James Holt and Jackson Osborne Smith, Missionary Companions in Tennessee, April 1844

Jackson Osborne Smith was called on a mission to Tennessee, according to the Journal History, on April 15, 1844. Jackson’s missionary companion, James Holt, wrote an account of that mission which appeared in “Our Pioneer Heritage,” Vol. 13, Kate B. Carter, Ed., at pages 470-72.

Tennessee 1844

Tennessee 1844

James Holt’s account follows:

At the April conference of the Church (1844), I was ordained to the office of a Seventy, and set apart to go on a mission to Tennessee, in company with Jackson Smith, to preach the Gospel, and also with a copy of Joseph’s views on politics, to have more printed and distributed throughout our travels.

We traveled as the people of old; without purse or scrip. It was a very wet spring, and we had to travel many days through mud and slush, shoe top deep and wade through much tribulation, but we put ourselves in the hands of God and ceased not to call on His name.

When we got to the Ohio River, the ferryman refused to set us over because we had no money to pay him. We went below four miles to another ferry, and told the ferryman our situation. He was very kind and kept us overnight and set us across in the morning, telling us we could recompense him by speaking a good word for his ferry. We traveled on and came to a town that was peopled with Methodists. We tried to get lodgings, but we were refused on account of our religion.

We continued on our journey without much more of importance transpiring, until we arrived at my father’s in Wilson County, Tennessee. After shaking hands with him, I gave him an introduction to my traveling companion, Brother Smith, but he refused to shake hands with him. He said he had heard enough about the Smith’s, and he did not want to see any of them, although this Smith was no kin to the Prophet Joseph. I told my father that I had always been obedient to him when I was living at home, but if he could not entertain my fellow traveler and treat him as a gentleman, I should be under the necessity of going somewhere else for accommodations, and turned my back on my father’s house. This cut my father to the quick, and with tears in his eyes he said, “James, take your friend in and make yourselves welcome.”

As it had been several years since I had seen my relatives, I spent several days visiting with them, and teaching them the principles of the Gospel, when they gave me an opportunity. My brother, Jesse Washington, being class leader of the Baptist Church in this place, gave us the privilege to preach in the meetinghouse. The first meeting we held, there were but few present, but after that, the meetinghouse was always filled. A few days after we arrived here, I went to Lebanon with the copy of Gospel Views of Politics to have some printed . . . .

When the day arrived, I left Brother Smith at my brother, Jesse Washington’s, and started to Lebanon to see about the printing . . . .  I went to my brother’s to see Brother Smith, and I told him what the Lord had revealed to me (that the Prophet Joseph Smith had been killed); but he could not believe me. He said that my brother was believing, and he wished to stop and baptize him. But my brother wished to see the Prophet before he joined the Church, and was thinking of going shortly to Nauvoo, and Brother Smith decided to go with him. I bid farewell to them and started home.

This the last time I ever saw my father and have never seen any the others to the present time which is the first month of 1881. (Emphasis and comments added.)

For a fascinating read, here is a Biography of Jackson Osborne Smith as written 21 November 1993 by his great granddaughter Betty Jean Orgill Woodall:

Jackson Osborne Smith was born 2 April 1815 in Rutherford County, North Carolina, son of William Smith and Margaret Smith. He died 19 June 1880 in Mills Junction, Juab, Utah. Married 12 March 1835 in Kirtland, Huron, Ohio, to Mary Marie Owens, born 13 September 1818, in Florence, Oneida County, New York, daughter of Alvin and Hannah Lacertian Morton Owens. Mary Marie Owens was baptized 15 September 1834 in Kirtland, Huron, Ohio. She died in November 1881 in Provo, Utah, Utah.

In 1832 the family of John McKee and Margaret Smith Fausett met the Mormon Missionaries while residing in Montgomery County, Illinois. John and Margaret were baptized in April 1832 and Jackson Osborne Smith was baptized in September 1832 at age 17 years, and the family moved to Kirtland, Huron, Ohio.

