Richard Wesley McAllister
Contributor: deacent Created: 1 year ago Updated: 1 year ago
William James Frazier McAllister and Elizabeth Thompson McAllister were devout Methodists. Their three sons and one daughter followed in their footsteps. They lived in Lewes (pronounced Lewis), Delaware. The Family eventually migrated to Philadelphia.
Their oldest son, James William Thompson McAllister, married and lived in Philadelphia. He died in his mid-thirties in 1857 and is buried in the Mount Moriah Cemetery in Philadelphia. At the time of his death he was a Health Inspector for the City. However, the 1850 Census appears to list his occupation as a House Carpenter.
After James' death, his wife and children remained in Philadelphia and were members of the Methodist Church. Some of James' children were christened at the Wharton Street Methodist Episcopal Church in Philadelphia.
(For more details regarding James' wife and children--our McAllister Cousins who stayed in Philadelphia--see the story titled, "James William Thompson McAllister.")
The third son in the McAllister Family, John Daniel Thompson McAllister, married a Mormon girl and came to Utah. His father never forgave him.
Mary Jane McAllister was a piano teacher in Philadelphia. She married and had a daughter, Mary Elizabeth Cullen. The 1850 Census shows Mary Jane and Edward Cullen (Culin) living with her parents. The circumstances surrounding Mary Jane's first husband, Mr. Cullen, and what happened to him remain unclear. The 1860 Census lists an Edward Cullen (Culin) of the same age living in a Boarding House in Philadelphia. However, there is a 1851 Death Record for an Edward Cullen of similar age as well. When William James Frazier died, Elizabeth Thompson McAllister lived with Mary Jane as seen on the 1860 Census. The home they lived in still stands.
The second son, Richard Wesley McAllister, is the subject of this article. Richard Wesley was born 19 October 1824. It is believed he was born in Lewes, Delaware. (His parents were married in Lewes, and they lived there for some time. Richard's younger brother JDT McAllister was born in Lewes, and his journal documents the Family lived in Lewes.)
Richard Wesley married Elizabeth Eleanor Bell, who was born in New Castle, Delaware 22 October 1822. At some point, Elizabeth moved to Philadelphia and lived with her Uncle James See. James See owned a Tailor shop, and this is where Elizabeth must have learned her Dress Making skills. Richard and Elizabeth married in Philadelphia about 1844; the exact location remains unknown. Uncle James See was also a part-time Methodist Minister, and he probably performed the Marriage.
Richard and Elizabeth lived in Portsville, Delaware. Their first child, William James Frazier McAllister II was born there 16 August 1845. Shortly after his birth, they decided to move to Philadelphia.
They settled in the Southwark District of Philadelphia. Today, an Interstate Freeway passes through the general location of their home. The Richard Wesley McAllister Family can be seen on the 1860 U.S. Census for Philadelphia. Richard's occupation is listed as a Shoemaker. The Family seems to be listed on the 1850 Census also, however, it appears that Richard's name was mistakenly recorded as William McAllister. The location, occupation, and family members all seem to match the Richard Wesley Family almost perfectly. His Uncle George Thompson is living with them.
Richard Wesley McAllister trained as a Methodist Minister.
St. George’s United Methodist Church in Philadelphia is the oldest Methodist Church in America still in use. It is extremely beautiful and easy to visit. It is believed that Richard Wesley had some association with St. George’s Methodist Church while he trained and became a minister.
Three more sons were born to the Family. The first two were named after Richard’s brothers. John Daniel Thompson McAllister was born 13 September 1848 and died 16 January 1849. James William Thompson McAllister was born 17 February 1850 and died 20 April 1858. Richard Wesley was born 31 January 1853 and died shortly after birth. The loss of these three children was devastating.
Reverend Richard Wesley McAllister was visiting members of his parish one day. Near evening he stopped at the cemetery to check the graves of his three little boys. He simply knelt by their graves and uttered a silent prayer that the Lord would comfort his aching heart. For just an instant, he saw the Savior, Jesus, holding his infant son. At his feet was the one year old and standing at his side was the eight year old. That instant was enough to forever change Reverend Richard Wesley’s beliefs.
The following Sunday, as he stood at the pulpit of his Methodist Church, he shared his experience. He said he knew his three little boys were in heaven. He believed all babies baptized - or not - were in heaven! He continued by saying he could no longer believe that the Godhead was three in one. They had to be three separate beings. This shocked his congregation. This was not Methodist Doctrine.
Within the week, a member had contacted the Elders of the Methodist Church who were responsible for the Philadelphia Ministers. Reverend McAllister received a letter summonsing him to a trial for preaching false doctrine. Richard Wesley laid the letter on his desk to answer a knock at his door. It was his brother John Daniel Thompson McAllister, Orson Pratt, and Daniel Wigeland (or Greenic). They were en-route to fulfill mission assignments in Scotland. Using only the Bible, the three elders prepared Richard’s defense. JDT spoke in his brother’s behalf, in his brother’s church. The building was filled to overflowing.
The Methodist Elders deliberated and returned a verdict that allowed Richard Wesley McAllister to retain his membership in the Church, but never again would he be allowed Minister status! Although Richard had been named for the founder of the Methodist Church, he turned his back on that religion and embraced the Mormon Church.
The missionaries remained at the McAllister home. They taught the Family and in January 1861 in the Bath House on the corner of 12th and Walnut Street, JDT baptized, Richard, Elizabeth Eleanor, WJF II, Mother Eliza, and sister Mary Jane Cullen.
(The above account comes from the History of Richard's son, William James Frazier McAllister II.)
