A brief history of Philo Johnson
Contributor: lindac65 Created: 7 months ago Updated: 7 months ago
Philo Johnson was born 6 Dec 1814 in Newtown, Fairfield County, Connecticut. He was the 6th of ten children of Samuel Johnson (1780-1862) and Sarah ("Sally") Abigail Griffin (1782-1864). Philo was descended from many early American colonial families, including Nichols, Harmon, Peck, Adams, Booth, Sanford, Wheeler, Osborn, Sperry, Frost, and Bennett families. His mother was also a descendant of Huguenots (French protestants) Pierre Lodisoir, Pierre Daucet and Pierre Feret (surname later anglicized to Ferry), who in the 1600's had fled to England and later to America, to escape religious persecution. Philo had married at age 23, in Apr. 1838, to Sarah Maria Mills. There were no children by this marriage. Philo and his wife both joined the LDS ("Mormon") Church in 1841, and in 1842 they moved to Nauvoo, Illinois, which was the gathering place of the church at the time. Philo worked on the temple in Nauvoo for about a year, laying rock and brick. He helped finish it, and he and his wife received their endowments there.
He was driven out of Nauvoo, along with the other members of the church, in 1846. Thousands of destitute people crossed the Mississippi River and made their way across Iowa. They didn't have permission to stop for any length of time, so they had to push on all the way to the Missouri. There they spent the winter in tents and dugouts. Hundreds of people died and were buried on the hill near the camp. All winter, Philo was employed digging graves for those who had died. (This was the same winter that the Donner Party was stranded in the Sierra Nevada Mountains on their way to California.)
In 1847, Philo was called by Brigham Young to be a member of the "Pioneer Company" to go west and search out a location for the Saints to settle. The pioneers were organized in groups of ten. Philo Johnson was in the "9th Ten", along with Heber C. Kimball and his wife Ellen Sanders Kimball, Howard Egan -- captain of the 9th Ten, William Clayton, Robert Baird, George Billings, Thomas P. Cloward, Hosea Cushing, William King, and Edson Whipple.
In WILFORD WOODRUFF, HIS LIFE AND LABORS 26:272:22, William Clayton, the official camp historian, wrote under date of May 8, 1847:
"I have counted the revolutions of a wagon wheel in order to get the exact distance we have traveled. The reason why I have taken this method which is somewhat tedious, is because there is generally a difference of two, and sometimes four, miles in a day's travel between my estimation and that of some others, and they have all thought I underrated it. This morning I determined to take pains in order to know for a certainty how far we would travel today. Accordingly I measured the circumference of one of the hind wheels of Brother Kimball's wagon, being the one I sleep in, in charge of Philo Johnson. I found the wheel exactly fourteen feet eight inches in circumference, not varying one eighth of an inch. I then calculated how many revolutions it would require for one mile and found it precisely 360, not varying one fraction, which somewhat astonished me. I have counted all the revolutions during the day's travel and find it to be a little over 11 miles. According to my previous calculations we were 285 miles from Winter Quarters this morning before we started, and after traveling ten miles I placed a small cedar post in the ground with these words inscribed on it with a pencil:
From Winter Quarters 295 miles
May 8, 1847 -- Camp all well
Some have estimated the day's journey at 13 and some 14 miles, which serves to convince more strongly that the distances are overrated. I have repeatedly suggested a plan of fixing machinery to a wagon wheel to tell the exact distance we travel, and many begin to be sanguine (enthusiastic) for carrying it into effect. This ... led to a mechanical contrivance which was later put into effect."
Howard Egan, Captain of the "Ninth Ten" which included Philo Johnson, wrote in his journal May 14, 1847,
"Brother William Clayton has invented a machine and attached it to the wagon that Brother Johnson drives, to tell the distance we travel. It is simple yet ingenious. He got Brother Appleton Harmon to do the work. I have understood that Brother Harmon claims to be the inventor, too, which I know to be a positive falsehood. He, Brother Harmon, knew nothing about the first principles of it; neither did he know how to do the work only as Brother Clayton told him from time to time. It shows the weakness of human nature."
Considering the circumstances of the pioneers, it was very extraordinary that such an odometer should be constructed at such a time and under such circumstances. This "roadometer", suggested by William Clayton, was designed by Orson Pratt and built by carpenter Appleton Harmon. It was attached to the rear wheel of one of Heber C. Kimball's wagons, mentioned above, since this wheel was of the exact measurement desired. This wagon which measured the mileage, upon which William Clayton based his famous "Emigrant's Guide," was driven by Philo Johnson all the way to Salt Lake City.
William Clayton was Philo Johnson's traveling companion in the same wagon, but Brother Clayton seldom mentioned Philo at all in his journal. Perhaps Philo was a rather quiet, inconspicuous man, who just faithfully stuck to his job with the team and wagon. He was not mentioned in any of the other pioneers' journals either, and he has been overlooked in Church History as the driver of the wagon which had the odometer on it. Besides the quotes above, the only other mention of Philo Johnson was when William Clayton wrote that he and Philo slept at night in the same wagon, and they had only one blanket to share between the two of them, and got very cold.
On Sunday, July 25, the day after entering the Salt Lake Valley, the pioneers held several sabbath meetings, and sermons and prayers were given. Heber C. Kimball also "held a special meeting with those brethren who were part of his family by adoptive sealing," and counseled and organized them, left Bishop Edson Whipple in charge while he (Heber) was gone back to Winter Quarters, and he offered a prayer and invoked the blessings of the Lord upon them and their families. Robert Baird, Hans Hansen, Thomas Cloward, Philo Johnson, Edson Whipple, and Charles Harper are among those mentioned as being present at this special meeting, indicating that they had been sealed by adoption to Heber C. Kimball. At this meeting Philo Johnson was appointed to make some hats (which was the trade he was best trained for), and Thomas Cloward was asked to make shoes.
