John Horace Gilbert Lightner (1847 - 1923)

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Birthplace: Galena, Jo Daviess, IL, USA
Death: Died in Minersville, Beaver, UT, USA
Cause of death: Acute nephritis caused by stomach cancer
Occupation: Carpenter and contractor
Managed by: Della Dale Smith
Last Updated:

About John Horace Gilbert Lightner

Under the Media Tab above is a photograph of the home of John Horace Gilbert Lightner and Louisa Burk Lightner in Minersville taken around 1900. The photograph is the property of the Utah State Historical Society and was donated by Elizabeth DeBrouwer. John Horace Gilbert Lighner's parents, Adam Lightner and Mary Elizabeth Rollins were married August 11, 1835, in Liberty, Clay County, Missouri. Adam was from Lancaster, Lancaster County, Pennsylvania and Mary Elizabeth was from Lima, Livingston County, New York. They were probably both living in Ohio at the time they met, since Mary Elizabeth's mother, Keziah Ketura Van Benthyusen Rollins had moved there not long after the death of her first husband, John Porter Rollins in 1820 when a boatload of cattle he was taking from New York to Canada sank in a terrible storm on Lake Ontario. Only one person was saved out of all the passengers and crew.

At the time of her husband's death in 1820, Keziah had three small children, James Henry Rollins, age 4, Mary Elizabeth, age 2, and their 6 month old younger sister, Caroline Amelia, and Keziah who was only 24 years old probably needed her sister Elizabeth's help to raise her children. Elisabeth and her husband, Sidney Gilbert, were living in Ohio and had no children of their own. So Keziah and her children moved in to the Gilbert's home in Kirtland, Ohio, in about 1828. They remained there about two years.

Around 1830 Mormon ministers came to the Kirtland, Ohio, area, and the entire Gilbert, Lightner and Rollins families became early converts to the church. Mary Elizabeth and her mother Keziah were baptized there in October, 1830, when a branch of the church was organized and a Mr. Morley was ordained an elder to preside over it. That Fall the family left for Independence, Jackson County, Missouri, and soon after that a large number of Mormon families settled there. Mary's Uncle Sidney Gilbert opened a dry goods and grocery store there with his partner, Newel K. Whitney, and also kept one in Kirtland, which they had owned for several years.

At the time the family lived in Independence, Mary worked as a seamstress and was hired by the Governor, Lilburn W. Boggs to make his fine, ruffled shirts, and also to assist his wife with her sewing. The Boggs' family tried to induce Mary to leave the Mormon Church and live with them, and they would educate her and take care of her as their daughter, but she would not forsake her Mormon religion. Govenor Boggs was one of the officials who later issued an extermination order to have the Latter-Day Saints expelled from the state of Missouri.

Mary and her family settled in Clay County where her mother, Keziah, married a Mr. Zuriel Bunnell, and they had one son named Miles, born in 1832, but who died in 1833. Later she married John M. Burk, a widower with two children, his wife having died of cholera at St. Louis in 1831. They had a daughter, Phebe in 1836. Mary still stayed with her Uncle Gilbert most of the time until June 29, 1834, when he died of cholera. Mary taught school for a while, teaching a few children spelling, reading and writing, but she did not understand much about grammar, and started to study with some of the church leaders. On August 11, 1835, Mary married Adam Lightner of Liberty, Clay County, Missouri.

Shortly after this, they moved to Far West, Caldwell County, and Adam kept a store there for the church. Mary and Adam's first son, Miles Henry was born there June 18, 1836, and in the latter part of 1837, they moved to Milford, a small town about ten miles from Far West, and started a branch of their store for Mary's brother, James Henry Rollins. But soon after that there were troubles with local people who did not like the Mormons, and Mary and Adam moved back to Far West, and left the store in the care of someone else. Later they went to Louisville, Kentucky, and lived there for a while. When they could find no means to support themselves, they went to Illinois where Mary's brother, James Henry Rollins, was living.

Her mother and Mr. Burk were living across the Mississippi River from Nauvoo, in a small log hut on what was called the Half Breed Tract of Lee County, Iowa. It was there that Mary and Adam's second child was born, Caroline Keziah, on October 18, 1840. She was named for Mary's sister, Caroline, and her mother, Keziah. In the 1840's the Lightner's were living in the area of Nauvoo, Illinois, where the main body of the church was located, and later they moved to Wisconsin, even though Mary Elizabeth Rollins Lightner was warned by the Prophet, Joseph Smith, Jr., not to leave Illinois and the church or trouble and sorrow would befall her family.

