Alvin Franklin Stewart

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About Alvin Franklin Stewart

Alvin Franklin Stewart

by Ethel H. Stewart Russell – Granddaughter

With additions and corrections

by Merna B. Thurman Madden

Alvin Franklin Stewart was born 18 Apr 1819 in Georgetown, Madison Co., New York. His parents Philetus and Susannah Ballard Stewart had bought a hundred acre piece of prime forest land and quickly turned it into a flourishing farm when they were married, and there all their ten children were born and grew to maturity, and many of their descendants are still living in that area.

The Stewart family was from Connecticut, where the family settled in 1719, when they emigrated from north Ireland to America. The Ballards were from Andover, Essex Co., Mass. After the Revolutionary War, Dane Ballard, a Revolutionary War veteran, received a land grant in Madison Co., N.Y. and helped to found the town of Lebabon in 1803. It is just about eight miles from Georgetown in the beautiful rolling hills of central New York.

When Grandfather was seventeen years of age he bought his time of his father and went to Ohio to visit his cousin, Benjamin Franklin Stewart. While he was there he was introduced to the teachings of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. “Mormon” missionaries visited his cousin and converted Benjamin Franklin Stewart and his whole family. Actually Alvin Franklin Stewart and Benjamin Franklin Stewart were third cousins.

Benjamin Franklin Stewart was with the first group that traveled west to the Salt Lake Valley.

The impression of the gospel teachings never left Alvin, and after returning to his home he found missionaries in that area in New York. But his family could not be reconciled to his belief in this new religion, and soon – at age about 19 – he went west where he joined the ranks of the beleaguered Saints when they were forced from Missouri back into Illinois. We do not know how long he was there before he was baptized on 20 March 1842.

He was ordained an Elder by Brigham Young 29 Oct 1843.

In the meantime he had married Camera Olga Owen, daughter of Ephraim Owen and Mary M. Kern. Ephraim’s and Mary’s family had joined the Church in Indiana about 1835, and had gone to Missouri, where they are found at Far West in 1838. There Ephraim was active in trying to save the Saints from the evil events that were trying to destroy them. After being driven from Missouri to Quincy, Ill. Feb 1839 Ephraim Owen was working with the leaders to secure help for those who were destitute, and brought forth a plan to go to St. Louis, Mo. to get help. He was one of two men who were to go. But the plan was dropped because it was believed that there were enough people in Saint Louis who knew of their plight, and would send help.

After the Prophet Joseph Smith escaped from Missouri and arrived at Quincy, plans were made to go north to Commerce, Ill. and across the Mississippi into Iowa to find a home for the Saints. Within six months people were going to those areas and beginning to make a home. We don’t know whether Ephraim and Mary Owen ever lived in Commerce, but we do know that very soon after that they were in Montrose, Iowa, directly across the river from what later would be called Nauvoo. There Camera Olga Own and Alvin Franklin Stewart met and married.

Alvin Franklin and Camera Olga made their home in Montrose, Iowa. There their first child, a daughter, Helen C. was born 19 July 1844 and died 7 Sept 1845.

According to those who were fortunate to read Alvin Franklin’s diary before it was destroyed, Grandfather wrote that he stood guard the night before Joseph Smith went to Carthage to his murder. He and his family viewed the dead bodies of the Prophet and Patriarch, and experienced the dark gloom that hung over the Saints. They were at the meeting when Sidney Rigdon tried to take the leadership of the Church, and saw the mantle of Joseph fall on Brigham. My father, Charles Alvin Thurman, often said that Grandfather testified of that event many times.

When the Nauvoo Temple was completed enough to give endowments, Alvin Franklin and Camera Olga received their endowments and were sealed there by Heber C Kimball.

When they were forced to leave Montrose they traveled first to Garden Grove, Iowa, a town set up by the leaders of the Saints where those traveling west could stop. There Oscar Marion was born 22 Sept 1847. Then to earn enough to buy equipment to proceed to the Rocky Mountains, they moved independently into Missouri, where in Atchinson County, Joseph Alvin was born 21 Dec 1848.

