Note for: Cora Louisa Cross, 27 Mar 1877 - 12 Oct 1953 Index
Father - David E CROSS
Mother - Louisa Gould BRENSEN
Note for: Solomon Joseph Despain, 3 Dec 1823 - 17 Feb 1895 Index
1880 Census Granite, Salt Lake, Utah Page 284 Film T9-1337
S J DESPAIN Male White 58 Al Al AL
Ruth Despain Female White 59 CT CT CT
Oscar A DESPAIN Male White 17 UT Al CT (obviously this is Oscar N DESPAIN)
Clarry L DESPAIN Female White 13 UT AL CT
Note Census states that the father was born in CT (I changed it to Al or Alabama)
Biography of Solomon Joseph Despain
edited by Bruce D. Despain
[Excerpted from his personal journal1]
Teachings of Youth. To give a brief sketch of my history I will just say that I was born December 3, 1823, in Lauderdale Co., Alabama. When I was quite young my father Solomon Despain and my mother Nancy (Bell) Despain2 moved to the state of Tennessee with their family, consisting of eight children: four boys and four girls, myself being the seventh child.3 My mother died when I was quite young, and I lived with my oldest sister,4 under whose tuition I was taught good principles.
Joining a New Church. My father married again and moved to Arkansas, and then in 1838 to Illinois, where we remained many years5. By this time I had arrived at the age of manhood and began for the first time to have serious thoughts about my soul's welfare. In the year of our Lord 1842, on June 30, I married Ruth Amelia Newell.6 Shortly afterward I joined the Campbellite Church7 and remained a member until I perchance obtained a copy of the tract A voice of Warning, which opened my understanding in regard to the truth.8 On 30 August 1851 my wife and I joined the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints being baptized for the remission of our sins by James Thorpe, one of the elders of the Church.
Children Born. At this time we had four sons. The eldest, William Joseph, was born in Calhoun Co., Illinois, April 9, 1843. Our second son, whose name was Hyrum Smith, was born at the same place on May 7, 1846. Our third son, who was named Henry Waters, was born on September 28, 1847. Our fourth son was born March 27, 1849, named Edwin Sylvester--all four in the same state and county.9 Edwin died August 19, 1851. We enjoyed ourselves well in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I should have said our fifth son was born in the same state and county on March 8, 1851, whose name was Orson Augustus.
Church Activities In Illinois. I was ordained a Priest on November 16, 1851, and on May 2, 1852, by the consent of the branch, I was ordained an Elder by J. T. Griffith. On the same day I baptized James Thorpe for his health. Nothing of importance occurred until July 4, 1852, when we had a real celebration--a wedding. I solemnized the rites of matrimony between J. T. Griffith and Nancy Despain, my niece.10 Both were of the same faith--members of our church, and we had a good time. We had several lectures from elders on the Independence of our Country. On the following Friday old Mr. Griffiths, J. T. Griffiths' father left Kanesville. When he returned in the Fall, he had apostatized and was cut off from the Church for having spoken evil of the authorities of the Church.
Saints Admonished To Gather. On December 20, 1852, we received news that the First Presidency had sent a proclamation to all the Saints to leave the States. We were unable to make our outfits just then. Brother Sharp [the branch president] had left in the fall of 1852. In the Winter or 1853 Brother Burton resigned the presidency of the branch. He had been president since the time Brother Short [had] left earlier that year in the Spring. At his resignation we elected Brother William B. Corbitt to preside over the branch with Brother James Despain and myself as his counselors. We two had been counselors to both Brother Thorpe and Brother Burton. Things went along well until Brother Dobbs got too large and began speaking evil of the authorities. We [the branch] cut him off from the Church.
