John Woodland, Jr.

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John Woodland, Jr.

Birthdate: (96)
Birthplace: Lynnhaven, Princess Ann County, Province of Virginia
Death: November 8, 1868 (96)
Willard, Box Elder County, Utah Territory, United States
Place of Burial: Willard, Box Elder County, Utah, USA
Immediate Family:

Son of John Woodland, Sr. and Mary or Molly Woodland
Husband of Ruth Woodland and Celia Woodland
Father of girl#2 Woodland; girl#1 Woodland; Polly Woodland; William West Woodland; Nancy Whitaker and 11 others
Half brother of William Woodland; Ruben Woodland; James Woodland; Henry Woodland and Margaret Bey Hyatt

Managed by: Karen Fay Lund
Last Updated:

About John Woodland, Jr.

History of Celia Steepleford/Stapleford and John Woodland

compiled by Mary Woodland Fox and Phillip G. Wheeler. Quoted material was written by Daniele P. Woodland from information dictated by William West Woodland, Son of John Woodland. John Woodland & Celia Steepleford

John Woodland was born 27 March 1776 in Lynnhaven, Princess Ann county, Virginia, the son of John and Mary (Brown) Woodland. Of the birth and early life of John Woodland, Daniel P. Woodland wrote:

Not far from where the James River empties into the Atlantic Ocean, near the city of Norfolk, Virginia there was born to John and Mary Brown Woodland a son who bore the name of his father and who greatly influenced the lives of many generations…

This boy was born 27 Mar 1776. Not long after, his mother died, leaving him in the care of his aunt Dorothea Rhoda Brown, who soon married the boy’s father. From this union other children were born: William, James, Margaret and Ruben.

The family was reasonably prosperous. They had a plantation grew up, they were not content to live in the swamps and lowlands. The call of the west was in their blood and with such men as the Lincolns and Boones, they started on the long, tiresome distance of 400 miles; The trail that led them into the new land of Kentucky was almost impassable.

One can imagine as he drives over that highway through the hills of Kentucky and down the winding valleys through West Virginia, turning around the points of hills every hundred years for at least two hundred miles. Their journey was very winding and the wooded land covered with grass must have been an interesting sight to them.

They settled at Bath County, Kentucky. John applied for a marriage license and married Ruth McGhee. The record says simply,

John Woodland and Ruth McGhee, married, September 21st, 1813, Bath County, Kentucky.

Bath County is about 100 miles west of the West Virginia state line and not far from the present site of Lexington, Kentucky. According to D.P. Woodland:

“How long they stayed there is not known. All the information that we have is that two children were born to them-two little girls-and between that date and the early summer 1818, these two children and mother Ruth McGhee died, all within two weeks time with a disease that swept the country know as the “Cold Plague.” Aunt Nancy had this to say about it: Her father said that he came in the house one day and the oldest child came and he took her on his knee. She complained that her feet were cold. He cuddled her to him and felt of her feet, which were like ice. He warmed her feet, but soon found that she was burning with fever. From that moment, death had struck and within two weeks his young wife and two babies were taken from him in death.

After the death of his wife and children, John Woodland, in company with William Woodland and Jefferson Hunt and their families went west. The following story comes from the western boundary lines of Kentucky.

“They were waiting at a ferry owned by a man named Noah Steepleford (Stapleford), to cross the Ohio River into Illinois. While waiting here he saw a young lady picking polk berries to dye clothes and was attracted by her. Before leaving the place he made her acquaintance. Not long after this Celia Steepleford became the wife of John Woodland.”

Celia Steepleford (Stapleford) was born 7 May 1801 in Barren County, Kentucky the daughter of Noah and Polly Sanders Steepleford. According to the History of Box Elder county the marriage took place in 1818. Their first child, Polly, was born near Albion in Edwards County, Illinois 27 April 1819. Edwards County is about twenty-five miles north and west of the Kentucky state line and is between the Little and the Big Wabash Rivers. They lived there for about eighteen years. Ten of their children were born there. The last child born there was Henry Harrison Woodland who was born 1 Jun 1836. Between Polly and Henry were born Nancy, James Elizabeth, Thomas Noah, John, William and Celia. D. P. Woodland said of these years:

“Here in Edwards County they prospered and accumulated property and stock. It was a time of expanding frontiers in America. Every community had to clear its own ground and build its own houses and schools, which of necessity were crude.”

