Sunday, April 27, 2008

Oveson Diary and Blog Progress

My parents located a photocopy of the Ove Oveson diary (thanks!), so I have started editing it. Work on this exciting new project may slow the progress of the posts on this blog.

I posted John and Lydia Tanner today. We look forward to the next blog installment...the history of Samuel and Roxie Shepherd. My kids have heard Samuel's P.O.W. story enough times that they roll their eyes when I start it up. Let's just say that it involves vermin.

Question: during which war was he a P.O.W.?

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Tanner 17: Lydia Stewart Tanner

b. 18 November 1773 Bolton, Warren, New York
d. 31 May 1825 Bolton, Warren, New York
Husband: John Tanner
Father: William Stewart; Mother: Amy Hulton or Hutton

Lydia Stewart, daughter of William and Amy (Hutton) Stewart was born 18 November 1773 and married to John Tanner 1801. She was the mother of twelve children. She died at Bolton, New York, 31 May 1825.

I just read a biography of Nathan Tanner (John and Lydia's son and our ancestor Sidney's brother) in History of Utah which says that he was named after a relative who was a childless Baptist preacher. This relative requested that John and Lydia name their next child after him and he prophesied many events that later happened in Nathan's life. The picture of Lake George is by John F. Kensett and is in the public domain.Wikipedia.

John Tanner

b. 15 August 1778 Hopkinton, Washington, Rhode Island
m. 1801
d. 13 April 1850 South Cottonwood, Salt Lake, Utah
b. Salt Lake City, Salt Lake, Utah
Wives: (1) Tabitha Bentley, (2) Lydia Stewart, (3) Elizabeth Beswick
Father: Joshua Tanner; Mother: Thankful Tefft

[Editor's Note. January 24, 2014. This is a short paper I wrote for a college religion class, and edited a little for this blog. Reading it 20 years later makes me cringe. It's not too bad for a young college student, but it only uses secondary history, relies heavily on devotional history, is devotional history itself, almost entirely ignores the women in the story, and uses the secondary sources with almost no assessment of reliability. I am leaving this up to show an example of a well-written, agreeable paper that is poor history.]

[Previous Note: John Tanner married Tabitha Bentley when he was 22 and she was 20. She died a few days after the birth of their son Elisha in 1801. John married our ancestor, Lydia Stewart, and they lived together until she died after the birth of their twelfth child in 1825. After marrying Elizabeth Beswick, with whom he had eight more children, he began his adventures that are detailed here. I've always found it interesting that there were 42 years between the birth of his first and last children.]

John Tanner was born in Hopkinton, Washington County, Rhode Island 15 August 1778 to Joshua and Thankful Tefft Tanner. It is through the Tefft family that we trace our ancestry back to the Mayflower.

John Tanner moved to New York and became a wealthy farmer. In the late 1820s or early 1830s he developed a serious condition in his left leg, which confined him to a specially-constructed wheelchair. Although John Tanner hired the services of many of the most prominent doctors in the country, his condition was incurable and he remained in the wheelchair.

In September 1832, the Tanners heard an announcement that Mormon missionaries were going to preach in the area.
The announcement, Mr. Tanner hailed with delight. It afforded him an opportunity, he thought, of doing much good. He was conversant with the Bible and felt himself amply qualified to discuss such heresy as he thought the Latter-day Saints were propounding in their effort to spread Mormonism. Mr. Tanner also believed that he would confer a benefit upon his fellow men by showing up the fallacies of the Mormon elders.
However, as he listened to brothers Simeon and Jared Carter, “a wonderful change came over the mind of Mister Tanner, and when they closed the evening services he invited them to his home.”

Jared Carter wrote that he and Simeon met John Tanner and while holding a meeting, Carter said that “we found he was a believer in the Book of Mormon. I asked him to endeavor to walk in the name of Christ, he agreed to undertake. I then took him by the hand and commanded him in the name of Christ to walk, and by the power of Christ he was enabled to walk. Brother Simeon was not at the moment present, but I found after this at the very time he was healed Brother Simeon had an exercise of faith for him in secret prayer to God.”

