James Willard Cummings

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James Willard Cummings

Birthplace: Wilton, Franklin County, Maine, United States
Death: Died in Salt Lake City, Salt Lake County, Utah Territory, United States
Immediate Family:

Son of James Cummings, Jr. and Susannah Cummings
Husband of Aura Annette Cummings; Hannah Cummings and Elizabeth Cummings
Father of James Willard Cummings; Oscar Dealton Cummings; Laron Atwood Cummings; Melvin Elisha Cummings; Annabell Cummings and 10 others
Brother of Benjamin Franklan Cummings; Charlotte French Cummings; Hiram Cummings; Josiah Cummings; Susannah Nowlin and 1 other
Half brother of Edith Spaulding Robbins and Betsey Knowlton Cummings

Occupation: Mill superintendent, tannery owner, LDS missionary, Utah State legislator, Salt Lake City councilman, County Clerk, Probate clerk, County Treasurer
Managed by: Christopher John Chandonait
Last Updated:

About James Willard Cummings

James Willard Cummings (1819 - 1883), son of James Cummings and Susannah Willard Cummings, was born 10 March 1819 in Wilton, Kennebec County [present Franklin], Maine. His father, mother, and son at Winter Quarters on the journey to Utah, which he and the remainder of the family reached in 1851. He died at the age of 64 on 19 May 1883 at Salt Lake City, Salt Lake County, Utah Territory. He had three plural wives.

Marriages and Children

  1. Aura Annette Atwood (1827-1905), married 4 December 1845 Nauvoo, Hancock County, Illinois
    1. James Willard Cummings Jr. (1846-1846)
    2. Oscar Dealton Cummings (1847-1850)
    3. Laron Atwood Cummings (1852-1899)
    4. Melvin Elisha Cummings (1855-1916)
    5. Annabell Cummings (1856-1916)
    6. Merriam C. Cummings (1859-Deceased)
    7. Heber Lacelle Cummings (1858-1936)
    8. Ernest Monroe Cummings (1862-1934)
    9. Charles Milton Cummings (1868-1912)
  2. Hannah Topham (1825-1885), married 14 December 1851 Salt Lake City, Salt Lake, Utah Territory
    1. Delos Topham Cummings (1853-1921)
    2. Marlow Livesy Cummings (1855-1934) aka Lovesey
    3. Arthur Franklin Cummings (1857-1922)
    4. Clarence Alonzo Cummings (1863-1941)
  3. Elizabeth Tuffley (1822-1898), married 11 December 1855 Salt Lake City, Salt Lake, Utah Territory
    1. Hiram Tuffley Cummings (1854-1855)
    2. Augusta Jane Cummings (1856-1857)

Biographical Sketch

James Willard Cummings was a large man, tall and portly, at one time weighing 240 lbs. His granddaughter described him as possessing a commanding presence, a superior intellect, and great force of character,

"He was an eloquent speaker, and displayed the courage of his convictions. One of his outstanding characteristics was charity. Though apparently of a rather stern nature, he was extremely kind hearted and was especially good to the poor and the needy. On many occasions, he took the needy into his own home and cared for them. He always provided well for his family and at one time was quite well to do. He made some unfortunate investments and lost a great deal of his money and property, so that at the time of his death he was in moderate circumstances."

By the time he was 22, most of his father's family joined the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. When they emigrated to Nauvoo, he went with them, although he hadn't yet joined the church. He was baptized a few months later, on 8 October 1841. He started on his first mission 7 July 1842, traveling in the northeastern part of Illinois, and returned to Nauvoo the next summer. He was one of the posse who rescued Joseph Smith from kidnappers.

In the fall of 1843 he went on a mission to Mississippi and Alabama. He returned again to Nauvoo in the fall of 1844. He assisted in ferrying the first migration of the Saints across the Mississippi from Nauvoo, when they started west in February 1846. In early July he and his family started west with his father's family. They joined the main camp on the west side of the Missouri.

In the spring of 1848 he went from Winter Quarters to England on a mission, leaving his wife sick in Connecticut, with friends. He returned in 1851 in time for he and his family to cross the plains with that season's emigration. They left Kanesville, Iowa on 21 June 1851 leading several handcart companies across the plains to Utah, and arrived in Salt Lake City on 5 October 1851. They settled in Salt Lake City. At one time he owned a tannery on Main Street in Salt Lake City.

In 1858 he was sent by Governor Brigham Young in command of a company of scouts to meet the army sent to Utah by President Buchanan. They first sighted the army near old Fort Laramie and, to use his own words, "they herded them from there up to near Green River." Later, about 1860, he became Superintendent of the Deseret Woolen Mills, owned by Brigham Young. He later operated a similar factory in Ogden and also was interested in mining. In 1885 he was appointed by Brigham Young to the office of Major in the First Regiment Cavalry of the First Division of the Nauvoo Legion. For several years in the early history of Utah he was an active and energetic member of the Legislature; several years a member of the City Council of Salt Lake City, clerk of the County and Probate Courts, and County Treasurer.


  • "United States Census, 1860," index, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.1.1/MH2W-1QM : accessed 16 May 2014), James W Cummings, 14th Ward Gt Salt Lake City, Salt Lake, Utah Territory, United States; citing "1860 U.S. Federal Census - Population," Fold3.com; p. 41, household ID 12, NARA microfilm publication M653; FHL microfilm 805313.
  • "Utah Death Certificates, 1904-1956," index and images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.1.1/XZGV-KQ7 : accessed 16 May 2014), James W. Cummings in entry for Arthur Franklin Cummings, 06 Jun 1922; citing Salt Lake City, Salt Lake, Utah, United States, certificate , State Department of Health, Bureau of Vital Records and Statistics, Salt Lake City; FHL microfilm .
  • Obituary, Deseret News, May 23, 1883, Salt Lake City, Utah Territory.
  • Cummings Memorial, Author: George Mooar, Published New York City 1903, by Benjamin Franklin Cummings. Family History Library, Salt Lake City, Film 0982215, Item 1, Page 135. Descendants of Isaac Cummings 1601-1677 of Watertown, Ipswich and Topsfield, Massachusetts.
  • Cummings Genealogy, Author: Albert Oren Cummins, Montpelier, Vermont, 1904. Family History Library, Salt Lake City, Film 1017026 Item 5, Page 357. Descendants of Isaac Cummings, 1601-1677 of Watertown, Ipswich and Topsfield, Massachusetts.
  • James Cummings Family of Utah, Author: Benjamin Franklin Cummings III, Provo Utah 1955, Page 11. Family History Library, Salt Lake City. Ancestors and descendants of James Cummings who was baptized in Maine in 1837 and came West to Winter Quarters and died there.
  • James Willard Cummings Life Sketch, by his granddaughter, Mrs. Clare Cummings Brown
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James Willard Cummings's Timeline

March 10, 1819
Wilton, Franklin County, Maine, United States
Age 26
Age 27
September 29, 1852
Age 33
Salt Lake City, Salt Lake, Utah, USA
February 15, 1853
Age 33
Salt Lake City, Salt Lake, Utah, USA
Age 34
January 14, 1855
Age 35
Salt Lake City, UT, USA
May 5, 1855
Age 36
Salt Lake City, Salt Lake, Utah, USA