Parley Edwin Dunford (1861 - 1929)

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Death: Died
Managed by: Della Dale Smith
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About Parley Edwin Dunford

Parley Edwin Dunford, 1861-1929, by Connie Smith Worthington

The first entry in the Prophet Joseph Smith's personal diary reads, "Oh God, bless thou thy servant Joseph Smith." His first words were a fervent prayer to our Father in Heaven, and that is just what I have in my heart, a prayer that what I say about my grandfather, Parley E. Dunford, will be something that he will be pleased about and of course, our families.

I have one main source, my mother, Lola Belle Dunford Smith, and I am very grateful to her for her help on her remembrances of her father. The other sources are from letters I received from my cousins, Dorothy Rose Amussen and Virginia Pedersen Garbet and the script taken from talks delivered at Grandfather Dunford's funeral by those who were close acquaintances of his. I have also taken information from the book of Remembrance and genealogy of the Dunford, Mecham family that Lillie Dunford Mecham helped to compile, and the book put out by the Daughters of Utah Pioneers, Bear Lake County, Idaho, "History of Bear Lake Pioneers."

A philosopher once said, "Life is God's gift to us. Our gift to God is what we do with our life." My grandfather, Parley Edwin Dunford, honored his God by his good life. He would be the first to say that he loved God and, as Nephi of old said, "he was born of goodly parents."

Parley E. Dunford was born in St. Louis, Missouri, to Leah Bailey and Isaac Dunford on October 5, 1861. He was the tenth child of thirteen. His brothers and sisters are: Mary (1/4/1846), William (1/17/1847), Amelia (9/14/1848), Alma B. (8/19/1850), Savina (7/9/1852), Seaborn (12/19/1853, she was buried on the shore of the Mississippi in an unmarked grave.), Moroni (6/8/1855), Albert Bailey (11/19/1857), Eliza Ann (9/26/1859), Parley Edwin, 10/5/1861), James Lehi (1/21/1866. I was born on his birthday and recall receiving special hugs from him), Leah Matilda (4/21/1869).

Unquestioning faith in the Lord and his servants was the motivating force in the life of many of the pioneers who came West during the middle of the last century. This firm faith in God was the motivating force for which the family of Isaac and Leah Dunford set their eyes to the country of America far across the sea. Isaac Dunford was the fifth child of John Dunford and Mary Blair, who were members of the Baptist Church in Trowbridge, and whose ancestors assisted in its establishment in 1736. John and Mary were buried in the Churchyard of the now Emmanuel Baptist Church in Trowbridge.

John Dunford and his sons were weavers by trade, and their oldest daughter, Sarah, married Joseph James, the superintendent of the textile establishment in which the boys were employed for many years. Of John's ten children, six married and left posterity. Sarah and Samuel remained in England when they emigrated to America. Isaac and his brother, George, came to Utah as converts to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Later, the two other brothers, Charles Simeon, came to St. Louis and John, to Providence, Rhode Island.

My great-grandparents, Isaac Dunford and Lea Bailey, daughter of James and Rachel (Moore) Bailey, were married at the Trowbridge Parish Church by the Rev. John D. Hastings. Not long after their marriage, Elders of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints brought the Gospel to Trowbridge. Their message stirred their souls with assurance that the Fullness of Christ's Doctrine was embraced in this restored gospel. Isaac was baptized and confirmed a member of the Church August 3, 1848, by John Halliday. He was ordained an Elder by his older brother, George Dunford. George was one of the first to accept the Gospel message brought to Trowbridge by Elder John Halliday. Great-grandmother, Leah, postponed her baptism until November 15, 1848, when baby Amelia was two months old.

After Isaac had joined The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, he was ordained as President of the Steeple Ashton Branch in Wiltshire, England. In November, 1853, the "Mormon" missionaries from Utah procured passage for a company of converts to sail on the next boat for America. The Isaac Dunford family: Isaac, Lea, and sons, William and Alma, made preparations to join the migrating pioneers. They bid farewell to three tiny graves of their daughters, Savina, Amelia and Mary, at the Cemetery Churchyard. It must have been a tender time, leaving those behind. Leah carefully packaged the tiny baby clothes that she had readied for the new baby that was soon to be born, and the little suits for William and Alma that Isaac had woven for his little sons. They sailed for America.

