History of Esaias Edwards


Return to Esaias Edwards and Elizabeth Campbell main page

History of Esaias Edwards

I was born in Pike County, in the State of Missouri on the 10th of April 1612. About that time, my father and mother and the rest of the family were compelled to move to Lincoln County to the Fort. From there they went to St. Charles Co., where my father had obtained a grant from the Spanish Government. This consisted of 640 acres of land. There he remained until I was 4 years old. Next we went to Pike Co. on Ramseys Creek, where we lived until the year 1829. We finally settled in the State of Illinois, Adams Co., near Quincy.

On the 27th of Aug. 1831, I married Miss Elizabeth Campbell. About a year previous to this time, I had set my mind to search after knowledge. After reading the Bible and other books I became a believer in a Supreme Being. I thought it reasonable that he should have the privilege of forming a code of laws with the penalties and deliver them to man. My father and mother belonged to the Methodist Church, therefore, I became a member of this church.

About a week after we were married, my wife was taken sick and lay very ill. She recovered her health in about six weeks. The following year, 1832 our first child was born. We named her Sarah Ann. On the 8th of July 1834, she gave birth to a son, whom we named George Washington. We enjoyed the comforts of life, working diligently for a living. Our affections were united stronger than ever.

My father died July 1833 of cholera. He sent for me the morning before his death. He told me he was about to leave this world or trouble and rejoiced that he had lived an honorable life and exhorted me to live in like manner and teach my brothers and sisters to do likewise.

By our industry and economy, we procured a good farm and stock of all kinds that we needed to make us comfortable. On the 25th of Oct. my wife gave birth to a girl whom we called Polly Ann. We continued to live in peace and harmony.

In the spring of 1837, the Latter-day Saints began settling in Adams Co. in great numbers. They had been driven across the Mississippi River at Quincy. One day I was going to Fairfield and I came upon some of these unfortunate individuals camped out in the snow. I was filled with compassion for them. The man's name was Alexander Williams and he had quite a large family. I furnished him eight acres of land and a house to live in and work to do, for which I paid him a good price. He was an Elder in the Church, and talked freely upon the principles of salvation. When I made a close examination of the scriptures, I found that the Latter-day Saints were the only people who professed to enjoy the same gifts and blessings as promised in the New Testament. I humbled myself before the Lord and asked that if it was his will that I should throw away all my former traditions and unite myself with the people who received the greatest blessings from the Lord, that he would manifest it in some way or other as He say proper. About this time, my wife was taken very sick with a strange disease that I could not find a remedy in medicine. One evening Bro. Alexander Williams was present when we were to have prayer. I asked him to lead in prayer. After we arose, Bro. Williams said that it was manifest to him that if Mrs. Edwards would covenant to obey the gospel, that it would be her privilege to be healed by the laying on of hands. She grew worse, the pains of her body were almost more than she could bare. I told her that I thought that she would do well to take the advice made to her the night before. To this she readily agreed and we covenanted before the Lord that if she was healed we would obey the ordinances of the Gospel. Bro. Williams prayed with me, and then he laid hands upon her and rebuked the disease in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ. Her pains immediately left her and she was filled with the Spirit of God. As soon as she recovered strength enough to walk a mile to the creek, we were baptized. We rejoiced in the happy change.

On the 6th of Oct. we attended a conference of the church held at Nauvoo, where Joseph Smith presided. I was then ordained an Elder in the Church of Jesus Christ. I began to make arrangements to move to Nauvoo and sold part of my farm for a building in Nauvoo. In the fall, Bro. Williams and myself went on a mission into Kentucky and Tennessee preaching and baptizing until the first of March.

On the 6th of April I moved my family to Nauvoo and started collecting material for building a home. My cellar was 52 ft. long by 18 ft. wide and my stable 20ft. long and 17 ft. wide. My family lived in this until the house was completed in 1842.

In Sept. 1842. 1 was called on another mission. My companion was Wm. Greenwood. We traveled on toot in a northerly course preaching every opportunity until we came to the home of my sister Sally, who had married John Wells. They were glad to see me, but prejudiced at what they supposed my religion to be. The Saints were misrepresented in every form, that man or devils could invent. However, they had confidence in the honesty of my heart and out of respect to me, they made an appointment for me to preach at their home. I delivered a lecture on the first principles of the Gospel and the people could find no objection. We continued to preach every opportunity for some time. One Methodist priest undertook to oppose us at Elizabeth Town but was put to shame.