NOTE: In the early days of the church, it was quite common for men to be sealed to church leaders, especially if their own families had not become members. Philo's parents had not joined the church, so it would not have been unusual for him to be sealed by adoption to someone like Heber C. Kimball. The fact that Philo was the driver of one of Kimball's wagons on the journey to the Salt Lake Valley also fits this theory. Philo was probably one of the men who were called "Brother Kimball's boys" by William Clayton in his journal, when he said these "boys" built a ferry at the Green River crossing.
Sarah Maria Mills Johnson came to Utah with the Ezra T. Benson company, arriving in October, 1849, to join her husband, who had already been in the Salt Lake valley for over two years.
About a month earlier, the German Ellsworth family had entered the valley with the Samuel Gully/Orson Spencer company. The father of the family, German, was very ill, and the mother was pregnant with her seventh child. The baby was born in October, and the father died in November.
On 17 March 1850, Philo entered plural marriage, marrying the widow, Experience ("Speedy") Brown Ellsworth. Speedy had been born 25 May 1820, in Leeds, Ontario, Canada; the second of seven children of David Hubble Brown and Lucinda Batchelder.
Philo Johnson and Experience Almeda Brown Ellsworth were married in Salt Lake City by Heber C. Kimball. (This is another incident which shows the close association between Philo Johnson and Heber C. Kimball.) Philo was 35 years old and Speedy was 29 when they were married. She already had borne seven children by her first husband, and she and Philo had seven more. The children were:
ELIZABETH ELLSWORTH (b. 1839 in Michigan,
d. 1857 in Payson at age 17)
EPHRAIM ELLSWORTH (b. 1841 in Michigan,
d. 1887 in Spring Lake, Utah,
had 10 children)
EVALINE ELLSWORTH McCALL ALLEN SIMMONS (b. 1842 in Michigan,
d. 1892 in Salt Lake City,
had 7 children)
ESTHER ELLSWORTH DOWDLE DALEY POTTER (b. 1844 in Iowa,
d. 1918 in Payson,
had 7 children)
MINERVA ELLSWORTH ZUFELT (b. 1846 in Iowa,
had 6 children)
ISRAEL ELLSWORTH (b. 1848 in Council Bluffs, Iowa,
d. 1849 in Council Bluffs)
GERMAN ELLWORTH, Jr. (b. 1849 in Salt Lake City,
d. 1922 in Payson,
had 19 children)
PHILO JOHNSON, Jr. (b. 1851 in Salt Lake,
had 7 children)
EMILY JOHNSON WIGHTMAN (b. 1853 in Salt Lake,
d. 1926 in Salt Lake,
had 10 children)
MELISSA JOHNSON (b. 1855 in Salt Lake,
HANNAH MOSLEY JOHNSON FAIRBANKS BIGELOW (b. 1856 in Salt Lake,
had 5 children)
REUBEN WILLIAM JOHNSON (b. 1858 in Payson,
d. 1863, accidentally shot
by his older half-brother GERMAN ELLSWORTH, Jr.)
CELESTIA ADELAIDE JOHNSON FAIRBANKS (b. 1861 in Payson,
had 6 children)
SPEEDY ALICE JOHNSON DOWDLE (b. 1865 in Payson,
had 6 children).
All of the Ellsworth and Johnson children were sealed to their mother and her first husband, German Ellsworth, in 1888 in the Manti temple, although they were all raised by her second husband, Philo Johnson. Many descendants of both Ellsworths and Johnsons were named after Philo, which shows how much he was esteemed by all of his family. Several girls were also named Speedy, after their mother and grandmother.
Philo lived in Salt Lake from 1847 to 1857. In the 1850 census, Sarah Maria Mills (Philo's first wife) is recorded living next door to Philo and Almeda Johnson. After that, we have no further record of her. Philo didn't mention her in his autobiography (written in 1895) -- perhaps she died shortly after 1850.
Philo had a hat shop in Salt Lake, and made hats with Joseph and Shelmardine Haller. (The following interesting advertisement appeared in the Deseret News in 1853:
HATS! HATS! HATS!
The undersigned has opened a hat manufactory
under the superintendence of PHILO JOHNSON,
4th Ward, G. S. L. City,
where orders will be filled for
Fashionable, Comfortable, and Rough and Ready Hats.
Joseph L. Heywood
(N.B. Otter, Beaver, Muskrat, Mink and Fox skins taken in exchange.)
In the summer of 1857 word was received that Johnston's Army was approaching with threats of establishing military rule in the territory. The leaders of the church advised the people to abandon their homes and move out of the Salt Lake Valley. The Mormons were prepared to burn everything rather than have it fall into the hands of the enemy. The Johnson family moved to the southern part of Utah Valley at this time, to the small town of Payson, which became their permanent home.
In the book OUR ELLSWORTH ANCESTORS, German Ellsworth Jr.'s biography says that after they moved to Payson, Philo Johnson built a stone house and planted one of the first apple orchards of the area, and states that one seedling became famous as the "Johnson Apple."
NOTE: This old tree is still living (in the year 2000), almost 150 years after it was planted. It is still bearing fruit, although the trunk of the tree is just a hollow shell. It is growing near the home that German Ellsworth Jr. built when he started his own family. This house has been occupied by his descendants ever since then, who have cared for the old trees growing on the property. The present occupant (a grand-daughter of German Ellsworth Jr.) said that Philo Johnson worked side by side with his step-son German in building the house, and that Philo also built the nearby log cabin which was once used as shelter for the family until the larger house could be completed. Philo was an experienced mason, and was very handy at doing just about anything.
The book also states that "water shortage and Indian trouble, together with a large pioneer family, accounts for a later statement by German that it seemed he never had enough to eat until after he was married. Years later, he seemed to enjoy eating thistle stalks, sego lily bulbs, and other wild plants, for which he had acquired an appetite during his childhood." German Ellsworth Jr. was raised by his mother Speedy and his stepfather Philo Johnson, since his father had died when he was only a month old.
