Sarah Esther West (1829 - 1906)

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Birthplace: Chalk Level or Nashville, Davidson, Tennessee, USA
Death: Died in Greenville, Utah, USA
Cause of death: Pneumonia
Occupation: Married William Barton 2/26/1845 Nauvoo, IL and had 12 children. Her husband later married a plural wife and they lived separately.
Managed by: Della Dale Smith-Pistelli
Last Updated:

About Sarah Esther West

Sarah Esther West was born November 8, 1829, in Chalk Level Township, Benton County,Tennessee. She was the first child of Samuel Walker West and Margaret Cooper West. According to a book entitled, "Our Heritage as it Glows from the West:, by Mary West Riggs, "The Wests were an ancient family of Knightly Rank, connected by descent and ties of marriage with royal lineage and other families of peerage. They were the oldest families of landed gentry throughout the Kingdom of Great Britain."

At the time of her birth, Sarah Esther's parents were living on a 1,000-acre estate inherited by Margaret's maternal grandmother, Esther Fletcher, from her (Mrs. Fletcher's) uncle William's estate. Chalk Level, Benton County, Tennessee, does not now exist, but the burial place of Margaret Cooper's father and mother in Montgomery is still intact. Benton County is southwest of this place. The Cumberland River and the Tennessee River are in that vicinity. The parents, who died at their home on this 1,000 acre plantation, were both buried about one and one half miles from the Cumberland River, about ten miles from the town of Clarksdale, it's probable location in Northwest Dixon County, Tennessee. This would be less than twenty miles northwest of Nashville.

It was on that beautiful estate that Esther spent about ten years of her life. It was there that her mother taught her some of the things a girl needed to know in order to grow into the lovely, kind, hospitable, and well-respected southern lady that Esther became. It was there that she and her oldest brother, John Anderson, who was only thirteen months and eleven days younger than she, developed brother and sister ties that became stronger through the years. John learned how to walk and talk with Esther as they laughed and played together as babies and youngsters on the wide expanse of green acres and among the sugar maple trees that grew in abundance there. These trees were tapped annually for sap that was then made into fine maple syrup by the family and their slaves.

The slaves dwelt in well-kept houses built especially for their accommodation on the estate. It was there that Esther learned to love the negro mammy who came to help her mother with household duties. It was there that she learned to love "mother earth" and the horses, cows, and other animals that were raised and well cared for on the Tennessee estate. The love that Esther's brother John held for her is expressed in this passage: "She was beautiful, wavy hair, snappy smiley eyes, quick in her movements, always a cheerful helper to her mother indoors, and outside she loved everything, even in Tennessee at age ten years she could jump on a horse and gallop away."

Esther's mother and father joined the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints at Chalk Level in 1835, after being taught the gospel by David W. Patten and Warren Parrish, two missionary elders. Esther was five and one-half years old when her parents accepted the gospel, and she later on often remembered when the LDS missionaries visited her family in their home. The elders came to feel that the West home was home to them, and during their frequent visits, Esther's parents and the missionaries would talk together for hours. A peaceful, happy mood pervaded the entire house.

Esther also often remembered how generous her parents were, how they often gave the missionaries money, as well as meals and a good bed to sleep in. All of the West children grew to expect that they should help the missionaries. One day in particular their mother handed some money to one of the elders, saying, "Take this to Kirtland, it will help." And the elder said, "Your husband has already sent money there." She replied, "It matters not. This is my own money." After the elders had left, John, Esther's brother, asked, "What is Kirtland?" His mother explained that it was a city where a beautiful house was being built. Then John asked who would be living there, and his mother replied, "My son, they are building this house for the Lord so that He can send His angels there to teach our young Prophet. Oh, my boy, it is to be the Lord's house."

Esther also learned charity from her father. She often remembered his helping the widows and the poor. On one particular occasion, he was helping David W. Patten's wife by giving her some money. when the children asked him why, he explained, "Brother Patten spends most of his time teaching the gospel to the people, and sister Patten and the children have a very hard time getting along. We must help them, my dears." The Wests also helped buy land in Missouri for the Saints to build homes on, and it seemed to Esther and John that their folks must be awfully rich, since they were always able to help.

It was also while Esther was living on this plantation in Tennessee with her folks that she first came to know George A. Smith, and the Prophet Joseph Smith's brother, Don Carlos. Little did she realize that some years later George A. would become one of her brothers-in-law.