She had married Joseph Smith polyandrously at the end of February, 1842. A month later, George Algernon Lightner, Mary's third child was born March 22, 1842, in Nauvoo, Illinois. Some research indicates that George may have been Joseph Smith's son rather than her husband Adam's son.*

Not long after this, Adam got work cutting wood about 15 miles up the river from Nauvoo at a place called Pontusuc, and Mary and Adam moved there with their children and got a little log room there with a floor made of split logs, which was very rough. It was there that George Algernon Lightner was taken sick and died. Adam made the coffin and they buried George.

They moved to a better house in 1843, and their next son, Florentine Mathias Lightner, was born there March 23, 1843. When he was 2 months old, Mary started teaching school again, but she took sick and almost died. Her mother came to take care of her, and while she was there a heavy storm came up and the house was struck by lightning. All were badly shocked by the lightning strikes and their house damaged. Mary was beginning to believe what Joseph Smith had said about bad things happening if her family left Nauvoo and the church.

Their fifth child, John Horace Gilbert Lightner was born February 9, 1847, in Galena, Jo Daviess, Illinois. Shortly after they were given an opportunity to go to St. Croix Falls to manage a hotel owned by the editor of the Galena Gazette newspaper. They lived there for a while and in September, a stranger, purporting to be a physician from Quincy, Illinois, came to their house and sold them some medicine. Sadly, their two sons, Miles Henry, and Florentine Mathias, took the medicine and died. Mary's Aunt Elisabeth Gilbert, who had been visiting her at the time and had some of the medicine, also got very sick and almost died. The man who sold them the poisonous medicine was supposed to be hanged for his crime but a friend helped him escape. He later suffered a lot on his trek through the woods in the surrounding area.

The next Fall the Lightner's moved forty miles down river to Stillwater, on the bank of Lake St. Croix. Their next daughter, Elizabeth, was born April 3, 1849, in Stillwater, Minnesota, and the 7th child, Mary Rollins LIghtner, was born just a year later on April 9, 1850, in Willow River, Wisconsin. In the 1850 U.S. Federal Census for St. Croix, Wisconsin, John is 3 years old and living with his father, Adam Lightner, 40, his mother, Mary Lightner, 30, and his older sister, Caroline, 10, younger sister, Elizabeth, 1, and his great aunt, Elisabeth Gilbert, 50. Adam is again working as a farmer.

The family went back to Minnesota and had two more children, Charles Washington Lightner, March 17, 1857, in Marine, Minnesota, and Adam Lightner, Jr., October 28, 1861, in Chisago, Minnesota. In the 1860 U.S. Federal Census, the family has moved back to Hannibal, Marion County, Missouri, John is 13, Mary,10, and Charles, 3, Adam and Mary are 50 and 40, and aunt Elizabeth is 60. John's older sister, Caroline, had married Thomas Camper Jewell in 1858, and their only son, Thomas Junior, was born in 1859. Caroline and Thomas had 4 more daughters after that, Ellen in 1862, Mary, in 1865, Maud, in 1867, and Bertha in 1871.

On May 25,1863, with the help of Mary Elizabeth's brother, James Henry Rollins, (who had gone to Utah in 1848), the Lightner family started for the Great Salt Lake Valley. They embarked on the steamer "Canada" for St. Louis, and John was sick with a sore throat when the family arrived in St. Louis. Many of the children on the boat had the measles. Next they went aboard the steamer, "Fanny Ogden" for St. Joseph. They stopped in Kansas City, and arrived in St. Joseph on June 6th. Then they boarded the "Emilie" for Omaha and after that rode to Florence, 6 miles in a rainstorm.

On the 29th of June they started for Utah from Florence, with Mary's half-sister, Phebe's husband, Edwin Brigham, in the A.H. Patterson Company. There is a Trail Excerpt from a Journal kept by Elder F. Little, superintendent of the Church emigration. Here is a link to that page from the church website:

https://history.lds.org/overlandtravels/trailExcerptMulti?lang=eng&companyId=231&sourceId=3668

They arrived at Salt Lake City on Emigration Square on September 3rd. And on the 17th they started to Beaver County where Mary's brother, James Henry Rollins was living. She had not seen him or his wife, Eveline, for nearly 20 years. They arrived in Minersville September 20, 1863, and found Mary's mother, Keziah, and Mary's half-sister, Phebe Burk Bingham, all well and glad to see them. They were very thankful to find a home and friends after their arduous journey of one thousand miles via an oxen team, besides their trip on steamers from Stillwater, Minnesota, to St. Louis, then up the Missouri to Omaha.

In the 1870 U.S. Federal Census for Beaver, Utah Territory, John is 22 years old, living with his parents, and brothers Charles, 12, and Adam, 8. John and his father Adam are working as carpenters, and his mother, Mary, as a school teacher. Charles and Adam are at home. Sometime in 1870, John married Louisa Abigail Burk, who was the granddaughter of John's grandmother's second husband, John Mathias Burk and his first wife, Abigail Fellows Burk.