According to The History of Edwards County, Illinois (page 205), William and John Woodland were from South Carolina, came to Edwards County in 1817, located about four miles from Albion and “went off” with the Mormons.

Research done by Mrs. Clara Reeder Cruser seems to indicate that John Woodland, Sr. also migrated to Edwards County, Illinois.

On 18 Feb 1817, John Woodland, Sr. “entered the northeast quarter of section 8.” (Section 8, Township 2, S.R. 10 E., 160 acres) Had there been only one John Woodland, it would be unlikely that the designation “Sr.” would have been necessary.

On 9 December 1819, William Woodland deeded one hundred acres of land in Edwards County to John Woodland for the sum of $200.00. It was noted that both were residents of Edwards County at that time. Witnesses were John Winters and Noah Stapleford. It is possible that this is a portion of the land that John, Sr. purchased in 1817. Mrs. Cruser is of the opinion that John, Sr. probably died at about the time of the 1819 transaction and was buried in an unmarked grave. The Woodlands resided in the community of Wanborough, which as previously stated is very near Albion.

In the book Yester years of Edwards County, Illinois (Vol. 1, page 106, by Dukes), a visit to the Woodlands by one Mr. Birkbeck who arrived in Edwards County in the fall or early winter of 1817 (page 108). He stated that

"Mr. Woodland “had arrived just four months before and had already added a second room and a dog trot to his cabin.”

The Indiana Magazine of History (Vol. 45, page 182) states that John and William Woodland joined the Wanborough Joint Stock Society 26 Jul 1825, and that Noah Stapleford joined 15 August 1825. In the words of one Mr. Hall,

“At a meeting held at my house July 24, 1825, six of us constituted ourselves into a society to be styled the Wanborough Joint Stock Society. In a later meeting August 20 it was agreed that my self, A. Emerson & William Woodland should be appointed to value the stock of the members.”

It was about this same time that Joseph Smith brought forth the Book of Mormon and founded the Church of Jesus Christ. Of this D.P. Woodland wrote:

“One day while at Albion in company with Jefferson Hunt, John Woodland attended a meeting where he heard a young man preaching. This young man told of the heavenly visitations of a messenger and that Joseph Smith had obtained some marvelous records. It was a very strange story. After leaving the meeting and biding good night to Jefferson Hunt, John was impressed to pray. The evil one tried to overcome him, but he cast it off. John became thoroughly satisfied that the gospel was true. Through this testimony he said all his family and Jefferson Hunt were baptized.”

John Woodland was baptized, in 1835, by Elder Abraham Hancock. The History of Box Elder county states that it was in January, but other records state that he was baptized 20 June 1835. Willard Ward records give the following information:

Celia Woodland, daughter of Noah and Polly Steepelford, born May 7, 1801 Baron County, Ky. Baptized by Jefferson Hunt, Re-baptized by Geo. W. Ward. Died 7 January 1885. If this record is correct she was first baptized by Jefferson Hunt. An Archive record states that she was baptized in June of 1835.

According to Daniel P. Woodland:

“After joining the Church, Jefferson Hunt became dissatisfied and wanted to sell his farm and go with the Mormons to Missouri. John bought his farm. That night after he had made the purchase an Angel appeared to him and showed him his future home and told him to go search it out. Next morning Jefferson Hunt came to John Woodland’s home. Brother Woodland told him that if he would wait a few days he would accompany him to Missouri. He told Brother Hunt that in a dream an Angel had shown him his home, and that he would know the place by a tree there in a grove that was about twenty feet higher than the other trees in the grove. He was told to go to that tree, place his back against it and walk 25 steps west; he would find a spring with white sand bubbling up in it and he would know that this was where his home would be.

