Benjamin Franklin Lewis (1803 - 1838) MP

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Birthplace: Pendleton, Anderson, SC, USA
Death: Died in Haun's Mill, Caldwell, Missouri, United States
Managed by: Randy Stebbing
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About Benjamin Franklin Lewis

Biographical Summary # 1:

Benjamin Franklin Lewis, son of Neriah Fredrick and Mary (Moss) Lewis, born in Pendleton District, Anderson County, South Carolina, 20 (or 23) April 1803; died in Haun's Mill, Caldwell, Missouri, 30 October 1838; buried in Haun's Mill; married in Simpson County, Kentucky, 27 January 1826, Joanna Ryon, daughter of Leonard and Frances (Adams) Ryon, born in Barren, Clark, Kentucky, 6 April 1808; died in Nauvoo, Hancock, Illinois 16 January 1846; buried in Nauvoo.

Biographical Summary #2:

"...Lewis, Benjamin, one of the martyrs of the Church killed at Haun's Mill, Caldwell county, Missouri . . . In 1809 he moved to Simpson county, Kentucky, where he later became a convert to "Mormonism," being baptized by James Emmett in March, 1835. Soon afterwards he was ordained an Elder by James Emmett and John Dustin and appointed to preside over the branch of the Church organized in Simpson county at that time. In the spring of 1836 he moved to Macoupin county, Illinois, and in the summer of 1837 he moved to Caldwell county, Missouri, and resided at Haun's Mill, when the mob attacked the place October 30, 1838. He received a bullet wound in the breast, while in the blacksmith shop, but managed to reach his home, a distance of about one hundred rods, where he expired in about one hour, after having vomited up the ball. His remains were not thrown in the well, where a number of his fellow martyrs were buried, as he was not killed outright, but his brother, Tarlton Lewis, dug a grave near the well, where he buried him. Brother Lewis left a wife and six children..."

"...Joanna's untimely death in Navuoo in 1846 orphaned her six children, aged seven to seventeen. These children were taken in by Beason and Elizabeth (Ryon) Lewis, brother and sister respectively of their father and mother..."

SOURCE: Latter-day Saint Biographical Encyclopedia, Vol. 3:

Biographical Summary #3:

Benjamin Lewis and Joannah Ryan

Among the faithful ones yielding their lives to the bitter enemies of the Mormon people in the early days of the church was Benjamin Lewis. He was born in Pendleton District, South Carolina, 23 April1803.

In 1809 the family moved to Simpson County, Kentucky. This same year Leonard Ryan, with his wife, Frances Adams Ryan and baby daughter, Joannah moved there from Clark County, Kentucky. Joannah was born 6 April 1808 and about 1826 she married Benjamin Lewis.

Benjamin joined the Church in 1835 and was baptized by James Emmett, also ordained and Elder by Peter Dustin in the spring of the year, and made President of the Branch in Simpson County, when the Branch was organized. He stood faithfully by through all the early day trials and hardships.

In the spring of 1836 Benjamin and his family moved to Macoupin County, Illinois, and by summertime made their way to Caldwell County, Missouri, in 1837 where they made their home. They lived at Haun's Mill on Shoal Creek, about 20 miles below Far West, and were there in October 1838.

A number of people who were living at Haun's Mill, and a number of immigrants who had stopped there, made an agreement with the mob in the vicinity that neither party should molest the other, but dwell in peace. Shortly after this agreement was made, a mob party of 2-3 hundred, came upon the people there, whose number was about 40 men, at a time when they little expected any such thing, and without any ceremony, not withstanding they begged for mercy, shot them down—just as they would shoot down a lion or a tiger. Some few made their escape by fleeing to the timber but 18 were killed and a number wounded.

