ISAAC MORLEY LEWIS

ALTHEA MARIE NORTON

 

Isaac Morley Lewis was born on 15 October 1844 in Nauvoo, Illinois. His birth must have been eagerly anticipated yet filled with uncertainty and worry since James and Mary had lost their last two sons when they were about two years old. There was an age difference of about eight years between Isaac and John, his youngest living brother. True to the family tradition, Isaac was named after Isaac Morley, a missionary and Church leader who is mentioned by name in the Doctrine and Covenants, a sacred book of revelations. The family had recently moved to Nauvoo after being separated from the body of the Saints for about five years after their expulsion from Missouri. They had been living in Carroll County, Indiana, near James' parents, Joel and Rachel. They found the "City Beautiful" full of turmoil and despair. The prophet and his brother, Hyrum, had been martyred, and the Saints were again facing persecution and eviction. Isaac was just over a year old when the Lewises fled Nauvoo in 1846.

James had been called by Church Leaders to settle temporarily in Mount Pisgah, a farming settlement in Iowa established as a supply stop for Church members en route to Council Bluffs and later to Utah. The area surrounding Mount Pisgah was beautiful, with the Grand River running nearby, and the low sloping hills covered with lush grass and thick stands of timber. The crops grew well, and deer and other game were plentiful, making the family's stay in Mount Pisgah quite pleasurable. Two brothers, Wilford Woodruff and William Fallis, were born in Mount Pisgah; William died shortly after birth. In 1852, the settlement was disbanded and the Lewises were finally able to migrate to Utah. After a difficult journey, the family made their home in Sugar House, just south of Salt Lake City. The family entered the valley in August, too late to plant and harvest a crop, so their first winter in the valley was marked by deprivation and hunger. An invasion by two armies, one of crickets and the other of men, further stretched the resources of the Lewis family.

While living in Sugar House, the Lewises became acquainted with the Alonson Norton family and the children attended school together. The Nortons had joined the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in New York about 1840. They had also lived in Nauvoo, and like James, Alonson had been called to grow crops in Little Pigeon, a sister community to Mount Pisgah. It was there that Althea Marie was born on 27 November 1849. When she was about three years old, her mother died of childbed fever, leaving a young family to be raised by a grieving father and a caring grandmother. Her father was a professional weaver and a personal friend of Brigham Young. Alonson was called by Brigham Young to help settle several different areas, using his skills to enrich the lives of the people in the various communities. Althea learned at a young age to weave and made all of the clothing for her family.

About 1862, James and Anna moved their family to Coalville, Summit, Utah, just across the Wasatch Mountains from Salt Lake and Ogden. Isaac would have been about eighteen at the time. His brother, Hyrum, recorded that Isaac was a violin maker (Hyrum) and as such, he was probably also a violin player. Alonson moved his family to Coalville in 1864, and the two families became reacquainted (Janis Clark Durfee, July 2000).

The Remainder of Isaac's History is taken from writings of Clara Hall, Althea's daughter

When they got settled in Coalville, Althea found it was not quiet nor lonesome, but a thriving and sparkling little town, with dancing, parties and plays of its own. She found there a crowd of young Mormons her own age and older who were full of friendliness and fun who readily took Althea and Dora into their ranks and they were soon having the best time of their lives…Althea soon recognized Isaac as the red-headed, lanky, fellow who had teased her and said she sang as sweet as a "Norton girl". But now he was not redheaded nor lanky. He was tall and handsome with reddish wavy hair. Wilford was there too and it was hard to believe the young man with the grey eyes too big for his face and whom she had scarcely noticed, was this handsome, strapping fellow of seventeen. Wilford was now getting enough to eat and his eyes were no longer too big. They were a beautiful steel grey and had a merry twinkle. This with the coal black, slightly curly hair made a very attractive man of this tall young man. He held his head so high and walked with such dignity and grace. Althea often went with these Lewis boys, sometime one and sometimes the other. It was hard to tell which one she like the best…

Johnson's army, which had been sent to subdue the Mormons, had gone back to the states, subdued, leaving many useful things in Utah with the Mormons. The Great Black Hawk Indian War was over. Wicked Chief Walker was no longer here and the Indians were friendly…A railroad was being built at Ogden and it was intended that it should meet one starting from the east across the plains over the Mormon Trail. Many wagon trails were crossing the plains, each year bringing thousands of converts emigrants both from the states and from across the seas. A temple was being built in Salt Lake City and an Endowment House was already in use and sealings, for time and eternity..