[It seems that a child, probably the daughter Ella Eugenia (Despain) Boyce has inserted the following paragraph:]
Right here I would like to relate a dream Mother had concerning Mr. Dobbs. She told Father when they first began to have trouble with Mr. Dobbs that they would finally have to cut him off. Father asked her how she knew. Then she related her dream. She thought they were having a stick of wood to make a bed post but the grain in it was so crooked that they could not get anything so large out of it. Then they were going to make a bed bat, but could not; then they said they would try several things small, but could not get anything whatever out of it. Just as she awoke the interpretation came to her that the stick was Mr. Dobbs and that they would not be able to make anything out of him. And so it proved to be.
An Eventful Three Week Trip To Arkansas. On March 21, [1853, before working with Brother Corbitt], I started a [short] trip to Arkansas to visit and preach the Gospel.11 I landed there on the 25th but was not recognized until the 26th. When they found out that I was a Latter-day Saint, which was not long, they wanted me to hold meetings, which I did at four o'clock on Sunday at the home of Mr. Edmondson. I spoke to a good number of people on the principles of the Gospel of the kingdom of God. I was well treated by the people there and they asked me to preach again on the next Sabbath, which I did. My meetings were attended by a respectful congregation.
In the week between these first two meetings I had many conversations with my brother, who was a Methodist preacher.12 He attended my meetings and was very attentive. On Monday (in April) I went to Marion to visit my sister whom I had not seen in twenty years.13 On the evening of the next day I held a meeting in Marion and lectured on the judgements of the Lord that were to be poured out upon the nations of the earth.
On Friday I came back to my brothers in Illinois [sic.] and found that appointments had been given out for me to preach on the following Sabbath, which was the 10th of April.14 The same evening one young lady wished me to baptize her, which I did: also my niece, another young lady offered herself for baptism. After getting the consent of her parents we went to the water, a nice little lake, and built a fire, which made a splendid light for the purpose, it being night.15 While this was going on there were eight more people making preparations for the same ordinance, which I willingly attended to. The company baptized consisted of my brother and his wife and his two sons and two daughters and his son-in-law. The next morning another lady came and wanted to be baptized, which I also performed. Their names are as follows: John Marshall Despain (my brother), William Easley [son-in-law of J. M. D.], John Bone, Oren D. Despain [son of J. M. D.], James M. Despain [son of J. M. D.], Nancy Easley [dau of J. M. D.], Emily Despain [dau of J. M. D.], Nancy Despain [wife of J. M. D.], Rachel Edmondson, Mary Edmondson, Charlotte Singleton [on 11th]. We repaired to my brother's house and I gave them many instructions and confirmed them. Having to leave next day I ordained John M. Despain and William Easley as Elders and left John M. Despain to preside over them.
A Trip to St. Louis. I left for Illinois on the 11th of April. I carried a petition to the St. Louis conference to connect them [the Arkansas Saints] to that conference the same as I did our branch in Calhoun Co., Illinois.16 As I returned to St. Louis I saw Orson Pratt and Horace Eldredge. On the 17th of the same month I subscribed for "The Seer" then being published in Washington. I must say that while I was on my visit south I was kindly treated by the citizens of Mississippi and Crittenden Counties Arkansas.
A Second Trip To Arkansas. After returning . . . [on] May 16[, 1853, ] I [this time] in company with William B. Corbett started again for Arkansas. We landed on the 21st and when we commenced laboring, we found that the Methodist circuit rider had been in the neighborhood, had made many false statements, and had discouraged many of our young brethren. But after some time we arranged matters satisfactorily, we kept laboring with the people and baptized nine more members and rebaptized two old ones. The names of new members were: Barker Wilkins and his wife Susan C. Wilkins, Celia Holloway, Nancy C. Despain, Nancy I. Holt, Julia A. Holt, Nancy Edmondson, Nancy A. Singleton, Daniel F. Holt.
Opposition In Arkansas. During our stay in Arkansas we had some persecution and opposition by the Methodist circuit riders. Mr. James Rogers said he knew our doctrine was of the devil and spoke many hard things about the Prophet Joseph; also one Robert Holt. Mr. Segarses and Mr. Lamb all spoke hard words against the Church of Jesus Christ. We were informed that they were going to mob us. But we had some warm friends in Isaac Nivins, Jack James, and some others. It is my earnest desire that the blessings of God attend them. We finished our labors for the present and started home on the 21st of June landing on the 25th.
