LYDIA ANN LAKE NELSON
THE LIFE OF LYDIA ANN LAKE, 1832-1924
For a story of my life I am compelled to rely largely on my memory; I have kept no records, still, I think that what follows is quite accurate, owing to the fact that from my childhood has been cast with the Latter-day Saints and in their early movements. I took part only as a child.
My father joined the Mormon Church in 1832 while living in Canada. He was among the first to accept the doctrine under the teaching of Brigham Young and was among the first fruits of this man's missionary labors.
I was born May 13, 1832, at Camden, Upper Canada and was six months old when my parents joined the Church, and our family remained there about one and one half years after that event and then moved to Kirtland, Ohio. My Father worked on the Temple, being employed as a brickmaker. Owing to persecutions, we were compelled to leave our homes at Kirtland and move westward. We intended going to Missouri but the uprising between our people and the Missourians caused us to stop in Illinois. My Father rented a large farm near Springfield and remained there until the Saints began to gather at Nauvoo. Wishing to get closer to the main body of the Saints, we rented another farm within fifteen miles of Carthage and were living there when Joseph Smith and Hyrum were killed, and well do I remember the evening.
That afternoon my father sat reading his Bible; he read aloud the passage, "The wicked flee when no man pursueth" and at that time a man rode up to the fence and called out, 'Joe Smith is killed.' We looked out and saw men, women and children coming with all their might, some in wagons, and some on horses and all were fleeing from the awful scene at Carthage.
My father gathered a few house goods into his wagons and we moved to Nauvoo leaving the beautiful crops for which he never received a cent.
We passed through the trials common to the Saints at Nauvoo and moved with them to Council Bluffs. Here my father built a log cabin and we occupied it about two years, my brother, Barney (Barnabus) Lake, went with the Mormon Battalion to fight Mexico.
Owing to the lack of teams to cross the plains with, we were compelled to go down into Missouri and work for them. My brother, sister, brother-in-law, and I went down in the fall, I got a position as dishwasher and bartender in a tavern.
About Christmas, while brewing coffee in a large bake oven over the coals in the fireplace my clothes blazed suddenly and I very narrowly escaped being burned to death. I attribute my almost miraculous recovery to the administration of Elders Phineas and Lorenzo Young, who chanced that night to stop at the tavern. As soon as I recovered we went north to the "Bluffa".
A few months after our return, Father, with all the family, moved into Missouri. He was fortunate in finding work and we were soon equipped with good ox team and wagon. The people there were kind to us.
In the summer of 1850 we went north again in time to join a company of saints moving to the "Valley". My father was chosen as captain of fifty. Our company was well-equipped with teams and wagons and were well-supplied with provisions and clothing. Father had one large wagon with three yoke of oxen and a smaller wagon with two. Our family then consisted of father, mother, my brothers, Bailey and George, and my sister, Samanthia, and myself. Along with our company were my three married sisters, Sabra Dixon, Clara Taylor, and my married brother, Barney who had just returned from the Mexican War. While on our way, Barney's wife died and was buried on the plains.
Price Williams Nelson
The most vivid event of the journey occurred at Green
River, Wyoming. In crossing the river the wagon box floated off the wagon
and began drifting downstream. In the box was a young woman named Snider
and a girl about one year old. All were excited for a few minutes. The only
man of the company who dared to swim the stream and effect a rescue was a
youth named Price W. Nelson, a young man, who, up to that time, I had paid
no particular attention to. He was of a quiet nature and I knew nothing of
him except that he drove this aunt's team. After this event we two became
better acquainted which resulted in our marriage, after arriving in the Salt
Lake Valley. We were married on the last day of the year of 1850 in the old
fort at Ogden. The ceremony was performed by Elder Lorin Farr. Of the many
things said at the time, the prophetic utterance of Father has proved most
true. He said, "Price is a good man, but will never be contented anywhere."
Our first child was born 3 October 1851, while living at my father's ranch five miles north of Ogden. We named him Edmond.
The next year about the eleventh of June we started by team to California and while enroute we fell in company with an apostate named Chapman, and five other men who were driving stock. The journey throughout was quite pleasant. We stopped in San Bernardino and liking the place decided to make it our home. My husband went into the sawmill business with Amasa Lyman and Charles Rich. The mill ran during the winter but closed in the summer on account of the lack of water. During this time for seven years we moved each fall from the valley to the mountains and returned to the valley in the spring, three children were born there. They were Samanthia, 28 October 1853, Price William, 29 August 1855, and Lydia Ann, 12 December 1856. Heeding the call of the First Presidency, we, with other California saints, came back to Utah.
