Lavina Wollerton Harper

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Lavina Wollerton Harper (Dilworth)

Birthplace: Uwchlan, Chester, Pennsylvania, United States
Death: Died in Rexburg, Madison, Idaho, United States
Place of Burial: Holladay, Salt Lake, Utah, United States
Immediate Family:

Daughter of Caleb Dilworth and Eliza Dilworth
Wife of Charles Alfred Harper
Mother of Harvey John Harper; Ellen Harper; Charles Alfred Harper, II; Livina Walker and Park Harper
Sister of Eliza Dilworth; Phebe Ann Dilworth; Rebecca Wollerton Riter; Ann Wollerton Bringhurst; Harriet Wollerton Brinton and 7 others

Managed by: Smith Harper Hutchings
Last Updated:

About Lavina Wollerton Harper

Mormon Pioneer Overland Travel 1847–1868 Heber C. Kimball Company (1848) Age at departure: 31

Lavina Wollerton Dilworth was born Nov. 5, 1818 at Chester County, Penn., the daughter of Caleb Dilworth (1784 - 1852) and Eliza Wollerton (1793 - 1876). A Quaker by birth, Lavina was an early member of the Mormon Church, which she joined after marrying Charles Alfred Harper in 1839 at Montgomery County, Penn.

Twin girls, Susan & Ann were born to the couple in 1841 but both died the same day. Soon afterward, Charles & Lavina migrated west with the Mormons to Nauvoo, Ill. Her son Harvey John (1842) and daughter Ellen (1846) were both born at Nauvoo. Ellen died two years later at Florence, Neb., just as the family was preparing for another migration.

In 1848 Lavina crossed the plains by wagon and arrived in the Great Salt Lake valley in the spring of that year. Along the way, she gave birth to a son, Charles Alfred Harper, Jr. at Fort Laramie, Wyo.

In Utah, she and her husband took up residence at the mouth of Big Cottonwood canyon in what would become the town of Holladay, where they built a substantial farming operation. A son William Bringhurst Harper was born on the farm in 1851.

The pioneering spirit was strong in those days but Lavina's first years in Utah were challenging at best. Her husband left in 1852 to serve a mission to England, leaving Lavina behind to care for the three boys. It was during this time that two-year-old William was bitten by a rattlesnake and died in 1853. After Charles returned from England, he took a plural wife, Harriet Taylor, and was promptly sent with her to homestead at Carson City, Nevada. Again, Lavina remained in Salt Lake and again she buried a child alone. Her son Alfred died in 1856 at three months of age. It was also during this absence that federal troops arrived in Utah, sent their by President James Buchanan to investigate Mormon activity. Fearing the wrath of the federal government, the settlers spent the Spring of 1857 preparing to abandon the Salt Lake valley, while the nearby Army readied for battle. Lavina and the children endured alone.

Later that year, Charles returned to Holladay and for a brief time, both Lavina's family and Harriet's family shared a household. In 1858 (about the time federal troops were departing) Lavina moved to Park City where her older boys were instrumental in building a successful cattle ranch on land that Charles had procured there. Her sons Edwin (1858) and Park (1861) were both born at the Park City ranch. In 1862 Harriet's family moved to Park City and Lavina returned to Holladay where she delivered twins, Chester and Lavina, in 1864.

The years after her return to Holladay were probably her most comfortable. The farm there was profitable and her family was all nearby, though Charles split his time between Holladay and Park City.

About 1880 her oldest son Harvey moved to Arizona to help establish the Mormon settlement of Lehi, near current-day Mesa. He built a comfortable home there where Lavina eventually moved along with her sons Edwin, Park, and Chester, and her stepson George. Edwin died quiet suddenly at Mesa in 1881 at just 23 years of age. A few years later Lavina returned to Holladay where she and Charles enjoyed about 15 years of retirement together until his death in 1900. She spent her final years at Rexburg, Idaho in the home of her daughter Lavina (Bine). Harriet stayed in Holladay on the farm.

The challenges that polygamy introduced into Lavina's life were doubtlessly difficult to bear, and it is well documented that she and Harriet had little in common and spent practically no time together. Still, insight to Lavina's character is revealed by the wonderful relationship she had with her six stepchildren, all of whom loved her deeply and referenced her kindness all their lives. Lavina blessed the entire Harper family with a sense of grace, benevolence, and a strength of character that must not have come easily to a woman who suffered countless hardships and buried six of her eleven children.

Her own death occurred July 9, 1903 at her daughter's Rexburg home. She was brought back to Utah for burial at the side of her husband in the Holladay Memorial Park. Harriet, who died in 1907, is buried there as well. Her sons Charles Jr. & Park, and daughter Lavina rest in the same cemetery, as do a number of her descendants.

Lavina Wollerton Dilworth Harper, Life Sketch · Posted online 22 April 2013 Author Unknown

Lavina was born 5 Nov 1818, the fifth daughter in a family of twelve daughters and one son born to Caleb and Eliza Wollerton Dilworth, of Chester County, PA. She married Charles Alfred Harper, 19 December 1839, PA. He was born 27 Jan 1817, Upper Providence Township, Montgomery County, PA to Quaker parents, Jesse and Eleanor Evans Harper. The first children of Charles and Lavina were twin daughters, born in Montgomery County, PA, 28 Jul 1841, who died same day.

