James Albert Welker

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About James Albert Welker

James Albert Welker and Inger Marie Madsen…

by Fern Welker Lyman.

James Albert Welker was born in Council Bluffs, Pottowattamie County, Iowa, July 6, 1851. He was the son of James Wilburn Welker and Anna Pugh Welker, and a High Priest; Bishop’s Counselor, and a Farmer.

In 1853, the family made the trip to Salt Lake Valley with the Isaac Stewart company. Father was only a baby two years old, but thought he remembered - although he admitted it may have been his mother's stories he remembered - of a cow named Flower that made up half of one of their teams and gave the family milk during their journey to Utah.

Grandfather's family settled in Alpine, a little town about forty miles south of Salt Lake City. Their first home was a dugout in the side of the mountain and it was here that Uncle Adam was born. They lived here only one winter and then moved to Willard where Grandfather built the first molasses mill in that town. It was while they were living in Willard the Johnston's Army came to Utah. Father was six years old then and well remembered the move south, returning to Alpine. Father's only school teacher in Willard was George Osmond.

In 1864, the family moved to Bear Lake. Father was then thirteen years old and he walked all the way, barefooted, driving the sheep, cows, and pigs. Grandfather's party entered Bear Lake Valley July 4th. Upon arriving, the first thing they saw was Apostle Rich leading a group of children in a parade through the tall grass. Apostle Rich, with his four families, had preceded the rest of the company by a few weeks. The first summer, in order to spend the few remaining weeks of warm weather in planting and preparing food for the coming winter, the people lived in brush shanties, made by driving four posts in the ground and covering the roof and sides with brush. For the winter they built log cabins. Grandfather had two families so be built two log rooms, 18' by 20', with his blacksmith shop between.

The house had dirt roofs and floors and no windows or doors. Quilts were hung at the openings that first winter and father says when it rained it rained mud. The home was furnished with a spinning wheel and loom, homemade chairs, tables and beds. The next summer grandfather cut trees and sawed boards for floors and doors, and glass for windows was brought from Utah.

Arriving as late as July 4, their planting was done about six weeks late. Then an early and extremely severe winter set in so their wheat was frozen before it ripened. The flour brought from Utah gave out before the winter was over so their main article of diet was bread made from this frozen wheat which grandmother ground in a coffee mill. For a change they cooked this ground wheat in milk. The winter was so severe that all but one lamb from their small flock of sheep died. It had to be saved; otherwise there would be no food except the frozen wheat, so they raised this lamb in the house.

Every other year, during the coldest part of the winter, school was in session for three months. The rest of the time children and all worked to build a homeland out of a wild country. Their school supplies consisted of spelling book and slate. They had very enthusiastic spelling matches and often adults took part in them. Their school house was one log room with a dirt roof and a puncheon floor, made by laying logs side by side and smoothing the upper side. The children sat on homemade benches. Father's first teacher in Bear Lake was Sarah Huckvale. When Father was seventeen he started to make his own way by hauling ties from Nounan. Then he went back to Utah and worked for a sawmill, hauling logs with an ox team.

When Father was twenty years old he went back to Bear Lake and carried mail over the mountains to Cache Valley. In winter, the only way to communicate with the outside world was to cross the mountains on snow shoes. In summer, the mail was carried through the canyon by pony express. To a youth of twenty, mail isn't the only important thing in life. A pretty, fair-haired girl with dancing eyes and feet is just about the most important thing in the world. Young Jim would take Inger Marie Madsen to the dance at eight o'clock in the evening, dance until two o'clock in the morning, take her home, put on his snow shoes, throw the mail over his shoulders and start off over the mountains. If all went well, he would arrive at Franklin about noon, meet the Thatchers with the Cache Valley mail, eat a cold lunch and make the return trip. If there were no mishaps he would get home about ten P.M. In the pioneer days in Bear Lake, the people's pastimes consisted of dancing, horse racing and pulling, and home talent theatricals. For years Mother was a leading character in the theater in Bear Lake. Tickets to the theater were paid for with produce and script on the local store. Father was always at the theater if he were in town. He claims that the show could not go on without him for he played the heaviest part. You see, he always rolled the curtain and if you remember the old-fashioned curtain with the pole in the bottom, you will agree that he at least played a heavy part. How he loved to stand off in the wings and watch the play. His heart swelled with pride at Mother's every entrance for that lovely talented girl had promised his wife. As their many daughters came along, each in their turn played in dramatics. Mother and always there sitting near the front, Mother rejoicing in her girls, Father seeing a girl of years ago.

