Thursday, August 26, 2010

FH-James Whitehead Taylor

James Whitehead and Ann Rogers Taylor were products of the Victorian era in which they were raised. Both had strict ideas of what constituted right conduct and good taste in behavior. They joined the Mormon Church in Lancashire, and they brought their Victorian attitudes and ideas with them to the pioneer community of Lehi, Utah.
James had literary tastes. He established the first Sunday School in Lehi, and like the first English Sunday Schools its purpose was to teach children to read and write. He wrote verses and composed memorial verses for funerals, and happier verses for happier occasions . He organized a dramatic society and gave plays in which he both acted and directed. He had a keen sense of the appropriate word and conveyed it to his children. To James W. Taylor the name of God was too sacred to use, even reverently. According to his wife Ann, he always used instead the terms “Goodness,” or “Heavenly Father,” and so did Ann herself.
Enterprising, independent, and possessing great initiative, Ann Rogers Taylor was well-suited for the unique challenges her life presented. She owned the first sewing machine in Lehi, and at a time when many people feared vaccination for smallpox, she made her own vaccine and vaccinated her neighbors.
Ann’s staunch Victorian upbringing did not prepare her to yield to the question of polygamy. She hated the “principle” and told James if he ever brought a second wife to her front door, she would go out the back door. And James knew that she meant it. In spite of the urging of Bishop Evans, James never took a second wife. Be it also noted that Ann never left him. Ann Rogers Taylor felt that by maintaining her stance against that issue she was upholding time-tested, correct moral precepts. This was in spite of James’ calling her a “stiff-necked woman.” Her resistance to the Church’s stand on polygamy was probably the issue at the heart of James’ forlorn comment, “…it seems as though I should have to go and be with very few exceptions alone in the kingdom of God .”
I James Taylor was born at Dryclough Edge Lane, near Royton Lancashire England, the son of Samuel and Sarah Taylor. I pass over my early days to the age of 21 years. At that time, having married and being rather unsuccessful in my circumstances, I had begun to reflect and think that something was wrong. And just at this period the Latter-day Saints came to the town where I lived and one of their apostles came to preach in the neighborhood where I was then living. The Apostle's name was Parley P. Pratt.
I was invited to go and hear him, but heard many strange reports that they did away with the old Bible and had a new one they called the Golden Bible. I went to hear with my mind made up to oppose and tell the preacher we had no use for him or his Bible. I had been taught by Mother to love and revere the good old Book.
I went to hear and was astonished to find everything so plain, his reasoning so correct. Although I did not understand all his remarks about the priesthood, as I had read considerable about what was call[ed] the priesthood in the Catholic Church. Such as the Spanish Inquisition. I thought we had plenty of priests. The rest of his discourse I did like.
After this I was visited by two neighbors, both of the same trade as myself—blacksmiths. The[y] preach[ed] to me very faithfully, but I had no idea of believing them till one night I had a very strange Dream, and in it I saw the destruction of the wicked. I was shown very plain the only way to escape was by going to [the] waters of baptism. Another part of my dream was concerning a man we supposed dead and buried. I thought he came to us alive—and caused us much trouble. This part was fulfilled just as I had dreamed it.
I told this to a man I worked with. Said I, "If the Latter-day Saints were to hear of that it would just suit them." But I thought I would not tell them. But it so happened I did tell one of my neighbors, and he went to meeting and told it that I had a vision. And from that time I had no rest till I was baptized in the month of June 1841.
I had not been in the church but a short time when they ordained me a priest and set me to preaching. I preached everywhere where I was sent. I soon had a testimony to know it was the work of God. My wife began to be very bitter against the saints and [I] sometimes thought I received more abuse than anyone ever did, but perhaps not. About this time, some two years after I obeyed the Gospel, I was accused of great wickedness, of which I was as innocent as a baby, and was in great trouble. When on going to place for secret prayer, when I felt I could bear no more, the Lord whispered in my ear very plainly these words: "Tis gone forth a firm decree that as thy strength shall be." This encouraged me and took away my trouble. I was much blessed in preachings and traveled about a great deal.
In some two years from that time I was ordained an Elder, which caused very much jealousy in the president of the Branch—which caused him to lose his place—and Richard Cook was appointed President, and we had better times. Not long after that, Br. Cook was appointed to preside over the Manchester Conference, and I was appointed to preside over the Oldham Branch.
I was a great reader of the Bible and tried to be as useful as I could be, and before long we added to the Branch over one hundred members, amongst them my two brothers Thomas and William, Edwin Standring, his sister, and many more people.