Baptisms In Illinois. After being home, during which time we had many good times and enjoyed the spirit of the Lord and bore our testimony, on July 2, 1853, three more joined the Church. I baptized Napoleon Vance, Celia Reynolds, William Joseph Despain. By the voice of the Church we ordained N. Vance an Elder. On July 18th I baptized Lucinda Robers. On August 17 I baptized Anna Vance, and on the 21st I baptized Christian Butcher. On the 25th I baptized Margaret Bruce.
Oportunities For Work In Arkansas and Then Tennessee. In the fall of the year I moved to Arkansas where my wife had three children, all girls. The first was born December 6, 1853, whose name was Amanda Caroline. The next was born February 27, 1856, named Dora Melvina. She died September 14, 1858. The next was born August 27, 1858. We named her Ella Eugenia. In Arkansas we found things quite disagreeable under the care of Brother Corbitt. We conversed together and prayed to the Lord to set things right, which He did, and we labored among the people and had some success and built up quite a branch in that section. Finally Brother Corbitt and his wife left for Nashville [Naylerville?], Tennessee, leaving me to preside alone for many years. I moved to another part of the country and worked hard to get an outfit to start to the Valley of Salt Lake City.17 During this time in February 1857 Brother Isaac [sic.] M. Coombs, an Elder from the valley, came to visit us and preach to us.18 It gave us much joy and satisfaction to hear about the Saints in the valley. I then moved to the State of Tennessee and attended to a large wood yard until 1861, when the Civil War commenced in the U. S.19
The Move To Utah Territory. I started to the valley with my family on May 10, 1861, arriving in Salt Lake City on August 17. We traveled in David A. Cannon's train and had a pleasant trip across the plains.20 We located in the mouth of Little Cottonwood Canyon. On September 1, 1861, my wife had a son whom we named David Alvin. He was born two weeks after our arrival in the valley. In November we were all rebaptized and got our endowments in the House of the Lord.21
Running A Shingle Mill. I rented a shingle mill of John M. Woolley and Nathan Davis, which I ran for four years22. During this time on August 18, 1863 John Woolley got killed. All things went well after I quit the mill I rented. It had caused me some little perplexity from the fact that the manager speculated too much on my labor, for the which I shall hold them responsible in eternity: John M. Woolley, Samuel Woolley, and Isaac Groo.
Beginning a Second Family. On May 17, 1862, I took another wife in the House of the Lord whose name was Susan Dean. In February 23 she had a daughter named Martha Eliza. She had a son born September 28, 1864, who was named Lewis Edgar, and on November 23, 1866, she gave birth to another daughter that we named Effie Elzina. In 1868, September 21, she had another son whom we named George Francis.
A Family Operation. My first wife, Ruth, had another son born November 7, 1863, whom we named Oscar Newell. She had a daughter born June 24, 1866, whom we named Clara Louisa. In 1868 I and the boys got us a small mill in operation and sawed some sixty thousand shingles. [His daughter Ella helped to bind many a bunch of shingles in this mill.] In the same year I was ordained into the High Priests under the hands of President Miller. I also started to attend the School of the Prophets.23
On September 21, 1868 my second wife had another son whom we named George Francis. Then Anna Laura, was born on September 1, 1871, another son Charles Leroy was born November 5, 1873 [died March 9, 1900]. Then came DeBart September 17, 1875, on September 2, 1878, Frank Parley was born, and on December 22, 1880, Angus Ray. Another daughter was born December 12, 1883, named Ida E. Susan Dean Despain was born November 15, 1843. [Martha Eliza died in March 1899.]
[It appears that a daughter Ella Eugenia (Despain) Boyce is responsible for the remainder of this biography]
Difficulties of Age and Ill Health. Solomon Joseph was 57 years old by the year 1880. Age had begun to take its toll. He had contracted a disease in his lungs, probably emphysema or consumption [tuberculosis]. Also Ruth Amelia and Susan Dean had families of their own.
