Here is the story of Henry Clegg, a man I’ve come to love and admire, as told by one of his descendants, Gayle M. Clegg:
“My husband’s great-grandfather Henry Clegg Jr. was a finisher. He joined the Church with his family when the first LDS missionaries went to Preston, England. Henry had a view of his destination in his mind as he and his wife, Hannah, and their two young boys immigrated to Utah. Henry left his older parents, who were too feeble to make such a long and arduous journey, knowing he would never see them again.”
“While crossing the plains, Hannah contracted cholera and died. She was laid to rest in an unmarked grave. The company then moved on, and at six in the evening, Henry’s youngest son also died. Henry retraced his steps to Hannah’s grave, placed his young son in his wife’s arms, and reburied the two of them together.
Henry then had to return to the wagon train, now five miles away. Suffering from cholera himself, Henry described his condition as being at death’s door while realizing he still had a thousand miles to walk. Amazingly he continued forward, putting one foot in front of the other. He stopped writing in his journal for several weeks after losing his dear Hannah and little son. I was struck with the words he used when he did start writing again:
“When he finally reached the gathering place of the Saints, he began a new family. He kept the faith. He continued his story. Most remarkably, his heartache over the burial of his sweetheart and son gave birth to our family’s legacy of moving forward, of finishing.”
“. . .We each must find and finish our own story, but how much sweeter the telling when encouragement is called out, when arriving at our destination is valued and celebrated, however long ago the journey commenced.
“. . .The greatest mentor and advocate we have said: “I will go before your face. I will be on your right hand and on your left, and my Spirit shall be in your hearts, and mine angels round about you, to bear you up” (D&C 84:88). Can any of us afford to leave this piece out of our individual journey?”
“Henry Clegg was still moving forward to live among the faithful Saints, to take his place, to raise a righteous family, to serve his neighbor. He had that picture in his mind even when his heart was breaking. . .
“. . .With the Lord, nothing is impossible (see Luke 1:37), but we each have to finish our own story. He sends His Spirit, we call out encouragement to each other, but we have to keep writing, keep walking, keep serving and accepting new challenges to the end of our own story. “Still walking” is the fundamental requirement in the journey of life. He wants us to finish well. He wants us to come back to Him. I pray that each of our stories will end in the presence of our Heavenly Father and His Son, our Savior Jesus Christ, the authors and finishers of our faith.”
– Excerpts from Sister Gayle M. Clegg, The Finished Story, General Conference April 2004
Part of the reason I love this story is because it is a story of my husband’s ancestors. After Henry Clegg Jr. lost his wife, Hanna, he crossed the plains and came to Salt Lake City where he married Ann Lewis from Cardiff in 1857. She is the daughter of John A. Lewis and Ann John.
John A. Lewis’s headstone and his 2nd wife, Priscilla’s headstone are in our back yard right now. John A. Lewis is my husband, John’s Great-great grandfather. When their headstones needed to be replaced in the Spanish Fork Cemetery, I spoke up for the original stones. Priscilla Lewis’s headstone is in several pieces and very difficult to read anymore. From what I remember, the epitaph on her stone said something like this:
She left her home and friends
And crossed the mighty deep
. . . and kept the Faith
And now at last has gone to sleep.
And his reads:
Here lies our Father
A noble sire
A man of God,
A freind to the poor.
“Still moving.” I love his words, I love that he just kept going and that he cared enough to tell us so. And I love that the paths of our families crossed then and his influence continues still.
Today is John’s father’s birthday. John Dean Lewis was born 22 Oct 1916 in Spanish Fork, Utah. He would have been 98 years old today. His father was Frederick Lewis b. 1880 in Spanish Fork. His father was Frederick Lewis b. 1844 in Cardiff, Wales. And his father was John A. Lewis b. 1814 in Llandaff, Wales.