About this time a great preacher called Doctor West came to Oldham [and] made the Methodists believe he could do wonders in putting a stop to Mormonism. He published his lecture against all kinds of infidelity including Catholicism, Mormonism, etc. We went to hear. Although a mere boy, I put him to shame, and the Methodists too. So much that they shut their chapel against him. He had to hire another hall, and in that he sent for the "young lad," as he called me, and when I went, he wanted me to prove to the people that I believed the doctrines of the Latter-day Saints by taking a dose of deadly poison, because the Book of Covenants reads, "He that believes and is baptized shall be saved, …and if they drink any deadly thing it shall not hurt them." (Mark 16: 16, 18) He and the Methodists were clamorous for me to take it. I told him I would like to ask him one little question before I took it, for he told me it would most assuredly kill. And they shouted, "Take it! Why don't you take it?!" Some infidels called out, "Shame, shame! Allow him to ask the question!" So the great Learned Doctor allowed me to ask the question.
I asked him if he believed the New Testament.
"Oh, most assuredly."
I then quoted to him the same words as found in the last chapter of Mark, and said, "Now Doctor West, you take one half of that deadly stuff to prove to that ungodly crowd of professing Christians, and I will take the other half."
He backed down entirely, and we had no more of him. The Oldham Branch was in a fine condition. And soon after this, to my surprise, the way opened up for me to emigrate and leave that land.
I had much sorrow to contend with because of the folly and unbelief of my partner in life.
Left Liverpool Sept. 24, 1848.
Although very young, I was appointed first counselor to the president, and much of the time I had charge of the company. The ship was the Sailor Prince, The president, Lorenzo Butler. On one part of our voyage we were becalmed for many days, and it happened that I was called upon to pray before we went to our berths. And in my simplicity I very humbly asked our Father in Heaven to give us fair winds. As I did so, the captain, who was just above me on the poop deck, began to curse and blaspheme. Oh it was awful. We had been asking for the same for a long time. We went [to] bed, and early in the morning I went on deck and as soon as I made my appearance, there was such a shout: "Hurrah for Mr. Taylor. He is the man when you want anything you must ask him to pray!." We had a fair wind and were going fine.
We landed in New Orleans where Lucious N. Schovill had been sent to preside, having no means to take us further. We stopped there, and I was appointed first councillor to Br. Schovill. We stayed from November till the following May, when we left for St. Louis.
While in Orleans the cholera was very bad, and when we got to St. Louis it was worse . We all had it lightly, but by the blessing of our Heavenly [Father], we got over it. I did not find the Saints here living their religion like Saints. I will not say it caused me to do wrong, but like others I did many things that I have been sorry for ever since but hope I may be forgiven.
My two brothers both went to the Valley and left me there. After I had toiled for five years I by faith and economy made a bare fit out and by a great wonder got [to] the Valley of Utah.
We started on the first of May, went up to Keokuk, and from there started to cross the plains in what was called the St. Louis Independent Company. Captain Moses Clawson [was] our leader.
We had a fine time altogether. Several very bad stampedes on the way, but no one seriously hurt. One day my little daughter Margaret fell off the wagon tongue and was run over by both wheels. I was afraid she was killed, but we administered to her, and strange to tell, at dinner time next day she run after me, got out of the wagon herself, and ran after me to see some missionary that was camped a little way off. We then wended our way westward and had no more accidents but were very short of provisions, and the feed for our cattle begun to be very short.
I used to go off into the mountains to seek grass. I always found it in great abundance, and having filled two large sacks, I used to lug them to camp and feed it to my cattle at noon when the rest had none. By that means I kept my cattle in prime order. Ourselves, we begun to get very short of provisions—so much so that I had to give my children a few pieces of dried apple instead of dinner, but they never complained once, but I felt it very badly.
I had a promise from my brothers that if I would get spades and scythes and such things, they would meet me with provisions, but when we got one day past Bridger, we had two small biscuits apiece and these were done. A man driving a flock of sheep along and some of them dying of footlace and poverty. He skinned them and cut them up and gave portions of them to us and others, and this he told us a little that night. I told my wife to give one little biscuit apiece to the children. I would go without, and what we should do for a week I could not tell, but we must trust in the Lord. I could hear nothing of my brothers, only that the Indians were so bad they were not allowed to come out. While I stood by the wagon wheel reflecting, I saw a man come down the hill to the camp where he soon found his brother and family, and after having a good time with them, I heard him ask if there was a man of the name of Taylor in the camp.
I soon walked up, or run, and told him I was that man. He said, Brother William was at Bear River. That was more than a day's journey. He was there waiting for me. I soon asked him if he had any provisions with him. He said he had a plenty. I went back to my wagon and told my wife to give the children some more supper, and I felt God was taking care of us.