“‘I arose, threw down my crutches, walked the floor back and forth, praised God, and felt as light as a feather,’ was the declaration Mr. Tanner made in explanation of this marvelous power.” Some accounts say that John Tanner walked to Lake George that very night to be baptized, while other accounts argue that he waited until the morning.

John Tanner remained in New York until 1834 when he began making preparations to move with the Saints to Missouri. In the spring of 1834 he sent two sons, John J. and Nathan, to Kirtland where they joined Zions Camp and marched to Missouri in an effort to redeem Zion.

In December 1834 John Tanner “received an impression by dream or vision of the night, that he was needed and must go immediately to the Church in the West.” Although many of his neighbors believed Tanner’s decision to give up his wealthy and prominent position in the community was foolish, he sold his property in New York and left on Christmas Day with his family for Kirtland.

When John Tanner arrived in Kirtland he found that the Prophet Joseph Smith and other church leaders had been praying for means to lift the mortgage on the temple site. John Tanner and his son Sidney met with the High Council the day after arriving in Kirtland, by invitation of Joseph Smith. Leonard Arrington wrote that John Tanner,
…loaned the temple committee thirteen thousand dollars, signed a note for thirty thousand dollars with the Prophet and others for goods purchased in New York, and made “liberal donations” toward the building of the temple.…There is no evidence that any of these loans were repaid.
The prophet Joseph Smith recorded the following from an 18 January 1835 meeting which was probably the same as recorded in the sources above.
Certain brethren from Bolton, New York came for counsel, relative to their proceeding to the West; and the High Council assembled on the 18th. After a long investigation, I decided that Elder Tanner assist with his might to build up the cause by tarrying in Kirtland; which decision received the unanimous vote of the council.
Instead of moving to Missouri as originally intended, the Tanners remained in Kirtland where John Tanner had additional chances to associate with the Prophet Joseph Smith. Joseph Smith recorded in his journal on 9 December 1835:
My heart swells with gratitude inexpressible when I realize the great condescension of my heavenly Father, in opening the hearts of these my beloved brethren to administer so liberally to my wants. And I ask God, in the name of Jesus Christ, to multiply blessings without number upon their heads, and bless me with much wisdom and understanding, and dispose of me to the best advantage for my brethren, and the advancement of His cause and kingdom. And whether my days are many or few, whether in life or death, I say in my heart, O Lord, let me enjoy the society of such brethren.

Elder Tanner brought me half of a fatted hog for the benefit of my family. A few days since, Elder Shadrach Roundy brought me a quarter of beef. And may all the blessings named above be poured upon their heads, for their kindness towards me.
“When the temple was finished, [John Tanner] participated in the dedication, took part in the ‘Solemn Assembly,’ and the glorious gifts and manifestations of that memorable occasion [and] received his temple anointings.”

Another instance of association with the Prophet is recorded in John’s son Nathan’s journal on 6 April 1836: “I went with my father and brother [in-law] Amasa M. Lyman, to brother Joseph Smith’s, and there under the hands of Joseph Smith, Amasa M. Lyman and my father I received a father’s blessing. It was of great importance to me.” Nathan left the next day with Amasa Lyman and two others for a mission in New York.

John Tanner invested heavily in the Kirtland Safety Society. When American banks crashed in 1837, the Kirtland Safety Society also fell. When it ceased operations in November 1837, John Tanner lost heavily. However, unlike some who lost their faith when they lost their money, Tanner remained in the church and continued to sustain Joseph Smith as a prophet of God.

Having lost heavily in the bank failure, and with conditions getting worse in Kirtland, John Tanner sold his farm, and left for Missouri in April 1838. Joseph Smith and Sidney Rigdon had left for Missouri two months earlier.

On his trip to Missouri Tanner had besides himself, ten persons, a horse of his own, three borrowed horses, an old turnpike cart and perhaps an additional wagon, a keg of powder for barter, and between $7.50 and $20.00 in cash. The book Scraps of Biography notes that when the money and powder ran out, the Tanners begged buttermilk and sometimes other food from settlers along the route. To add to the hardship, along the way, his young daughter died.