Father's hobby was his horses. He always had well-fed, well-trained and spirited horses. His horses often won the races or pulling matches. Father had lots of runaway horses; however, usually with horses he had just purchased and not yet taught that it did no good to run. Whenever his horses started to run he let them out and urged them on until they were tired and glad to stop. The winter after Father and Mother moved to Bennington, they were going back to Bloomington for a visit. The team started to run and, as usual, Father urged them on. Mother became frightened and so she quietly slipped to the back of the sleigh and let herself out on to the snow. Father was so preoccupied with his running horses that he did not notice that Mother was gone for several miles. In fact, the team had run itself out and was tired and wanted to stop. Then he realized Mother was gone. Of course he was terribly frightened, so turned around and ran those horses back until he met Mother casually walking along the road.

When Father was in his sixties he took a team, which he had just purchased, to the field to get a load of hay. On the return trip the team ran away, throwing father from the wagon. He suffered several broken ribs and a back injury from which he never fully recovered. At one time, Father, with President Young, went to Laketown where the Indians were gathering on the war-path. The Indians had stolen some horses from the Provo settlers and the officers had come to Laketown to get them. The Indians refused to give them up and became angered at the officers' demands and prepared to make war on the settlers. Bishop A. B. Wright and Sheriff Turner tried to make peace with them but were unable to do so. They sent for President Young. He finally settled the dispute by giving the Indians four fine, fat beef cattle. Father said that he would never forget the scene. The Indians were lined up on each side of the road and the white men's party was in the center with President Young standing up in the carriage talking to the Indians. Black Hawk, Pocatello, and Sangwitch were the chiefs of the assembled Indians. Black Hawk was the Indian chief that the settlers feared most. Father says he was raised with the white people and knew their ways and was, therefore, more treacherous. Whenever Father talked of his experiences with the Indians, he always said, "Old Black Hawk was a mean Indian."

Father and Mother were married February 25, 1875. Father was then twenty-four and Mother twenty-one. On their wedding night they gave a dinner dance at the church for all the town.

After two years, their first baby girl, Clara Christine was born, and two years later a son James Arthur. When James Arthur was eighteen months old he drowned. It was some two years after Delilah was born that Mother lost a premature baby. The midwife caring for her did not give her the proper afterbirth care and blood poisoning set in.

When Mother was stricken, Father tried to locate the only doctor in all of Bear Lake County - Dr. Hoover - whose residence was in Montpelier. There was one telephone in Bennington - Brother and sister Jedediah Merrill's - and Father used it to call Dr. Hoover. He was informed that the doctor was out of town, they didn't know where, and they had no way of getting in touch with him. Mother was almost in delirium with a raging fever so they turned to prayer. Dr. Hoover was in Georgetown, six miles north of Bennington, and had to pass our home on his way back to Montpelier. As he passed our place he was impressed to go in, but then thought, "If Jim Welker wants to see me he'll let me know," and rode on for about a mile. But again he felt a stronger impression to go to our home and he turned around and went back. There he found Mother in that very serious condition. He went to work, did what he could for her, and left, telling Father he could do no more and she would not live until morning.

The family gathered at the foot of Mother's bed. She rallied a little, and when she saw those eight children, the tops of their heads appearing as steps, one above the other, standing at the foot of her bed, she remembered her patriarchal blessing which said she would live as long as life was desirable. She told the Lord, "I want to live to raise my family. You have promised, I have done the best I could. I have not spared myself in giving service wherever I was needed. I have done my part the best I have known how, please keep your promise." And He did. She began to improve and by morning she was much better.

When Mother was seventy-two years old, she had a stroke. She did not ask to live - she knew it was time to go. She died the 20th of October, 1925, in Montpelier, Idaho.

Father and Mother were blessed with a family of eight girls and one boy who grew to maturity. The second daughter, Ada, died in childbirth just one month before I was born. Their son, Melvin, was the only boy to grow up with that family of girls and so, of course was a source of great pride and joy to Mother and Father. He was the only help Father had on the farm and would be missed in more ways than one. But, then the call came for a mission, those things were not considered and gladly they sent him off. One year after Melvin's departure from home, Mother and Father received a letter from him saying he wasn't feeling very well but supposed he would be all right soon. In a few days a cablegram came from Heber J. Grant, President of the European Mission, saying that he had died of smallpox. You can imagine their grief.

The next summer while visiting some relatives in St. Anthony, Uncle Peter Greenhalgh handed Father a picture he had cut from the Deseret News and said, "Jim, is this your boy?" Father took the picture in trembling hands and looked at it for a few minutes while he cleared his choking throat and finally answered, 'Yes, Pete, this is my boy., every inch of him is my boy.' Then after a few tense moments, Uncle Peter said, 'Jim, if you had another boy and he was called on a mission and you knew he'd never come back, would you let him go? ' And though it took great effort to control his voice, my Father answered firmly, "Yes, Pete, I'd let him go - I'd have to. I'd be afraid to deprive him of that blessing."