“In a few days they saddled their horses, taking blankets and axes, and traveled into Missouri. After looking for a few days Brother Hunt found a place that suited him, so they both stayed there and built a house to comply with the law. Jefferson Hunt then asked where John planned to go to find him home and was told by John that he was impressed to go north. They went north across the prairie about two miles and a group of trees with a tall tree in it. John explained, ‘Oh, this is the tree I saw in my dream!’ They rode to the grove. Brother Hunt held the horses while Brother Woodland went to the tree, placed his back against it, and stepped 25 steps west where he found the spring just as he had seen in the dream. He then called to Brother Hunt to come have a drink. Brother Hunt laughed because he did not think there was any water around there, but they both had a drink from the beautiful spring. Brother Woodland sold his farm and moved to the new home the Lord had shown him. “In the move to the new home from Illinois, it will be observed that John crossed the state of Illinois and followed the Mississippi River until he reached the Grand River, then he followed this river to where the county seat, Gallatin, is now located in Davis County. There he crossed the river and went six miles to the north where he settled at a place called Spring Hill. This was, no doubt, the spring of 1836 or 1837, for in June of 1838, the Prophet organized the stake of Adam-Ondi-Ahman.

“After living on and improving his place for about a year, in May the Prophet Joseph Smith came to visit him. After looking over the farm he said, “Oh, Brother John, what a beautiful place you have here. What would you take for it for a stake of Zion?’ John said, ‘If it is for the Lord, take it, take it, and give me one as good.’ Brother Joseph stood a minute dropped his chin to his bosom, turned pale, and after standing in this manner for a matter of minutes, he raised his head and said, ‘Brother John I will not take your place for the Lord showed it to you and you had faith to seek it out."

Then he placed his hand on Brother Woodland’s head and sealed the place unto him and his posterity for life and all eternity. He told him never to sell the place. Afterward, John was offered a great deal of money for it, but he would not sell. He forbade his posterity to ever sell it. He lived on the property until they were driven away by the mob, who burned their house at a time when Grandmother Steeple ford was ill with chills and fever and her daughter, Celia Steepleford Woodland, was heavy with child, and two of the children, Elizabeth and Noah, were sick with the measles. Their team and horses were not destroyed as they had been hidden in the timber.

The family made their way to Adam-Ondi-Ahman. While there, because of exposure, Grandmother Steepleford died in November 1838. The mob was so bad they could not go for timber for a coffin, and they were forced to bury her in a clothes box, which was not long enough. Her feet stuck out six inches, a scene, which was a trial they never forgot. It was winter, and they had no shelter except a wagon and some quilts spread over some bushes.

October 27, 1838, Solomon Amon Woodland was born at Adam-Ondi-Ahman. The children, Elizabeth and Noah, who had the measles, died and were buried on January 4, 1838.

“While at Adam-Ondi-Ahman the mob was going to take John’s wagon because they said it was the only one strong enough to haul their big cannon. John said he would, with an ax, bust the head of the first one that came to take the wagon. General Clark, the leader of the military, stepped up and forbade them to touch the wagon. General Clark then said, ‘Father Woodland, I will give you a pass.’ He ordered his clerk to write it but John would not accept it unless it was in General Clark’s own handwriting. He was afraid the mob would not accept it as authentic. So General Clark himself wrote a pass for the Woodlands to move out of Missouri. The Woodlands then left for the west.

“One day while camping for noon in some trees, John and the children were in front of the wagon, in which the mother lay sick. He heard a noise, looked up, and saw a train of chariots moving across the sky. They were much as the trains we have today and were loaded with people, dressed in white. They settled down over Far West. John explained, ‘Oh, Far West is saved.’ The mob would not let them go to Far West so they went down into the bottoms, a short distance from Far West and camped there. While at the bottoms, Joseph Smith sent word to James Woodland, son of John, to leave the state because the mob was after him. When James received the message, he left in company of his cousin, named Underwood. As he started to leave, John called to his wife, Celia, and said, ‘Mother, come here and take a look at your boy for this is the last time you will see him alive.’ They never heard of him again. All they found were several new graves. (L.D.S. Biographical Encyclopedia, vol. 2, p. 742 Ref 920-0792 J4531 gives ‘James Woodland one of the martyrs of the church was born 10 February 1822 in Edwards Co., Illinois, son of John Woodland and Celia Steepleford, baptized Aug 1838 by Elija H. Grover in Davies County, Mo. Left his friends and family in Caldwell County, Mo. Jan 15, 1839 for Illinois to get a team and move his family out of the state of Missouri. As nothing was heard of him after his departure it is supposed he was murdered by the mob on the way.’)”

