John Edward Metcalf, Sr. (1812 - 1887)

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Birthplace: Hull, Yorkshire, England, United Kingdom
Death: Died in Fayette, Sanpete, Utah Territory, United States
Occupation: LDS Branch President; LDS missionary; Cabinet maker; Carpenter; Millwright; Stockman; Farmer; served in Black Hawk War
Managed by: Anita Gilbreth (Buck)
Last Updated:

About John Edward Metcalf, Sr.

John Edward Metcalf was born in Hull, Yorkshire, England, on 13 July 1812, to Thomas Metcalf (1788 - 1836) and Jane Gill (1790 - 1824), the eldest of three children, and was christened three weeks later on 3 August 1812, in the Holy Trinity Church at Hull. John Edward married Mary Waslin in Sculcoates, Yorkshire, England on 23 December 1832.

Marriages and Children

  1. Mary Waslin Metcalf (1810 - 1884), married 23 December 1832 Sculcoates Chapel, Sculcoates, Yorkshire, England
    1. Jane Ann Metcalf (15 March 1834 Skidby, Yorkshire, England - 11 December 1894 Fayette, Sanpete County, Utah Territory), married William Bown on 30 January 1853 aboard the Ellen Marie, while crossing the Atlantic Ocean
    2. Elizabeth Metcalf, the elder (15 August 1835 Skidby, Yorkshire, England - buried 15 May 1840 Skidby, Yorkshire, England)
    3. Anthony Metcalf, the first (24 September 1837 Myton/Hull, Yorkshire, England - 13 May 1840 Myton/Hull, Yorkshire, England; buried Skidby, Yorkshire, England)
    4. John Edward Metcalf (24 June 1839 Hull, Yorkshire, England - 6 September 1908 Manti, Sanpete County, Utah); two plural wives, (1) Mary Catherine Dahling married 25 February 1886 Logan, Cache County, Utah Territory, (2) Mary Keziah Bartholomew married 19 April 1886 Springville, Utah County, Utah Territory
    5. Elizabeth Metcalf, the younger (9 February 1841 Sutton, Yorkshire, England - 6 February 1844; buried Hull, Yorkshire, England)
    6. Anthony Metcalf, the second (born January 1842 Belfast, Antrim, Ireland - died in infancy)
    7. Anthony Metcalf, the third (5 September 1843 Belfast, Antrim, Ireland - 27 March 1924 Gunnison, Sanpete County, Utah), married Sylvia Eliza Sanford August 1862 Springville, Utah, Utah Territory
    8. Mary Elizabeth Metcalf(24 October 1845 Shoreditch, Middlesex, England - 6 September 1846 Shoreditch, Middlesex, England)
    9. Unknown Infant (1846 London, England) stillborn
    10. James Metcalf (12 January 1847 Shoreditch, Middlesex, England - 25 September 1922 San Diego, San Diego County, California; buried Salt Lake City, Salt Lake County, Utah), Caroline Marie Larson 1868
    11. Eliza “Roxie” Metcalf (17 August 1850 West Sculcoates, York, England - 10 April 1924 Gunnison, Sanpete County, Utah; buried Fayette, Sanpete County, Utah), married John Bartholomew 11 October 1868 Salt Lake City, Salt Lake County, Utah Territory
    12. William Metcalf (5 May 1855 Salt Lake City, Salt Lake County, Utah Territory - 31 July 1938 Gunnison, Sanpete County, Utah), married Emma Ulricka Capson 3 July 1879 Salt Lake City, Salt Lake County, Utah
  2. Madselia Cecelia Andersen Jackson (1850-1929)
    1. John Christian Metcalf (1869 - 1902)
  3. Ann (Bilton) Dearing, married 8 October 1883 Endowment House, Salt Lake City, Salt Lake County, Utah Territory

Biographical Sketch

John and Mary were married in the chapel at Sculcoates, which is a suburb or subdivision in Hull. The Sculcoates parish church is a special place for the Metcalf family—they weren’t normally members of that parish but his parents had married there, as did his grandmother and great-grandparents. John Edward was twenty years old at the time of his marriage; Mary Waslin was twenty-two.

