Alexander Roswell Stevens

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Alexander Roswell Stevens

Birthdate:
Birthplace: Mt Pleasant, Ontario, Canada
Death: Died in Springfield, Lane County, Oregon, USA
Place of Burial: Laurel Grove Cemetery, Eugene, Lane, Oregon, USA
Immediate Family:

Son of Roswell Stevens, Jr. and Maria Vallie Doyle Stevens Phelps
Husband of Rebecca Welker Stevens
Father of Alexander Alvin Stevens; James Roswell Stevens; Rebecca Malinda Stevens Dustin; Elizabeth Maria Stevens; Juliann Malina Stevens and 1 other
Brother of Daniel Stevens; Julia Ann Stevens; Sybil Jane Stevens; Isaiah Stevens; William Chester Stevens and 4 others
Half brother of Martha Ann Stevens; Charles Roswell Stevens; Ida Seretta Stevens; Mary Rosetta Powell; Roswell Henry Stevens and 6 others

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About Alexander Roswell Stevens

SOURCE: Elaine Justesen's family records for Alexander Roswell Stevens.

Alexander Roswell Stevens was born November 28, 1832, at Mount Pleasant, Brant, Ontario, Canada, the son of Roswell and Maria (or Mariah) Vallie (Doyle) Stevens. When a young boy, his family heard about the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints from its Prophet Joseph Smith. Joseph with others had made a missionary journey to Canada to preach the new religion. In 1834 Alexander's parents were baptized as members of the church. His life was a series of trials and joys. He lost his wife when she was only 27 years old and he was 31 years old. He remained single the rest of his life. He lived with his son James and family until his death in 1915.

In 1833 missionaries from a new American church arrived in Canada to teach the people about the gospel restored to earth by Joseph Smith. Alexander's parents were baptized in February, 1834. Elders from the church traveled to the various branches of the church from time to time. The following is taken from the journal of Joseph Smith, Jr., April 6, 1836: "Left Kirtland on an eastern mission, went to Canada West, preached about two months, baptized several. We then came to Mount Pleasant where I commenced preaching. Preached once in the schoolhouse upon the first principles of the gospel, the gospel and the order of the church. Preached four times at Brother Stevens', once at Brother Flanner's, once at Brother Nickerson's upon the second coming of Christ, three times at the schoolhouse near Mr. Fairchild's upon the first principles of the gospel, the figts and order of the Church, the failing away of the same, the 2nd chapter of Daniel, the 6th verse of the 14th chapter of Revelation, the coming forth of the Book of Mormon, the blessings on Joseph, the two sticks, the 29th chapter of Isaiah. During the meantime I set an appointment to the village of Brantford, but the schoolhouse door was locked and after waiting a short time, I went back to Mount Pleasant. In a few days after Elder F. Nickerson and myself went to same village again. Saw one of the trustees of the schoolhouse, obtained permission to leave an appointment, which was generally circulated, for the next eventing. We then returned to Mount Pleasant."

In 1837, at the age of five years, Alexander, his parents and older siblings Daniel, Julia, and baby brother Roswell, along with his grandparents and extended family, and church members moved to Caldwell County, Missouri, to settle with other members of the Church living there. His father Roswell purchased 80 acres on Log Creek. There they built a log home and raised crops on their land. Within two years they were driven from their home. The house was burned and the mobbers took his father's gun and a horse. Today the Caldwell County Courthouse stands on the property.

Soon problems arouse with other residents of the state and the church members were driven from the state. After leaving their home, they made a very difficult journey back east to the Mississippi river to a place called Commerce. The Mormon leader Joseph Smith later called the place Nauvoo. As a boy, Alex suffered all the trials endured by his family. At the age of eight years, Alex and Daniel, his older brother age 12, helped his father build another home in Nauvoo. Life in Nauvoo was good for the Stevens family. Alex and his older brother Daniel and sister Julia made many friends and enjoyed living in the pleasant and growing community.

Alex's father, Roswell, was a member of the Nauvoo police and received his assignments and duties from the Captain Hosea Stout. During their years in Nauvoo, Alex apparently did not attend school. In Nauvoo common schools were authorized by the city council, however, many qualified persons held private schools in either rented spaces or their own homes. According to information shown in the 1900 census, Alex could neither read nor write.