On 3 July 1838 the Tanners arrived in Far West. In a conversation with a friend, John Tanner reputedly said, “Well, if others have come up easier, they have not learned so much.” Several of John’s adult sons (Sidney, John Joshua, and Nathan) had already gone to Missouri, purchased land, and started farming. John Tanner was able to pay his debts from his efforts and those of his sons.

In autumn 1838 John and his son Myron traveled to a mill nine miles from town. On the way home they encountered the state militia who threatened them with death. Captain Myer Odell struck John Tanner over the head with his gun. Tanner would have been killed except for his thick felt hat. John Tanner was held prisoner for two or three days, during which time he refused to wash the blood off, as a witness against the mob action. The militia released John Tanner when General Doniphan withdrew his men and the Saints “laid down their arms.”

On 3 March 1839, John Tanner and his family and his sons’ families moved to New Liberty, Illinois where they lived for a year. In the middle of March 1840 they moved to the area of Montrose, Lee County, Iowa. Tanner remained there for four years until he was called on a mission to New England in April Conference 1844. Stopping in Nauvoo on his way, he encountered Joseph Smith on the street and handed him the $2,000 temple loan note of January 1835.
The Prophet asked him what he wanted done with the note. Elder Tanner replied, “Brother Joseph, you are welcome to it.” The Prophet then laid his right hand heavily on Elder Tanner’s shoulder, saying, “God bless you, Father Tanner; your children shall never beg bread.
After the death of the Prophet, John Tanner went to Winter Quarters with the Saints. At Winter Quarters his house and most of his possessions burned. However, the Tanners quickly recouped. In June 1848 Tanner started for Salt Lake in the Amasa Lyman company. Tanner took five teams and wagons and eighteen months’ provisions for his own family and the seven wives and the children of his son-in-law Amasa Lyman. They arrived in Salt Lake on 17 October. The Tanner family moved to South Cottonwood where John Tanner died a year and a half later of rheumatism.

From the materials available on the life of John Tanner and his associations with Joseph Smith, we know that he loaned and donated to the church significant amounts of money. He sent two sons with Zions Camp and one with the Mormon Battalion, he invested and lost heavily in Joseph Smith’s Kirtland Safety Society, he helped provide for the Prophet, he participated with the Prophet in giving his sons a blessing, he was present at temple ceremonies, and he received a blessing from the Prophet that his children would “never beg bread.” Undoubtedly John Tanner also interacted with the Prophet Joseph many other times in his acquaintance with him. From the records, we learn that John Tanner believed in the Book of Mormon and the restored gospel and in the prophet Joseph Smith, and that “Father Tanner,” as he was known, was willing to sacrifice all of his possessions to build the kingdom of God.

Journalist M.R. Werner wrote about John Tanner arriving in Kirtland, “Manna from Heaven arrived in the form of John Tanner, a convert from New York.…He arrived there just as the mortgage on the temple ground was about to be foreclosed.…” Werner then tells of Tanner’s financial contributions to the Church and joked, “they made him an elder; they should have made him a Saint!”

Werner, writing in jest, overlooked the fact that John Tanner was a Saint. He was a man, who although he undoubtedly had his faults, is worthy of emulation in his example of faith, sacrifice, generosity, and faithfulness to the Gospel of Jesus Christ.


Arrington, Leonard J. “The John Tanner Family.” Ensign. March 1979.

Black, Susan Easton. Membership of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints 1830–1848. “John Tanner,” xlii: 500–505. Brigham Young University, Provo, Utah: Religious Studies Center, Department of Church History and Doctrine, 1989.

Church Educational System. Church History in the Fulness of Times. Salt Lake City, Utah: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 1989.

Esshom, Frank. Pioneers and Prominent Men, Volume ii. Salt Lake City, Utah: Utah Pioneers Book Publishing Co., 1913.

Family Record, and Index to Individual History Pages: John Tanner Family, Record of Henry Martin Tanner.

Jenson, Andrew. Latter-day Saint Biographical Encyclopedia. “John Tanner,” ii: 799–802. Salt Lake City, Utah: Andrew Jenson History Company, 1914.

Lake George. [Photograph.] Wikipedia.

Scraps of Biography: Tenth Book of the Faith Promoting Series Designed for the Instruction and Encouragement of Young Latter-day Saints. “Sketch of an Elders Life,” 1–19. Salt Lake City, Utah: Juvenile Instructor Office, 1883.