Love and romance had kept pace with the fun and good times of the young people of Coalville. And while they still went in the crowd and often Wilford was the partner when they went in couples, there was no doubt about it, Isaac was deeply in love with the pretty Norton-gal, Althea. As it got nearer her sixteenth birthday, Althea began refusing Wilford's invitations and accepting Isaac's. Wilford assumed an independent air and held his head just a little higher, danced, skated and played just a little harder, and no one but Anna knew how deep his hurt was. Anna would never let anyone know, she knew not even Wilford, this strapping seventeen year old son, was still her baby and in some ways, still her favorite. Very few things touched him either of joy or sorrow, but that she also felt and he felt just as tenderly toward his mother though few words of endearment ever passed between them.

Althea was the seamstress of the family…This cloth Althea made up into clothes for the family and the big bolts of linen and cotton into sheets, pillow cases, table cloths and towels. A part of which she put away for her own home. And soon after her birthday, November 17, 1865, she began making her wedding dress, a beautiful blue woolen, the same color as her eyes. The busy, happy weeks sped by and February 18, 1866 was Althea's wedding day. Lovingly and proudly Isaac led her from Alanson's home into the home of James S. Lewis, the Bishop and Justice of the Peace of Coalville. There they were married by civil law by James Lewis; they were sealed for time and eternity in the Endowment House at Salt Lake City in 1870. The house was full of happy friends and relatives. Althea was lovely in her blue dress with the tight fitting waist and long full skirt, and her golden hair piled high on her head in soft curls and held there with combs made of horn and trimmed with blue glass beads, her eyes were bright with excited happiness, yet soft with unshed tears of love and maidenly timidity held just inside. James and Anna welcomed with joy this new daughter into their home and family, while Alanson and Julia blessed her as she departed from theirs. A few tears were shed by Dora who felt keenly the parting with this beloved sister who had been her constant companion all her life. Grandma Lucy had kept these girls together, binding them closely with the loving memory of the sweet blue-eyed Sarah who had died so young leaving her babies without a mother…Feasting, well wishing, merrymaking, and laughter were the order of the day. And merriest of all was Wilford, as he gave his new sister a rousing welcoming kiss (the last, he thought, he would ever give her.)

On September 6, 1866, Lucy Wilkinson Norton died at Coalville, Utah. She is buried there. Only a line in history but what changes came into the lives of her loved ones at the passing of Lucy Wilkinson Norton...To Althea, newly married and to become a mother soon at the tender age of 17. Surely no one needed grandma more than Althea did. Lucy had been both mother and grandmother to Althea since she was two years old. And never had had she failed her in a single thing. Never was there a problem or hurt that grandma couldn't help, and never was Althea troubled with just how and what to do but that grandma could tell her and show her what was right and best. And now grandma was gone and could help her no more. With a breaking heart, Althea turned to her young husband and putting her arms around his neck, sobbed. "You are all I have now, Isaac, you will have to be everything, husband, mother, and grandmother".

Tenderly Isaac held the sobbing girl close to his heart and said, "Althea, as long as I live, I will love you and shield you from every hurt, and sorrow, that is in my power. And I will bring you every good thing, every joy, and blessing that is in my power to give you. I will take care of you and every comfort I can get for you shall be yours"! Brave words from a brave young husband. True and sincere promises from a true and noble young man. Words and promises that were never forgotten and were faithfully kept in love and truth as long as Isaac lived.