In the 1840 Census of Illinois John Woodland is enumerated at Quincy, Adams county, Illinois and William Woodland is enumerated in Hancock county. John had come to Adams County from Missouri. He lived there for four years. From there he went to Hancock County and then to Nauvoo in Hancock County.

Lucinda was born in January 1841 at Columbus, Adams County, Illinois. Martha Jane was born at Nauvoo, 4 March 1843 and Daniel Brown was born 30 Jul 1847 at Council Bluffs, Iowa.

Daniel P. Woodland and his wife drove the same route that John had followed. They went to Gallatin and then to the schoolhouse at Adam-Ondi-Ahuam, where they left the main highway and would around several fields and soon came to an old deserted house on the top of the hill. He gave the following description:

“There were two trees standing about 1000 feet north and by the trees was an old alter which they were told was the old alter spoken of by the Prophet. From this elevation they could see to the east and to the west, to the north and to the south. The river comes from the north and makes an abrupt turn to the east for about four or five miles and then turns south again. It is on this north slope that the people settled, there were the homes of the saints, including that of Lyman White, where the Prophet came to organize a stake of Adam-Ondi-Ahman on June 12, 1838. Somewhere under their eyes was the place spoken of in the Doctrine and Covenants. Here Solomon Woodland was born on October 22, 1838. At Gallatin only six miles away on the 16th of January 1838 Nancy Woodland married James Whitaker and there in the same year in October, Malinda Wells was born. Here tragedy was also suffered beginning with an election held on august 6 in that year when all the persecutions of the saints were again commenced. With a fury that defies description, it was carried on that fall and winter. It was here that the tragic death of Grandmother Steepleford took place and here Noah and Elizabeth were buried. Their deaths were caused by being cast out by the mob, from their home, in the dead of winter while they had measles. Here, however, a great council was held as recounted by Daniel, the Prophet, and another is to be held here when Adam is to come and bless his people. And, here some day John Woodland and his posterity will gather. The scene then will be greatly changed, and the land will be made glorious and beautiful.

“With these thoughts in their minds, they made their way back to the town of Jemmerson. As they passed the land where the old cemetery was, where the Mormons were buried with no markers to identify them, it was with deep emotions that they looked upon the place where three of their kin lay, martyrs filling graves.

“The hardships of the winter of 1838 and 1839 will never all be told. The prophet records of this time, ‘The sight was one that could not be erased from my mind, for on October 18, the mob made an attack on the settlers, burning their houses and driving them out in the cold rain which continued to fall for several days, and one thing that increased their discomfort and suffering was that several sisters in delicate health were forced to face the storm and bear their sorrows…’

“After the surrender of Far West, April 1838, they continued their journey over the same road they had so hopefully traveled just two years before on their way to Zion. Now they had heavy hearts as they were leaving it, containing three graves of their loved ones. But, through it all they had an abiding faith. Not long after this, they found in Columbus, Adams County, Illinois."

“John’s brother must have been living at Far West, for in Church History of February 1839 there is an account of those who pledged to give their property and strength to help the poor leave the city and the state before the date of extermination; his name is on that list. The family, no doubt, lived in Adams County for about four years, and then moved to Hancock County, as Martha Jane was born at Nauvoo, March 4, 1844. The family was still there when the Prophet was murdered, for the records show their temple work was done at Nauvoo after the death of the Prophet."

“William Woodland, son of John, spoke of those days after the martyrdom. He was present when the claims of Sidney Rigdon were made, and when the mantle of Joseph Smith fell on Brigham Young.” In June of 1843 at a conference held at Lima, Illinois a branch was re-organized under the direction of Heber C. Kimball. William Woodland was named to the high council at that conference. The Woodland family left Nauvoo with the Saints and moved to Council Bluffs. In 1848 John and Polly Woodland Wakley went to Salt Lake City in the Brigham Young Company. When they arrived, they built two houses, one for John Woodland who was 75 years old by that time.

