Biography of Washington Lemmon

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Written by Florence Lemmon Burningharn

Among the pioneers who came to Utah and settled in Salt Lake Valley, there were few who lived so long and participated so actively in the work of building up the state as Washington Lemmon.

For almost a century he watched the United States grow from a small sparsely settled country, bounded on the East by the Atlantic Ocean and on the West by the Mississippi River, to become a large powerful nation that extended from the Atlantic Ocean to the Pacific Ocean on the West and from Canada to Mexico.

He was born at Shelbyville, Shelby County, Kentucky, October 6, 1806 and lived there until 1812 when his father took his family and moved to Indiana. His mother died in Indiana. His father, having a family of small children to take care of, soon found himself another wife. He married Amy Rawlins, 2 April 1818 at Poali, Orange County, Indiana and later moved to Harrison County, Indiana.

Washington Lemmon married Tamer Stephens August 31, 1826, Harrison County, Indiana. They were both 19 years old, They were very poor. They had only half of a bake skillet to cook with. Their first two children were born at Corydon, Harrison County, Indiana.

In 1828 Washington s father moved to Adams County, Illinois and perhaps he wrote to his son or sent him word that this new country was a land of opportunity because in 1830 Washington took his family and moved to Adams County, Illinois. He acquired a farm near Quincy and worked hard to develop it into one of the best farms in that neighborhood. He lived there for twenty years and ten of his children were born there.

Washington Lemmon first heard the message of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints from David Evans, the late Bishop of Lehi, Utah County, Utah. His wife Tamer, was baptized by Jacob Meyers, October 1840 and Washington was baptized by David Evans, March 1841. He became a personal friend of the Prophet Joseph Smith and other leaders of the Church.

He was in the Church in the early days of its existence at Nauvoo, Illinois and in Missouri. He took part in those troublesome times, building up and developing the Church, strengthening its membership and aiding in the erection of building for its work. He was a carpenter and he helped build the Nauvoo Temple.

In 1844, when the Prophet Joseph Smith was killed, Washington was in Indiana preaching the gospel and campaigning for Joseph Smith to be the next president of the United States,

In 1850 he moved his family to Council Bluff, Iowa, where the head quarters of the Church was at that time, it being known as Winter quarters. He spent two years there getting ready to make the trip across the plains.

Washington Lemmon and his family came to Utah in the Captain Jolly Company, which was one of the 21 companies of Mormon emigrants that crossed the plains in 1852. Each company having about 50 wagons. The Jolly Company had about 340 souls. They left the Missouri River June 11, 1852 and arrived in Salt Lake Valley September 10, 1852. They crossed the plains in covered wagons. The boys, Leander and Alfred, drove the cattle and when they arrived in Utah they said, "Their feet were so tough a prickly pear could not stick in them, " When they desired butter they would put the cream in the churn and the jar of the wagon would churn the cream to butter.

Washington's oldest son, James William Lemmon, came to Utah with the Mormon Battalion. His second son, John, came with the gold rush and went to California. After the family had been in Utah several years a man came to their place and wanted a place in sleep and something to eat. The family lived on the county road and they had that kind of requests quite often. This night while they were eating the man the man said "I am you son." Tamer, his mother went over to him and turned his sleeve up and there was a scar on his arm and his mother said "Yes, you are my son John." This was a pleasant surprise for the family.

The family settled on Dry Creek southeast of Sandy. In the winter Of 1833 Henry Bowden went out by Sandy looking for some of his cattle.

A terrible snow storm came up and he lost his way. Washington Lemmon found him nearly froze and wandering around in the snow. He took him to his place and Henry always said, "If it had not been for Washington Lemmon he would have frozen to death. They became very good friends and both of them lived in Millcreek Ward.

The career which Washington made for himself marked him as one of the most qualified pioneers who came to Utah. He saw Utah grow from a wilderness to one of the most flourishing and prosperous states in the West. He aided in bringing its agricultural resources up to the present standards.

The family moved to Millcreek (it is now 4338 Highland Drive) in the spring of 1853. Washington built his own home including all the doors and the windows and many pieces of furniture. It was a large farm which was used mostly for raising grain, alfalfa and a large fruit orchard. Many of the trees he budded and developed until he had most all kinds of fruit suitable to the Utah climate. He also had good gardens and all kinds of small fruit. He raised bees and sold honey. At different times he had herds of sheep, cattle and horses. He had flocks of chickens, geese, and turkeys which all farmers had for their own use.

Washington was about six feet tall and weighed about two hundred pounds. He had brown hair, a high forehead, and blue eyes, lie was rail and straight, a very good looking man. He never drank intoxicating drinks or used tobacco. lie rode horse back after he was ninety years old.

He was a prominent worker in the Church of his choice and enjoyed the confidence and esteem of all the members who knew him. He was known as a man of integrity and righteousness. He was counselor to Bishop Miller of Millcreek Ward 1859-1882 when Bishop Reuben Miller died he was ordained a High Priest the 26 March 1856 by David Pettegrew, Cottonwood organization of High Priests, Bishop Reuben Miller President. He was ordained a Patriarch 30 March 1884. He received his Patriarchal Blessing from Hyrum Smith (brother of the Prophet) and he was told he was of the tribe of Levi.

He died October 2, 1902 at the age of 96 years. The funeral service was held in the Millcreek Ward House, Sunday October 5, 1902. The speakers were Apostle Hyrum M. Smith, Bishop J. C. Hamilton of Mill Creek and U. G. Miller of Murray. The remains were interred in Mill Creek Cemetery. He was survived by nine children, forty-two grand children, sixty-six great grand children, and a number of great great grand children, making five generations.

Sources of information:
1. Biographical Record of Salt Lake and Vicinity
2. Special Correspondence to Newspaper
3. Lemmon family by Francis Marion Lemmon,
4. Life of Washington by Mabel Lemmon.

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