NOTE: Speedy was usually the disciplinarian in the family. German told his children and grandchildren that sometimes his mother would send him to bed without any supper, as a punishment. But he said that his step father Philo would always sneak some food into the bedroom for him. Philo was the only father German knew, and he adored him.
The accidental discharge of an old "unloaded" gun in the hands of 14-year-old German, killing his younger brother Reuben Johnson, had a sobering influence on his entire life. (This was a gun which someone had brought to Philo Johnson to be repaired). German Ellsworth Jr. became a carpenter, farmer, and beekeeper. He was a Patriarch in the church, and at one time was sent to prison for six months for polygamy. (That was considered to be an honor at that time in Utah, and the men were usually welcomed home as heroes when they were released.)
He served a mission to the Northern States Mission while his son German E. Ellsworth was mission president there. German Jr. and his wife Christine Nielson had 14 children. Three of their sons, Lewis N., Jesse H, and Cyrus Ellsworth, became dentists; putting themselves through BYU and then Chicago Dental School.
His son German Edgar Ellsworth served as president of the Northern States Mission, with headquarters in Chicago, for 17 years, from 1903 to 1920. "An incident of significance to all subsequent missionary activities occurred in June 1907, when German E., as guest of Apostle George Albert Smith, visited New York State for the purpose of purchasing for the Church the Joseph Smith homestead, located near Palmyra. While waiting for the approval of title to the property, German E. frequently walked the three miles from Palmyra to the Sacred Grove (where Joseph Smith had his first vision) and to the Hill Cumorah (from which came the ancient records which were translated into the Book of Mormon). One early morning at sunrise on Cumorah, German E. heard a voice out of heaven which greatly influenced his whole life. The voice said, "Son of German, son of German, push the distribution of the record taken from this hill. It will help bring the world to Christ."
"German E. followed this admonition by injecting enthusiasm and inspiration for the value of the God-given Book of Mormon as a witness for Christ. A picture postcard of the Hill Cumorah with the statement which he heard ("Push the distribution of the record taken from this hill; it will help bring the world to Christ.") was sent to all Northern States missionaries and to all mission presidents around the world. German E. was invited to visit all U.S. missions in order to spark the wider use of the Book of Mormon as a missionary tool. From a few hundred copies shipped to the missions of the Church at that time (printed in Salt Lake City at 37 and a half cents per copy), at his instigation a Chicago edition of 10,000 from new plates was printed at 27 cents per copy. This was followed by a 15,000 copy edition at 24 cents per copy, then many editions of 25,000 at 18 cents per copy over the years which German E. served as mission president, and finally a 100,000 copy edition was printed in Chicago at 12 and a half cents per copy, just prior to his establishing Zion's Printing Company in Independence, Missouri, from which place millions of books and tracts were printed. The patriarchal blessing given to German E. Ellsworth as a boy said he would take part in the beginning of the establishing of the Center Stake of Zion (in Independence, Missouri). Since he was president of the first corporation the Church had in Missouri, Zion's Printing and Publishing Company, this promise was fulfilled. After he was released as mission president, German E. worked for the U.S. Treasury Department (from 1925 to 1941), and retired at the age of 70. After this he served again as a mission president, this time in California, for 8 more years, during which time he and his wife sparked an enduring campaign of chapel building. In his later years he also did much genealogy and family history, and bore testimony to the importance of this work.
I found this story on rootcellar.us all credit for the information is to rootcellar and can be visited for more information you can follow the link below.
Ellsworth, German 1815 - 1849 From "Our Ellsworth Ancestors" pages 38-39
Contributor: lindac65 Created: 7 months ago Updated: 7 months ago
1815 - 1849
From "Our Ellsworth Ancestors" pages 38-39
German Ellsworth was born 18 January 1815 in Crosby, Ontario, Canada, he died 9 November 1849 in Salt Lake City, Utah.
German, at the age of fourteen, crossed the St. Lawrence River on the ice in a bobsleigh with his father Israel and family. They arrived at Odgensburg, New York, and lived near Paris, Oneida County, New York, for a short time. The family moved to Lapeer, Michigan where German secured eighty acres of land which he cleared and fenced.
German married Experience (Speedy) Brown, 25 Nov 1837. She was born 25 May 1820, near Leeds, Ontario County, Canada. She was the daughter of David Brown and Lucinda Bachelder. "Speedy," as she was known, was a stocky, light-complexioned, blue eyed lady. Thirteen of her fourteen children were dark complexioned.
German heard the missionaries of the Restored Gospel of Jesus Christ and was baptized in 1839. He was ordained an Elder and with Elder Brown baptized 385 converts in two years.
German sold the farm to his half-brother Daniel on 29 October 1842 and joined the party of 380 new members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints on their trek from Michigan to Nauvoo, Illinois, the headquarters of the Church at that time. German, being of a clerical turn of mind, assembled the records of his ancestors in keeping with the revelation given by God to Joseph Smith. The procedure was essential that proxy baptism and endowments could be done for the dead, all in harmony with the sermon of the Apostle Paul upon the subject of the Resurrection. The record was drenched by a heavy rain, and while drying before an open fireplace, the papers caught fire and were destroyed.