As it was getting cold, and I had not received a letter from my wife, something seemed to tell me that all was not right at home. By this time my bother-in-law and sister had become interested in our doctrine and hated to see me go, but I told them the way I felt. After making them a present of the Book of Mormon, I started for home. I found upon my arrival at Nauvoo, after a bad journey through cold and snow, that my wife was at Adams Co., where she had gone for a visit. I immediately left for there and found my wife lying at the point of death. I humbled myself before the Lord in mighty prayers and laid my hands upon her head and in the name of Jesus Christ rebuked the power of the destroyer and she began to mend from that very hour. In a short time I brought her home in a sled. It was some time before she was able to be about and do her work. All that winter I was sick and could not work, but at length we all recovered and rejoiced that God had saved us from death and sustained us through our sickness.

In the fall I engaged in making spinning wheels. At this time the Saints agreed to leave the state so I started making wagons and worked almost day and night all through the winter so that I could move next spring with the church. About this time, my wife was again taken with a severe pain in her stomach and was at the point of death. I called Dr. Young who was an Elder in the Church. He anointed her with oil and rebuked the disease, she arose from her bed and her disease returned no more. However, our baby Thomas Andrew, died of a lingering disease.

Nothing in particular occurred in our family until the next summer. I worked at manufacturing spinning wheels for a living until Joseph and Hyrum were murdered. This caused great sorrow in the Church.

On the 3rd of April my wife was taken with a severe pain in her head and she died leaving a motherless baby Elizabeth and a broken hearted husband. I went to Heber C. Kimball for counsel and told him my condition. He advised me to let Sister Bennett take the babe on certain conditions and to get another wife as soon as opportunity would permit and not mourn as those who have no hope.

I met a young woman named Sarah Catherine Gibbs. We were married April 27th, 1845.

The year 1846 was a year long to be remembered. The Saints were driven by mobs from their homes. My wife suffered with severe sick spells and I called Dr. Smith and he told me it was impossible for her to recover. She said she desired very much to live, but if she could not, she told me how she wanted to be buried and where. I told her that her wish would be granted but that I would do all in my power to keep her alive. We succeeded in keeping her alive until April 1847. She was buried by the side of Mother Smith--wife of Asabel Smith, uncle to our Prophet.

Not long after that, I let Polly Ann, my second daughter, go and live with Sister Gilbert and Sister Parish took care of the baby. The baby became ill and died July 3, 1847, and was buried near his mother. My family now was reduced to my oldest children and myself.

I began to prepare to go to Council Bluffs where the body of the Saints had stopped to winter. In August we started with one yoke of cows and one yoke of oxen. Under these circumstances we left the United States to seek a home in the wilderness. Sarah Ann, in attempting to jump from the wagon fell and the fore wheel ran over her head and arm--which broke her arm and injured her head. We stopped the wagons and anointed her wounds in the name of the Lord and drove on without any more difficulty until we reached the settlement of the Saints on the Putawatomic lands near the Missouri River. Here I built a home for my family.

Some time later, I met a young lady by the name of Belinda Mills and we were married by Elder Hyde on the 24 Oct. 1847. Not long after this, my daughter Sarah Ann, married Thomas Alger. I worked hard to obtain means to move west. 1 now had two yoke or oxen, one yoke of cows and a good wagon which I made. Also six or seven weight of bread stuff mostly corn meal and buck wheat flour and enough clothes for winter. I considered myself poetic lecture. I would have avoided this, for I thought I would be very inadeguate to the task. But when the time arrived I commenced speaking and I forgot my weakness for the spirit of the Lord was upon me and I spoke with great freedom. My second daughter, Polly Ann, was married on that day to Francis Gunnell, a young man, of 21 years from England.

In the fore part of the winter I went to Cedar Valley to see my little daughter, Elizabeth. It was fifty miles and part of the way not explored. She is a very beautiful little girl about eight years old.

About the 10th of April I sold my house and shop in Salt Lake City for 500 dollars, most of which went for tithing. On the 6th of May 1851 I caught my hand in the saw which gave me the worst wound I ever had in my life. I was now in the saw mill business with my son-in-law Francis Gunnell. In 1853 the Indian trouble caused the citizens of Tooele to move together in the form of a fort. There has been a great reformation during the last fall and winter, such as has not been seen since we have been in the valley.