Next morning we started early to find more feed, and getting on to a ridge we found grass and stopped for breakfast. And while getting it ready we were passed by some missionaries going to England. I knew some of them and asked them if they had seen my Br. William. They told me yes, he was just behind them. I ran and met him and then we did have a time, joined the children and their mother and me—we had a feast of fat things.
After that in about a week we got our first sight of Salt Lake City and as soon as I saw it I fell on my knees and thanked God for so safely bringing me and mine to safety to our journey's end.
After being in Salt Lake City a short time, in which I was ordained a Seventy in the Sixth Quorum, we then moved to a place 30 miles south, to a place call[ed] Lehi, of which we have been residents ever since—over 30 years. I can say truly in that time I have wronged no man in thought, word or deed knowingly, but have tried to be a consistent Latter-day Saint.
When we came here we had four small children. We now have nine, some dead, and over 40 grandchildren and one great grandchild.
In Lehi I built me a house on a lot I drawed, the first house built on a city lot after it was laid off as a city. Two adobe rooms. In 1854 I started a dramatic association. We played many times and had lots of fun.
In the spring of 1856, I was called to go on a mission to England, and in April we started to go. I sold my blacksmith tools to get me a horse to go with. I left home with very little bedding, thinking I would leave my family as comfortable as I could. The first night I was appointed to sleep in the wagon with J. Gibson. I had but the one quilt for under and over, and he like a loving brother wrapped himself up and got as far from me as he could, for fear the hem of his quilts should touch me and do me some good. But the next night and after that, good Miles Romney took me into his bed, and I got along better. After some time there was a pail of blankets found in the road. I got them and was then more comfortable.
We had many strange things occurred to us in getting along. When we got to the South Pass we often slept under the snow, and one night it snowed and blooded fearfully, and when morning came it was so bad the [suit is more?] to try and find the Sweetwater. He found it and we moved down to it, and from that we stood out in the snow and cold for 58 hours, it snowing incessantly till it froze horses and mules to death. Then the captain of the company told us if we did not get out of that we should all share the same fate. We started and had to walk elbow to elbow, and after tramping the snow we wrest with ropes pulled the teams through. We could see no sight of a road and had to guess at it the best we could. We had not gone far before the sun shone out and before night we were more or less snow blind. Brother Orson Pratt was literally so for many days.
We soon got over it and went along with the raggedest faces anyone ever saw. I forgot to say my horse was one that succumbed to the cold.
I was feeling very bad and shedding tears when Br. Benson came to me and blessed me and told me I should have [more] horses and cattle than I had ever owned and tried to comfort me all he could.
I still had an interest in the wagon, but two of those that were with us from that time on were trying the Job comforters plan, informing me that they would sell the wagon and would pack it, which would leave me out in the cold. This meant you must pay us for carrying your bread and dinner. One night the Twelve had heard of this and Br. Benson got up and told the company what they were going to do, but said he, when they do it, Br. Taylor [must] have one of the horses, for I will tell them he has got an interest in that fit out. These were two Jacobs, but they never said one more word about packing. But one of these, when we got to the Missouri River, he claimed all I had to sell to carry me down to the river to St. Louis. He claimed it for hauling my things. I let them go but I am afraid they proved a curse to him.
On the way we met and [passed?] many hostile Indians, but when they were told we were Mormons, they never molested us in any way.
We got to the river, and the brethren sold out in a very short time, and in a few hours we were on a steam boat on our way to St. Louis. Br. Miles Romney offered me half of all [he] had got for his share, but I got along without. When we got to St. Louis we told to go out in the country and see the Saints and collect whatever they would give towards sending us on to England.
I went out to a place called Gravois, and there found some old acquaintances and next day came back. Was told they had held a meeting and divided the money and when my name was mentioned Br. Benson told them not to mind me, I would get along. This made me think, but however there had been enquiring for me and left word for me to meet him next morning. It [was] David Turnbull, formerly of Hockport Branch in the same conference we came from. I met him. He asked me what money I had towards taking me to England. I told him I had a little. He took me to his acquaintance and begged for me and got me money enough to take me to New York and from there to England.
We took the train to New York, got there at night and were much bothered with rumors and so determined not to be led by them that we got outside of everywhere. We thought we found a fruit stall and we asked the girl that kept it to direct us to a decent place for lodgings. She said she could take us to the very place we wanted to go. She took us to a house kept by a[n] Englishman who treated us good. Next morning we went to see Br. John Taylor who kept the Mormon office, and after talking sometime he directed us to go to a house in Greenwich Street kept by Mr. Walker till the ship was ready, the best place he knew of. We told him that was the place where we got to the night before. So we stayed and were well treated both there, and when we returned it became a Mormon house from that time we were made at home till we went on board ship.