John and Celia Woodland and family went to Utah with the Joseph Young Company. Their outfitting station was Kanesville, Iowa.

They departed 15 June 1850 with Gordon Snow as Captain of fifty. There were 42 wagons in the train. They arrived in Salt Lake City 1 October 1850. Our Pioneer Heritage lists the Woodlands who came to Utah in 1850 as follows:

  • John Woodland, age 78, born 27 March 1772, Virginia, Young Company;
  • Celia S. Woodland, age 49, born 7 May 1801; Kentucky, Young Company;
  • Polly, James Elizabeth, John, Jr., Noah, William Celia, Henry H., Lucinda and Martha J. Woodland, no company or other information listed.
  • Nancy Woodland, age 30, born 13 Dec. 1820, Ill., Markham Company;
  • Solomon, age 12, born 27 Oct 1838, Markham Company;
  • Thomas S., age 15, born 28 Oct 1838, Markham Company;
  • Laura P., age 8, 16 Mar 1842, Wales, Markham company,
  • Daniel B., age 3, born 30 Jul 1847, Iowa, Markham Company.

There are a number of obvious errors in the above listing, but it does shed valuable light on the subject. The Journal History of the Church (Supplement, 31 Dec 1850, page 14) lists the following:

Captain Joseph Young’s Company

Whittaker, Nancy Woodland, Wife of Capt. James “ Nancy M., dau “ James, son “ Leander J., son “ Elizabeth C., dau. Woodland, John “Gardner Snow’s Company) “ Cecelia Steepleford, wife

When they arrived in Salt Lake City, they were enumerated in the 1850 Census (page 120) which was actually enumerated in 1851 as follows:

John Woodland 75 Va. Sicily “ 50 Ky. John “ 21 Ill. William “ 19 “ Cilia “ 17 “ Henry “ 14 “ Solomon “ 12 Mo. Lucinda “ 10 Ill. Martha “ 7 “ Daniel “ 3 Iowa

According to a record dated 29 May 1852, John Woodland was a High Priest in the Melchezedek Priesthood. In the spring of 1853, they moved to Willard, Box Elder County, Utah. According to the History of Box Elder county, “when they moved to Williard, their family consisted of three married children, Polly Wakley, Nancy W. Whittaker and Thomas S. Woodland, also John, William, Celia, Henry, Solomon, Lucinda, Martha and Daniel”. When they first arrived, they lived in their daughter Nancy’s home, but later, they resided with William and his wife Laura for several years. John and Celia were endowed and sealed at the Endowment House in Salt Lake City 13 June 1856. They appeared in the 1860 census of Willard. It was the last census that John would appear in.

Jno Woodland 84 Farmer 400 150 Virginia Celia “ 60 Kentucky Henry “ 24 Illinois Solomon A.“ 21 Missouri Lucinda “ 20 Illinois Daniel B. “ 13 Iowa

As John grew into his nineties he often spoke of the blessing given to him by Joseph Smith when they discussed his giving up the farm in 1838. Daniel P. Woodland and others have provided the following sketch concerning that circumstance:

“The Prophet had told John that he could live upon the earth until the Savior came if he so desired.

“Brother Woodland said that the Savior would come soon, as he was getting near the hundred mark. Laura would reply, ‘Now come on, grandpa, when you get old, you will want to go’. But he would always say, ‘No, I will live ‘till the Savior comes’. One afternoon in his 95th year, he laid down for a rest. When he failed to wake at the usual time, Laura went into the bedroom to awaken him and found that he was not breathing. Laura called in some relatives and he was pronounced dead. The two sons, William and Henry, were in Idaho. A nephew was sent with the news. When the boy arrived in Idaho. William was not convinced their father was really dead, as he knew of the promise Joseph Smith had made him and he knew of his father’s faith. He said, ‘We will find him eating his breakfast as usual when we arrive.’ Sure enough, that is where they found him. Their father was quite annoyed that they had been sent for. He was always a practical man and did not like them to have to leave their work. However, he had a wonderful message to tell them.