The first Presidency is urging us to sanctify and purify ourselves against trials which are just at hand, which they say will try every Saint both man and woman. I do not know what we will have to pass through and I am not concerned about it; but my prayer daily is that I may be enabled to stand in the day of tribulations and adversity for that is my chief desire on this earth.

Aug. 1, 1857--Jedidiah Grant died last winter and Daniel Wells was chosen to fill his place. Quite a number of people left the Valley for the States and California, but they can be spared very easily for we don't want any half hearted Mormons here. This appears to be the time the Prophet spoke of when he said,"The sinner in Zion is afraid and fearfulness shall surprise the hypocrite."

We have received news that the United States Government has appointed a new Governor for the territory of Utah and that he was to start from Independence on the 11th of July with 2,500 troops to protect him. There was great excitement in the states about the Mormons. There appears to be people living in this Territory who are writing all manner of lies about Brigham Young and others who are stirring up wrath and indignation among the Gentiles. As far as I am concerned I feel under the greatest obligation to acknowledge the goodness of God toward me for I have been truly blessed both temporally and spiritually. I have enjoyed the spirit of the Lord this year in a greater fullness than I ever did in my life. From the 1st of Jan. to the 4th of July I settled over $700 of tithing and I obtained a full receipt for all my tithing up to .Jan. 1857.

I accompanied my son-in-law Francis, to Cache Valley about 80 miles north of Salt Lake City. We decided to settle there. As we returned home on July 1857, we received our sealings by Brigham Young, the Prophet of the Lord in the House of Endowments at the altar of the Lord. All three of my wives were sealed to me for time and eternity. Brigham also blessed me and all my wives with an endless priesthood and posterity and gift of eternal life through faithfulness.

At this time, the state of things in the Territory is gloomy. Some of the Gentiles that came in with the soldiers are seeking Brigham's life and he has to keep himself concealed and have a guard most of the time. He doesn't appear in public to preach any more so there is a famine for the word of the Lord. The Government of the United States is trying to lay some plan to overthrow the Church. For my part, I feel perfectly safe under the protection of him who holds the destination of all men under his control.

May 2, 1861--My family is in good health at the present time. George and Folly Ann are living at Wellsville and doing well. The Government of the United States is about to be broken up. Last summer there was great excitement in electing a new President. Abraham Lincoln was elected. I am thankful that the Lord led us from there while they were being divided. The Saints are becoming more united and the spirit of the Lord is poured out upon them and we feel to rejoice. The war spirit is increasing. South Carolina commenced the war by storming and taking Fort Sumpter.

Some time later--The United States is still at war and have been since I wrote last. Hard battles have been fought and many slain on both sides.

I was fifty years old yesterday and no gray hairs and feel as I might live many years yet. I have had fourteen children born to me by three mothers. Six to Elizabeth Campbell, one by Catherine Gibbs, and seven by Belinda Mills. There are four living children which my first wife bore. Sarah Ann, the oldest is living in Missouri and I have not seen her for fourteen years. George W. is married and has two sons. Polly Ann, Thomas Andrew, and Louisa died in Nauvoo. Elizabeth was married to Ephraim Elsworth and is living in Payson. My second wife gave birth to a son called Esias but he died at ten months. My third wife's children are all at home, except Julia and Armilda who died in Tooele City. On the 27th of December I was called to attend the funeral of my daughter Folly Ann--after a short spell of sickness.

Nov. 1864--The harvest turned out well this year and there is bread stuff on hand to last two years if it is all kept in the country. A convention was held in Salt Lake to regulate prices of produce. The other things accordingly. We have mail twice a week from Salt Lake which brings us the last telegraph news from the East which informs us of the horrible scenes of blood and distress and misery that is taking place in the land from whence we came. We ought to rejoice and praise God continually for his preserving care toward his Saints. I know not what a day or hour will bring forth but I have faith in the knowledge of eternal life and salvation as long as I live in mortality and also of this world's good till I will have my hearts desire.

I have just got a loom started which is called a fly shuttle and hope I have my weaving done at home after this.

Oct. 8, 1865--The war came to a close last spring shortly after the surrender of the Southern armies. Abraham Lincoln was assassinated in Ford's Theater in Washington. Vice-President Johnson immediately took the seat of office. There yet remains a great deal of confusion in the States and I suppose the difficulty will never be settled again. Brigham Young and the apostles have visited this valley twice this summer and it is a time of general prosperity in the Church.