We went on board on the 3rd of July 1856, and a very prosperous voyage. Landed in Liverpool early in August. I went home to my folks that same day. Reached there about ten o'clock at night and was very glad to embrace my father, mother, brother and niece, and spent a joyful time with them. Preached in the ['coon?] at Oldham, had a good time with the Saints. Next went to Shaw to preach there. Had a good time with a Methodist minister. He first introduced a lot of Books and papers and wanted to read from them. I told him I would have nothing to do with them. They did not one of them agree with the other. They would assert and I could contradict--and how much wiser would they be? We then went at polygamy. He made a great many very foolish assertions. I replied to them and bore a very faithful testimony, till he trembled like an aspen and asked me where he could get our works, he wanted to read them.
I had a good time and God was with me and blessed me very much.
I next day received a letter to go to Acrington to commence my labours in the Preston Conference. I went and found Br. Dana and Jas. Craig. I laboured in that conference till the end of the year. In that time I went to hear a Mr. Hawthornwahite who had come to lecture for the Methodists against the Mormons. I heard him make some very untrue statements. He allowed me to reply, and I did so till he was ashamed of himself. I told them that on Sunday night I would give a lecture in reply to all he had been telling them. I did so to a room full of people. After I had done, the Methodists asked me if I would meet the same man in a public debate on Mormonism. I told them if the Bible should be the only rule of evidence I was quite willing. They made an agreement to that effect and directly put up great bills on the wall announcing the same.
I was appointed to the Welsh mission and had to go right away. They accepted Jas. Marsden in my place when the time came he only tried to make one [something inserted, illegible?] speech and give it up. The rest of the time was spent in [I Mers?] preaching to the people. I went to Wales to labour as counselor to President Daniels and spent the rest of my mission among that people.
I had many great blessings while labouring among that people. Upon one occasion I was very unwell and went to a place where I thought there would be a sister who would nurse me and comfort me as many of the good sisters would. When I got there they told me Sister Harris was sick in bed. I went to the foot of stairway and called out "Sister Harris, what ails you?" She replied, "I am very sick." I answered, "You must not be sick for I am sick and I need you." In a very few minutes she came down all right, ready to attend to be [me]. She said God had healed her instantly and she was ready like a blessed mother.
In the same place they had heard I was come and another Sister who apparently was sick unto death, sent for me. I went and she was very low. She asked me to administer to her. I told her I was to sick to do so, but I said, "In the name of the Lord for your faith you shall have a blessing." I all most thought I had no business but next morning she was better than she had been for years. These two cases caused a great stir in the neighborhood. This was in the Penicui [?] Branch.
Upon another occasion I was in north Wales with David John. He had promised to preach in a place called Ruthin, but he was so hoarse he could not be heard at all, only in a whisper. He felt bad. I put my hand on his shoulder as we went along and said, "Br. John, in the name of the Lord be well and preach." And he do so. The hoarseness immediately left him and he could preach. I thought it very presumptuous but I did [it] in the name and fear of the Lord my Savior.
Another time I was going from a Branch below Cardiff. We had to go about forty miles and intended to start on the morning train, but when the time came the Saints would not let us go. They said we could go at twelve o'clock AM. They would not let us go at noon. We went, and when we got within a few miles of our destination we found the train we should have gone on was wrecked all to smash and the car we should have been in (for the man I was with had a particular choice), and if we had been there we should have been killed sure and certain. I owe much gratitude to my Heavenly Father for his preserving care and his great great goodness to me. I hope I ever will be grateful for this and many other blessings to me in many ways.
I spent a very happy time in the Welsh mission. The people were very good to me. I could have had anything but I took no advantage of the people's kindness. I lived and spent with care and economy. My mission in that country would have been much longer but Johnson's army started for Utah and we where called home and had to leave in a hurry to come home.
I had the pleasure of rebaptizing my dear mother before I left. We left in February on a sailing vessel "Empire", Feb. 19, 1858, for New York and had a prosperous voyage and land[ed] in New York Mar. 20, 1858, and were to be very quiet and not let anyone know who we were. But for all that, they knew us everywhere. We left New York and after trying to get somewhere we found ourselves in St. Louis and after staying there sometime.
I was told by the president of the mission that I must go and charter a steam boat to take up quite a company of Elders and families going up to a new settlement called Genoa. The men folks had gone before I did so we got very good terms. We went aboard and had a good time all the way up.