German gave all time possible from 1842 to early 1846, to aid in the construction of the beautiful Nauvoo Temple. German and his wife received their sacred temple endowments in the partially completed Nauvoo Temple before the exodus in early 1846. German was anxious to travel west with the first Company, but responded to the request of President Brigham Young to remain as clerk and checker of the Kanesville gathering place near Council Bluffs, Iowa. Thus their leaving was detained until the spring of 1849. They arrived in Salt Lake Valley, 23 September 1849. The family purchased land near Third South and Second West, called the Jenning's Block. Largely the result of exposure and his strenuous effort, German contracted mountain fever, which took his life only six weeks after his arrival in the Salt Lake Valley. A baby, Israel, had been buried at Council Bluffs, Iowa. Another baby, German, was born only a few weeks before the death of the father and only one week after the arrival of the family in Salt Lake. The mother had walked much of the way from Omaha, Nebraska. A widow with six small children, all under ten years of age, faced the winter of 1849-1850, in the strange land of the Utah desert. A great woman and a great mother was left to rear a family alone.
Martha Loretta Ellsworth Holladay
Contributor: lindac65 Created: 7 months ago Updated: 7 months ago
Stories dictated by Martha Holladay to her granddaughter Virginia Blackburn, probably in the 1960s at Martha’s home in Nampa, Idaho. Transcribed from shorthand notes in April, 1997.
I can remember my first grade in school. We used to see mice running around. The boys, they’d catch the mice and the girls were all up standing in their seats and some would cry.
Then as I got a little older I guess it was just an old-fashioned belief of the mothers that the children, especially the girls, should wear a hat so as not to get their face sunburned. Mother got me a straw hat. I never liked that hat. When I got just about a block from the school, I’d take it off and hide it in a ditch under the bridge and I’d pick it up on the way home.
One thing I can remember, my mother would never let me go any place and stay overnight. One of my girlfriends that I played with only lived across the street and I was afraid to go home. This girl’s name was Dora Taylor and she said stay all night and sleep with me and we went to bed. Shortly after we went to bed, mother came to find me and she had a little willow in her hand. I sure jumped out of that bed and started running. She came behind me and when we got home I really got a whipping with the willow. She’d get a little willow that didn’t hurt you, but it would just sting and she’d whip me.
When I was about twelve years old, my brother being a carpenter, left home to work. I had to milk the cow. I walked a block to where the corral was and milked one cow and she was so dependable you could have crawled under her belly. We never had to put her in a stanchion. We’d just go in and milk her where she was standing. They’d stand still.
Our home was only a three-room home. We had a large living room and a kitchen and one bedroom. I slept with my mother all the time until I got married, I had to.
In them days they didn’t make store carpets. We had to make our own by sewing carpet rags and have them weaved. My mother, she had a hard time trying to get me to sew enough carpet rags to make a ball. We had to sew one every day and when my girlfriend came to play she’d keep hollering, “Hurry up.” So I thought of what I would do. I’d just wrap the rags around without sewing them until I’d get a ball big enough and then I’d sew enough rags together to cover them up and they couldn’t tell and I didn’t think they’d find it out. But when mother found it out, when they told her, I guess they couldn’t call because they didn’t have phones in those days. I guess I got a licking, I don’t remember now.
When I think back when I was a girl, we didn’t have the conveniences like they have today. We just had wood and coal stoves, just a regular coal range and tea kettle and a fry pan and we had to mix our own bread. The whole neighborhood would use the same yeast. We’d get a start someway. We’d go borrow their yeast and mix our bread and then save enough back and gave enough back to start all over.
We had the copper boiler and we had to rub our clothes on a washboard. You can’t always get them clean enough that way so we’d put them in a boiler with soap and a little lye and boil them and then we’d take them out and rinse them. I always had white clothes. My mother used to tell me that if your clothes was dingy, don’t hang them out. She was a perfect washwoman. We made our own soap out of lard. If the lard happened to go a little stale, we’d always use it to make our soap. We used to wash our hands and face in handmade soap and our head. Mother would beat up an egg and wash my hair. A lot of people did that. Everybody wore long hair then, all the girls and women. I never had mine cut. Everybody had long hair.
When the people started to get lipstick I never had any money to buy anything like that. So me and my girlfriend would get crepe paper and wet it to make our lips red. Until we found out that wasn’t good because it would make our lips sore, so we had to quit.
There was a preparation you could buy—a powder. It had the directions on it. You mixed it with water and you rubbed on your face and looked like a ghost when it dried, but that shows what they used for powder.
We wore long dresses most of the time, just below my knee until I started going out with boys and they were longer then. My mother had a sewing machine. I don’t think she had it when she had her other girls and I don’t know how she got it for me. But I did all the sewing. Mother started me out by hemming dish towels.
Every time he’d [Earl] come down to see me, he’d either be in a buggy or sometimes he’d come down on a horse and we’d both get on the horse and go horseback riding. Sometimes we’d walk downtown. I knew him for two years before he ever knew that I existed. John L is my age. We went all the way through school. I knew dad too, but he didn’t know me; I was too little. He run with girls his size. Until he saw me, then the big girls didn’t matter any more. I often told him though that when he met me, he didn’t fall in love with me, he fell in love with my pink dress. I had a pretty pink dress. A lady there in Payson made it; she was a dressmaker. And I was going with her son to a Mutual dance, and this pink dress it was a taffeta and it was made princess style. Big flares and every seam that came up here had a stay in it. I had to go down after school, I don’t know how many times, to try it on. His name was Vivian Butler.
It was a Mutual dance and he asked if he could take me and I said yes and I had that pink dress on. And I guess it was that pink dress that made me popular that night because I didn’t hardly miss a dance. They didn’t do that in that day—one boy and girl all night. It was the style if a boy took a girl to a dance before he went and got a dance he made sure his girl had a partner. Or he didn’t dance. If she sat out, he’d sit out. If they didn’t, the boys would say my boyfriend let me down.
I was going with Bishop Taylor’s son and had been going with him about a year and a half, off and on. His name was James Taylor and he was Bishop William Taylor’s son.
