Written by her Daughter-in-Law, Josephine E. Fisher
Josephine Rosetta Lyon Fisher, "Little Flower Lady," I called her. In her old-fashioned garden there seemed to be every kind of flower that grows. She was so fond of them and was noted for her generosity in sharing them. She loved to please a friend, or brighten a sick room. For a party, or a funeral, she was always ready with a big bouquet. To keep her flowers blooming, for many years, she carried pails and pails of water from nearby Barton Creek. It was a happy day when the city supplied a hydrant and she could use a hose.
Not alone with flowers, she was generosity itself. To quote her son Thomas, my husband, "My mother was always working, always wanting to help those in need. We had many poor neighbors and friends. Mother loved them all and made them welcome at her home. She visited them often, usually with a bundle in her hand."
"She did ever try to keep us in the line of duty at home and at church. During all of her life she was sure of her faith. Always, she was an advocate of the Word of Wisdom. In whatever she believed was right, she was firm and immoveable. She revered the memory of Joseph, the prophet, and Hyrum, his brother." She was kind and gentle. When one of her dear ones entered the room, no need for her to say, "I love you dear!" her big, blue eyes and smiling face had already told the story.
As a mother-in-law to me, she seemed exceptional. If a son of hers made a complaint against his wife, he was quietly reminded of the wife's good qualities. Presently, his troubles seemed minimized and he left in a happy mood. She tried her best to keep events moving smoothly in all the different families.
When Josephine came to Bountiful at the age of ten, the home of her mother, Sylvia Sessions Lyon Clark, was located on the corner of streets now known as 2nd West and 3rd North. It was a little white-washed adobe house. The biggest box elder trees in the town grew there. They had been planted and tended by Josephine. For many years (until 1915), they were a landmark to the town.
But many years before, Sylvia had moved over to the main highway, now 5th West, the entrance to the town. Many prominent families have lived on this street. At one time Sylvia's was the only place where a visitor might obtain food and lodging. This kept everyone busy, especially Josephine, the eldest. She was born February 8th at Nauvoo in 1844; Perry Clark, February 4, 1851; Phoebe, September 1, 1852 and Martha, January 20, 1854.
Perry, at the age of nine, was sent to his father, Ezekiel Clark, at Iowa City, to be educated. Josephine was always very proud of Perry. At the age of sixteen, he was sent to Germany to finish his education. With his father, he came several times to visit in Bountiful. Perry spoke five languages fluently. He had a very pleasing personality. Always, he was ready with a story, often amusing, never vulgar.
As a bank cashier, he was employed at his father's bank until the death of his father, June 23, 1898. Then Perry Clark came to Utah to reside. He was 47 years of age and never married. I met him a number of times at the home of his sister, Martha Clark Burnham, at Bountiful.
In 1907, we moved to Southern Utah, therefore I did not see him again, but my husband visited him in his office at Salt Lake City, as contact manager for the Light and Power Company. He passed away on April 8, 1917 at the age of 66.
Josephine's childhood was a busy, yet a happy one. She was a real pioneer. She grew up along with the town of Bountiful. She loved people. She adored relatives - and they were numerous. There was much visiting back and forth, and the usual parties and entertainments common to those times.
She loved to visit her grandmother, Patty Sessions, in Salt Lake City, the town to which so many residents had come from Nauvoo, her birthplace.
Brigham Young was like a father to her. Members of the Heber C. Kimball family were her life-long friends, especially Helen and Vilate.
Josephine described to me her going dancing by way of ox team. Exciting, perhaps; romantic? I wonder. However, her escort at that time was not the dashing Pony Express rider, John Fisher, whom she later married. John is thought to have been the youngest of those daring riders. He was eighteen. His brother, William, was twenty. So also was their soon-to-be brother-in-law, Richard Erastus Egan (Ras). Howard Ransom Egan, brother of Ras, was twenty-two. These young Mormon Pioneers and Pony Express Riders, all worked under the direction and leadership of that noted frontier man and trail building, Howard Egan, Sr.
Howard Egan was division superintendent from Salt Lake City to Roberts Creek; which was fifty miles west of Ruby Valley, or Elko, Nevada. This was one of the five divisions of the Pony Express route from St. Joseph's Missouri to Sacramento, California. The most difficult and dangerous part of the whole line was Western Utah and Eastern Nevada, a wild country inhabited by the Gosh Utes, the Pah Utes, and the Shoshones. As game became more scarce, these Indian tribes resented, more and more, the intrusion into their hunting grounds.