It was now summer and Esther was feeling carefree and happy. Esther's parents were discussing the gospel with David Patten, Warren Parrish, Wilford Woodruff, and several other men. Her brother John, who had been chasing a squirrel for hours, bounded into the house and announced that their Methodist minister was coming. The man was already at the door, and without even removing his hat or knocking, he entered the house. "Here, you men! I have a warrant for your arrest! Don't move!" Matthew Williams was there to arrest David W. Patten and Warren Parrish, as well as Wilford Woodruff, who had just recently joined them in their missionary work. John and Esther, being the two oldest children, realized something of a very serious nature was going on. Their mother looked more tired than usual when she told them,"He wants to hurt our missionaries, and he wants to hurt us all. We must pray."

The next morning Esther's father told the children that the Methodist minister was accusing David Patten, Warren Parrish, and Wilford Woodruff of doing all kinds of evil things. "One is that they have baptized four persons, and have promised them the Holy Ghost." John asked, "Is that wrong?" "No, my son, and as you grow older,you will find this gift has been promised and shall follow baptism. When you are confirmed, if you will listen, you will hear the words "receive the Holy Ghost."

Later, Esther's father said that the men did not arrest Wilford Woodruff because he lived in another country. Elder Woodruff had borrowed one of the West's horses to ride while doing his proselyting, and Esther and John were worried about getting their horse back. Their horse was never returned, because while Elder Woodruff was using him, the horse was poisoned and died.

Esther's grandfather West had died, and her grandmother, Sally Walker West, was lonely. She and her uncle had been urging Esther's family to move to Kentucky. At last everything was loaded, and Esther, along with the rest of the family, was seated in the nicest covered wagon they owned. Their long journey began. The Wests reached Kentucky safely. Letters came from the West's old friends who had moved into Missouri and into the town of Far West. They told of the terrible mobbings -- and how the whole town had been surrounded and two of the brethren had been murdered, one of whom was their old friend David W. Patten who was shot at the battle at Crooked River. Esther and her family could have been forever happy in Kentucky. They had plenty of food and warmth, and the family relationships were congenial. But a yearning to be close to the Church and its people, to be able to see and to hear their Prophet, and to be able to be reared in that environment, seemed the most important thing in all the world to them.

Again their wagons were loaded, and they were on their way. It was the first day of June, 1842, that Esther and her family bid farewell to Kentucky and their dear ones. When the West family neared the end of their journey, Esther was in awe of the vast expanse of the Mississippi River, and the city of Nauvoo -- how fast it was growing. Now it was July of 1842. A soft breeze was gently blowing Esther's shining dark auburn locks across her soft cheeks, pink now from the excitement of her meeting with a dark handsome stranger of Nauvoo. As William looked at her, a warm gentle look came into his dark brown steady gaze, and one could read in his eyes that he felt he had now found the girl with whom he desired to share the rest of his life. These two people immediately began their romance.

William helped in the burial of his beloved Prophet, tears streaming down his cheeks,and Esther helped comfort Emma, Joseph's widow, with whom she later became close friends. Tragedy is a great equalizer. They knew that it was now that they must begin in earnest to plan for their arduous trek across the plains to the mountains in the West.

William must have spent considerable time in Nauvoo the next eight months, courting the charming Esther West, because on 26 February 1845, they were married in a ceremony performed by George A. Smith. After they were married, William and Esther made their home in Lebanon where William could be of more help to his ailing father whose greatest desire also was to move with his family to the West. They began in earnest to get together teams, wagons, cattle, and other supplies in hopes of being able to leave within the next two or three years for the mountains in the West. As it has often been spoken of in American history, they referred to "going to the mountains in the West" instead they said they were "going into the wilderness."

In the meantime, on 1 February 1848, William and Esther's first child was born to them -- a boy, whom they named Joseph Alma after their martyred Prophet.

William Barton, Sarah Esther West Barton and a son, Joseph Alma Barton, left Lebanon, Illinois, for Utah in the late summer of 1850. They were almost three months crossing the plains by ox team. They remained in Salt Lake until the early spring of 1851, arriving in Parowan April the seventh or eighth.

William's father, John, told them about the time when he saw the "mantle of Joseph" fall on Brigham Young that day in the Grove when Sidney Rigdon talked for an hour and a half trying to convince the Saints that he should be their next prophet.Sidney had forgotten that when the head of the Church was lost, the next quorum in authority was the one to lead. John was only fourteen years old when he and some other boys were near the bowery listening to several men besides Sidney Rigdon speak. Then Brigham Young arose, and all saw in a moment that he was the man, for his very voice, his gestures, and his attitude were those of the Prophet Joseph. A blind woman clasped her hands and shouted, "Has Brother Joseph been raised from the dead?" John said that he and the boys he was with couldn't see very well,and one of the boys said, "Listen! That is the Prophet speaking! We got up on the hubs of the wagon wheels so we could see better, and we could see that it was Brigham Young who at that moment looked and sounded just like Joseph."