Not long after Melvin's death, Bishop A. R. Wright told Father there was only one thing that prevented him from being called into the bishopric. Of course, the one thing was the fact that Father smoked. He had smoked from the age of fourteen and he was now fifty-four years old. But Father answered readily, "All right, I'll quit." There was no question in his mind whether he could or not, and from the time he told Bishop Wright for several years. Their association together was very pleasant. Naturally he loved the memory of Bishop Wright, as does all his family.

The signet ring I have was given to Mother at a party given in her honor when she was released from the Mutual after thirty-six years of faithful service and was made president of the Relief Society, a position she held for years.

Mother raised a family of ten children during her years of active Church work, but she was not satisfied. I think she had always felt badly because she could not give Father another son to be a help and companion to him in his later years. And, too, Melvin had always wanted a baby brother badly. In fact, one time, he raced his beloved pony all the way from Bloomington to Bennington, a distance of about twenty miles, to ask permission to trade that beloved pony for an Indian baby boy that could be gotten for a pony.

When I, their baby, was just six years old and just two weeks before they learned of Melvin's death, they took into their home and into their hearts a baby boy, and to that baby was given one of the best homes and the tenderest loves a baby could know. When he was just a little fellow, he had a very serious appendectomy performed. The doctors held out no hope for Gold's life, and it was only through the administration of the elders that his life was preserved. I can see my Father crying and hear him say, "I guess I'm not supposed to have a boy." However, he did live and was always a good boy and a help and close companion to Father.

Mother and Father celebrated their fiftieth wedding anniversary on February 25, 1925, with seven daughters, one son, thirty-six living grandchildren, and a host of faith friends. After Mother died in October, 1925, Father lived until he was eighty-nine years old. He died December 4, 1940, at Montpelier, Idaho.

Father: James Wilburn Welker b: 17 Jan 1825 in, Jackson, Ohio, United States.

Mother: Anna Pugh b: 31 Jan 1821 in Knoxville, Knox, Tennessee, United States.

Married Marie Inger Madsen b: 24 Jun 1854 in Rostrup, Aalborg, Denmark, Married: 25 Feb 1875 in Bloomington, Bear Lake County, Idaho.

Children:

1. Clara Christine Welker b: 27 Aug 1877 in Bloomington, m. Thomas Stephens 1/3/1899

2. James Arthur Welker b: 29 Sep 1879 in Bloomington, Bear Lake, Idaho

3. Ada Welker b: 1 Feb 1881 in Bloomington, m. Ambrose Merrell 6/7/1898

4. Mary Inger Welker b: 23 Apr 1883 in Bloomington, m. Norman Bourne 9/5/1906

5. Hugh Melvin Welker b: 5 Feb 1885 in Bloomington, Bear Lake, Idaho

6. Dortha Welker b: 28 Nov 1889 in Bloomington, m. John Van Orman 6/9/1909

7. Rozetta Welker b: 15 Jan 1889 in Bloomington, m. William Roberts

8. Anna Geneva Welker b: 8 Jan 1892 in Bennington, Bear Lake, Idaho,

9. Delilah Eliza Welker b: 27 Feb 1894 in Bennington, Bear Lake, Idaho

10. Fern Welker b: 14 Apr 1900 in Bennington, Bear Lake, Idaho, United States

11. Celestis Gold Welker adopted, born about 1904 in Utah

12. William Carlestes Welker b: 27 Mar 1906 in Ogden, Weber, Utah, United States

High priest, bishop's counselor. Farmer and rancher.

SOURCE: Some of this is from family personal histories and other information is taken from the book, Pioneers and Prominent Men of Utah.

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James Albert Welker's Timeline

1851
July 6, 1851
Pottawattamie, IA, USA
1876
February 25, 1876
Age 24
February 25, 1876
Age 24
Bloomington, ID, USA

This is a letter written to William and Hazel Madsen Piggott from Clara Christine Welker inviting them to a celebration for the 50th wedding anniversary of James and Marie Inger Madsen Welker.

1877
August 27, 1877
Age 26
Bloomington, ID, USA
1879
September 29, 1879
Age 28
Bloomington, ID, USA
1881
February 1, 1881
Age 29
Bloomington, ID, USA
1883
April 23, 1883
Age 31
Bloomington, ID, USA
1885
February 5, 1885
Age 33
Bloomington, ID, USA
1886
November 28, 1886
Age 35
Bloomington, ID, USA
1889
January 15, 1889
Age 37
Bloomington, ID, USA