Along the line, every 75 or 100 miles, there was a Pony Express station, where a rider could reset before starting back. Each rider covered the route back and forth between two stations, changing horses three or four times each way. Their schedule was very strict and exacting as to time. Riders were under orders to keep going day and night, no matter what the weather. Their only motto was: "The mail must go through." There were no exceptions, not even for Indian raids, and the mail did go through, except in a very few cases. Riders were required to be young, good horsemen, accustomed to outdoor life, and able to endure hardships. They must be fearless and of good moral character and not addicted to drink.
The first run of the Pony Express was on April 3, 1860; the last on October 26, 1861. After eighteen months, the route was discontinued because the completion of the telegraph line from the Missouri River to Sacramento put the Pony Express out of business. So ended a brilliant episode in the history of the nation. What a record of youthful courage, ingenuity, endurance and loyalty to a cause! Content in knowing their work had been well done, they went their several ways and proceeded to forget all about it.
Josephine's marriage and that of John Fisher took place August 15, 1863. She was nineteen and he was twenty-one. Their first home, remodeled, is still standing. It is located at 630 West 10th North in the west part of Bountiful. Early in 1949, this was incorporated as the town of West Bountiful. This home was built as a joint residence by William and John Fisher. After about two years, William sold his share of the home and the ten acres of land to John. William moved to Richmond, Utah. A little later he made a permanent home at Oxford, Idaho.
For many years, the Fisher home belonged to John Fisher and later to his sons. It is now owned by other relatives.
The John Fishers were blessed by the birth of twins, Ivan John and Irvin Frederick, born on August 31, 1864. Next was Sylvia Jane on October 5, 1866; then Minnie Josephine on October 3, 1868. In February, 1869, tragedy struck at this happy household. That child-killer of the times, diphtheria entered and within three days took three of their four children, leaving only the four-year-old Irvin, one of the twins (he lived to the age of 83 years). This disease worked so swiftly and was so very contagious that the Pioneers were helpless before its onslaught. Thanks to modern medical science, many of those terrible diseases have been conquered.
Soon afterwards, in the spring of that same year of 1869, this family now so pitifully small, left Bountiful by team to begin a new life in Ruby Valley, Nevada. Her John took up 160 acres of farming and grazing land which adjoined that of his brother-in-law, Richard Erastus Egan and sister Minnie. Conditions here were very primitive indeed. Neighbors were few and far apart. Usually the only help available on the farm or in the home was that of Indians. They were numerous, but now were friendly. All her life, Josephine said, "I am afraid of Indians." Small wonder if such a fear should be instilled in one who crossed the plains at the age of ten, in 1854. But to me, she was the bravest little lady I have ever met. Fearlessly and courageously she met each and every problem of life. John Fisher's land was extensive. His work kept him busy and away from home much of the time.
No doubt, Josephine was lonely; she missed her three little ones who so rudely had been snatched from her. She missed her neighbors and friends who had been so much a part of her life. However, it was the future which troubled here more and more. How to properly raise a family here among the Indians, with Indians almost as sole companions? She wished for her children some culture, some education, some religious training. She wished for them companionship of friends and associates. The present situation seemed so hopeless, so futile so much effort for so little!
To John, this place was a challenge. He would like to stay and finish what he had begun. He would like to prove his mettle and see what he could make of this place.
At last, it was decided that Josephine should leave for home and that he should follow as soon as he could arrange his affairs. He would have to prove up on the place and then sell it. So, in the fall of that same year, 1869, Josephine and son Irvin, boarded the Southern Pacific Railroad at Elko, Nevada. For on May 10th the railroad across the continent had been completed. At Ogden, Josephine and son transferred to the Utah Central and reached Bountiful to stay with her mother for a time.
At the present time, no one can tell me just when John was able to come home to Bountiful. We know that on January 7th, 1870, a son, Perry Clark Fisher was born to them at the home of Josephine's mother, Sylvia Lyon Clark. All of the other nine children were born in their own little home in the west part of Bountiful, now West Bountiful. Next after Perry was Rosetta Linnie born February 3, 1872; then Erastus William born February 18, 1874; after him was Thomas Lyon November 13, 1875; Kirkwood December 18, 1877. Last and 10th was Horton Leo born April 27, 1881.