Although his father was a shoemaker, John Edward Metcalf had elected learn cabinetmaking and carpentry. He eventually developed a widespread reputation for good work, which led to work opportunities around the British Isles. He accepted commissions which took him and his young family to London and Belfast.

John and Mary had twelve children, six of whom lived to maturity. Most were born in various places throughout the British Isles as the family traveled to John's various jobs. The last child was born in Utah, after their immigration.

An Eventful Journey

It was probably while employed in London that the family joined the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, immigrating to Utah a few years later. John and Mary were baptized 19 October 1849 in Hull, York, England, where they are shown on the records of the Hull LDS Branch. Their two older children were later baptized prior to immigrating, along with their younger brother. In early 1853, following the LDS directive to immigrate to the United States in order to assist in building up their New Zion, the family prepared to immigrate. Along with 332 other converts, under the direction of Elder Moses Clauson, they set sail from Liverpool, England on 17 January 1853 aboard the Ellen Marie, bound for New Orleans, Louisiana. The trip across the Atlantic Ocean was eventful, as summarized by Vauna Marie Green Kelly:

It was a stormy and cold passage, without heat, but with the power of prayer. Early in that voyage, on 30 January 1853, nineteen-year-old Jane Ann Metcalf married William Bown who in later years became the livestock partner of John Metcalf, Jr. Another member of the company, James Farmer, commented that night in his diary, ‘Bro. [Bown] gave his wife a hearty kiss and she returned it.’

Brother Farmer's diary provides a full description of the voyage. He describes in detail the seasickness of the passengers, storms at sea when all the men strove to save the ship, an attempted rape when he and father Metcalf were on watch together (the perpetrators were sailors), and the burial at sea of several newborn babies and their mothers.

Walking All the Way

They arrived at New Orleans, Louisiana on 7 March 1853. Proceeding to Kanesville, Iowa, by riverboat, they continued westward to Utah with the Claudius V. Spencer wagon train, reaching the Salt Lake Valley in September 1853, after a trek of nearly six months. Like their ocean crossing, the trip across the plains was not without drama. Many years later, son Anthony recounted some of his adventures on the trail to his daughter Emma Elizabeth Metcalf Brown:

At the time of their emigration, Anthony was ten years old. He walked all the way across the plains from the Missouri River to Salt Lake City. He got so tired he would sit down and tell them to leave him there. His mother told him the Indians would get him. He said, ‘Well let them have me.’ His mother would feel bad and cry. He couldn't stand to see her cry so he would get up and go on.

Food was very scarce but Anthony said he never went hungry although he was often afraid because his mother never turned anybody away without a mixing of flour. He said he would stand by the flour barrel and see his mother scrape the barrel for some less fortunate neighbor. He would say, ‘Mother, what will we do?’ And she would reply, ‘Ah, laddie, there will always be a mixing in the barrel.’ And there always was. He said he had only missed one meal that he could remember. His mother had given him his bread and cheese. He had gone outside to eat it. Along came a big boy with a dead black bird and traded it for his bread and cheese. His older brother came and made them trade back but Anthony wouldn't eat it because the other boy had held it in his dirty hands so the brother, John, ate the bread and cheese.

Salt Lake City

Arriving in Utah Territory, the family first settled in the Fourth Ward, Salt Lake City. Here they spent the next three years, where their last child, William, was born, on 5 May 1855. While living in Salt Lake City, a humorous incident took place, once again recorded by Anthony Metcalf’s daughter, Emma Elizabeth:

One Sunday afternoon. Anthony had gone with the older boys to the home of President Brigham Young. While the older folks were at church the boys hitched the horses to the buggy and took the girls out riding. When meeting was out they were back in the barn. President Young came in. He didn't say a word to the boys, but he took the whip out of the buggy and went around and whipped all of the wheels of the buggy and said how naughty they had been to take the girls out riding on Sunday. He felt that chastisement had more effect than had he scolded the boys.