About this time the young couple became converted to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, along with many others in Chester County, PA. Prior to his conversion, Charles did not like the Mormons and when his wife became one, he told her he would not walk down the street with a Mormon, so he walked down one side and she would walk down the other side. They did this for one year. One day he walked away from home and said he would be back soon. Lavina started her washing and it was not very long before she heard him coming home singing, seeming to be very happy. She looked up and saw that his clothes were wringing wet and she said to him, "So you were baptized today, I knew you would be without me asking you." He replied, "Yes, I did it today and I am the happiest man alive." After becoming a member of the Church, the Providence (Quaker) meeting recorded: "Charles Alfred Harper has left Society of Friends and joined the Mormon Society and is no longer a member amongst us."

When the Harpers arrived in Nauvoo, is not known. They were not listed in the Nauvoo census of February 1842, but their next two children were born there, John 1842 and Ellen 1846. They received their endowments in the Nauvoo Temple 31 December 1845.

The Harpers were among the thousands who established Winter Quarters on the west side of the Missouri River. Because of his trade as carriage maker and wheelwright, Charles was almost indispensable to the leaders of the Church in their preparations for the westward trek. It was doubtless because of this skill that he was included in the first pioneering migration, under Brigham Young, to the Salt Lake Valley . He left Salt Lake in Aug 1847 to return to Winter Quarters. His little daughter, Ellen, had died 27 Aug, at the age of 16 months.

Edwin B. Harper said, his grandfather, Charles Harper Sr. told him, "His grandmother was a good tailor and while he was gone, she made enough money to buy a wagon." With the arrival of spring, 1848, Charles, Lavina and their 5 year old son, Harvey John, set out to rejoin the Saints in Salt Lake Valley. Lavina was pregnant with her fifth child. She drove the heavily loaded covered wagon and a pair of oxen most of the distance across the hot dusty miles. As they neared Fort Laramie, Wyoming, it became apparent that she would never reach Utah before the baby was born. They stopped the wagon; Charles Alfred Jr. was born at 4:00 P.M., 23 July 1848.

After their arrival, they needed a home, a temporary shelter for the coming winter. They built a dugout (cave) on Spring Creek (about 47th South on the east side of the Holladay Blvd , a little Southeast of Phillips 66 Service Station) where it had washed its bed deep as it left the foothills at the foot of the mountains. The north bank was high above the stream. We do not know how long they lived there. The next known place was an adobe home built where Edgemoor Street now joins Cottonwood Lane . Charles and Lavina had the following children:

1. Susan, twin, born 28 July 1841, Montgomery County, PA, died 28 July 1841 2. Ann, twin, born 28 Jul 1841, Montgomery County, PA, died 28 July 1841 3. Harvey J. "John," born 10 November 1842, Nauvoo, IL, died 18 July 1923, married Louisa Park 4. Ellen, born 25 January 1846, Nauvoo, IL, died 27 August 1847, Winter Quarters 5. Charles Alfred Jr., born 23 July 1848, near Laramie, WY, died 9 May 1935, married Mary Boyes 6. William B., born 10 July 1851, Big Cottonwood, Holladay, UT, died 26 July 1853 7. Alfred, born 07 July 1856, Big Cottonwood, Holladay, UT, died 18 October 1856 8. Edwin, born 31 July 1858, Big Cottonwood, Holladay, UT, died 24 July 1881, lived Arizona , not married 9. Park, born 16 September 1860, Big Cottonwood, Holladay, UT, died 15 September 1936, not married 10. Chester, twin, born 15 April 1864, Big Cottonwood, Holladay, died 29 March 1940, married Amanda Ellen Herbst 11. Lavina, twin, born 15 April 1864, Big Cottonwood, Holladay UT, died 8 January 1946, married William Adelbert Walker

In 1852, Charles was called on a mission to England . Leaving Lavina with two little boys, Harvey John and Charles Alfred Jr. On 2 December 1855, Charles married his second wife, Harriet Taylor in the Endowment House, whom he had converted in England .

Only by thrift and industry were these pioneer families able to overcome the effects of cricket plagues and other hardships. They became skilled in making butter, cheese, bread, candles, soap, lye and starch; and in drying the wild fruits.

Lavina was a noble and true pioneer. She was loved by her family and all who knew her. In her old age she was given every care by a loving daughter, Lavina Walker. Lavina died 9 July 1903, at the home of her daughter in Rexburg, Idaho. A funeral was held the 13th of July in Holladay and she was buried in Holladay Memorial Park, Holladay, Utah.

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Lavina Wollerton Harper's Timeline

November 5, 1818
Uwchlan, Chester, Pennsylvania, United States
November 10, 1842
Age 24
Nauvoo, IL, USA
April 25, 1846
Age 27
Nauvoo, Hancock County, Illinois, United States
July 23, 1848
Age 29
Fort Laramie, WY, USA
September 16, 1861
Age 42
April 15, 1864
Age 45
Salt Lake City, UT, USA
July 9, 1903
Age 84
Rexburg, Madison, Idaho, United States
Age 84
Holladay, Salt Lake, Utah, United States