John sold his land to Ira Wines of Lehi. Soon afterwards it was purchased by a mining man named Samuel J. McIntyre, who was the owner for many, many years. He built a comfortable ranch house with a tower on top. Recently I met Gordon Kirby, who in my younger days was a teenager of the 18th Ward, Salt Lake City. He was younger than I, perhaps by 10 years. He said he worked for Samuel McIntyre on the Nevada ranch. The young fellows were much puzzled as to how the caretaker always could keep tabs on them. Every moment of the day seemed known to him. Always he knew just where they were and how they employed their time. At last they made a discovery. The tower on the house was equipped with a telescope. He could watch from there. The whole ranch was seen by him as in a panorama.
It was this same Samuel McIntyre who built a "mansion" in Slat Lake City on the corner of B Street and Seventh Avenue near my father's little home.
In Ruby Valley, Nevada, only the Richard Erastus Egan family remained any length of time. They stayed 12 years, which includes the time "Uncle Ras" spent as a missionary in England during which time Minnie and the children resided in Bountiful. John Fisher went to Ruby Valley and helped the Egans move back permanently to Bountiful.
On June 20th, 1877, Bountiful was divided into three Wards: East Bountiful, West Bountiful and South Bountiful Wards. William Muir became the bishop. At first, church services were held in the little red school house near the Fisher home.
At this time, the Latter-Day Saints sincerely believed in the principal of plurality of wives, or polygamy. They reasoned that God is the same yesterday, today and forever. He is unchangeable. If plurality of wives was a correct principal for the prophets of old or for that time, it must be correct for all times. They believed it would be impossible for God to approve of one set of laws for one people and a different set for another people.
Besides, here was a convenient way of taking care of widows who needed help or converts who came here alone and had no friends. Best of all, here was a quick way of raising a people to serve the Lord in the wilderness, and a wilderness it was here at first, a place not wanted by anyone else. It was not eve a part of the United States at first.
The very first time polygamy was publicly preached was in 1852 in the Tabernacle. Polygamy was intended only for those who could live it in an equitable manner. Since it was part of their religion, they did most often live it religiously. Yet conditions here often were misunderstood in the East and reports distorted. We were a long ways from Washington. Messages from Washington took three months to get through at least, by way of ox team. When Utah became a territory in 1850, Utahans didn't even know about that for more than three months.
In 1882 the United States began to take drastic action against polygamy. The Edmonds anti-polygamy act was passed which made legal proceedings against the people of Utah. More and more stringent laws were passed, passed by Congress against the people of Utah. A petition of 7500 citizens pleaded with the government to make investigations before severe prosecution and persecution. No attention to this was made by Congress. By 1884 prosecution, even persecution was carried on with great hostility. Every hamlet in the territory was raided by United States Deputy Marshals.
Hundreds of men were brought into court, sentenced to imprisonment in the State Penitentiary. The maximum term was 5 years plus a fine of $500.00. For the majority, the term of imprisonment was 6 months with a fine of $300.00
This sentence meant internment along with all kinds of criminals. It meant wearing the ordinary prison clothing common at the time. The heads of prisoners were kept shaved at all times which was another degrading custom, especially hard on those who believed they had done no wrong to anyone. Knowing the impossibility of a fair trial in Utah, many citizens went into exile in Canada or Mexico. Part of them never did come back to Utah.
Through its receiver, Marshal Dyer, the government took possession of all public buildings belonging to the church, such as the Historian's office; the tithing office; the Gardo House (newly built as a residence for Brigham Young, first governor of Utah). Part of these buildings were leased back to the church. Many of the leaders were in hiding. The president John Taylor died in exile.
For years, the situation was really critical.
But how did all this affect the John Fisher family? They were right in the midst of all this persecution. For in 1878, John had married Harriet Knighton as a plural wife. She was a young English convert, who had worked in the Fisher home. Her first child, George Howard was born in 1879. John, like many others, was trying desperately to provide for the two families and at the same time to keep out of the way of deputy marshals.
One day John was plowing a field eastward from home, when suddenly two marshals appeared. One of the boys (Tom) borrowed a horse from a neighbor and rode under the trees to notify his father of their presence. John stepped into a clump of trees, horses and all until the officers became tired and left after which, John calmly continued his farm work.