Spring Lake had a dance; it was during the winter time. The rabbits were so bad, the men and boys, they’d go out to hunt them to get rid of them. The ones that lost had to give a dance and pay for the music at the church. The single men lost and they had to furnish everything and James Taylor took me out there, about three miles from Payson. That’s where dad first saw me and he said to one of his companions out there, ‘Who’s that girl in pink?” They said, ‘That’s James Taylor’s girl.” He went in the back door and his mother was sitting there by the stove with some other women. It was cold. He said, “Mother, see that girl in pink?” And she said, “Yes.” “Well, she’s going to be my wife,” and she called him a little fool. “You don’t know what you’re talking about.” So he went down and said to James Taylor, “Introduce me to your girl friend.” So James did and they exchanged dances and I danced with him. Grandpa said, “And every time I passed you, you’d squeeze my hand,” and I said it was the other way around. He said he fell in love with me at first sight.
Shortly after that I went to a dance in Payson Pavilion, another Mutual dance. Payson was practically all Mormons, only one little Presbyterian church. James and I went to this Mutual dance and dad came that night, too. He happened to look in the window and saw me in there and he had already met me at their dance so he came in and he asked me to dance and after he got me down to the lower end of the floor he said, “Why don’t we sit down and talk.” About every other dance he’d come and want to dance with me. So after the dance was over, I felt guilty about it. On the way home, James Taylor, he didn’t like it and he let me know. “I brought you to the dance, but you sure didn’t treat me very good.” Dad brought a girlfriend from Salt Lake the same night and he said his girlfriend went on to him, raked him over going home. He says his girl said to him, “Oh, you went down and made a fool of that little girl.” I really was little. I only weighed ninety-eight pounds. I was real small. Everybody teased dad about why didn’t he get a larger woman so he’d have more.
I made my own wedding dress—thirteen yards in it. The materials wasn’t as wide then as now. The dress was brilliantine. It had sort of a silky sheen to it, but it had more of a cotton background. It was more like a jumper effect. It had ruffled lace undersleeves and in the neck; large pleats all the way around, really full.
[Grandma told me that one of Earl’s aunt’s said she was so little grandpa would have to shake the sheets to find her. Virginia Blackburn]
We went to Burley, two hundred miles, and drove a pair of mules. I was expecting a baby and we left Spring Lake in a white top buggy, like a pickup with a long back on it. We had a tent, boys, and all of our food to eat. We never let the mules get off from a walk. We just took our time. When we got tired, we’d stop and camp at night. We’d been on the road thirteen days by the time we got to Burley. One night where we camped, it was quite dark when we stopped because we couldn’t find a suitable place to pitch our tents. The next morning we were practically on the edge of the Bear River. If the wind had come up during the night, the wind could have blew our tent into the river.
In Burley we were there six months and Lilly was born there [September 25, 1916]. When Lilly came it seemed like I had Vidella again, just the picture of her, and I believe Vidella would have looked like her if she would have lived.
[Bed bugs in Burley] “It was a wonder the house didn’t crawl off. It was dad’s cousin’s house. This was in Burley. When we got there we pitched our tent and stayed there until they went to Nevada and we moved into the house. In the afternoon the boys would lay down on the floor and go to sleep in the bedroom. I noticed they kept moving around and I went in there and kneeled down and the bedbugs were running in all directions. The bed we slept in was in one corner. There was a framed picture in one corner. We took the picture down and took it all apart. It was just full of bedbugs. We took the bed apart and soaked it with coal oil and got all the bugs and eggs and left the mattress out in the sun for a few days. Every night dad would get up and go all around the ceiling with the lamp and get the bugs with the heat. Dad did that every night until he couldn’t find any more.
That fall we went back to Spring Lake due to grandpa’s brother died [Verdell, December 3, 1916]. Later on we moved a mile south from this place and stayed there until Dixie was born [October 13, 1918]. It was here that Lilly got her head stepped on.
My mother came to visit with me one day and I didn’t have much of anything in the house to eat—only bread and water. And I mentioned it to mother that I didn’t know what we were going to eat. But she said, “Well don’t feel bad, because it isn’t a sin to be poor, because when the Saints came across the plains they had to live on sego roots and anything they could find.” So she said, “Let’s go up on the hill and see if we can find some dandelion leaves.” We went back and cooked the dandelion leaves and for our dinner we had dandelion greens, bread and water. While we lived in this place we didn’t have much of anything because we had just come back from Burley, Idaho, the place where Lilly was born . She was just a baby.
The schoolhouse was just through the fence from us where Parnell went to school. One day he came home for his dinner and all he had to eat was bread and water and went back to school. I couldn’t help to cry because he didn’t have anything more than that.
We moved from a different house and we had a little garden place that grandpa went out to plow. He was following the plow and some of the children were out there, including Lilly, and she wasn’t old enough to keep out of the way. While he wasn’t looking, she went in front of the horse, fell down, and the horse stepped on her head and mashed her head into the dirt. He jerked on the horses and they just reared back. This all happened near Spring Lake, Utah. I saw it happen and we both reached together to pick her up.
My father [German Ellsworth] looked like they look today. He had a beard and he had a small moustache. He went on a mission for the church. He was a patriarch when he died and he filled a two-year mission and was a bishop’s counselor for many years. His first wife had fourteen children and he had four by my mother. I was the youngest one. She raised three and she lost the first boy when he was just a year old.
We bought five acres of ground and grandpa built a three-room home and we lived there until we decided to go to Burley. We sold it to a man in Spring Lake. He moved the house over to Spring Lake and made it into a beer parlor. So Joe says he was born in a beer parlor.
[Joe] He used to have nightmares and he’d get up out of bed and run around the house hollering. There was one time we lived out there at Santaquin and we heard him hollering and he was up on top of a dugout cellar and was up running around on the top. Dad looked out and saw him and yelled at him and there was a screen on the window. Our bed was right inside the window and dad pushed the screen off and tried to grab him, but he had to get up and go out and get him. We’d have to hold on to him and keep talking to him until we got him out of it.