Smith, Joseph, Jr. Edited by B.H. Roberts. Salt Lake City, Utah: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 1948.

Tanner, George S. John Tanner and His Family. Salt Lake City, Utah: The John Tanner Family Association, 1974.

Werner, M.R. Brigham Young. New York: Harcourt, Brace and Company, 1925.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Tanner 15: Margaret Jarvis

b. 28 November 1857 Boston, Suffolk, Massachusetts
m. 1 March 1878 St. George, Washington, Utah
d. 12 January 1934 St. Johns, Apache, Arizona
b. 12 January 1934 St. Johns, Apache, Arizona
Husband: Charles Godfrey (DeFriez) Jarvis
Father: George Jarvis; Mother: Ann Prior

Shortly before Charles and Margaret Jarvis married, Charles DeFriez changed his surname to Jarvis. Technically, Margaret should probably be called Margaret Jarvis Jarvis. It's easier to just call her Margaret Jarvis. Don't confuse her with her daughter, Margaret Jarvis Overson, who wrote the following biography of this wonderful pioneer woman.

Margaret Jarvis was born in Boston, Massachusetts, November 28th, 1857, the sixth child and third daughter of George and Ann Prior Jarvis, English Emigrants who had left their native country and arrived in America a few months previously.

Immediately following her birth, the mother was very ill of fever for three months and could never nurse the baby. They were very poor, work was hard to get and wages small. They were located in an unhealthy part of the city, unable to pay for better quarters, or hire help. A woman who lived in adjoining rooms helped Margaret’s brother George and sister Annie feed and tend the baby in the day time, and the father took charge at night. Thus the little one had a poor chance to make a start, and was a very delicate child. When she was about three years old the family started for Utah, but not being financially able to procure a good wagon and team, were obliged to share a wagon with another family. The other man drove the team and his wife and family rode, but Margaret’s parents had to walk most of the way across the plains, and her father carried the little girl. After they arrived in Salt Lake City and were beginning to do a little better financially, a call was made by President Young for volunteers to go and settle Dixie (St. George). George Jarvis was one of the first to volunteer.

Margaret was still a small, delicate child when the family arrived in St. George. It is generally understood that the St. George Mission was one of the hardest in the Church, and because her father was in poor circumstances, it was extra hard for his family. They did not have enough food to satisfy their hunger, even the coarser kind, for part of the first years. Margaret told of the first time she remembered tasting a cookie. It was given her by a neighbor—she thought she had never eaten anything so good. She says that during her early years she was often hungry and cold, and many times her stomach turned at the things offered her to eat: bread made of cane seed, or corn bread.

Her schooling amounted to almost nothing, having very poor teachers, and no text books. Each child brought the book or books obtainable, and her only book was a small speller. However, she learned to read well, do a little figuring, and write a fairly good hand. She did not enjoy to write, because spelling was hard for her. So that by the time she was a young woman, she had known little else than poverty.

She had learned to spin yarn and knit stockings and do plain sewing besides the necessary house work and cooking.

Charles and Margaret lived with her parents after their marriage March 1st, 1878, until they moved to Arizona in the fall of 1879. Up to this time in her life, she had been the pet of the family because of her delicate health, and being twice the baby. (Her mother having buried at four months, the next child younger than herself.) She never had much responsibility because they had little, and there were older and younger children more fit than she.

Landing in Snowflake a total stranger except for her brother and wife, with a year old baby, their partly built home some blocks from neighbors, her husband away at work, no fences or trees, only the natural wild condition of the country, she must have suffered greatly those first months, even years. But she stood it bravely. In early years she grieved for her kindred. In later years when she could have gone and lived among them she said, “No, my home is here, and they have theirs. I don’t want to go to them now.”

Charles was a good provider, though he was away from home a great deal. She always had what she wished and needed to get along with. Of course, she had to put up with pioneer conditions, poor houses, sometimes poor food, because there was nothing better to be had, no doctor or help in times of sickness. But if she had serious sickness, which happened many times in bearing eight children and raising seven, she had great faith, and would pray to her God, and call the Elders, and her prayers were answered many times.