Sometimes John and others were on the "underground," meaning they departed for parts unknown, even to their families. Sometimes they were accompanied by their plural wives, sometimes they were alone.
At one time John and William managed a clothing store at Pocatello.
Josephine said that one day John was on a surprise visit to his home. On the way, he was thinking what a relief it would be to snatch from a life of turmoil, a brief period of peace and quiet and rest.
As he drove into the yard, what did his wondering eyes behold? Under the trees, were spread tables and chairs. All around were women busily paring apples and pears and peaches for trying. Bushels and bushels of them were spread to dry on porches and roofs. This was their method of preserving fruit for winter. Fruit jars were beginning to come into use, but were yet imperfect. Could a better way be invented to advertise John's presence? He was really annoyed, disappointed and disillusioned.
One never knew where or when the deputy marshals would appear or how long they would remain to pry their endless questioning. Josephine herself, many times was brought before the Judge to answer questions as to her husbands whereabouts. Even the children were in a perpetual state of worry and fear. This continued for many years. For all about her, life was becoming more and more strenuous. It seemed inevitable that sooner or later, a prison sentence would follow for John Fisher. Josephine decided that something drastic must be done. But what? She alone must find some solution. Who could take action and save all around her from a life of turmoil? No one except herself. Take action she did, and that speedily.
She went to the court and obtained a divorce. That made Harriet the legal wife (Harriet's children were mostly younger).
Suddenly, for that one family, the John Fisher family, life was changed. All became peaceful and quiet. There was no more dodging to avoid deputy sheriffs' no more court sessions to answer innumerable questions; no more threats of imprisonment for loved ones; no fear of prying eyes. Everyone could sleep at night. Everyone could work or play in the daytime without fear.
As for Josephine, she went about her many tasks with peace in her heart. Yet there was a price to pay today, tomorrow, and all the tomorrows, as long as life should last. She only would be the one to pay, and no one would ever know, only her Father in Heaven.
There was one other who could take drastic action when he deemed it necessary one who was concerned, not only for particular families but for a while people; a people who were becoming more and more poverty stricken, a people were suffering because of their religious belief. That man was Wilford Woodruff, 4th president of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.
On September 24, 1890 he issued what was known as the manifesto, in which the Saints were advised to refrain from contracting any marriage forbidden by the laws of the land. He made known his intention to submit to the laws of Congress against the practice of plural marriage and to use his influence to induce others to do the same.
The 12th Article of Faith says: "We believe in being subject to kings, presidents, and magistrates and in obeying, honoring and sustaining the law."
I was 14 years old at the time. The manifesto created quite a flurry of excitement. Many declared they could not; would not abide by the manifesto. But on October 6, 1890 at Conference time, the day and hour arrived when the people were called upon to sustain and abide by the manifesto. The vote was unanimous in its favor.
Our people have accepted the manifesto as an inspired document. They have kept their promise to obey the law. Gradually peace and prosperity have come to our land. Our church has been accepted by the world and respected on its sincerity. Missionary work, tithing and welfare plans all have won a place, and have been gradually approved in the minds of many people of the world.
The very first time I ever met my future mother-in-law, I was 18 and she was 50 years old. Tom brought me up to a dance at the Opera House in Bountiful.
Her three oldest sons had recently married, Erastus and Perry, late in 1893 and Irvin in the spring of 1894. At home, still was daughter Rosie and sons Thomas, Kirkwood and Horton.
The home was still humming with activity. In the spring, all kinds of market gardening was carried on. Peas were planted as early as the weather would permit, followed in turn by other vegetables and later by melons, cantaloupes, cucumbers, etc., etc. Irrigation allotments happened night or day for hours at a time. All spring or summer, crops must be gathered and marketed, as they ripened.
The boys arose in the wee small hours to load and drive to the market in Salt Lake City, where the produce was sold in quantity, or peddled from house to house. For Bountiful was a city of market gardeners.
Later, there was no end to the luscious fruit, apricots, pears, cherries and apples to be gathered and marketed. Always there was the inevitable irrigation to be taken care of. Every day cows must be milked, horses, cows and pigs must be fed.
For the women too, there was no end of work. In addition to the routine of regular housework, bushels of fruit must be bottled or dried, milk must be taken care of, butter must be churned.
At this time, Marie Hansen was helping Mrs. Fisher. Every girl in the town, at some time or other, worked in that household. Later, Marie married George Fisher, Harriet's oldest son.