I can find no census record for John and Louisa Abigail in 1880. However, his father Adam, and his mother Mary Elizabeth are living in Minersville in the 1880 U.S. Federal Census, and Adam is 70 and Mary Elizabeth 68. Living with them is John's younger brother Adam Lightner, Jr., 17. Adam, Sr., is working as a "Saloon Keeper", Mary is keeping house, and Adam, Jr. is working as a carpenter. Adam, Sr., passed away on August 19, 1885. His mother lived another 28 years.

In the 1900 U.S. Census census, John and Louisa are living in Minersville, Beaver County, Utah. They have been married for 30 years, and John is 53, Louisa, 48, and their children living with them are Arthur, 20, Don, 12, and Mary Abigail, 8. In their 30 years of marriage, they have had 6 children, 4 of which are still living, so one of them has already left home. In this census, John is a farmer, and his son Arthur is a day laborer, and he owns his own farm free of a mortgage. Their farm is located on First South Street.

In the 1910 U.S. Federal Census, they are still living in Minersville, and John is listed in this census as J.H. Lightner, 63, his wife Louisa, is 58, Arthur is 30, Don is 21 and Mary Abigail is 18. John and Louisa have been married 40 years. John is working as a house carpenter, his son Arthur is a farmer, and Don is "working out" as a farm laborer, but Mary Abigail is not working. ("Working out" meant working outside the home.) Shortly after, Mary Abigail marries James Earl MacFarlane.

Also in the 1910 census for Minersville, Mary Elizabeth Rollins Lightner is 92, and is living with her daughter Mary Rollins Lightner Carter, 59, and her second husband and cousin, George Woodville Rollins, 54. Also in the home is Horace Carter, Mary Rollins Lightner Carter's son with William Jenkins Carter, who passed away in 1895. Mary and George were married in 1899, and have been married for 11 years. George is working as a laborer, Mary as a merchant in a notions store, and Horace as a laborer on a driving team. Mary Elizabeth is not working, of course, at age 92. She passes away three years later on December 17, 1913, at the age of 95, and is buried in the Minersville Cemetery.

In the 1920 U.S. Federal Census for Juab, Mammoth County, Utah, Mary Abigail and J. Earl MacFarlane, and are living with their children, Thora, 8, Marie, 5, and James, almost 4 years old. Earl is 38 and (Mary) Abbie is 28, and Earl is working as a Miner in an Ore Mine. They were married on August 24, 1910, in Nephi, Utah. By 1930 they have moved back to Nephi, Juab County, Utah, and they own their home which is valued at $1,000. They have a radio in their home which is located at 597 E. Sixth North. They have been married for 21 years. They now have another child, Elizabeth, who is 6 years old. Earl is working as a Shift Boss in a Plaster Mill. Mary Abigail McFarlane passes away in 1983.

In the 1920 U.S. Federal Census for Minersville, J.H. Lightner, is 72 years old, and is living as a "boarder" with his sister Mary R. Lightner, who had married William Jenkins Carter, had 10 children with him and then married her cousin, George Woodville Rollins, in 1899, 4 years after her husband William passed away in 1895. George is listed as G.W. Rollins, 63, Mary R., is 68, and also in the home is Ernest Rollins, 50, the brother of George Rollins. Other Carter family members are listed on the same census page, including Mary's son with William Carter, Sidney A. Carter, 46, and his wife Paulina, 39, and their children: Theron, 18, Hester, 16, Zola, 14, Vie, 11, Newell, 9, Ward, 6, and Neal, 3 years, 4 months old.

Three years later, John passes away at the age of 76 in 1923. His death certificate indicates that he was divorced from Louisa A. Burke, and he died of acute nephritus as a result of carcinoma of the stomach. The doctor who attended him at the time of his death states that he saw him for this disease from July 15th to November 28th, the day before he died. He is still listed as a carpenter working as a contractor at the time of his death at the age of 76.

I'm not sure where Louisa was living in 1920, but by 1930 she is still living in Minersville, and is listed as a widow living with her son Arthur. Louisa is 78 and Arthur is 49. They own their home which is valued at $1,000. Arthur is working as a farm laborer. Next door is Truman V. Rollins, and his wife Hester, and their children Vivian L. and Boyd C. Truman is working as a dairy farmer, he is 27, his wife Hester is 26, and their daughter is four and half years old and son is a year and a half old. The paragraph below explains who Truman Vivien Rollins was in relation to Louisa and Arthur Lightner.