Fortune Dictates a Third Family. Charlotta Lundstedt, a convert form Sweden, had been admonished by missionaries to go to Utah and marry a good man and raise up a family unto the Lord. Since polygamy was an established institution on the Church at that time, there was no prohibition against a man having more than one wife. Consequently, when Charlotta and Solomon met, it seemed the natural thing to get married, even though there was a great difference in age. Solomon was a good man who had become sickly and needed help. Charlotta was in need of a husband to father her family. Courtship was carried on largely through an interpreter because Charlotta could not speak English and Solomon could not speak Swedish. They were married on March 24, 1881, in the Endowment House in Salt Lake City.
Persecution Brought On By Federal Law Enforcement. It was about this time that persecution of the polygamists became severe. So severe, in fact, that it became necessary for Solomon to hide and dodge to keep from going to jail. Life became unbearable. It was also necessary for Charlotta, having no home of her own, to live with one of the daughters of Ruth Amelia, during which time Mark Lorenzo, Walter Gustave, and Lottie Pearl were born. It was also a time of ill feeling among Solomon's families because many of them did not understand the predicament he and Charlotta were in. Having to dodge federal officers added to the contention and misunderstandings among the wives and other members of his family. There must be some way to escape these difficult circumstances. In the fall of 1885, Solomon decided to take his wife Charlotta with her three children and head out for Mexico. His son David Alvin consented to go along to help with the wagons and livestock.
The Trip South Interrupted. Everything went well until they got to Richfield, Utah, where the storms and cold weather became so intense that they had to stop. Lottie Pearl came down with a cold. Having only a wagon in which to live, Lottie Pearl rapidly developed pneumonia and died. It was a sad day when they had to bury their little girl in a lonely grave. Having to leave their home with winter coming on for fear that Solomon would be caught and have to go to jail, the other wives mad at them both, and him sickly with lung troubles--they must have felt that fate had dealt them a cruel blow.
The Journey Ends In Arizona. Spring finally came and the party were able to continue their journey. As they traveled south into the Little Colorado River territory, persecution from federal officers slackened. They were in friendly territory among others who had been forced to move to avoid going to jail for practicing "the principle." Also, the Indians, whom the Saints had been counseled to feed rather than to fight, were friendly to the Mormons but not to federal officers. Solomon Joseph and his family decided to stay in the area. At first they settled in the Sho-Lo area and then finally they moved to Thatcher, Arizona, where Otto Francis and Ina Pauline were born.
Solomon Joseph died on February 17, 1895, at the age of 72.24 Charlotta married Thornton Lambert in 1900. He died in 1907. She came back to Provo, Utah, to live with her youngest daughter, Ina Pauline Haws. She died in 1940 having accomplished her mission of rearing a good family unto the Lord.
1. Solomon made three copies of his journal, one each for the families of his three wives. They vary mainly in the later portion where he gives his families' genealogical information. Microfilm copies are on file with the Family History Department of the LDS Church [OJ and JFR].
2. Solomon and Nancy were married on the 4th of July in 1807 [GKM], when they were very young — he seventeen and she probably a little older. Solomon was taxed (not to be confused with his cousin Solomon, born 1785) on Aug 13, 1810, and July 13, 1811 for his household and two horses [GKT]. They were living there in 1810 [GK10] but their oldest daughter was born in Alabama in 1812 [IC50].
3. The children were as follows: James Harris (26 Jul 1808), John Marshall (cal 1810), Belinda (cal 1812), Celia (abt 1814), Emily (abt 1816), Oren [prob. Orindatis] (abt 1820), Solomon Joseph (3 Dec 1823) and Malinda (abt 1825).
4. This would have been Belinda, who later married Hezekiah Baylis Rice and lived in Marion, Chittenden Co., Arkansas [see below and AC60].