Though all worked so hard, there was not much money to be made, on the farm or in the city, it was equally difficult. When the Fisher boys wished to earn money for their schooling, they usually went away from home.
The Fisher home built in 1882, later remodeled, is still in use. It can be found at 540 Larsen Drive on the west part of the John Fisher 60-acre farm.
Harriet's family grew up on the East part of the same farm. Later the home was sold to J. C. Henniger and then to H. C. Shoemaker.
I can't say that the Fisher boys never did have a disagreement of any kind. But the two families were considered to be exceptional.
Now, in 1956, of Josephine's 10 children, two are living, Thomas and Horton. Of Harriet's nine sons, and two daughters, six are living: Roy William, Rulon, Hattie, David and Jane.
Since my own marriage and that of Thomas L. Fisher in December 1901, I have been very happy and proud to be accepted as a member of the John Fisher family. All have been very gracious and kind.
JOSEPHINE LYON FISHER
Written by her son, Thomas L. Fisher
My mother was a short, medium build woman - always working, always wanting to help her neighbors. She must have learned coming across the plains as they had one cow and one oxen to haul the wagon. She had to milk and help drive the oxen at ten years of age - always giving to someone in need - about one a week she would visit Aunt Phebe with a bundle. I took her there many times and as a boy wondered what it was all about; we had many poor neighbors.
Mother loved them all and how she longed to see them when she came to live with me in Salt Lake the last year of her life, 1924. She spent hours in her flowers and had so many to give to others. As our family was mostly boys, we had to have an extra hired girl. I could name a dozen. She made everybody welcome and would ever try to keep us in line of duty at church. The names of the Prophets Joseph Smith and President Young were hallowed to her and she told me that Brigham Young used to hold her on his hap when she visited his daughters and Helen Vilate and others. On our front room used to hang framed pictures of a number of the Church leaders. She was sure in her faith and was ever an advocate of the Word of Wisdom. The last day of her life she told me, "on the morrow she would be gone."
After a season in Nevada, my mother decided she wanted to live among her relations and friends and she ever afterwards made her home in Bountiful. On proving upon his land in Nevada, my father soon sold to Ira D. Wines (?) of Lehi, Utah. Soon later, he purchased a dry farm on the Sandridge (now West Point). I helped on this farm for several years plowing in May and June mile-long furrows. In July and August, heading and threshing. Ants were bad and rabbits plentiful, coyotes howled all night long. Most of that land is still lived on by the grandsons of John Fisher. When we first farmed on the Sandridge, there were no neighbors - camp housed two or three miles apart, several dug well in the whole area, quite deep, 50 feet and the water tasted of the ground. Things do change - to see the lovely homes now and wonderful crops - well, we just can't see ahead.
JOSEPHINE LYON FISHER
Written by her son, Irvin F. Fisher
The subject of this brief sketch was born at Nauvoo, Hancock County, Illinois, on the 8th of February 1844, 4-1/2 months preceding the martyrdom of the Prophet Joseph Smith. And not many months following this tragic event, she and her mother, who was one of those "plural wives" who had been "sealed" to the Prophet, were fairly smuggled or spirited, out of Nauvoo and off sixty or more miles north to Iowa City.
Josephine's mother was Sylvia Porter Sessions, sister to Perrigrine and David Sessions. Josephine's father was Winsor Lyon, of whom we as yet know very little, except that he last resided at Iowa City, where he died about the beginning of 1849. Sylvia left Nauvoo June 1846 for Iowa City with her husband Winsor Lyon, brother David and daughter Josephine.
On the evening of January 1st, 1850 Josephine's mother, Sylvia, was married to Ezekiel Clark, of Iowa City, by whom she had a son, Perry and two daughters, Phebe Jane (who became the wife of John Ellis) and Martha, the wife of A. L. Burnham.
In the fall of 1849, Perrigrine Sessions took a trip back to Iowa City (from Bountiful, Utah) expressly, so he records in his diary, to get his brother David and his sister Sylvia, and young daughter Josephine Lyon. He was deeply disappointed to hear of her wedding on the evening of his arrival there. Perrigrine did succeed however, in taking his brother David back with him the next spring.
From about 1860, Josephine had been receiving "marked attention" from John Fisher, a Pony Express rider, third son of Thomas F. and Jane Christton Fisher of Bountiful, and on August 15, 1863 they were married by Bishop John Stoker at East Bountiful, Utah. Later on they were sealed in the Endowment House, Salt Lake City, about March 1869.