About the first of Sept. my grandson Samuel Esias Alger arrived at my home after a journey of five months on the road through dangerous difficulties. It gave me great joy to see him. He is a fine looking boy of 15 years. Jan. 20, 1864--my daughter, Sara Ann, has come to this country with her children and has moved to Franklin, where her sister Elizabeth is now living. We expect to have the largest emigration this season that has ever been yet. The Saints have raised 3/4 of a million dollars to be sent to Europe to emigrate the Saints. The grasshoppers have been very destructive in the valley south of here, and are now coming to this valley, by the millions. There is a fast meting appointed for all the settlements of the valley to entreat the Lord to turn the grasshoppers away that they may not destroy our crop. They received great manifestations that we would have plenty left to sustain ourselves and those who may come to sojourn with us. The grasshoppers continued to come and go and millions passed over the valley without lighting, If they all had stopped, they would not have left a solitary green thing. This I want my children to know how the Lord miraculously preserved the Saints in answer to prayer. There has been a school or the prophets established in Logan to which I have the honor of being a member.

Nov. 20, 1871--Times are quiet at the present time. The authorities of the Church have received notices to appear in the March term of court. The railroad is approaching as fast as circumstances will permit. We have just finished an addition our school house which makes a comfortable meeting house. It will be dedicated next Sunday. So far the Church has had some bitter experiences. They have arrested Brigham Young and a great many others for murder; but they have appealed to the Supreme Court. Then there was a decision that all their proceedings were unlawful and a telegram was received which set the prisoners free.

This year has been the hardest year for me to make a living since I came to this Territory. Times are very dull at present. I do not know how we will get along until harvest but I expect to do right and trust in God. President Young made a contract with the U.P. Railroad. All surplus hands that could be spared from the harvest were called to work on the railroad. It is expected that the railroad will meet the first of July then we can travel with much more speed.

My wife and I attended conference on the 6th of Oct. We had a pleasant time. We fared on peaches, apples plums, and etc. We also had good instructions. There were measures entered into to cease supporting the Gentile merchants that were endeavoring to lay a foundation for our destruction. The plan was to let them alone. That plan has been carried out so far by all the true hearted Saints.

Jan. 26, 1873--Since writing last, I have been employed in building myself a house. It contains 7 rooms, 14 doors, 17 windows. I have labor diligently. My son-in-law, Frank Sadlier, assisted me with money and labor. There have been good crops throughout the territory this season. The first in several years and we rejoice that the Lord has rebuked the devourer for our sakes.--I mean the grasshoppers. My orchard has yielded considerable fruit this year. The railroad will reach Logan in two or three days--a place 4 miles from here. We can then go anywhere in the country where the railroads go. There has been a very important event take place in the history of my life. I have entered into the law or order of plural marriage. On the 23rd of June, 1 married Ann Nuttal and had her sealed to me for time and all eternity.

Mar. 27,1874--It is a long time since I wrote in my history and many things have transpired which I ought to have written. But it is a failing that I have always had and I would advise my posterity to be more careful in such matters than I have been. Since I have entered into the order of plural marriage and have been living in and practicing the same. I have enjoyed the spirit or the Lord more living in that order than I ever have in any period of my life--the same length of time, not withstanding the many afflictions I was called to pass through.

About the 1st of July a call came for volunteers to go South to settle St. George--500 miles from here. No other person in Millville was willing to go. I told the Bishop I was willing to go. Some called me an old fool for leaving my good place. President Brigham Young told me I was the kind of men they wanted down there and the people of Millville must buy me out and give me a fair price for my place. He advised me to only take part of my family until I could secure a place for the rest; so I took my wife, Ann Nuttal, her little daughter, Hester, and my two sons David & Zebulon. We arrived at Diamond Valley, twelve miles from St. George on the 10th of Nov. 1 decided to buy a farm here consisting of an orchard of 50 apple trees, 150 peach trees, apricots, plums, and so forth, also there was some farming ground.

Since I wrote last, I have received an injury to my knee trying to milk a wild cow. We have had a dry and windy spring. We all have been fairly well since I last wrote. My wife Ann, has been very weakly since I married her. I have had better health this summer than I expected in this southern country. I have finished my cellar which makes a convenient addition to my home.