We was at a dance in the church at Spring Lake and we had the children with us and someone came in and said, “I think that boy of yours is out trying to kick the door in on one of those cars.” I don’t know why unless he must have been asleep and he was doing it in his sleep. He was just kicking that car door.
When cultivating beets, grandpa had a machine that had two sets [of knives] on it. I sat on the front set and drove the mule team because they have little feet so if they happen to step on a beet they won’t mash it like a horse which has big feet. Dad sat on the other set and he had to guide the knives so they didn’t cut the beets and of course he couldn’t watch the beet knives and the horse. That’s why I helped. Parnell was about eight to nine months old. In the west side of the farm there was some great big trees and we took a lettuce crate and put a blanket in it and put some playthings in it and put him in there and we worked in the beet field. Every time we came to the top where he was we would look to see if his little head was sticking up. We made sure he was all right.
When she [Vidella] was nine months old she was injured in an accident of a runaway horse and buggy and two months later she died from injuries from a blow on the head. Grandma Holladay [Mary Abiah Holladay] used to say that, “After Vidella died for months and months after that all I could think about was that beautiful smile.” Vidella had such a beautiful smile. After she got hurt she was paralyzed on her right side. She was hit on her left side. Every time I looked at her she still had that smile, but it was on one side of her face.
Parnell and Vidella had a midwife helped with them and when Lamar came we had a doctor, Dr. Stewart from Payson.
Lamar was always the one that was so quiet. When Lamar was a little boy Clarence Belcher thought Lamar was the best little fellow because he was putting a fence up around his house one day. He had the wire, the hammer and the nails and Lamar would be right behind him with the hammer and said he was the best little helper he had ever seen.
Life History of Wilford James Ellsworth
Contributor: lindac65 Created: 7 months ago Updated: 7 months ago
The following story comes from Evelyn Ellsworth Page, Wilford's daughter:
Life History of Wilford James Ellsworth
Wilford James Ellsworth was born January 1, 1893 in Payson, Utah, the fourteenth of fifteen children born to German and Christina Nileson Ellsworth. At the time of his birth, Grover Cleveland was President of the United States and Wilford Woodruff was President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, of which his family were members.
German Ellsworth, son of German and Speedy Experience Brown Ellsworth, was born 29 September, 1849 in Salt Lake City, Utah, ten days after his mother had walked most of the distance of 1000 miles from Council Bluff, Iowa, to Salt Lake valley. Just 41 days after arriving in the valley, his father died of Rocky Mountain spotted fever on 9 November, 1849, leaving his mother with seven children all under 10 years of age. His mother then married Philo Johnson on 17 March, 1850. German was reared by his step father, Philo, who was a gentle, religious man. He was the wagon master on whose wagon the odometer was placed in order to know the distance from Council Bluff to Salt Lake City.
German lived in Salt Lake City until he was 9 years old. At that time, they were given orders by Brigham Young to move sixty-five miles south to Payson because Johnston’s Army was approaching the city. German spent the rest of his life in Payson.
“Father,” as he was respectfully called by all of the children, was almost six feet tall with a full head of dark hair and a neatly trimmed beard. He was a very kind man, and an efficient taskmaster. Everyone was given a job to do and was expected to do it, and do it well. German was a very hard worker. He worked six days a week as a carpenter and also cared for four acres of orchard and a large garden at home. He walked fast and moved quickly when he worked. He was a devout member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. He served in the Bishopric of the Payson Second Ward. He also served as member of the Payson City Council. He served as an Elder in the Northern States Mission while his son, German E. Ellsworth, was the Mission President. For years he served as the Utah County bee inspector. At the time of his death he was the Patriarch of the Payson Nebo Stake. German died in Payson on April 1, 1922 of leukemia. He was 73 years old.
Wilford has said that if there were ever an angel on earth, it was his mother, Christina Nileson. She was born Kerstina Nilsdotter July 12, 1849 in Scarby Malmohous, Sweden to Nils Parson and Krista Larsen. As converts to the Church, Kerstina’s brother, Lewis, and her sister Cecelia had preceded her and her mother to the United States. Kerstina and her mother left Sweden when Kerstina was twelve years old. In the Swedish Emigration Records of 1862, there is a single line “Kerstina Person, age 48 and Kerstina Person, age 11” sailed on the ship “Electric” from Hamburg, Germany, April 1862, and arrived in Salt Lake City on the 27th of September, 1862. After arriving in the United States, their names were Americanized and Kerstina became Christina Nileson.
Christina had a beautiful complexion, blond hair, and blue-gray eyes. She had a gentle, kind disposition. Christina was visiting her brother, who lived in Santaquin, Utah, and his sister, who lived in Payson, when she met Wilford’s father, German. They were married 21 December, 1869.
Wilford’s father and mother started their life together in a one-room log house in Payson on July 17, 1871. German’s stepfather, Philo Johnson, had purchased a lot in Payson, Utah described as Lot 4, Block 32, Plat “P” Payson City Survey and situated in Section 17, Township 9 South, Range 2 East. His father helped German build a one-room log house. German cut the logs in Payson Canyon and hauled them to a sawmill located in the mouth of the canyon. The log house was built to the square in the canyon and hauled by horse and wagon the to home site in Payson. Later, a bedroom was added on the north side and a lean-to kitchen on the back. Philo and Speedy later deeded lot 4 to Christina on December 22, 1891. There were six children born in the log house:
Speedy Armina, born 13 September, 1871
died on 1 January, 1902
German Edgar, born 12 October, 1871
Reuben William, born 2 May, 1873
George Arthur, born 30 October, 1874
Luella, born 14 May 1870
Albert David, born 27 September, 1877
died 16 September, 1878
On 18 August, 1871, German purchased Lot 3, just west of Lot 4, from Payson City. On 27 February, 1872, he purchased Lot 1 of the same Block. On 18 December, 1878, German purchased Lot 2, just west of Lot 1, making his property a total of 4.49 acres.