All during her married life until her family was raised, they had a great deal of company. Many times at Quarterly Conferences, they had a houseful. In those days, people from other settlements would bring a team and wagon, and often a bed, and come on Friday and stay until Monday. Sometimes the Jarvis’s had beds on all the floors, in the yard and in the wagons, and two, three or four tables full for each meal. Charley would provide the food, and he loved to entertain, and Margaret was a good cook and enjoyed to show off her art. Plum puddings, mince pies, delicious cakes, toasts, meat pies, &c.

Margaret Jarvis held a number of offices in the Church, Counselor in the Stake Primary, Ward Relief Society President, Relief Society Teacher, Sunday School Teacher for many years, and always a member of the Ward Choir. She loved to sing—knew hundreds of songs and sang as she worked. She also loved to read, especially stories and poetry, which she memorized, also church literature, lessons, &c.

She also enjoyed to have a garden, trees and vines, and she planted and cared for it herself, and gathered the fruit. This was hard work for a woman, but Charley always worked in an office after they lived in St. Johns, and his legs bothered so he could not get around well for such work.

About the year 1897, she began having spells of terrible cramps. In the spells which sometimes lasted a week or more, she was unable to eat, and suffered intensely. At first no one seemed to know the cause, but later it proved to be gall stones. She finally had to submit to a serious operation to have them removed, after suffering nearly 25 years. However, she completely recovered from the operation, and enjoyed better health thereafter the remainder of her life.

In 1910, she was chosen by the Relief Society of the St. Johns Ward to go to Salt Lake City and take the course in General Nursing and Obstetrics, being offered by the Church Relief Society for the benefit of the members everywhere, so that in each settlement someone with training and understanding would be available to help people in time of sickness. The Relief Society offered to pay part of the cost of tuition. She went, taking Lois, who was about sixteen years old, with her, and leaving her husband and son, Albert, to manage at home.

This seemed the opportunity she had craved, for she took right up with the work and seemed to thoroughly enjoy it. She learned the medical terms, and made such rapid progress, that it seemed a marvel that a woman of her age and previous lack of education and technical training could obtain such wonderful insight and understanding of modern practice in the time allotted for the course. When it was through, she passed the Medical Board Examination of the State of Utah with high points, and returned home ready at call to help in sickness whenever she was needed. She presented her Certificate to the Medical Board of Arizona, and was readily accorded a certificate to practice Nursing and Obstetrics in Arizona also. Her calls were many. She lived fifteen years after her husband’s death, lived alone in a home she built, and went whenever or wherever called, night or day. Her grand-daughter, Leola Jarvis was the second baby she cared for, and her Great Grand-daughter, LaVell Jarvis was the 272nd one and she never lost a case.

She attributed this to the blessings of the Lord. She had some unusual and abnormal cases when she was alone and could get no help, but through her faith and the blessings of the Lord, as she always said, they got along without a loss. She was a veritable Angel of Mercy in many homes. Especially was she depended on and appreciated among the Mexican mothers of the town, to whom her skill and jovial personality were such a comfort. Many of them depended upon her implicitly.

Dr. Margaret Jarvis, as she was lovingly called by those who knew her best, was five feet three inches in height, normal weight 165 pounds and over, (quite plump), blue eyes, clear complexion, pleasant face, and beautiful, soft, dark brown, wavy hair, which later turned to silvery white. She kept her plump form and erect carriage to the last. She loved to walk—would take long strolls for the pure joy of walking in the fresh air and sunshine, observing the flowers, birds, rocks, etc.

Two weeks before her death she waited on her grandson’s wife with her third child, and when she was through with the case, told some friends that she hadn’t a case promised at that time. She said, “Since I have been practicing I have always had several cases ahead, but just now I haven’t any.” In two or three days she was stricken, and it was soon evident that her sickness was serious. She lived only twelve days. The morning before she died, she sang the first verse of a favorite hymn, “The morning breaks, the shadows flee.” The next morning, January 12th, 1934, she passed away about sunrise.

Overson, Margaret Jarvis. George Jarvis and Joseph George DeFriez Genealogy. Mesa, Arizona: 1957, ii:61–65.