Soon after the passing of his mother, Alanson moved his family to Brigham City, and December 16, 1866, Althea's baby son was born. He was named James Alanson for both his grandfathers. He was a lovely baby with hair and eyes the same color as his father's reddish brown hair and brownish grey eyes. Before Lanson was a year old, Isaac and Althea moved to Brigham City and built them a little home on Main Street, near the creek. In 1868, James and Mary moved to Brigham City and the Lewis and Norton families were once more neighbors. On 16th of September 1868, another son was born to Isaac and Althea. This one with coal-black hair and bright dark eyes of his grandfather, James. Althea said this son must have his father's name, "I will name him Isaac. What will I put with it"? Isaac quickly answered, "Wilford", for my brother, and we will call him Wilford, not Isaac Jr. And Wilford they called him. While Alanson had his father's hair and eyes, Wilford had his disposition and axioms and grew to be more like him year after year.

July 13, 1871, what a happy day. Althea and Isaac were the proud and grateful parents of a baby girl. There were several girls in the Norton family but very few in the Lewises. This little lady was such a pretty mite with the dark brown Lewis eyes and hair, golden brown, the same bright shining brown that gleamed in the hair of Althea's and her mother, Sarah Marie Freeman Norton. They named her Martha Marie. Althea was so happy it seemed nothing more could be asked of life. Two manly sons, a dainty, brown-eyed daughter, and noble young husband whom she loved and who loved her so well. True to his word, he had built her a house as good a one as could be built in these days. He had put into it all the comforts within his power. After fifty changing years Althea went back to this spot and though most everything else had changed by modern and machine run civilization, there still stood this sturdy house in Main Street near the creek, built so long ago by the strong hands of her young husband. In faithful fulfillment of his promise to his sweet girl wife that he would love her, take care of her, and bring her every good thing and comfort that was within his power. Early in the spring of 1873, Althea and Isaac moved their little family to Hooper, right on the shores of the Great Salt Lake. It was here on October 1, 1873, their fourth child, another daughter with brown eyes and golden brown hair, was born. They named her Delinda Amelia.

In 1874 Isaac and Althea moved from Hooper to a little farm on the foothills near Honeyville, at what is now Crystal Springs. A railroad was being built at Corinne and needed timber for ties and in the late winter of 1874, Isaac and Ephrum Cutler had taken a contract to furnish part of this timber they were planning to cut the trees in Deep Canyon, Just a few miles east of Isaac and Althea's home. Let us read the story of the next few weeks as it was told by Althea to her grandson, some sixty years later in 1933:

On a very pleasant day, I was driving along the highway between Corinne and Brigham City, Utah. It was a glorious day--the valley was flooded with the perfume of the orchards in full bloom, the meadows fairly glistened where the sunbeams touched the grass, the early gardens were a smiling through the soft brown earth, and even the cows in their pastures has that happy, contented look that comes in early May. A train went rushing past us, speeding on its way north--far beyond Corinne, and I thought, "My grandfather and uncles helped to build the track that carries that train northward". When the railroad was only as far north as Corinne, my grandfathers both paternal and maternal, rode over this same roadway, but under very different conditions. Instead of a smooth concrete highway, driving a high-powered automobile, they walked with a bullwhip in hand beside ox teams and heavily loaded wagons. They had only a rough dirt road into which the wheels often sank to the hub in mud or sand. In the seat beside me, I had a very pleasant traveling companion, my grandmother--and as I glanced at her, I could tell by the sweet, dreamy expression in her eyes, that she too, was thinking of the past. I knew her early married life had been in homes in this vicinity, Corinne, Brigham City and Deweyville. She had crossed the plains as a child in 1852, had gone to Provo, where her mother had died in 1853. Her father was a weaver. He had established the first woolen mill in Utah. This mill was moved into different places near Salt Lake City, wherever conditions, such as waterpower, and roads made it practical, and convenient to operate. Thus, she had lived in many different places in the valley. I was sure it was of these things she was thinking. I said, "Grandmother, this is your old "stomping ground". Does it seem familiar, or has there been so great changes you can hardly find any landmarks". She didn't answer for a moment, but gazed around the valley, then she lifted her tender and still beautiful blue eyes to the skyline of the high mountains east of Honeyville. Her answer grew into the most touching and beautiful pioneer story I have ever heard. She said: "The valley has changed. I can hardly find anything familiar yet I lived her somewhere with my husband. I can find the house he built for us in Brigham City. It is the same, although the surroundings are different, except the creek--the same one that Wilford fell into and we thought he had drowned. But the mountains are the same.