The residents of Nauvoo and surrounding places were plagued with ague or malaria. Many deaths occurred from these diseases. The area was swampy and full of mosquitoes. Alex's parents lost through death several of their children during the years they lived in Nauvoo. His older brother Daniel died at age 12. Two baby brothers also died, Isaiah, age 18 months, and William, age 7 months. The younger boys were born and died in Nauvoo.

Alexander, now twelve years of age, may have been involved with other youths his age as a member of Helaman's arym. Mosiah L. Hancock remembered his own last year in Nauvoo as a member of a junior militia. Known as the Sons of Helaman, ghe group drilled with real guns under the direction of a Brother Bailey, as their captain. Hancock, elecven years old, served as a second lieutenant in the group, also known as the Prophet's Guard. Parley P. Pratt described the Sons of Helaman during a Nauvoo Legion parade for the governor in the fall of 1844 as a group of boys in full uniform, bringing up the rear with their banner sporting the motto, "Our Fathers Will Protect Us." One of the boys who carried whittling knives and scabbards and went around Nauvoo whistling and whittling on sticks to warn ne'er-do-wells out of town."

In the end, enemies of the church drove the saints from their beautiful city of Nauvoo. The Stevens' family went as well. His father spent many days at the end of Parley Pratt's street in preparing boats and seeing to loading of wagons, animals and people for the journey across the Mississippi River. At 14 years of age and being the oldest son, he was given many responsibilities to help his mother and the other children prepare for their journey west. The family, after a very difficult journey, arrived at Council Bluffs sometime late in the summer of 1846 and built a temporary home there. They planned to leave for the west as soon as the order came from the Prophet Brigham Young. Alex's father, Roswell, left with the Mormon Battalion in August of 1846. This meant that Alex helped his mother care for the family. His aged grandparents, Roswell, Sr., and his wife Sybell, were also in Council Bluffs as were other extended family members.

Roswell returned to Council Bluffs late in the year. He was assigned to guard the men who carried monies from the battalion back to the body of the church. Then in April, 1847, Roswell left with the first company of pioneers to go to the Great Basin. While he was gone, Roswell, Sr., died, leaving his blind widow, Sybell, in the care of his uncle William and his family. Father Roswell returned from the Great Basin in late 1847 to help the family on their way west. There were some problems with his mother Mariah while his father was gone, but they were soon resolved.

In 1851, Roswell was the Captain of the 1st hundred attached to the John G. Smith Company. At age 19, Alex had a heavy share of the work placed upon him. The company began its journey from the outfitting post at Kanesville, Iowa, (present day Council Bluffs). Some of the immigrants even reported in their journals that they traveled with Alexander Stevens. A report of the company appeared in the Deseret News, August 19, 1851. Captain John G. Smith, with a company of saints comprising of one hundred and fifty wagons, met fifty miles above Fort Kearney; this company crossed the Loupe Fork on Saturday the 12th of June, made but very little headway until then, in consequence of the bad roads, and their endeavoring to head some of the larger streams, which proved ineffectual. Mr. Smith's company were then six weeks out from Kanesville.

Brunson, Lewis, Autobiography, 1861, 16-17, Read Trail Excerpt: On the 15th of May, 1851, I started from Council Bluffs for Great Salt Lake Valley with a company of fifty wagons under the presidency of Roswell Stevens. In order to avoid the high waters our company was counseled by Elder Orson Hyde to take a route so as to head the Elk Horn river, and consequently we had to travel through an unknown country, some two or three hundred miles before we struck the usually traveled road. After a very pleasant, though lengthy, journey of between three and four months, we arrived in Great Salt Lake City in the early part of September.

Thinking perhaps a little information from the first company of emigrants would be a treat to the friends abroad, I give you the following extract from a letter that I received last evening from Sister R.R. Patten. Sister Patten left here about the first of May, in the first company of Mormon emigrants, John C. Smith, Captain, Roswell Stevens, Captain of the first fifty; Abraham Day, captain of the second fifty; and L.A. Shurtleff, Captain of the third fifty. Sister Patten says they traveled up the divide between the Missouri River and the Horn a distance of two hundred miles. It being a northerly direction, they then turned westward and traveled ten days, came to the Horn, bridged and crossed, soon came to the Loop Fork, which they forded, from thence they crossed sand hills by the hundreds, creeks and sloughs, by bridging with grass and brush. After considerable travel in this way, they concluded to divide the company. Captain R. Stevens first fifty, continued westward; Captains Day and Shurtleff, second and third divisions, turned Southwest, and the California emigrants, seventeen wagons in company turned south, and after nine days travel, the second and third divisions came in with the California wagons, and on the 12th of July, reached the Platte Bottoms."