Truman Vivien Rollins was the son of James Henry Rollins (1880-1953) and his first wife Vivian Marshall, who died 10 days after Truman's birth. James and Vivian had only been married 10 months at that time of her death. James Henry Rollins was the son of George Woodville Rollins, (who John Horace Gilbert Lightner's sister Mary married after the death of her husband William Jenkins Carter). George Woodville Rollins' first wife, Jennette MacKnight was James Henry Rollins mother. And to make matters even more confusing, George Woodville Rollins was the son of James Henry Rollins (1816-1899) and his plural wife Hannah Hulmes Rollins. James Henry Rollins (1816-1899) was the brother of Mary Elizabeth Rollins Lightner, who was John Horace Gilbert Lightner's mother. Whew, that's a mouthful!

It gets deeper, though! Truman's wife Hester, was the daughter of Sidney Algernon Carter and Paulina Eyre. Sidney Algernon Carter was the son of Mary R. Lightner and William Jenkins Carter. Mary was John Horace Gilbert Lightner's sister. I hope I've got this right! It's kind of confusing!

In the 1940 U.S. Federal Census, Arthur, 60, and his mother, Louisa, 88, are still living in Minersville. The highest grade that Louisa achieved was 6th and Arthur was 5th. Arthur is still working as a farm laborer. Three years later, Louisa Abigail Burk Lightner passes away on December 29, 1943, at the age of 92. She is buried in the Minersville Cemetery, along with her husband, John Horace G. Lightner, and their gravestone says he passed away in 1926 not 1923. The gravestone also lists Arthur, 1880-1957, and Raymond, 1876-1952, and two other children whose names I cannot read on the headstone marker photo shown on Find A Grave.com.

There is a 1940 U.S. Federal Census record at Payson, Utah, for Thora McFarlane, age 28, (John and Louisa's granddaughter and their daughter Mary Abigail and her husband, James Earl MacFarlane's daughter) who is widowed, with her two children, Ray Earl, 6, and Lynnette, 4. I don't know who Thora's husband was, but next to her son Ray Earl's entry the name "Fawn" is written, but then crossed out, so maybe his her husband's last name was Fawn?

Thora may have remarried a Lawrence Kermit Lindblom (1919-1993). She passed away in 2010, and was buried in the Turlock Memorial Park in Turlock, Stanislaus County, California, Plot: Lot 368 Block 34. The headstone on Find A Grave.com shows Thora MacFarlane (1911-2010) was buried with Lawrence Kermit Lindblom (1919-1995). A social security death index shows Thora Lindblom lived in Modesto, Stanislaus, California, when she died, and gives her birth date as May 22, 1911, and her death date as February 21, 2010. There is also a U.S. Public Records Index for Thora Lindblom, living at 426 Flower Street, Turlock, California, 95380-4718, in the year 1993.

Much of the early information about John's parents and their family was taken from the Autobiography of his mother, Mary Elizabeth Rollins Lightner (1818-1913) which was published in the Utah Genealogical and Historical Magazine 17 (July, 1926), and I found online many years ago. Here is one website with her autobiography: http://www.boap.org/LDS/Early-Saints/MLightner.html

by Della Dale Smith

September 1, 2013

John Horace Gilbert Lightner's brother, George A. Lightner, born March 12, 1842, in Nauvoo, Illinois, who died as an infant in 1843, may have actually been the son of Joseph Smith, Jr., the Prophet, to whom John and George's mother was polyandrously married in 1842, at the same time she was married to her husband, Adam Lightner. Here is part of the article which discusses her son, George A. Lightner:

"Researchers have tentatively identified eight children that Joseph Smith may have had by his plural wives. Besides Josephine Fisher (b. Feb. 8, 1844) and Oliver Buell, named as possible children of Joseph Smith by his plural wives are John R. Hancock (b. Apr. 19, 1841), George A. Lightner (b. Mar. 12, 1842), Orson W. Hyde (b. Nov. 9, 1843), Frank H. Hyde (b. Jan 23, 1845), Moroni Pratt (b. Dec. 7, 1844), and Zebulon Jacobs (b. Jan 2, 1842). ("Mormon Polygamy: A History" by LDS Historian Richard S. Van Wagoner, pages 44, 48- 49n3.)"

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John Lightner's Timeline

1847
February 9, 1847
Galena, Jo Daviess, IL, USA
1870
December 3, 1870
Age 23
Minersville, UT, USA
1872
July 18, 1872
Age 25
Minersville, UT, USA
1876
August 21, 1876
Age 29
Minersville, UT, USA
1880
September 9, 1880
Age 33
1888
April 19, 1888
Age 41
Minersville, UT, USA
1891
November 15, 1891
Age 44
1923
November 29, 1923
Age 76
Minersville, Beaver, UT, USA
December 2, 1923
Age 76
????