Ten Years in Springville

Late in 1856, the family moved to Springville, Utah County, where John Edward Metcalf helped to build the new town meeting house. They resided in Springville for the better part of a decade and are listed as residents of the community in the 1860 United States Federal Census. While in Springville, they became acquainted with the Joseph Bartholomew family, who are also listed in the 1860 census. The Bartholomews had arrived in Springville during the winter of 1851, and lived there for the next ten years. Two of the Metcalfs married two Bartholomews - Mary Keziah Bartholomew and John Edward Metcalf, Jr. married in 1865; and Eliza Metcalf and John Bartholomew married in 1868. Eventually both families were called to help settle the new community of Warm Creek (present-day Fayette) in Sanpete County.

Maw, the Mill Works!

When the Metcalfs arrived at Warm Creek, it is reported that one of the girls exclaimed, "I see fields but where are the ‘ouses?"

Smoke was curling up from chimneys atop mounds of dirt along the creekbed; even though the early settlers had already begun to raise crops, they still lived in primitive dugouts. As yet, there were no aboveground houses in the small community. "The Metcalfs camped about three-fourths of a mile east of the other settlers, at the site where they decided to build a mill. Grandfather had brought all his provisions in an extra wagon; he also brought a pick, a shovel, an axe, a steel bar, two augers, a hammer, a chisel; also faith, ambition and perseverance."

"They soon hauled rock from the nearby hills and built their dugout and mill house. The burrs they chiseled and fashioned from some granite boulders they found in the Cedar Ridge east of the ‘Painted rocks,’ about twelve miles north of Warm Creek. They used wagon tires to hold the section of the burrs together."

"The ditch from the spring to the mill had been dug by hand with pick and shovel, and had been tested. The water ran through it. The wooden water wheel had been assembled and set in place, and aside from leaking a lot, it worked. The burrs had been moved into place and everything was ready for the test."

"Grandma Metcalf had helped her husband and the boys, but now the water was turned into the flume to pour over the wheel, she stepped back a few steps and stood with uncovered head and arms folded. The water wheel was soon in motion, but nothing happened with the burrs. Grandpa hurried into the cellar and adjusted the rawhide belt that transferred the power from the water wheel shaft to the burr shaft. Then slowly, the burr commenced to turn just a little, and was soon scraping its face against its mate stone burr. One of the children called out, ‘Maw it’s turning. It works, Maw, the mill works!’ Grandma turned and walked slowly toward the dugout, and with head bowed she said something, and what she said only God, the angels, and she knew."

The Black Hawk War

Soon after arriving at Warm Creek in 1864, John Edward Metcalf was called as the Branch President. In 1866 the Black Hawk War forced the settlers to abandon the place. For safety, they moved to the nearby larger community of Gunnison and did not return until 1868. John Edward Metcalf served as a private in thG. Sidwell’s militia company from April to November 1866; then in C. Tollestrup’s Company from May to November 1867. The Black Hawk War was a series of Ute raids against Mormon settlements in the Sanpete Valley and other areas of central and southern Utah between 1865 and 1872. They waged a guerilla war that devastated the economy of central Utah and caused the virtual abandonment of nearly all of the settlements. In the two years from 1865 to 1867 Black Hawk's men managed to steal approximately five thousand head of cattle and kill about ninety settlers and militiamen. Upwards of 2,500 able-bodied settlers were pressed into the militia in an attempt to stabilize the frontier.

On 7 June 1869, John Edward Metcalf took a second wife, Madselia Cecelia Andersen Jackson (1850-1929). He was 57, and she was 19 years of age. There was one child of this union, but the following note by family historian, Vauna Marie Green Kelly, is found in the family group record commentary for the son, John Christian Metcalf:

BIRTH: Gunnison, Utah LDS Ward records; FHL film 0025977; pg 202; #43: John Christian Metcalf, boy, fa:_______ mo: Cecelia, born 1 Dec. 1869 Gunnison, blessed 3 Feb. 1870 by J. Sorenson. Note Sorenson is Cecelia's mother's maiden name. This entry is directly above Wm. & Jane Ann Metcalf Bown's children. Note that the child has John Edward Metcalf's first name and Cecelia Andersen's father's middle name. The appearance of this child and mother with the Andersen (her birth name) household in the 1870 Census (noted below) makes me confident that this is the same Cecelia. It doesn't surprise me that John Edward Metcalf Sr.'s name is not given in the record This was a very dangerous time to acknowledge a plural marriage. Besides, I would suspect that the child is not the biological child of J. E. Metcalf, Sr. This record has made me wonder if the entire purpose of this plural marriage was to give this child legitimacy as he would have been conceived prior to the polygamist marriage [his birth date was 1 December 1869]. Really, though, it is inconsequential whether he was the biological child of John Edward Metcalf, Sr. He was clearly raised as the son of John Edward Metcalf, Sr. and is sealed to him. That is the ultimate familial relationship.

Later Years

Called to serve as a missionary to England from 1877 through 1879, John Edward Metacalf sailed from New York on the SS Montana, and arrived in Liverpool on 22 June 1877. He returned home to Utah on 8 May 1879. In the summer of 1882, while riding in a buggy with his wife, Mary Waslin Metcalf and a granddaughter, the buggy tipped over, all were thrown to the ground, and he sustained severe head injury, eventually leading to blindness.

A third plural wife, Ann (Bilton) Dearing was sealed to John Edward on 8 October 1883, in the Endowment House. John Edward was 71, and she was 70 years of age. Ann was evidently a widow who joined the Church in England in 1879 after her first husband’s death, and then immigrated to Utah.

He died at Fayette, Sanpete County, Utah Territory, on 4 February 1887, at 74 years of age. Mary had passed away three years earlier, on 26 March 1884. His obituary in the Deseret News indicated that he died of diabetes.

OBITUARY: The Deseret News, 16 February 1887

METCALF - Of diabetes, Feb. 4th, 1887, at Fayette, Sanpete County, Utah, at the residence of his daughter Jane A. Bown, John E. Metcalf, Sen. Born July 18th, 1812, in Hull, Yorkshire, England, being 74 years, 6 months and 22 days old.

He embraced the Gospel of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, in the early part of 1849, and his house was always open to the missionary Elders. He emigrated to Utah with his family in 1853, crossing the ocean in the ship Elen Maria, and arriving in Salt Lake City in the latter part of September. He lived in the Fourth Ward till 1856, when he moved to Springville, were he resided till he was called to go south in the fall of 1862 he went with part of his family to St. George, and was subsequently released by President George A. Smith to go to Fayette to build a grist mill.

He moved his family to Fayette in the Spring of 1864, where he lived until his demise. He filled a mission to England from 1877 to 1879, and was the father of twelve children, six of whom are still living. He has fifty grand and fifteen great-grandchildren. In the summer of 1882 he met with a severe accident while going to Gunnison in a buggy; going down a hillside the buggy tipped over, throwing himself and wife and a granddaughter to the ground. He was thereby injured in his head, which caused him to lose his eyesight, previous to which time he was a healthy, active man, filling many responsible positions in the Church. He lived and died a faithful Saint, and his funeral was held February 7, 1887, and was largely attended by his relatives and friends from Fayette and Gunnison Wards.

Sources

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John Edward Metcalf, Sr.'s Timeline

1812
July 13, 1812
Hull, Yorkshire, England, United Kingdom
August 3, 1812
Holy Trinity, Hull, Yorkshire, England
1832
December 23, 1832
Age 20
Hull, Kingston upon Hull, England, United Kingdom
1834
March 15, 1834
Age 21
Hull, Yorkshire, England
1835
August 15, 1835
Age 23
Hull, Yorkshire, England
1837
September 24, 1837
Age 25
Myton, Hull, Yorkshire, England
1839
June 23, 1839
Age 26
Hull, Yorkshire, England
1841
February 9, 1841
Age 28
Sutton, Yorkshire, England
1842
January 1842
Age 29
Belfast, Antrm, Ireland
1843
September 5, 1843
Age 31
Belfast, Ulster, Ireland