Truman Leonard –
Born in Middlesex, New York, on September 17, 1820.
The family moved to Chatham County, Ohio, when he was 15 yrs old.
8 years later, in 1843, he became interested in the Teachings of the Mormon missionaries and joined the church at age 23. That year he accepted a call to serve as a missionary in Ohio and New York. Following the martyrdom of Joseph Smith in 1844, he and his brother John traveled to Nauvoo.
For the next two years, he worked on the Nauvoo temple. His hard work gained the attention of Brigham Young, who promised him that when the Temple was ready, he would be the first to be married there.
On January 1, 1846, as promised, Truman and Orentia were the first couples to be married in that temple. Heber C Kimball of the Quorum of the Twelve performed the marriage.
Though many of the families left the city shortly thereafter, Truman and Orentia remained and worked on the completion of the temple. During that time, he fell from the 2nd floor while assisting with the masonry. The initial assumption was that he was dead, but it was learned that he only broke his leg and ankle. He requested a blessing from the Elders, and in two days’ time, he returned to work mostly healed. Later helped to install the Angel Moroni atop the spire.
When the Hancock county mobs attacked the remaining church members, he joined in with the local militia to defend the area. They were under fire for 5 days, and when it ended, he helped remove the bodies of his friend William Anderson and his fifteen-year-old son and removed the rifle balls from their bodies to prepare them for burial.
The family was finally forced to flee in September of that year. They fled to Winter Quarters, Nebraska, and then to Council Bluffs, Iowa. They remained there for nearly four years. During that time, their first child, Ezra, died the same day he was born. Their 2nd son, Truman Milton, died 2 days before they left for the Salt Lake Valley. He was 8 months old. The head of the wagon train, Joseph Young, placed Truman in charge of one of the sections of wagons. They arrived in the Salt Lake Valley in October of 1850.
They were sent to settle in Farmington, Utah, where Truman built a one-room cabin with blankets for windows and a door. A daughter, Sarah, was born there but only lived a short while. Heartbroken and assuming they would have no children as posterity. On April 24th, 1852, Orentia gave birth to Helen, who, in fact, lived to marry and have seven children. However only a few months later, in August, Brigham Young called Truman and a few others to serve a mission in India. He had only a few months to make ready for the mission that would take him away for nearly three years.
He left for San Francisco in January of 1853 and, on January 29th, boarded the ship “Monsoon” for Calcutta, India – arriving there 3 months later on April 26th.
He spent most of his time in Calcutta and then Karachi. Upon completing his mission in India in May of 1855, He sailed northwest from Bombay, India, to Liverpool, England, and on March 23, 1856, boarded the ship “Enoch Train,” arriving in Boston on May 1, 185
The “Enoch Train“ carried 534 members of the church who were emigrating to America. My great grandfather, George Williams, age 18, was also on that ship - sailing alone to America, headed for the Salt Lake Valley.
George was born June 25th, 1837, in Birmingham, Warwickshire, England, and then baptized into the Church on October 7, 1845 - following the lead of other members of his family 1845.
There are no records to indicate that these two family patriarchs ever met, but given the 5 plus weeks they were at sea and the fact that Truman presided over one of the Wards organized aboard the ship, there’s a good chance they at least knew each other. The fact that George was very independent and a hard worker suggests that Truman may have known or at least known of him.
The Mormon immigrants moved from Boston to Iowa City by rail, where they prepared to travel west.
Leonard was appointed captain of the first two divisions of the Daniel D McArthur company, which included 12 oxen, four wagons, and 48 handcarts; they set out on July 24th and arrived in the Salt Lake Valley on September 26th.
Meanwhile, George crossed with the Curtis 1st Handcart company of the 2nd division under Captain Edmund Ellsworth. They left Iowa City on June 9th and arrived in the valley on Sept 26th, 1856. George was assigned to pull a cart with a widow.
As with great, great grandfather Leonard in Nauvoo, my great-grandfather George chose to spend a great deal of time working on the Salt Lake Temple. During that time, a large block fell on his right hand, crushing it. The surgeon ordered it to be amputated, but George first insisted on a priesthood blessing. As the blessing was being pronounced upon him, his hand was healed. He and those around him could hear the bones in his hand retaking shape. In no time, he returned to work, although his right hand remained slightly larger than his left hand throughout his life. A witness to him of that miracle.
He eventually settled in Springville, Utah, where he met Emma Jane Stevenson. Emma likewise crossed the plains with her parents in a handcart company. They were married on December 28, 1862, and they were sealed in the endowment house five years later.
In 1866 he was called on to fight in the Black Hawk Indian wars. He received a medal of honor for his service during that period. (Similar to the one given to Great Grandpa Eskald Peterson)
In 1869 they helped to settle Goshen, Utah – where they lived for the next 17 years. My grandfather Peter J Williams was born there in Goshen. In 1882 they moved to Provo, where their 10th child arrived, and two years later, they decided to move to Idaho.
They settled in Mink Creek, also known as Chesterfield, and built another log home, which then became the location for the Hatch Chapel.
Great, Great Grandpa Leonard died on November 20th, 1997. His parting words to his wife and family were: “Put out the light, this has been a hard day, and I’m going to rest.”
Great Grandpa George Williams died five years later, on December 29, 1902.
For the past three months, I have been overwhelmed with responsibilities, family moments, and much more. I started my blog in February of 2010. I enjoy blogging and don't want to give it up. Today, I thought I would send this blog post to share the two pioneer ancestor stories. They are remarkable histories. I hope to continue to blog and do a post that will update you on what I have been up to.
I love all my blogging friends and feel sad that I haven't been in to read any of your posts for the last few months. I plan to work on doing some catch-up. I have enjoyed our friendships through the years; you remain dear friends to me.
Blessings and hugs!