About Willard Trowbridge Snow
WILLARD TROWBRIDGE SNOW
written by an Unknown Relative, additional information compiled by Donna Hansen Woodward
Submitted by Michael Jefferies
Willard Trowbridge Snow was born May 6, 1811 to Levi Snow and Lucina Streeter Snow in St. Johnsbury, Vermont. Willard's middle name of Trowbridge came from his father's mother who's maiden name was Mary Trowbridge.
Willard's early life was spent on a farm where his father had moved to before his birth. There is no doubt that Willard worked to clear rocks and trees from the farming land as he grew old enough to help in the fields. The land in St. Johnsbury was poor, so with the Snow family being large, much was required to provide for all the needs. Industry and economy were required by all the family members. The Snow children were taught to work, each child had his daily jobs from the time they could carry a pail of water.
Willard's father and mother saw to it that their children obtained an education. Both Levi and Lucina loved books and learning, they were avid readers and natural teachers which affected their children in future years as several of the Snow children taught school as they became older.
There was a strong religious atmosphere in the home were Willard was raised. This strong religious atmosphere has been said to have come from the Streeter side of the family and not the Snows. This same atmosphere seemed to prevail in the community. As soon as the homes were built, a church was erected for the community. The people in the community didn't seem to belong to any certain church, but the all lived by the Ten Commandments and were called "Seeker after God's Truths."
When Willard was a young man his family home caught fire and burn down. Neighbors came to assist the family in saving all that they could. Lucina made sure all the books they had were saved. The family lived in the large new barn that they had just finished that summer and after the fall harvest was over the family built a new home. This barn is where the missionaries came and taught the gospel to the many individuals that joined the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.
Willard's mother was baptized into the Methodist Church before she heard the gospel message, but his father was stubborn some say and never joined any church, including the Mormon Church. Willard's father believed and lived the teachings of Christ and he could not see the need to be in an organization. After hearing the gospel message that Orson Pratt was teaching in his father's barn, which was the largest building in St. Johnsbury at the time, Willard was baptized. He was baptized June 18, 1833 by Orson Pratt. After Willard and most of his family were baptized into the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, he spent the better part of the next four years with his brothers, Zerubbabel, William and Erastus laboring as part time missionaries in Vermont and New Hampshire.
In the spring of 1834, at the age of 23, Willard left St. Johnsbury for Kirtland, Ohio with his brother Zerubbabel. That same year Willard and Zerubbabel joined "Zion's Camp in Missouri. There he had a narrow escape from death, being among the number which, while the camp rested in Clay County, Missouri, was attacked by cholera. Early in 1835, Willard returned to Kirtland and then went to serve several other missions in the United States preaching in various parts of the country. Willard was ordained to the First Quorum of Seventies on February 28, 1835 by the Prophet Joseph Smith Jr.
In 1836, Willard went through the Kirtland Temple, and shortly after moved to Missouri with his father's family who had come from St. Johnsbury to join the main body of the saints and be with their four sons. In Missouri, Willard's parents settled in Far West about one and a half miles north of the town. Here they endured the sufferings and persecutions of the saints, including the chills and fever which remained with them for many years. While living in Far West, Willard married Melvina Harvey, who he had known in Vermont. They were married May 14, 1837. Melvina was born December 16, 1811 at Barnett, Vermont. Willard had known Melvina and probably her family before coming to Missouri. It is not known where Willard and Melvina made their home in Farr West.
Willard and Melvina's first child, Amanda Melvina, was born March 18, 1838 at Far West, Caldwell County, Missouri. Their next child, Leonidas, was born March 31, 1840 at Montrose, Iowa, where the family had moved to in the meantime. Leonidas died August 28, 1841 when he was just a little over a year old. While still living at Montrose they had two more sons, Willard Lycurgus, born March 8. 1842 and Eugene, born March 10, 1844. Eugene died at Nauvoo, June 13, 1845. After moving with the family to Garden Grove, Willard and Melvina had a daughter, Almira, born September 10, 1846. She died the same day she was born.
The Snow families were among the first group of saints to leave their beloved Nauvoo and head westward. It was not safe for any leaders of the church or their families to stay in Nauvoo unless absolutely necessary. Before leaving, Willard and Melvina took out their Endowments in the Nauvoo Temple on December 12, 1845 and were sealed together one month later on January 12, 1846. While living in Nauvoo, Willard was one of the agents to help build the Temple.