For six weeks, the small sailing vessel carrying the Saints to America was tossed about on the stormy Atlantic. In mid-ocean, on December 10, 1853, Leah gave birth to a beautiful baby girl, whom they promptly named Seaborn. Reaching New Orleans, they embarked on a river steamer for St. Louis, Missouri, a long tedious journey up stream. On the way, baby Seaborn died. The great boat drew over to the shore of the Mississippi, and Leah's baby girl, clothed in the garments she had so lovingly tucked in the chest, was placed in an unmarked grave on the banks of the Mississippi River.

Isaac and his family disembarked in St. Louis, Missouri. For a time they stayed in St. Louis while making preparations for the trek to the Salt Lake Valley. In 1856, they joined the John Banks Company and set out for Salt Lake Valley. They arrived in the Valley only to return to St. Louis that fall. Isaac was engaged in the mercantile business for the next eight years and accepted the call from the Lord to be President of the St. Louis Conference. Leah became mother of four more sons and a daughter, Moroni, Albert Bailey, Elia Ann, Parley Edward and Oliver Cowdery Dunford.

On June 18, 1864, the family moved from their home on Second Street to the steamboat, Kate Kinney, on the Mississppi, bound for Nebraska. Leah and her children stood on the deck of the steamer, Kate Kinney, watching with tears in their eyes as Isaac and her eldest son, William, stood on the shore while the steamer pulled away sooner than expected. As the steamer approached the first landing place up the river, their anxiety changed to tears of joy when the family saw their father and brother waiting for them.

Bound for Nebraska City, the "fitting-out place" for the caravans preparing to go to Salt Lake, Isaac secured a covered wagon and two yoke of oxen to carry all the household goods they could. They set out for the West in Captain Holladay's company. when the best ox died, he was replaced with a cow called "Plum." The tedious journey came to an end at last, Salt lake city, Zion! They had arrived in Salt Lake City a second time and it was September 25, 1864. Isaac provided a house, and Leah soon made it into a home for their family. They had twenty acres of choice land in the southeast part of the city, and a good position in the store of William Jennings. They soon began making plans for their children's education and were active in the religious and social life of the community, little dreaming that a "call" would come from the great colonizer and Prophet of The Church of J3esus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Brigham Young. Thus opening another episode of travel and hardship.

About the middle of November, the wagons were packed again, and as Leah tucked covers around the children and held little year old Oliver on her lap, I can just hear her say, "I hope this journey takes us to a home, where we shall not have to be uprooted again." With thoughts of what a new home in the Bear Lake Valley was going to be like, they drove confidently away, passing through Cache Valley and Preston, Idaho. While the company were camped at the foot of the Big Dugway, a light snow fell.

Because of the narrowness of the dugway, Isaac, Alma, Albert, James Hart, and others of the company drove the teams and heavier loads around by Soda Springs; but they had Leah and several of the children go on over the shorter route over Emigration Canyon with a teamster (Mr. Davis) and with Mrs. Hart and her son James. As the horses pulled and tugged up the steep dugway, they felt the wagon begin to sway. Leah took her baby, Oliver, and led the three year old Parley by the hand, and walked through the snow while Moroni, Eliza and James Hart, Jr., hung on the side of the wagon next to the cliff to keep it from tipping over the slanting, narrow road into the canyon. Darkenss and cold forced them to camp at the little settlement of Liberty.

When they drove into the little community of Bloomington, shortly before Christmas, snow was on the ground and it was very cold. The half-dozen houses were made of logs with dirt roofs. The only available shelter for the three families who had just arrived from Salt Lake City was a log room, 14 feet by 18 feet, and a dirt floor and roof. Hay for the floor was renewed as it wore out under the trampling of the sixteen pair of feet, of the members of these three families. In six weeks, Isaac had another room built for his family.

The following spring, they built a house on their corner lot on the main road, fenced in one lot and put in some garden seeds, also a field of wheat thinking to raise their bread. Leah rejoiced in the promise of the thriving garden from which to store vegetables for her little flock. The grain field was beginning to turn from green to gold. As Leah walked into the garden on the morning of September 3, her heart pounded despairingly to see the wilted, darkened rows of her frozen garden. The grain was frozen as severely. That winter grain sold for 16 to 20 dollars a hundred. What wheat could be bought was badly frozen and sold for 5 to 6 dollars a bushel.

Sustained on frozen wheat ground in a coffee mill, and not half enought of that, Leah made last preparations for her twelfth baby. The rain was pouring down in such a furry that pans to catch the rain as it came through the roof were placed upon her bed. It was, nevertheless, with a prayer of thanksgiving that she patted little son James as he was placed at her side by the midwife. At this point Parley would have been a small lad of 5 years old.

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Parley Dunford's Timeline

1861
October 5, 1861
1929
1929
Age 67
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