John Fausett and Jackson Smith were listed as members who marched with Zion’s Camp, leaving Kirtland on 5 May 1834. The company consisted of 134 men, mostly young men, Elders, Priests, Teachers and Deacons. They were accompanied by 20 wagons full of baggage and supplies, so these young men had to walk. Many more joined them as they marched along. They were harassed and persecuted all the way. When they reached their destination in Missouri, the camp was disbanded 25 June 1834 and they were all told to return to their homes. Jackson loved to tell his family in later years about the Prophet Joseph, his brother Hyrum, Brigham Young and many others who would talk and encourage them around their campfires at night.

The Smith family suffered many hardships with other Saints in the Missouri Persecutions. They went to Illinois and settled near Nauvoo after property losses of $255.00 in Missouri. The birth places of their children indicate they were forced to move often.

In the Journal History, Jackson Smith was one of the members of the Quorum of Elders in Far West, Missouri to be recommended as worthy to be ordained to the Seventies. At the April Conference 15 April 1844, Jackson was called on a mission. He left shortly after for his mission to Tennessee, leaving behind his beloved wife Mary Marie and five children ages 8 years to a babe in arms. His first companion’s name was James Holt. They traveled without purse or script. It was a wet spring and many days they trudged through mud and slush shoe-top deep, but put themselves in the hands of the Lord and called on Him often. When they reached the Ohio River, the ferryman refused to take them across the river because they had no money for their fare. They went four miles down the river and found another ferryman who ferried them across the next morning. The only compensation he wanted was for these two men to tell others about his ferry and his dependability.

When they arrived in Wilson County, Tennessee, they knocked on a door and Elder Holt’s father opened the door and shook hands with him, but he refused his hand to his son’s companion. The elder Mr. Holt said he had heard enough about the Smiths and he didn’t want anything to do with anyone with that name. James told his father, “I was always obedient to you when I was home, but if you cannot be kind to my fellow traveler, we will find accommodations elsewhere.” This cut his father to the quick and with tears in his eyes he said, “James, take your friend in the house and make yourselves welcome.”

While Jackson was serving his Heavenly Father, Mary Marie was home with no money, and five children ranging in age from eight to a babe in arms. She was a hard working, efficient wife and mother, and she had assured her husband they would be fine if he would serve an honorable mission. Every morning Mary Marie would leave her eight year old daughter with her younger children and row a canoe across the Mississippi River and work in a maple grove. She would row back every night with the sap procured during the day. After taking care of her children’s needs, she would boil down the sap in her big pots making sugar and syrup, her share of which she had no trouble trading for the commodities she needed to keep them fed and clothed during her husband’s mission. She had lived her young life in the New England states, and helped her parents at this task for many years.

Mary Marie was also a good seamstress. She sewed for many people. One night while her husband was gone, Brigham Young knocked on her door. In his arms he held his wife’s long black wool cape. He asked Mary Marie to make a “frock coat” for him as he had been called on a mission and had to leave by the end of the week. She had no pattern, but proceeded to take his measurements. There were no sewing machines at that time, but she sewed day and night by hand and had it ready when Brigham came to pick it up. President Brigham Young had his picture taken many times in this coat.

While Jackson was on his mission, tragedy struck the Church with the martyrdom of the Prophet Joseph Smith and his brother, Hyrum on 27 June 1844 at Carthage Jail. All missionaries were told to return home.

Mary Marie and her children were among the Saints who stood in line for hours to view the bodies of the Prophet Joseph and Hyrum. The older children remembered it well and expressed to the younger children how sad everyone was. After Jackson returned home he worked on the Nauvoo Temple. He also stood guard because of the threatening mobs trying to burn the temple to the ground. Prior to his mission he was also a body guard for the Prophet.

