John William Windley

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John William Windley

Birthdate: (88)
Birthplace: England
Death: January 18, 1927 (88)
Saint Charles, Bear Lake County, Idaho, United States
Place of Burial: Saint Charles, Bear Lake County, Idaho, United States
Immediate Family:

Son of William Windley and Elizabeth Windley
Husband of Mary Windley
Father of Ann Maria Windley; Charles John Windley; Fredrick William Windley; Mary Emma Simms; Alma Edward Windley, Died young and 3 others

Managed by: Eldon Clark (Geni volunteer cura...
Last Updated:

About John William Windley

   John's biographical sketch in the Church History Archives says that he came to Utah in 1861. He was probably with the 1861 Milo Andrus Company because the "History of Bear Lake Pioneers" says that he drove a wagon for Fred Perris. There was a man named Parris in the Andrus Company (see William Hart Miles, Diary, 1861 Jul-Aug and 1862 May-Jul, p. 8F).

Company Unknown (1861) Age at Departure: 22

JOHN AND MARY FOSTER WINDLEY (My Great, Great Grandparents)

This account was written by Elsie Windley Christensen. She is the daughter of their son Charles John Windley. A few details were copied from a brief biography written by one of Mary Foster's children.

John Windley was born in Loughborough, England on the 4th of August 1838. The son of William and Elizabeth Mitchell Windley.
He first heard of the Mormon Church when he was but a youth; but was convinced of the truth of the message they brought, so when but fourteen years of age he was baptized a member of the Church of Latter Day Saints.
He went to Birmingham, England to make his home with his sister, where he worked as an apprentice in the Brass Trade. While he was thus engaged he met and wooed Mary Foster, the lovely daughter of William and Ann Foster. Mary had been born in Birmingham on the 15th of November 1836 and she with her parents were members of the Mormon Church. Most likely it was through their common interests in their religion that she and John first met.
When John was twenty-one years of age, he was called to serve as a missionary in England. He filled this calling for nearly two years; working part of the time in the office of the Mission President's Headquarters, where he assisted to compile a new record of all the members in that particular conference. Shortly after his release, on April 15, 1861, he and Mary were married.
The newlyweds immediately began to make preparations to go to America and Utah. The journey was to be their honeymoon trip. It turned out to be one fraught with many hardships; surely a test of their love for one another and for their religion.
After six weeks of weary days and nights on the ocean, they landed on American soil and soon joined a company of Saints going West. They traveled down the St. Lawrence River in an open boat and Mary caught a very bad cold which almost proved fatal. She became so sick that when they arrived at Florence, Nebraska (Winter Quarters), the Saints held a Council Meeting to decide whether or not it was wise to allow her to continue the journey. Finally, her desire was granted in the matter; prayers were offered in her behalf and it was decided to bring her to Utah.
Milo Andrews was Captain of the Company and John was to drive an ox-team, handling a load of stoves west for Fred Paris. A bed was made for Mary on top of this load and the long journey resumed; and Mary grew steadily worse. For many days she raved in fever, although everything possible under circumstances was done for her. One night she grew so quiet that those watching over her thought life was departing. She stated later that it seemed as if her spirit left her body, but she was told that her work on earth was not yet finished and she must struggle on longer. She rallied and the journey continued.
They reached Salt Lake City in October and settled in one small room of a house; but it was Christmas before she could stand alone and walk only by holding on the back of a chair. She said this had made her very happy for she had been afraid she would never walk again. To her dying day, she bore scars on both hips and her back, mute reminders of her ordeal. Three small bones at the tip of her spine decayed and were gone and all her hair fell out.
The small room they were so thankful for, had but a straw bed on the floor in the corner, a dry goods box for a table and an oilcloth bag they carried their clothes in, to sit upon.
As soon as Mary was well enough, she and John received their endowments in the Endowment House at Salt Lake City ad soon were doing their active share in the Church again.
They had lived in Salt Lake City three years when they were called with Apostle Charles C. Rich's Company to settle in Bear Lake country. The inhabitants there were mostly Indians, with very few white people. They settled in what is now called St. Charles, sometime in May 1864. It had taken them three weeks to make the trip from Salt Lake City by ox-team. They pitched a tent to live in and John began home steading land for both himself and a Brother Pugmire.
On the 3rd of June 1864, Charles John Windley was born; the first white child to be born in St. Charles, Bear Lake County, Idaho.
The tent was poor protection from the cold and storm and Mary caught cold in both breasts and they gathered and broke. It was six weeks before she could nurse her baby and they kept him alive with a little flour and milk. The flour was tied in a cloth and boiled, then dried. The cooked flour was grated and added to milk and furnished the nourishment he so greatly needed.
John worked with the others of the Company to clean the land, build the bridges and make ditches to carried the water to irrigate the landed. He surveyed with a board and two stakes. He made a small groove in the board and filled it with water, this was his leveler. These same canals still carry the water to irrigate the land today.
Times were hard and food was scarce. It consisted of a few small frozen potatoes, milk and a little smutty wheat which they ground in a coffee mill they passed around from house to house. Mary was never very strong and could not eat this kind of food, so lived mostly on milk. Two years later when her second son (FREDRICK WILLIAM WINDLEY - My Great Grandfather) was born she had been three days without food when the mill was finished. John got a little short and had some flour ground from which a good lady named Annie Laker made a loaf of bread. Mary said that was the sweetest thing she had ever tasted; she never forgot it.
For seven successive years, the grasshoppers took most of the scanty crop they were able to raise. They became so discouraged they returned to Salt Lake City. There, John found work hauling timber from the mountains for Henry Dinwoody, a furniture man, and helped to make much of the early furniture used in the city. He also helped build the Walker Building, the first two story building in Salt Lake City. For two years he worked thus at furniture and building trade, then he and his good wife, Mary, moved back to St. Charles, Idaho to farm.
After this things began to improve. They built better houses and raised more grain and living conditions were more pleasant.
John took charge of the first mill and helped to get out all the lumber for the first meeting house in the community.
John and Mary Windley became prominent people in their little town. He was counselor to Bishop Hunt for more than thirty years and served in that capacity with great credit.  He was a pioneer furniture dealer, having a store up till the time of his death. Mary had a wonderful alto voice and for many years sang in the St. Charles choir. She was an excellent homemaker and housekeeper and was usually found at home attending to her various duties as wife and mother.
John was a very jovial disposition and one who kept abreast of the times. He loved to converse on the different topics and matters that came before the people of his town as well as things pertaining to the State and the Nation. Mary was a quiet retiring nature though never strong physically, she was exceedingly neat and clean in her person. No one ever saw her in a soiled dress nor her house in a litter. The two made an excellent couple. Their home life was ideal and visitors were made happy and welcome under their roof.
They were the parents of nine children: Ann Maria, Charles John, Fredrick William, Mary Emma, Alma Edward, Arthur Henry, Walter Thomas, George Albert, and Eliza Eleanor.
Mary Foster Windley died the 18th of December 1916 at the age of eighty. John did not break up housekeeping, as many would have done, but continued to keep home fires burning in the company of one unmarried son until he died at the age of eighty-six, the 31st of January 1927.