“He said his spirit had left his body and gone to a beautiful place where he met a messenger with authority. He asked the keeper if he was worthy to enter; a record was opened and he was told to go in; a crown was placed upon his head. He was given full freedom to move about without restraint. He beheld his heavenly home and saw many who had lived and died for Christ’s sake. He also saw that his work was being neglected, and he expressed the desire to begin it at once, but the messenger informed him that he must return and be released. Brother Woodland had a testimony that the gospel of Jesus Christ was the Lord’s own church established by Joseph Smith on the earth. He admonished all his children to remain true to it. He then continued, ‘I am ready to go as soon as the Lord wants me, the sooner, the better.’ During the time following, and before his death, he would sometimes start to tell of the things he had seen while in the heavenly place but would stop and say, ‘No, I must not tell you, or you will be unhappy with your lot here, and may shorten your days here, and lose the prize.’ He lived about four months after this experience. One night his spirit slipped away to that eternal home, where he is building a place for his numerous posterity. It was November 18, 1868 when he was released to go home.” The Journal History of the Church records the following: Father John Woodland, aged 95 years, died in Willard City. He had joined the Church 35 years previously in Illinois. The Deseret Evening News of 9 November 1869 (page 3, col. 1) carried the following:

DECEASED-A telegram per Deseret line received from Willard City this morning announces the death last night at that place of father John Woodland, aged 95 years; He joined the church in Illinois 35 years ago. His funeral takes place tomorrow.

“Celia Stepleford, his wife, lived more than 18 years after his death. In the 1870 and 1880 census Celia is living with her son Daniel’s family in Willard. She was a woman of good character and had a pleasing personality. The Steepleford’s came to America from England in the early part of American history and had a fine background of leadership in the state of Maryland where they settled. After the death of her husband, she lived with her son, Daniel Brown Woodland, who married Sophronia Davis. They took over the homestead and she lived with them the rest of her days. As she grew older, she lived over the days in Missouri and at times fancied that the mob was at her door. When the fear was lifted, her beautiful face would brighten and she would thank God for her deliverance.”

On January 7, 1885, she peacefully passed away to a reward that surely waits for the faithful. John and Celia lay side by side in the old cemetery in Willard, Utah. Their lives were one continuous round of honest endeavor; their testimonies ever fresh and positive; and their dying admonition a prayer for their posterity.

The above history was compiled by Mary Woodland Fox, and Phillip G. Wheeler. Quoted material was written by Danile P. Woodland from information dictated by William West Woodland, son of John Woodland.


Mormon Pioneer Overland Travel, 1847–1868 William Snow/Joseph Young Company (1850) Age 74

Departure: 21 June 1850 Arrival: 1-4 October 1850

Company Information: 42 wagons were in the company when it began its journey from the outfitting post at Kanesville, Iowa (present day Council Bluffs). This company was organized near the Missouri River.

Find a Grave

Birth: Mar. 22, 1772

Death: Nov. 8, 1868

Family links:

  • Celia Stapleford Woodland (1801 - 1885)*
  • Polly Ann Woodland Wakley (1819 - 1891)*
  • Nancy Woodland Whitaker (1820 - 1920)*
  • William West Woodland (1832 - 1906)*
  • Solomon Ammon Woodland (1838 - 1910)*

Burial: Willard Pioneer Cemetery Willard Box Elder County Utah, USA

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John Woodland, Jr.'s Timeline

March 22, 1772
Lynnhaven, Princess Ann County, Province of Virginia
Age 3
Princess Ann, VA
April 27, 1819
Age 47
Albion, Edwards, Illinois
December 13, 1820
Age 48
Albion, Edwards County, Illinois, United States
February 10, 1822
Age 49
Albion, Edwards, Illinois
December 24, 1823
Age 51
Albion, Edwards, Illinois
October 28, 1825
Age 53
Albion, Edwards, Illinois
February 8, 1827
Age 54
Albion, Edwards, Illinois
November 24, 1829
Age 57
Albion, Edwards, Illinois