They made their home in a new adobe house in West Bountiful, built conjointly by John and his older brother William F. A few years later John bought out his brother Will's half interest in the house and the ten acres of land on which it was built, and William moved to Richmond. This homestead remained in the family until Josephine's sons, to whom it was bequeathed, sold it and a cousin of theirs, A. L. Burnham Jr., now owns it and is living there. In this home nine of their ten children were born. Perry C., their third son and 5th child was born about a mile distant at the home of Josephine's mother, Sylvia Clark.
August 31, 1864, this couple were blessed with a pair of twin sons, Followed on October 5, 1866 by a daughter, Sylvia Jane, and on October 3, 1868 by another daughter Minnie Josephine. The following February an infection disease (either diphtheria or scarlet fever) was brought into the home by a careless neighbor, and on February 24, one twin, Ivan John succumbed. Then on the 26th, the two daughters passed away - all literally choking to death with such bad throats and high fevers.
That spring, Josephine and John left Bountiful by team with the remaining child Irvin F., and traveled to Ruby Valley, Nevada, where John had pre-empt 160 acres of farming and grazing land joining a harvested farm of his brother-in-law, R. E. Egan and family. The following fall, Josephine and son Irvin returned to Bountiful on the Union Pacific Railroad (which had been finished that season across the continent), embarking at Elko Nevada, and coming via Ogden to Bountiful on the old Utah Central Railroad.
JOSEPHINE LYON FISHER
-- Her Parentage --
"My father's people, the Lyons, came from Vermont; my mother's people, the Sessions, came from Maine." So said Josephine Rosetta Fisher.
All of her grandparents cast their lot with that of the then newly organized "Mormon" church. Because of a firm conviction that they had found the one and only true church, they wished to be a part of that church; no matter the persecution, not matter it location.
June 5, 1804 is recorded as the marriage date of Josephine's paternal grandfather, Aaron C. Lyon, at Orwell, Vermont. The bride was Roxana Palmer. Their son, Winsor Palmer Lyon, Josephine's father, was born February 8, 1809, most likely at Orwell. Certainly Winsor's younger brother, Ethiel, was born at Orwell. His birth date was October 6, 1814. There also were two other brothers, Cautious B. and Lemira M., for later at Nauvoo in 1841, Winsor was baptized for them, and for other kindred dead. Records at that time were a mere mention, but we are fortunate to have that much information.
Josephine listed the younger children as Delia, Kate, and Carlos, born in Ohio; and Juliet, born at St. Louis, Missouri. Ethiel Lyon listed his residence as Willoughby, Cayahoga County, Ohio; and Roxana's residence was also given as Willoughby. Willoughby is not far from Kirtland.
Early in 1831, the headquarters of the Church was moved from New York State to Kirtland, Ohio. Our people bought land and built permanent homes. The first Temple of these latter-day was located at Kirtland. It is still standing.
Before very long, many of the saints were looking towards Western Missouri, which was, and is, to be the Land of Zion. Our church members always have been good colonizers wherever they have been, being thrifty and enterprising. Always, from the time of the church organization in 1830, the membership has been steadily increasing, because of faith in their cause and because of the zeal of their missionaries.
A number of Elders were selected to go to Jackson County, Missouri to look the place over and to prepare a place for others to follow. Later, W. W. Phelps, a printer and others, including Edward Partridge, Bishop, were called to take their families and settle in Independence, Missouri. Others wished to leave for the West and soon the church - for a time - had two headquarters: one in Kirtland, Ohio and one in Missouri.
In 1836, Aaron and Roxana Lyon were among those traveling westward, for her death is recorded as August 23, 1836 at Shoal Creek, Missouri (Shoal Creek later was called Far West, or the two were very near each other). Her obituary gives her residence as Willoughby, Ohio. We can only wonder how Aaron Lyon fared during the next year; after that time we can pick up his trail again.
Even from the time of his first vision, persecution had followed the boy prophet, Joseph Smith. Persecution had also followed the church from the time of its organization. But the climax came in Jackson County, Missouri. No doubt, the slavery question had something to do with it. However, the "Mormons" were treated most cruelly. They were driven by mobs from the land they had bought and the homes they had built. In many cases, their houses were burned and occupants murdered. There was no redress to be had from the courts or the government. All seemed under the control of hundreds of mobsters. Our people were driven from Jackson County and scattered in other counties. Then somehow, they gathered together in 1837 and early in 1838 and built new homes and a new town, which they called Far West. Aaron Lyon and son, Winsor, became members of that colony.
