Biography of Justin Abraham Knapp

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Sketch of the Life or Justin Abraham Knapp

The name Knapp is of Teutonic origin which might mean "an esquire or body servant" to a knight or Noble--or a place name meaning 'a Hill' and is spelled in various ways.

The Knapps of America came to Massachusetts from Suffolk Co., England. Among whom was William Knapp, who came with Sir Richard Saltonstall in 1630, bringing his seven children with him--his wife having died in England. Among the members of this family are seamen, soldiers, writers, ministers, teachers, millmen, and farmers.

The sixth generation from William was Silas Knapp who married Lydia Mann. They moved from Mass. to New York and on to Nauvoo, Illinois with other members of the LDS Church. Among their children there was one Albert born at Antwerp, Jefferson County, New York.

Albert was a member of the Mormon Battalion and made the long march from Leavenworth to California. His name is on the Mormon Battalion plaque at the State Capitol grounds in Salt Lake City, Utah. He returned to the great Salt Lake Valley from California in 1849 and married Rozina Shepard. Later he went back to the West where he and John Hess were the first to discover gold and silver leads in Eldorado Canyon. He sent for his family to come to him in California. His family refused to leave the body of the Church and stayed on in Utah with her children. Albert lived for a time in Las Vegas with his brother. Later he was with his sister in Sinole, California where he died late in 1664. Of this union there were six children, Justin being the second son and fifth child.

Justin Abraham Knapp was born in Farmington, Davis County, Utah, on Aug. 4, 1657. When he was five years old he had scarlet fever which tightened the cords in his left foot and left him a crippled for the remainder of his life. He often said that as a child he longed to run and play as other children did. When he was thirteen years old he worked in a grocery store. After the family left Farmington they lived in Richmond, Utah.

Justin enjoyed hunting, and spent many hours tramping along the banks of Bear River where there were many geese and ducks. He often told of the time when he brought down three geese with one shot. Later he continued to enjoy this past time with his shotgun on his arm he would hunt ducks on the slues and river on his farm and wild chickens in the nearby sage country in Hibbard, Idaho.

While working for a Mr. Brown in Park City, Utah, he learned the trade of stone cutting. After days work was over he would stay at night and experiment on scraps of stone, which he polished and decorated with letters and designs. These he laid carefully away. One day Mr. Brown saw them. He was surprised and pleased with the work and encouraged Justin to put them on exhibition at the Fair in Logan, which he did and won some prizes for his stone work.

As a stone mason he helped to build many important buildings in the communities in which he lived. One of these was the Logan Temple. For three years he worked on that beautiful edifice, a monument to the skill and craftsmanship of the pioneers. A building of which all Church members are proud, indeed "a thing of beauty is joy forever." His initials are cut in one of the stones. He prepared the corner stone which forms the box where the records and ect. are sealed. Another building which stands as a make of his skill and workmanship is the Flaunn store building which he helped to build of native stone, as the walls were raised, stone and mortar were drawn up by a horse. There are many others he helped to build throughout Cache and Snake river valleys.

He also made a violin which he played at many parties and dances.

While working on the Temple he met Anna Eliza Lemmon who was attending school in Logan. She was the daughter of Willis and Anna Eliza Homer Lemmon. Many hours of their courtship were spent walking gaily around the unfinished walls of the Temple. Who can guess the beauty of their dreams, the hope of their future. They were married in the Endowment House on Oct. 9, 1878. Twelve children were born to them:

  • Anna Rozina married--William Widdison,

  • Mabel married--C. Heber Ward,

  • Jennie married--Frank Walters,

  • Justin Willis married--Mabel F. Hale

  • Clara Leone lived 8 years,

  • Elsie May married--Charles 11. Larsen,

  • Lydia Lived 4 months,

  • Warren died at the age of 9 years,

  • Esther Jane married--Leslie N. Robertson,

  • Alice Evelirie married--John A. Hillman,

  • Edmund Raymond (twin) died at 2 years of age,

  • Adrian LeRoy (twin) died at birth.

They suffered the loss of six children before death came to separate these two. At first they made their home in a brick house which he built in Richmond, Utah. There besides working at his trade, he played in the brass band and served a term as town marshal.

About 1888 he bought a relinquishment of 160 acres in Snake River Valley in what is now Hibbard, two and a half miles west of Rexburg. He hired a man to take his furniture and stock. His wife and four children went on the train to Market Lake--now Roberts--where he met them with a team to continue their journey to their new home. There was no bridge over the Snake River there, so they crossed on a ferry boat operated by George Hibbard, Eliza's brother-in-law. They lived in a log house in Rexburg, owned by Nell Nelson while their own house was being built down on the farm. He had indeed come to a hunter's paradise for there were coyotes, badgers, porcupine, and for food: dear, antelope, and hundreds of wild chickens and ducks and plenty of fish. The winters were hard and long. The land had to be cleared of sage brush which had to be pulled out and burned. Ditches and dikes were made. Some of the neighbors were Park, Berry, Statham, and Parker. Besides working on the farm he worked at his trade; also at brick laying and plastering. Some of the pioneer graves were marked by stones fashioned by his hands. He was a lover of horses and always had fine teams, and sold many good ones. Sometime about 1699 he with his brother Morgan built and run a saw mill on Moody arid Canyon creeks for about two years.

He also enjoyed wrestling and other feats of strength. Because of the nature of his work he developed strong arms. One day he went to the old grist mill east of Rexburg. There were some boys from Ricks lifting and trying to outdo each other. One boy held out a sack of flour on his wrist. Mr. Knapp said to him: "Why don't you put it on your hand?" The boy retorted: "You can't do it" Mr. Knapp Jokingly asked: "What do you have to say I can't?" So the fellows gathered about $4.50 for a bet. Mr. Knapp held out his hand, they put a 50 lb. sack of flour on it, then he held the other hand and said: "put another on this hand", which they did and he raised them both upward. The boys offered him the money. He laughed and told them he did not want their money.

The first school held in Island Ward (Hibbard) was in the Knapp granary. It was built of logs covered with factory and white washed. When furnished with seats and desks it was very comfortable.

In his Church he was 2nd counselor in the first MIA when the ward was organized in 1695. He served as the first superintendent of Religion Class organized in Hibbard by Karl G. Maesar. He also served as a Counselor to Bishop Joseph E. Rigby and in 1914 he went to Southern California and there filled a short term mission. After his return in late spring his health failed rather fast. For years he had suffered with hay fever and asthma. In Nov. 1916 he was stricken with a stroke and died Nov. 21, 1918. At the time the flu was again raging and no public gatherings were held. He was buried after a short graveside service in the Rexburg cemetery, where the bodies or six of his children had been laid to rest.

He and President Joseph F. Smith died on the same day and their services were the same day. Graveside as the flu was raging and there were no inside gatherings. Justin Abraham Knapp's posterity at this date March 2, 1962 is 369.

Compiled by Mabe H. Knapp, October 1943

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