John Windley was born August 4, 1838, in Loughbrough, England.  He was the son of William Windley and Elizabeth Mitchell.  When John was six years old, he was outside playing, then ran in the house and said to his mother, "Today the Mormon Prophet is killed," which proved true.
At fifteen he heard some Mormon missionaries talking . . . he was interested so he listened to them several times, until finally he was convinced that what they were saying was something he had been looking for, so he was baptized.  He was the only member of his family to join the church.  Soon after he joined the church, he left home and went to Birmingham.  He never saw his parents again, but before he left, his mother told him to always be honest.  He practiced this through his life, including paying an honest tithing.
While in Birmingham, he met a Mormon girl by the name of Mary Foster, whom he courted.  At this time, he was apprenticed to the brass trade.  This trade he practiced until the age of twenty-one, at which time he went out as a missionary for the Mormon church.  He preached the Gospel and also worked in the office, making a new record of all the church activities in the Birmingham Branch.
The church had what was called an "Emigration Fund" to help members come to Utah.  William Foster had been a member of the church for some time, so the mission President decided to let some of the family use the fund.  The decision was for two daughters, Nary and Elizabeth to go to Utah.  Inasmuch as the girls were not married, it was decided that they should marry.  John was called in from his mission to marry Mary and George Evans to marry Elizabeth, so a double wedding was performed on April 15, 1861.  Mary Foster was born November 16, 1836 in Birmingham, Nourish, England, the daughter of William Foster, Jr. and Ann Morris.
Three weeks later the two sisters and their new husbands left England in a sailing vessel for the U. S. A.  They were six weeks crossing the ocean.  Upon the arrival in the United States, they went up the St. Lawrence river to Florence, in an open boat.  It rained during the trip, soaking all of them.  Mary caught cold and it developed into chills and fever.  She was so sick it was debated as to whether she should try to continue the trip or stay in the East among friends who would bury her should she die.
A company of Mormons was starting for Utah and John was the only one who could milk a cow so he had to stay with the company and tend to the cattle.  John decided not to leave Mary but to take her with him, since he could drive a wagon.  A man named Fred Perris (after whom Paris, Idaho was named) had a money belt filled with twenty-dollar gold pieces.  He got several wagons and teams outfitted for the trip to Utah.  John was asked to drive one of these "outfits" loaded with stoves.  A bed was made for Mary on top of the stoves and she rode this way to Utah.
On the way across the plains she became very ill and one night she was so quiet they all thought she had died.  She said her spirit had seemed to leave her body and she went to a very beautiful place, with music, flowers and everything to make one happy.  She wished she could remain always, but someone told her "Sister Windley, you must go back, your work is not done."  Milo Andrus, captain of the company, administered to her.  She regained consciousness and seemed a little better, though still very ill.  John tried to be good to her, but they didn't much to eat.
They arrived in Salt Lake City in October, 1861.  John had walked the entire distance.  Mary had bed sores on her hips which left her with scars and the three little bones at the base of her spine decayed, leaving a hole.  She couldn't walk until nearly Christmas but she was happy to be able to walk at all.  She lost all her hair, but it eventual grew back black and curly.
Their first home was one room with a straw bed in one corner with a dry goods box for a table and an oil cloth bag, they carried clothes in, for a seat.  Here their first baby was born and died.  Mary had been told that if she had a little brandy to drink while the baby was being delivered, it would lessen the pain.  She did some sewing which she sold to buy some.  The woman that came to deliver the brandy drank the brandy.  They always felt that with proper care the baby might have lived.
They stayed in Salt Lake for about two and one half years.  John worked for Henry Dinwoody, hauling timber for him to make furniture.