It was in 1853 and 1854 that the first flour burr mill in Iron County was built. It was constructed by William and Nelson Hollingshead and owned by George A. Smith and John Calvin Lazell Smith. It was operated by William Barton, who was the first grist miller in Iron County. This mill was built just inside the old fort at the southeast corner and was run by water power.

In August of 1853, the Indian War broke out, and all settlers living outside of forts were ordered to move into them for protection.

In the early part of 1855, President Brigham Young went to Iron County and vicinity,and, after making an inspection of the situation, called the first settlers back to Paragonah to make permanent homes.

When spring came, William Barton, with his three brothers, Stephen, Joseph, and Samuel, were among the first men to return to begin preparing the adobes for building the fort.

On 25 June 1856, William and Esther's first daughter was born, and they named her Esther Jane. In the fall of 1856, William and Esther made a trip to Salt Lake and back to Parowan in their covered wagon. This trip had been planned for quite some time. It was a very special occasion, one they had been looking forward to with great anticipation. On November 10 they were sealed to each other for time and eternity in the old Endowment House. William was a carpenter, a mason, a miller, a violinist, a farmer, a brewer and a stock man. He also served as a dentist when needed. Because Polygamy was endorsed for church leaders, which William was, he married Mary Williamson, an English emigrant, 28 August 1857. The two families never lived together, but resided in separate towns. William lived with Mary the rest of his life. This was because Esther seemed to be self-sufficient.

Grandma Esther passed from this life quietly in her little log cabin in Greenville,Utah on 28 March 1906, at the age of seventy seven, from pneumonia. William had preceded her in death on 11 October 1902. William died very peacefully in Paragonah and was buried in Parowan, Utah, in the cemetery of the town, which he helped settle. On 23 November 1923, Mary died peacefully in her home at the age of eighty four. She was buried beside her husband in Parowan. Esther requested to be buried in the Greenville cemetery beside the body of her daughter, Estella. This in no way discounted her love for William, but she simply preferred to remain in the homestead where she had such happy memories with William and the children in their growing-up years.

William and Sarah West Barton's Children:

Joseph Alma Barton 1848 – 1895

William Penn Barton 1853 – 1853

Daniel King Barton 1854 – 1934

Esther Jane Barton 1856 – 1942

John Hunter Barton 1858 – 1934

Stephen Rollins Barton 1860 – 1944

Sarah Estella Barton 1862 – 1896

Rachel Barton 1863 – 1865

Phillip Jackson "Jack" Sr. twin Barton 1864 – 1947

Stonewall Jackson twin Barton 1864 – 1864

Lewis Barton 1867 – 1870

Hugh Jones Barton 1868 – 1946

Lydia Barton 1873 – 1873

The following is from "An Eternal Legacy, the Story of William, Esther, and Mary Barton", Copyrighted 1975 by Sarah Esther Barton Rollins, Printed in the United States of America. All rights reserved.

It was a beautiful late summer day--one of those lazy kind of days that happen only in Nauvoo in late July. The lawn was still lush and green in back of the Nauvoo House where a large crowd of Saints had gathered. Most everyone that day appeared to be carefree and making the most of a social gathering that was seldom held anymore because of the constant turmoil in that part of the country. A game of horseshoes was taking place in the middle of the crowd, and from among the members of the two participating teams, two men appeared to be masters of the game. They were nearly the same size and about the same build. One of them, a black-bearded man, had penetrating dark brown eyes. The other man had light hair and his blue eyes held the gentle look of one who seemed to love everyone. He was Joseph Smith, Jr., the Saints' beloved prophet. Everyone in the crowd knew him as a man of great stature who was good and kind to all of the Saints. "How dear he is to us. How much we love him," everyone seemed to be thinking.

But who was that handsome, straight, tall man whose broad shoulders displayed such masculinity? He had been around Nauvoo for some time now. The game of horseshoes ended, and several exuberant young admirers of these two men suggested they have a wrestling match. Everyone around the country knew the Prophet's reputation as a wrestler. As yet, he had never met his match. It was obvious that the two men were the best of friends; and at the mention of a wrestling match, they were happy to put on an exhibition. And what an exhibition it was! Nip and tuck from the start, neither would give up. Their muscles in their broad shoulders rippled and bulged against their shirt sleeves, and the strength in their legs and backs was amazing. When they finally did stop, sweat was running down their brows into their eyes, and their clothes were dripping wet.

