About Lavinnia Dane Gant (Newman)
MY PIONEER HERITAGE
I am writing this history of our family’s pioneer heritage in October 2008. Growing up, I had been taught about Elijah Newman, and thought he was the only member of our family with a pioneer heritage. With the help of the Mormon Pioneer Company’s information on the Internet and histories of our family written by Michael Berger I have now learned about several other lines that came across the plains in pioneer wagon trains. My intent is not to write about the individual’s history but to focus on their journeys to the Salt Lake Valley and the West.
We are related to Elijah Newman through his daughter, Lavinna, who married John Thomas Gant. Lavinna was born in Parowan Utah.
ELIJAH NEWMAN: Elijah was the first family member to come across the plains. He was a member of Brigham Young’s first wagon train. They left Nebraska on the 14th of April 1847. Elijah was 53 years old (he was one of the oldest members of the company), He was carpenter by trade. He left his wife Lucina and daughter Virginia, in Florence, Nebraska. Brigham Young’s first company was made up of mostly men.
Elijah did not keep a journal but we read about him in several journals. Two journals tell about Elijah being ill with what was called the “black scurvy” and had trouble walking without the add of sticks. He asked to be baptized for the healing of the sick on April 25 and was given a blessing after the baptism and was able to walk back to his wagon without the add of the sticks. The many journals talked about the daily routine of preparing meals, hunting, the weather, distance traveled, and what they saw on their journey. They survived grass fires, buffalo stampedes and the hardships of a trek to the Valley. There were several occasions they met Indians who could have been hostile but no one was harmed. As they crossed the mountains, Elijah was part of the advance group to find the Salt Lake Valley.
Family history said that he was with Brother Pratt looking for the passage to the Valley and did not find it. The next day Elijah was ill, and that was the day Brother Pratt found the way to the Valley. We also believe Elijah drove the second wagon into the Valley.
Elijah was assigned with some other brethren to gather all the plows and keep track of them the day they entered the Valley. Later he was commissioned to build the gate for the fort in Salt Lake City.
LETHA JANE KILLIAN: We are not sure when Elijah returned to Florence to pickup his wife and daughter. Family history has Lucina leaving Virginia with Letha Jane Killian to help Letha with her young children in Florence. I believe Elijah returned to Florence and could not find his wife or daughter because they had moved to Missouri. The reasoning for this is because Lucina gave birth to a daughter in 1850 in Missouri that was fathered by a William Pratt. Letha Jane gave birth to Mary Hood in October of 1848, and Sarah Hood in 1849 both in Missouri. If our family history is correct about Lucina leaving Virginia with Letha Jane then it had to be in Missouri. Elijah did locate Virginia and traveled to Salt Lake probably in 1850 and married Letha in October. They then moved to Parowan in December of that year. There is a story that Letha came across the plains on her own with the girls and was helped by two of her brothers, again we cannot verify this information. She was 28 years old in 1850.
NANCY HOOD: Born in 1845. Making her 5 in 1850. Letha Jane’s daughter by her first marriage. Came across the plains with Letha Jane and Elijah.
MARY HOOD: Born in Oct 1848. Making her 2 in 1850 Letha Jane’s daughter by her first marriage. Came across the plains with Letha Jane and Elijah.
VIRGINIA NEWMAN: Age 13 in 1850. Came across the plains with Letha Jane and Elijah.
WILLIAM B. D. NEWMAN: Son of Elijah by his first wife, Matilda Downing. William was born in 1827 and raised by his mother’s sister and mother after his mother died in 1829. He came across the plains in 1848 to the Washington/Oregon area according to his personal history. His history has him visiting Illinois around 1848, and I think he was looking for his father and probably couldn’t find him because Elijah was in Utah. He was 21 in 1848.
MARY A REED: We are not sure of the date Mary arrived in Washington, but she married William in Grays Harbor, Washington in 1867 and so she probably came across the plains by wagon train before 1867. Mary was born around 1835 in Kentucky. She had four children by a previous marriage and they too probably came across the plains with Mary. They all were born in Missouri. Their names are C. R. Reed (M, b-1857); S. E. Reed (F, b-1859); T. W. Reed (M, b-1861) and L. A. Reed (F, b-1863). We found this information in the Washington Territory’s 1870 census.
JOHN KILLIAN: Letha Jane Killian’s father. We do not have any record of when he came to the Salt Lake Valley. We believe it was in 1850 along with Elijah and Letha Jane. We have information about him in the Valley in 1851, so our best guess is 1850. He was 54.
SARAH McClure KILLIAN: John’s second wife, they married around 1837. She was 54.
HARRIETT EMMA KILLIAN: Sarah and John’s daughter she was 11 in 1850.
FRANKLIN KILLIAN: John’s son by his first marriage. He was a member of the Joel Edmund’s Company that left Missouri on June 8, 1862 and arrived in the Valley on September 8th. The provisions he brought were: one loose cow, 2 horses, and 1 gun. There were about 52 members in the company. He was 23. His name was spelled Killion on the records. This was a Perpetual Emigrating Company wagon train. The members who traveled with these wagon trains promised to pay back the Fund after they settled in the Valley.
JACOB KILLIAN: Franklin’s younger brother and a son of John and his first wife. Was also a member of the Edmund’s Company. He brought 1 yoke of oxen, 2 loose cows, 1 horse, 2 ducks, and 1 gun. His name was also spelled Killion. He was 21.
SUSAN KILLIAN: Wife of Jacob. She was 16. Her name was also spelled Killion. They probably named one of their children Joel in honor of Joel Edmunds.
JOHN MILLER GANT: Came across the plains with the William B. Preston Company. They left Florence, Nebraska on the 9th or 10th of July 1863 and arrived in the Valley on September 10,1863. This was also a Perpetual Emigrating Company wagon train. There were about 300 Saints and 55 wagons. Most of the space in the wagons were taken up with the members personal goods and supplies for Salt Lake. They experienced many hardships and several members died on this journey. John was 42.
MARIA WEST GANT: John’s wife, she was 32.
JOHN THOMAS GANT: Son, age 12. In reading several journals, it appears that those able to walk were asked to walk and not ride in the wagons. This leads me to believe John walked much of the way. He is my Great-Grandfather
ANN AMERICA GANT: Daughter, age 6.
ELLEN MARIA GANT: Daughter, age 1.
I am sure some of Elijah’s, John Killian’s, and John Miller Gant’s children married individuals that came across the plains in wagon trains but I have not researched this yet