Oh those beautiful mountains! How can anything be so lovely and yet so cruel? Look son, at the three canyons directly east of Crystal Springs, see the one in the middle where the two peaks at the top form a saddle in the skyline? See the steep, rocky walls at the upper end, almost as straight as the walls of a building? That's Deep Canyon, and "deep" is a very good name for it, for it is very deep and narrow. In winter and spring of 1874-1875, I lived with my husband and four children somewhere along those foothills between Deweyville and Honeyville, about five miles from Deep Canyon. We were such a happy family. Although I had been married ten years, I was only 26, Alanson was 9, Wilford was 6, Mattie was 3, and Linda was just six months old. It was early spring, the 20 of March. My husband and a friend of his had taken a contract with the railroad to furnish an amount of logs cut up into ties. They were going to take them from Deep Canyon. Late in the afternoon Isaac had asked me to help him pack some food and bedding to take with them as they intended to camp in a little hut built in the side of the canyon. I begged him to stay until morning. It was such a short distance away and I would get him away so early in the morning, you see, I was so young and had such a fear of staying alone at night. But the friend, who was unmarried, insisted on going that night. He said they would be chopping down trees when daylight came. I cried when he kissed me good-by. I couldn't help it, even though I was ashamed to be such a poor pioneer. I watched him as long as I could see him. He had wrapped gunny-sack around his foot and tied his pants leg with twine string to keep out the snow. Next morning I was still so lonely and restless, I took the children and went to my father's house, about a mile away. It was raining and looked so dark and stormy over the mountains, I could hardly distinguish Deep Canyon as I stood by the window facing that direction. In spite of the comfort of my family, I was deeply depressed. About noon, while I was still standing by the window, I heard the awful roar of a snowslide and saw the whole side of Deep Canyon move toward the bottom. It didn't take us long to reach the slide, but oh the hopeless sight that met us there. The slide had swept the hut, men and all to the bottom of the canyon and then piled up the snow on top. The snow had turned to ice by the rain and the compact as it struck the bottom of the canyon, making a solid block of ice on top of all.

Kindly hearted men from all over the valley came with shovels to try to find the bodies, but there were miles of the slide--how could they know where to work? But they did work, day after day, moving those tons of icy snow. After three weeks, they found one of the axes, then one of the bodies--but not my dear ones. I went to the canyon each morning and waited, hoping every hour that they would find my loved one. Each night I took my little ones and went back to my lonely home. After three weeks they decided it was hopeless to try to move the snow and that they would patrol the slide everyday and let the sun and spring rains melt the ice and snow away. Your great uncle Alva stayed and watched through every minute of daylight. I continued to go to Deep Canyon everyday. I couldn't stay away. I knew that somewhere in that icy canyon floor lay the body of my brave young husband.

For six long weeks I waited. It was in a spring morning--5 of May, just 59 years ago today, the pistol shot that was a signal, sounded clear and sharp down the canyon. We knew Alva had discovered his brother's body. It was a warm, bright, sunshiny day--just like today and as Alva patrolled the slide, he saw the fingers of Isaac's left hand showing through the snow. I got there as quickly as I could, but they had already put him into a wagon to take him to Bright City for burial. I asked to see him but they thought it would be better for me to wait until he was dressed for burial. Alva said, "He belongs to her, if she wishes to see him now, she shall see him now". I was helped up into the wagon. There he lay--exactly as he left home, with the gunny-sacks still wrapped around his feet and his pants legs still tied with twine. The same smile of love on his face. Even the terror of a snowslide of death itself could not erase that smile of love and faith, service and courage. It had been my mainstay and support, my shield again at discouragement, disappointment and fear. It is your heritage, son, left you by your thirty-year-old grandfather, who died in the service of building the west, at the very prime of his courageous and splendid manhood.

In 1876, Wilford took Althea as his wife, raising Isaac's children as his own. Their story is continued in Wilford's history.