A report that the Stevens Company is five miles west of the Fort; Captain Day's in sight, and Captain Cummings Company of one hundred wagons, ten miles on the other side of the hollow. They arrived in the Great Salt Lake Valley on September 23, 1851.

They soon headed south to Mountain View, now called Alpine, Utah. There they built another home and Alex's father was involved with community affairs where he helped build a school, and served as a member of the bishopric.

Rebecca Welker was born July 21, 1835, in Jackson County, Ohio, to James and Elizabeth (Stoker) Welker. Her family joined the LDS Church in 1834, along with many of her extended family. Her father died in Nauvoo in 1844 from intermittent fever. Her mother, Elizabeth, was left with a large family including six children under fifteen years of age. With the help of her older sons, she was able to take her family to Zion.

The Welker's became part of the 9th company of fifties, with the Isaac M. Stewart Company. This group crossed over the Missouri River on June 18, 1852, and after a tedious but in many respects a pleasant journey, arrived in the Great Salt Lake City on September 22, 1851. Not many first person accounts have survived for this company. The Welker family were sent to Alpine to make their home.

Alexander Roswell Stevens and Rebecca Welker were married in Alpine sometime in 1853. The exact date is not recorded in the Ward Records. Alex did receive his patriarchal blessing from Emer Harris, while living in Alpine, on August 14, 1855.

Soon after Alex and Rebecca's marriage, Alex's parents divorced. His mother married Morris Phelps as a plural wife and moved to Bloomington, Bear Lake County, Idaho. Rebecca gave birth to their first son, Alexander Alvin on February 27, 1854, while they were living in Alpine. After the birth of their son they joined her Welker family and went north to Bear Lake County to settle.

Willard, Utah, had its beginning in 1851, when several companies of settlers were sent out from Salt Lake City. Nineteen people located on North Willow Creek, seven miles south of where Brigham City would soon be. Two years later, the settlement was moved to a better site, two miles father south. Willow Creek is the name given to the new settlement. A fort wall was built to protect them from the threat of Indian attacks.

It was here that Alex and Rebecca and their infant son Alexander came to settle and make a new home after being in Alpine since his 1851 arrival in the Great Salt Lake Valley. Soon after arriving in their new home, their second child, James Roswell Stevens, was born on August 16, 1856, at Willow Creek, later named Willard in 1859, in honor of Apostle Willard Richards.

When Alex brought his family to Willard, he purchased land in 1859. The family remained in Willard for the next seven years, except for a short time in Salt Lake City. During those years, three more children were born to Alex and Rebecca, all girls. Rebecca Malinda was born April 3, 1858, during their time in Salt Lake, Elizabeth Maria came next on March 17,1859, and Julia Ann, was born on June 21, 1863. Soon after the birth of Julia Ann, Alex's wife Rebecca died. The cause of her death is unknown, and she is buried in the Willard Pioneers' Cemetery.

The death of his wife left Alex with five small children to care for alone. The oldest child, Alexander A., was just nine years old. Alex took his two boys, Alexander, Jr., age 9, and James R., age 7, and three girls and moved to Bloomington, Idaho, which at that time was in Rich County, Utah. There he had support and help for his young girls from the Welker family.

Rebecca Malinda lived with her mother's brother, John Welker, and Elizabeth lived with another uncle, Adam, and his family. The baby Julia, lived with their grandmother Stevens who had married Morris Phelps. They lived in Montpelier, Idaho, not far from Bloomington. Listed in the household was Julia Stevens, aged nine years. She was the youngest child of Alex and Rebecca and was in the care of her grandmother.

In 1880 Alex was living in Bloomington and working in the timber. His son Alex A. is living with him. James R. is married and living with his wife Jeannette also in Bloomington. In November of 1883, his mother's brothers John Welker and family and Adam Welker and family moved to Arizona.