On May 14, 1846, Willard married a second wife, Susan Harvey, Melvina's sister. Not much is known about Susan except that she had some kind of deformity. This information was found in Patty Sessions records as a midwife. Susan died in Utah at the birth of her first child.
September 1847, Willard with his families, came to Utah in Jedidah Grant's company of 100 wagons. He was captain of the second 50 wagons in this company. On the trip west, he lost a cow and a yoke of oxen in a stampede. According to the book The Gathering of Zion, by Wallace Stegner, "stock carcasses were "strew'd all along the roadside" from the poisonous waters of the alkali country" "A note was left by Willard Snow at Independence Rock which said that he had lost eleven oxen from his fifty." "By September 1st he had lost twenty-five, and was unable to move. In the end that stretch of trail that for all the emigration was hardest on livestock, nerve, and spirits forced upon them a limited renewal of cooperativeness. "Captain Snow ask'd assistance as a duty, saying he was not beholden to any man,&c., &c. Captain Grant manifested a spirit of meekness and spoke with wisdom, &c. It was mentioned that the Captains be authorized to act for the com, and yoke heifers, calves, &c. Some thought the motion oppressive and objected, but it was carried by the majority." Before arriving in the Salt Lake Valley, Willard's brother Erastus met the company that Willard and his family were traveling with at South Pass, Wyoming. Erastus was with President Brigham Young and 108 men who left the valley to return to Winter Quarters to help make preparation for the westward trek of the members who were still remaining at Winter Quarters."
Willard arrived in the Salt Lake Valley on October 4, 1847. On October 6, 1847 he wrote a letter to his mother, his brothers Erastus and William and the rest of the Snow families still at Winter Quarters. The letter was delivered by members of the Mormon Battalion who had come from California by way of Salt Lake. They left Salt Lake on October 18, 1847 and did not arrive at Winter Quarters until December 10, 1847. The letter in part follows:
We are all alive and well, safely landed, at the Mormon Fort, on this lake, which is, I suppose the land of Zion now, if it never was before. We got here yesterday morning and for the first time we had rain enough to lay the dust. This morning I am like a hen with her head cut off hopping about, mighty well pleased to stop rolling, like all the rest, but I don't see much chance for me to get anything to build me a place to lay my head; but adobes or dobiesm, there is such a fever raging to get all the timber cut down right quick which reads in Dutch that it is very scarce, and some greedy dogs want it all. The soil, I think is sufficiently rich, if it had rain like the land on the Missouri. There seems to be a variety of sentiment in some matters relating to the organization of the two divisions of the emigration which were emalgamated into one by Parley P. Pratt and John Taylor. They appointed a committee to seek out farming land and present their doings to the council and was rejected, the council feeling that it belonged to them to do it for the approval. Rumor says that they feel as though this place belonged to Brigham and Heber who organized these two divisions and they are at liberty to locate in the Piute Valley, the Utah Valley, or somewhere else. I think that however, is the effect of Pres. Young's whipping he gave them and may soon wear away, but it is certain that they both feel keenly as though they were disarmed and shorn of a great portion of their power which is probably the facts. Still I think they will act in concert. Say to Erastus that my company got two yoke of cattle at Bridger's Fort, and two more at Bear River. . .which was all the assistance I got till we saw the Valley, though there was, I suppose, 50 yoke of cattle sent back to assist and were all taken by the companies in advance some of which have been here more than two weeks. . .If ever you come to this country, your anticipations will be fully realized as to the meanness and barrenness. Certainly for the last six hundred miles, crickets and grasshoppers living on sage and sand with now and then an antelope, mountain sheep or grizzly bear prowls these black, lonely, and desolate hills. The frost has killed all the buckwheat, corn and potatoes and the cattle ate up all the turnips before I got here which is a right Mormon caper and not another ministry in the kingdom. Tell mother to roll out, for I have written to encourage her. . .for we have lived to get through, and probably now shall live forever; for no one dies here, as there is a warm spring or pool of water, that whoever bathes therein comes out healthy and feels well. Without doubt we are in a very healthy climate. . .
When he arrived in Salt Lake, he settled with his families on the north side of the Old Fort. There Willard and Era Eldridge built a log cabin.