In the meantime, the Sessions in Maine had become prosperous. "With the advent of the railroad, the completion of the Erie Canal, the establishment of manufacturing centers, there was great advancement. David Sessions Sr. and Patty acquired a large farm, also a saw mill and gristmill. In 1836, they heard and accepted the message of the new church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.
On June 5, 1837, David and Patty Sessions, grandparents of Joseph, left their comfortable home and other possessions and began the journey to join the Saints in Kirtland, Ohio. They were accompanied by their children. Peregrine was 23 years old, Sylvia almost 19, and David 14 years old. In three months, they reached Kirtland. They did not remain there very long, but journeyed on to that new town, Far West, near the western border of Missouri. Western Missouri at that time was also the western border of the United States. Here at Far West, their youngest child, Amanda was born on November 14, 1837. For $1200.00 cash, they bought a farm (see obituary of Patty Sessions).
And here began the romance of Winsor P. Lyon and Sylvia Sessions, perhaps also their marriage. What a place for romance! 1838 was a very troublesome year. The mob which had driven the Saints from Jackson County, now were determined to drive them entirely out of the State. They began with threats and ended with violence, burning of homes, and even murder. Our people had nowhere to go; even in winter, they were forced to leave. They intended to make their way back to Kirtland, across Missouri, Illinois and Indiana. Instead, many of them landed at Quincy, Illinois. They were in such a pitiable condition that the people of Illinois felt sorry for them and treated them kindly.
Aaron Lyon died at Bear Creek, Hancock County, Illinois on September 30, 1838, at the age of 58. No doubt he had endured as much as he possibly could endure.
May 1, 1839, and again, a little later, the church purchased land on long-term payments, in Commerce, later called Nauvoo. During the summer of 1839, the Saints began to gather there. The place at first was quite swampy. There was sickness and poverty. Patty lost her baby Amanda. Sylvia lost three small babies born in early Nauvoo. Josephine was born later in Nauvoo, February 8, 1844.
In the spring of 1840, 250 homes had been built and more were in the process of construction. Soon there was enjoyed a season of happiness and prosperity. Nauvoo, after being drained, became a beautiful, healthful and prosperous city. Joseph Smith obtained from the legislature and from the governor an unusually liberal charter for the City of Nauvoo. He founded the University of Nauvoo and the Nauvoo Legion. In many other ways, his leadership was shown.
Perigrine Sesisons bought a lot from Joseph Smith. Then he sold half of it to his brother-in-law, Winsor Lyon and his sister Sylvia. The two families lived side by side. Now, after more than a hundred years, the Lyon home still stands. It is a small frame home and store. It is surrounded by beautiful trees. Many of the other Mormon homes built by the leaders of our church are still in use; for example, the John Taylor and the Heber C. Kimball homes, the Parley Pratt and Wilford Woodruff homes, the mansion house of Joseph Smith, and many others. Now they are pointed out to tourists.
Winsor Palmer Lyon was an Army surgeon with the title of Colonel (G&H Magazine, July 1918, page 134). Josephine treasured the fringed guilt epaulets he wore on his army coat. I remember them well. What did the David Session family think of Dr. Lyon? I quote from an article written by Nina F. Moss, 1950:
"Dr. Lyon was a great and good man, well educated and zealous in his labors for the good of mankind. He established a mercantile and drug business in the City of Nauvoo. A bond of deep affection developed between the sister Sylvia and her younger brother David. Perhaps it came about from his being left to her care while the mother was compelled to be away from home.
"Little Patty Sessions was blessed with the gift of giving comfort to and caring for the sick. She began this work in earnest by helping friends and neighbors with the delivery of their children. Almost to he day of her death at 98 - almost 99 - she delegated most of her time to the great cause of midwifery. Many people blessed her for her untiring service and kindness. David Jr. was bout 16 years when he went to live permanently with the Lyons in Nauvoo. Under the kind supervision of his brother-in-law, he learned to manage the mercantile and drug business. Dr. Lyon possessed many medical journals and books which David was encouraged to study in his room above the establishment."
Years later, when David came to Utah, he brought with him some of those books.