Before his birth Camera Olga had a patriarchal blessing by Isaac Morley who told her that she would receive a heavenly messenger to comfort and bless her, which she did, and she was promised that she should have a son who would be like unto Joseph who was sold into Egypt. He would be a Savior to his father’s household, and a man of great faith and influence, and many other things which were all fulfilled and was a great comfort to her.

By late 1849 Alvin Franklin and Camera Olga were in Pottawatomie Co., Iowa, for Fidelia Louisa was born there 1 Jan 1850. It has been written be some genealogists of the family that Helen C., the first daughter was buried at Winter Quarters, but that is an impossible statement as she died in 1845 and the family was not at Winter Quarters until late 1849.

1850 and 1851 were spent working and saving and preparing equipment to travel to the mountains. They were a happy little family, even though they had endured many hardships.

Early in 1852 they joined a company under the leadership of Captain Jolley, and again the Lord was with them, and the journey to the “promised land” was a rich fulfillment of their dreams. They were not only hardy pioneers, but they were convinced that they were on the Lord’s side, and if they did their part, He would bless them.

The family settled first in Mountainville (now Alpine) where their fifth child, Mary Lucinda, was born 24 Dec 1852. In 1853 the family moved to Spanish Fork, where they remained for about one year. (This information was gleaned by Merna Madden from records found at the Genealogy Library in Salt Lake City. At one time each man of the Church was asked to fill out a form telling of their places of residence, parentage, etc. The sons of Alvin Franklin filled out those forms on which they reported that they had spent about one year at Spanish Fork before they moved to Springville).

Matilda Caroline was born 10 March 1856 and Femina Basella was born 13 July 1857 at Springville.

In 1859 Alvin Franklin heard that Cache Valley, Utah was being settled, so he with three other men went to investigate. They found an area which pleased them. It was on a beautiful little mountain stream and lay at the foot of the mountains. There they hastily built four small cabins and put in a winters supply of meadow hay. Now they hurried to their homes to gather their families and possessions and start a covered wagon trip to the new location which they had named Richmond.

Soon after the start, Camera Olga went into labor with her eighth child, James Elliot. They were forced to stop at Harriman Fort, now Bluffdale, Utah, long enough for the birth of this son. He was born there 16 Sept. 1859, after which they continued their journey, arriving in Richmond in October 1859.

Brigham Young advised the settlers of Cache Valley to form their houses into forts as a protection against the Indians. Alvin Franklin took his advice and moved his cabin into the fort. The fort consisted of two rows of houses facing each other, with about 40 feet of space between them. The stream of water ran down the middle of this space. Then there were houses on each end, which made an enclosure. The gardens and corrals were behind each house.

As soon as the Indian depredations ended with the Bear River Massacre, each family moved their houses back onto their property. Alvin Franklin Stewart served one term as mayor of Richmond before leaving for Arizona in April 1881.

At Richmond, the last three children were born: Mahonri Alma 27 Sept 1861, Ephraim Philetus 5 January 1864 and Franklin Owen Stewart 10 January 1867.

Soon after the birth of the last child Alvin Franklin left on a trip east to visit his parents at Georgetown, with the hope of converting them to the gospel. By that time, his parents were elderly and his mother was dying with cancer. The doctrine only confused them and his mother asked him not to discuss it. This was a great disappointment to Alvin.

However, while he was there he visited his uncle Elliott and received from him three generations of ancestry, which gave him later chance to do their work in the temple.

To Alvin’s great sorrow and bewilderment, when he returned home he found that Camera Olga had died 23 March 1867. His motherless family of children ranged from a few months to nineteen years of age. This was a problem which must be solved.

Fortunately there was close by a beautiful young woman who had divorced her husband because of wrong doing. She was Eliza Bernett, daughter of John Burnett and Eliza Cramage, having been born at Birmingham, Eng, 4 Sept 1849. Eliza was almost 20 years younger than Alvin Franklin, and almost the same age as his oldest son, Oscar Marion. And she had twin children, a boy and a girl, by Judson Shepherd, her first husband. They were just a little over one year old.

