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Tuesday, July 14, 2009

July 15 - Julia Ann Chapman Lee

Submitted By: Rodney Orr Chapman

20 August 1825 - 10 July 1852

Julia Ann Chapman was born 20 August 1825, in Eugene, Vermilion County, Indiana to Isaac Benjamin Chapman and Solona Brown Chapman. She married Isaac Lee and had a daughter Mariette, born 1846, Elizabeth Ann, born November 20, 1848, Eliza Ann, born December 20, 1850. Isaac helped build the Nauvoo Temple. He was a member of the Nauvoo Martial Bank. He started west with his father's family in 1849, but his wife Julia Ann became ill on the trail, which delayed his coming. She died July 10, 1852 at Loops Fork, leaving him with three small daughters. He arrived in Utah in 1852 (the same year Isaac Moroni Chapman arrived in the valley with his three remaining sisters). When Isaac Lee was forced, because of his wife's illness, to pull his wagon out of Brother Benson's train, he camped for a few days to allow her to recover. In spite of the fact that she had rest and fresh meat, she still remained weak. Her cough was sometimes violent. Concluding that they could not make the trip west this summer, they turned back and by easy stages made their way to Loup's Fork. With good milk and the tender care of the sisters who were living there, Julia made a partial recovery. Feeling that his wife, during the winter, might have a better chance to recover back in Kanesville, Isaac made a bed for her in the wagon box, then slowly and carefully he returned to Missouri.
Immediately, Isaac set about finding a house. Although they were dismantling the houses at Winter Quarters, Isaac got a place there for temporary shelter. Being an experienced sawmill man, he found employment immediately. Leaving Julia in the hands of a few women
still living in Winter Quarters, he began looking for a more personal place to live. He was unwilling to take her into Kanesville itself, for it was often ravaged with malaria and cholera. Finally he found a farm on the east bench above the river which had been abandoned by one of the Saints leaving for the West. He moved onto this farm and hauled one of the log houses from Winter Quarters and set it up in a protected ravine filled with trees and shrubs. Here Julia felt more at home.
Realizing that Julia was pregnant again, they both did everything they could to strengthen her for the ordeal. The baby came on a chilly night on the 19th of November 1850. For a time it was touch and go whether Julia would make it. The baby was farmed out to a big healthy Scandinavian woman who nursed it along with her own child. As the spring came, Julia ate dandelion greens, drank milk, and lay stripped to the skin in a protected place until her body was tanned like leather. During this summer, Isaac raised a crop on the land he occupied. Although she was not well, Julia lived comfortably through the winter of 1851, doing as little as possible, allowing her body to heal.
With the coming of spring, the brethren made a concerted drive to get all the Saints out of Kanesville. Other than for Julia's health, Isaac was well equipped to travel. In the heat of the late spring, Julia gained some weight and felt pretty well. Deciding that they could safely make the trip, Isaac loaded the wagon, making a special bed for his wife. At first she did very well, cheerful that at last they could go west and be with their relatives. But as the trip continued, the strain began to tell. Some mornings she was unable to get up. When they crossed Loup's Fork they again pulled out of the line, getting one of the Elders who lived at the Fork, Isaac and he administered to her. She seemed to relax and feel better, but during the night she lapsed into her last long sleep.
After they buried her, Isaac was so grief stricken that he sat for days, staring in front of him, felled by his tragedy. One evening James Walsh came to his fire and said, "I have seen many tragedies along the trail, and I respect you for your grief, but life must go on. Now you owe your little ones an even greater responsibility than before. Now you must be both father and mother to them. Crying tears of anguish over your lost wife is right and proper, but you must never allow your grief to immobilize you. What would Julia want you to do? You have begun a great quest, which, unfortunately, she was too weak to finish. Now you must finish it for her."
Out in the night Isaac walked for hours, asking why? Why? But with the coming of midnight, a peace enveloped him like a cloud. His beliefs taught him that although her body was dead, she, herself was still alive and would wait for him. He must not fail her. The next morning, 10 July 1852, he gathered a bunch of wild flowers and placed them at the base of the rude plank marker. They yoked up the oxen and started west.

I found this story in the website of the Sons of Utah Pioneers, and this is the direct link to this story:

July 14 – Louisa Miller Belleston

I added this story as I think it is important for us to understand alittle bit about the Perpetual Emigration fund. The Perpetual Emigration Fund was organized by Brigham Young to assure that all worthy Saints, regardless of economic circumstances, could come to Zion. Members paid into the fund what they could afford, drew what was needed and endeavored to repay any differenceas soon as possible after arrival.

