About William Goforth Nelson
The following life of Edmond Nelson is recorded as told to Taylor Nelson by William Goforth Nelson, son of Edmond Nelson.
My father was a farmer and a stock raiser by occupation. The family lived in Jefferson County about nineteen years. I can remember witnessing my father’s baptism about the year 1836. An Elder by the name of Burquett officiated. My mother was not baptized until the year 1838.
In the spring of 1836 my father sold his home in Illinois and his livestock, with the exception of five head of horses, and started, together with the church, to Missouri. My father and his three brothers: James, Abraham and Hyrum, and their families also went. The four brothers located within two miles of each other. James and Hyrum located on the west bank of the Grand River; Abraham bought a ferry right, and one flat boat and one canoe, on the Grand River one mile below. My father filed on a quarter of section of land one mile from the river. He then bought quite a number of stock and hogs. It was while we lived here that the Prophet Joseph Smith stayed overnight with us. That was the first time any of us had ever seen him.
We lived there one year and a half when in the fall of 1838 a general conference of the Church was held at Far West, Missouri. My father was one that attended. The Prophet counseled the Saints to gather there at Far West, forthwith. My father was the only one of the four brothers to immediately comply with the counsel of the Prophet. He started at sunrise the next morning after getting home; taking a wagon in which his family could ride comfortably. He took five horses, one yoke of oxen, three cows, and a small bunch of sheep. He left 34 head of cattle and fifty head of hogs in the woods. His brothers were so slow to comply with the word of the Prophet and the mob robbed them of nearly all their property. They took possession of Abraham’s ferry and charged them for crossing on it when they started to Far West.
Our first days travel was through thinly settled country — we often saw, in a distance, the smoke rising from burning houses and we frequently saw members of the mob riding through the fields on horseback, but we were not molested by any of them. At night we camped with a family whose house was then burning, having been set on fire by the mob. My father helped the man, whose name I do not remember, to build a rack to take to the place of his wagon box which also burned. The man traveled with us one day and then went on another road so as to travel with some of his relatives.
On the third day my father sold one horse for $30.00 and loaned the oxen to another man to drive. I do not remember how many days we were on the road to Far West, but it was not many. When we reached Grand River, my mother was baptized by Lyman Wight. Far West was soon packed with people, so that before we reached the town, instructions had been given for the rest of the saints to camp at Shoal Creek, two miles from Far West, so we remained there for the winter. All who camped there lived in their own wagons and tents.
It was during this winter that the saints were called upon by the governor of Missouri to deliver up their arms which request was complied with. My father and oldest brother were among those who delivered their guns to members of the mob. The mob was on horseback — the men all had painted faces. The next coming there were three light wagons, each pulled by two large horses. Our brethren were commanded to follow in behind the wagons. The next company of the mob came in behind our wagons. They stopped in a little prairie about a mile below, and our brothers were ordered to lay their guns and ammunition in the wagons. Then the third party came up, half of the men dismounted, leaving two horses and two guns with one man and then the footmen started to plunder the wagons in the camp, claiming that they were hunting for ammunition. Our people had their horses and cattle all tied up because they had no other place for them and thus were our wagons searched and much property stolen by the mob.
It was while we camped on Shoal Creek that Joseph Smith Nelson (our ancestor) was born. My eldest brother Price was sick nearly all winter. My father could not find employment of any kind by which to help secure a living so that our food during the eventful winter consisted entirely of beef and boiled corn. In the early spring of 1839 we started for Quincy, the place which had been designated by the Prophet Joseph for the Saints to cross the Mississippi River. But before we reached there we were compelled to stop on account of the sickness of Price and myself. Father rented a house in which we lived until we had regained sufficient strength to continue on our journey. We crossed the river at Quincy and then started north. But we traveled very slowly, it being spring and the rainy season of the year. We rented a house about 30 miles east of Commerce, (afterwards called Nauvoo). Father helped a man fence a piece of land and then got the privilege of planting six acres of corn which yielded an abundant crop.
Late in the fall father and Price went to Nauvoo and built a two room log house but we did not move to Nauvoo until early the next spring (1840). Father bought a lot and a half in Nauvoo which ran east and west. The house referred to was built on the west end of the plot. We opened a rock quarry on the west end. Hyrum and I helped father quarry rock, most of which we sold in the city. Father paid his temple work and most of his tithing in rock from the quarry, all of which was used in the temple. We also rafted a great deal of wood and saw timber down the river. We at one time went eighteen miles up the river, after a raft of saw timber which we sold to a man by the name of Ellis for three dollars per thousand feet. He ran a sawmill on the bank of the river. Hyrum and I spent one summer in Nauvoo working the brick yard, making brick which was used in building the Nauvoo House. We remained in Nauvoo until the first day of May 1846, at which time we started west with the church.
We lived in Mt. Pisgah for about four years. As soon as we camped we plowed some ground and planted three and one half acres in corn, and one-half acre of buck wheat and a good garden. Shortly after arriving, Father and most of the children took sick with the chills and fever, and did not recover until September. During the month of July, I was bitten by a rattlesnake on my heel, but was only laid up for about ten days. Late in the fall of the same year I was bit by a dog on my right leg just below where it had been cut with the snake spoken of above. I got along pretty well for about two weeks at which time Father and Mr. Mansfield went hunting. While they were away the children were playing near the house when a small tree fell. A limb hit my brother, Mark who was then about two years old and broke his skull. Father was sent for and got home in about forty-eight hours after the accident. All was done for him that could be, but he was left cripple for the rest of his life, his right side being paralyzed. It was about one year before he could walk at all.
It was on the 8th day of May, 1850, that we started from Mt. Pisgah to Council Bluffs, thence across the plains to Salt Lake Valley. We started with two good wagons and good ox teams. We also had a number of cows. We traveled pretty much alone until we had come four miles west of Council Bluffs, where we found a camp of saints. On June 4th the camp was organized with Thomas Johnson as captain, ready to start on our journey west the next day. There were fifty wagons in the company. My brother, Price, met us at Council Bluffs and came to the valley with us while Hyrum came in another company the same year.
When we were at Sweet Water my father contracted the mountain fever and never fully recovered. We reached Salt Lake City on September 9, 1850. We camped on the public square for two days. My father wanted to live on a farm; accordingly, we went about 30 miles south to Mountainville (Alpine) which is about four miles northeast of American Fork. We built a log house and moved the family into it. Price, Thomas and myself then went to the Mill Creek Canyon and began getting out shingle timber. We cut and hauled two loads into the mill in a day. The miller sawed and packed the shingles and sold them at $10.00 per thousand, paying us half. We worked 18 days and cleared $300.
Father’s health was still failing him, so we stopped logging and went home. Price then went to Brown's Fort (Ogden) and married Liddie Ann Lake. Thomas and I stopped at home during the winter. Our stock wintered out in the hills, and of course, they required some care. We paid from $3.50 to $5.00 per bushel for wheat that we used for making flour that first year we were in Utah.
Father's health continued to fail, and on December 13, 1850, he died and was buried on December 15th on a little knoll just north of Alpine City. Hundreds have been buried there since, but he was the first. Jane and some of the other members of the family ended up settling in Franklin in Cache Valley later.
This history was written by Mansel H. Nelson and the first person account was recorded by Taylor Nelson from William Goforth Nelson, son of Edmond Nelson. Thanks to Cindy for providing in on her family history website.
William Nelson's Timeline
June 10, 1831
Mt Vernon, IL, USA
December 8, 1871
December 23, 1878
Franklin, Franklin, ID, USA
October 30, 1922
Franklin, Franklin, Idaho, United States