Jackson and Mary Marie were among the Saints who attended a special meeting in the Bowery at Nauvoo on 8 August 1844. They were attempting to settle the question of who would stand at the head of the Church. Sidney Rigdon rose to his feet and spoke for 1-1/2 hours giving many reasons why he was best qualified to be head of the church. He left the stand, leaving the Saints unimpressed with him. Then Brigham Young rose to his feet. Immediately the mantle of Joseph Smith fell upon him. He spoke with Joseph’s voice and looked like Joseph in appearance. Jackson and Mary Marie testified many times to their children that if ever the mantle of one man fell upon another, it was then. The Lord gave his people a testimony that left no doubt as to whom He wanted for the next prophet to lead His church. It was a very spiritual experience for the people assembled there that day.

On 10 December 1845 at 4:25 p.m., the first endowments were administered in the Nauvoo Temple. On 19 December 1845, Jackson and Mary Marie were among 98 saints to receive their endowments. No children were sealed at this time, but the marriage of Jackson and Mary Marie was sealed in the Nauvoo Temple on 12 March 1848.

Two children, Ruth Ann and Elvira were born in Nauvoo, Hancock, Illinois, Elvira dying shortly after birth, no doubt during the forced exodus from Nauvoo. Three additional children, Mary Ann, Isaac, and Eliza Jane were born in Winter Quarters, Pottawatomie, Iowa. When Eliza Jane was three weeks old, the family started across the plains with the David Wood Company, arriving in Salt Lake Valley 1 October 1852. Following arrival of the family in Utah, they settled first at Alpine, Utah, Utah where Jackson was born and died. After his death, the family moved to Provo Bench, (now called Orem, Utah, Utah), where Julia Lavette and Rachel Isabel were born. Their son Isaac died and was buried there while the family lived on Provo Bench. While living on Provo Bench, Jackson leased a small farm and orchard and worked in a flour and grist mill. The family moved next to Center Creek, Wasatch, Utah, where their thirteenth child Joseph Alvin was born. Their next move was to Jordanelle, Wasatch, Utah.

Jackson and Mary Marie became very discouraged. They knew they would have to move back to Iowa or Nebraska to work and get enough money to buy land of their own in Wasatch County. They started back across the plains in 1862. Their three oldest daughters were married, but they still had eight other living children, including their oldest son, John, age 23 years and unmarried, who went with them to help out. They worked for the next four years renting farms and milking cows. They also raised a lot of corn to sell. John worked very hard along with his father for these four years.

Their daughter Ruth Ann married Joseph Brundage while she was in the Middle West and in 1864 they started for Utah in a wagon train. One night after their evening meal was over Joe told his wife he was going for a walk. He never returned, and was never seen again. He didn’t take his rifle, and all he had was the clothes on his back. The men searched for him but to no avail. Ruth Ann was heart broken when they had to leave and go on. She was expecting her first child, a baby girl. Elvira was born 6 June 1864 on the bank of the Bear River.

In April 1866 Jackson and his family were ready to make the trek back to Utah. They were in better shape this time. They had two big Conestoga wagons pulled by oxen. Jackson drove one and his son John drove the other. They had milk cows and cages of chickens tied on the backs of the wagons. The girls walked and drove the animals along the way.

Mary Marie would put cream in the butter churn every morning before starting to travel and would place it in the back of one of the wagons. When they stopped at night, they would have fresh butter and buttermilk. When they heard a hen cackle during the day they would hurry and get the egg before it was broken. They always shared their goods with those less fortunate, remembering the times they had next to nothing. Almost every night Mary Marie fixed a big pan of “lumpy dick.” The milk would be boiled slowly, then white flour would be stirred in until it reached the consistency of mush, then a pinch of salt would be added. There were always lots of lumps and it would be eaten hot or cold with milk and sugar.

There was a lot of singing and dancing around the campfires at night. During their travels, they sometimes came across white people who had been scalped by the Indians. Jackson and Mary Marie often wondered if their return to Utah was worthwhile, but they always felt better prepared for the morrow after evening prayers for Heavenly Father’s protection and guidance.

When they arrived at Fort Laramie, Wyoming, the company camped inside the fort for a few days because of problems with the Indians who set siege to the fort. After the Indians were driven off, leaving many of their dead braves behind, the young girls and women, whose shoes were worn out and feet wrapped in rags, went out among the dead and removed their moccasins to put on their own sore and bleeding feet.

