks of James, he also honors Anna and Mary.
In grateful memory of James Stapleton Lewis, pioneering son of a long succession of pioneering ancestors, whose devotion to the ideals of the American way of life and duty held sacred by his forefathers, and whose example of keeping unbroken the tie of family solidarity and affection despite his long separation from his father's house and people, have been for the author not only the source of a family history, but also the inspiration for continuing an exacting task which seeks its final completion…As we think on these things, surely there will come to us an ever increasing admiration for our ancestors, and an earnest desire to possess a faith and courage like unto their own. May we be worthy of the heritage which they have bequeathed to us (Love, Dedication).
Janis Clark Durfee
P.O. Box 175
Almo, Idaho 83312
Any corrections, additions, or comments would be appreciated.
A Works Cited page is included in this history. It contains references for all of the histories gathered on the family of James Stapleton Lewis. Many of the references in this history do not include a page number. Several of the family histories were emailed, others have been recopied, and others were bits and pieces of duplicated copies. Page numbers seemed random. If a page was numbered, it was included in the source material. If there was no clear numbering system, then no page nuimber was included.