On June 17, 1861 all those who were baptized, along with Richard's younger children, bid farewell to their friends and extended family and began their migration West. (An interesting note: The Family stayed that last night with relatives whose home was located at Ninth and Callowhill Street. The Philadelphia LDS Temple is being built near this location and is a short distance from the site of Richard Wesley’s home.) Before boarding the train, the Family took one last look at their city. The train station has been removed, however, the train storage barn, connected to the station, remains and is used as a retail shopping outlet.
In Salt Lake City, Richard purchased a home belonging to Lem Stewart located just across the street from Emigration Square. They lived in this home for many years.
On 21 March 1863 Richard Wesley married Emma Smith Walling.
She remained in the Downtown House. He purchased a home on the corner of 8th East and 5th South for Elizabeth Eleanor. They, along with mother Eliza, were members of the Tenth Ward located on the corner of 4th South and 8th East. The funerals for all three were held in this building. Today, the church house is still in use and a Chuck-A-Rama restaurant is located next door.
Richard provided for his family by operating a shoe repair shop, which was located on the southeast corner of 11th East and 4th South. The little building remains. It is on the East side of a rock home and just south of the rock wall that is next to the sidewalk. Elizabeth Eleanor worked with him. She had trained as a seamstress. She did custom sewing and alterations, etc.
Richard Wesley fulfilled many church callings. He passed away 17 October 1904 just two days before his 80th birthday. He is buried with his two wives and many of his children in the Salt Lake City Cemetery, Block E15, grave #3. Enter the cemetery via 11th Avenue because this entrance puts you on Center Street in the cemetery. This street runs north and south. The plot is located at 310 North and is at the northwest corner of the intersection.
Richard Wesley fathered 18 children and was survived by his second wife and ten children. He told his children about hosting Abraham Lincoln; leading Lincoln’s light parade in Philadelphia during Lincoln’s first presidential campaign.
His life is intimately personal because it is tied to locations his posterity can visit.
Documentation for Richard Wesley was taken from the History of his son William James Frazier II, the History of his brother JDT McAllister, and from research conducted at the Historical Society of Pennsylvania located in Philadelphia. The Histories are on file at the LDS Church History Library in Salt Lake City, UT.
William James Frazier McAllister I (Richard Wesley’s father)
was born 15 July 1799 in Laurel, Delaware. There is no record of the date he moved his family to Philadelphia. I did some research at the "Historical Society of Pennsylvania" in Philadelphia, and I found a Funeral Notice for William James Frazier McAllister I. The notice appeared in the "Philadelphia Public Ledger" on 22 Aug. 1857. The Surname was spelled "McCallister." JDT McAllister indicated in his journal that some members of the Family spelled the McAllister Surname as "McCallister."
WJF I was a Blacksmith, and there is a listing in an old Philadelphia City Directory from 1837 that "may" be a reference to him.
Based on Census Documents and other historical records, it seems clear that we had many extended ancestors in the greater Philadelphia area. JDT McAllister spent the latter part of 1860 and half of 1861 doing missionary work among his relatives in the Philadelphia area. He stayed at his sister's home and kept a daily journal of his activites.
(See JDT McAllister's Journals on Microfilms 132 and 133, Family History Library.)
The Journal documents many names of relatives that he visited. Many of these relatives did not join the LDS Church, but it is certain these individuals and their descendants will be listed in the Philadelphia City Directories and on Census Documents. (See JDT McAllister Temple Record Book on Microfilm 1036933 item #6, Family History Library, lists many McAllister Family Relatives.)
In the History of WJF II it tells of an accident in which WJF I legs were crushed in a local tavern by an angry drunkard. WJF I spent the rest of his life in a wheelchair. The same History states that Richard Wesley and his oldest brother had the duty of carrying their father from the upstairs bedroom to the main floor each morning and night. WJF I died 21 August 1857. There are burial records and two small grave markers located in the Mount Moriah Cemetery, Philadelphia believed to be for WJF I and James Wm. Thompson McAllister. I have been to the cemetery and visited the location of his funeral.
Elizabeth Thompson was born 17 August 1803 in Delaware. She came west and lived with John D.T. and Richard Wesley. There is an entry showing that she was sealed to Brigham Young. She died 31 May 1872 and is buried in the family plot in the Salt Lake City Cemetery.
The books titled, "Pioneers and Prominent Men of Utah," located in the Family History Library, have pictures and short biographies of some of our McAllister Ancestors. The biography for Richard Wesley McAllister indicates he arrived in Utah with the Joseph Horne Company. However, he is currently not listed as a member of that company. According to the History of William James Frazier McAllister II, the Family did separate while traveling to Utah. William James Frazier II and his grandmother, Elizabeth Thompson McAllister, arrived in Utah with the Milo Andrus Company in 1861. The Joseph Horne company arrived in Utah the next year in 1862. Perhaps Richard Wesley joined the Joseph Horne Company at some point?
Richard Wesley and Elizabeth Eleanor Bell’s oldest son, William James Frazier McAllister II, born 16 August 1845, married Eleanor Jackson Adams 3 October 1868. He participated in the ground breaking for the St. George LDS Temple. He was called on a mission to the Zuni Indian Tribe and returned in time to participate in the Temple’s dedication. He helped settle Kanab, Utah. He died in American Fork, Utah 17 August 1943.
Eleanor Jackson Adams was born 3 August 1853 Salt Lake City, Utah to Samuel Lorenzo Adams and Emma Jackson. She died 25 July 1920 in Kanab, Utah. She lived a most interesting life. She ran a boarding house and a drug store in Kanab.