At the commencement some of the cabin passengers were very mean to us, but the mate told them he would not have us insulted by no one. We were minding our own business and they must let us alone. After that we were treated with great kindness and had every favour shown to us, and when we landed at Florence, the officers were very sorry they had to let us go. The captain said we were the finest lot of folks he had ever had on his boat. We stayed there some time and saw hard times before we were ready to start over the plains for home. But we were organized at last and had a very poor fit out and a poorer captain, but we started.
I must here mention that we were very kindly treated by the Piper Brothers who were keeping store there in Florence.
We started across the plains and were told that the soldiers at Fort Kearney were on the lookout for us. We traveled on till we came within some fifteen miles for Fort Kearney when we laid by one half day and wasted some ammunition trying to hit the trees and then at sundown being ready, we started to go past the fort in the night. Our Captains left us to go and find a camping place some miles further on, told us if we found any trouble to fire a revolver and they would hurry back. We must keep close together and make no noise. We had not gone very far in the dark when we heard one of the teams had got off to the right just as far as we could hear him. This caused some harm for we were nearing the Fort where we were told they had camped. Set all across the road to stop us. We went on in the dark and all at once we found a strange team coming up behind the last wagon. He finding a lot of wagons in front of his, got scared and began to fire off his revolver. Others did the same and oh what a scene of confusion. The captains came hurrying back and then we found out we had been traveling in a circle and it was the first team had caught up with the last, and we were so confused we did not know which way to go. We had to tie up and stay till daylight, and then we found we were just opposite the fort. I was very fine on our side of the river. On the fort side there was a thick mist so the soldiers never saw us. I think the Lord was showing us very plain he presided over that fit out and we ought to trust in him.
We tried the same dodge at Laramie with a similar result. The Lord took care of us whither we would or not. We got along till we came to the head of Echo Canyon. We camped there on the Saturday night and in the morning held a council to see what we had better do, although we had been told that peace was made. Still we had some cowards in our band that wanted to escape north, but we prevailed and sent a deputation to see in Echo if the soldiers were in the canyon ahead of us. It had rained and they came back and responded that nothing had gone up or down for a week. We started then [hurrah] for home. We had not gone but a very short distance when we found ourselves in the midst of Johnson's Army. You may be sure we passed in a hurry. We reached Salt Lake City June 21, 1858, and found it desolate. The inhabitants all gone. We stayed one night and next day we arrived at home and a joyful meeting we had.
I do not want to write of many years that passed after that of sorrow and heartaches that I endured but amongst it all I was the means of starting the Sunday School which afterwards became one of the chief [institutions?] of the territory. I labored mightily for many years when for no fault of mine I was dismissed. All through the misrepresentations of a mean person. I pass over this period rather than write of the meanness of which I was the victim and come to a better time, but before doing so I will relate—me and a few others with Br. T. R. Cutler to take charge, we commenced a Cooperative Institution. which has proved a decided success. I was chosen president of the same and at this time, 1886, I still remain so .
The better time was when the authorities saw fit to appoint T. R. Cutler as the Bishop of Lehi . With him began a reign of peace and quietness. I was put back into the Sunday School. John Taylor became president of the Church and the word was, Put away all your sins and serve the Lord with full purpose of heart, and be in reality Latter day Saints. We are enjoined to keep the word of wisdom. This is not hard for me. I have been trying for over forty years to do so.
I ought to have told that after I came home from my mission I was appointed one of the presidents of the forty fourth quorum of Seventy. I remained so till now. We were recommended to join the quorum established in the place where we reside, so I have withdrawn from the 44th to the 68th and am now a member of that quorum.
I am this week sixty five years of age. I have been a member of the church for over 44 years and am proud of my standing and of the prospects that are before us and, oh how I wish that I could say as for me and my house we will serve the Lord, but I cannot, for it seems as though I should have to go and be with very few exceptions alone in the kingdom of God.
I am very thankful to be able to say the people seem today more determined than I ever saw them to keep God's laws and commandments. We have good meetings. Speakers seem blessed. The meeting house is filled. Our school on Sunday is full, and thank God we seem to be trying to do better and I hope will shall go on to the perfect day and be ready when He comes whose right it is to reign.
We have now passed another year and many [things?]. We are still urged to live our religion. It won't do to just have a name on the books. We are told we must be Saints indeed. During the year I have been removed from the 44 Quorum to the 68 Quorum as one of the Presidents of the same. I have been very unwell since then and have not been of much use to the Brethren of that quorum. My wife also has been very sick for a long time.

Typescript made from original pencil-written manuscript to Anne T Chambers.

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