It is 30 ft. in front containing two rooms and a cellar; the whole length of the back part.

I have been up to Cache Valley since I last wrote. It took me 18 days to make the trip. Only one of the boys was willing to make the trip back with me. We brought two yoke of wild oxen, two yoke of horses and two wagons. We lost most of my sheep and cattle. I stopped in Prove to see my half brother James Bean. When I arrived home I turned out a new wagon and one yoke of oxen on payment on my place.

Jan. 14, 1877--We have had a good crop of fruit this year. We dried about 800 lbs. My wife sent about 300 lbs. to Salt Lake City and got 100 yds of cloth and clothing for the family. I attended the dedication of the St. George Temple--the first of the month--New Years Day. Since I last wrote, I spent 3 days in the temple on behalf of my father and his two brothers which I consider a very great privilege. It affords me great joy and consolation to think I have the privilege of living in this dispensation.

We have learned of the death of Brigham Young which took place the 29th of Aug. which cast gloom over the whole Church. His funeral took place on the 22 of Sept. in the new Tabernacle. It was thought to be the most interesting funeral ever held in America. There was about 2500 people in attendance. Quite a number of people are selling out and moving away.

I was 68 years old yesterday. Last Tuesday I went to a place called Gunlock about 7 miles from here to help celebrate the year since the organization of the Church. We passed the day by singing, speaking, praying, and dancing. I was called upon to make a speech. I also read some verses that I composed for the occasion.

Sixty-nine years ago I was born in Pike County, Missouri, and I feel thankful to my Heavenly Father for His kind watchful care over me for truly my life has been preserved by the power of God in times and ways almost without number. Another year, and if I should live that long, it brings me to the age that is allotted to man and if my life is spared I hope that I will have the power and ability to do a great deal more good and bring about more righteousness than I have done in the same length of time in my life. My understanding is being enlarged continually and my mind has been lightened by the spirit of God much more than in former years.

I have been having trouble the last few years with my eyes. Not having any of my children to help me, I am obliged to work in the sun and the wind. I have a great deal of writing that I have to accomplish. A few years after I became a man and had the care of a family I began to study the laws or life and after uniting myself with the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints I received additional light by reading what is called the Word of Wisdom. This was given to Joseph Smith by the Lord. It gives great promise to those who would heed it. I do not wish to boast of anything that I have done nor of attainment which I have received, or the blessings which I have secured by endeavoring to live, but the instructions which I have received by trying to humble myself, in my humble way to keep the commandments of my Heavenly Father. I have done no more than my duty and more than that I have not lived up to my privileges. I have fallen short of my doing my duty in many respects toward my Heavenly Father and perhaps my fellowman and my family. But in a general way, I have done the best I knew how according to the circumstances in which I have been placed. I can truly feel satisfied with the goodness of the Lord. I have been attacked with many disease being of a weakly constitution. By faith and prayers and trying to keep the commandments of God, my body may have years yet. I do not wish to boast, for I know not what the day will bring forth. There is one thing I do know--that I feel as young and full of Life as I did five years ago and there are not many young men that will walk to St. George and back--a distance of twelve miles with greater ease than I can. As for wisdom and great treasures of knowledge, I can testify that I have received far greater than I anticipated, for my mind has been enlightened and my understanding and comprehension has been enlarged. I find that there is nothing impossible with our Heavenly Father. My mind has been led on the organization of this earth and also the organized and all the different changes they have passed through from the commencement of time until they shall arrive to a state of perfection and are permitted with their inhabitants to enter into the Celestial Glory into the presence of the Father and the Son. I have written a book concerning these things which I expect to have printed when I get means enough. I have truly passed through many various things scenes and I have tried to the utmost in almost all conditions and circumstances which mortality can endure. But I have done the best that I know as a general thing, and the Lord has delivered me out of them all thus far, and will put my trust in him for the remainder of my Life while I dwell in mortality.

--1882.

My great, great, grandfather Esaias Edwards died in St. George, Washington Co., Utah at the age of 85 on the 8th of June 1897 according to his pedigree chart compiled by my youngest son, Kim.

Francis LeRoy Walters

These is just a compilation of some of Esaias Edwards' journal. For more information, view the entire journal available from BYU.




Download a copy

Return to Esaias Edwards and Elizabeth Campbell main page