5. We have yet to discover more about this second marriage. One of the children seems to have been named "Black Hawk" possibly after the Northwest Indian chief who was held responsible for the Black Hawk War in Illinois in 1836. Perhaps it was in the midst of that uprising that this child and his mother passed away. The subsequent marriage was to Celia, born 11 Feb 1807 in Anson Co., North Carolina, the daughter of Jonathan Thaddeus and Sarah (Lumley) Griffith [BMJD, BFMD]. The three children from this marriage were born from 1838 to 1842 in Calhoun Co., Illinois.
6. She was born September 21, 1822, in Rome, Oneida Co., New York, daughter of Asahel and Betsy (Bushnell) Newell of Mount Vernon, Jefferson Co., Illinois [TNF p. 132].
7. Solomon Joseph's father seems to have been a Separatist Baptist, which movement had begun in the Great Revival (1801-1803) in Paris, Kentucky. (His granduncle Peter's father-in-law, Henry Skaggs, was a Baptist preacher of that period and region as was his granduncle Marshall's father-in-law, Benjamin Lynn.) The Campbellites followed the teachings of one Alexander Campbell. This Irishman of Presbyterian training lived in West Virginia in 1810 where he taught a simple evangelical brand of Christianity to promote unity among the churches. Cambellites joined with Baptists in 1813 and in 1832 united with Kentucky Christians to form the Disciples of Christ or Christian Church. A major driving force of this movement in the west was Barton W. Stone (born 1772), who moved his Christian Messenger west to Illinois and then to Missouri, where he died in 1844. It is of some interest that Sydney Rigdon, one of the prominent leaders of the LDS Church was earlier a member of the Campbellite movement [HHD].
8. This very influential tract was written by the LDS Church Apostle, Parley P. Pratt [A Voice of Warning and Instruction to All People Or, an Introduction to the Faith and Doctrine of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints]. This book went through at least five American editions and two European editions before 1846. The fact that Solomon J. in 1846 had named a son Hyrum Smith, the name of a co-founder of that church, seems to suggest a five-year period of acquaintance, respect and investigation.
9. They lived in Carlin, Ogle and Belleview townships [IC50].
10. This was Jonathan Thaddeus Griffith, Jr., and the daughter of James Harris Despain. Note that Nancy's Despain grandparents had also been married on Independence Day and that she was probably her grandmother's namesake.
11. He would have landed at St. Thomas in Mississippi Co. and walked to the Edmonson's in Frenchman's Bayou [cf. IMC and NEA p. 515].
12. This was John Marshall Despain, who also lived in the area of Frenchman's Bayou.
13. This was Belinda, wife of Hezekiah Baylis Rice, who lived in Marion, Crittenden Co., Missouri. She was Solomon Joseph's oldest sister who had raised him after their mother had died in about 1826, when he was only three years old. They had parted ways at her marriage in 1832.
14. The brother, John Marshall Despain, was in Frenchman's Bayou, of course, not Illinois.
15. Frenchman's Bayou is known for the picturesque lakes in the vicinity. A son of R. J. Holt later cleared a farm on Lake Como, apparently near the elder Holt's land [NEA p. 515].
16. Apparently Solomon Joseph is saying that he had had experience in taking a petition to the St. Louis Conference when he had joined the Calhoun Co. saints to them, so he knew what he was doing when he did this equally important task for the branch in Arkansas. It is also possible that he was carrying both petitions with this one trip.
17. The three girls who were born in Arkansas between 1853, 1856 and 1858 are given variously as being born at Pecan Point or Dean's Island. It is clear from Bro. Coombs' account [IMC] that they lived on Dean's Island in 1857, but picked up their mail at the Pecan Point Post Office. The mention of a move "to another part of the country" may indicate that they lived on the point for a while and then later on the island. Strictly speaking the island in the Mississippi was within the borders of Tipton County, Tennessee. Solomon clearly worked at felling trees probably to supply the riverboats with fuel, either independently or for Densfords' Woodyard across the main part of the river. Their move to Tennessee would have been to Tipton County in any case. The Federal Census taken in 1860 does not seem to include Solomon nor for that matter any others known to have lived on Dean's Island.