This tragedy was conducted in the most brutal and savage manner. An old man after the tragedy and massacre was partially over, threw himself into their hands and begged for mercy, when he was instantly shot down. That not killing him, they took an old corn cutter and literally mangled him to pieces. A lad, of ten years old, after being shot down, also begged to be spared, when one of the mob, placed the muzzle of his gun to the boy's head and blew out the boy's brains. The slaughter of these didn't satisfy the mob, they proceeded to rob and plunder. The scene that presented itself after the massacre, to the widows and the orphans of the killed is beyond description. (History of the Church, Vol. 2, p. 221)

When the mob began shooting, many of the women took their children and ran into the woods. Among them was Joannah Lewis with her six children. They remained there all night and when Joannah returned to her home at dawn, she found Benjamin at the side of the house badly wounded. He had received a bullet in his breast while in the blacksmith shop. (The men and some boys had tried to take shelter there and were slain and wounded) Despite his terrible condition, Benjamin managed to reach his home, a distance of 100 yards. He was gently assisted into the house and they family did all they could for him. The bullet, which had lodged in his body, was emitted from his mouth. He died bearing a strong testimony of the truthfulness of the Gospel, and asked his wife to remain with the body of the Church. He died 31 October 1838.

The women and children threw the bodies of the dead men into an old well for burial, fearing the mob would come back and molest them further. Benjamin was not thrown in the well, however, as the following evening his brother, Tarlton, and Malinda went out and dug his grave. Tarlton was badly wounded, and was unable to do much digging, so the work fell to the hands of Malinda. Wrapping his body in an old coat, they tenderly buried the beloved husband, father, brother.

With courage beyond understanding, Joannah picked up the threads of life, determined to remain with the body of the Church, so that she might raise her children under the influence of the saints, for which their father had given his life. Word of Benjamin's death had been sent to Joannah's parents in Kentucky, and her sister, who had married Benjamin's brother, was sent to take the bereaved family back to the Ryan home, where she could live in prosperity. In order to ease the pressure she knew would be brought to bear by her people, she moved from place to place so that they might not overtake her. A few months after the death of her husband, her youngest child died.

There seems to be no details of her life for sometime, but it is known that she later settled in Nauvoo with her children, and found peace in serving others, helping the sick and those otherwise in need.

During the last years of Joannah's life she was afflicted by a paralytic stroke, and was tenderly cared for by her young daughter, Martha Ann. She died 6 February 1846, at the age of 38, just as the saints were being driven from Nauvoo. Thus ended the life of a noble wife, mother, and friend, who endured hardships for her faith, and preferred the Gospel to worldly wealth and comforts.

United in death before the journey of the Saints was ended, we are sure that with Benjamin Lewis and Joannah Ryan, ALL IS WELL.

Here is a paragraph taken from the life story of Beason Lewis:

"Benjamin Lewis was killed in Haun's Mill and his family was left without protection." It was Beason and Elizabeth, his wife, who came to take them back to their former home, family and friends. However, Benjamin had asked Joannah to stay with the Church, which she did, but when she died in Nauvoo this couple took the orphan children into their home and gave them the love, care, and protection they needed. Beason and this family were the first or among the first company to leave for Salt Lake Valley after Brigham Young's company. Beason and his wife were not baptized at that time, as they had only come out here to get the orphan children to take them home, but were later converted in Utah. Beason must have been a grand old man.

SOURCE: http://www.wendycat.com/geoffrey/history/families/lewis/benjamin_lewis_and_joannah_ryan.html

Death

"...Hiram Comstock said to David Lewis I am the man that shot your brother..."

SOURCE: "The Joseph Smith Papers"; 2009 Deseret Book; page 663

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Benjamin Lewis's Timeline

1803
April 22, 1803
Pendleton, Anderson, SC, USA
1824
April 22, 1824
Age 21
Sumner, TN, USA
April 22, 1824
Age 21
Sumner, TN, USA
1826
January 27, 1826
Age 22
Simpson, Breathitt, Kentucky, United States
1827
August 6, 1827
Age 24
Franklin, Simpson, KY, USA
1829
February 16, 1829
Age 25
Franklin, Simpson, KY, USA
1830
November 24, 1830
Age 27
Franklin, Simpson, KY, USA
1833
February 20, 1833
Age 29
Franklin, Simpson, KY, USA
1835
April 3, 1835
Age 31
Franklin, Simpson, KY, USA
1838
July 26, 1838
Age 35
Franklin, Simpson, KY, USA