My, what a man! He comes closer to being a tie with our Prophet than anyone we've had around here for a long time, people in the crowd were saying as Joseph Smith and his match, their arms around each others shoulders, walked to an open ditch. Here they doused their faces and arms in the cool, refreshing water. Clear and sparkling, it ran in little rivulets down the stranger's black wavy hair, onto his face, and into his long, black beard, forming glistening beads in the late afternoon sun. A young girl in her early teens was in the crowd with her family that day. They also were watching and admiring the manly love and respect that the two men displayed for each other as they competed in the various sports.

This girl also was a stranger to Nauvoo, having been there only about six weeks. However, her father, Samuel Walker West, was already well acquainted with several men in the area, including George A. Smith and Wilford Woodruff. He also had become well acquainted with the dark, handsome stranger. Today as the stranger's dark eyes searched the crowd, he seemed to be looking for someone in particular. Then his eyes met those of the beautiful young southern girl, and he stopped near her. They had been noticing each other on earlier similar occasions and seemed to be mutually attracted.

Samuel Walker West, being an observant man, could see the admiration displayed in both the stranger's and his daughter's eyes. Stepping a little closer, he introduced his daughter Sarah Esther West to William Barton. Samuel wondered for a moment if this attraction were more than just a passing fancy. But how could it be? His daughter was only fourteen years old, and William was eight years her senior?


William Barton, originally of Lebanon, St. Clair County, Illinois, was born to John Barton of Orange County, North Carolina, and Sally Penn of Elbert County, Georgia, on January 30, 1821. The oldest boy and the second child in a family of ten, he had four brothers and five sisters. Elizabeth was the oldest child. John Wesley, one of Williams brothers, died when he was eighteen years old, Elizabeth, Sarah Penn, and Eliza Ann lived less than five years each and were buried in the Barton Cemetery in Lebanon.

The parents of this family, John and Sally Penn, were married about 1817, then later moved to Lebanon. Being farm folk and having a large family to support, they were far from wealthy. When Wilford Woodruff taught them the gospel, they accepted it, and both were baptized on March 8, 1835. In spite of the fact that other members of the family, all of whom were born in Lebanon, were old enough to be baptized at the same time, they chose to wait until later to accept this ordinance. William was baptized in January of 1841.

Because he was the oldest boy, and because John Wesley who was two years younger, was a sickly child, William had to learn at an early age to be very responsible. His mother depended a great deal on him. William learned the flour milling trade in Lebanon and became a millwright as well. William seems to have spent most of twenty-nine years in that little college town. In that early time, schooling was difficult to acquire and had to be paid for by tuition. William could read, write and work figures very well, thus it is likely that he had whatever education was available.

During those early days in Nauvoo and the surrounding country when the mobocrats were determined to annihilate Joseph and Hyrum Smith and all of their followers, it was imperative that the Prophet's bodyguards be men of stalwart character with great physical as well as emotional strength, men who could demonstrate endless courage during times of stress. Integrity combined with a deep abiding faith and love for their Prophet was a characteristic necessary in those chosen to protect him. William Barton was that kins of man. Because he had proven himself in many and varied circumstances in the past, he was chosen to serve as a scout and bodyguard to Joseph Smith and was probably in Nauvoo for that reason only.

William, with his Uncle Asa Barton, were also in Nauvoo July 10, 1844, about thirteen days after the martyrdom of Joseph and Hyrum Smith. In a letter he wrote to "William Barton and Asa Barton and all the Rest," John Barton, William's father, comments on the murder of Joseph and Hyrum.

At one time, William also spent some time in Virginia, probably previous to his marriage. Florence Horsley Jorgenson remembered that when she was a small child her grandfather William visited her family in Price, Utah. He took her up on his knee and told her about some of his experiences. He told her that at one time he was in a place in Virginia called "Linger Longer". From this story and others that he told her about Virginia, she learned to love the name Virginia so well that she changed her name to Florence Virginia.

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Sarah Esther West Barton's Timeline

1829
November 8, 1829
Chalk Level or Nashville, Davidson, Tennessee, USA
1847
February 26, 1847
Age 17
1848
February 1, 1848
Age 18
Lebanon, Illinois, USA
1853
January 1, 1853
Age 23
Parowan, UT, USA
1854
March 11, 1854
Age 24
Parowan, UT, USA
1856
June 25, 1856
Age 26
Parowan, UT, USA
1858
June 17, 1858
Age 28
Parowan, Iron, UT, USA
1860
July 11, 1860
Age 30
Minersville, UT, USA
1862
June 6, 1862
Age 32
Beaver, UT, USA
1864
January 18, 1864
Age 34
Beaver, UT, USA