In preparing to continue their journey to the Salt Lake Valley, the men would go out early each day to hunt for meat, and the women and girls would gather berries for food. The company arrived in the Salt Lake Valley in September 1866. As winter was coming, Jackson and Mary Marie continued on to Midway, Wasatch, Utah, where they lived in the fort for two years. Jackson got a job working on the railroad at Promontory Point which meant he had to be away from his family most of the time. During this time the children were able to attend school regularly. Mary Marie did sewing for many people. Her son-in-law, Benjamin Peck, built a loom for her to weave rag rugs and carpets. It was large and could be opened up to a six foot width. She would weave beautiful woolen material, jeans, flannel, and linsey cloth. Many people would bring her rags from which to weave rugs. While Jackson was still working on the railroad and was gone from home, Benjamin Peck helped Mary Marie move her family to Scipio, Millard, Utah, where her children could attend school for a few years. They moved on to Mills Junction, Juab, Utah. It was part of Millard County until 1888.

After Jackson’s death, Rachel, their twelfth child and her husband Mark Orgill moved in with Mary Marie to help ease her grief. Her health started to fail her and late in the year of 1881 her son, who drove a freight wagon from California to Salt Lake, stopped by and persuaded her to go to Heber City with him for a week. She got sick and they put her in the Provo Hospital where she died. Her son brought her body back to Mills Junction to be buried along side her beloved husband, Jackson Osborne.

Betty Jean Orgill Woodall stated that she has visited these graves at Mills Junction, Juab, Utah. She said she traveled south on 1-15 to Mills Junction, then west over the railroad tracks and followed along side of them, and up on the side of the mountain is a fenced cemetery. There are about twenty mounds of dirt (graves). Some have head stones, and some don’t. There are a few homes still standing where the town was originally.

Children of Jackson Osborne and Mary Marie Owens Smith:

1. Margaret Anjelina
Born 2 March 1836 in Kirtland, Huron, Ohio
Died 10 December 1900
Married 1852 to King Benjamin Peck
2. Hannah Maria
Born 14 August 1838 in Far West, Caldwell, Missouri
Died 9 January 1914
Married #1 1 February 1854 to Richard Anderson Ivie
Married #2 to Mr. Holden
3. John James
Born 7 August 1839 in Nauvoo, Hancock, Illinois
Died 15 September 1915
Married to Margaret Eliza Robins
4. Elizabeth Lacertian
Born 23 September 1840 in Doway, Hancock, Illinois
Died 16 February 1914
Married 31 July 1856 to James William Adams
5. Ruth Ann
Born 11 November 1845 in Nauvoo, Hancock, Illinois
Died 15 May 1911
Married #1 to Joseph Brundage (He disappeared while crossing the plains.)
Married #2 sealed 7 April 1884 to Joseph Howe
6. Elvira
Born 27 May 1847 in Nauvoo, Hancock, Illinois
Died 1849
7. Mary Ann
Born 27 April 1849 in Winter Quarters, Pottawatomie, Iowa
Died 4 January 1900
Married #1 to Heber Jones
Married #2 to James Chapman
8. Isaac
Born 1851 in Winter Quarters, Pottawatomie, Iowa
Died 1860
9. Eliza Jane
Born 26 May 1852 in Winter Quarters, Pottawatomie, Iowa
Died 29 July 1933
Married #1 1867 to Zack Merrill (divorced)
Married #2 8 January 1871 to James Thomas Ivie
10. Jackson
Born 1855 in Alpine, Utah, Utah
Died 1856
11. Julia Lavette
Born 20 May 1857 in Provo, Utah, Utah
Died 15 March 1887
Married 30 November 1875 to John Phillip Jordon.
12. Rachel Isabel
Born 8 October 1859 in Provo, Utah, Utah
Died 3 April 1939
Married 20 June 1875 to Mark Orgill
13. Joseph Alvin
Born June 1861 in Center Creek, Wasatch, Utah
Died 1870

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About Ann Laemmlen Lewis

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