In March 1951, Annie Sessions Neville, daughter of David Sessions, Jr., wrote to me, "Speaking of Winsor Lyin, I feel that I knew him, just from my father's talk. He certainly was a wonderful man in every way. He was a true friend of the Prophet Joseph Smith. He, as well as my father loved horses. When he wanted to go someplace, Winsor Lyon said, "The horses and buggy are ready, and David to go with you at any time'." David often delivered goods on horseback. He did all he could to help Dr. Lyon. In return, as long as he lived, David said the training and association he received from his brother-in-law were very valuable to him."
The people of Nauvoo (larger than Chicago at the time) were very happy for a time. The population increased to about 20,000. But with prosperity came the inevitable persecution. Even before the martyrdom of Joseph and his brother Hyrum on June 27, 1844, the people knew they would be forced to flee from their beloved city. They knew they must go far away to some place not wanted by anyone else.
First, they rushed to completion their beautiful temple, so that they could perform there the ordinances taught by their beloved prophet. As soon as any part of the temple was finished, it was dedicated and put to use. Endowments began in December 1845. During the next two months, endowments continued night and day. The Saints wished this work to be performed before they left, not knowing how long it might be before another temple could be built.
Josephine's grandparents were among the first to begin the westward trek into the unknown. On February 12, 1844, they bade farewell to all of their children and crossed the Mississippi by ferry. They were much concerned about the loved ones they had left behind. Perigrine and Sylvia and their families, and young David, aged 22. Always, they hoped and prayed that the reset would follow soon.
About four months later, Perigrine did join his parents at Winter Quarters. But they had received a letter from Sylvia saying that in June (1846) she and her husband Winsor, accompanied by her brother David and her small daughter Josephine would leave Nauvoo to make their home in Iowa City, Iowa. Winsor's brother, Ethiel, ad located there the year previous.
The Saints at Winter Quarters had intended to continue on westward that same year, 1846, but they were forced to remain there over the winter. The United States Government had asked the Mormons to furnish 500 young men for the Mexican War. Hence, the famous Mormon Battalion was formed. The rank of the refugees were so depleted it took until the spring of 1847 for them to recover sufficiently to go forward.
Just before that time, David and Sylvia came across Iowa to visit. They stayed nearly three weeks at Winter Quarters. All had a wonderful time. The pioneers seemed to be so very cordial and hospitable. They left on David's 23rd birthday, going back to Iowa City.
At Iowa City, the Lyon Brothers, Winsor and Ethiel were progressive, reliable citizens, owners of the grist mill, which later they sold to Ezekiel Clark and brother. This river water power now furnishes light and electric power for Iowa City.
Winsor Lyon died January 1849, shortly before his 40th birthday. His was, in years, a short life; yet his accomplishments were more than that of most people in twice that time.
A year later, January 1850, Sylvia married Ezekiel Clark, a banker and respected citizen, well to do. Three children were born of this union: Perry, born 4 February 1851; Phoebe, 1 September 1952; and Martha, 20 January 1954. But two small sons of Winsor and Sylvia, Byron and Carlos Lyon followed their father in death and were buried by his side in Iowa City. This left only Josephine to carry on of the six Lyon children. She lived to be 80.
After Sylvia's marriage to Mr. Clark, David felt that he was no longer needed, so he joined a group of immigrants who were on the way to California. He arrived in Utah in the summer of 1850.
Patty had never stopped praying that her daughter Sylvia might join the Saints in Zion. And the heart of Sylvia seemed to be turned this way, in spite of her worldly comforts. When Perigrine finished his English mission, he stopped at Iowa City. Sylvia decided to come with him. Mr. Clark was not a Latter-Day Saint. He would not come himself. But he outfitted Sylvia in the best possible manner, with two wagons and two teams of oxen and a cow and everything deemed necessary. One wagon was hauled by a cow and an ox. Martha was only three months old. Josephine was 10 years. She drove part of the way. It took a lot of courage to make that long, wearisome journey of three months.
On August 1, 1854, Patty went to meet her loved ones: Perigrine, who had been gone two years; Sylvia, whom she had not seen for seven years; and four grandchildren -- Josephine and the three she had never seen. Patty went up Weber Canyon, crossed Weber River, and went to the mouth of Echo Canyon. Now was a time of rejoicing. Patty's goal had been reached. All of her living family was in Utah.