When Charles C. Rich was called to settle the Bear Lake Valley, John and several others were called to go with him.  They started out in March with ox teams and arrived about six weeks later.  Charles C. Rich settled in Paris, Idaho, but he sent other families to settle various places in the valley.  John and several others were sent eight miles south to an area they called St Charles  John and Mary settled in St. Charles, living in a tent until they could clear land, make roads, and get to the canyons for logs to build a house.
Their second child, a boy, was born June 3, 1864.  He was one of the first white children born in the new town.  He was named Charles after Charles C. Rich and John after his father.  The baby was kept alive by boiling wheat in small sacks and when it was cold some of it was grated in milk.
They had very few tools to work with, so John took a board, made a groove in it, placed one stake at each end to hold it above the ground.  He then placed water in the groove and a level was made with which he surveyed an irrigation ditch.  It was a very crude tool to wok with, but the ditch still carries water to the farms.
They had many hardships to endure and not knowing how long and how severe the winters were they did not prepare enough food for their cattle and by spring many of them died.  The snow often fell six feet deep in the valley and deeper in the hills.  The frost came early and destroyed much of the scanty crop they had planted.  The food that winter consisted mostly of frozen potatoes and milk thickened with smutty wheat which was ground in a coffee mill.  The coffee mill was passed from one family to another.  Many of the people became discouraged but Apostle Rich encouraged them to stay there.
John and Mary were in St. Charles for about two years before a flour mill was built and it was about this time that their third child, a boy, was born.  Mary had gone about three days scarcely eating, so John got some "shorts" (in wheat - the first layer is bran, the next layer is shorts and the center is where flour comes from) from the mill and a neighbor lady named Annie Laker made a loaf of bread.  Mary said she never ate anything that tasted so good in all her life and that it was the sweetest thing she had ever eaten.
After one of the hard winters, John and a man named John Hunt took some of their cattle across the valley to the east hills where the sun shone warm in the day and they walked much of the way.  The sun melted the snow so it was soft and wet.  The snow worked down in their boots, melted and ran to their feet.  John got his horse to go back home; the sun went down, and it turned cold, freezing his feet and boots.  He was so cold he got off his horse and lay down in the snow.  He lay there for awhile, then he roused and seeing the light in the cabins he got up and made his way home.  When he opened the door he fell on the floor.  Mary thought he was dead.  She lifted and helped him to the fireplace where his boots and feet thawed.  When Mary pulled his boots off, the skin and toe nails came with them.  They cared for them with a few home remedies they had and his feet healed without leaving a scar.
They lived in St. Charles for seven years.  The grasshoppers took most of their crops the last five years, so John took his family and went back to Salt Lake.  While there he worked on the Walker Bank Building, where he got a lot of good ideas on building, which were a great help in the future.  They stayed in Salt Lake two years and then returned to St. Charles to their farm.  Conditions had improved, and they were able to raise better crops and build a new home.
When the settlement was first organized as a ward, John Hunt was chosen as Bishop and John as first Counselor, in which capacity he served for thirty-two years.  He took an active part in the ward, always willing to help in making improvements.
John was very active in the ward.  Mary has a good alto voice and sang with the ward choir.
A few years later, after they returned to St. Charles, John opened a furniture store, which he operated as long as he lived. During World War I, prices were very high, but John still held his prices low in the store.  People came from great distances buy his best quality goods, but when he had to replace his stock with furniture made during the war, he was disappointed because the quality was not as good.
John was healthy except for some rheumatism.  His mind was clear and active with the exception of the last few years of his life.  He lived to be eighty-nine years of age, dying in St. Charles, where he was buried.
Mary was never sorry very strong due to her illness, but she had nine children and lived to be eighty years old despite her ill health.
The Daughters of Utah Pioneers Camp in St. Charles is called the "Mary Windley Camp."  A marker on the front lawn of the church explains that she was mother of the first white child born in St. Charles.