We stopped at Payson and began to build up another home. Here my daughter Lornia was born 10 March 1859. About this time we heard that my brother, Bailey, had been killed by the Indians. Not being satisfied at Payson, we remained there only about 18 months and then went up to Franklin, Idaho. Again Brother Nelson took up mill work, laboring as sawer in the mill of Thatcher and Benson, then operating a sawmill at Logan, Utah.
The following summer I joined my husband at Logan, Utah. There Hyrum was born 19 January 1863 and James Mark, 12 August 1865. In that valley we lived comfortably for six years. We found there an ideal climate and very productive soil, and followed farming for a livelihood. There my son, Alvin, was born 7 January 1868 and Thomas George 14 December 1870. There in Nevada we lived comfortable for six years and had an abundance of such things as could be produced from the soil, but had difficulty in obtaining clothing. Conditions were favorable for building of comfortable homes, when trouble arose between the settlers and state authorities. Heavy taxes were imposed and the people were forced to withstand considerable abuse. President Brigham Young visited us and seeing the situation advised us to move away. We acted immediately on the advice and left our homes and fertile lands with luxuriant crops almost ready to harvest and went to Glendale in Southern Utah, arriving there with our large family with only what provisions we could carry on one wagon. Our livestock consisted of a team of oxen and two cows.
During the seven years we lived there, three children were born to us. They were Levi, 4 April 1872, Wilford Bailey, 26 April 1874, and our last child who lived only three weeks, Philomelia, 29 February 1876. Brother Nelson and the boys constructed a shingle mill which they operated about four years and did fairly well financially.
My son, Thomas, died while there and four of the older children were married. They were: Edmond to Mary Caroline Brinkerhoff, Samanthia to Warren M. Johnson, Price William Nelson to Louise Elder, and Lydia Ann Nelson to David Brinkerhoff.
During our residence on Long Valley, a general move of settlers to Arizona was in progress, and people were being called to assist in building the country south of us, and also to help in the Indian Mission work then being conducted in Northern Arizona.
Edmond Nelson was called to assist Warren Johnson at Lee's Ferry. We went on to the Moencopi and were among the first settlers of that place. During our one and a half years sojourn there we lived with the missionaries at the old fort. My daughter, Lorana, was married to Joseph Foutz. The morning we left Moencopi they started to St. George and we to Pine Creek. At Pine Creek we went into the ranching and stock business and soon had a good home.
We made a trip to St. George in company with our daughter, Jane, and son-in-law, John Allen, who were going to the Temple. The purpose was to seal to each other and have our children adopted. Not long after our return, Hyrum was married to Martha Sanders. The saints were making settlements in Mexico and my husband, desirous to assist in opening the new country, was induced to break up our home and move south, choosing Cave Valley as a destination. Brother Nelson and the --, Bailey and Lee, put in a small grist mill. They also made chairs.
After being in Mexico three years, my brother, George Lake and I went to the Logan Temple to be sealed to our parents. I spent the following winter with my sister, Elisa Smith, at Logan and returned the next summer to Mexico.
After remaining about five years in Cave Valley, we moved to Oaxaca in Sonora and made a home about five miles up the river from the town. While there Alvin Nelson married Tennie Johnson and Bailey Edith Nichels. We built another comfortable ranch home.
Brother Nelson's health began to fail in the fall of 1902. His ailments were dropsy and heart failure, which terminated in his death on 27 October 1902 of the same year. Two years after my husband's death a flood swept everything from the ranch and I went to live with Alvin. Since then I have spent a short time with each of my children at the following places: Lee at Tombstone, Arizona; Jane at Hubbard, Arizona; Bailey at Morales, Sonora, Mexico; and Lorana at Colonia Juarez, Mexico.
When the Mormons were driven from that country, I came out with the body and went to Hubbard, arriving August 5, 1912. Edmond came after me the following October. I am now at his home in Eager, Arizona.
I am proud to remark that of my thirteen children, eleven raised large families. My grandchildren number 112 at present and great grandchildren about 184 making a total posterity of about 296.
Lydia lived another twenty years after the death of her husband, living in Mexico then southern Arizona. She was able to live to see her great, great grandchild born thus making five generations.
Lydia Ann Lake Nelson died 14 January 1924 in Eager, Apache County, Arizona.
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