Some time between 1877 and 1879, German built the back portion of the adobe brick home that now stands at 586 South 400 West in Payson. At the time it was built, the address was the corner of Square Street and Oak Street. The log house was moved up to the rear of the house. The new building consisted of a kitchen and large bedroom. Later, two rooms were built on the east and three rooms were built upstairs. Eight children were born in the brick home:
Lewis Norman, born 28 September, 1879
Child (stillborn), born 28 February, 1881
Benjamin Franklin, born 23 January, 1882
Nellie Christina, born 28 August, 1884, died 23 March, 1888
Jesse Hyrum, born 2 May, 1886
Sarah Eveline, born 2 May, 1888
Cyrus Wells, born 29 February, 1891
Wilford James, born 1 January, 1893
Mary Cecelia, born 18 April, 1895
In approximately 1883, Wilford’s father was called by the Church authorities to take another wife in plural marriage. In the early days of the Church, many women who had lost their husbands had been left with children with no means of support. Men who were considered in a position to care for another family were called to care for them. Widow Amy Chase Conk, who lived across the road from German, had three children and was to be German’s second wife. From this marriage, German had four children. Although Christina gave her consent for German to take another wife, it was a sad time for Christina. Her life had been full of disappointments and hardships. There were many discussions and tears before widow Conk and her children came to share the love of Father German. Christina tried to be cheerful but life was never the same for her.
During this time, the United States was much opposed to the practice of polygamy and was determined to banish the practice. It was difficult for men in this position to abandon a second family. Those who didn’t were hunted down and imprisoned. One night, in the middle of the night, three Deputy U.S. Marshals came and arrested Wilford’s father for polygamy. German was tried and pled guilty, and was sentenced to 6 months in prison. At the time, many prominent Church men were in prison for polygamy. While there, the men organized a school and taught each other their trades. German increased his knowledge of bookkeeping, mathematics and penmanship. It was here that German learned to read blueprints. They held church services. All this time, Christina had all of the responsibility for the children and their welfare. In 1890, the Church discontinued the practice of plural marriage.
All of the polygamy part of German’s and Christina’s life happened before Wilford was born. He never talked much about the things he had been told regarding this period of time. However, Aunt Amy, as she was called, and German had a son named Ezra Archibald. He was four years younger than Wilford, and he tagged Wilford everywhere he went. This was not appreciated, and Wilford would find every way he could to aggravate Archie.
Wilford’s Early Life
Wilford had blond hair and blue eyes, with a complexion much like his Swedish mother’s. It is said that he didn’t talk until he was three years old. He just went about his business and didn’t say anything. With so many other brothers and sisters, he apparently didn’t need to talk. His parents became quite concerned. Then one day he and Cyrus were playing in the irrigation ditch that ran through the lot and Wilford said to Cyrus, “See what a pretty rock I found.” Cyrus ran to the house yelling, “Ma, Wilford can talk!” The family was much relieved.
There was much for a young boy to do on his father’s four acres, and plenty of others to play with. Wilford attended the Peteetneet Elementary School and the Central School. He also attended Brigham Young Academy. He worked to pay his way by doing all sorts of odd jobs. He took his tool box and went down the street looking for work. The first house he came to, the lady gave him work mending the front and back doors, mending the bathroom door, and shingling the back porch. In this manner, he earned enough money to attend for a year. He had a good singing voice, and sang with a quartet that sang at many functions all over the state, winning many competitions. He had many hobbies, but most of all, he loved to fish and hunt.
Wilford said he wasn’t a little boy very long. German E. went on a mission, Reuben got married, Jess and a friend went to Sugar City to help build a sugar factory, and Cyrus went on a mission. Wilford was left at home to care for fifty head of cattle and two colts. Ralph Hamilton came to live with the family to help with a big garden and an orchard of fruit trees while his father worked as a carpenter, a trade which he taught to his sons. Wilford and Ralph picked the fruit and went to Ephraim and Mt. Pleasant to sell the fruit. That fall, Wilford’s father went on a mission. Wilford worked the orchards and took care of the livestock to support his father and brothers on their missions.
On 23 December, 1914, at age 21, Wilford married Cloketa Pickering in the Salt Lake Temple. She was the daughter of Suzannah Nebeker and William Henry Pickering. Wilford said the day they were married was a bitter cold day. He picked Cloketa up in a horse-drawn buggy and, with his mother and father, went to the lower depot to board the train to Salt Lake City.
Wilford and Cloketa took up housekeeping in three rooms of Wilford’s parent’s home--the parlor, the northwest bedroom and the back porch, which had been enclosed as a kitchen for Reuben and Isabelle when they were married. This was to be a short arrangement, as Wilford and Chloe were building a new home in the Springlake fields. Wilford worked all day at his trade as a carpenter and contractor, and then worked well into the night farming and building their home. They lived in Springlake for a few years and then, during the boom of the early 1920s, they sold the farm and house for a very handsome profit.
Wilford invested the money from the sale of the house in a sheep ranch in Price, Utah, with his brother, German E. and others. He managed the ranch and Cloketa cooked for the hired men. They bought the latest equipment available at the time, expecting to double their money in just a few years. The stock market crash of 1929 caused Wilford and his partners to lose their ranch, despite all their hard work. They were not paid some of their wages, and they also lost their original investment. The only recourse for Wilford and Cloketa was to return to Payson and start all over again.
At this time, Wilford’s father was seriously ill with leukemia and was not expected to live. When his father died 1 April, 1922, Wilford and Cloketa came from Price to attend the funeral. While they were here, all the sheep were sold. Cloketa stayed in Payson and Wilford went back to pack up their belongings and ship them home on the train. The local sheriff, Warren Peacock, and his wife, Elvera, had become good friends and helped Wilford to wind up things in Price. As Wilford drove out of town in his Model “T” Ford, Warren sat on a bench and cried. Wilford received no money from the sale of the sheep.