Alvin Franklin and Eliza were married in the Endowment House at Salt Lake City 30 Aug 1867. This was a happy marriage.

At age 48 Alvin Franklin began a new family, all born at Richmond is as follows:

  1. Julius Rodolphus Shephard, b. 27 July 1866
  2. Phebe Marella Shephard, b. 27 July 1866
  3. Estella Camera Stewart, b. 6 Aug 1868, d. 7 Sept 1883. Mesa, Arizona
  4. Dora Eliza, b. 27 Mar 1870
  5. Charles William, b. 5 Aug 1871, d. 21 mar 1876, Richmond
  6. John Ethelbert, b. 13 Apr 1873, d. 13 Jun 1873, Richmond
  7. Ray Elmer, b. 11 Apr 1875
  8. Alva Thomas, b. 2 Jun 1877, d. Feb 1902, Mesa
  9. Ernest Barnett, b. 3 Oct 1879, d. 3 Dec 1879, Richmond
  10. Sanford B., b. 18 Sept 1880, d. 11 July 1881, Mesa
  11. Edward B., b. 24 Sept 1882, Mesa

Charles William, John Ethelbert and Ernest Barnett are all buried in the same plot of earth in Richmond Cemetery with Camera Olga, Alvin’s first wife.

In April of 1881, Alvin Franklin Stewart and most of his family left Richmond for Mesa, Arizona. There they purchased the Dana home at the corner of 1st Avenue and Robson.

When the city of Mesa was incorporated Alvin Franklin was chosen as a City Councilman. On Sunday 20 Dec 1882, the Latter-day Saints living in the Salt River Valley were organized into a Stake. Alvin Franklin Stewart was chosen as one of the High Council.

The change from a mild climate in Utah to the blistering heat of the Salt River Valley of Arizona was very hard on the whole family, but especially on the children. Sanford B. died in Mesa on 11 July 1881. The children had to be wrapped in wet towels and sheets both day and night to keep them from dying from the heat.

Then in 1883 a real tragedy hit the family. One evening Alvin Franklin was called to the home of President MacDonald to administer to his son whom the doctors thought was suffering from heat rash. It turned out to be SMALLPOX instead. Alvin Franklin’s family soon became very ill. Three of them died, and Alvin almost lost his life too.

Eliza, Estella Camera, Matilda Caroline, who had married George W. Taylor, all died in September 1883.

Now Alvin Franklin was again left with a motherless family. The youngest son, Edward B. was only one year old.

This time, his widowed daughter Fidelia Louise, who had married Henry Stimson, and moved to the state of Washington, came to Mesa and cared for the family. She was thirty-three years of age. By this time Alvin Franklin was 64 years of age. He did not remarry, but faithfully carried on his duties as father and church member. Some time before he died at age eighty-five, he was made Patriarch of the Maricopa Arizona Stake, which office he filled with dignity. Alvin Franklin was tall and slender, and in his early life had red hair. He died 12 December 1904 at Mesa, Arizona.

To close this account of his life, I will quote from a granddaughter who knew him as a child.

“As I remember him, Grandfather was tall and slender and had beautiful white hair and a long beard, which was auburn during his younger life. He often walked down to our farm assisted by his cane, his pockets were usually filled with peppermint lozenges. He also carried a fine white comb which he loved to have us use on his hair. When (we) finished he would usually reward us with lozenges.”

Of course this is not a complete account of the life of Alvin Franklin Stewart. His journal and that of Camera Olga were destroyed in a flood in Arizona. We could have learned much from those journals. But we are glad that we know as much as we do about his life and we are proud to be descendants from this great man and his lovely wives.

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Alvin Franklin Stewart's Timeline

April 18, 1819
Georgetown, NY, USA
September 23, 1846
Age 27
Garden Grove, IA, USA
December 21, 1848
Age 29
January 1, 1851
Age 31
July 13, 1857
Age 38
Springville, Utah, Utah, United States
September 27, 1861
Age 42
December 12, 1905
Age 86
Mesa, AZ, USA