Many things happened in the life of Willard between October 1847 when he arrived in the Salt Lake Valley and September 1851. In these four years he was a judge at the first election held to form a territorial government. He was also a member of the territorial legislature and speaker of the House in 1849. He served on the judiciary committee in the new Territorial Legislature and he was the first Justice of the Peace appointed in Utah. While serving in the legislature he served on the judiciary, counties and on military and civil laws committees. As mention before he was a member of the First Quorum of Seventies, plus he was a councilor to Daniel Spencer in the first organization of the town of Salt Lake. Willard was also a member of the Perpetual Emigration Fund Committee that had been organized by Brigham Young to help finance the western migration of the saints.
Willard's family life was very eventful at the same time. On February 8, 1848, about four months after his family arrived in the valley, Melvina gave birth to a pair of twins, the first pair of white twins born in the state of Utah. They were named Ellen and Helen. Two weeks later, February 22, 1848, Helen died. One year later on January 12, 1849, Susan, Willard's second wife gave birth to a daughter named, Susan, and the mother, Susan died soon after. Patty Sessions, the valley's most experienced midwife wrote this sad entry in her journal: "I was called to Willard Snow's (on Thursday). Susan was sick. I stayed all day and all night. She was crippled so that her child could not be born without instruments. The doctor came Friday morning and delivered her with instruments. The child was born alive but she (Susan Harvey Snow) died in a few minutes. A case of this kind I had never witnessed before although I have practiced midwifery for 37 years and put thousands to bed. I never saw a woman die in that situation before."
The following Sunday it was recorded that a funeral was held for Susan Harvey Snow, who died during childbirth at the age of thirty. Two years after reaching Salt Lake, Willard married a third wife, Mary Bingham, a girl from St. Johnsbury, Vermont (1849). Mary had only one child by Willard. Melvina, Willard's first wife had child named William who was born June 3, 1850.
At General Conference in Salt Lake City, September 7, 1851, Willard was called on a mission to Europe. Soon after, he left his wives and four children and arrived in England, December 29, 1851. He worked in Scotland for about three months. In March 1852, Erastus, Willard's brother arrived in England on his way home from Scandinavia, where he had, had charge of the mission there. Just before Erastus' arrival on March 18, 1852, Willard was appointed president of the Scandinavia Mission to succeed Erastus. On April 21st, Willard took the steamer at Hull, England and arrived at Copenhagen, Denmark on the 26th. He set to work with a will to learn the Danish language in which he was very successful. He mastered the Danish language so well that he translated many books into Danish, one being the L.D.S. Hymn Book He took charge of this mission working diligently, faithfully, and successfully in the discharge of his duties. He lacked some of the patience and forbearance that his brother, Erastus had, but he was a vigorous and a hard worker who was devoted to the church and gospel.
In 1852, while Willard was in Denmark, serving as the Mission President, he was mobbed and treated with contempt and was driven into the swamp where he contracted malaria or swamp fever. This fever was eventually what would take his life.
While addressing a council of Elders on the evening of August 15, 1853 in Copenhagen, he was so violently attacked with an illness that he was unable to proceed. Later he seemed a little better, and decided to go to England for treatment of his illness. On the 18th of 1853, he took passage on board the ship "Transit," but while on board he was again prostrated. He soon became unconscious, and continued to sink, gradually until the evening of the 21st, when he expired. Elder P.O. Hansen and H.P. Jenson were with him, but not withstanding their earnest pleading, the captain insisted that the body be sunk in the sea. So he was wrapped in canvass and sunk about 80 miles north of Hull, England in the North Sea. He was just 41 years of age.
Willard Trowbridge Snow was the first American Elder to die abroad while on his mission.
After his death, his wife, Mary, married Lorin Farr, a grandson of Willard's Aunt Lydia Snow Farr. Melvina cared for her own three children and the daughter of her sister's, Susan who had passed away. Melvina lived until she was 71 years old, and died October 24,1882 at Salt Lake City.
Willard Trowbridge Snow was known as a friend of the Prophet Joseph and faithful in all of the calling that he was asked to do.
Willard Snow's Timeline
May 6, 1811
March 18, 1838
Farr West, Caldwell, Missouri, United States
March 31, 1840
Montrose, IA, USA
March 8, 1842
Montrose, IA, USA
August 21, 1853