In May 1964, Brigham Young called Swan Arnell, Sr., Charles G.Keetch, Sr., Robert Pope and John Windley with their families to settle here. Soon others followed. Charles Windley was the first child born in the village. The townsite was surveyed and land divided into four sections. A combined church and school was built of logs int he center of town. William G. Yound was the first presiding elder and John A. Hunter was first bishop. The settlement was named for apostle Charles C. Rich who settled this valley in 1863.


John Windley: His father was William Windley, descended from Ancient Family of Great Britain. One of the largest merchants of Leicestshire.
When 23, John left Birmingham, England. He had just finished an apprenticeship as a brass dresser. Came to Salt Lake in 1861. Worked in lumbering and farming. In 1864, went to St. Charles, Idaho. Had 50 acres there and made it "Blossom as a Rose." 
Was a large stockholder in the St. Charles Irrigation Canal Co.; was secretary of same organization.
In 1890 he engaged in a successful merchandising trade of making furniture.
John was a Republican and Justice of the Peace for many years; Councilor in the Bishopric for 28 years; ordained a High Priest by Charles C. Rich.
John gave great consideration and care to the raising of stock, and did much to improve the stock in the area.
He was energetic, industrious, social, and entertaining. Occupied a high position among the people who knew him.


John Windley, one of Bear Lake's pioneers died at St. Charles last week after a long illness at age 88 years. He was well know throughout the county.

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John William Windley's Timeline

August 4, 1838
May 13, 1863
Age 24
Salt Lake City, Salt Lake, Utah, United States
June 3, 1864
Age 25
Saint Charles, Bear Lake, Idaho, United States
July 26, 1866
Age 27
Saint Charles, Bear Lake, Idaho, United States
July 10, 1868
Age 29
Saint Charles, Bear Lake, Idaho, United States
March 16, 1870
Age 31
Saint Charles, Bear Lake, Idaho, United States
April 26, 1872
Age 33
Salt Lake City, Salt Lake, Utah, United States
March 4, 1879
Age 40
Saint Charles, Bear Lake, Idaho, United States
May 11, 1881
Age 42
Saint Charles, Bear Lake County, Idaho, United States
January 18, 1927
Age 88
Saint Charles, Bear Lake County, Idaho, United States