Others from the Bloomington area went along and settled in a place called Safford, Arizona. The church there was organized as the Layton Ward with John Welker as the first Bishop. Alexander Stevens and his family of grown children except for one all traveled to the new settlement. Alexander Jr. and his new wife Louisa stayed in Bloomington, raised their children there and both died there. Daughter Rebecca married Hyrum Dustin and moved to Arizona with their three small children. While there one child was born in 1886. Soon after her birth they returned to Rich County, Utah.

Son James Roswell Stevens and his wife Jannette Bee, took their three children and made the move, as did daughter Elizabeth and her husband John Brigham Bennet, with their four small children. The Bennett family remained in Arizona until about 1892 when they returned to Utah. Daughter Julia married Charles Nelson and stayed in Idaho until about 1892 when they also moved to Arizona.

Charles Tippetts from Utah bought a claim from John Penfold on January 13, 1886. This was the beginning of the Layton settlement in Arizona. Later in the year Tippetts was joined by the families of Charles Warner, Charles Olsen, John Welker, Adam Welker and Mads Madsen. The newcomers and those who came with them bought their land from Safford resident Charles Tipetts.

Life in the early settlement of Safford was made up of hardship and hard work. Buying many things that were essential was not possible, so people had to make such items at home or do without. The women kept a spinning wheel at home, for there was normally a herd of sheep from which wool could be obtained to wash, card, and spin into yarn for knitting stockings, gloves, and shawls. They wove some into cloth for dresses, suits and shirts. The women learned to glean straw from the wheat fields, to clean it, soak it, and braid it into hats. Settlers continued to flow into the valley. The population grew so that in 1889 there were 1749 souls in 315 families living there.

Alexander Stevens lived with his son James Roswell Stevens and his wife Janette. Her untimely death in 1888 brought more hardship to the Stevens family. James R., married again to Sarah A. Barney. She had children from her previous marriage that ended in divorce. Soon children arrived to the new union. Alexander received a Homestead of 160 acres from the Federal Government, located at Thatcher, Graham County, Arizona. He and his son James R. farmed the property.

After selling their land holdings, in 1898 the James Roswell Stevens family, including his father Alexander, moved north to Montana. The journey took a long time as they stopped along the way to work and earn funds to go on.

They settled in a place called Bridger in Carbon County, Montana. The area there had been opened up for homestead settlement in 1892. James obtained land in Bridger where he settled his now very large family. Alex continued to live with his son's family and is listed with them in the 1900 census of Bridger.

The family remained in Bridger until 1910 when a group of mostly family members made up of a wagon train went to Oregon. The group consisted of Robert Courtney, Buran Moody (son of Sarah by her first husband) and his wife Annie (Courtney) Moody, their children Hazel and Robert, Alexander Stevens, his son James Roswell Stevens his wife Sarah Alsea (Barney-Moody) Stevens, their children, John, Alex, Edson, Bert and Rex. Also in the group were William (Bud) Morris, Richard Morris, Charles Morris, Sam Morris, Glenna Morris Brown and Wesley Morris. The relationship, if any, of the Morris family to the Stevens family has not been determined. The train arrived in Walterville, Lane, Oregon, in October 1910.

The Moody family went back to Bridger, but Alex stayed on. He was living in Springfield, Lane County, Oregon, when he died on January 17, 1915. By the time Alex went on to Oregon in 1910, his three daughters had died and left young families. Only his son James Roswell Stevens remained.

Julia Ann, Alex and Rebecca's last daughter, born in 1863, ended up marrying her first cousin, Charles Nelson, who was the son of her Aunt Mary Catherine Welker Nelson and Mary's husband, Thomas Billington Nelson.

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Alexander Roswell Stevens's Timeline

1832
November 28, 1832
Mt Pleasant, Ontario, Canada
1854
February 27, 1854
Age 21
Alpine, UT, USA
1856
August 16, 1856
Age 23
Willard, Box Elder, Utah, USA
1858
April 3, 1858
Age 25
Salt Lake City, UT, USA
1859
March 27, 1859
Age 26
Willard, UT, USA
1863
June 21, 1863
Age 30
Willard, Box Elder, UT, USA
1915
January 17, 1915
Age 82
Springfield, Lane County, Oregon, USA
January 20, 1915
Age 82
Eugene, Lane, Oregon, USA
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