Note to my husband's family: This month I am going back several generations on your line to James Lake. He is so interesting to me. James Lake was raised in Canada after leaving the U.S. with his parents after the Revolutionary War. He had lost his leg in an accident and was twice a widower with six children when he married Philomelia Smith who was a widow with five children. After they were married they had ten more children together. He joined the church, left Canada and joined the Saints and was with them during all of the hard times. James Lake served as a bishop and also was a captain of fifty on the journey across the plains. Their daughter Lydia Ann Lake married Price Williams Nelson.--Cindy



James Lake, Jr. was born in 1782 at White Creek, Albany County, New York to James Lake and Margaret Hagerman. (When the American Revolution came, James Lake Sr., like his father John Lake, and his brothers, gave their support to the British cause, was dispossessed, burned out and so lost all in the colonies and made his way to Canada West, at ErnestTown township, Lennox and Addington Counties, where he petitioned for and received land for him and his children for being Loyalists to the United Empire.) So James Jr. was raised in Canada.

James Lake Jr. first married Mary Lake (a cousin) about 1796 at ErnestTown, Upper Canada. They had four children: George (he died at age 11), Dennis, Cyrus, and Margaret Mary. Mary Lake died 11 April 1815 at ErnestTown, Upper Canada.

James Lake Jr.'s second wife was Elizabeth Stover. They were married 15 August 1815 at ErnestTown. Their children were Julia, Lawrence, and James III.

It was during this period that James Lake Jr. had the misfortune to get cut in the leg by an axe, and gangrene set in and the leg had to be amputated, without benefit of anesthetic. They just filled him with whiskey and cut the leg off. The family was desperately poor. Then when Elizabeth died in 1822 she left her husband not only crippled, desperately poor, but also with a family of six living children. James gave two of his children (Julia and James) to his sister Margaret Madson to raise, She and her husband later adopted them.

James, with his family, were living at this time at Camden, Upper Canada, on land granted him from the Crown Lands. There in 1825 Brigham Young helped him build them a log house. It was probably also through Brigham Young that he met Philomelia Smith, a widow, who had a family of five children. James Jr. and Philomelia were married 3 September 1823. Philomelia was born 13 April 1794 at Brookfield, Vermont, the daughter of Parker Smith and Sarah Loomis. Philomelia had been early left an orphan. She had been reared and trained by her grandmother, Sarah Huntington Loomis. At eighteen years she had married her first cousin Ira Smith, and was widowed, with her five children: Lyman, James Harvey, Elizabeth Boardman, Josiah William, and Esther. Not all of these children embraced the Mormon religion. We have no further record of her children.

Philomelia Smith had these five children, while James Lake Jr., had six still living, when they were married. This merging two families gave them eleven children. After their marriage they had ten more children: Sabra Lake, William Bailey Lake, Barnabas Lake, Clarrissa Lake, Jane Lake, Lydia Ann Lake, Maroni Lake, Samantha Lake, George Lake, Sarah Amanda Lake.

When they were married James Lake and Philomelia Smith Lake were living at Camden, Ontario to the north of ErnestTown. there they were visited by Latter-day Saint Elders, Brigham, Hiram, and Phineas Young in 1832. They accepted the teaching of the Mormon Church, were baptized by Elder Eleazer Miller. From this place a company of Saints were led by Brigham Young in 1833, and with this company James Lake Jr. and his family came to Kirtland, Ohio.

James Lake Jr. and his sons assisted in gathering material for and in building the first LDS Temple at Kirtland, Ohio. Later when the Saints were forced to leave Kirtland, he with his family went to Kane Co., Ill. Here at Geneva, in Kane Co., Ill,. the two youngest children were born. Here they rented land and farmed to obtain money with which to continue with the Saints. Later they came to Nauvoo, Illinois where again they helped to build a Temple and to build and beautify the city. But when the Mormons were again forced to flee with many others they crossed the Mississippi River on the ice in winter and so made their way to Council Bluffs, Iowa.

Here James Lake Jr. was appointed as a bishop of a ward to look after the wants of the widows and fatherless. It was here that he made what he called an Armstrong Mill. He split a log in two, gouged out a hole in each part, then bound the two halves together, bored a hole into the excavation he had made and pouring in corn with a pestle, pounded the corn into meal, so it could be cooked.

The boys would scurry about over the corn fields, so gathering nubbins and any ears that had been dropped or left in harvesting the corn. They spent a terrible winter there.

Not being prepared for the long journey across the plains in the spring of 1847 the family moved south into Holt County, Missouri where they rented land and farmed. There was plenty of help so they worked hard and prospered and so gathered crops as well as stock.

When in the spring of 1850 James Lake determined to take his family to Utah, they returned to Florence, Nebraska across the river from Council Bluffs where a large group was making ready for the journey across the plains. At this time they had forty cows and loose stock. Over a hundred sheep, six yoke of oxen, three brood mares and two good wagons, well- loaded with supplies.

Here at Florence the gathered families were placed in groups of fifty, each group having a leader. James Lake was appointed leader of fifty. Early in 1850 this caravan started for Utah. When they neared the Platte River [cholera?] broke out in the camp. One of James' daughters was attacked by the disease but was healed through faith and prompt attention. A daughter-in-law contracted the disease and died.

Elderly picture of
James Lake, Jr.

James Lake and family arrived at Salt Lake City October 7, 1850 after long months of grueling travel. Later at the suggestion of Brigham Young he moved on to Ogden Fort, "where there was little but sage brush and nude Indians." He located a farm and moved thereon. This was later called Harrisville. At the organization of the Weber Stake, James Lake was called to be a member of the Stake High Council, in February 1851. At the fall conference of 1855 he was set apart to the office of Patriarch and soon began to officiate in this high calling.

They later removed to Oxford, Idaho where James Lake and Philomelia Smith Lake spent the rest of their lives. She died March 20, 1873 and he died October 7, 1874 in his 85th year. Both are buried at Oxford, Idaho.

"James Lake and his wife were highly esteemed by the authorities of the Church, and the love and reverence of their posterity toward them was akin to adoration."


Lake Family Website - this site includes the address to order a great book on James Lake and his family.



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