James Thomas paid into this Fund sufficient to provide an outfit for the journey across the Plains. Then, after making a visit to London to bid farewell to his family there, the Bellistons packed their provisions and took the train for Liverpool, the most common point of departure for Mormon Emigrants to the United States. They left three children buried in England and took with them four living children: William Robert, age nine; Thomas, just turned seven; James Thomas Jr. just five and Louisa Maria, not yet six months old. They sailed on 15 February 1853 aboard the sailing vessel Elvira Owen, in a company of 343 presided over by Joseph W. Young.Six weeks later they arrived in New Orleans.

It is a credit to the masterful organizing efforts of presiding Church authorities of that time that so few lost their lives in the crossing. Many immigrant vessels were lost at sea, but of 333 transatlantic crossings of Mormon emigrants, not one vessel was lost. Most in that time had never traveled far from their homes and were ill prepared for such a journey. They suffered great hardship, sickness and disease. But their faith sustained them.

For many, the sea voyage was more frightening and dangerous than crossing the Plains in a covered wagon. Everyone was seasick, especially in storms. In the cramped, dark, suffocating cabins, the odors and misery were extreme. Food was never ample and never appetizing.Rations consisted of beef, pork, peas, beans, potatoes, barley, rice, prunes, coffee, tea, rye bread,herring and oil for the lamps. Space for so many humans was inadequate. Beds were uncomfortable. Germs of all kinds thrived in the close quarters. It was a test for the hardiest.But it was often fatal for the infirm and for children, who were buried at sea encased in a canvasshroud, after a simple service.

The Saints on the Elvira Owen landed at New Orleans on 31 March 1853 and departed as soon as possible up the Mississippi River. This journey too was difficult. River paddle wheelers made about six miles per hour against the river current. Fire, collision and exploding boilers were dangerous and threatening. In the forty years between 1810 and 1850, more than 4,000 people lost their lives in steamboat disasters. But the Bellistons apparently made it to Keokuk without serious incident. They were among a sizable group who disembarked at Keokuk, Iowa,across the river from Nauvoo. Here they acquired the ox team, covered wagon and other supplies arranged through the Perpetual Emigration Fund.

For this one year the staging point for LDS immigrants was in this new city, where the pioneers found work building city streets and other improvements while awaiting assignment to acompany for the journey across the Great Plains. Their company was to follow the trail of the Nauvoo refugees across Iowa to Council Bluffs, and from there to the Valley.

Journey to Zion:
The company with the Bellistons reached the Salt Lake Valley on 6 October 1853, just under eight months from their departure from England. No modern city welcomed them. The Pioneers had arrived only six years before and the desert was still waiting to blossom. They had been a long time without the comforts of a home. They were greeted by friends from England,the William Reeves family, and moved in with them. When the Reeves moved, they continued to occupy the home which belonged to Orin Woodbury until they were able to build their own small adobe home at 268 West 6th South in Salt Lake City. James Thomas had worked in the adobe yard and sold adobes and had also made enough for his own home. He traded work for other supplies and finally traded his best suit of clothes for enough lumber to finish the house.

Sadness came to the family while they lived in the Woodbury house. William Robert died soon after his tenth birthday, just three months after their arrival in the Valley. Death struck again shortly after they moved into their own home, taking their second daughter, little two year old Louisa Maria, who had been named for her mother, Louisa. This left only two of their seven children living, until the birth in 1855 of Emily. Later, in a dugout in Payson, where the family had fled from Johnston’s Army, Joseph Ephraim was born. Sarah, their last child, was born in Nephi in 1864. Although it was not unusual in their time to lose children to untimely deaths,these deaths brought with them great sadness.

It is likely the family would have continued to live on their property in Salt Lake City,had it not been for Johnston's Army. When this large militia approached the Valley in 1857 to put down a phantom "rebellion" of the Mormons, Brigham Young dug in his heels and sent his own militia out into Echo Canyon to prevent their entry. James Thomas joined this force of 1200 men, which successfully stalled Johnson's advance. But in May of 1848, when Johnston's Army entered the Valley, the Bellistons and many others left their homes and moved away from the city. Later James sold that house, which had cost about $400, for a mere $100.

They moved to Payson, piled all their worldly belongings on the ground under the wagon cover, secured a small lot and proceeded to dig a hole in the hillside, surround it with homemade adobes and cover it with a sod roof. In this makeshift home with a dirt floor, Joseph Ephraim was born a few weeks later. One year later, James Thomas sold the dugout for a pig valued at$20 (which was promptly butchered for meat), paid Edward Jones $80 for a lot at 225 South First East in Nephi and built another home, where he and Louisa lived until their deaths.

If you would like to read more aout Louisa and her family, as this represents just snippits taken from it, you can read more by going to Many more stories can be found on the site that I found this story which is "The Sons of Utah Pioneers" found at

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