With the death of his father, and because of the financial predicament Wilford and Cloketa were in, the family thought it would be a good idea for them to live with Wilford’s mother, since she had been bunted by a calf and had broken her hip. Cloketa was caring for their son, Howard, who was five years old, and Kenton, who was a new baby, a husband and an invalid mother-in-law. The pressure was too much for Cloketa, and she nearly had a nervous breakdown.
Wilford and Cloketa lived on at the house while estate matters were being settled. The family didn’t pressure them to move, but they knew Wilford and Cloketa didn’t have enough money to buy the house. One day, Wilford went to the Payson Mill and happened to meet Mr. Tolhurst, the local miller and an important figure in the community. Mr. Tolhurst asked Wilford why he didn’t buy the house where he was living. Wilford responded that he would like to but couldn’t financially afford it. Mr. Tolhurst then told him to go see the Payson Building and Loan Association, a group of local investors of which he was one.
Wilford checked with his brothers and sisters, letting then know he could not get a loan. Three of his brothers, Reuben, Ben and Jess, told him that he could use their part of the estate for a down payment, and that he could pay them back later. He received the loan and they carried him when he could not make a payment during the dark days of the Great Depression.
Wilford worked very hard to get the house paid for. When the last payment on the house was made, Cloketa came waving the deed in her hand, calling to Wilford who was in the garden, saying “It’s ours, and there will never be another lien on this.” After all the hard work and sacrifice made by both of them, it was a wonderful moment.
When Wilford and Cloketa had been married about five years, (Howard was approximately 4 years old), a family who lived across the street lost their mother, leaving a family of seven children. The father deserted the family and the children were taken in by family members—except Bob. It was Bob Wilson’s misfortune to have been born with a very bad heart and kidney problem. No one wanted to take Bob. One day, he wandered across the street and asked Wilford and Cloketa if he could stay with them until he could find a place to stay. He was eight years old. Wilford and Cloketa took him in and cared for him until his death in 1945 at age 35. Wilford had a great love for everyone. Wilford loved his brothers and sisters and the house was always open to them. Many of them visited frequently, which was a joy to his five children who were also born in the house in which their father was born. They were:
Howard Pickering Ellsworth, born 21 October, 1915.
Married Merlyn Taylor 15 October, 1937.
Wilford Kenton Ellsworth, born 2 October, 1920.
Married Louise Webb 26 January, 1946.
Verdene Ellsworth Page, born 25 April, 1925.
Married Lynn Earl Page 12 March 1947
Evelyn Ellsworth Page, borh 18 July, 1928.
Married Arza Curtis Page Jr. 10 July, 1952
Deanna Ellsworth, borh 19 July, 1937.
Married Douglas Clark (1) and Gary Stokes (2)
Wilford was blessed with amazingly good health, an indomitable spirit, great strength of mind and body, and the desire to achieve. He was quick in his movements, always running instead of walking. Cloketa’s father said Wilford reminded him of a monkey, the way he could climb trees and ladders.
Because of his occupation as carpenter and contractor, Wilford went where the work was. There are houses all over Payson, Santaquin and throughout Utah County which he and his father built. He arranged for the building of the penthouse for Howard Hughes at the Desert Inn Hotel in Las Vegas. He worked for two years on the Atomic Energy site not far from Las Vegas. He was still working there when the atomic bombs were tested. Windows were broken fifteen miles away from the test site, in all directions.
Wilford and Cloketa were married for 57 years when Cloketa died at age 76. They had spent the day with friends on a ride up Daniel’s Canyon near Heber City, Utah. On their return home, Cloketa had prepared pie and ice cream to serve them. Upon going to sleep that night, she commented on what a wonderful day it had been. She went to sleep and never woke up. She died 24 May, 1971. This was devastating to Wilford and his family. Shortly after the funeral, Wilford began seeing his wife at night when he went to bed. She did not say anything, but he said she just stood there and then faded away. Wilford would call his son, Howard, every morning to tell him that she had come again and that he was so eager to know what she wanted and why she could not rest. One morning he called Howard and said, “I must find Aunt Eveline’s grave.” Howard took him to the cemetery and with the help of the sexton they located Eveline Ellsworth’s unmarked grave. She was buried in the space where Wilford would some day be buried. They exhumed the body of Cloketa and moved her over a space. She never came to Wilford again. Wilford lived eight years after the death of Cloketa.
At 80 years of age Wilford had a serious surgery and the doctors said they had never seen such muscle tone in a man his age. He had the body of a much younger man.
Wilford was a man of faith. He loved the Book of Mormon and had read it several times. As a young Deacon, he was president of the quorum, and the President of the Elder’s Quorum. He also served as a scribe for his father, who was a Stake Patriarch.
Wilford died of pneumonia at the age of 86 on 30 May, 1979, in Payson, Utah. He had lived all of his life in the home in which he was born, with the exception of the few years he spent in Price, Utah. He will be remembered as a loving father and devoted husband. He had a keen sense of humor and a sly smile that made you think he knew something that you didn’t know. He was very generous with everything he had. Each year as he harvested his apples, he would go to many of the widows and needy people in the town and leave apples on their doorsteps. He planted a large garden and shared it willingly. He was clean of mind. He was a very principled man and honest in all his dealings. He could not tolerate a liar.
His talk was always straightforward ad to the point. He was a wonderful husband and father.
On weekends, his friends and family lined up for their haircuts, which he performed without pay or reciprocation. He had funny sayings such as, “I’ve cut that da---- board twice and it’s still too short,” or when someone mentioned shooting the birds that were eating cherries, he said, “Oh, don’t shoot the birds. You kill one and fifty come to his funeral.” He loved animals and always had a dog and several cats, all named. He was just WILFORD.