18. The missionary was Isaiah Moses Coombs, whose account we publish here in an excerpted and condensed version [IMC]. I think the reader will find the level of detail very illuminating. It has helped immensely in my own understanding of Solomon's life-style and times, not to mention his cursory journal entries during this period.
19. "Sol Spain's" exodus from the South is mentioned in an 1889 county history [NEA, p. 515].
20. We wonder just how pleasant the 13 week trip during the heat of summer was for Ruth, who must have been at least six months pregnant at its commencement.
21. The "House of the Lord" at that time was the Endowment House [AJEH].
22. John M. Woolley was Nathan Davis' brother-in-law, the latter having married the former's sister. There is an account of John's death in [TDJ]. There is also a marriage on record twelve years later in the Endowment House [AJEH] of Solomon Joseph Despain to John Woolley's widow Caroline Patience Harrar Woolley. We are left to conjecture why Solomon J. would not have mentioned this event in his journal. Perhaps this was the best way for the Church to ensure the widow's welfare. In any event there is no evidence that the pair ever lived together.
23. Brigham H. Roberts describes the activities of the School of the Prophets as organized in the Salt Lake Valley in his comprehensive history of the Church [BHR].
24. Solomon's obituary appeared in the Deseret News, published in Salt Lake City, Utah, 16 Mar 1895. [DN].
AJEH: Jenson, Andrew, Encyclopedic History of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Salt Lake City: Deseret News Publishing Company, p. 194 [Extract ]
BFMD: Francis Marion Despain, Despain Family Bible in possession of Mrs. Anna (Despain) Perrine, 709 North Wright, Siloam Springs, Arkansas (1970) [Extract ]
BHR: Roberts, B. H., Comprehensive History of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. 6 vols. 1930. (Reprint: Orem, Utah: Sonos Publishing Inc., 1991) [Extract ]
BMJD: Margaret Jane (Despain) Barrett, Despain Family Bible in possession of Mrs. Otto Fingerlin, 8119 E. Seventh Street, Tulsa, Oklahoma 74112 [Extract ]
DN: Communicated, Weekly Deseret News, 16 Mar 1895. [FHD film 026611] [Extract ]
GK10: U.S., 1810 Census, Population Schedules, Green Co., Kentucky, vol. 2, pp. 247, 251, 257 [FHD film 181351] [Extract ]
GKM: Green Co., Kentucky, Marriage Records, 1793-1836 [Green Co., Historical Society] [Extract ]
GKT: Green Co., Kentucky, Tax Lists, 1795-1819 [FHD film 008004] [Extract ]
HHD: — Hayden, History of the Disciples, p. 230 (in BHR) [Extract ]
IC50: U.S., 1850 Census, Populations Schedules, Calhoun Co., Illinois, v. , pp.. [Extract ]
IMC: Arkansas Travels, an account based on excerpts from the journal of Isaiah Moses Coombs, vol. II, 1857-1858
Arrival on Dean's Island.
Despains renew covenant of baptism.
Visit to the Nauvoo settlement.
Proselyting among the Methodists.
Return to Dean's Island.
Second trip to Nauvoo settlement.
Small Sunday service on the Island.
Large Sunday service at Nauvoo.
Embarking for St. Louis.
NEA: Goodspeed, pub., Biographical and Historical Memoirs of Northeast Arkansas, 1889, p. 488, [Extract ], p. 515 [Extract ]
OJ: Solomon J. Despain, Journal, commenced August 30, 1851, [FHD film 547104].
TDJ: "Tragic Death of John M. Woolley," an excerpt from Preston W. Parkinson, The Utah Woolley Family (Salt Lake City, 1967), p. 160. [Extract ]
TNF: "Asahel Newell" an excerpt from Mrs. Mary A (Newell) Hall, Thomas Newell, who settled in Farmington, Conn., A.D. 1632, and His Descendants (Southington, Conn., 1874), p. 132. [Extract ]